mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sluggo Saturday #10. 


from Nancy and Sluggo #125 (October 1955) - caption from this book


Friday, July 10, 2009

A little more Wednesday on Friday. 

Still making some slow progress on getting posts labeled here at Progressive Ruin Industries: there are now tags for the 1990s market crash, not to mention racial sensitivity in comic books, if you want to see all (or most, anyway) posts relating to those.

Like I said, it's slow going, and many of the other labels you'll see on those posts don't link to too much so far. But there will be an "All Star Batman" label, and God help me, I've tagged at least one post "pogs."

Thank you for all your responses to yesterday's Wednesday Comics post. (There was also some completely random Canada bashing...hey, I've no beef with Canada. I love Bob & Doug MacKenzie, and I'm sure every Canadian is exactly like them.)

Let me address a couple of questions/comments that popped up there:

Bryan wants to know

"Will stores be able to back order issues over the next few weeks? Because I can sort of see this as being something where if you don't get in on the ground floor, the serialised natured will make it impossible to start reading it after a few weeks, and the chances of a 'breakthrough' comic deflate with each passing week."

I certainly hope so. We ordered plenty of the first few issues, assuming that the odd format would possibly mean little to no overprinting for later reorders. But, I just checked Diamond's retailer site as I was typing this, and the first issue is still available for reorder. Of course, it's only been out for a day or two, but that it's not sold out at the distributor level already is a little reassuring that there is some kind of overprint for reorders available.

Richard asks

"I haven't gone to the shop and picked up my copy yet, but are there any other type of characters included besides superheroes?

If not, why not?"

A couple of folks (including one of the project's writers!) already answered this, but no, it's not all superheroes, depending on how you define the term. Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth, is sci-fi fantasy, I suppose, though as the character's adventures are usually presented, it's only barely distinguishable from superhero-style books. In the case of Wednesday Comics, however, the strip is given a more Prince Valiant-esque treatment, which is quite nicely done. Sgt. Rock also appears, and I've seen the argument made in the past that Rock is basically just a superhero strip done in war drag, and in the comments the argument is made that Adam Strange is more in the pulp sci-fi hero tradition than in the superhero tradition. That's fair enough, though Strange toes the line a bit, I think. But, as I was discussing this with some pals, someone much wiser than me noted that if I stretch the meaning of "superhero" too far, it's just going to lose any meaning.

So, for the sake of not being contrarian, I'll agree that Kamandi is post apocalyptic sci-fantasy adventure, Sgt. Rock is a war comic, and Adam Strange is pulp hero sci-fi. Thus, there's at least a little variety outside the super-guys.

However, I'm still sticking to my contention that Neil Gaiman's Sandman is totally a superhero comic. Don't you argue with me, I'm totally right on this.

CW sez

"What's going to be interesting is to see in thirty years how many mint examples of the 'Wednesday Comics' will be in existence. It's a difficult format to keep in a collection."

We were joking about that at the shop on New Comics Day. "Dear God in heaven, IT'S NOT MINT!" Plus, we were wondering if CGC would slab these folded, or manufacture an oversized plastic covering that could accommodate an unfolded version. There probably is one that size already, which I suppose I could find out if I felt like checking.

I suppose if I had to preserve 'em, I'd just put them in bags and find a place on my bookshelf, or just keep 'em in magazine boxes.

Rob notes

"...In my interview with Mark Chiarello for my TreasuryComics.com site, he said that if WC is a big hit, then they'd do another series--which might mean there'd be a wider, more diverse set of characters (I'd love to see a Jonah Hex, Plastic Man, even Sugar and Spike!)"

Jonah Hex would be a good idea, particularly since I hear tell there's a film coming out based on the character. Plastic Man would be good, since he has a pretty high recognition factor among those folks what don't normally read the funnybooks. Sugar & Spike, if it ran, had better be Shelly Mayer stories reedited for this new format.

And how about a Swamp Thing strip, he said unbiasedly.

JBS asks

"Is this being distributed to outlets besides funny book stores?"

Not that I'm aware of. Probably some marketing/distribution thing that makes it a little more difficult getting it into stores that generally just handle the regular comics. Or perhaps DC didn't want to take the chance on massive returns for this experimental item. Or whatever the reason, I have no idea. I suppose it could sell if a miracle happened and it was put on the shelves next to the grocery line, but don't hold your breath, because that ain't happening. Unless another 3 or 4 tabloid magazines go out of business.

And then there are a few more comments about storage and handling of this item, and that had me wondering about how they're going to eventually reprint these stories. I'd like to see thin, 12-page oversized magazines or even hardcovers for each story, on nice paper. Again, breath, do not hold. But those would be neat!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

In which I talk too much about Wednesday Comics

The big release that's got folks' attention this week is, of course, Wednesday Comics, the Sunday Funnies-esque comics tabloid we've been waiting for. It's beautifully done, with a variety of styles showcasing a good sampling of DC's adventure/super hero characters. I was going to note a couple of favorites, but I can't really narrow it down. All the entries grabbed my interest, and I certainly look forward to future installments. (But I have to note that Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez's Metal Men looks just as fantastic as I was hoping, even with the characters appearing (with one exception) in their human costumes. So, so good.)

In addition to the copy I picked up for myself, I grabbed one for the girlfriend's nieces and nephews to share and read, and as it turned out, I wasn't the only one picking up extra copies for other people. We had several instances of multiple copy sales for Wednesday Comics for, we were told, the express purpose of passing them around.

I'm a bit skeptical the idea of "breakout" comics -- those titles that allegedly will be the ones that'll finally get the general public popping into the comic shops every week to pick up all the latest issues. At best, what we get are "fad" or "fluke" sales to the general public, such as the death of Captain America: high sales on just the one hyped issue to clientele outside the regular customer base, who do not return for any follow-ups. Or there are situations like Stephen King's Dark Tower or Anita Blake or, to a lesser extent, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8, where sales to the general public were high on initial issues, until that section of the customer base decided that popping into the funnybook store once a month was too much trouble (or, depending on the store, too unappealing a prospect) and opted to buy the eventual hardcover or trade collections on Amazon for 40% off cover price instead.

If these sales to the general public, temporary as they may be, do anything for the comics industry, at the very least it's keeping comics in the public eye. It reminds folks that hey, comics still exist, we're still an entertainment option, you know, if you've got nothing else to spend money on at the moment.

(I realize this is ignoring things like Naruto and Dragonball and other popular manga, that seem to have "broken out" just fine, but when people talk about the magical "breakout comic," it seems like they're talking which title from the Big Two is going to finally turn Mr. Chad T. Accountant into an X-Men fan.)

Anyway, the reason I laid all that out on you was to suggest that Wednesday Comics has the small potential of, if not being a "breakout comic," at least being a bit more appealing to the average non-weekly-comic-shop-visiting person. Primarily it's the packaging: most people are pretty familiar with the Sunday funnies format, which may make the content more attractive than the standard stigmatized comic book format. Plus, I think people by and large do like comics...if you can get comics in front of people's faces, in a format they'll accept, they'll likely read them. Someone who won't want to read a 32-page story in your standard booklet may be more amenable to one page installments on a weekly basis. And, to tie it back into what I was saying earlier, there seems to be some understanding, or hope, among our regulars (and, apparently, myself) that this is the case, judging by the multiple-copy sales.

I realize that's all pretty thin. Wednesday Comics is nearly all superheroes, after all, and even in this familiar format, that the comics aren't Cathy or Garfield or other gag strips may be a turn-off. And those people may not want to come into a shop week after week for each issue (as noted above), not to mention that at $3.99, it's a bit pricier than your standard Sunday paper. But overall, it's not a bad try at grabbing some new readers. I saw a few new faces in the shop on Wednesday who came in specifically for this item, so it's getting somebody.

At the very least, this series will make a nice, attractive novelty for those of us already among the converted.

On a related note, if there's a delay during this series' run, and new comics arrive on Thursday, I'm warning you know that if you come into the store and joke about how this should be instead called Thursday Comics, I will hit you.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

I'd completely forgotten that Kirby drew this issue. 

Please enjoy this collection of badasses, as delineated by Jack Kirby:

That last guy is my favorite:

They may look like a bunch of tough guys, but they're no match for RICHARD DRAGON, KUNG-FU FIGHTER:

from Richard Dragon Kung-Fu Fighter #3 (Aug-Sept 1975)
by Denny O'Neil, Jack Kirby & D. Bruce Berry

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

"...Safeguard yourself from adulterants, burns, and inferior quality...." 

So we're going through another box or two of miscellaneous stuff...from the collection that most of the items on this page came from, in fact. But these items are the ones that are a little outside our product line, and require a little bit more effort in prepping them for store or eBay sales.

Like this:

Yes, Angel Love, that's indeed what it is. Please note the nice gleam of light added to the glistening rock there. Anyway, the '70s were an odd time, to say the least, and that there was a book marketed for the discerning user of this particular substance is...well, I don't know if "surprising" is the right word, but it certainly caught me off guard. Perhaps "unexpected but not beyond expectation" may be closer to it.

I was going to transcribe the description from the back of the book, but 1) I thought you wouldn't believe me unless I actually showed you what it said, and 2) I don't need the Google results created by putting the actual text on my site, so here's a scan instead:

Wow. I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do with this...the plan was to list it on the eBay, but not sure how that'd go since some folks over there tend to be nervous Nellies about that kind of thing, and I don't exactly want to put it up in the shop, either. Ah, well, maybe I'll throw it on Amazon. We'll see.

Anyway, some other books of a more legal nature:

Copyrighted 1964, a little worse for wear (top half of the spine "repaired" by tape), features lots of short nonsensical stories and bits by John Lennon, along with several of his drawings. Features an introduction credited only to a mysterious "Paul," since they didn't bother with a last name. Boy, I hate when they do that. How're we supposed to know who this alleged "Paul" is 45 years later?*

Copyrighted 1959, this edition published in 1976. Souvenir guidebook, filled with historical data and theories on the construction of the sites, and thankfully bereft of the kind of woo that tends to spring up around these things.

But that's okay, because the next book brings plenty of woo for me and you:

Now, some of you may know I tend toward a more skeptical view of things like this. Not "skeptical" as in "completely close-minded," as some true believers may claim, but "skeptical" as in "let's have some real evidence before we start pinning this stuff on f'ing aliens." That said, I love books like this, even though they tend to be parades of logical fallacies...though to be fair, I haven't read this particular book yet, and I'm sure this is the one that finally lays out the complete truth about UFO visitations.

But, as I was saying, I still enjoy these books of UFO stories and Bigfoot hunts and what have you...occasionally you'll find me, along with my Twitter pal Roscoe, liveTwittering Coast to Coast AM whenever they have a good flying saucer show on. It's possibly some remnant of my more credulous youth, when I totally bought into all this stuff...in my defense, it was the '70s, where paranormal beliefs were all around, and frankly it was better that I was into this than what was covered in the first book in this post.

In a way (and I've heard it described in this fashion before, so it's hardly an original observation with me) all these tales of UFOs and Bigfoot and such are like modern mythmaking, finding new mysteries in a world that's pretty much done away with demons and ghosts. (Well, okay, maybe not ghosts just yet.) (Or demons.)

But "psychics" still piss me off. Don't get me started on them.

* Yes, I know who it really is. I was only kidding. But on that topic...there was a handful of teen idol magazines from the late '60s/early '70s in this same collection, where a number of the celebrities featured therein are only referred to by their first names. That was probably fine then, since anyone buying the mags knew full well who these idols were. But trying to piece some of them together 40 years later, with some of them lost to showbiz obscurity, that can be a trick, sometimes. It makes the gossip columns amusing, though: "JOHN was seen out dining with CHERYL, and boy was BETTY mad!" What? Who?

Monday, July 06, 2009

God forbid people think you're a dork for not reading comics. 

1966 DC Comics house ad

This feels a bit like a game of "one of these things is not like the other," because, you know, if there was one thing the "in" and "with it" kids were going to be into, it was WWI war comics. Nothing against the Balloon Buster stories, which were fine, but he just looks a bit out of place there.

Then again, maybe the hip kids were reading the war books. Sure, you can be just like anyone else and read the superhero/sci fi books, but it's the truly discerning reader who follows the war comics...okay, I'm overthinking it.

Also, "Wild, way-out adventures of DC's swinging junior super-heroes!" That's just this side of maaaaaybe trying just a little too hard.

I think DC should revive this particular "Destination Cool" advertising campaign, I think. "You're not 'in' unless you're reading All Star Batman!" (Er, when it comes out, that is.)

Here's another ad that ran in '66 DC books:

First, that cat terrifies me. How does that spindly neck support his ginormous noggin? Quite the natty dresser, though.

Second, thank goodness they gave all of Grandpa Munster's death puns "comedy quotes," since that certainly makes them funnier.

Second point five, those quotes become "legal disclaimer quotes" for the "'chrome' goodies."

Third, and I didn't know this, that George Barris fella in the ad is a car customizer, who apparently supervised the vehicle construction on the Munsters TV show...hence the connection there. Here's his site, but watch out for the autoplaying music at that link.

Fourth, that $1.70 price quoted in the last panel just makes me sick. How many of these would you buy for $1.70 now?

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Sunday links. 

  • Pal Nat has posted the crossover you demanded! (Well, actually, not so much demanded as inspired by this post.) Go, look, be afraid.

  • Over the last few days Rick Veitch has been relating his (heretofore unrevealed) involvement in the development of the Sentry for Marvel Comics, with Paul Jenkins. You can read all the chapters thus far right here, each accompanied by Veitch concept art, with more chapters to come.

    The very few times I've read stories involving the Sentry, he hasn't really done anything for me. I gathered he was a Superman-type character, only with mental and/or confidence problems, and never felt the need to seek out more about him. Learning about Veitch's connection to the character increases my interest a bit, at least in taking a look at the initial Sentry series, even if Veitch himself didn't contribute his art or his particular storytelling style or perspective to the final printed product (which would have gone a long way toward making me more interested in that story).

    Plus, this sort of has me wanting to reread Maximortal again, which in a way seems to have some minor metacommentary/thematic connections to The Sentry, if taken to much greater extremes.

  • I keep meaning to add this to the sidebar, because it's an awesome site and you should visit it: Dateline: Silver Age, a great, simple concept beautifully presented.

  • Bully the Little Patriotic Bull celebrates Independence Day with another mini-gallery of flag-cover comics. And speaking of Bully, content from one of his previous Independence Day posts has turned up in a couple of other blogs recently. They do give him credit, but essentially present the entire post in full, thus giving no one any reason to go back to Bully's original post. That's a terrible thing to do to a six-year-old stuffed bull.

    Anyway, you should all be visiting Bully's site on a regular basis. Accept no substitutes!

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