mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sluggo Saturday #8. 



from Nancy and Sluggo #133 (June 1956)


Friday, June 26, 2009

Ed, Farrah, and Michael. 

I don't have really anything to add that you haven't already heard regarding the recent passings of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson. That's a pretty large swath of pop culture celebrity to be cut away from the world, and one I would have felt funny just ignoring and moving on with the funnybook talk.

I remember Ed as, what else, Johnny Carson's support crew, always on the chair/couch there next to Johnny's desk, ready with a hearty chuckle or a well-timed straight line. Not so much a relationship between sidekick and host as it was a finely-honed comedy team. I loved Johnny, and Johnny loved Ed, and if Johnny loved Ed, then that was good enough for me...I loved Ed, too.

Oddly enough, when I think of Farrah Fawcett, I don't think of her famous pin-up poster, or of her role on Charlie's Angels. I think of some six-or-eight page color insert in...Omni Magazine, I want to say, though I'm pretty sure that's wrong...advertising the then-upcoming surely-spectacular hit film Saturn 3, in which she starred. I'm not even sure I ever got around to seeing Saturn 3 all the way through on cable, but I do remember how fascinated I was with that magazine preview insert, and that weird robot. ...That's not really saying much about Farrah, specifically, I realize.

And Michael Jackson...it's hard to say where I fall on my opinion on Michael Jackson. There's no denying his impact and importance on the music industry, as well as there's no denying his peculiar exploits over the years, or the outright scandals. It's a strange mix of admiration, revulsion, and pity. While he created some wonderful things (I mean, look at this track listing...you know nearly all of these songs), his existence seemed to be an endless succession of near-caricatural examples of the extremes of celebrity.

Anyway, my condolences to their friends and families. So long, Ed. So long, Farrah. So long, Michael.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Progressive Ruin presents...the End of Civilization. 

Say, friend! Are you feeling down in the dumps? Has the world beat you down? Are you on your last legs? Well, follow along with me as I go through the July 2009 edition of Diamond Previews and examine many items of interest, and we'll see if we can't finish you off once and for all! (And if that doesn't work, there are over 50 previous installments of End of Civilization linked in the sidebar!)

p. 138 - Bomb Queen VI #1:

While personally I think the premise presented for this particular comic provides an amusing contrast to the Obama-exploitathon in other titles, I'm wondering what's going to be the final straw...the one that finally gets a comment and/or a condemnation from the White House. You know, like "C'mon, guys, lay off, will ya? What's next, a comic about the President's do --"

p.211 - Puppy Power: Bo Obama:


p. 344 - Black Lantern t-shirts:

I picture these as being very worrying to the uninitiated. "Oh, look, Henry, that young man is wearing a shirt that just says 'Death.' Don't make eye-contact...don't make eye-contact!"

p. 347 - I Only Read Graphic Novels Black T-shirt:

Let the world at large know that you're a comic fan of discerning taste, preferring your illustrated storytelling in larger doses, that you're not going to be beholden to a monthly schedule enforced by the publishers-that-be.

Or, in short, that you're still a dork. Hey, own your dorkiness, my friends.

p. 356 - Beverley Hills Cops Minimates Box Set:

This item will probably pull a larger profit than Mr. Murphy's last film.

p. 361 - Indiana Jones Room Booby Trap:

"Use a latched and spring-loaded Mayan idol to shower intruders with realistic plastic bugs from atop your door, or encounter a [sic] idol which launches darts at intruders."

Well, I suppose those are okay as traps go...if you're some kind of wimp. Wake me when this company markets something that'll let me do this:

p. 362 - [OFFERED AGAIN] The Spirit Movie 12-inch Deluxe Figure:

I suspect this figure is going to be OFFERED AGAIN in future catalogs for some time to come.

p. 364 - Star Wars The Force Trainer:

"As you concentrate, beta waves are generated. This information is translated in the headset into a digital signal and sent to the training tower, causing the training remote to rise and fall."

Hopefully this won't cause unrealistic expectations in any impressionable children:

"Little Billy...? What are you doing?"

"I'm trying to use my Force Powers to bring the TV remote control from the other side of the room to me."

"Um, Little Billy...there's no such thing as the Force."

"B-but I mastered the Force Trainer...! Are you telling me it's all a lie? THE TOY LIED TO ME!?"

...Okay, that's a long way to go for not much of a joke. Here's the alternate: "TOTALLY NOT A BONG." There, it's funnier because it's shorter and it's about bongs.

p. 370 - Alien 1/1-Scale Lifesize Bust:

It's a thousand bucks, but I won't lie...if I had more money than I knew what to do with, I'd totally buy one of these. Hell, I'd buy two and use them as armrests on my custom-made couch.

p. 371 - Battlestar Galactica Little Frakkin' Toaster Cylon Maquette:

I never not replace, in my head, every usage of the term "frak" with the actual vulgarity it's replacing whenever I hear or see it. "Yeah, here's this little f[beep!]ing Cylon thing...whatever, man."

p. 378 - Terminator 25th Anniversary Jacket:

I was going to say "oh, like anyone's going to see you wearing this jacket and say 'hey, that's just like the jacket in the Terminator movie!'" -- but then I realized, yeah, someone probably would. Some people are pretty scary.

p. 378 - Star Wars Darth Maul 1/6-Scale Holographic Bust:

Perhaps it's just a bad photo, or that it's just hard to photograph, or that it looks better when the internal light is turned on, but as it is now, it looks like there's been an accident in the molding process.

p. 394 - Watchmen Be@rbricks 400/100 Percent Set:

So you get a little version and a version four times the size, but I think, regardless of size, they are all equally able to cause Alan Moore a conniption. (I do like the blood-splat over where the bear's eye would be.)

p. 400 - Star Trek Pon Farr Perfume for Women:

"Sharp and aggressive, exotic yet simple, Pon Farr will drive him crazy with blood lust."

This is just slightly worrying. Anyway, I don't really have any more jokes about Star Trek perfumes (after the last batch)...mostly I'm just amazed this even exists.

p. 403 - Star Wars Back Buddies: Darth Vader:

And now...the Saddest Darth Vader of Them All:

"Won't somebody [HAAAH-PURRRR] wuuuuuv me?"

a tip o'the toupee to Bully the Little Stuffed Bull for the Indy still

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

But perhaps I'm not being too cynical. 

Lots of good discussion (and the occasional cheap joke!) about comic book covers in the comment threads (1 2) from the last couple of days' worth of posts, so feel free to join in. I'm still trying to think of how I'm going to sum it all up in a day or two, if at all. But anyway, give the comments a read, as folks have had some interesting things to say.

In the meantime, "Anonymous" has a couple of questions for me:

"1. How did you stock Herogasm at your store without (much) embarrassment?"

Well, hell, after Pee Soup and Blowjob, a title like Herogasm can practically have "Walt Disney Presents" in front of it.

Okay, perhaps I exaggerate slightly. After all, Pee Soup et al aren't exactly being put on the rack next to Supergirl and Marvel Adventures: Avengers. We are displaying Herogasm, but on racks where the bottom half of the cover is obscured by the top of the comics in the row just below it, so that mitigates the embarrassment a bit. Of course, it does still have a big ol' "HEROGASM" across the top, so, uh, yeah, anyway. It hasn't been a problem, and we haven't had any young'uns giggling at the title and trying to get their hands on it, so, so far, so good. We're keeping an eye out for any trouble that may arise, but I think we're okay.

That it doesn't feature any of the major known-by-the-public properties helps as well, so it's primarily ignored by the folks who are likely to be offended by it. If this were Spider-Man: Herogasm, we might have a problem...not to mention a completely insane and possibly fantastic Spider-Man comic. (And yes, I'm aware of this article about someone discovering some excessively nekkid Batman story, which would seem vaguely related to what we're talking about.)

"2. How can Captain America and Incredible Hulk have #600 issues WITHOUT having #500 issues like Action Comics, Detective Comics, Superman, Batman, Thor, Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man, and Uncanny X-Men?"


Restarting a title from #1 usually creates a temporary sales bump, as retailers tend to order a little more on first issues, even if sales on the previous title featuring the same property were fairly moribund. For example, when Spider-Girl was relaunched as Amazing Spider-Girl, it experienced exactly that. Sales were up for an issue or two, then fell down to the sales level that it has when the previous series approached issue #100.

In some cases, if the previous series was close enough to an issue number divisible by 100, a new series that no longer has the "first issue sales bump" going for it will revert back to the previous series' numbering (adding in the number of issues published under the new numbering system), just in time for an Extra Special Large Size Anniversary Issue that would hopefully bring about yet another temporary sales bump.

In Captain America's case, I think I've even heard that there was an error made in figuring out the title's numbering if it had never been restarted, so that what they're calling "Issue #600" actually isn't #600. I've no idea...I'll let other folks worry about it. It's just a big mess, anyway, and I'm sure a century from now, if anyone still cares, it'll be awfully confusing for anyone trying to figure it out too long after the fact.

Keep in mind a lot of that second answer has been run through my Cynic-Filter™ and thus perhaps I'm making a too-downbeat interpretation of genuine customer outreach via such attention-grabbing efforts as renumbering and anniversary issues, required in this marketplace of overcrowded racks, declining readership, and a damaged economy.

Anyhoo, Anonymous, I hope that answers your questions. If anyone has anything to add to what I said, I'm sure they'll pop into the comments and let us know. Also, why use "Anonymous?" If you don't want to use your own name, then make up a new one! Have fun with it!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I have a question for you at the end. 

I'll probably get around to responding directly to some of your comments to yesterday's post in the next day or so. But just to clarify...I've got no particular preference for word balloons being or not being on comic covers. If it works, put it in. If not, leave 'em out. But as was noted...an endless series of balloonless and blurbless covers featuring the star of the book posing in generic settings (i.e. Spider-Man swinging through the city) is no way to attract attention.

My favorite attention-grabbing comic covers, though, have got to be on Sgt. Rock (and Our Army at War). I've processed a number of collections of them over the years, and I have to (usually unsuccessfully) fight the urge to poke through each issue to see just what the hell was going on inside after seeing the wonderful, compelling covers they almost always had.

Here are a couple of samples, "borrowed" from the Grand Comic Book Database:

You can see a whole bunch more here. Man, I love these covers. They sure knew how to grab you.

So I have a question for you, the kind and gentle readers. What was the last really compelling, really "I have got to see what's going on inside this book" cover that you've come across? I don't mean just an attractive cover that got your attention because it was aesthetically pleasing (like my deal with Uptight #3 I discussed recently). I mean, you saw the cover, saw the situation it set up, and you felt like you had to pick it up and see just how this situation resolved.

Please let me know in the comments. No purchase necessary, no salesman will call.

Oh, and here, as promised in the post's title, is the Question at the end:

No need to thank me.

Monday, June 22, 2009

There are nine word balloons on this cover. 

Justice League of America #161 (Dec. 1978) - art by Dick Dillin & Frank McLaughlin

Whenever I come across this cover at the shop, I just sorta pause and ponder it briefly.

1. Like the subject line on this post says, there are nine world balloons and eight speaking parts on this cover. This is almost the exact opposite of modern superhero comic books, which openly shun word balloons. Shun, I say.

2. Most of the folks on the cover are pretty pissed at Zatanna turning down membership, but Superman's innocent-yet-arrogant shock always amuses me. "But we're so great...why would anyone turn us down?" (Here's another guy who turned down these jive JLA turkeys.)

3. Who or what is Zatanna looking at? Is it at us? Is Zatanna magically breaking the fourth wall, years before she did it in Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers: Zatanna mini?

4. That's probably Zatanna's worst costume. This other costume of hers wasn't bad, particularly when George Perez was drawing it, but clearly her best look was this.

5. I don't recall that Zatanna shot magical energy blasts out her fingertips all that often. Maybe I'm just not remembering.

6. Just picture the members of the Justice League standing around that long, gray table, passing the notepad and pencil around as they write in Zatanna's name (or not write it in, or write "no way," or something) and tear out the page to place in the bowl. Seems like an awfully mundane process for a superhero team. I mean, even the Legion of Super-Heroes had the Planetary Chance Machine. Then again, the Legion is a thousand years in the future...perhaps the Justice League was not yet prepared for such technology.

7. But seriously, that's a lot of word balloons. Can any of you folks think of comic covers that have more than nine? I'm sure they're out there...a lot of those old crime comics seemed to give speaking parts to every man, woman, and child that happened to be on that cover. If you can think of one, go ahead and pop it into the comments.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A short Sunday. 

A little follow-up on yesterday's Sluggo Saturday entry...first, I didn't crop that image. That's how the panel appeared in the comic. Second, here is the panel just previous to that one:

...though frankly, that doesn't make it any less disturbing. "Clean, Sluggo. Clean, or the pain shall continue."

Anyway, I've had a long week, so I'm taking a bit of a break from the blogging today. Partial refunds for your admission prices will be issued to you shortly. In the meantime...anyone want about thirty copies of Dazzler #1 (1981) in around Fine or better? Struck a vein of them in this bulk comic stock we acquired a while back that I'm just getting around to processing.

Also, I see via Neilalien that the new Sorcerer Supreme of the Marvel Universe, formerly Dr. Strange, will now be Fred Hembeck's favorite character Brother Voodoo. Well, okay, I knew that part already. But what I didn't know is that the character will now be called "Doctor Voodoo," which, aside from these particular comics not being my thing, is actually kind of an awesome name. "BEHOLD DOCTOR VOODOO." That is both silly and wonderful.

Okay, enough of that sort of thing. See you folks tomorrow!

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