mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, March 14, 2009

We are experiencing some technical difficulties. 

Currently this site's atom and rss feeds are broken, so if you're reading my site through a feedreader...well, you're not reading this, I suppose. Apparently this has been an issue with some sites on the Blogger platform this week, and hopefully it will be resolved in short order. Until then...you can just read my posts on the site directly! Go ahead, there's plenty of room for everybody.

EDIT: Never mind...it's working now!

And thus begins my fifth and quite possibly final decade... 

...and it's beginning with WATCHMEN CUPCAKES:

...made for me by Kid Chris, Jessica and Luke. Totally awesome. Dr. Manhattan is chocolaty!

And if that wasn't enough, I received a second helping of mighty cupcakes (plus flowers!) from no less a personage than former employee Nathan's kid sister Dana, along with partner-in-crime New Employee Tim. They were cupcake-cones...cupcakes made in ice cream cones, frosted to look like actual ice cream. Pretty sweet. Alas, I didn't take a picture of the conecake bonanza, and trying the flatbed scanner on one would only end in tragedy, so you'll just have to take my word that they were awesome. Awesomely delicious.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Mike Sterling Celebrity Roast that happened on a handful of sites over the last 24 hours, masterminded, I'm suspecting, by pal Dorian, so let me direct you to these exciting and near libelous posts:

Pal Dorian

Bully the Little Stuffed Bull

Dave Campbell

Kevin Church (I only wish my life was this exciting)

Dave Lartigue

Chris Sims

Andrew Weiss (who's also my birthday twin...happy birthday, pal!)

Plus, longtime reader Isaac whipped out this image of me in my best summer clothes...I'm sure he'll be glad to know my girlfriend laughed and laughed when I showed that to her. I'm hoping she was laughing with me.

Thanks to everyone for your birthday wishes, and big thanks to my friends for going out of their way to make my 40th birthday...well, survivable. It really meant a lot to me.

By the way, today is my younger sister Jeanne's birthday, so please wish her well.

Thanks again, and I'll see you all tomorrow.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Thursday, March 12, 2009


Okay, I know everyone's probably sick of hearing about the Watchmen flick by now. But let me just throw out a few thoughts about the film, and we'll see where we go from here. I know I'm forgetting something, so I may do a follow-up at some point.

SPOILERS begin after the first pic, end after the second.

  • Overall, the look of the film is pretty much dead on. All the characters look right, all the sets look right, a number of the scenes are laid out to look like how they were presented in the comic. In fact, the adaptation of the story to film is pretty faithful, at least through the first half, allowing for some omissions and streamlining of the story. As I was watching, I was thinking to myself "okay, that was issue #1" (a few minutes pass) "okay, there was issue #2" and so on.

    In the second half of the movie, I had the impression that things were getting a little more compressed/streamlined, a few more little things were getting changed around, not always for the better. I have a specific example in mind that I'll bring up near the end of the "review" here.

  • I admit it: I was bothered that the team actually referred to themselves as "The Watchmen."

  • This film sure felt like "cut scenes ahoy," didn't it? The director's cut is going to be like seven hours long.

  • Things that appeared to bother other people that didn't really bother me all that much:

    1. The costumes, particularly for the older team, looking just a little too goofy, a little too much like the live action Tick series. Well...yeah, they're supposed to look gaudy and sorta goofy looking. That's pretty much how they looked in the comics, too.

    2. The "slow motion" effects in the fight scenes. It wasn't all that distracting to me. In fact, I thought the fight scenes were pretty effective.

    3. Dr. Manhattan's penis. Yeah, so it was a penis. Big whoop.

    4. The music. I don't know that we've had a superhero movie in recent memory that used so many songs from popular culture. Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, even Nena with "99 Luftballons." This movie certainly didn't sound like any other superhero flick. Maybe they were songs we've all heard a million times before, but...hell, I can handle a million and one. (And perhaps this was a commentary on the overuse of said songs, by cramming them all together into one soundtrack? If so, that'd be one of the very few, if any, overt instances of the film commenting on itself, following in the self-commentary of the source material.)

  • Okay, how awesome was Matt Frewer as Moloch? Okay, he wasn't in the film very much, but I thought he did a good job. Plus I just plain like Matt Frewer. I even watched his short-lived sitcom Doctor Doctor. You remember Doctor Doctor, don't you? Sure you do.

  • The sex scene: okay, we get that Dan got his mojo back after tooling around in the costume. And perhaps the sex scene made a counterpoint to the excess of bloody violence in the film. But...well, as a customer put it, "that was a whole lot of thrusts we had to watch onscreen." Someone somewhere in the MPAA was keeping a count and making sure this film didn't cross over in the X territory.

  • Kid Chris noted this, and he ain't wrong: why is Ozymandias' genetically altered lynx Bubastis in the film? In the comic, Bubastis' main purpose is to demonstrate the current level of genetic engineering available to Ozymandias, foreshadowing the alien creature construct from the original ending.

  • And speaking of the changed ending: the new ending, with Ozymandias destroying cities around the world and making it look like Manhattan did it, in order to get the world to pull back from world war and unite against a common enemy, didn't sit quite right with me for one reason. Manhattan was known to be American, and long associated with the U.S. military. It seems to me the rest of the world would be awfully pissed at the U.S. for losing control of their weapon, rather than wanting to buddy up with them against a renegade superhero.

    Now, I suggested this to a few internet pals via the e-mail, and they had a lengthy debate why this would or would not be the case. I personally thought having the alleged threat be completely "outside" would be more conducive to the kind of worldwide joining together established in the story's ending, leaving no room for recriminations or accusations how the world situation is the U.S.'s fault. But it was pointed out that with either ending, this sort of unification was likely to be shortlived anyway. Or that the need to behave with a vengeful Manhattan supposedly watching would override any desire to retaliate against the U.S. Or, you know, whatever...there are plenty of good arguments on either side of why either plan would work/wouldn't work. Basically the plan of choice works because the people making this story want it to. The end.

    Anyway, despite all that, it really didn't bother me all that much. Just thought it was worth thinking about.

  • One other aspect of the ending that bothered me was the "nothing ever ends" line being given to Laurie to say as "something that Jon would say" rather than having Manhattan actually deliver the line to Ozymandias as he does in the book. Sorta undermines the impact.

  • Oh, and Nite Owl doing the "NOOOOOOO!" thing and falling to his knees, near the end there...? Really, movie, that's what you want to do? You sure?

  • And this isn't really specific to the film, but it just sort of dawned on me as I left the theatre and can't believe I hadn't thought about this before. So, the clock motif that repeats itself throughout the story, with the minute hand always stuck at just before twelve? It occurs to me that the hydrogen symbol on Manhattan's forehead is yet another repeat of that motif, only with the "hand" (as it were) at the twelve o'clock position. At least, there's nothing in the "clock's" face visible as a distinct minute hand, so if we're going to extend the clock symbolism, it would read as both hands being straight up at 12.

    Thought that was a bit interesting. And, as Kid Chris mentioned to me when I brought this up to him, this particular bit of symbolism has more resonance in the film version than the comic version, given the altered ending.

    EDIT: Well, I feel dumb. One of my readers has an equally valid, if not superior, interpretation.

That may have sounded like I disliked the movie more than I did. And no, I didn't hate the movie. It was entertaining enough, and if Watchmen was going to be made into a film, by hook or by crook, this film is at least reasonably acceptable. I don't know if it's going to convince anyone new to the property that the source material is, in fact, "the most celebrated graphic novel of all time" unless they go and check out the book itself. But the film stands as an interesting novelty, a sidebar to the graphic novel rather than any kind of replacement...not that anything really could replace the graphic novel, mind you.

Well, maybe that Watchmen driving game I hoped for a while back, but that's pretty much it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

No post today... 

...as I went to the 11 PM showing of Watchmen, and I'm now writing this at about 3 in the morning with a New Comics Day starting in, oh, about six hours.

On the plus side of going to an 11 PM showing on a Monday night: there were a total of four people in the theatre, including my girlfriend and I. On the minus side: I'm writing this at 3 in the morning, as previously noted.

I'll probably write some kind of longer review of the movie at some point, but in short: better than I was expecting, but the adaptation was almost all surface-level, with little of the depth (or, as should be expected, impact) of the original work. The book was better, but you knew that.

But what the hell, I got to see it for free, so I'm not complaining. Thanks, customer who gave us special promotional film passes from his radio job!

Anyway, enough about that...I'm off to bed.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A commercial announcement or two, and some Watchmen sales talk. 

El Gorgo #2, the world's only comic about a luchador gorilla scientist, is now out in stores...and also available as a free download from the official site in a variety of formats. However, I do recommend buying your own copies because, c'mon, you want to be seen strolling around town with a copy or three of this comic tucked under your arm. Men will cower, women will swoon!

Seriously though, this comic is a lot of fun. It's an unpretentious, unabashedly goofy comic book that evokes the silliness of the Silver Age while still forging its own enjoyably peculiar path. El Gorgo is highly recommended!

Also, I'm selling a variety of items on the eBay to meet some expenses, with a few of those auctions ending this evening. If you want to help a pal out, and get some actual merchandise that I personally have touched with my own filthy, filthy hands, then please feel free to bid!

The first of DC's "After Watchmen" dollar book promotions is due out this week, featuring issue #21 of Saga of the Swamp Thing. I've already discussed my thoughts on how this particular promotion will do, but I am curious to see how the Watchmen graphic novel will do this week, now that the film has been released and, traditionally, any sales bump that comics made into movies may have experienced tend to dissipate right about now. We did move an awful lot of copies over the weekend, which was a bit of a relief as, due to a reordering mix-up (and the fact that reorders over the last few weeks have been delayed due to Diamond moving warehouses), I accidentally doubled the number of copies I'd actually wanted for the movie's opening. Thankfully that worked out, due to a combination of some increased demand over the last few days and the fact that I set up a small display of the books by the register for impulse sales.

Once Watchmen burn-out has set in, I expect the sales to drop like a stone on these things, but the real trick is whether or not that drop is temporary. Watchmen has always sold well, to the point where I kept thinking "okay, that's it, everyone's read Watchmen by now," but then we'd sell more. It's truly a perennial seller, still moving copies long after sales on flash-in-the-pan "hot" books like Civil War have dwindled down to relatively nothing. I'm hoping Watchmen will eventually recover from the post-movie dip, like Hellboy did for us after its films, and not simply continue to languish on the shelf like, say, Sin City or League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.*

Of course, if sales on Watchmen are still up, up, up this week too, I'm not going to complain about being wrong. But eventually the movie-inspired sales bump will go away, and the question remains if and when the book will recover. I suppose it depends if the book's reputation remains "greatest graphic novel ever" or if it transmutes to "oh, yeah, I saw that movie...boy, that was stupid."

I've been meaning to link to this and just never got around to it, but so long as I'm talking about sales: Johanna compiles and examines Archie Comics' sales for 2008. And I'm not just linking because I helped a little. (Very little!) The numbers are somehow both surprising and yet not totally unexpected, and you should go take a look.

* I should note the fact that Hellboy is still a Going Thing helps counter the impact of the movies. League is showing some stirrings of life in trade sales again, as a new installment approaches. If Sin City were to have a new series, its backlist might start moving again, too.

However, none of this bodes well for Watchmen, which won't have any kind of follow-up installments. Presumably.

Monday, March 09, 2009

I could probably use one of these for my own philatelic endeavors. 


yet another item pulled from Batman #237 (June 1971)

You can see a picture of the box here. And c'mon, they couldn't spring for yet another attachment to convert the compass into a sundial...you gotta provide your own stick and/or pencil? Though I gotta give 'em credit for that firestarter attachment.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Because YOU demanded it! 



I'm even holding a copy of this week's Comic Shop News, to authenticate that both the comic and the CSN came out this week, or something, though I suppose that really doesn't hold up as "evidence," as such, for future generations who may look back to us to fill in gaps in the record re: comic book shipping. Because that's important and surely future historians will want to know.

Anyway, there you all go. Not a hoax, not a dream, not an imaginary story, not a cheap color copy mock-up I slapped together. It's the Real Thing, baby...a photo taken by pal Dorian of me, holding the actual and much-delayed Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk #3 in my hot little hands.

So, you all ready for issue #4, due Any Day Now?

Also, despite appearances, I'm not giving the comic or the newsletter the "smell test."

"...I am not a nut or tripping or anything!" 

I don't want to be all "people of years past had different slang than us and it's slightly amusing!" on you, but there were a couple of turns of phrases in this letter (from Batman #237, June 1971) that I enjoyed, so I thought I'd just show the whole thing:

But this letter also reminded me of the times when the publishers would, if not apologize, at least attempt to explain to (or warn!) their readerships about impending price increases. That there's even space devoted to a dialogue about this between the readers and the editors on the letters pages is sort of...quaint, I guess. Well, letter pages in and of themselves probably seem sort of quaint, too, nowadays, what with all of you with the blogs and the message boards and the Twitters and the transistor radios.

This is an archive page for the old Blogger version of Progressive Ruin, kept around to maintain all the old permalinks. Please visit the main page for the current version of this site. Thanks for visiting, and sorry for the inconvenience!

Copyright © 2003-10 Mike Sterling. Some images used are copyright © their respective copyright owners.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?