mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, December 27, 2008

More blasts from the past. 

Still perusing some recently-recovered archives of postings from my BBS days...don't know if they're of much interest to anybody, but they're certainly amusing me.

I like this one for reminding me what I was reading thirteen-something years ago:

MsgNum: 1141
From: Mikester
To: All
Subj: My favorite comics, right now
Date: 05/14/95

For no apparent reason, I'm going to list the titles of some of my absolute favorite comics -- the ones that, when I crack open one of the many cardboard boxes we get from our distributor and I see that comic inside, I am overcome with joy. (Well, not "overcome," exactly, but you get what I mean.)

In no particular order, here they are --

1. Swamp Thing (DC)

2. Uncle Scrooge (Gladstone/Disney)

3. Hate (Fantagraphics)

4. Eightball (Fantagraphics)

5. Zippy Quarterly (Fantagraphics)

6. Peep Show (Drawn and Quarterly)

7. Love & Rockets (Fantagraphics) (FUN FACT #1: I'm mentioned in issue #40)

8. Sandman (DC)

9. Preacher (DC)

10. Jim (Fantagraphics)

11. Incredible Hulk (Marvel)

12. Groo (Image)

13. Dr. Radium, Man of Science (Slave Labor)

14. Pirate Corp$/Hectic Planet (Slave Labor)

15. Milk 'n' Cheese (Slave Labor)

16. Spectre (DC)

17. Acme Novelty Library (Fantagraphics)

18. Superman (all titles) (DC) (FUN FACT #2: I haven't missed a Superman comic in about 15 years now)

19. Cerebus (Aardvark-Vanaheim)

20. EC Reprints (all titles) (Russ Cochran)

21. Legion of Super-Heroes (DC)

22. Roarin' Rick's Rare Bit Fiends (King Hell)

23. From Hell (Kitchen Sink)

24. Tyrant (Spider-baby) (it's about the life of a Tyrannosaurus Rex and it has some of the coolest text pages ever seen in a comic book)

25. Bizarre Heroes (Fiasco)

These are just the current titles. This doesn't include stuff that's been cancelled (like Grimjack (First), or Eye of Mongombo (Fantagraphics) or Wasteland (DC) or Journey (Aardvark-Vanaheim/Renegade/Fantagraphics) or Dreadstar (First/Epic/Bravura)), but I'm sure you get the idea.

So, what do YOU like?

I'm including this announcement for the then-forthcoming issue of our local mini-comics digest simply because, while this certainly sounds like something we'd do, I have no recollection of planning to include this book with our comic, nor of actually doing it:

MsgNum: 1173
From: Mikester
To: All
Subj: Wood-eye News!
Date: 05/19/95

Issue #5 of Wood-eye should be out in mid-June. It will have a front and back cover by yours truly, and each and every issue will come packed with a free book, "Now That I'm Pregnant, I Have So Many Questions," while supplies last.

Hey, someone asked what was up with DC's elemental characters, and I obliged:

MsgNum: 1243
From: Mikester
Subj: It's all one big...company.
Date: 05/29/95
Reply-To: 1236

Okay, here's your DC Comics Elemental Update:

FIRESTORM: Ronnie Raymond's half of Firestorm currently is hanging out in the comic book "Extreme Justice." Martin Stein's half (the Elemental part) is tooling around in space somewhere.

NAIAD: The water elemental popped up in "Spectre" recently.

RED TORNADO: The air elemental is being very weird in "Primal Force" right now.

SWAMP THING: All green and leafy and stuff.

And now...reaction to the Spider-Clone Saga as it was happening:

MsgNum: 1258
From: Mikester
To: Dr. Van Van Mojo IV
Subj: It's all one big...company.
Date: 06/01/95
Reply-To: 1255

Do you mean the ORIGINAL Spider-man, or the Spider-clone that has actually been the Spider-man in the comics for the last fifteen years? (It was revealed just last week...the Spider-clone is the original Peter Parker. Lemme 'splain for the uncloned here.

Okay, in the 70s a bad guy created a clone of Spidey and the clone and the original fought it out, with the original (apparently) the victor. However, in recent months, someone claiming to be the clone has returned to the Spider-man comics. However, after a number of issues, it was discovered that the Spider-man that has been featured in the
comics since that original Spider-clone story of the 70s was, in fact, THE clone.

So the Spider-man that married Mary Jane...? Clone. Clone clone clone.

I'm sure it must have seemed like a neat idea...but it reminds me a bit of Alien 3 in a way. You know, Alien 2 was all about Ripley rescuing Newt, and, in a way, turning Newt into a daughter of sorts for her. Then along comes Alien 3, which invalidates every success achieved in Alien 2 by killing Newt. You know what I mean.

Anyway, I hate clones. Yuk. Poopie.

And now, some comic investment news:

MsgNum: 1425
From: Mikester
To: Mikester
Subj: Another comic....
Date: 07/04/95
Reply-To: 1021

"Preacher," I hear, is the current "hot" Vertigo title. A fellow from an L.A. comic shop dropped in the other day to let us know he's selling #1 for about five bucks, and at conventions they're up to about fifteen bucks.


And here I am being too earnest for my own good. But, hey, here it is anyway:

MsgNum: 1283
From: Mikester
To: Kassius
Subj: Oh no! Not...COMIC BOOKS!
Date: 06/04/95
Reply-To: 1272

There are comics on darn near everything. You have horror comics, you have historical comics, war comics, autobiographical comics, Robotech comics, western comics, educational comics, humor comics, adventure comics, romance comics, science fiction comics, fantasy comics, comics based on dreams, comics based on television shows, comics with (ahem) naughty parts, comics about slackers, and, of course, comics about flying guys in tights who punch each other.

Comics can be anything. Anything can be comics.

And, finally, while I didn't note the exact date I said this (sometime in '95, I'm sure), it perhaps remains the truest thing I have ever written:

"There's no such thing as a Billy Barty movie that's COMPLETELY bad."

I said it...I stand by it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

She was my favorite Catwoman. 

  • So for Christmas, Employee Aaron asked folks what two characters they'd like him to draw, and for their gifts they received that drawing in a frame.

    Well, of course, there were only two characters I could possibly ask for:

    ...though I did strongly consider Herbie instead of Sluggo.

    Anyway, how 'bout that? It certainly makes me picture what menace would cause the creation of the World's Finest Team of Swampy and Sluggo...though most likely Sluggo's just luring Swamp Thing over to his house so he can make a salad since he's too broke to go to the store to buy something off the shelf.

  • In case you missed it: civilization ended on Christmas Day. I have no idea how I managed to do this.

  • I linked this in yesterday's post, as the new was just coming in as I was writing, but apparently the judge sided with Fox over its rights to the Watchmen film. According to the article, the ruling said that at the very least, Fox has the right to distribute the film, so...well, to be honest, you'll have to ask someone who's more on top of what's going on what this means for the film's release. I'm assuming, with no research whatsoever, that the film could still come out, but with Fox getting most of the profits. Assuming there are any profits, and the film doesn't crash on takeoff. "Whoops, the film bombed...sorry about that lawsuit thing, Warner Brothers...you, er, you can have your film back, now."

    I am fairly certain, however, that an internet petition will be of absolutely no use in this situation.

  • So long, Eartha.

    (image from Amazon.com)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Progressive Ruin presents...a Merry Christmas and a Happy End of Civilization! 

IT'S A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE! Santa has brought you good boys and girls another choice selection from the latest Diamond Previews catalog (the Jan. 2009 edition), so if you're done opening presents and you're sick of dealing with your family...well, spend some time with me as we peruse these fine items:

p. 195 - Wizard #210:

If you're going to throw the phrase "Bosom Buddies" around and not give me Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari in dresses, well, I can only express my extreme disappointment.

Though I suppose I should commend Wizard for one of its rare instances of restraint and not giving us, I don't know, Power Girl and Witchblade in the ad. Because, you know, "'bosom,' tee hee."

p. 217 - Betty #179:

Hey, Betty, I'm pretty sure Green Day is still performing...they're just fine, thank you.

p. 244 - Tarot Witch of the Black Rose #55 Previews Exclusive 9th Anniversary Photo Cover:

Normally I'd let the expert in all things Tarotian, Mr. Sims, handle this, but...9th anniversary? Really? Unless they're just really genuinely surprised that they actually were able to keep doing this for nine years. Or maybe the number "9" is some naked magical thing that they're referencing. Who knows.

p. 348 - Girls of Gaming Volumes 1 and 2:

"More than just a pin-up book, Girls of Gaming celebrates gaming's vast line-up of heroines, from the cute, to the sexy, and everything in-between. From Lara Croft to Aerith Gainsborough, from Vanessa Schneider (P.N. 03) to Farmer (Dungeon Siege), the 'girls of gaming' are brought to life through CGI renders, concept artwork, and commissioned and exclusive original artwork. Each volume of Girls of Gaming features hundreds of full-color images, interviews with the creators, gamers, and the girls themselves...."

Emphasis mine. Though there's really no end of things I could have emphasized there.

p. 362 - How to Cosplay Volume 1:

"Step One: Buy mace. Lots of it. Maybe get a taser, too."

p. 378 - Superman "Mini-Bling" Black T-Shirt:

I suspect a fundamental misunderstanding of the Superman character is at play here.

p. 388 - The Creature from The Black Lagoon Super-Size Creepy Collector's Figure:

"Hey, who wants a hug? A wet, squishy, vaguely-smelling-of-fish hug?"

p. 412 - Conan the Conqueror Statue:

"Conan, what is best in life?"

"Enjoying the bucking bronco ride at the country-western bar between the wet-shirt contests! Oh, and driving my enemies before me, the lamentation of their women, blah blah."

p. 416 - Saw - Jigsaw's Gauntlet Prop Replica:

I should stop being surprised by these things by now, but seriously...what are you going to do with this?

On second thought...perhaps I would like to remain blissfully ignorant.

p. 420 - Man Ape Mini-Bust:

Every month, I think Marvel has reached the absolute nadir of characters to translate to convenient bust form, and every time I'm proven incorrect.

Man Ape. Seriously.

p. 422 - Offered Again: Marvel Universe Civil War Busts:

So the statues with the series logo and exploding crotches tying into the crossover event from about two crossovers ago haven't sold out? A B-list villain, a goofy-looking Wolverine, and Spider-Man in that costume he doesn't wear anymore?


p. 426 - Star Trek The Original Series Classic Captain's Chair Replica:

While I'm the first to acknowledge the sheer awesomeness and power of Kirk's Chair, it seems the price of $2,717.01 is both steep and annoying cutesy. Plus, it looks like you could probably build your own, given some moderate skill with tools and finding the right kind of chair to build your wooden box base around.

There, that's a good summer project for some of you. Not me, I'd end up nailing my hand to the Captain's Log or something. Boy, that sounds dirty.

p. 430 - Star Wars Garindan Mini-Bust:

You really want a statue of this son-of-a-bitch? This guy totally snitched to the Stormtroopers where Luke, Han and gang were at. Also:

"...Nicknamed by Jabba the Hutt 'Long Snoot' for his long, green-black elephantine trunk...."

My first reaction was "oh, c'mon, no Jabba didn't," but that freakin' Expanded Universe, man...no minor character is left untouched. I'm sure in Star Wars: Hoojib Attack Volume Four: The Vengeance of Plif Garindan's nicknaming was covered.

p. 438 - Super-Bastard Box Art Character Toy Mini-Figures:

Huh, that's funny...not one of them looks a thing like Kevin Church.

p. 452 - Twitch the Raccoon Plush:

Yes, that's little stuffed guts coming out of him, and stitched-on tire treads. This is grossly fantastic.

p. 462 - The Spirit Wrench Keychain Bottle Opener:

While I'm looking forward to The Spirit film, I realize that other, less enlightened, folks are deriding this movie adaptation, and it looks like it may be heading for a box office bust. And thus, this item, and the other tie-in products scattered throughout this catalog...well, for one, the movies opening today, and even if we did order these items, they probably wouldn't show up until the film was on DVD. And at this point...I don't expect there's going to be a huge demand for Spirit junk.

So I can buy it all for cheap in about six months. Ha HA!

p. 463-4 - Watchmen stuff:

I'm taking a kind of perverse fascination in the marketing of this maybe forthcoming Watchmen movie.

Like the Dr. Manhattan baseball cap, or this flask:

Or the beanies...the beanies:

I have to admit I like the idea of being able to get a Rorschach lunchbox:

But this:

"...This iconic phrase, coined by the Roman poet Juvenal about the limits on police power, is stamped on this metal keychain!"

What kind of a world is it where one can't get good Juvenal merchandise without it having to be tied into some big Hollywood movie?

And...okay, you got me. This button?

Kind of awesome.

Marvel Previews p. 14 - Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk #3:

Lies. Lies.

Marvel Previews p. 101 - Wolverine GN:

"...For the first time ever, experience the storied saga of everybody's favorite feral X-Man IN HIS OWN WORDS...."

"...And get this, bub...there was this one time the Ultimate version of me fought the Ultimate version of the Hulk, and it seemed like that battle took over three years to wrap up!"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Blogging about blogging is a sin... 

...but I've got some bits and pieces about the site (and other sites!) I'd like to clear out, so bear with me here.
  • Say, you remember that Dave Campbell guy, don't you? From that Dave's Long Box site you may have read about in Newsweek?

    Well, it's a Christmas miracle, for he's back, and Daver than ever, at his new site:

    Society of Dave

    Actually, it's titled "Society for the Advancement of Dave," but "Society of Dave" will do if you're, I don't know, short on time and/or space or something.

    Anyway, Dave's back, talking not just about comics, but whatever happens to come into his fevered brain...so enjoy, won't you?

  • Well, it's Christmas Eve, and at least in the States new comics are out today. Usually on Christmas Eve, we stay open until the store's empty of customers and stays that way, and then we shut down early...but on a New Comics Day/Christmas Eve convergence, I guess we gotta stay the duration. Not that we're open terribly late or anything, but still.

    So you all had better come in and spend LOTS OF MONEY today. Yes, all of you. Even the fella in Thailand that reads this site. I'd better see you here.

  • This Thursday would normally be an "End of Civilization" day here at Progressive Ruin Industries, but, well, there's that Christmas thing going on, and while I will be up 'til the wee hours, I'll be doing family stuff, and not important work like generating blog content. So unless plans change drastically, the "End of Civilization" will be, I don't know, next Monday.

    It will be nice to be able to spend more time on it, rather than wishing for the quick release of death at 3 in the morning while trying to make up jokes about Japanese schoolgirl statues.

  • Hey, you know who's posting again? That Mark guy over at Chaosmonkey, that's who. He's been writing an ongoing series there entitled "Hello to Comics," discussing some of his favorites. Like that awesome Bible treasury comic DC put out. Go, read, encourage him to continue.

  • Batman: Cacophony #2 is now two weeks late. Just sayin'.

  • I know I keep saying I'm going to start the random, rotating title banner thing, but I never quite commit myself to doing it. So instead of saying "I'll do it in a month" (or whenever) let's just leave it at "I'll get around to it eventually."

    And if you want to submit your own, here are the details.

  • "Pal" Dorian keeps updating Mike Sterling Is A Big Cheater Pants, so be sure to pop on in over there about once a month and see what new, vicious libel Dor is posting about me.

And I guess that's it for today. I will have something new up here tomorrow, but let me wish you all in advance a happy, safe holiday...and, as always, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Adventures of Mikester When He Was A Boy. 

Or, at least, in his 20s.

Found a few messages from my comics board on the Retreat BBS (which I spoke a little about yesterday). Thought you all might be amused by some of these:

MsgNum: 206
From: Mikester
Subj: "Loveline...it's your f***ing time...."
Date: 11/09/94

For those of you who are avid KROQ fans, you may be interested in knowing that Todd McFarlane (former Marvel artist, currently doing Spawn) will be a guest host on Loveline in the next week or so. (Loveline runs Monday through Thursday nights, 10 PM 'til midnight, and on Sunday 8 PM to 10 PM (I think).)

Just thought I'd let you in on this tasty little tidbit of information.

(I wonder how many times Todd will have to be beeped?)

[The next one is in response to someone asking if I could tie these two particular characters/franchises together. One person responded that there's actually a shorter route between the two, and pal Andy was moved to comment to me "man, you're a geek," before coming up with his own chain of connections tying Gilligan of Gilligan's Island to Beavis and Butthead.]

MsgNum: 254
From: Mikester
Subj: Crossovers!
Date: 11/14/94

Okay, I won't let you hang. I shall now prove to you the extent of my
nerdiness: here is how the Flaming Carrot can meet the Aliens.

1. The Flaming Carrot once met Cerebus.

2. Cerebus met the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

3. The Turtles once met Archie Andrews (of "Archie, Betty and Veronica" fame).

4. Archie met the Punisher.

5. Punisher fought Batman.

6. Batman fought the Predator.

7. And Predators, of course, fought Aliens.

See how easy that was?

[Because you're going to ask...I'm talking about John Estes in this next bit, who was at our shop signing copies of a bookshelf-format Marvel book he'd painted.]

MsgNum: 476
From: Mikester
Subj: This wasn't in the job description
Date: 12/11/94

I just spent a good chunk of my day hanging out with a Marvel Comics artist at a Ventura bar watching the 49ers game, and I got paid for it.

God bless America!

[Hey, I was singling out internet folks for everyone's amusement even back then! EDIT: These are two people I found on Usenet...neither of them are me!]

MsgNum: 2222
From: Mikester
Subj: Found on the Internet
Date: 03/12/96

Newsgroups: rec.arts.comics.misc
Subject: Re: COMICS
Date: 8 Mar 1996 21:53:37 -0500


>You people are very dumb. You pay large amounts of money
>for pieces of paper that you think will give you something
>to fall back on in your retirement
> Well guess what , they are just books, and if all of you
>buy up the smae books and keep them in mint condition
>all fo you won't be able to sell them in your ripe old age,
>when you are a fat smelly old person who can't work anymore.
>Thats what i think of your little business

Your such a moron. You don't know what you're talking about! I've been collecting comics for only five years and already my collections worth four times what I paid for it all together! I've got two unopened copies of the Death of Superman and all together their worth over a hundred dollars! Plus I've got multiple copies of hot number ones like Gen-13, Spawn and more. Maybe I won't have enough miney to retire on in a lot of years but I can tell you one thing I'll have more money than you. So our "little business" is more valuable than you think!

[And here's a little bit from the front lines of the thoroughly-crashed comics market....]

From: Mikester
Subj: News...
Date: 03/06/96
Reply-To: 786

Valiant is STILL around, which absolutely baffles me. Their days of wine and silk and expensive butter are long over, but their shambling corpse of a company still staggers onward. The only regular titles they have are Turok, Eternal Warrior, X-O Manowar, and Bloodshot. Their only other two "name" titles of their superhero universe, Magnus Robot Fight and Solar, are both canceled. The Windjammer line of creator owned comics is gone (along with all the formerly-Continuity titles). The line of Magic comics (yes, based on the card game) is dead in the water, and has been since the line's inception over a year ago. The ONLY Valiant title that has done at all well lately is the Mutant Chronicles comic, based on another fantasy game. One element in its doing well is the fact that nowhere on the comic does it say "Acclaim," "Armada," or "Valiant."

It's a slow death.

Monday, December 22, 2008

When Mike was young and the world was full of hope. 

So in the early-to-mid 1990s, I was fairly active in some of the local computer BBSes, being the resident funnybook expert on a handful of them. My main online hang-out at the time was a board called "The Retreat," where there was a lot of emphasis on creative writing, punnery, silliness, cleverness (or "cleverness" -- my glasses aren't entirely rose-colored), obfuscation, what have you...and of course, I had a comic book subboard there, too. It was a very fun BBS, and we'd even have occasional get-togethers at the sysop's house, just to hang out, talk, play nerdy games (my one and only time playing "Cosmic Encounter" was during one of these gatherings), eat junk food, whatever.

One day, pal Andy, who was also a regular Retreater, put the call out to some of the folks on that BBS, asking if they'd like to contribute to a forthcoming music magazine being assembled by his mother and aunt. A handful of us gave it a go, including me...and that's how, for a brief period of time, I was actually a published and, just as importantly, paid writer.

The magazine was Music Confidential, an irreverent, National Enquirer/Weekly World News-esque assemblage of humorous articles, reviews, interviews, and celeb photos, and featuring contributions from such notables as surf-guitar god Dick Dale, Rodney Bingenheimer, former MTV personality Kennedy, and...was Kato Kaelin involved? I think he might have been. Or maybe he just showed up to the premiere party.

My try-out piece was a bit of business about visiting a "Paul Is Dead" convention, based, naturally, on my comic convention visits. It was a bit nerve-wracking, sitting there in the Music Confidential offices, watching a handful of people passing around my article and reading it, but thankfully they all seemed to enjoy it and, with some slight editing (since then, as now, I tend to go on a bit) that article appeared in the first issue.

Although I wrote a variety of other columns and filler bits for the magazine, my regular gig was "Mikester's Comic Corner," in which I'd discuss and review music-related comic books. The running "gag" through the columns was that I'd tease discussing that KISS appearance in Howard the Duck, but, whoops, maybe I'll get to it next time! Yeah, I know, it's about as insufferable as it sounds, but I did finally get around to writing that Howard the Duck review for issue #5.

However, the magazine only lasted four issues (plus a one-shot "try-out" issue published quite a while before I came along), which as I recall had something to do with distribution difficulties...not to mention the fact that it's just plain hard to get a magazine going.

But it was fun while it lasted...I don't have any particularly wacky stories to tell from my time there, other than having to rewrite my article about Prince (as cover-featured on Music Confidential #2, pictured above), since the original version apparently worried the lawyers. That's something to be proud of, I think.

Oh, and there was a brief stab at producing a pilot for a TV show based on the magazine, and I performed in one of the skits filmed for it...from which we learned - Mike Sterling: NOT AN ACTOR. And hopefully all copies of that performance have been destroyed, and not on the verge of showing up on YouTube, Andy. One disappointment was that I had worked up a bit for the pilot based on those old elementary school educational films about proper behavior at a rock concert, complete with the dry, deadpan instructional narration (which I hopefully would have provided). Yeah, that's Comedy Premise #18, but I think it might have been funny, in my own unbiased opinion.

Anyway, on my old website, "Progressive Ruin 1.0," I had posted all my articles, including several intended for the never-published #5. That website's long gone, but lives on, kinda sorta, at archive.org...most of the articles are still there, though a couple will result in dead links. Hey, what can you do? But be gentle when you read them, as they're in the voice of a Mikester in his mid-20s, and not the embittered old Mikester you're dealing with right now. (But I think the "Interview with God" thing still holds up, so try that one first.)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Just so that previous post isn't at the top of the page all day. 

Rick Veitch is taking commissions, and posted a commissioned Swamp Thing Meets The Spirit sketch to advertise as such. Very nice.

Inappropriately Cropped and Rotated Comic Cover Image Theatre presents.... 

Image stolen from here, because the copy I saw of this I saw in a collection someone brought in to sell ended up not being ours because apparently we weren't offering the immense fortune he thought he was going to get. But anyway, in conclusion, I'm a bad person.

But frankly, it's still pretty disturbing even without the cropping and rotating.

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