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Honestly, it’s harder to type “5YL” than it is just to type out “Five Years Later.”

§ February 12th, 2021 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, legion of super-heroes § 8 Comments

So anyway, I’d meant to have a post up Wednesday, and then tried to have it up for Thursday, and in fact I actually had most of it written on Wednesday, but I was just too tired to put finishing touches on it and I wasn’t able to tell through my sleepiness if it all made sense or not. Thus, a rare moment of “quality control” on this site. No need to thank me.

I’ll probably revise and post what was completed at some point so all that “hard” “work” doesn’t go to waste. But in the meantime, let’s talk about Five Years Later Legion of Super-Heroes.

Longtime reader Wayne brought it up in his comment (responding to my post where I mentioned I was going through that latest volume of Legion reprints), and y’all continued the discussion on the pros and cons of that revision to our favorite 30th century heroes.

Wayne asks of the Five Year Later (or 5YL, as I think it was popularly known by) storyline “anyone else remember that run?” and boy howdy sure I do. I…probably implied a reference to it here in this overall post about the Legion of Super-Heroes Vs. Rebootery, in that it was one of many attempts at revitalizing/restarting the Legion in order to expand the audience beyond the readers who would buy Legion comics regardless. 5YL was not a reboot as such, but a rejiggering of the concept designed to shake things up, re-engage readers, and also try to clean up a continuity glitch or three, while technically maintaining a continuity of character and plot developments started so many decades ago in the Legion’s first appearance in Adventure #247.

If you’re not familiar, and in case you haven’t guessed from me repeatedly using “5YL,” with the new first issue in 1989, the Legion storyline jumps ahead five years to a universe where the Legion is scattered, everything’s in turmoil, all the characters call each other by their first names instead of their codenames, and there are mysteries within intrigues within conspiracies, all told in a deliberately obfuscatory manner.

But, y’know, is it any good?

It feels silly to write out anything about this stretch of Legion when pal Andrew knocked it out of the moopsball ring with this analysis. Just kinda picture me nodding my head next to pretty much every sentence in that essay. In short, this phase of the Legion devoted a lot of time to tearing up the scripts and smashing the scenery of What Had Come Before, a propcess that eventually brought us to the point of, as Andrew says, requiring the start-from-scratch afforded by a reboot.

“Yes, yes, Mike, but is it good?”

I started reading the Legion in the early ’80s, so I came to it a little later than the “Long Live the Legion”/APA-type fans who arose out of ’60s and ’70s fandom who opined on Legion goings-on in fanzines and whatnot. Legion was noted for its loyal fanbase, surely inspired (in part if not in whole) by the soap opera aspects borne by the large and varied cast. But I jumped in with both feet, followed the title, then the two titles once the “hardcover/softcover” publishing plan (in short: DC published a version of Legion for comic shops, reprinted a year later for newsstands, but before the reprints started the newsstand version also contained new stories).

Plus I read stories in DC’s digest reprints, and picked up back issues, and that sort of thing, so I was reasonably well versed in the franchise by the time that first “direct-sales-only” comic shop series came to its end.


Okay, okay, I happened to really like the “Five Year Later” relaunch. It felt…it felt almost like a superhero version of Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg!…I mean, not in the sexy-naughty-times sort of way, but in that the comic was, as I said before, deliberately obfuscatory. It wasn’t bad storytelling, leaving out important plot points or taking unnecessary short cuts or leaving the reader in the dark for no good reason. The information was there, sometimes between the lines, making it a challenging read, but challenging in a good way. You’d reread each issue a time or three making sure you got what you were supposed to get. It felt…adult, again not in the dirty-filthy sense but in the “we expect you to bring some interpretative abilities to this, it ain’t no kid’s book.” And look, I was, what, 20 when this was coming out? It was rewarding to read a book that made you feel smart for getting it.

Not to say some of the criticisms some of you related in my comments section weren’t valid. Yes, calling everyone by their real first names could be confusing unless you were already fully immersed in all this nonsense prior to the launch of this series. I could read stuff in the comics written in the Interlac alphabet without referring back to the key they published in the early 300s, keeping Reep, Jo, Brin and Imra straight wasn’t going to be a problem.

And sometimes the artistic choices didn’t help either. Lots of characters in shadow, the occasional super close-up of whoever the heck it’s supposed to be…it added a layer of confusion to a series that was already not open to casual reading.

The storytelling gradually switched back over to a more traditional form as the series wore on, though the focus continued on breaking the milieu in ways that couldn’t be rolled back (refer back to Andrew’s post for a cataloging of some of these events). And, you know, it was fine reading it at the time…it was suitably dramatic, and surprisingly permanent, because back then you didn’t realize “shutting it all down and starting anew” was an option on the table. The series had survived Crisis on Infinite Earths, riding out the changes wrought by that series directly affecting Legion’s underpinnings. (One of which, the removal of Superboy, was one of the continuity fixes installed in those early 5YL issues.) If it could make it through that linewide event, nothing could stop the Legion!

Well, except sales, and a back-pedaling on the whole “5YL” concept, by introducing what appeared to be the younger, more innocent version of the Legion, coexisting with the older, wiser, and occasionally embittered post-5YL team. Let’s be clear…it was still entertaining, I thought, and something of a compelling mystery…where did these younger Legionnaires come from? But it was still a splintering of the concept, asking you to maintain your loyalties and devotion to the ongoing character developments with two versions of the same characters. It was one of those bendings of the concept that was interesting at the time, but didn’t realize what it had broken.

Eventually things came to a head and, as I talked about before, DC used their Zero Hour event as an opportunity to wipe that slate clean and start again. And I already went into detail in that post why that was a bad idea, so I won’t repeat it all here.

But yes, I liked “Five Years Later.” We can look at it from a publishing standpoint and say “ooh, maybe DC shouldn’t have done that” (see also Crisis on Infinite Earths), but as a story just in and of itself, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Not knowing what to expect in each issue, knowing nothing was necessarily sacred, was the kind of excitement one didn’t often get in long-running comic book franchises. But maybe there’s a reason we don’t get that in long-running comic franchises, given the Legion’s difficulty in maintaining a significant presence in the decades since.

No, it wasn’t me (though I admit the circumstantial evidence of my birthday is a tad damning). Also, yes, that’s a Morrison reference.

§ July 3rd, 2020 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin § 7 Comments

Okay, might as well make this a week of “Mike Crawls Up His Own Bottom” posts, so let me try to wrap it all up here with this posty-post.

Nate asked in the comments of my last post:

“I ask this every time someone reminisces about the golden age of comics blogging, but does anyone have a clue as to what happened to Dick Hyacinth of ‘Savage Critics’ and ‘Dick Hates Your Blog?’ He was a regular presence and then, poof, he was gone…”

What Age of Comics Blogging are we in now? The Just Barely Hanging In There Age, I’m presuming. Anyway, for those of you who missed it, Dick Hyacinth was a relatively acerbic comics blogger who popped up in 2007, cranked out a lotta posts for a couple of years, then vanished mysteriously on, of all dates, my birthday in 2009. He was…not a fan of what comics blogs were doing, as you can probably judge by the title of his site, and he wasn’t shy about saying so, at a time when most of us were generally playing nice with each other. I know a friend or two got into it with him over one thing or another. Aside from that, some of his comics criticism and discussion of the industry was worth reading, I think, and when going back over his blog I found myself looking at more than one thing he wrote and thinking “…yeah, he had a point.” I know he brought me up once or twice but was actually fairly complimentary, so I guess he didn’t hate every blog.

It does seem just a little strange that he up and quit without any notice, but only a little. It wasn’t, and still isn’t, uncommon for bloggers to have a strong start then dry up with no warning. What’s unusual here is that he also had a side gig writing reviews for another site, so the thinking is that he was a little more established than someone just blogging on a whim. But, hey, people burn out, or have other responsibilities that take precedence (I believe he mentioned a few times that he had a kid, or maybe kids) so there you go.

As to the person behind the pseudonym…I kinda think maybe he was another blogger or columnist or whathaveyou deciding to be a bit more blunt under an assumed name to avoid blowback. Or he was just an observer of what was going on in the comicsweblogosphere and decided “THESE PEOPLE NEED ME.” I mean, who knows. I don’t suppose it really matters now, eleven years on.

I’ll probably go through and revisit some of his entries at some point, and try to remember just why exactly he got up all our noses at the time. I know then I was bothered by some of what he’d said, but also, as I said back in Monday’s post, I’m not quite as uptight about this sort of thing. Could be the worst I’ll think looking back at his work is “boy, he’s really playing up his schtick here” and wonder why we were all so angry with him in the first place. Or I will get reminded and become angry all over again. I’M A JUMBLE OF RAGING EMOTIONS

Talking about this reminded me of one guy, years ago…a comics columnist of some sort who for whatever reason decided to point out that I wasn’t as funny as I thought I was. At the time I posted a response (not linking to the article, which is probably long gone anyway, along with its author) where I essentially said “hey, fine, everybody has a different sense of what’s funny, it’s okay if he doesn’t like me,” when what I should have said was “FUCK YOU, I’M HILARIOUS” but l’esprit d’escalier and all that.

And then there was that one guy who took to the message boards to complain about me and pal Dorian about being a couple of real jerks because, as far as we were able to determine, we didn’t like a comic he liked, I think? Also, same dude had me put together a sizable mail order for him then stiffed me on payment. But now I’m just listing grievances. Don’t worry, everyone, I’m too old and creaky to seek my bloody vengeance on anyone. I’ll just write satirical poems about them in my newsletter.

And the rest of the ACAPCWOVCCAOE, if you remember what that is.

§ July 1st, 2020 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, eyeball § 3 Comments

My apologies for missing the first part of the week…I’m still undergoing some eye issues, which rose up over the weekend. I’m okay right now, but it’s very likely more signiciant treatment is coming in the future to correct some of the ongoing issues I’ve had for the last year or two. I ask your patience and the patience for my customers as well as I deal with this. Don’t worry, everything will be fine! Just have a few more things to do in order to get everything fixed.

Anyway, I want to add a couple of notes to the last way-too-long post on Your Pal Mike’s Blogging History:

First, I neglected to mention Alan David Doane as one of the foundational bloggers of the very early Aughts, and he’s written about what he’s up to in regards to the whole funnybook thing. Alan has always been very supportive of Progressive Ruin, and one of my favorite moments early on is when he made his list of Favorite Things About Comics and my dumb site was on his list. I’ve since worked with Alan on a few of his online projects which was a great deal of fun, and hopefully we’ll work together on something in the future.

SECRET FUN FACT: before I was menacing the world on the World Wide Web, and long before we knew each other, Alan once mail ordered some comics from my previous place of employment, which I personally packaged up and shipped.

Another point I should have mentioned was how the Comics Journal’s linkblog Journalista was very important in driving traffic to this site early on. Curator Dirk Deppey was very generous with the ProgRuin links, even saying about me (in a quote I preserved on my linkrot-enhanced About page):

“…Definitely one of the better new comics bloggers to emerge so far this year.”

This was of course well before my slow decline into this shadow of a man I am now, but I always appreciated those kind words. Particularly coming from a representative of The Comics Journal, a magazine I’d long read and respected.

I believe i may have pal Ian Brill to blame for bringing me to his attention, as he’d often bring me up in the ol’ TCJ message boards. So really, the blame’s probably all on him.

One person I’m especially remiss in not mentioning is my good friend and former coworker pal Dorian. Hours of just chatting about comics at the shop while we worked is probably a significant part of why we both ended up in comics blogging in the first place. A lot of our content was generated by trying to make each other laugh, and we often collaborated on material, not the least of which was “Doctor Doom’s Top Ten Euphemisms for Sex.”

Now Dor had to curtail his blogging mostly due to work stuff, but he’s still around, he’s still my pal, and I have to admit a lot of what I write has “I wonder what Dorian will think of this?”

The reason I call him “Pal Dorian?” Early on, before Dorian had his own blog, I’d often bring him up on my site, because, as I’d mentioned, much of the content here would come from our interactions. And rather than explain every time who Dorian was whenever I brought him up, I just called him “Pal” and figured that would get the point across. I’ve since used “Pal” for most of my real world friends.

One exception is Kid Chris, whom I started calling that and the nickname, like, just stuck. Everyone called him that. He’s now teaching English to kids in Korea and I’m pretty sure his students call him that.

Anyway, I owe lots of folks for the success (or “success”) of this site, including all my former coworkers and my old boss Ralph…other comics bloggers, my parents and my girlfriend Nora…y’know, all the people I generally bring up in my self-aggrandizing anniversary posts in December.

Okay, enough of all that. Back to actual comic books next time.

WARNING: I say the word “blog” a lot.

§ June 26th, 2020 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin § 12 Comments

Okay, I promise I’m getting back to crossover comic talk soon, but my post about Bully the Little Retired Bull on Wednesday had me thinking about things ‘n’ stuff.

I just Googled “average blog lifespan” and the first answer that popped up was 100 days. That seems…I don’t know, I’m of two minds about it. It either seems too long (having seen plenty of blogs that got one or two posts then immediately tried up) or too short (my own purely uninformed guesstimate being closer to about 2 to 3 years). But I guess that makes sense…if you’re at it for 2 to 3 years, it’s become a habit/routine/whatever and you’re more likely to continue. If you don’t have the inspiration or wherewithal to put time into your site…yeah, just over three months is probably a long enough span for people to figure out blogging’s not for them.

So what I’m trying to say is…Bully making it to 15 years is quite the achievement, particularly given some of the labor-intensive posts he would do. I’ll be hitting the 17 year mark in December, and Johanna Draper Carlson‘s been at it longer that. And of course there’s Neilalien, the first prominent comics weblogger, who retired from full-time blogging in his 11th year back in 2011, but continues to update his sidebar with bits of comics news, especially if it has to do with Doctor Strange.

And there are still more active comic blogs, a few dating from the heyday of the early to mid-2000s, and plenty of newer ones. The “Update-A-Tron” (as I dubbed the service long ago, and the creator happily adopted the name!) is a good place to still check and see who’s still updating. Mike over at Zombie Cat Bacon had been doing an ongoing series of posts that I hope he gets back to, in which he goes through many of the comic weblogs to see what’s happened to them. Search his site for “All Blogs Go to Heaven” for those posts. (Here’s a sample.)

I’ve made lots of jokes here and on the Twitters about being the Last Comics Blogger, which clearly isn’t true. Plenty of folks out there doin’ it, including several from the aforementioned heyday. And there are many other venues for folks interested in talking about comics online…podcasts, of course, and I understand there are also YouTube shows but I only ever hear about the terrible ones.

“Blogging is dead” is thrown out there relatively often nowadays, but while it’s not quite the thing it was, it’s not exactly six feet under just yet. Even as group comic blogs and corporately-owned comic blogs became more prominent, here we were, the little guys, still typing away at our keyboards for whatever audiences we still had…not for fame, or for money, but because we had something we needed to say, to put out into the world, and with a little time, internet connection, and webhosting we were able to do so.

I started doing the online comics thing in the…late ’80s, early ’90s, or thereabouts, calling local BBSes and participating in comics discussions there, if any were going on. As it turned out, many of the folks on those BBSes were customers of mine at the comic shop I worked at then (having started in comics retail in ’88). Some of those people remain friends to this very day. Pal Andy was one. And Kevin, who unfortunately passed away earlier this year. Eventually I started running my own comics forums on one or two of those boards.

Once America Online rolled around, I started trying to participate in the comic message boards there…but this was around the time of the comics market boom, and it felt like the conversation was dominated by investment talk versus actually reading the darn things. Granted, it’s been a long time, and my memory may be selective, but I really remember the discussions there not really being anything I wanted to participate in.

In the mid-90s or thereabouts, once full-on internet connections were more available, I started what I’ve since come to call “Progressive Ruin Version 1.0.” According to my “What’s New” section, I opened the site on November 8th, 1996. Not a blog, but more a link/archive site, providing an online presence for our mini-comics concern, terrible desktop patterns (which got me mentioned in a computer mag, apparently!), copies of my articles for that music magazine I wrote for, and other stuff. However, if you were to look at that “What’s New” section, the entries are very bloglike, I think.

A tad bit later (October 2000, to be exact, according to the user stats there), I joined LiveJournal, where I began to really cut my blogging teeth. I started to post more pic-heavy posts about comics, including a few discussing some pretty crazy Silver Age books that eventually got reworked for the current site. And once I discovered actual comic blogs outside of LJ, I decided to try my hand at that.

I knew I wanted my own domain name (reusing “Progressive Ruin” from my initial site, also since used on a mini-comic of mine…and please note, I’m wrong in that tweet…the PR name predates the comic by three years!). My first call around 2001 to my local ISP quoted me a fairly outrageous price for setting up my own domain, so it waited ’til 2003 when, after a little more research (and some sweetheart deal on webhosting) I finally registered and set up what you’re reading now, aside from some changes in design and blogging software.

Like I said, I’ve been at this specific site for the better part of two decades. I don’t post as often as I used to (like, posting every day because I was terrified of losing my audience), but I’m still here, still writing about comics and the comics industry. One of the side effects of my recent eyeball troubles was that it was a lot harder to actually read comics. It was hard to crack wise about older stories, it was hard to react to newer ones…but I always have plenty to say about the retail end of things. I think I was one of the few comic bloggers who wrote about comics from the perspective of someone actually working in a comic shop, and obviously that’s something I still do now. Even after all this time, I have things I want to say, even if I repeat myself a little. Look, I’m old, I’m allowed to.

Now what’s up with Progressive Ruin in…the future? Well, I noted on Twitter that I plan to stick with blogging so long as I’m still in the industry, however long that is. If, Galactus forbid, my shop folds someday, I imagine I’ll have a few things to write about that, but once I’m out of the business, I’m probably out of writing about it too.

That said, I have no intention of leaving the business, and especially don’t intend to close up my shop. They’re gonna find me at the ripe old age of 99, slumped over a pile of X-O Manowar, and they’re gonna say “that Mike Sterling, he died with his Mylar™ bags on.” Perhaps between now and then, WordPress will be bought out by Disney and turned into a Star Wars toy of some kind, and I’ll have to move to some other platform to express myself with Progressive Ruin 3.0, but so long as I’m slingin’ comics, I’ll have something to say about them.

Could very well be that I’ll eventually follow Neilalien’s path, archiving most of the site and just posting occasional small updates. Or I could stretch out the posting schedule, one or two posts a month, something like that. I do have an eventual plan to create an index page, pointing you all to Posts of Note from the site’s past, but that’s still in its infancy. That could be the site’s landing page someday if I decide to do what Neilalien did.

I’ve mentioned this to a few people over the years, but mostly to pal Dorian, about how I thought I’d end my blog back when I was thinking about how that would happen, in the mid-2000s. I’d have a post where I said my goodbyes…and the the next week I’d have one final post entitled “SCORCHED EARTH,” where I just lay into all the stupid things and terrible people I’d dealt with in the comics industry, online and off. This was a half-joking idea (even then, I wasn’t really planning on ending the site any time in the near future) but some folks really got up my nose at times and I wanted to let them have it. Well, needless to say, I never did that, and besides, I’m pretty sure I outlasted most of the people I wanted to lambast. I can’t even remember who they were or why they irritated me, frankly.

That sort of thing seems so foreign to me now…as I mentioned to Bully’s friend John when I was talking about this with him, I think I’m a lot less tightly wound now that I was 15, 10…hell, even five years ago. Opening my own shop probably helped a bit. In fact, I know it did…soon as I opened my own doors I had customers who’d known me for a while tell me “boy, you sure look a lot happier!” And I think I am, even with the extra pressure being a small business owner puts upon me. But whatever the reason, I don’t fall into the “someone is wrong on the Internet!” trap so often any more. There’s always going to be stupidity and meanness out there, but reacting to it with a lighter touch and less intensity is a lot healthier for my blood pressure.

Speaking of opening my own shop…one side effect of having this blog is, well, advertising. Wasn’t intended to be, but regardless, there it is. If you look at the early posts in this category, I take everyone along on the trip as the store is built and prepped, and more than once I’ve said “HEY BUY STUFF FROM ME” and occasionally I wasn’t even that subtle about it. I don’t know how many readers of this site have since become customers of mine…even now I have new customers sending in requests simply because they’ve been reading my blatherings here. I am of course terribly grateful for that.

Look, believe it or not, I have even more to say on the topic (whatever the topic may have been, I think I lost the thread somewhere), but for now let me sum up: I’m not going anywhere. I plan to sell comics for the rest of my life, and I plan to talk about it. Here’s hoping you all continue listening.

NOTE: I’m up way too late. I’ll check for typos tomorrow.

Your 2019 Predictions, Epilogue: Changeling.

§ February 1st, 2020 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, predictions § 5 Comments

Right on the cusp of February I’m finally finishing up this whole “your 2019 predictions” thing. I’ve directly responded to the forecasts themselves, and now it’s time to go back and do a little mopping up regarding your comments to said responses. (Said posts are located here: one, two, three, four, five, six).

So first off, Brian fills my brain with some thoughts on blogging:

“The metaphorical — and too often literal — death of the old comic blogosphere continues to sadden me. Having been just too young for the Usenet era, I’ve always seen blogs as the right format in my mind for internet discussion (the transition to social media just feels wrong, not withstanding that I’ve gotten off social media myself in recent years). Of course, I then stop and think back to how many of those bloggers I’ve been reading across sites for 15-20 years, and it doesn’t necessarily surprise me that the numbers have gone down so dramatically (whether by death, moving away from posting, or moving to new monetized venues or social streams). But it’s still always an odd sense of not so much an end of an era but an era that ended a while ago. All the more reason to love having The Mikester still doing his thing here!”

Yes, this ties into the prediction posts. The very first 2019 prediction involved readerships of blogs and the lack thereof. I mean…there still are comics blogs out there, though perhaps it’s not the close-knit community it used to be. A lot of the folks I used to link to and virtually pal around with have either severely curtailed or ended entirely their blogging activities, or, as Brian mentions, have moved on to the seemingly less work-intensive social media outlets. I know I’ve been tempted to just go Tweetery-only…it’s a lot easy to be more spontaneous and less worried about feeding the blogging beast there, tossing off whatever brief thoughts and funny images I have handy.

But I think there’s always going to be room for longer-form, slightly less ephemeral content like this, on more permanent venues rather than being buried beneath, or washed away by, the crush of endless aggregated content feeding through social media. Maybe it’s not the “in” thing that it used to be, blogging still remains a useful way of getting your ideas out there and expressing yourself and hopefully entertaining or informing readers.

Now am I going to do this forever? I mean, it feels like I already have, doesn’t it? No idea when I started this back when blogs where just beginning to peak in the early 2000s that I’d be one of the last comic blogs standing from that initial comicblogosphere explosion. Sure, a number of folks used their blogs to get paying gigs or comics work (not necessarily the same thing), but blogging has always been an extension of what apparently is going to be my lifelong career, flamenco dancer funnybook salesman. I like talking about the hobby, the industry around it, and also my eyeballs, apparently. I figure as long as I’m in this business, I’ll probably want to talk about it, and right now blogging is the best way for me to do so. And if something better than blogging comes along…or rather, something I like better than blogging…then I may move onto that.

The other issue of course is, well, time, which a lot of us seem to have less of the older we get. Case in point: this post is going up on Saturday instead of Friday as planned. And there have been a few times over the laset few months where either my life gets in the way, or I have health issues, or I just plain don’t feel like typing, that results in a skipped day or two. I try to stick to the 3-times-a-week schedule, but it doesn’t always work out that way, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. And other folks, I’m sure, just realized one day “no time for blogging, Dr. Jones” because there’s too much other stuff going on, and effectively shuttered their sites. It can be a lot of work for not a lot of return, and that effort may need to be redirected towards other more important tasks.

For me, while the actual comcis blogging is a reward to me in and of itself, there is a small measure of self-promotion at work here. I do have a store, after all, and I have a not-insignificant number of customers who have come to me because I’ve been blogging the better part of twenty years. That’s incentive in addition to whatever drive it is that already compels me to blather incesseantly at you.

Ultimately, there may come a time when the only reader I’ll have for my blog is my roommate at the old folks home that I badger into looking at my posts, but I suspect I’ll continue writing about comics online ’til they pry my keyboard from my cold, dead hands. Or that long-promised meteor falls on me, whichever comes first.

• • •

Thelonious_Nick and Chris V both kinda made the case that Black Label is fine, and it was probably time for Vertigo to go, which I do agree to, despite the facetiousness in my “voice” in that post. There is good stuff coming out from them, and that Joe Hill line, as Chris notes, is pretty exceptional and a fine use of the imprint. I was just saying that the huge success of that first issue of Batman: Damned, penis-driven or not, simply sealed Vertigo’s fate, and DC now had a new imprint for grown-ups that was getting the attention Vertigo used to get and seemingly could no longer. Having Black Label a little more closely tied to the DC brand certainly helps its visibility.

• • •

Cassandra Miller is crossing me with

“At Emerald City Comicon last year, Matt Wagner was asked if there could ever be a Mage 4. He basically said not at this point, but never say never.

“So don’t give up hope! We could get a Matchstick Disco Boogie yet!”

Now there’s nothing in Mage 3 that really precludes more Mage stories. The main thread of the three minis is concluded, sure, but I can see exploring the Mage world a little more.

Yeah, yeah, I know, “it’s done, leave it alone,” but I wouldn’t object to it being revisited. Preferably by Matt Wagner, but I can see other creators dabbling in the milieu. In fact, I bet we see some kind of “Mage Stories”-type anthology with other folks taking a crack at Mage short stories, kinda like that Hellboy: Weird Tales. THAT’S A FREE IDEA, IF ANYONE’S LISTENING

• • •

Rob Staeger steals me blind with

Good news! ‘There’s Swamp Thing About Mary’ won’t be the swan song of Legends of Tomorrow that John predicts… the show’s already been renewed! (As have all the other CW comic-based shows, aside from the soon-to-end Arrow, and the yet-to-debut Katy Keene.)

For half a second there, I had to remind myself there wasn’t actually a Swamp Thing episode of Legends of Tomorrow. But I’m glad it got renewed (wasn’t so sure it would, given that ratings weren’t necessarily wonderful a lot of the time. (But considering the sheer amount of options for TV watching nowawadays, maybe folks should scale down their expectactions for what would count as “good ratings.”) I do hope that more of these superhero shows follow its model of fewer episodes. More killer, less filler, sez I.

• • •

Daniel T terrifically reminds us that the John Byrne Man of Steel omnibus was in fact canceled, with supposedly that material seeing print elsewhere. I hope it’s brought back into print soon…that is the beginning for the Modern Age Superman, and thus of some note.

• • •

Andrew-TLA truly notes

“Personally, I draw a distinction between Dark Horse’s licensed titles and their creator-owned lines. That said, Usagi may not be nearly as big a deal as he should be, but the book had become a DH mainstay, and Stan Sakai jumping ship for IDW is a pretty big deal. Especially combined with Eric Powell taking The Goon back to self-publishing.

“If I’m Mike Richardson, I’m doing whatever I can to make sure Mike Mignola stays happy. And maybe trying to squeeze more Umbrella Academy and Groo from Way and Aragones.”

Yeah, I was having trouble thinking of other big licensed books from Dark Horse, but fell back on the creator owned stuff. They still have Aliens, Predator, Terminator, Stranger Things, a couple of other Netflix-related titles (mostly snapped up to flip on eBay, it seems)…not a lot that’s huge (save maybe Stranger Things) and I’m not sure how much cash flow those are bringing in anway. Used to be I’d sell Aliens comics by theh handful…now it’s very niche.

But every title/franchise that moves away from Dark Horse has got to hurt. I’m honestly surprised losing Star Wars wasn’t a crippling blow. I’m glad it wasn’t, and I hope the company sticks around for a long time.

• • •

Rob Staeger (that guy again?) laments

“Ha, when I predicted the return of Autumnlands in early 2019, little did I know how long the Astro City hiatus would last! Last year was CRUEL, man.”

I believe Kurt Busiek noted that there was some business type stuff to take care of re: Astro City but I hope its return is sooner rather than later. I did see mention of a possible TV show based on it, though, so we’ll see what that does to the comic production should that show actually happen.

• • •

Okay, that’s it. PREDICTION TIME IS OVER until next year when I look at your predictions for this year! Thanks for reading, pals, and I hope everyone got the double-reference in Cassandra Miller’s intro.

And frankly, I don’t have the memory to do any “decade” lists.

§ December 30th, 2019 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, watchmen § 3 Comments

Every year around this time I think “I should really do a year-end review,” since I haven’t done one on this site since…probably 2005, I’m guessing without looking to see if I’m right? Anyway, it’s been a while, and the reason I don’t do it is mostly because…well, because I feel limited in direct experience with the vast array of comics that come out each year. Probably a strange thing for a guy what owns a funnybook store to say, but “ordering, racking, and selling” ain’t the same as “reading,” and I feel like I can’t put my dime down on “THE BEST COMIC OF THE YEAR” when my actual reading experience is limited to the handful of comics I’ve mananged to consume over the previous twelve months.

And especially this past year, where (as perhaps you may have heard whispers of in the dark alleys and not heard me complain about nearly daily on this site) I’ve had problems with my vision. My keeping up with the new comics, which had already fallen a bit behind due to my reading more slowly due to all this stuff, pretty much stopped entirely sometime in April. I managed to read a comic here and there, sometimes with some difficulty (I read at least one issue of Doomsday Clock with a large magnifying lens), but mostly I’ve been just letting things pile up.

I said “until recently” because as my vision has become more or less stable-ish in the last couple of months, I’ve been going through my stacks, pulling runs of books and just reading them straight through from where I left off ’til today. As such, I’m caught up on the Superman books, Immortal Hulk, Justice League, Event Leviathan, and, yes, Doomsday Clock. Oh, and the Tales from the Dark Multiverse comics, too, which I probably like more than I should. Thus, I’m making some progress, slowly but surely. Oh, and I’m caught up on the Legion of Super-Heroes reboot, having just read the first two issues of the new series Sunday evening. (Not quite sold on it yet but we’ll see where it goes.)

So as you see, I don’t have quite the pool from which to draw…not exactly a wide range there. I’ve got a lot of other stuff I want to read set aside, but at the very least I’m trying to keep up with those titles so I don’t get even further behind.

Moral of the story: take care of your eyeballs, folks.

Of course it occurs to me that I can do some kind of year-end thingie just from a retail perspective, and I suppose the biggest trend of the year I’ve noticed is more speculation (apparently driven by certain comic-investing websites and YouTube videos and such). Not that folks speculating on what comics are going to be “hot” and “expensive” and “”rare”” (that last one gets double quotation marks) is anything new, or ever really went away. It’s just that I’ve noticed a lot more of it in the past year (sometimes with no apparent rhyme nor reason). Which, you know, that’s fine, whatever you’re enjoying, but at the same time it makes things a lot more difficult to order. Asking for that variant the day before it comics out, or everyone grabbing the first issue of something, and then the second issue shows up and doesn’t sell at all. It can be a little maddening, but that’s why they pay me the big bucks. (NOTE: no big bucks are actually paid to me.)

On the other hand, a new publisher that distributes their own books directly to retailers, TKO Studios, has been working out quite well for me this year, getting their first batch at the store back in February and a new round of books in November. They’ve done well for me, they’re very convenient to order, and they’re solidly-produced items. Very nice additions to the product lines my store carries.

Oh, and so I have at least one year-end award for a specific comic, Doomsday Clock gets the award for “Best Comic Titled Doomsday Clock.” Yes, I know you’re shocked. Hopefully someday we’ll find out why they hoed this row for so long just to bring back the Justice Society of America and the Legion of Super-Heroes when current Justice League comics brought also brought back the Justice Society and current Superman comics brought back the Legion on their own.

Well, who knows, if I ever catch up maybe I’ll do a year-End Awards thing for 2019 in, I don’t know, 2023. Watch this space!

In the meantime, a couple of reminders:

Lots of folks have contributed to the GoFundMe for my old friends the Beckners, which is greatly appreciated. As I type this, they are a mere $95 away from their goal, so if you can pitch in even a little bit, that would be wonderful.

Plus, I’m still taking your predictions for the 2020 comics industry. Will it rise? Fall? Become more dumb? CHIME IN WHY DON’T YOU


§ January 17th, 2019 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin § 2 Comments

I messued up the formatting on Wednesday’s entry, and got William Burns’ chocolate mixed up with joecab’s peanut butter, accidentally merging their predictions together. It’s all straightened out now, so please revisit the post for the proper crediting of prediction to predictee. Thanks!

I now wish Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and John Totleben had done their proposed “After Cerebus #300” comic.*

§ January 9th, 2019 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, cerebus § 2 Comments

So after my Cerebus post, I did poke around briefly on the eBays just getting the lay of the Cerebus-pricing land. Aside from the first handful of issues, plus any “pro-graded” comics stuck in their little plastic slabs, prices were generally pretty reasonable, particularly if you’re like me, and not necessarily looking for near mint copies or anything. Not that buying all these up are a huge priority for me right now or anything what with other expenses I need to worry about (unless I add that as a tier to my Patreon: “150 PATREONS: WILL USE MONEY TO COMPLETE MY CEREBUS COLLECTION”). Plus, my collection at home is still in some disarray after pillaging it for store stock, and I need to get it in some kind of order before I start fillin’ them holes.

But, it’s good to know that getting most of them won’t cost me an arm, a leg, and my remaining eye. I suspected as much, given that back issue demand for the series has dropped over the years since the title ended. Those early issues, though…I mean, it is still a major publication in the history of independent comics, and those initial comics are “key books,” if you’ll pardon my language, and will still command premium prices in the collectors market. Even the counterfeit #1 goes for a pretty penny nowadays, being itself a piece of historical significance.

Oh well, still, it’s something to think about. But speaking of Cerebus and demand thereof, reader Michael had a question in the comments there (seconded by Tom W):

“Mike, would you care to comment some time about how Cerebus does in your store in any of its forms?”

Michael is referring to, aside from the original comics, to the more recent comic collections of the “Cerebus in Hell” webcomic, which (aside from the earlier comics just straight up called Cerebus in Hell) usually feature parody covers like these:

They sold…okay, at first. At the previous place of employment, Cerebus itself was sort of petering out saleswise, at least until there was a slight bump upward with the last few installments. The follow-up items, like Glamourpuss and the Following Cerebus ‘zine started out with relatively good sales, but also eventually dipped until I was pretty sure I was the only person reading them at our store. The same has happened with the webcomic reprints…had some sales, then eventually dropped and dropped until, again, I was the lone holdout. I do have one fellow who occasionally requests an issue because the parody cover amuses him, but that’s about it.

I don’t know why that is…well, okay, at least one person told me that there were just too many coming out, he fell behind, and just decided to quit. I do suspect that there was at least a few readers hoping for actual new “serious” adventures of Cerebus in Hell. and not just Cerebus clipart pasted over Gustave Doré illustrations with gags.

Oh, almost forgot…the original Cerebus doesn’t really sell at all for me. I don’t have a huge stock of the issues, but I rarely have anyone ask for it. I did have a couple of those slabbed copies sell online, as I mentioned last time, but when I do sell Cerebus, it’s usually in the form of the trades.

Nik asks as a follow-up “what do you think of ’em” and “who’s buying these things,” and to answer the last part…um, me. I’m buying them, I admit it. As to what I think of them…I think they’re amusing. The repeated use of those, what, three poses of Cerebus mixed with the Doré art does tickle me, and the jokes can be funny, but it’s totally an acquired taste. Plus, I do like the covers.

I am way behind, though, but that’s only because I’m way behind on nearly all the comics I usually read due to my recent eye problems. Normally I’m a quick reader and would have no problem keeping up on the weekly releases, but of late it takes me a lot longer to absorb the text in any comic I’m perusing. Once things are finally corrected and I can get a proper pair of prescription eyeglasses instead of the reader glasses I’ve been depending upon, I’ll hopefully be able to catch up, assuming the giant to-read stack doesn’t crush me first.

• • •

Speaking of questions, no, don’t worry, i haven’t forgotten about the last time I took some from you kind readers out there. I will continue answering those as time and blog content necessity allows. And, if you haven’t already, don’t forget to give me your 2019 comic industry predictions so I have something to talk about in early 2020, aside from Iron Man 2020 and the Superman of 2020. I plan to start going over your 2018 predictions next week, so unsubscribe in your favorite blog reading programs right now! I should be able to get through those in, um, a couple of weeks, unless there’s another eye surgery that happens in there somewhere, but I’ll do my best!

* I don’t know if that was just a joking suggestion or not, of if even those guys made it or Sim himself did. But I still keep picturing what that would have been like! I mean, other than amazing.

A less-brief update.

§ December 24th, 2018 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, obituary § 7 Comments

Hi pals! When we last met, I was still in recovery from some minor eyeball surgery and hoping to be back in full swing in time for Christmas. Well, as it turns out, there’s a minor complication requiring me to go back under the knife this coming Thursday. Nothing serious, just, you know, can’t see out of my right eye since blood ain’t clearing out of it. But I was warned beforehand that this was a possibility, so everything should be fine. It just has to be done, so dood it I will.

But thanks to all of you for your well wishes and kind words, and Progressive Ruin Industries will be up and running again in short order, processing that comics-related product that you’ve grown accustomed to over the last decade and a half.

In the meantime, I will have a special Christmas post up tomorrow…in fact, it’s already put together and scheduled to publish, so it’s too late to stop it now. And I’ll have the annual “gimme your comic predictions for next year” post up Wednesday, so warm up your clairvoyant powers for that. And then, most likely, the rest of week I’ll take off, but I plan to be back the following Monday.

On a somewhat related note, I was pretty happy to have a new issue of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen show up last week…I’d been looking forward to reading it, but I was curious as to why the latest installment came prebagged:

When I popped it open to discover the reason, lo and behold, 3D GLASSES:

This is pretty much the face I made:

Ah, well…something to look forward to after the surgery, I guess.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and I’ll meet you all back here tomorrow and Wednesday.

• • •

I should note the passing of Brian Snell, the person behind the Slay, Mostrobot comics blog. He clearly loved the comics medium and had many people who appreciated and supported the work he did expressing that appreciation on a daily basis. My condolences to his friends and fans.

A brief note regarding the next couple of weeks.

§ December 3rd, 2018 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin § 15 Comments

There’s going to be some Low Content Mode action (or rather, non-action) for the next two weeks at Progressive Ruin Dot Oxnard Dot Gov, as I’m going to be going in for that eye surgery that all the kids are raving about these days. This Monday, as this post goes up, I’ll be having an early morning check-up, just to make sure I won’t croak on the operating table, and then the following Monday I’ll be having a breakfast serving of a vitrectomy, which is just as much fun as it sounds. I’m told it’s a very routine procedure, and I’ll barely notice it happening as it’s happening, thanks to the “happy juice” (as the doctor calls it) that’ll be in my system, so let’s hope.

Anyway, what does this mean for you, the Progressive Ruin reader, aside from the nausea after Googling “vitrectomy?” It means a short post today, which you’re reading right now, presumably…then I’ll likely post on Wednesday and Friday as normal. Then next week, after the operation, don’t expect a whole lot. I’ll try to check in if I’m up to it, but otherwise, consider it a vacation from my usual yapping.

Also, most tragically, I’m probably skipping the End of Civilization post this month. Yeah, I know, I’m sorry, but I’m just not finding the proper time to get one in there right now…but we’ll see as we get closer to Christmas, when traditionally everyone has plenty of free time on their hands.

So that’s that…I figure getting the fluids changed in my eyeball is a good enough reason to slack off on the site a bit. I’ll be back up and running as normal in short order, I’m sure, so thanks for reading, pals, and I’ll see you again…hopefully with two working eyes, finally…soon enough!

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