mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, January 03, 2009

If I may borrow an expression from Kevin Church.... 

Friday, January 02, 2009

In which Mike follows up on his predictions for the last year. 

So I'm going to be doing some follow-ups on posts from the beginning of last year (with perhaps the exception of my "resolutions" post, of which I accomplished pretty much none), and I'm starting off with my predictions before looking at some of the ones you folks made. You know, it's only fair.

1. DC will further experiment with higher price points/expanded page count anthology-esque titles like Countdown to Mystery. I don't think we're going to say goodbye to the $2.99 format this year, but I think its end is likely near...$3.25 or $3.50 is imminent.

Well...I was right about the $2.99 format not going away, but there sure has been a lot of chatter about the seemingly imminent $3.99 price point standard (with a lot of wondering about skipping any intermediary price levels). Of course, the transition hasn't happened yet, so there may yet be hope for a $3.25/$3.50 price level before we hit that four buck mark.

And I really was thinking there'd be a lot more action from DC on their $3.99 anthologies, since I thought that was a pretty good format. Will the forthcoming Adventure Comics series be $3.99? Seems like a natural.

2. The Spider-Man "One More Day" boondoggle won't be reversed, at least certainly not within its first year...that would be tantamount to Marvel admitting it made a mistake, and we know how they don't like that. [...] However, I think, at least from the creative end, the problems involved in this reboot will become increasingly evident (from "continuity patches" to the undermining of reader confidence in Marvel's storytelling).

I am seeing some questioning about what is still in Spider-Man continuity and what isn't...apparently Peter and Mary Jane were shacked up for a while in this new revised continuity? That Harry's death was faked? I don't know. By and large, though, people seem to be enjoying the new Spider-Man comics so long as they try not to think too much about the deal-with-the-devil elephant in the room.

I seem to recall spotting a report somewhere or 'other about Spider-Man sales dipping...they seem to be holding okay, more or less, at our shop, which surprised me, as I honestly expected some measure of Spider-fatigue to set in. Like I've argued before, a lot of my customers decided that they only wanted to read one Spider-Man book, and that book was the flagship, Amazing Spider-Man. One monthly book was enough for 'em. But now, being forced to buy three titles a month when they were reading only ASM specifically so that they didn't have to buy three titles a month...that didn't result in the backlash I was expecting. So, you know, good. Always like to sell more comics than less.

But I'm going to have to track down overall sales figures on the title, so I have something more to go on than just my experience at the shop.

I am curious how long it's going to be before we see an announcement for another ongoing Spider-Man title, however.

3. Final Crisis will be a straightforward and clever mini-series, as these events go, which will be decried as "weird" and "hard to understand" by the usual suspects because Grant Morrison is writing.

Nailed it. Next...?

Okay, it's a shame about the scheduling. But the comic is a blast, honest!

4. Sales on the next Stephen King's Dark Tower series will be nowhere near the sales on the previous mini. It'll be ordered high, certainly, and the first issue might sell well, but the drop-off will occur even more quickly than it did on the initial series, as the hardcore King fans will just wait for the next collection.

Overall, sales are pretty low on Dark Tower monthlies for us...the hardcovers do okay, but the periodicals aren't bringing in the King fans like they did at first. The novelty's worn thin, I guess, as the King fans who aren't already comic book fans have appeared to have given up on trekking to the funnybook store once a month and are waiting for the collections. The Stand is selling about the same, if not a little less.

5. On a related note...some comic from Marvel or DC will be hailed as the "breakout comic" that finally gets the general non-comic-reading audience to start buying funnybooks on a regular basis, while ignoring the fact that said general audience is only buying that "breakout" comic and nothing else.

Well, I don't know that anything really stood out as being pushed as the "breakout" book. I certainly saw my fair share of customers who only bought Buffy or (to a far, far lesser extent) Dark Tower or Anita Blake, but those had been around for a while and thus didn't get the "certainly this will save the comics industry!" talk that this sort of thing seems to get.

6. And finally, comic fans will finally catch up to me and realize the inherent beauty, humor, and satire of All Star Batman and Robin. I will be hailed as a genius of incredible foresight for being the internet's primary proponent of ASB so early on in that book's history. Money and awards will be showered upon me, women (and 10% of the men) will throw themselves at me, and I will go down in history as the comic internet's wisest, and most stunningly handsome, observer.


Seriously, though, I saw a few reactions to that issue of All Star Batman with the Robin Vs. Green Lantern fight which seemed to indicate a turning-around of opinion, at least to a limited degree, on this title...at least some acknowledgment of "oh, okay, now I get this comic!" Okay, that's just anecdotal evidence, but at least it there was a little positive commentary on the series!

Okay, more commentary on YOUR predictions after the weekend, hopefully.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Yeah, I hear ya, Mr. Mitchell. 

from Dennis The Menace Giant Christmas Issue #19 (1963)

Here's to a better year for all of us, but let's be thankful for what good things we do have, and remember those who sadly didn't make it into the New Year with us.

Happy New Year, pals.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I'm just going to run off at the mouth a bit for New Year's Eve. 

  • Reader Patrick pointed out something I didn't know about...well, I knew about the John Stanley Melvin Monster collection, but I didn't know about the forthcoming collection of his Nancy comics. That's really cool...thanks, Patrick!

    Now if we can get The Complete Ernie Bushmiller Nancy, we would indeed be living in a perfect world. Hey, we got Herbie Archives...surely anything is possible in this future world of the year 2009 (well, just about 2009, anyway).

  • From the eBay: "MARVEL LEGENDS CUSTOM THE WATCHMEN" - to wit:

    That's one ripped Dr. Manhattan. He's Too Much Man for his trunks, apparently, since they don't connect in the back, there. Or maybe that's supposed to represent how the buttfloss just sort of disappears into OKAY I'M NOT WRITING ANY MORE ABOUT AN ACTION FIGURE'S BUTT.

    The Comedian has a killer mustache, too. Seriously, check this set out...the fella has nice big pics of all the figures, and it's a pretty amusing traditional-superhero interpretation of the characters.

  • Say, remember that Swamp Thing/Sluggo pic Employee Aaron drew for me for Christmas? Pretend you do anyway.

    Well, he drew a curious character pairing for pal Dorian as well.

    What Aaron did this year was ask his friends what two characters they wanted him to draw for their Christmas presents...and when Dor told him which two characters he wanted, Aaron made the mistake of asking "what position do you want them to be in?"

    Oh, the evil, naughty laughter that emanated from deep within Dor's darkened soul. And I laughed, too, since I'm also a bad person.

  • I just found out via the Twitter that the new Wild Cards novel is out, which somehow escaped the Mikester Nerd Radar. I've been a big fan of the Wild Cards-iverse since that first paperback came out in the mid-1980s, and I know some of you out there enjoy the series, too...so, here you go:

    Yeah, excuse the blatant commercialism, but I get a buck apiece for each one of these sold through my site, and I just need to sell about 300 of them so I can finally buy that Xbox 360 and fulfill my lifelong dream of blowing up the online gaming avatars of Chris Sims and Kevin Church. Because, really, they got it comin'. And how it can be "lifelong" when I'm older than both of them...eh, don't ask.

  • Oh, okay, maybe they don't have it comin'. To make up for my not-really-actionable-threat-I-was-just-joking-honest, here are links to Action Age Comics, with Free Funnybookin' from Sims and some of his known accomplices, as well as Church's new project Waimea, beautifully illustrated by Michael Dake.

    And of course, don't forget Church and Birdie's The Rack, the comic that provides absolutely no escapism for me whatsoever since it takes place at a comic shop and mocks me with its accuracy.

  • And that's probably about it for now. I hope everyone has a good New Year, and don't try to drink too much (though if your name's "Kevin," "Ian" or "Tom" it's probably already too late) and try to stay safe. I want to see all of you back here tomorrow in one piece.

    Okay? Okay! Happy New Year, everyone.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

20-something-year-old Mikester predicts...THE FUTURE! 

Sorry, I'm returning to the well of my 1990s BBS posts again...please enjoy, won't you?

MsgNum: 1566
From: Mikester
To: all
Subj: Movies?
Date: 08/14/95

Now that the X-Men cartoon has been so popular on television, chances are even better now for an X-Men movie. (Actually, since the poor showing of the Power Rangers movie, maybe studios will shy away from another TV to movies translation.) But, I still think an X-Men movie is inevitable, and I was wondering...what do you guys think about this possibility?

Personally, given Marvel's track record with movies, the X-Men will probably be a disaster. I don't WANT it to be a disaster...but given that 90% of movies are crap, and that percentage goes up if it's a movie based on a comic, it's a pretty good call that the movie will be bad.

Besides...NO ONE could dress as Wolverine and look anything but laughable.

I do a little better in this next post, responding to someone asking me about the cosmetic changes the Dungeons & Dragons line had gone through. I predict not only 3rd Edition D&D, but I even sort of foretell the "3.5" style of system revision it eventually had. Okay, it wasn't that big of a stretch, but after my X-Men flub, I need something I can count as a win:

From: Mikester
To: Rand Al'thor
Subj: It's all one big...company.
Date: 05/26/95
Reply-To: 1210

Yeah, I don't know why they did that either. Though, TSR has done it before - basically changing the cover art without changing anything inside. I guess TSR felt it needed to liven up the AD&D line a bit, without going to a 3rd Edition version of the game. Think of it as version 2.1.

I can't be held entirely responsible for this next post, as I was just repeating what I heard/read elsewhere. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Also, I apparently wasn't a Shadowhawk fan then, either:

MsgNum: 2068
From: Mikester
To: all
Subj: Movie and/or TV Comic News
Date: 01/07/96

I guess there's a rumor going around that Alicia Silverstone (whom I've never seen in anything, though I've heard the name somewhere) is playing Batgirl in the upcoming fourth Batman film. This is in addition to the other rumors that Patrick Stewart would be playing Mr. Freeze and Julia Roberts would be playing Poison Ivy. Oh, and Val and Chris will be back (no rumor!) as Batman and Robin. With any luck, there'll be room for a story or something, too.

There's a live action Generation X movie (based on the Marvel comic of the same name) coming soon to Fox-TV...the shots I've seen of it look...really bad. Marvel also has TV-movies in the works for She-Hulk (ack!), the Punisher, and Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (who, in the comics, is dead).

Next year there is supposed to be a live action Shadowhawk series. Give me a break.

Oh God, the "no rumor!" parenthetical aside. And hey, remember when Nick Fury was dead? Good times, good times.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The five-point Nancy exercise plan. 

from Tip Top Comics #186 (May/June 1954)






The peculiar self-censoring of Beardless Green Arrow. 

from Green Lantern/Green Arrow #94 (Apr/May 1977)
by Denny O'Neil, Mike Grell, Terry Austin & Dick Giordano

Okay, maybe Green Arrow was trying to hold up to some superheroic "no swearing" ideal, but...c'mon, it's Green Arrow. I think we can assume he's not shy about expressing some salty language.

And I threw in that first panel there partially for context, but mostly for further examples of Mr. Queen's talent for phrase-turning. And his heroic stance, of course. When Green Arrow akimbos at you, you know you've been akimboed at.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Those of you who follow my Twitter account saw me post something about this yesterday, but in case you didn't see it...one of my longtime customers was shot and killed at the convenience store he worked at, just as he was nearing the end of his overnight shift.

Sean was a nice guy, who'd been coming into our shop on a regular basis since he was a kid. Always cheery, always wanted to talk about the latest comic book-based TV show or movie, always had a habit of accidentally leaving behind one of his gargantuan plastic bottles of water that he'd leave on a counter or next to a shelf while he shopped, which amused us. And sometimes, when he worked for the painting company, he'd come in, splattered with paint, to pick up his books, and he'd flash his hands at me and reassure me that the paint on his fingers was indeed dry.

I know he really loved watching and talking to us about the Smallville TV show, and one of the first things that flashed through my mind when I saw the newspaper article about his death was "now he's never going to see the Legion of Super-Heroes episode he was so looking forward to," which I realize is a really dumb and insignificant thing to think, but sometimes you can't help what your brain churns up when confronted with a tragedy like this.

Like I said, Sean was a good guy, and certainly didn't deserve to come to the violent end he did. Hopefully the police will catch the miserable, worthless bastards that took his life.

So long, Sean.

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