mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Sluggo Saturday #22. 



from Peanuts #5 (May-July 1960)


Friday, October 02, 2009

Or maybe I worry too much. 

Now I really do enjoy this series, but for a title with a reputation of sporadic publishing, and whose fans therefore don't expect to see it on the rack on a regular basis, having the cover of your book look like this:

...is just making it more difficult for readers to spot that this is the Astro City funnybook they like so much when scanning the rack. We corrected for this at the shop by putting a sign on shelf identifying the comic, which seemed to help. But placing the title on the cover in small print in the upper right hand corner, among a bunch of blurbs of various typefaces and sizes...well, the "Where's Waldo" approach to logo recognition is not one I'd recommend.

At least the title still begins with "ASTR" so that, for stores racking their books alphabetically, it's in the same place in relation to other titles. And it's really not that big of a deal. But even so, the fewer barriers between a book and a reader picking it up, the better.

In other news:

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Progressive Ruin presents...the End of Civilization. 

They said it couldn't be done! Well, actually, they said it shouldn't be done, but why split hairs? Anyway, it's a new installment of The End of Civilization, and if you want to follow along in your own copy of the Diamond Previews catalog, just make sure it's the October 2009 edition and jump aboard the EoC Express!

p. 125 - Gotham City Stories Part 2 - Catwoman:

...And as you can see, there are a couple of designs in the set, made for desktop or wall display. And, if you're going to have a Bat-thingie that looks like a window with various characters poking through, I'm going to want one that commemorates this event:

p. 197 - Betty & Veronica #245:

I have to admit, some of these covers become a heck of a lot funnier if you pretend the Archie/Veronica marriage story is in official Archie continuity (such as it is).

p. 272 - Luke Skywalker Tatooine Ultimate Quarter Scale Figure:

"So, what'cha been up to?"

"Oh, you know, making movies, got engaged to that gal from Ally McBeal."

"Whoa, no way."

"Hey, what've you been up to?"

"I was the voice of the Joker!"

"Now that's pretty awesome. ...Say, want to go for a ride in my helicopter?"

"Boy, do I!"

("MOM! I think there's something wrong with the sound chips in my Luke and Han figures!")

p. 317 - You Can Do A Graphic Novel TP:

To be followed by Now That I've Seen Your Graphic Novel, Perhaps I May Have Been Too Hasty in My Original Assertion.

p. 346 - Charlie's Angels Kelly Doll Gift Set:

"Angels, now that you've donned your disguises, it's time for you to begin your undercover mission...to capture Roman Polanski!"

"You got it, Charlie!"

p. 347 - YHWH by Mark Ryden Vinyl Figure:

Now I'm not going to make fun of this particular item...it's not anything I'd buy for myself, but it's certainly creepily odd and I can dig that.

But the solicitation/sales pitch is awesome:

Now I feel guilty about not buying it.

p. 356 - Star Wars Darth Vader Robotic Arm:

It's not a statue, but an arm you can move around with built-in controls and, you know, pick up stuff. Lightweight stuff. Presumably unable to project the Dark Side of the Force to choke lippy underlings.

Will make a nice Life Day gift for the fans of Darth Vader's arm in your life.

p. 356 - Star Wars Jedi Telescope:

"This 3-in-1 electronic talking telescope does more than reveal the wonders of the night sky; the user can also dial-up 10 backlit images of Star Wars planets and ships so you can see the wonders of the Star Wars universe amidst our own skies. Plus, with a built-in sound chip, you can hear authentic Star Wars sounds as you explore the cosmos."

"I believe I have found more satellites around Jupiter! Whaddya think of that, Jar Jar?"

"Meesa think 'Europa' would be a good name, Galileo!"

p. 376 - Ikki Tousen Great Guardians Kanu Unchou "Pink Ribbon Lingerie" PVC Figurine:

"Everyone's favorite battling vixen, Kanu Unchou of Ikki Tousen Great Guardians, finds herself in a compromising position as she's caught in nothing but her underwear - hosiery on her legs, lacey armlets around her biceps, a whisper of frilly underwear, and a thick, pink ribbon that covers her bosom and terminates in a bow on the front. Think of it as a kind of gift, the kind of gift you can unwrap."

"Think of it as a kind of gift, the kind of gift you can unwrap."

Just thought that was worth repeating.

p. 379 - Fraulein Revoltech Queen's Blade Melona Action Figure:

"Using an innovative and newly developed joint/body system known as 'E.L.F.,' these figures can demonstrate a large variety of realistic poses."

Why, that doesn't sound like anything that's going to be abused. Also, are those tentacles coming out of her breasts? What's going on there?

EDIT: It's far worse than I imagined.

p. 385 - Blood Energy Potion:

I don't mean to just keep quoting the solicitation texts of some of these items, but seriously:

"The fruit punch flavor packs 4 hours of energy along with iron, protein, and electrolytes. Not only does Blood Energy Potion have a similar nutritional makeup to real blood, but it has the same color, look, and consistency of blood. Get real blood nutrients without that real blood taste!"

...how can you top that?

p. 386 - Hulk Vintage Marvel Journal:


"Hulk glad to have classy book to put innermost thoughts in. Hulk think a lot, about puny humans, and about fighting army in desert.

"Uh...that's it for now. Hulk write more later.

"Love, Hulk"

Marvel Previews p. 47 - Spider-Woman #4:

Sometimes you can pretend those drawings of superheroines aren't just nekkid girls with costumes colored on and minor costuming details, like wrinkles and cufflines, drawn in.

And sometimes you can't.

Marvel Previews p. 63 - Cable The Long Way Home Checklist:

This is probably the shortest crossover checklist I've ever seen. Wonder if Marvel will put out an in-store postcard giveaway for this, too.

I also wonder if they could manage a shorter checklist?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

So I guess they're really going through with it. 

Due out today in your friendly neighborhood funnybook store:

"SPIDER-MAN CLONE SAGA #1 (of 6) - You've been asking for it...and now it's here: THE CLONE SAGA!!! Marvel's most controversial event of all time returns with a vengeance, presenting the Clone Saga as it was originally intended to be told! From the minds behind the crossover that changed comics forever and the artist that introduced Spider-Man to President Obama, it's six issues of twists and turns that will shock fans old and new alike! Be here as Peter Parker's worst nightmare begins again...now with an ending you have to see to believe!"

1. Who's been asking for it?

2. "Most controversial" - Actually, it sold really well at the time...at first. I think it was when the storyline entered its, what, third consecutive decade that it began to wear on the fans' patience a tad. Plus, the "big reveal" which undermined years of stories didn't go over too well.

And, as overplayed as this was way back when, kids today who weren't even alive when this original happened seem to have a weird sort of interest in it. I'm sure trying to piece together all the crossovers and one-shots and various storylines that tied into the Clone Sage this long after the fact is like going on an archeological dig, but some kids are really into it. (The whole Venom/Carnage thing is like that, too.)

3. "...As it was originally intended to be told!" - My memory of it was that the story was only going to run a few months, but did so well saleswise that, in a move I realize is totally uncharacteristic of Marvel, it was decided to do a LOT more of it. ...Well, okay, I was was wondering whether to include this bit, but it looks like the Wikipedia entry seems to concur. That entry has a pretty good overview of the behind-the-scenes hoohar that made the Clone Saga that tangled knot in Spider-Man's continuity.

4. When I first skimmed the solicit, I thought for a moment they said that Obama was going to be in the story. Actually, I still expect Marvel to find a way to get him in there somehow.

5. "...Now with an ending you have to see to believe!" - I smell a retcon! Turns out Mary Jane is a young clone of Aunt May.

Anyway, I really am curious as to how this will sell. Well, sure, it's a Spider-Man title...we should move some copies. I suppose some folks might be drawn in wondering just what the changes implied by the statement "originally intended to be told" will be. Or some people might want to have a more concise version of the storyline. Or there's the nostalgia factor. Or there are fans of artist Todd Nauck. Or just buy everything that has Spider-Man in it.

That they were brave enough to title it "CLONE SAGA" is pretty amazing, given the mostly negative connotations that phrase has for a certain type and/or age of fan. But you have to admit...when they say "Clone Saga," you know exactly what they're selling, don't you? They really couldn't have titled this anything else.

Should also note that BOOM! Studios' first "classic" Disney comic is due out this week: Mickey Mouse and Friends #296. No clones involved in this comic, I'm mostly certain.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

In which I write a post about not remembering enough about something to write a post about it. 

So a brief discussion with Employee Timmy reminded me about something I've not talked about much on this site, even though it's right in line with my many posts about high-profile funnybook events that get attention in the "real" world. And that thing Timmy had reminded me about is the events around "A Death in the Family," the death of Robin story in the Batman comics that, the best I can recollect, was the first big event I had to deal with upon entering the high-finance world of comics retail.

Now I've written a lot about "The Death of Superman," DC's later high-profile event that, over its full run, embodied so much about the boom and bust of the comics market in the early '90s. But for "A Death in the Family" -- perhaps I hadn't been on the other side of the counter long enough to realize what constitutes unusual marketplace behavior, to fully grasp the idea of the ebb and flow of the general public's sporadic remembrance that there still exists such a thing as "comic books." But I honestly don't have more than a few half-remembered recollections of that particular event, aside from 1) it happened, and 2) we sure sold a boatload of those comics. I took a lot of phone calls from people looking for it, and...keep in mind I'm working off twenty year old memories here...some copies of #427 had the 1-800 number to call in and vote for Robin's life or death, and some (the newsstand edition, I believe) did not, and it seems to me that we had both. Or that the 1-800 version sold out and we could only get the newsstand edition as restock, much to the chagrin of folks looking for "collectibles"...that feels right, but could be wrong. But, regardless of the details, there was enormous demand for this particular series, from regulars and from the general public.

Okay, I know that's a lot to write just to say "I don't remember a lot of it," but at the very least I wanted to acknowledge this particular event as being my first involvement in one of these big comic events. I do wish more of it was stuck in my memory...if only I'd known that a couple of decades later I'd have a weblog, whatever that is. In particular, I really wish I recalled any in-store discussions about "A Death in the Family" with customers...I'm sure there was the occasional "I'm gonna vote to kill him!" comment, or "yeah, right, they'll bring him back soon," or "how much do you think this'll be worth?"

Anyway, the death didn't stick, so it's all moot. But last I checked those original "A Death in the Family" issues are still relatively pricey, and still experience some sales demand, so there you go.

I believe the next event I had to deal with was the first Tim Burton Batman movie, though I'm pretty sure even as "A Death in the Family" was going on we had folks complaining about Michael Keaton being cast. But, I think, that's a post for a different day.

In other news:
  • You don't deserve it, but they're giving it to you anyway: Chris Sims and Eugene Ahn have unleashed another installment of the War Rocket Ajax podcast, and they're interviewing Comics Alliance's Laura Hudson. Download it today...unless you're chicken.

  • Andrew has another Nobody's Favorites entry up on his site, this time taking on a book from Marvel's ill-fated New Universe line. Granted, Andrew's spoiled for choice there, but just which New Universe title did he pick? Go read and find out. Yeah, that's right, I linked the same post twice in a row in the same paragraph. What's it to you?

    (And before any of you give me crap about making (very mild) fun of the New Universe, because someone out there is the World's Biggest New Universe Fan and he's about to post in my comments about what a big meanie I am, please note that I really liked Star Brand. So there.)

  • Can you guess the mystery theme of Bully the Little Stuff Bull's latest ten-of-a-kind?

    Okay, not much of a mystery, but it's a fun collection of covers.

  • Spotted an announcement of Dick Durock's death on a message board somewhere, and, alas, the board's built-in naughty word detector/censor resulted in this:

    Probably should've gone with "Richard" there, my friend.

Monday, September 28, 2009

This post involves 20-year-old spoilers for Grimjack

So I recently reread my run of Grimjack, which was a fine darn series which unfortunately entered a prolonged hiatus when its publisher, First Comics, went under in the early '90s. Prior to the company's demise, the plan was to continue Grimjack in a series of mini-series, as detailed here in the "coming soon" section of the last issue's letter column:

from Grimjack #81 (April 1991)

Now I realize for those of you not in the know, not a lot of that is going to make a whole bunch of sense to you, but for those of us fully aboard the Grimjack train (...er, what?) this was all stuff we Had to Read. And I know that I was really looking forward to the next incarnation (or rather, incarnations, as twins) of the character (especially with my interest piqued by interviews in Amazing Heroes and such)...and nearly twenty years on, after the Grimjack reread, my interest is piqued again.

Ostrander himself addressed the issue in a message board posting from last year...basically, he'd like to continue from where he left off, but isn't sure when that'd happen. Like I discussed before, trying to pick up where Grimjack left off would have likely been a disaster, and going "back to basics" to capture new readers is a better marketing strategy than providing "forward motion" (for the lack of a better term) for however many original Grimjack fans may yet still be buying comics a couple of decades later.

Of course, I'm enjoying the recent Grimjack series from IDW, which provide "untold origins" of various aspects of the GJ universe, as drawn by cocreator and original GJ artist Tim Truman. The language is a little rougher, which surprised me a bit (since First Comics didn't allow the Seven Words You Can't Say on TV in their comics), but it's fitting and not overdone. And Ostrander's writing, and Truman's art, have never been better.

I'm hoping sales and interest in the character are strong enough to get us to the point where we can pick up from the end of the original First Comics series, but I realize, in the current marketplace, it's a real uphill battle. But it's a good series with talented creators, and I certainly wish it well. Plus, I'm selling the books at our shop, so I'm trying to do my part!

Related: please consider contributing to Comix 4 Sight, a charity to help Mr. Ostrander cover the medical costs associated with his glaucoma surgeries.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

It's a bad scene when you're a monster and you're shown up by a puppet. 

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