mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sluggo Saturday #16. 



from Comics on Parade #57 (June 1947)


Friday, August 21, 2009

This post may contain spoilers for a 16-year-old Metal Men series that's been retconned away, anyway. 

So remember that time Doc Magnus's human body was irreparably damaged and he became the Metal Man known as Veridium?

He may have been new to his robot body an' all, but he still had time to make a nerd joke/reference to old Gold Key comics:

I've some mixed feelings about this series, and I wasn't the only one since the "major changes/revelations" in this series have since been removed from the official DC Universe continuity. Like, for example, the big "twist" that the Metal Men were once living, breathing human beings: the foreshadowing for this revelation was presented in one of the Action Comics Superman team-up issues, where Doc Magnus is shown saying something along the lines of "I must never let the Metal Men learn the secret of Level 12!" I remember thinking at the time "oh, I bet the Metal Men were once human, and that's where their bodies are," and sure enough, it turns out in this mini-series that Level 12 was exactly that. Pretty sure no one had any problem interpreting that foreshadowing.

My other quibble with the series was too many cramped panels with too much dialogue, and that the dialogue we got wasn't all that great....very much a "the food was terrible, but at least the portions were huge" situation. But I will say the series had one of my all-time favorite covers, on the first issue:

"Borrowed" that scan from The Comic Book Database, since my own scan of the foil cover didn't turn out well. And this really is one of those cases where a gimmick cover enhancement really fits with the comic, with each Metal Man given the appropriately-colored "enchanced" treatment. It's an absolutely beautiful-looking image, and even the Comic Book Database scan doesn't really do it justice...try to see one in the wild, if you can.

Another thing I like about the cover: this great blurb on the first issue:

Makes the creative team on this comic sound like a group of super-villains, doesn't it? Well, then again, turning Doc Magnus into "Veridium" seems like a bit of a villainous act to me.

images from Metal Men #1 (Oct 1993) and #4 (Jan 1994) by Michael Carlin, Dan Jurgens & Brett Breeding

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I knew someday I would eventually post a link to a British aquarium-care magazine. 


Kid Chris: "Hey, Mike, post these on your site as a swipe file!"

Me: "Well, maybe later."

Kid Chris: "C'mon!"

Me: "Okay, fine."

And that's how yesterday happened. And just to be clear, no one thinks anyone was actually swiping anybody. We're just amused by the similar poses. So there.

Anyway, from New Comics Day:

Normally when new Archie comics come in, we rack them on the All-Ages-specific rack we have by the front of the store, across from the register, next to the All-Ages-specific book shelving. However, since we had some extra copies of Archie #600 (the special Marriage Issue) kicking around, I racked some along with the regular superhero and indies New Arrivals rack...and sure enough, we picked up some sales from folks who don't normally buy Archie books. Even had one fellow who'd been coming in for years declare that this was the very first Archie comic he'd ever read. Ultimately, however, it looks like we've got enough copies for the time being.

Also, I have to think about my orders on the forthcoming debut issue of Models Inc., which apparently got some media coverage about three or four months ago since it's going to feature some cable reality show guy. (Okay, fine...Tim Gunn, Project Runway, etc.) I guess that's all well and good, but I've heard exactly NOTHING from anyone looking for this comic. Usually, when something gets media coverage, I'll get some nibbles, even if it's months ahead of time. But...nada. Not a sausage.

Well, okay, Kid Chris told me one guy made a sarcastic "oh, I'm really looking forward to that" comment, but that's been pretty much it. However, Gunn apparently was on TV Wednesday plugging the book again, so I'll see if anyone says anything today about it before I have to turn in the final orders.

Regarding some previously-received comics, we've sold through yet again on the Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps mini-series, and general consensus among the employees is that displaying the three interconnecting covers on the rack side by side seemed to encourage sales. Fortunately, issues 2 and 3 are still available for reorder, and there's a second printing of #1 on the way, so I'll go ahead and order another batch.

And this is being reported to me by my faithful shop underlings: Marvel found a way to pick up sales on Amazing Spider-Man again, and that's with Mary Jane Watson covers. Folks like the sexy MJ, even this, um, really plastic-looking version that I made fun of in a previous End of Civilization post. (My rejected joke: "In this issue, Peter gets a Realdoll!" ...If you're lucky enough to not know what that is, don't Google it up.)

I don't have an ending to this post, so here: read about the Batman fish.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Swiped at Birth! 

The Stand: American Nightmares #5 (Oct. 2009)

Herogasm #1 (a couple of months ago, 2009)

1. It's a joke. Relax. 2. It's Kid Chris's fault.

COMICS: A couple of brief items. 

  • So remember when I was going on about all those different colored Lantern rings, and boy howdy, how I'd like to have some of my very own? Well, DC will be offering promotional rings for all the rest of the various-colored Corps!

    Just yesterday, I was hoping that sales wouldn't flag on the latter Blackest Night tie-ins. These rings may help forestall that, if we offer a ring with purchase of the associated tie-in title, given that giving away Black Lantern rings with purchase certainly helped sell copies of Blackest Night #1.

  • Diamond is skipping a ship week between Christmas and New Year's Day this year, which means no new comics that week. Bit of a shocker, there, and one I'm not entirely thrilled about. However, December does tend to be a strong month for sales, not to mention we'll get that post-Christmas traffic from folks with gift money and gift certificates (the latter of which usually used to subsidize purchases of items far greater than the certificate's value)...we should be able to ride out a week without new product. I'd rather have new product...even a minuscule amount of books, like we've received Christmases past, would be preferable to nothing at all. With any luck, this may not entirely be the disaster it sounds. I hope.

  • Via Tom: Nancy as drawn by various cartoonists. Nardcore Nancy! Nightmare Fuel Nancy! Sluggo!

NOT COMICS: A few excerpts from The Beatles: Words Without Music (1968). 

I came across this thin paperback as I was processing some material for eBay...it's a compilation of black & white photos and short interviews and quotes with the Fab Four, and I found a few of these Q&As a bit interesting:

Q: Do you like topless bathing suits?
RINGO: We've been wearing them for years.

Q: How come you were turned back by immigration?
JOHN: We had to be deloused.

Q: Why don't you smile, George?
GEORGE: I'll hurt my lips.

Q: Do you like being the Beatles?
JOHN: Yes, or we'd be the Rolling Stones.

Q: What do you think of the criticism you are not very good?
GEORGE: We're not.

Q: What do you believe is the reason you are the most popular singing group today?
JOHN: We've no idea. If we did, we'd get four long-haired boys, put them together and become their managers.

Q: Ringo, why do you wear two rings on each hand?
RINGO: Because I can't fit them through my nose.

Q: What's this about an annual illness, George?
GEORGE: I get cancer every year.

Q: What kind of music do you like?
PAUL: Colored American groups.

Q: Why do you think you get more fan mail than anyone else in the group?
RINGO: I dunno. Suppose it's because more people write me.

Q: What about your future?
JOHN: It looks nice.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Didn't we just get some new comics last week? 

  • Archie #600 - This is the infamous "Archie Marries Veronica" issue that probably would have sold like gangbusters had it come out during that initial burst of publicity a few months ago, when the comic was originally solicited. But as it is, we bumped up the orders on this just a smidgen, since we do have a few people still interested in the storyline. I am interested in seeing how sales on subsequent installments fare, once people realize this is in fact a story that takes place in "the future," and not a permanent status quo change for the franchise.

  • Blackest Night: Superman #1 - Had DC gone for the $3.99 price point on these tie-in mini-series, I imagine sales wouldn't have been nearly as strong. People are really digging this event, but I'm hoping once the tie-ins and crossovers begin to pile on, interest won't wane. The most recent DC solicitations reveal "Blackest Night" tie-ins virtually across the board in DC's superhero titles, and I'd prefer that folks pick and choose the tie-ins that look interesting to them, rather than decide it's all too much and avoid the event altogether.

    Okay, I'd actually prefer our customers buy one of each -- well, two of each -- because I'm just a poor funnybook seller and would like to keep a roof over my head.

  • Hellblazer #258 - Geez, our sales on this have really bottomed out. Not really sure why...Hellblazer is one of those titles that's usually pretty good, regardless of who's working on the title (though that "Empathy Is The Enemy" story a couple of years back was rough going). Perhaps now that we're approaching 300 issues on this series, maybe people have read enough Hellblazer stories? The three-digit issue number dissuading new readers? A somewhat haphazard trade paperback program (with unnumbered volumes, and several issues as yet unreprinted)?

  • Punisher #8, Punisher: Frank Castle #73, Punisher: Noir #1 - Hey, remember just a few years ago when we had just one Punisher title on the stands, and it sold really well? Yeah, that was nice.

    Now, Marvel publishing, what, two dozen, three dozen Deadpool monthlies? I can understand that, since Deadpool comics are like money-making machines at the moment. But multiple Punisher titles? The primary reason Punisher comics sold this time around was Garth Ennis's involvement, but even sales on Ennis-written issues began to decline near the end, there. Multiple titles for a franchise in decline is just a quick way to kill it off even more quickly, it seems to me.

    Don't get me wrong...I do like the idea of having the more adult-oriented Punisher and a Marvel Universe-centric Punisher available for readers. But it doesn't seem as if the market can support them both right now.

  • Red Circle: The Web #1 - Okay, I've been liking these, even though they're selling about how I expected them to sell. Don't know that I need a bunch of regular series and mini-series dumped on me, but as one-shots, they've been fun. I realize the strategy this time around is to tie the Red Circle characters into the DC Universe, and whether that gives a sales boost to the titles, I don't know. I hope so, since I happen to like these characters, but I have a feeling that readers don't want yet another set of superheroes to follow at the moment.

  • Stand: American Nightmares #5 - Not surprisingly, sales on The Stand have remained consistent while Dark Tower comics have dropped quite a bit, given how much more accessible the former is. I will note that we've seen a small upswing in sales on the hardcover collections, since the non-comic-reading King fans who've given up on the monthly books are catching on to the hardcovers' existence.

In other news:
  • Hey, that Kevin Church cat has somehow survived for another year! Happy birthday, pal!

  • Need some more overviews of the latest Diamond Previews? Here's Dave's look at some goodies and not-so-goodies, and pal Dorian presents another Previews for Gays.

  • Speaking of Dave, you have been reading his Space Cabbie Sundays, haven't you?

  • Chris Sims isn't busy enough hoarding all the comics blog readers for himself...he's also going to steal your ears with his new, spectacularly-named podcast War Rocket Ajax, created with Eugene from People You Don't Know. Check out the first episode here, guest-starring a clearly-abducted and forced-to-participate Matt Fraction!

  • Andrew unveils another installment of "Nobody's Favorites," this time featuring a character/brand name that DC keeps throwing at the wall, but never quite gets it to stick.

  • And now...the most amazing thing you're going to see today: DC's mostly forgotten Angel Love series gets mixed with Eric Clapton...with astounding results!

Labels: ,

Monday, August 17, 2009

This panel is weird. 

No, seriously, it's freaking me out a bit:

I mean, beyond the fact this it just looks freakish having Reed stretch his neck out like that. Well, okay, it is mostly just that, but still, why is he sticking his head out way out in front of the Fantasticar when Johnny (the Human Torch), the person he is addressing, is all the way back there?

Okay, in context, Reed is stretching himself out like that to keep a lookout for a villain that had just made his escape, but still...man, that just looks odd.

from Iron Man #159 (June 1982) by Roger MacKenzie & Paul Smith, reprinted in Marvel Super-Heroes Megazine #4 (Jan 1995)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Yes, only one day late does make a difference. 

A couple of conversations with customers:
  • Customer 1: "I'm looking for a certain comic. It's a really dark comic so I'm pretty sure you don't have it...."

    Me (thinking to myself): "'Yes, we have Johnny the Homicidal Maniac.'"

    Customer 1: "...But do you carry Johnny the Homicidal Maniac?"

    Come to think of it, sales on Johnny and Lenore and related titles have dipped a bit in recent months, and some attempting to follow the same darkity-dark path, like Emily the Strange, have been non-starters. A saturation of the local market, perhaps, or the fact that new material in these, or related, lines comes out so infrequently that some of the clientele looking specifically for this stuff have given up waiting for it. Or they just get it at Hot Topic.

  • Customer 2: "Hey, you want to buy this comic?"

    Me (sees it's a common issue of Wolverine, in so-so condition): "No, I'm sorry, we can't use that particular issue right now. We've got plenty in stock."

    Customer 2: "You can't give me anything for it?"

    Me: "No, sorry."

    Customer 2: "What do you sell this comic for?"

    Me: "Mint condition copies go for about three or four dollars."

    Customer 2: "Well, I paid two dollars for this at the swap meet. Could you give me two dollars for it?"

    Me: "I'm sorry, but we really don't need it."

    Customer 2: "Okay. Any other stores I can take this to?"

    Me: "Well, there's a store over in the next town, but I don't know if they'd buy it, and I don't think it'd be worth the drive for the money you'd get even if they did buy it."

    Customer 2: [pauses for a moment] "Okay, fine." [throws comic on counter] "You can have it." [walks out door]

    Me: [sighs] "Hey, [employee] Timmy, throw that in the bargain box up front, would you?"

    Okay, I wasn't deliberately trying to talk him into giving us the comic for free. Believe me, the last thing I want in the shop is yet another collection we don't need dumped on us, even if it is just one comic book. As it is, we've got too many collections we're processing at the moment, and those are books we can actually use, without having to absorb the castoffs, too.

    Ah, well...those castoffs help us feed the bargain boxes, anyway.

I received an e-mail the other day from someone whose local shop ran into a bit of an inconvenience: turned out that the shop's copies of Blackest Night #2, which came out last Wednesday, had been shorted from their New Comics Day shipment. One of the hottest comics in recent memory -- one that, if that shop's experience was anything like ours, was generating an enormous amount of interest among the customers -- and they didn't get it for what is presumably the busiest day of the week for sellers of the funnybooks.

As you might imagine, they had some disappointing, if not outright irritated, customers that day, who had been looking forward to the new installment of this series. The distributor had shipped out replacement copies via next day air, so the store would have Blackest Night #2 the next day, but that likely didn't mollify everyone who was hoping for the book right then. Sure, most folks would be understanding, but some, especially those for whom the trip to the shop was out-of-the-way or some other kind of inconvenience, might be a bit miffed.

Now, that by itself is a pain in the ass for everyone, sure. But adding to the problem was the fact that there were two other comic shops in close proximity, and they got their copies of Blackest Night #2.

The person who wrote the e-mail asked what could be done in this situation, and, unfortunately, there's not a whole lot you can do. It's not as if the distributor can magically redo the day and have those books in the retailer's hands for Wednesday sales this time. Even the most loyal clientele will have a percentage of folks who'll stop by the other shops on the way home to get, you know, just the one comic, what harm will it do to my regular store?

The end result is, of course, that first shop selling fewer copies than expected, since those sales have been lost to other shops. Maybe only a small number, but still, especially in this marketplace and in this economy, every little bit hurts or helps accordingly. My suggestion to the writer was that his shop somehow get the distributor to accept returns on this issue, due to losing its main sale day. Also, that the shop maintain a high level of customer service to encourage customer loyalty, to make your clientele not want to shop at other stores, even if the current "hot" comic is a day late. Or (and this just occurred to me now), maybe offer some kind of "paid up in advance" raincheck. That's extra paperwork, sure, but you'd have the money for certain instead of hoping everyone would come back for that one comic.

Luckily for us we've not had this problem, at least not with a title that was the big "gotta have it NOW" flavor of the moment. Closest I can think of in recent memory was an issue of Civil War that was initially only available in short supply, but everyone else, at least in our area, was hit with the same shortage. We've had other smaller titles get missed in our shipment, but those usually aren't a big deal: even if sales dip a copy or two on those, it can't easily be determined if that's just normal issue to issue variance or if it's due to a customer getting a copy of that book elsewhere.

But I just picture myself in that store's situation, having to tell the dozens and dozens of people who came in expecting Blackest Night #2 that I'm terribly sorry, it'll be here tomorrow, no, honestly. Not something I'd enjoy dealing with, that's for sure.


This is an archive page for the old Blogger version of Progressive Ruin, kept around to maintain all the old permalinks. Please visit the main page for the current version of this site. Thanks for visiting, and sorry for the inconvenience!

Copyright © 2003-10 Mike Sterling. Some images used are copyright © their respective copyright owners.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?