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The reader’s curse.

§ September 17th, 2012 § Filed under collecting, does mike ever shut up § 6 Comments

So you know how it is when you’re working in a comic book store, and you have this big ol’ pile of old comics you’re processing for the back issue section, and there are a whole lot of issues of Love and Rockets and Eightball in said pile, and you think to yourself “well, I have all these, and they’re really good, but it’s been a while since I’ve looked at them…I should pull them all out and read them again” and of course you don’t really have any time to do any such thing, you’ve barely had a chance to finish reading new comics from last week or the week before, not to mention this Complete Peanuts 1985-1986 which is still awaiting your attention, now you want to add Eightballs and Love and Rockets you’ve already read to the pending read-these-soon stack too?

I think you know where I’m coming from. But apparently I have time to watch TV, because I just watched all of the first season of the new BBC Sherlock series over the last couple of nights, and it turns out it’s quite good. Have you heard of it? You should check it out sometime. …And of course watching that makes me want to whip out far too many Sherlock Holmes books from my shelves, by Doyle and those ones not by Doyle where Holmes turns out to be a time-traveling alien and that sort of thing, and reread those, too. The end result is that, somehow, I need to increase my reading speed, which is already excessively fast, or I need to somehow slow the rotation of the Earth and thus lengthen our days to give me more reading time, or I can somehow talk the boss into letting me stay home and read and he pays me anyway. …So, slowing the rotation of the Earth it is, then.

And there’s that stack of other books sitting on the table next to my bed I need to get through, and let’s not even mention the electronic book-tablet thingie my parents gave me for my birthday a few months ago, and the backlog of books I’m trying to get through on that.

I know, I know, you’re probably thinking “but Mike, maybe you should just not acquire so many things to read, maybe pace yourself a bit” but we should really focus on realistic ideas on how to handle my little problem here. More caffeine and less sleep seems to be the only logical and healthy response.

• • •

Anyway, speaking of people getting too much stuff to read, my New Zealand pal Bob is back from his trip (which required guest-bloggers for his site, resulting in this excellent “piece of [in-depth criticism]” from yours truly), and he details the swell bunch of reading material he picked up during his travels. …Hmmm, a couple of those things sound pretty good. I should pick ’em up myself.

Just so we’re clear from the get-go…I’m not quitting the site.

§ April 12th, 2012 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, does mike ever shut up § 32 Comments

So at work, we had some kind of insane virus end up on one of the store computers which took me more time than I really cared to spend trying to clean out the system and make sure the damned thing was gone. And then, a day or two later, I had yet another computerized brouhaha at home which required hours of maintenance and reinstalls and such, and I’m pretty sure that’s when I hit my breaking point and said “screw it, I’m tired of staring at computer screens.” And that’s when my vacation from the Internet began.

Yeah, I know, a whole three days, wooo, big deal. But for someone who’s been obsessing about updating his website daily for about 8 1/3 years, it did feel like kind of a big deal, at least to me. And while I was avoiding computer usage at home, I actually was feeling a tad…anxious, maybe? Upset? …Whatever it was, there was certainly an undercurrent of something bothering me regarding not updating the site, even at the same time I was realizing that I needed to step away from it just a bit.

It wasn’t just computer problems that drove me into my mini-sabbatical. There’s a hint in my last regular post where I mentioned that I was nodding off at the computer working on my post for the next day. …I’ve done that more than once over the years, given that my available free time to work on the site is generally in the evenings, prior to going to bed. Sometimes, when I have an idea for a post all ready to go, it doesn’t take much time at all to put it together, and I get it all done right quick and I’m off to dreamland.

However, sometimes I find myself just sitting there, looking at the screen, no idea what I’m going to write or post, and it takes forever to come up with something, and instead of sleeping, or maybe reading something, or just plain relaxing, I’m agonizing over what to put up on my site for the next day. And that’s not something I really can do any more.

I used the word “obsessing” above, and that’s not an inaccurate description of how I was treating this website of mine. I was obsessed with making sure I had a post. Every. Single. Day. whether I really had anything to say or not, and the only way I was going to break myself of the habit was forcing myself to not post for a few days. And it should probably come as no shock to you that, more than a few times during my break, I thought to myself “well, maybe I can write up a few posts and backdate them for the days I missed to keep my streak.” …Yeah, I know.

I’ve said before, early on, that my need to post every day was generated by a recommendation I read somewhere about regularly updating your site, so that readers will come to expect new content and maintain your traffic. I really did have this fear that if I skipped a day all my readers would dry up and my site would just wither and die. …It’s a bit heartening and sobering to see that my site’s traffic didn’t take a hit at all during my brief break, probably because 1) three days isn’t really enough to make a difference, 2) people were still popping in to see if I’d returned yet, and 3) people finding my site via Google searches for dirty pics and nekkid celebrities don’t care if I update or not. (For you #3 folks, sorry, this is all I’ve really got for you.)

Of course, the other side of the argument is that posting too much will discourage and drive away readers, and…well, I don’t think there was much danger of that happening here.

In typical Progressive Ruin fashion, that was a long row to hoe for me basically to tell you: I’m not going to be on a strict daily schedule anymore. Forcing myself to post every day doesn’t do me any favors, and I’m sure it doesn’t do most of you any as well. Does that mean I’ll never post every day for an entire week? No, of course not. Does that mean I might only post one day a week? …Unlikely, but it could happen, depending on outside forces, life demands, and maybe when Grand Theft Auto V comes out.

And of course it doesn’t mean that from now on, because of the occasional extra time between posts, every new entry on my site will be some in-depth, thoughtful essay on the subtle symbolism of the color yellow in Justice League Dark. It may just be something silly. (Well, sillier.) I’ll post when I feel like it…not because I have to, but because I want to. It’ll increase my enjoyment of the site, and hopefully it’ll increase yours as well.

I like doing this site. I don’t want it to be a chore. And I want to keep it going. And I like interacting with all you folks. But I also want an evening or three, or four, during the week where I don’t need to think about feeding the beast.

Anyway, that was a lot to read, and if you made it this far, thanks for putting up with me. I apologize for just up and disappearing for a couple of days, but I hope you understand. And, as I’ve said before…I promise, if the day should ever come when I actually quit the site, I won’t leave you hanging. If I’m able (and not, you know, unfortunately deceased or something), I’ll tell you folks when the site is done.

It’s not done yet.

I’ll see you all…well, on Saturday, I think. Yeah, Saturday.

And then there was that time Mike decided to ramble on about which of the new 52 DC titles he plans to get.

§ August 15th, 2011 § Filed under does mike ever shut up, retailing § 13 Comments

So the general reaction from our customers to the onslaught of DC #1s quickly making its way to us has ranged from interest and excitement to “I’m giving up on DC.” It’s been a bit hard to predict just how these books are going to do, as customer response has been so mixed. And I just know that, no matter how much promotional material we put into folks’ hands, there’s gonna be at least one regular customer walking into the shop in September who will be shocked…shocked…that DC started all their books over from #1.

Anyway, I thought I’d go through the list of all these #1s and let you know what I plan to get. Or am thinking about getting. …Because it’s my weblog, that’s why.

Justice League #1 – I don’t think it’s any stretch to assume that, of all the new DC #1s, this will be the big one. It’s being released by itself at the end of August (along with the last part of the Flashpoint mini that’s leading into the big changeover) and surely most folks will be picking this up out of sheer curiosity, to see what exactly the new DC Universe status quo is going to be. That’s certainly a big reason why I’m picking it up…well, that, and it’s not like I’ll be buying a whole lot of DC Comics that week. (I’ve not been following Flashpoint, though that same curiosity may have me checking out that mini’s last issue to see how it’s setting everything up.) But I also tend to pick up whatever new iteration of Justice League happens to pop up, even if I end up not following it for long.

Action Comics #1 – I’ve been reading the main Superman titles for probably about 30 years now, through thick and thin, through mulleted Superman and Electric Superman, so I’m not stoppin’ just because they restarted the series from the first issue. Plus, it’s Grant Morrison on scripting chores, and I do like the Morrison.

Animal Man #1 – Speaking of Morrison, I was a big fan of his run on Animal Man, and I kept on with the title after Morrison’s departure, which maintained its sense of weirdness while still further developing Buddy Baker’s family life. I have a bit of fondness for the character still, whetted by that Last Days of Animal Man mini from a couple of years ago, so I’m going to give this a try. Plus, Jeff Lemire is writing, and more on that under the Frankenstein entry.

Justice League International #1 – This is in the “maybe” pile, as the main reason I’m interested in it is that it features Booster Gold written by his creator, Dan Jurgens. I was quite enjoying the Booster Gold series DC had been publishing of late, and sadly it was not one of the titles to make the transition to the new army of #1s. And I’m sure we’re not getting “The Adventures of Booster and His Justice League Pals,” so I don’t know how much actual Booster content will be in each issue. But, I’ll give it a look.

Swamp Thing #1 – Well, duh.

Batwoman #1 – The only Bat-book I’m buying (aside from Justice League International, which isn’t quite the same but you know what I mean). Being purchased primarily for the art of J.H. Williams, who has been doing absolutely beautiful work with this character.

Demon Knights #1 – Was going to be a “maybe,” but I’ve got every other Demon comic, so, heck, might as well pick it up. Plus, it’s written by Paul Cornell, and having enjoyed his recent stint on Action Comics, I imagine I’ll enjoy this series as well.

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1 – Wouldn’t have considered this, except the War Rocket Ajax crew convinced me to pick up the Jeff Lemire-scripted Flashpoint: Frankenstein tie-in, and that was a hoot. Lemire is writing this new series as well, so I’m definitely putting it on the buy pile.

Green Lantern #1 – Green Lantern is like Superman, in that he’s one of those characters/concepts I’ll usually always follow (though admittedly I skipped most of those Kyle-Rayner-as-GL years in the ’90s). I like how this series is starting, with old GL archnemesis Sinestro roped back into the Green Lantern Corps and starring in this book, but of course Hal Jordan will be back in the saddle in short order. In the meantime, though, I’m really looking forward to this book as Sinestro has always been one of my favorite supervillains.

Mister Terrific #1 – Probably picking this up, as I liked the character in Justice Society. Not much else to say, really, other than I like the idea of the hero, the world’s third smartest man, facing against a villain who’s one of the world’s two smarter dudes.

Red Lanterns #1 – Giving it a go because it’s a Green Lantern tie-in, but…not sure if I want to read a book where the entire focus is on the violent and angry Lantern corps. Fine in a supporting role, not sure I want 20 non-stop pages of it. Unless it’s the solo adventures of Dex-Starr, of course.

DC Universe Presents #1 – First story arc stars Deadman, and I’m always up for a Deadman story. Continued purchase of the series depends on which character they follow up Deadman with. I vote Adam Strange. Or Metamorpho. Or hell, both of them in the same adventure.

Green Lantern Corps #1 – Again, GL fan, so I’ll pick up the book. Hey, Kilowog is in it. I’m pretty sure I have the complete Kilowog collection.

The Fury of Firestorm #1 – Another one of my favorite characters, and I’ll always read a Firestorm series. I’m not even sure I can explain why Firestorm is a favorite character of mine.

Green Lantern: New Guardians #1 – While I like the idea of multiple-colored Lantern corps, I like them better as support characters in the other GL titles, rather than starring in their own book. (See also Red Lanterns above.) This is stretching the franchise just a little too thin, I think…but the three GL series that had been running before were selling great, even after the movie came out, so what do I know.

Justice League Dark #1 – Because John Constantine is in it. And Deadman. …I expect this comic will be very peculiar.

Superman #1 – The one Superman title taking place in “current day” (as opposed to Action, focusing mostly on Superman’s early years). It’s written and drawn…well, laid out…by George Perez, so I expect I’ll enjoy it, but it’s gonna be a while before I’m used to that new Super-armor costume.

…And that’s it, really. I may poke my nose into some of the other #1s to see if they grab my interest. I may try out the new Aquaman series, for example, or give a look to the new Jonah Hex title All-Star Western.

I am curious which titles will end up catching on. There are a few that seem doomed from the get-go, and others that will almost certainly undergo an immediate creative team change once it becomes obvious the monthly schedule just ain’t gonna happen. And while it’s a safe bet titles like Action and Green Lantern will have healthy sales, what about the second-stringers? Which of the not-so-big-name titles are going to be the breakout hits? It’ll be very interesting to see what thrives and what withers, particularly given the large number of new series and the limited consumer dollar available to purchase all these. I certainly hope every single title sells enormously well, but sadly we’ll being seeing a lot of bodies left at the side of the road as this publishing initiative progresses.

The truest thing ever said in the streets of Tijuana.

§ December 24th, 2010 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, Christmas, does mike ever shut up § 7 Comments

So subscribers to Mike Sterling’s Progressive Ruin, Premium Edition may have seen an early release of yesterday’s post with a few embarrassing typos, for which I apologize. All I can say is “don’t write posts for your weblog when you’re really, really tired.” Anyway, thanks to an alert by a helpful reader, the errors were fixed by the time the Progressive Ruin Free Edition was distributed.

If you’d like to sign up for the Progressive Ruin Premium Edition, here’s what you get:

  • The secret phone number for the Mike Sterling Hotline, with prerecorded messages from me, just for you, about life, love, and dealing with the little problems that drive us all crazy!
  • All the latest news about UFO abductions, crop circles, and psychic predictions!
  • And this personalized and hand-signed color photograph, suitable for framing!

So what are you waiting for? Sign up today!

• • •

In other news (assuming you’re still reading):

  • Thursday afternoon, I was gifted with two wonderful, wonderful things.

    First, from Kid Chris, this swell Blue Demon matchbox/refrigerator magnet purchased during his last visit to Tijuana:

    Kid Chris informed me that he had the following exchange with the little girl who was selling these:

    Kid Chris: “El Santo…es bueno?”

    Little girl: “El Santo es fabuloso!

    I think we can all agree on this.

  • Later in the day, pal Casie brought in a big plate of cookies with the following homemade and completely awesome Christmas tree ornament attached:

    Oh man, this makes me want to run out and chop down a tree so I’d have something to hang it on, which is, um, a tad ironic, considering. Plus, the picture is green and red, so it’s totally Christmas-y!

  • So anyway, read this article about the forthcoming “death” in the Fantastic Four comic, and then immediately follow that up by reading this post I wrote in 2007.

    I wonder if we’ll get any bump in sales on this comic from the general public. I suspect this gimmick’s been pulled often enough that even the non-fans are as jaded as the fans when it comes to the “in this issue [Big Name Superhero] dies!” hoohar.

  • Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my readers!

Behold my mastery of graphic manipulation.

§ September 16th, 2010 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, does mike ever shut up, employee aaron, market crash, retailing, siegel & shuster, sir-links-a-lot § 8 Comments

So anyway, I did this as a quickie gag for a couple of friends in email, and the files have been sitting on my desktop for a few days, so what the heck, here you go:



Just grabbed the pic via the Googling, so hopefully I didn’t offend anyone with my repurposing his/her scan. It was for the purpose of creating a better world, my friend.

Anyway, in other news:

  • Regarding that panel I posted yesterday…I felt a little funny picking out a panel by freakin’ Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the creators of Superman, for a bit of good-natured mockery. I mean, it seems almost sacrilegious, doesn’t it? Anyway, that panel was from a strip called “Federal Men,” which ran for quite a while in the various iterations of early Adventure Comics. You can read descriptions of some of the stories here. A reprint collection of these stories would be interesting, but I’m not holding my breath.

    By the way, speaking of sacrilege: here’s reader Todd with his slight reworking of the panel:

  • Tom Spurgeon has some commentary from one of his readers about comic pricing and buying habits. In particular, there is some discussion about the likelihood of someone spending more than $20 a week on comics in the late 1980s. As someone who entered the high-finance world of funnybook retailing in the late ’80s, I thought I’d supply a brief bit of anecdotal…well, perhaps not “evidence,” but it may be of interest.

    Starting about the mid-’80s, and off and on through the late ’80s, our shop had a box of overstock and/or deadstock comics by the register with a sign on it that read “FREE COMIC WITH $20 PURCHASE.” And, it is my memory that the $20 level was originally picked because 1) it wasn’t a price level that was normally breached terribly often by the majority of customers, but 2) it was close enough to what a significant portion of customers were spending that the hope was that they’d plop another comic or two on the pile to hit $20 and qualify for their free comic.

    Now…and please consider, I’m working off decades-old memories here…I believe that we had some, but not a lot, of customers slapping on additional comics to get to twenty bucks, but that eventually we had enough people already buying twenty dollars’ worth of stuff without going back and grabbing an extra book or two that they got their free comic anyway. And, eventually still, sometime around the big Batman movie-fueled boom, we did away with it completely. (I suppose we could have just raised the price level to, say, $30 or $40 for the free book, but at the time rivers of cash were flowing through the direct market and thus, perhaps the need to encourage additional sales in that fashion was no longer as strong.)

    Later, we briefly did a “spend $50, get a free poster” thing along these same lines, which I’m pretty sure was in the post-market crash years of the mid ’90s. And that tells me that, even though the high-livin’ days of the boom were long gone, the customer base that remained was spending far more on average than they had pre-boom, so that $50 now seemed like the just-above-average typical sales level that seemed achievable.

    My memory was that was more about clearing out old poster stock than hoping people would hit $50, which, like what happened with the $20 level, is something people gradually started doing anyway.

    Wish I remembered more details about these things. Should’ve kept better notes.

  • Speaking of our retail past: Chris Sims recently concocted this Comics Alliance article about comic book bumper stickers, and in the comments section to it, someone mentioned our old “U.S. OUT OF LATVERIA” stickers that we had at the shop. [NOTE FOR MY DAD, WHO READS MY BLOG: Latveria is the fictional country that the Fantastic Four’s arch-nemesis, Dr. Doom, hails from.] Now, I tried to respond to said comment with a link to a post on my site featuring said sticker, but alas, the CA comment machine does not like linkity-links, so instead I’ll post that link here.

    And before you ask: no, I don’t have any more. Sorry, kids.

  • More Comico history: the transition to color printing, including some early and neat-looking coloring guides for a page from the original Mage series.
  • Pal Dorian does terrible things to an old DC subscription pitch. TERRIBLE THINGS.
  • Employee Aaron’s fiancée Kempo whips out her 2010 San Diego Comic-Con report, with lots of photos of the two of them eating meals.
  • I’d noted something on my Twitter the other day, and thought I’d repeat it here: you know what I’d like to see Christopher Nolan name the third Batman movie? The Caped Crusader. That’d be pretty awesome, right? Yeah, I knew you’d agree.

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