mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sluggo Saturday #15. 



from Nancy and Sluggo #174 (Jan-Feb 1960)


Friday, August 14, 2009


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sometimes I want to punch New Comics Day in the face. 

Had a heck of a New Comics Day yesterday...shortages ahoy, tons of variant covers, having to work with Employee Aaron -- there were no end of problems. So, let's try to keep this post short:
  • Kid Chris on Wednesday Comics #6: "How come Blue Beetle in this Teen Titans strip sounds like how Mark Evanier writes Sergio Aragones' dialogue in Sergio's comic book appearances?"

  • Well, those "special covers" (i.e. the foil covers) for the new Ultimate Comics books sure flew off the shelves right away.

  • Those Blackest Night comics are pretty much just like printing money, aren't they? Nearly all of our customers want these comics.

  • Employees Aaron and Kid Chris pretty much gave me shit all day about my comments re: the Hellboy-universe comics. But that's okay, because they're still fired.

  • After overhearing me talk about it last week at the shop, in the context of "wow, it seemed like this was all over the place at one point, but then it just disappeared," a customer brought in his Rock and Rule DVD for me to borrow.

    Seriously, my only exposure to this movie is the Marvel comic book adaptation, and the heavy print promotion for it at the time. Haven't seen frame one of the actual film in motion, but it looks like there's some good music (and some Lou Reed) in here, so it promises to be interesting.

    Also, I just now realized I hadn't said anything about seeing the 1972 Ralph Bakshi Fritz the Cat movie for the first time a couple of weeks back. I may still be working through the trauma. Okay, I exaggerate slightly...I thought it was amusing, and the voice work on Fritz himself was enjoyable. I may someday watch the (reportedly vastly inferior) follow-up Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat, just to hear more of Fritz's particular vocal characterization.

  • Oh, hey, Walking Dead volume 2 is finally available from our distributor again, just in time for the Walking Dead TV deal announcement, after being unavailable nearly the entire summer. (You know, like last summer when volume 1 was unavailable for about four months.)

    It's a good-selling and popular book, but I can't turn new people on to it if I don't have those early trades.

  • Master of Men, Chris Sims, has posted chapter three of Woman of A.C.T.I.O.N. over there at Action Age Comics. God bless America.

  • Old bloggers never die, they just come back with new websites: Chris Elam is up and running with his new weblog, so go visit and say "hi!"

  • Well, that wasn't short at all.

image from Seduction of the Innocent #6 (April 1986), reprinted from The Unseen #9 (March 1953)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

And now...the worst post I have ever made. 

This is what I found waiting for me when I came into the store after taking the previous day off:

Bonus: this was drawn on one of my precious, precious perfectly-sized-for-comic-book-mail-order pieces of cardboard.

Everyone is so fired.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Just a brief comment about the G.I. Joe movie. 

Saw G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra last night...thought it was pretty entertaining, actually. It's no Oscar winner, but it was goofy fun, didn't take itself too seriously, and scenery was chewed at all the appropriate moments. Plus, how awesome was Joseph Gordon-Levitt? "Very" is the answer you're looking for.

The interesting thing about this film (and I had the same sort of experience with the Transformers films) is that I was not a viewer of the original cartoons, nor was I a reader of the Marvel comics. I have no connection to any of the characters or situations, no nostalgia for the franchise. In my job as funnybook-seller, I've of course come across the names and faces of the Joes and their enemies, but it was all just a series of trademarked properties to me. It took seeing the movie to finally put together how everything related to everything else, and give me some background on just what the heck's going on here, anyway. (I know some purists will argue that the film changes stuff from the comics/cartoons...but the point is that at least I have a better idea now than I did before.)

Also, on the topic of the film: the girlfriend is a huge G.I. Joe fan, and she loved the movie. The only way she would have liked it more is if it were instead The Adventures of Snake Eyes and a Handful of Fellow G.I. Joes Who Only Have about Five Minutes of Screen Time Total in Order to Make Room for MORE SNAKE EYES.

Keeping my post short today, internet pals. Sorry about that. I do have some other topics I want to discuss here, but I think I need them to sit on the stove a while longer before I serve 'em up. You know how it is.

Monday, August 10, 2009

So there are some comics coming out this week. 

  • Adventure Comics #1 - DC's new title starring the newly revived Superboy, and co-starring the Legion of Superheroes, giving that particular property yet another try in the hopes that it'll stick. I do love the Legion, but I'm getting pretty tired of reboots/revamps. Also, the "retailer incentive variant cover" is apparently going to be Adventure Comics #504, which is a mean trick to pull on someone who may have a pretty good run of issues near the end of the previous incarnation of Adventure, up to issue #503.

    Rats. I've been trying not to pick up the variants, but I think I may have to go for this one.

  • Big Questions #12 - This is a neat little comic...you can see a brief sample of it here.

  • Blackest Night #2 and Blackest Night: Batman #1 - This event has been a huge hit at the store, and even the tie-in series Tales of the Corps has been selling through on multiple reorders for us. We ordered strong on the Batman tie-in, so hopefully that'll continue the sales trend.

  • Booster Gold #23 - Unlike other comics that have bumped up to the $3.99 price point and took a bit of a hit in sales (like, oh, say, the Avengers books), Booster Gold sales actually went up. Okay, not by a lot, but still it took us a bit by surprise. I guess that Blue Beetle back-up did the trick.

  • Cable #17 70th Frame Liefeld Variant - Okay, first....it's Rob Liefeld drawing mutant comic stuff. It'll sell. Second, didn't we have Marvel's 25th anniversary at some point in the '80s? Just more of that creative number juggling that results in #1 issues from Marvel suddenly becoming numbered in their hundreds.

  • Captain America Theatre of War: To Soldier On - This reminded me of something that occurred to me recently: when Superman "died" in that big hoohar in the early '90s, he was pretty much gone from comics for a period of months. He wasn't in any specials or one-shots, he wasn't guest-starring in other books, he wasn't in any out-of-contuity stories...or if he was, he was in very darn few of them. At any rate, the end result was that it felt like, for the reader, that the character was actually, honestly gone. Okay, you knew he was coming back eventually, but it was still kinda weird to know that Superman just plain wasn't around for the time being.

    Now with Bruce Wayne and, to a lesser extent, Captain America, we didn't get that. The Wayne Batman is still appearing in one-shots and Confidential, Cap was still getting one-shots, and an alternate version of him was popping up in Ultimates. And then there was that Captain America: White thing, which had one issue, with more perhaps theoretically coming, someday. In other words, the characters may supposedly be dead 'n' gone, but you never get a chance to miss them because they never go away. Lessens the impact a bit, I think.

  • Grimjack: Manx Cat #1 - Just the other day I was talking about Grimjack over on Alan's site about Nexus and the failure of its most recent series in the direct market. Alan puts the burden of the blame on retailers, and I'm not saying he's entirely wrong...I heard from enough people who had no idea a new Nexus series was out, and never saw it in their local shops. But my counterpoint was that the fault was in Nexus itself...you can read my specific reasons over in my comment on Alan's post, but it can be summed up as "too hard to get into, for new and old readers alike." (A year between issues didn't help, either.)

    My example of a revival of an '80s property done right was Grimjack, which gave us a standalone "back to basic" story with that first IDW mini-series from a couple of years ago. Yeah, sure, as someone who was reading Grimjack during its original run, I would have liked to have seen stories that picked up from that point, but the continuity...the explanations required to set up just what's going on with Grimjack, would almost certainly have been too much for anyone new to the series to bother with. With prices going up and money tight, you gotta keep that cost of entry low, and giving readers a continuity-lite story to reintroduce your long-dormant characters seems to be the way to go.

    That's a pretty roundabout way of saying I'm looking forward to more Grimjack, but there you go. I'm looking forward to more Nexus someday, too, but hopefully they'll have better luck next time.

  • Hellboy: Wild Hunt #5 and B.P.R.D.: 1947 #2 - Now, I love the Hellboy comics, but with the BPRD series essentially a monthly ongoing, I feel like the..."specialness," I guess, of the properties is getting diminished somewhat. It almost feels like I'm getting too much Hellboy-universe stuff. That's a terrible, terrible complaint to make, since it's not as if I'm not enjoying BPRD, but...I can really use a break from it, I think.

  • Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #4 - I enjoyed this series far more than I really expected. Yeah, I know, it included yet another entry in Marvel's Obama-exploit-a-thon, but at least it was handled with some humor. And frankly, if you've got Frog Thor in your comic, you've pretty much got the wind at your back.

  • Luke Cage Noir #1 - Okay, we're just getting silly, now.

  • Red Circle: Inferno #1 - I liked the Hangman one-shot last week, and while the last thing I need is more superhero comics in my life, I have enough of a nostalgic feeling for the Red Circle line to at least continue checking the books out.

    However, "Red Circle nostalgia" isn't the enormous sales influence one would expect, he said sarcastically, since we've barely moved any copies. Even pointing out that 1) hey, I liked it, and 2) that J. Michael Straczynski guy wrote it, you guys like him -- nope, not a lot of interest yet. We'll see if things hopefully improve.

  • Sonic the Hedgehog #203 - Just noting that this is up to issue 203. And the kids at our shop still go crazy for it.

  • Star Trek: Nero #1 - I was going to say "maybe a bit too late to take advantage of the movie," but it'll be in a trade by the time the new Trek film is on DVD, so there's that. Okay, so DVD releases have never impacted related comic book sales ever, but one can always hope.

  • Ultimate Comics Avengers #1 and Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 - Hopefully the bad taste left in people's mouths by the Ultimatum series won't negatively affect sales on these relaunches. But that magic "#1" does tend to counter many an ill feeling.

  • Wednesday Comics #6 - I still do love this project, but 1) nicely illustrated boring Superman stories are still boring Superman stories, and 2) seriously, I can't plow my way through that Wonder Woman strip anymore.

    Still really enjoying everything else, though. Kyle Baker's Hawkman is a delight, and oh Lordy, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez Metal Men - that's some four-color ambrosia right there.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

This went someplace I totally wasn't planning. 

JULY 1993


So we were processing a bunch of back issues at the shop on Saturday, when Employee Aaron whipped out this particular splash page and we just sort of giggled at the goofiness of it all. Yes, we giggled, what's it to you? Anyway, while I of course remembered the generalities of this storyline (Batman gets crippled by Bane, is replaced by guy nobody likes), I'd forgotten some of the specifics. Like, for example, that classy full-pager with Bane shouting "...BREAK YOU!" in big bold letters. (Bane's obviously finishing a sentence he began on the previous page...I think it was "Trying to carry a second mortgage in this economy will....")

Aaron also said something interesting while perusing this comic. He said that back in '93, when Employee Aaron was but The Adventures of Little Aaron, the whole Breaking the Bat/Knightfall/Knightsend/Knightrider saga was the talk of the playground. There was one little kid, he said, who would even make up elements of the story, like Bruce Wayne having a super-mechanized wheelchair that could transform into, I don't know, a battletank or something. (Well, come to think of it, I really didn't follow this particular saga...maybe Bruce Wayne did have a transforming mecha-robot wheelchair.)

But mostly I just like the idea of current comic book events being a topic of discussion among school-age kids. That's not something I've considered, mostly because 1) I'm not a school-age kid, and thus don't know what they usually discuss nowadays...I just assume they were all talking about that rock 'n' roll music and hula-hoops, and 2) the general feeling is that kids nowadays don't care about superhero comics, which is such an overwhelming perception that even I get stuck in the mindset from time to time despite seeing, on a regular basis, with my own eyes, in our very own shop, kids buying superhero funnybooks.

Of course, during the time Aaron is talking about, comics were going through a boom period, and the likelihood of the number of comics-reading kids reaching a certain critical mass to allow for general discussion of comics was much greater, I'm thinking. I'm sure it wasn't the whole playground, naturally...may very well have been just Aaron's circle of oddball friends, but still, I like the idea of kids getting caught up in comic book storylines and having their roundtable discussions of them.

Nowadays, with readership as low as it is, I imagine the "critical mass" I mentioned is never reached in, say, your average school full of kids, so I wonder if anyone is having that kind of discussion anymore. I mean, sure, probably...we do tend to find our own, but with the advent of the internet no one is ever truly on their own. They could always talk about these things on a message board, or, God help them, a blog.

Which got me to thinking about how often I talk about comics and storylines and such. Well, in my case, it's my job, so of course I talk about it at the shop. But outside the store...yeah, okay, there's this blog thing I'm doing. But in actual, face-to-face conversation, outside the work/blog context...not very often, come to think of it. My girlfriend sometimes asks for backstory on the occasional character or situation we see in a comic-related TV show or movie (and I fall down on the job trying to pull out specifics regarding some X-Men characters, much to her disappointment), but that's about it.

How often do any of you folks talk about comics just as part of your regular day-to-day conversation? Not at the comic shop, not on comic book internet sites, not as part of your comic-creating/publishing jobs, but just...you know, you get home from work, finish dinner, and then give your pal a call, during which you ask "Hey, did you happen to read the newest issue of Dr. Glockenspiel?" in between some casual talk about the weather and about how much you hate your job. You know, like that. Like I said, I don't do it very often...but then, I already have a couple of outlets for that kind of discussion.

So, yeah, that was kind of rambling. Sorry about that...to think all I wanted to do was post that pic of Bane cracking Batman. That is a pretty awesome picture.

image from Batman #497 (July 1993) by Doug Moench, Jim Aparo & Dick Giordano

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