“Suddenly, eighteen years later….”

§ December 5th, 2021 § Filed under suddenly... § 16 Comments

Sweet Mother Machree, it’s been eighteen years of this nonsense, of me writing about them funnybooks and the selling thereof multiple times a week (eyeballs permitting). What madness is this?

Thanks to all of you for sticking around, whether you started reading this site in 2003 or just started…I don’t know, today, maybe? What if this was the first time you ever read Progressive Ruin? If it is, here’s a FAQ:

“What is this site about?”

It’s about Mike Sterling’s progressive ruin, I mean it’s right there in the title.

“Why is there so much talk about comic books?”


Okay, anyway, thanks to you guys, thanks to my friends and family and customers who lightly cough and turn away when they discover what I’m up to here, and most of all thanks to Comics Blogging Pioneer Neilalien, to whom we must all pay homage.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about me. Or rather, this here site. This year was, as you probably noticed, unless you’re one of those “first day-ers” I was talking about, that it’s been The Year of the Variant in these parts. Waaaay back in the middle of April, I asked you guys about variant covers and how they affected your purchasing decisions. Now, the plan was to respond to your comments and move on, but somehow, someway, the thing I call “variant cover-age” and nobody else does launched from that initial post. As such, most every Monday since then I’ve written about the many…um, varieties of variant covers that have been released, and in most cases offering my personal collecting or retailing memories thereof.

While you can always click on the category link to read them all, I’ve provided this index listing to jump to the subject of your choice. Think of it as a precursor to the eventual article index page I plan to put on this site.

Man of Steel and Legends of the Dark Knight

Spider-Man‘s advantageous variants

X-Men #1

Robin‘s variant parade (plus this addendum)


DC’s “Superman Comics” market test

Valiant Comics

The issue of Jab what got shot with a bullet

Serial-numbered issues for MAD and Triumphant Comics

Variant interiors (for Team Titans, Fathom)

Retailer variants, focusing on Department of Truth

Superman and Spider-Man wedding comics

Double-covers and ad inserts

Whitman comics

That one issue of Lone Ranger

Marvel second issues

“All Ages” vs. “Mature Readers”

Image Comics newsstand variants

Superman’s Definitely Not Colorforms

Marvel’s 35-cent variants

“Platinum” editions

Naughty-covered variants

Old UK variants

TV Guide comic tie-ins plus a follow-up

Recolored reprints and sketch covers

Black and white New 52 variants

Sales impact of variants

DC’s MAD variants

DC’s “Robot Chicken” toy variants

Holy cow, that’s quite a few. And despite popular demand, I’m not done yet.

Other regular features haven’t had quite the same attention…I hadn’t realized, for example, I hadn’t done an End of Civiliation post all year. That’s mostly because it’s no longer as easy to flip through Previews (and other distributor catalogs) as quickly as I used to with my vision shenanigans. But, I promise, I’ll start doing them again. Those naked anime statues aren’t going to make fun of themselves.

Also, Sluggo Saturday only had one installment this year, but that’s kind of par for the course for that series. You can’t force Sluggo, you can only accept Sluggo as it comes. Plus, it’s kind of hard to top this sadly still-timely entry from 2020.

What else, what else…ah, well, I’m still running my Patreon, where all contributions go directly to maintaining my brain in this internet-connected jar, and I’m still doing occassional audio posts. And for some reason I started DoesThisComicHaveStaples.com, based on a Twitter joke I made, where I do indeed tell you if a comic book has staples or not. Went on a brief hiatus, but it’s back, staplier than ever!

My store, Sterling Silver Comics, just celebrated its seventh year of occaionally getting undamaged new comics from my distributor(s), and you can follow my store on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. There’s an eBay store, and I also just started selling on a new comics auction/store site called HipComic, and that’s been going swimmingly.

On more place you can find me is my personal account on the Twitterers, where you can find such delightful things as this:

Being pushed toward the grave at the shop:

Wishing for a beautiful piece of comic book storytelling:

Relating my support for a comic writer who could’ve saved a famed franchise from ongoing oblivion:

Pondering an occurrence that certainly had happened:

Exuding more grace and charm to the customers:

Kids saying the greatest things:

Jumping on the latest collectible trends:

Thinking about a business offer I surely can’t refuse:

Defending my honor as a comic book seller:

Demonstrating my skills as a buyer of old comics:

Interacting with my colleagues:

Commenting on, well, dummies:

And again:

And one more time:

Never escaping the chains I forged in life:

And, well, again:

And finally, revealing the secret benefits of comics dealing, posted on, appropriately enough, 4/20:

Now back to this site…what’s been going on here? Well, let me show you:


This Mego-style Swamp Thing figure is on my desk staring at me even as I write this, so long Richard Corben, who would I get to draw my Swamp Thing comic (and my Stanley and His Monster comic), in which I ponder art versus the artist, egads I forgot about Santa’s Secret Cave, which review of the latest Wonder Woman movie had the best title — why mine of course, what I think about Valiant Comics.


The greatest Man-Thing-centric crossover event of all time, I look back at your 2020 predictions (parts 1 2 3 4 5 Epilogue).


Have I got a boner to show you, the deep dive on boners continues, can you find the secret message in this post about Malibu and Ultraverse comics, what I’m reading and not reading (and some talk about Doctor Aphra and 1970s Legion of Super-Heroes), “Five Years Later” Legion talk, nobody needs to hear my opinions about the DC Cinematic Universe (and more, and more), the speculator market gets even more out of hand,

MARCH 2021

X-Force #1 and the Shazam! Effect, the pricing of unbagged pre-bagged comics, the beginning of the Bad Idea invasion (plus bonus video!), Overstreet pricing and more Bad Idea shenanigans, repricing those $50 X-Files #1s you still had in the bins from 20 years ago, they still show up from time to time, I beat the rush on the “10 years later” New 52 retrospective, is Crisis good, there were some good New 52 titles honest, post #5200 should have been the New 52 anniversary post but instead it’s more Crisis talk, the M.O.D.O.K. of Positivity, are reboots/relaunches good, well eventually there were fewer damages, I swear to God mentioning that writer’s name is like putting up the Bat-Signal, anyway here’s some follow-up on that Birthright talk.

APRIL 2021

Talkin’ about New Teen Titans, for some reason I bought this Cracked “Mork from Ork” special I had as a kid off eBay, oh hey it’s an In Pictopia reprint I wasn’t expecting, my old college newspaper and the comic strips therein, Swamp Thing art gifted to me by a customer, here’s where the whole “variant cover-age” began and I swear I’m going to address your specific responses eventually, as expected demand for these from speculators plummeted once retailers were able to order plenty, a Sluggo Saturday shot from an Ernie Busmiller original(!), and now I own some original Bushmiller too, Total Eclipse was worth it just for that panel of Miracleman holding Beanish.

MAY 2021

Super gross retailer behavior, in which I talk about not being a gross retailer, G.I. Joe speculation just out of nowhere, puttin’ dem photos on dem funnybooks, and speaking of which here’s an old Stan Lee photo cover, why I liked Firestorm the Nu-Klee-Ear Man, they should bring back Daredevil’s Punch of the Month.

JUNE 2021

It’s hard to be a Swamp Thing fan these days, I do love those ’70s Shazams, the Herbie/Swamp Thing mash-up you demanded, the whole ugly Warren Ellis thing.

JULY 2021

My early foray into digital comics, I may have “repurposed” a couple of gags from these local ‘zines in my own comics, how to store mini-cmics and ‘zines (or at least how I store ’em), more early mini-comics art by me, how I got this Captain Jack sketch, and here’s an Evan Dorkin drawing I own, still mad about greedy retailers determined to drag down this industry.


Pricing of G.I. Joe #1 and #2, the “how does your local comic shop toss the new bookson the shelves” poll, finally I can be an official fan of Tumbleweeds, why you shouldn’t be impressed by King Spawn #1 orders, Free Comic Book Day 2021 postmortem (with a bonus pic of me, my dad, and Pal Dorian).


What Buck Rogers was up to in the year 2021, my Flaming Carrot still flames, look I’m dumb and I read Swamp Thing, oh yeah Popeye action figures.


Me ‘n’ British comics, some goofy thing from an old Walking Dead issue plus that first week of Marvel’s new distributor, more distribution talk. the effect (or lack thereof) of media adaptations on comic sales, and a little more about that, at last one of my “Special Monster Friends” from my mini-comic, a great little domestic scene from a George Perez-drawn Justice League comic, honestly that Flash/Firestorm scene stuck with me for years, the greatest Bouncing Boy comic that never existed.


What old comics I’d like to see reprinted – the answers won’t surprise you, Superman vs. the Arbor Day Foundation, all the 1970s Stan you can stand, the Diamond Comics hack, honestly I have no real use for this Diamond CD-ROM, Speedy dealing with something worse than heroin, time usage when dealing with multiple distributors.


My favorite anniversary issues, ROM has a message for you antimaskers plus bonus “what is an anniversary issue?” content.

And that’s one more year stored away in the archives for future generations to “enjoy,” for as long as the site stays up after I’m dead. Thanks to all of you for reading, for particpating in the comments, for all your emails, and your business. I greatly appreciate all of it, and I still wouldn’t be doing this site if it weren’t for all of you. Yes, I’m passing the blame onto you people.

For reading all that, here’s a photograph of a koala I inexplicably have in my possession:

I’ve had this photo for decades. Where did it come from? I have no idea! But now, you can enjoy it too!

Thanks, and I’ll see you tomorrow to start the next year of this site. What awaits? More variants? Probably. More koalas? I’ll see what I can do.

16 Responses to ““Suddenly, eighteen years later….””

  • Thom H. says:

    Thank you for the endless entertainment and distraction!

    Also, that koala looks so sleepy. I want to hug it.

  • Mike, all the best, as you continue to progressively ruin. Or ruiningly progress. Or something.

    Anyway, congratulations! And hope to see you in person before the naming convention gets to to Omega!

  • Eric L says:

    They almost definitely approached Crumb about doing something for the Bizarro Comics hardcovers a few years back. I’d put the over/under for DC approaching Crumb at 5.

  • googum says:

    Every year of your blog is worth celebrating! Congrats.

  • Brian Hughes says:

    Congratulations Mike, and thank you for your tireless efforts. Blog maintenance is no easy task, and 18 years is like a century in internet time.

  • ExistentialMan says:

    A very sincere, heartfelt thank you Mike! Been following your insightful, humorous musings about funny books for many, many years – keep spreading that Sterling joy!

  • Casie says:

    (That sign above that adorable, paddling koala is perfect)

    Always makes me happy reading your site. You put the ‘fun’ in funny books. Congrats, Mike! :)

  • Allan Hoffman says:

    Thanks for all the bloggering Mike! Putting smiles on people’s faces since 1969!

    SOLDIER: “General! Agent Sterling has posted the koala picture on his blog thing.”
    GENERAL: “Oh my god.”
    SOLDIER: “What does it mean, General?”
    GENERAL: (Into the phone) “Attention! Attention! Operation: Dark Koala is a go! I want those fighters in the air and the mass evacuations of our cities to begin immediately!”
    SOLDIER: “Good lord, sir, is it that serious?”
    GENERAL: “Sterling wouldn’t have posted that picture if it wasn’t!”

  • […] yesterday was this site’s 18th anniversary post, in which I included an index to all the variant cover-age posts so […]

  • Brian says:

    After nearly eighteen years (I stumbled upon the site at some point late in its first year), it’s the knowledge deep down that “Suddenly…KOREA!” could break out in any post which always brings me back…

  • MisterJayEm says:

    Suddenly… KOALA!

    — MrJM

  • MisterJayEm says:


    — MrJM

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Started looking at some retired academic’s feed and it’s full of his claims that modern mountains, and even continents, didn’t exist until a few hundred years ago. That’s…certainly a position.”

    First there was a mountain, then there was no mountain, then there was!

  • Damien says:

    Do you think that issue of Marvel Fanfare by Barry Windsor-Smith would count as a Thing on Roller Skates story?

    More importantly that Sonic Comic Girl is the future. Thanks Mike for hooking a new generation on the filthy comics habit.