mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Sluggo Saturday #1. 



from Comics on Parade #62 (September 1948)


Friday, May 08, 2009

In which a fleeting thought at work is good enough for blog content. 

So I was processing a recently-acquired collection, which included a copy of Our Fighting Forces #134 (Nov/Dec 1971):

...and it made me wonder, just for a moment, if this was the first usage of the word "butt" on the cover of a mainstream comic. That is, "butt" in the context of directly referring to someone's posterior, as opposed to the "butt of a cigarette" or "butt out!" or other usages.

I'm sure something like "move your butts, Easy Co.!" was shouted by Sgt. Rock on a cover at some point, but I've done absolutely zero, zilch, nada research on this, so I'm depending on your memories. Has the word "butt" (in the context of referring to, if I may use the medical term, the "ass") been used on a mainstream comic cover prior to this issue? This vital question must be answered!

Well, okay, maybe not. But this is the kind of thing that floats through my mind as I'm robotically processing, bagging, and tagging old funnybooks. The brain goes weird places sometimes.

I'm not sure how the conversation eventually got to this point, but these were the words spoken in our shop a few short weeks ago:

EMPLOYEE AARON: "Hey, Mike, if Carol Channing were a member of one of the Lantern Corps, what color would she be?"

ME: "Why, she'd be a Raaaaaaasssspberry Lantern, of course!"

EMPLOYEE AARON: "...I'm going to need a raise."

TWITTER SHENANIGANS: So a couple of days ago I started a series of "Stan Lee Porn" posts on the Twitter (starting with this post, though Tom Peyer actually came up with the Twitter-searchable #stanleeporn hashtag). And yesterday, because I was feeling especially sarcastic, I started #savecomics, with many impractical and smart-alecky ideas for this industry I've found myself working in. A couple of people took it a little more seriously than it was intended, I think, but it was some goofy fun at any rate.

So there you go. If you didn't like me taking part in pal Dorian's Uncomfortable Plot Summaries, you're certainly not going to like any of the above. But it was all in fun...and hey, sometimes I need to vent, and I can't always beat the employees.

Anyway, in conclusion, I refer you to this.

TWITTER: Destroying modern discourse one 140-character smart-ass message at a time.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

In which Mike discusses Free Comic Book Day with italics, bullet points, and numbered lists. 

Okay, let me finally say a few things about your comments re: Free Comic Book Day.

I should note right off that I'm not going to get on any store's case about limiting the number of books each person gets. With the economy as it is, and the comics industry in particular taking a pretty good hit, I can't really hold that against anyone. Yes, we did do our usual "everyone gets every comic" deal (with only "age-appropriateness" restrictions - details here) like we have for every previous FCBD, but also like in previous years, an in-store sale on the same day more than made up for the cost. But I realize not every store can do this, and so as long as 1) they gave away comics for free (i.e. not "only with purchase," which is totally against the spirit of FCBD) and 2) made an event of it (instead of just dumping the freebies in the box by the door with a tiny sign that says "FREE"), I'm not going to give anyone any grief.

Now to specific comments:
  • Anonymous wrote

    "Some stores will give costumers the available comics free,
    but then charge TWO CENTS per comic in SALES TAX!


    I honestly have no idea. Maybe there's some local tax ordinance requiring it or something? That barely seems worth the effort unless they're legally required to do so...or think they're required to do so, which could also be the issue here.

  • Old internet pal Lankyguy asks

    "I've always thought the point was to bring in NEW customers, so I stay away. I'm already buying the few comics I want."

    Well, it's a little o'this, a little o'that. Yes, we want new customers to try out comics...I've said before that the goal in some cases is simply to make people aware that 1) comics are still being published, 2) there might be some comics they'd actually like, and 3) hey, if you ever need any comics, well, here we are! But FCBD is also useful for getting the already-converted to try out new and different titles. Sales on comics like Queen & Country and Courtney Crumrin, for example, bumped upward quite a bit to our regular customers following the FCBD exposure.

  • Eric L comments

    "My local store was neither terribly exciting nor terribly disappointing. It was pretty crowded, but if the guy in line in front of me was any indication (he took way more than his allotment of freebies but only actually spent $2) I'm not sure how much good it did beyond attracting free loaders."

    Well, I try not to think of it as "freeloading," as such. We went into this with the thought that "we're going to give away all these comics for free." If people came in, got free comics, and left, that was pretty much that. Free Comic Book Day means "free comics," and no one who came into the store was obligated to do anything more than pick up the free stuff. So, you know, we knew what we were getting into, and that's okay. That we had a sale that encouraged people to look around the store at least briefly, and got several people to spend lots of money...that was simply a bonus.

    "How do most stores handle handing them out? At my store you could grab 2 FCBD freebies and 2 more from a box of surplus comics they had laying around. It sounded alright to me until I heard of stores just letting people take one of everything."

    It sounded like a lot of stores only let customers take a limited number of the FCBD books, like 2 or 3 out of the 40 different titles available. In our case, where we gave away one of each (again, per age requirements) to everyone, we handled things a little differently.

    We had tables set up at the front of the store, with the pre-bagged age-sorted assortments of the free books behind it. We also had extras of all the books laid out on the tables, so if people didn't want the whole enchilada handed to them, they could just pick out the ones they wanted. We limited folks to one of each comic per customer, but we were pretty good about letting even that limit slide if they needed an extra copy or two of something for anyone back home, or for a friend who couldn't make it in. We're lucky, in that most of our customers are pretty cool about it, and don't get greedy and try to make off with a pile of Owly or anything.

    This particular FCBD was much busier than in previous years, so it became apparent part way through the day that the continued pre-bagged distribution of the freebies was going to run us dry right quick, so we debagged the comics, laid them out on the tables with the other extras, and just let people pick and choose in order to stretch the stock out a bit. Still, at the end of the day we had less than one Diamond shipping box of leftovers, from the dozens of FCBD boxes we'd originally received.

  • Bully, the little stuffed bull what loves the funnybooks, asks

    "What sort of free comic would you produce if you were making one for FCBD? What would you like to see produced that maybe isn't being done?"

    Specifically, this year I would have liked to have seen a Star Trek comic from IDW, given the current excitement over the impending release of the new film. Ah, well.

    But in general? ...I think more self-contained stories, rather than books that lead into continuing sagas. Granted, most of the FCBD books are pretty good about this. However, you're not going to "trick" or coerce a new reader into coming in and buying all the follow-up trade paperbacks because you gave him or her 2/3rds of the first issue of Ultimate Spider-Man (which Marvel actually did for the first FCBD, if I remember correctly). If the comic is good, that'd be enough to get the reader back in, and a self-contained story I think would leave the reader a little more satisfied than something without an ending.

  • Mike Z. asks

    "Would you happen to have an Owly copy left?"

    Alas, we did run out. Owly is a popular title every FCBD. This reminds me to note, however, that we did just reorder more copies of Blackest Night #0 yesterday, since we're getting a lot of after-the-fact requests for that comic.

    We also have a lot of people looking for the Aliens/Predator comic, but there are no more to be had from the distributor, unfortunately.

  • Jonboy has this to say

    "Ultimately, I've had mixed feelings about the FCBD books in the past. They are either not kid friendly (which all FCBD books should be, IMO), or they are some oddball book that no LCS orders enough of."

    This year the books were intended to be, if not outright kid friendly, at least not filled with swearing and naked people, to avoid any legal hassles should one of the wrong books get into the wrong hands. There's nothing wrong I think with having some FCBD books aimed at older readers, so long as there's some discretion on the part of the retailers in distribution. Again, there wasn't anything too objectionable this time around, but, for example, it didn't seem likely to us that any 6 year olds were going to be terribly interested in William Shatner Presents, so we didn't put any of those in the kids bags.

    And we always try to order heavy on the oddball books, as invariably those are the ones that grab the most interest!

  • Philip sez

    "My shop was limiting guests to two of the Free books, but the clerk also shoved about eight other free non-FCBD books in my hand while I was standing there, but then chastised me for taking an FCBD book because 'You already have a ton of books in your hand.' Wha-?"

    I think that clerk violated my "don't be a dick" rule for FCBD. If the limit was two FCBD books, then you should have been allowed them, regardless of how many other non-FCBD freebies were forced upon you.

  • J Joyce wonders

    "...Should not the books be free to the shop?"

    It'd be nice, certainly, but if they were entirely free, I can see some stores totally abusing that and ordering thousands upon thousands of everything and letting the publishers eat the whole cost. By putting a nominal charge on the books, it still allows large orders for low costs, but requires retailers to order realistically within a budget, and not just place crazy go-wild orders for all the freebies with no cost risk to themselves.

  • David says

    "Saturday was my first FCBD. The store I went to let me have 4 free comics with a $5 purchase from the 50-cent bin. The guy in front on me in line bought $80 of new comics and back issues. They let him have five free comics."

    If they're tying FCBD distribution to purchase levels, that store is doing it wrong. It's free period, not "free with purchase."

  • Juisarian tells us

    "I ended up spending $92 on Free Comic Book Day. Now that's a promotion."

    Amen to that, my friend. Like I said, purchases aren't required to get your free comics, but brother, nowadays they sure as hell were appreciated.

Overall, it sounds like most people were pretty happy with Free Comic Book Day, and that they found some books to enjoy. I know our event was even more successful than last year, with more comics given away and more money spent at our sale. It's a long tiring day, requiring lots of set-up and planning, but it's always worth it.

In other news:
  • Well, gosh darn it, I was going to link to Matt Maxwell's contest giveaway for his great graphic novel Murder Moon, but I didn't realize the deadline was last midnight. So instead I shall link you to his site where you can learn more about his work, and to the Robot 6 archives where you can read his book Strangeways: The Thirsty for free, with new pages posted regularly!

  • If you like the Diamond Previews overviews, like my own End of Civilization posts, then perhaps you may be interested in pal Dorian's Previews for Gays, in which he rightfully admonishes the straight people, and in pal Dave's own overview, where he praises what needs to be praised, and scorns what is deserving of scorn. What more can any man ask, I say.

  • In case you missed it, I was interviewed for the Kirk-centric Star Trek podcast with the greatest name ever, "Look at His Butt." You can listen to me babble incoherently to two very kind and patient women right here.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Tina appears to be a bit forward. 

A brief exchange with Kevin Church on the Twitter (starting with this post) reminded me of the awesomeness that is DC Comics Presents #4 (Dec. 1978). It's Superman and the Metal Men, written by Len Wein and drawn by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez:

There's a whole lot goin' on in these three panels, it's hard to say where to begin. The Metal Men are all so expressive, and Superman has that great "pleased to meet you"/embarrassed-by-the-hero-worship look on his face. I think my favorite bits, though, include the exchange he has with Tin, as well as Dr. Klyburn of S.T.A.R. Labs admonishing Supes just a bit.

Also via Kevin, I learned that a sample of Mister Garcia-Lopez's Metal Men strip for the forthcoming Wednesday Comics weekly book is up on DC Comics' weblog, and you can see the penciled page (prior to Kevin Nowlan's inks) right here.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

In which I invite you to look at my butt. 

So I was interviewed recently for the long-running Kirk-centric Star Trek podcast Look at His Butt by the show's lovely and charming hosts Lene and the possibly-pseudonymous Jungle Kitty. No, don't worry, no butts are discussed, least of all mine, but we do talk Trek for about 20 minutes, discussing my thoughts on the new movie, merchandise past and present, the Trek funnybooks, and so forth. (I totally blanked on who was publishing what Trek reprints in trade paperback form, so please excuse my errors.)

Anyway, I'm no good at extemporaneous speaking for things like this, but if think you can handle my word salad-esque babbling, you may find the podcast here. Please feel free to give it a download and a listen. And thanks again to the ladies for inviting me on...this really is one of my favorite podcasts, and it was both fun and a bit strange to have these familiar voices suddenly talking to me!

My nickname for Kevin Church is likely unacceptable. 

  • Reader Gary clarifies just what was going on with those issues of Annihilation involving other rival godlike beings competing with Galactus...apparently not people from his homeworld stored in that cylinder. It's amazing the things I find myself typing on this site.

  • The Churchmonster has started his spin-off strip from The Rack, which stars longtime supporting character Lydia. Nice art by Max Riffner...go check it out.

  • Somehow I neglected to mention the "Rebuild Len Wein's Comic Collection" project, replacing books lost in his recent home fire. Details on how and what to donate are at the link.

  • Tim talks about the fact that there aren't a whole lot of the "old guard" of comic bloggers still standing, from that particular wave that included Tim, myself, and pal Dorian. One of these days, with my copious amounts of free time, I should take a look and see who is still around from the days when I first started my site. I think there may be more than we initially suspect. Also, it feels weird that I'm an "old guard" comics blogger...there are plenty of people who've been at it much longer, I know (like the all-powerful Neilalien), but I guess 5+ years is nothing to sneeze at, either.

  • Speaking of pal Dorian...in a shocking change of pace, he presents provocative pictures of pretty women in his latest Doctor Who post.

  • Please continue putting your Free Comic Book Day thoughts in this comments section...I'll be addressing them soon, honest.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Wrapping up a week o'Galactus. 

Just a couple of brief Galactus notes, then I'm going to give the site a rest for the day before tackling responses to my Free Comic Book Day posts from the last few days.

First, Reader Joel notes in this post's comments that some of Galactus' pals from his home planet, presumably ones from that giant cylinder Galactus shot off into his space, did come back during the Annihilation event hoohar. I didn't realize that, and I suppose that's what I get for not reading everything!

Secondly, I trust everyone saw that this came out last week from Marvel:

That would be issue #2 of the Marvel Assistant-Sized Spectacular, a callback to that publishing stunt Marvel did 20-something years ago where the assistant editors purportedly took over the books while the editors were at Comic Con, and proceeded to do wild and crazy things with the titles. Anyway, this comic didn't sell worth beans for us, even if it did have Galacta, the daughter of Galactus.

And finally, reader John Lancaster, who's been contributing banners for this site ever since I started taking submissions, put this together for me way back when and I never got around to using it since it was larger than the specified dimensions for my banner. But here it is, half size but full awesome:

I was planning on wrapping up Galactus week with some kind of explanation as to why I like the character so much, but my attempts were essentially variations on "he's just awesome, man." I suppose I just admired the out-thereness of the concept, a giant super-powered alien who shows up and wants to eat your planet, who wasn't really villainous since he was simply just trying to survive, and also had a bitchin' helmet. Plus, the character's concept was so strong that he maintained his dignity, his gravitas, and even a measure of melancholy regardless of circumstance...even when he was pining for Dazzler.

Reminder: if you have any thoughts or questions about Free Comic Book Day, feel free to throw 'em into my comments section from yesterday and I'll likely address them in the next day or so.

But for the rest of today...I'm relaxing!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Free Comic Book Day 2009, and 'I.O.U. One Galactus Post.' 

Okay, finally got together my links to my previous discussions of Free Comic Book Day...they'll probably migrate into somewhere in the sidebar for easy access:

2004: 1

2005: 1 2

2006: 1 2 3 4

2007: 1 2

2008: 1 2 3 4 5

Not much to add this time beyond what I've said before. We gave away nearly every FCBD book we had for this year, and business appeared to have been up from last year. No major problems, everyone seemed happy, Dana (kid sister of former employee Nathan #2) brought us cupcakes and soda, pal Dorian brought us cheeseburgers and fries, and a couple of readers of my site (hi guys!) came out all the way from Bakersfield to enjoy FCBD at our shop.

So, all in all, another successful Free Comic Book Day. Again, like I said, I don't have any new insights about the event this year, but if you have any questions or observations for me, please drop 'em in the comments section. (Just keep in mind I've already answered the "does it bring in new business" question.) Also, I did manage to get in some "live-Tweeting" of the day on my Twitter thingie. Includes a completely unnecessary Blackhawk battle-cry and gratuitous references to the rock band Foreigner. I'M DESTROYING INTERNET DISCOURSE.

Also, I'm curious as to what your favorite FCBD offering was this year. I'm a bit partial to the John Stanley Nancy/Melvin the Monster giveaway, myself, but you probably guessed that.

I haven't forgotten about Galactus Week, though we have had seven days in a row of Galactus posting here. I think I still have a thing or two to say about the fella, so I'll try to do that Monday to wrap up.

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