mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sluggo Saturday #11. 



from Nancy's Dreams & Schemes (1990)


Friday, July 17, 2009

Hawkman Presents: Things Most People Usually Don't Find Themselves Saying While on The Job.* 

from Super Powers Collection: Hawkman (1983)

* ...Except at a trampoline factory with bad shelving, yes, I know.


Firestorm: Tough Guy. 

from Super Powers Collection: Parademon (1984)


Man, that Hawkman guy just isn't taking Reddie's hint. 

from Super Powers Collection: Red Tornado (1984)


Thursday, July 16, 2009

"Eight ringy-dingies...." 

In response to a few comments from yesterday:

Just Some Guy opines

"I think the ring set looks pretty cheap. That picture makes it look like a plastic toy. A cute desk doo-dad but not worth anything close to $250 ($50 would be pushing it)."

Fair enough. I think my initial positive reaction to it is primarily due to the rings themselves...I'd love to have a replica set of all these Lantern rings. I keep hoping (though I'm reasonably certain it's not going to happen now) that DC would put out more promo rings to help us poor, needy fanboys fill out the collection. I know there've been a number of Green rings given out over the years (the one with the glow-in-the-dark bit in the center, another smaller ring, and a couple of different pack-ins with the action figures, both Golden and Silver age if I recall), and if I remember correctly there was a Yellow ring included with a Sinestro figure.

Mike Walker sez

"I've never been into the statues, but I do pick up a random vinyl figure from time to time. You know, the type where you don't know which one you're going to get?

"I've never tried to 'catch 'em all,' but I do like the random menagerie that I've built up of vinyl figures. I always wonder how those things sell. Do people try to get a full set? Dose the Wednesday crowd pick them up, or is it a different group?

"Do you stock them at the store, Mike?"

We've carried those figures, to differing levels of success. Apparently there were enough complaints about the random nature of these figures that the "random" element was removed and they started marking on the outside of the box which figure was contained therein. Missing the point, obviously, but this kind of marketing of figurines probably isn't going to catch on in the U.S.

Once in a while we'd have someone trying for a full set, but not very often. I myself went for a full set of the Bone figures that were released this way, but I had an advantage in that I was at the shop and was able to trade with customers who ended up with doubles.

Usually, though, folks would buy one or two as a whim, and that was pretty much it.

Super-rob wonders

"Question though: why did they put labels on the colors of the rings display? I mean, I can see labeling FEAR and HOPE, but does DC assume that if you're stupid enough to pay $250 for copies of rings that you do not know the difference between your colors?"

My guess is that the labels are there simply as a design element to fill space, to give the item more color and make it more visually interesting, and more worthy of your two hundred fifty bones.

Seriously, just give us a pack of plastic replica rings for all the colors. That's all we want. We don't need the fancy-schmancy display thingie. "DC DIRECT: LANTERN CORPS RING ASSORTMENT - Features 8 plastic rings, representing the colors of all the different Corps! Packaged in a clear baggie. $9.99." Would totally buy it. Could sell TONS of them.

Speaking of the plastic rings, the Black Lantern rings were a big hit at the store. Right now we're giving them away with each purchase of the Blackest Night comic, and I posted a sign to that effect by the comic on the rack. I had a few folks buy the comic just to get the ring, which I thought was interesting.

I thought the comic itself was a strong start for this new crossover brouhaha...I mean, it's essentially DC Zombies, and thus was as gruesome and icky as I was hoping. The difference, though, is where Marvel Zombies is basically an extended dark joke, which softens the horror a bit, Blackest Night is playing it straight and, so far, humorless, which could drag a bit. But, it's got me reading right now, and it's nice that the series proper has finally started after the approximately thirty years' worth of prelude stories.

At the very least, we've had some lively discussions at the shop about which dead characters should come back as Black Lanterns. As I dropped on the Twitter a while back (and has been picked up by other bloggers here and there), I'm pushing for the Red Bee and his pet trained bee. THE RED ZOMBEE.

Also, I'm reasonably certain the event's going to end with resurrections for several of the dead characters. Except, you know, the ones that need to stay dead. Sorry, Thomas and Martha Wayne.

In other news:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I think this is a really neat-looking item. 

Light-up base, removable rings, extremely nerdy...it's a wonderful thing. The description says the rings aren't meant to be worn, but you know anyone who gets their hands on this are going to try. I wonder if we'll hear about any incidents about someone who misjudged the size and ends up getting a Blue Lantern ring cut off their finger?

But at $250 I don't see myself picking up one of these just because it looks neat. Not that I'm going to be down on anyone who does -- I have two Swamp Thing statues, need I remind you -- but someone for whom Green Lantern is his or her favorite character, I can see where this might be tempting.

I believe it was Tom Spurgeon who wondered in an entry linking to an End of Civilization post of mine about the sales feasibility for high end, limited-use novelty items like this in our currently suffering economy. And that's certainly something worth considering...we've never done a whole lot of business in statues and props, but I know stores that do, and I'm wondering how their sales are on them. I wonder how orders on items like this are in general. At a time when comic readers are looking for reasons to cut their funnybook expenses, you would think that high end merchandise would take a hit, too, but I still see them on Diamond's sales charts, and they're still showing up in the catalogs.

'Course, it's not as if these were ever enormous sellers, and it's not like there are a large number of consumers buying every prop that turns up in the catalog. (I do have a fellow who orders a Marvel bust or two out of every catalog, but that's probably more the exception than the rule.) An economic downturn would cause anyone buying lots of these to cut back a bit, I imagine, but probably wouldn't affect the guy who's been saving up for that one high-end goodie he has to have.

I do know merchandise in general has slowed down some. We've cut orders on DC Direct and Marvel Select figures, and cut McFarlane Toys entirely (selling the shortpacked female figure, and that's it, time and time again was bit of a discouragement). In this case, it may be more due to overproduction ("oh, look, another Superman figure") and disinterest ("hey, look at all these Spawn characters I've never heard of") than anything relating to current economic issues.

You know, my intention for this post was just to say "look at this, I think it's neat," but I ended up running off at the mouth anyway. Sorry about that. But so long as I have your attention...how have your comics merchandise-buying habits been lately? Have you bought any real high-end statues or props recently? Have you cut down your action figure habit? Is it the economy encouraging your decisions, or have you simply had enough? Please let me know in the comments section.

(You know, doing a post on New Comics Day asking people to think about the amount of money they're spending on comics stuff isn't the smartest thing I've ever done...!)


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

If you don't enjoy Nancy and Sluggo content on this site, you may want to skip today's post. 

I bought the five Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy books published by Kitchen Sink Press in the late '80s/very early '90s, spurred on by snippets of the books I'd seen in magazines, the admiration of the strip by one of my favorite cartoonists, (Bill "Zippy the Pinhead" Griffith), and my old friend Rob extolling the virtues of the comic.

I'd never thought much about the strip prior to that. I was aware of it, of course, but I was hardly an avid follower. But I thought "well, I've been amused by what I've seen so far, my friend Rob really likes it, and Bill Griffith likes it...I'll give it a shot." I started with Nancy Eats Food, the first of the series. And in short order, I ended up buying the rest.

It's difficult to explain just why I enjoy Bushmiller's Nancy so much. I've read many essays by a variety of folks trying to explain (or perhaps justify) their own love for the strip, and I'm not sure I'm quite ready to add my own to the mix. I don't know that I really even can pin down what exactly it is that endears the strip to me. The juxtaposition of apparent normalcy with bizarre circumstances? The dedication to the more-than-occasional shameless joke? The awesomeness of Sluggo? It's all these and more besides, I'd say.

My enjoyment of the strip even extends to the comics, as you may have noticed, though the Bushmiller-ness of the strips is softened into the new "kid's adventure" stories created specifically for those publishers, if they weren't simply reprinting the original strips in color. But even in this lesser form, the occasional moment of weirdness still shines through. (And legendary cartoonist John Stanley contributed his skills to the cause, so you can't go wrong there.)

I know I'm not the only fan: looking at the Amazon listing linked above for Nancy Eats Food, as well as for the following books - Bums, Beatniks and Hippies/Artists & Con Artists, Nancy's Pets, How Sluggo Survives!, and Dreams and Schemes, I see some adventurous pricing at work, in the $30 to $60 (or even $100+) range. Okay, what they're selling these for isn't necessarily what people are buying them for, but it's at least one indicator of demand. (And yes, all those Amazon links throw a little somethin'-somethin' back in my direction should you decide to take the Sluggo Plunge. Buy the really expensive ones, if you do.)

I'm...well, I was going to say I'm surprised there hasn't been a more extensive reprinting of these strips in recent years. Just a handful of books, like the Kitchen Sink volumes and this intriguing book that I don't yet have. But I'm not terribly surprised if only because Nancy may be just a little too "niche" to support an extensive "Complete Nancy" publishing program like Fantagraphics' Complete Peanuts.

But boy, it'd be nice.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

That I even typed the phrase "robot testicles" means that, somewhere along the line, I have lost the battle. 

So I saw the new Transformers movie. Some minor SPOILERS ahead:

  • Yes, the twins (essentially, stereotypes of black people) were a bit...uncomfortable. Sure, they do get in a couple of good lines at the expense of Sam's college roommate, but one suspects that these characters really weren't thought through too much. Lots of nervous laughter in my particular viewing's audience.

  • The whole business with "robot testicles" has been played up a bit too much as a complaint, I think. It's a brief background sight gag of a couple of wrecking balls dangling from the crotch area of a giant robot whose job is destroying things. Sure, why wouldn't it have wrecking balls? Yes, it's a dumb gag, but it's not any more ridiculous than anything else in this movie. If I were in charge of the film, I would have left the twins out, but I probably would have gone for the testicles gag. I'm not proud.

  • I think it was at the point when the evil robots were chatting with their Supreme Leader at their space base when I had this exact thought: "What the hell am I watching?"

  • Yeah, I know, just at that point?

  • The plot was essentially an excuse to send robots to fight around the world so that the lovely architecture of foreign lands could be Blown Up Real Good, but...well, it hard to resist some full on giant robot battle action. By and large I had an easier time following the action sequences this time around than I did in the first film.

  • However, I had a harder time following some of the dialogue...I don't know if it's excessive processing of the robot voices in production, or just bad speakers at the theatre, or my hearing's just shot from all those loud Juice Newton concerts I went to in my misspent youth, but I couldn't make out the occasional piece of dialogue.

  • I think something may have been wrong with Megan Fox's back, as she sure seemed to be bending over a lot.

  • I wanted to see more of ancient humans interacting with the alien robots. Ah, well. Also, I thought we were going to get some Beast Wars-esque robots disguised as animals in those flashbacks for some reason. We did get a large cat-bot eventually, but that's not the same.

  • Really, movie? That's all the Deep Roy you're going to give me? That's a damned shame, that's what that is.

  • I realize that for plot reasons, Optimus Prime by necessity was out for a good chunk of the picture, but...well, I would have liked more Optimus in the film. The scene where he's facing off with that government agent who's trying to get the Autobots to leave...one got a real sense of dignity, wisdom, and patience out of Optimus, which, considering it's a digital effect of a huge honkin' robot, is quite the feat.

Overall...so long as they stuck to the action (or to scenes with Optimus Prime being awesome), the film was okay. Not as good as the first one (which I realize for some people "good" is a relative term in discussing these movies...hey, I was pleasantly surprised by the first film, what can I tell you), and this new movie certainly doesn't have an ounce of brainmatter anywhere in it, but...well, I'd give a third film a shot, I suppose.

However, that G.I. Joe trailer hasn't really improved any with repeated viewings, has it?

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Got in late... 

...and I'm dead tired, so I'm gonna put up this pic of Batman that I've had sitting around for a while:

Not even quite sure why I scanned it. It's from an issue of Brave & the Bold (#172, March 1981) by Gerry Conway, Carmine Infantino and Steve Mitchell. Maybe there's just something about the juxtaposition of that caption of off-panel dialogue combined with the goofy grin and jaunty head angle of the Caped Crusader. "Yeah, that's right," thinks Batman, "I am Batman! Hyuk!"

Anyway, while you're contemplating Batman, I'm off for some shut-eye. Good night!

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