mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, January 10, 2009

"The prophet may indeed have seen a UFO -- over 2500 years ago!!!!" 

And now...the shocking story of the prophet Ezekiel versus the dread alien menace from beyond the stars!

from UFO & Outer Space #15 (July 1978)

Friday, January 09, 2009

Characters I'd like to see make a comeback. 

The Hoaxmaster:

A guy with a top hat and a pointin' cane who goes around openly mocking people for making up stupid stories? That's a hero I can get behind.

You bet, Hoaxmaster!

from UFO & Outer Space #15 (July 1978) & #16 (August 1978)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

In which Mike points at things people are selling (or giving away, in one case). 


(from here)

I love the weird-ass Watchmen stuff that's been turning up on the eBay lately.


Go to that link, and you can 1) download the full comic in PDF or CBR formats, 2) read the whole enchilada online, and/or 3) pre-order the print edition, which, as I know from having ordered the first issue for the shop, is a quality product, full color on good paper and secured with at least two staples.

C'mon, it's a gorilla luchador, you've gotta at least take a peek.

NOT COMICS: For you old Mystery Science Theatre 3000 fans, the newest release from MST creator Joel Hodgson's new project Cinematic Titanic is out: Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks, available on DVD or by download. With each new entry the CT project is just getting better and funnier, and well worth the purchase.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

If you look at only one Manga Watchmen site today... 

...make it this one.

That's why I poke through my site's referral logs...because sooner or later some of the trails found there will eventually lead me to sites like that. Go, enjoy manga versions of the Watchmen cast. WARNING: Manga Doctor Manhattan will break you.

Also found, poking around on that site: MANGA DARKSEID.

Other links of note:
  • Pal Dorian has finally transplanted (postmodernbarney.com) from Blogger to Wordpress, and the results are quite nice-looking. That was one of my (many) broken New Year's resolutions from last year, moving my site to Wordpress, but now that Dor's done it, I can bug him for help.

  • Stuff Geeks Love is back from the holiday hiatus. Thank goodness, since I've missed it.

  • Internet chum and movie endurer Ken Lowery has posted his 10 Best/5 Worst Movies list, which is good readin', as is all of Ken's writing over there. How good is he? He made me appreciate the film Doomsday after my initial "...the hell?" reaction.

  • I didn't explicitly ask for predictions for the coming year in yesterday's mile-long post, but if you want to leave some for examination next year, feel free in that post's comments section.

    I'm probably going to hold off on making any predictions myself...well, other than someone will do something stupid that'll cause me irritation out of proportion to the actual offense, but only because that seems to happen every year anyway.

  • Some serious stuff:

    Here's an update on Carla and her husband Lance, injured in the recent Santa Barbara fires.

    And this is the most recent update on the murder of our longtime customer Sean. Not much new news so far, other than his employers offering a $10,000 dollar reward. I also want to note that friends of Sean's have set up some donation jars around town to raise money for his family, including at our shop...and I'm glad to say that our customers have been very generous and giving.

    Very strange not seeing Sean at the shop this past week. Strange and sad.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

It took me forever to format this post. 

Well, I'm just gonna kind of scoot through last year's predictions left on my site by you folks. I'm not going to cover every single one...if I have something to say about 'em, I will...don't be offended if I don't specifically address your comments. I still love you. No one else loves you like I do. However, if you have something to say about the predictions, whether I cover them here or not, please feel free.
  • Phill:

    "I don't think Marvel's online comics scheme will last the year, at least not without changes. (Man, that was noncommittal.)"

    You know, here's one of the reasons I was sort of putting off the prediction commentary...I honestly have no idea how Marvel's online comics thing is going. Well, I know it's still going, sure, but how it's going...I don't know. Haven't been following.

  • Benjamin Birdie of The Rack:

    The Brand New Day experiment will be retooled rather quickly when sales grow uneven and unpredictable from one creative team to the next

    Hasn't happened yet, though sales do seem to be trending downward, with occasional spikes, as seen in this sales chart. Yes, I know that the sales figures that seem to show up in the various news sites have been questioned as to their accuracy, but this is probably enough to get an idea of where things are headed.

    I'll be surprised if the nearly-weekly Amazing Spider-Man schedule makes it through this year, if sales continue to drop. 'Course, I may very well be saying the same thing next year, assuming I haven't chucked the comics thing and gone into a respectable career like "drug mule" by then. Anyway, like I said recently, I'm sure we'll be seeing an announcement of a new ongoing Spidey title sooner rather than later.

    There will be a new artist on Batman


    Gerard Way will win an Eisner Award

    So will Gabriel Ba

    As a matter o'fact, they both did, for Umbrella Academy, which I haven't read just yet, but I hear is popular with all the kids. Ba also picked up an award for the self-published anthology 5 (with Becky Cloonan, Fabio Moon, Vasillis Lolos and Rafael Grampa).

    Marvel's Ultimate Universe will falter significantly when it gets caught up in its own version of Event Fatigue

    Well, something weird is going on, at any rate. I keep expecting the Ultimate line to go away, frankly, since its alleged reason for existing (giving new readers attracted by Marvel's media presence a jumping on point) is pretty much moot.

    Final Crisis will outsell Secret Invasion

    Well, it did once or thrice at our shop, anyway!

  • Just Some Guy:

    I predict a Marvel implosion. A slowing economy and an overextension by Quesada's policies (some of which if interpreted in the right light come across as grasping at straws to hold onto a failing comic line) cause Marvel to cut back their publishing schedule by more than 50%. The only division that has any expansion is trade paper backs and Marvel begins sinking into a company that only lives on selling its old assets.

    No dramatic implosion as of yet, but they're still in the "throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what will hopefully stick" phase, with a heavy turnover in mini-series and low-selling regular series featuring some new characters and revived old properties. DC on the other hand just knocked off quite a few mid-range titles, so we'll see if Marvel follows suit.


    I predict that all the same bitching and moaning about the state and fate of comics will continue its sad cycle (honestly, I was filing away some fanzines from the 1970's and read the same exact stuff in those articles and letter-columns that I read on the internet today. Practically word for word.

    Some things never change, my friend. Though (and I've thought this more than once) I wonder what the fans complaining about violence in comics back in the '70s would have thought about today's comics?

    Oh, and I ALSO predict that I'll be thoroughly enjoying Mike's Progressive Ruin ALL throughout 2008.

    Well, geez that didn't happen for anyone!

  • Gordon:

    ...that DC may rethink its plans for a third weekly series

    Well, they keep selling reasonably well, but eventually it's going to come to the point if the money made off the weeklies is worth the production headaches.

    ...Series 4 of DOCTOR WHO will receive much critical knocking, simply due to the fact that RTD may have "jumped the shark"

    What, Doctor Who fans, complaining? Sir, you've gone too far, too far.

    ...fans of ALL STAR BATMAN & ROBIN will realize that Frank Miller is engaging in lazy hackery. (And I don't use "hackery" lightly, either)


  • Steve Canadian:

    After a tepid reception to Secret Invasion and less-than-spectacular sales on the relaunched Amazing Spider-Man (after the flush of the first few months), Joe Q is forced to step down as Editor-In-Chief at Marvel.

    We've already discussed the Spider-Man situation, but here's the thing about Secret Invasion...it may have indeed received a less-than-enthusiastic response to the actual quality of the comic, but it still sold well, and ultimately that's what matters. Joe Q's job is safe, for the time being.

  • Dave Campbell:

    Massive influx of young readers to Spider-Man titles now that he's not married.

    No comment I can really add to that, is there?

  • Professor Fury:

    A Thundarr the Barbarian nostalgia craze will sweep fandom.

    Oddly enough, I think I may have watched more Thundarr in the last year than I ever have in my entire life. Thanks, cable cartoon channels! And by being on the air again...hey, who knows, maybe it is picking up new fans.

  • Bully:

    Things will happen. Words will be said. Lines will be drawn. Tempers will be raised. The gauntlet will be run.

    Well, I know I blew a gasket more than once this year. I wouldn't have to get so angry if people would stop being stupid. You know, like telling customers to NOT BUY while limiting their Free Comic Book Day book distribution and getting overly upset at a comic shop employee's brief moment of silliness while simultaneously telling me that sexual harassment at comic book conventions is no big deal. That may have grated on me.

  • Jon Cormier:

    That long awaited third issue of Ultimate Hulk v. Wolverine comes out and it explains why Black Panther has joined The Ultimates. But only in November or December.

    Oh, Jon, your youthful optimism brings this wizened old heart joy, but I'm afraid I have to break the news that we're well on our way to the third anniversary of the release of Ultimate Hulk Vs. Wolverine #2's release with no follow-up issue. (I know it's coming, but not 'til March. Supposedly.)

  • So-Called Austin Mayor:

    1. A superhero will die.

    Martian Manhunter.

    2. A superhero will come back to life.

    The Barry Allen Flash.

    3. A cross-title event will change everything.

    "Batman: R.I.P."

    4. A cross-title event will undue a cross-title event that changed everything.

    Um...Secret Invasion?

    5. A movie will be certain to increase interest in the comic.


    6. A movie will fail to increase interest in the comic.

    The rest of them.

    7. A creative genius' much-anticipated magnum opus will cause industry-wide buzz.

    Huh, what to pick. I'm going to say Hembeck Archives, because that was awesome.

    8. A creative genius' much-anticipated magnum opus will fail to appear.

    Redeemer. ...What?

    9. Snark will blossom on the internet.

    I didn't see anything like that happening. Oh, So-Called Austin Mayor, you kidder.

    10. Kirby will still be King!


  • Pal Dorian:

    Manga sales in bookstores decline steeply.

    ...While "kids sitting in the aisles reading the manga for free and picking which ones they're going to download off Bittorrent" have increased.

    At least one major indie publisher disappears.

    I'm sorry, did someone say "Virgin Comics?"

    A film based on a super-hero comic bombs at the box office.

    We thought Punisher War Zone was the biggest bomb, 'til along came The Spirit.

    The mainstream media praises a mediocre indie comic as the bestest thing EVAH!

    I'm sure they did, but don't recall any. All my news comes from the Lyndon LaRouche Excective Intelligence Review, and they don't cover comics.

    Sad, joyless people continue to gripe about ASB&RTBW.

    Now, Dor, they deserve our pity, not our scorn.

    Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk continues to be a no-show.

    This is what we call in the business a "gimme."

    Indie comics see noticable sales increases in the direct market.

    Did anything show noticeable sales increases? We sure could have used some.

  • Jason:

    Mark Millar will say one of the following two things depending upon the success/failure of the Wanted film adaptation:

    Success: "It succeeded because of my fantastic story! I am awesome!"

    Failure: "It failed because they changed my fantastic story! I am awesome!"

    I've no idea. What'd he end up saying?

  • Mike McGee:

    The new Spider-books will actually be good, heralding a move backward into not-so-grim-and-gritty superhero comics, but it'll still be too late to gain much in the way of new readership.

    By and large, people seem to be happy with the new Spider-Man books, but as discussed previously (and as you correctly surmised) new readers aren't exactly flocking to the books outside the usual fluke sales bumps.

  • Harvey Jerkwater (who MUST return to blogging, someday):

    Final Crisis will be greeted much as World War Hulk was: appreciated for making with the big booms and not sucking, a welcome bit of halfway-decent action and craziness after a string of disappointing crossovers. It will not be a beloved classic, but it will not generate the hoots of derision that came with Infinite Crisis.

    That's probably about right...outside of the typical "I don't understand" complaints that Morrison attracts simply by being attached to a project, the people who've actually read it seem to be enjoying it well enough. The tie-in minis seems to be taking the brunt of the criticism.

  • Tony Collett:

    The zombie fad will die out. Unfortunately, it'll be before Marvel Zombies 3 can be released.

    Marvel seems to have gone to that well one too many times, as many of us were thinking. And let me be clear: I've no beef with the Marvel Zombies comics. I think they're darkly amusing. But the novelty's worn thin, and that's reflected in how the third series is selling. (Though I wonder if it would have sold better if Kirkman remained on board?)

    All those comics companies still publishing next year, take one step forward. Uh uh, not so fast there, Virgin Comics and Zuda.

    Well, you're half right. I know Virgin's not completely gone, but c'mon.

  • Andrew Weiss:

    I will continue to wait for Date With Debbi/Swing With Scooter/Stanley and His Monster TPB collections, and I will be continue to be disappointed when they don't materialize.

    Sadly, sir, you are correct. If only there were some way a publisher could put a bunch of comics on some kind of cheaply-produced, widely available storage medium for easy distribution.

  • Ken Lowery:

    I will continue not to read cross-over events.

    So how are you liking Final Crisis, Ken? Ah ha ha. Ha ha. Ha ha HA. HA HA HA HA HA HA (cough) HA!

    I will forget about Spider-Man's stupid-ass divorce until someone reminds me with a "best/worst of 2008" list this time next year.

    Whoops, sorry.

    I will continue to shake my head sadly at every Virgin Comics cover I see.

    Thankfully that wasn't a problem for too long.

    I will weep like a bitch when reading Ennis's final PUNISHER MAX issue.

    Well, do tell.

    CLOVERFIELD will be forgotten by June.

    The what now?

  • Chad:

    Marvel's Ultimate line will cease to exist by the end of 2008.

    It looks like it's gonna lurch on a little longer. Though current events in those books sure have a sense of finality about them.

    ...but as far as LGBT representations in comics go, there won't be any significant strides, just a few of the same controversies.

    I think it was kind of a holding pattern this year. I don't recall any new controversies popping up, but my memory is terrible.

    Both of the Big Two will keep relying on writers from "respected" media who will continue to screw them over with missed deadlines and godawful stories that show no respect for the source material (a la J. Michael Straczynski, Orson Scott Card, Judi Picoult, etc.)...in fact, I think the trend will escalate.

    Did anyone like that new Kevin Smith Batman book? (Well, anyone online...it sells okay in our shop.)

    All in all, neither of the Big Two will successfully address the fact that the comics medium is not a respected art form in American culture (although I think DC, unlike Marvel, will make significant efforts), but smaller companies will make slow but steady progress.

    Hold on a sec, let me check...nope, not a respected art form in the U.S. yet. I was kinda hoping!

  • Philip:

    All Star Wonder Woman will not be completed.

    I'd completely forgotten about this. I'd call this a HIT, sir.

    Dark Horse and Image will stay their respective courses.

    A handful of good-selling titles and a bunch barely hanging on? Check.

  • Aqualad:

    "Iron Man" will go the way of "Daredevil," while "The Dark Knight" kicks it up a notch.

    In a way that's sort of right...while Iron Man was in fact a critically acclaimed hit, there was some wondering if Dark Knight was overshadowed...and lo and behold Dark Knight, if anything, was even better received than Iron Man, if only just barely.

    Honestly, it's hard for me to compare the two, except in that they sure raised the stakes for what a good superhero movie should be like. By comparison, the new Hulk, while certainly a good and entertaining film, seemed a bit shallow and by the numbers compared to those other two films.

    Buffy will go lesbian...and I will love every minute of it.

    I've told you all about that sign I saw on a table at Wizard World, right? "THIS ISSUE BUFFY GOES LESBIAN," or something like that, with a five or six buck price tag? All class. Anyway, whether you loved every minute of that, I have no idea. You'll have to tell me.

    Mike will finaly find a minor flaw in All-Star Batman, causing his ego to become fragile and open to complimenting an Ultimates storyline by accident.


  • Allan:

    A huge controversy over a completely trivial event (perhaps a tasteless cover, a piece of crass licensed merchandise or the death of a character no one previously cared about) will lead to the first Great Blogger War, which will result in the death of thousands.

    I was really looking forward to the Great Blogger War. Worst I got was some guy snarking about me in some sloppily-written post, which resulted in a small if amusing dogpile on the poor sap.

  • Redhead Fangirl:

    My local comics shop guy says that some comic stores will go out of business in 2008 because of the economy. Don't people know comics are a necessity not a luxury?

    Sadly, this was the case. It was a rough year, not just for comic shops, but for pretty much everyone. Here's hoping to a better 2009.

    Marvel with Joe at the helm will continue down the sad path of character deaths and annulled marriages.

    Well, they totally killed the Wasp twice, which seemed a bit excessive.

    Vertigo will continue to publish the smartest and most diverse stories.

    There's certainly some good stuff coming from Vertigo, but I have to say my favorite at the moment is the decidedly lowbrow Haunted Tank revival. It's a real hoot.

    Wonder Woman will find a true audience now that Gail is writing. BoP loses its magic though.

    While I think people are enjoying Wonder Woman, I think it's still in the process of finding its audience. The series' pre-Gail delays and misfires may have made folks a bit gunshy. And Birds of Prey, alas, is canceled. I think that counts as losing its magic.

    Librarians will receive promotions and accolades and financial compensation for all their work promoting and collecting graphic novels and trades! (or at least get another free badge for NYCC!)

    I used to be a librarian. "Financial compensation" usually meant "hey, someone dropped a nickel in the book return...TODAY WE EAT."

  • Googum:

    The mid-range comics keep getting shuffled: books like Catwoman, She-Hulk, Avengers: the Initiative, even Spider-Girl, won't be allowed to just coast along at their current level of sales. Relaunch will follow relaunch, making these books limited series without set ends.

    Well, more or less, only without the "relaunch" part. I suppose it's only a matter of time, though, before some of them come back. (And how can we miss Avengers: Initiative if it won't go away?)

    Marvel will piss off the fan community by naming a 'fan-favorite' (but low selling) character a Skrull, then try to use Skrulls as scapegoats to fix some problem like Iron Man.

    I don't know that anyone really cared enough to get angry. I'm sure someone did...this is the internet....but I didn't notice any particular cases of outrage over some character or 'nother being revealed as a Skrull. Eye-rolling, maybe.

  • Brian:

    In chain bookstores, the comics section will see manga continuing to take up more shelf space than superhero books, while the superheros will take up much more room than non-superhero Western graphic novels. However, non-Big 2 publishers will try to get their works promoted in other sections of the bookstore, much like Maus and Persepolis is shelved with memoirs, and the colored Bone goes in the kids section.
    Well, maybe that's a pipe dream of mine.

    I've been spending my year trying to get the local bookstores to rack the graphic novels with the role-playing books again. No reason, other than being a jerk.

    Seriously, I have been poking into the graphic novel sections at the bookstores and seeing a lot of tightly-packed shelves with increasingly shopworn books. I'm sure they must be selling something, and not just providing something to read while having a coffee at the in-store snack bar, otherwise they wouldn't devote the space.

  • Mark Kardwell:

    Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of its run: Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's FANTASTIC FOUR will get later and later.

    Well, its schedule isn't what I'd call strictly "monthly," no. So long as it's not Ultimates late.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Getting out the vote. 

Just noticed that pal Dorian has put in a little voting widget on his side project site Mike Sterling Is A Big Cheater Pants. Now you, the home viewer, can vote on just how big of a cheater pants I am. Just head over to Mike Sterling Is A Big Cheater Pants and look for the radiobutton thingie in the sidebar.

I know this was supposed to be another follow-up on last year's predictions... 

...but I got bit of a late start, it looks like that post will be a bit time intensive, and I'm still recovering from a cold I've been trying to shake all weekend, so WAH BLOGGING'S HARD. But I still love you...well, most of you, anyway...so here are a couple of awesome panels I wanted to share.

Like this one from Atlas Comics' Targitt #1 (March 1975):

Frankly, I need to do an extended look at this comic someday, because for at least this first issue it's an entertainingly-goofy two-fisted adventure book. Of course, this being Atlas Comics, there's a complete turn-around in the comic's premise in the very next issue, with the FBI agent title character getting a superhero costume.

And then there's this panel from another Atlas title, Phoenix #4 (October 1975):

...and you can't really turn up the drama much more than that, except that the title character begins his suicide attempt in the very next panel. But that panel up there...man, that's like a giant emo monument to bleakness. Well done, sirs, well done.

Anyway, kind of a lame post, I know, but if I tried this again you all would rise up against me with your rakes and torches and I'm already facing that from the employees.

So, with any luck I'll get around to discussing those predictions tomorrow. If, you know, you're still interested.

Targitt #1 by Ric Meyers & Howard Nostrand, Phoenix #4 by Gary Friedrich, Ric Estrada & Frank Giacoia

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Somebody somewhere will take at least one part of this post way too seriously. 

  • So the Final Crisis series and miscellaneous tie-ins have had two covers for each installment: the "stripe" cover, with a single thin image down the center, or the full "character focus" cover (for the lack of a better term), featuring an image that's spread across the entire front of the book. I've been sticking with the "stripe" covers, to keep my collection of this series visually unified because sad old fanboys like me do things like that.

    But I made an exception for Final Crisis Secret Files, as it gave me a choice between a "stripe" cover with a generic pic of Wonder Woman, and this:

    Why yes, I'll take a cool Frank Quitely cover, thank you.

    Also, from just a quick glance about the internets, apparently I'm the only person who liked this comic. Go ahead, tell me I'm wrong for liking it, you know you want to.

  • The big nerd to-do yesterday was the announcement of the actor taking the role of the Eleventh Doctor for the long-running Doctor Who franchise, and the lucky fellow finding himself the target of angry message boarders everywhere is Matt Smith. I'm not a hardcore Whovian, but I do enjoy the show and, while any reasonable person realizes it's too early to make any real kind of judgment call, I find myself looking forward to Smith taking on the role and seeing what direction the show goes in.

    Of course, I can hope for a nice, clean break from the subplots and supporting characters from the previous few years. I think the still-remaining specials starring the current Doctor, David Tennant, will go a long way to putting some distance between the baggage of the previous seasons and giving the new fellow a fresh start. I mean, it's not like we're not going to get the prerequisite Dalek episode(s), but just so long as we don't get "hmm, well, let's pop in and see how Rose/Martha/Donna is/are getting on" for at least a while, that'll be fine. Because I'm sure the show's producers are depending upon my approval.

    Anyway, yesterday on the Twitter, during the pre-announcement hoohar that was happening on that site, I posted this message:

    "I think Dr. Stephen Hawking was a very brave choice for the eleventh Doctor Who."

    ...because 1) hey, he's British, and 2) like Hawking isn't enough of a geek himself to totally take the role if they offered it to him.

    A few of my Twitter pals took up the phrasing of "I think ___________ was a very brave choice for the eleventh Doctor Who" and the end result was, well, this, some of which I thought were pretty funny, and plus had the added bonus of making me responsible for a little Twitter havoc. I've finally accomplished something.

    (Tip of the toupee to Dave for the Twitter search link.)

  • Also yesterday on the Twitter, I posted my idea of creating a massage parlor targeted at comic fans, with the entire staff costumed like Kitty Pryde from her various incarnations. This will make me rich beyond imagining.

  • I haven't had a chance to go see The Spirit yet, but I've been having more and more customers tell me that they enjoyed it. No, really.

    I'm picturing it as some kind of terrifying fever dream of a film, from what I've been hearing (and by what I've seen, since I cheated a little and looked at the trading card set). I may not get around to it until I rent it from the Netflix, but I'm gonna see this flick, sooner or later.

  • Apparently Saturday at the shop it was Former Employee Reunion Day, as about a half-dozen or so former employees popped in and out throughout the day (with the unusual exception of former employee Jeff, who I swear has been at the shop more often now than when he was employed here). Ironically, the two people who are supposed to be here, Employees Aaron and Tim, are out all weekend, leaving poor Kid Chris to fill in.

    I know none of this is important to anyone, but I felt I had to mark the day so that at least I remembered.

  • What did reader Joshua give me for New Year's Day? Why, he gave me All Star Swamp Thing, that's what. Thanks, Joshua!

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