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The post that would not end.

§ November 19th, 2012 § Filed under archie, batman, blogging about blogging is a sin, collecting, dc comics, does mike ever shut up, everyone's going to hate me, giant-size man-thing, golden age, how the sausage is made, I have no idea how to tag this, indies, linkrot, newspaper strips, other swamp creatures, retailing, scans, swamp thing § 16 Comments

So I received a used copy of this hardcover in a collection I purchased the other day:

And, well, I did have it in the shop as a new item before, but I never really did sit down and give it a good looking-at then, despite my enjoyment of Don Newton’s Batman. Thus, before putting it out for sale I thought I’d take it home and give it a read…what, it’s going to get more used? …Well, okay, yeah, I suppose it is, but I’ve the gentle touch of a professional comics handler, and can easily peruse this volume without causing further discoloration, dogearing, spine stress, or, God help us, foxing.

Anyway, I was a fan of Newton’s work, both on Batman and on Infinity Inc., which he had just started to work on when he passed away in 1984 at the too-young age of 49. Reading this book, I find myself struck by one thing, which will hardly be a new or original comment in regards to these sorts of reprint projects, but nevertheless it’s still an honest reaction. The pages are just too white and clean. The Young Mike that’s still rattling around in my head is expecting to be reading these stories on brown-ish newsprint. In fact, when I mentally picture Newton’s art, I imagine dark, moody images…all shadows and mystery. Reprinting in this book on bright pages with bright coloring, even the shadows look like you’re staring at the sun. …Okay, I exaggerate slightly, but still, it was a bit jarring to have the art right in front of me and contradicting my memories of same.

And before you say anything, yes, Infinity Inc. was printed on bright white paper with eye-searingly bright colors, but Newton’s sadly brief tenure there doesn’t have the nostalgic hold his Batman work has for me.

As I was writing this, another sorta unsung comics artist fave of mine came to mind that I’d like to see reprinted in a book like this. I’d totally be all over The Complete Irv Novick.

• • •

One of my readers was kind enough to point out that, in an old post of mine…I mean, really old, within the first month of this site’s life…one of the links I’d posted way back then had apparently since gone feral and now pointed to a porn site. Okay, first off…porn on the Internet? When did that start? And secondly…yeah, link rot. This site is on the verge of turning nine years old, and I’m sure many links in a lot of my old posts now go to destinations I did not originally intend. I mean, if I was sending you to a dirty filthy dirty site, I was usually pretty good about warning you up front.

I’ve heard about some people going through and consistently maintaining and / or removing links on old posts, but frankly, it’s hard enough to find the time to keep with new posts, or sleep. And then there was the great Blogger-to-Wordpress shift I underwent in early ’10, which resulted in some formatting and archived-post issues, and then whatever that company was that was supporting the old commenting system cut that support, so links to those comments are now no bueno, I guess, and…man, sometimes I feel doing a reboot, and just starting this website from scratch. FORGET EVERYTHING YOU KNEW BEFORE: WELCOME TO THE NEW PROGRESSIVE RUIN! and then I’d never refer to anything before that date ever again.

I’m not going to do it, but, back past a certain point, my site’s a mess. I do still go back and fix links and formatting and stuff if I have occasion to link to an old post, so I’m not letting things totally fall into barbarism, but…well, just assume any super old link is probably taking you straight to a site that’ll sell you V1aG4a or promise you pictures of people inserting Tab A into Slot B.

However, I am happy to note that I still occasionally edit my very first post to make sure it’s still sending you where I want you to go. Man, had I known they’d be fiddling with those addresses every year or so, I’d have picked something else for my debut entry.

• • •

Reader d asks

“Hey Mike, we all know you have every Swamp & Man Thing appearance, but do you collect The Heap as well? Just curious.”

Well, I don’t have every Man-Thing appearance…I do have every one written by Steve Gerber, as well as the first appearance in Savage Tales (not by Gerber), but from about the ’90s forward, I’ve been a little pickier about touching Man-Things.

That has nothing to do with the actual thrust of your question, which is all about the Heap, the original comic book swamp monster dating back to the 1940s. Sadly…no, I haven’t gone out of my way to seek out Heap comics, though I have picked up some of the latter day revivals, such as this 1971 one-shot I’ve discussed in the past, or this new version from Moonstone, or the Airboy/Mr. Monster one-shot from 1987, in which the Heap plays a prominent role, and is a great comic, to boot.

The original Heap comics are about to be reprinted in a series of three hardcover volumes, and I’m still waffling a bit on whether I can afford to pick these up for myself. My usual argument to talk myself into such things is “if I don’t get them now, I’ll probably never have another chance, at least this (relatively) cheaply,” so we’ll see. I am tempted.

• • •

On a related note, in that it’s asked in the same comments section, Casey wonders

“Mike, have you ever done a post about toxic Teen Titans continuity?”

Oh God, no. What I’d wished I had done is recorded pal Dorian and myself going on and on and hashing it all out and realizing that some of the time frames involved would make some of the adult characters a lot older than they should be, or that some of the lengths of time of team membership would be extremely short, or…hell, I don’t remember now. This was prior to DC kind of pushing the “sliding scale” of the Modern DC Superhero Universe to being about 20 years old, as of Identity Crisis, which I recall thinking was a slightly more reasonable time frame, given the amount of “important” events and continuity, not just for the Titans but for everyone, you had to squeeze in there.

Of course, post-Flashpoint, that scale is now about 5 or 6 years, depending on who you ask, I guess, so it’s all a moot point. And I hear tell Titans continuity has even more exciting problems now, as in some indecision whether there were previous Titans teams or not, but I leave the pondering of that question to younger, abler folks than myself.

• • •

And then sometimes I repost a gag I already made on the Twitter, such as presenting this gag header from Archie’s Joke Book #134 (March 1969 – hey, my birth month!) and lamenting the fact that in no way does the story live up to this title:

…which is just as well, since Archie couldn’t participate anyway:

Oh, scatological humor! You’re the best!

• • •

To bring things back around to the nostalgia of Young Mike from the beginning of this post, just before I soiled it all with continuity nitpicking, porn, poop jokes, and Man-Thing innuendo, I found myself the other day discussing the joys of Omega Men with a customer of mine.

Although I had read the introduction of the Omega Men in those three or so issues of Green Lantern, I didn’t follow them to their own series (which experienced some small controversy in its early issues due to depictions of violence, back in the “they didn’t know how good they had it” days of fandom). It took Alan Moore, a writer of some note, writing a back-up in two successive issues of the series (#26, pictured, and #27) to get me to take a look…and quite wisely, a new storyline in the main feature started up at that same time, giving Moore-ites like me a solid jumping-on point. It helped that 1) the new regular artist on the series was Shawn McManus, for whom I was developing a strong appreciation, and 2) that the comic itself was just a darned weird, creepy, and plain ol’ interesting sci-fi adventure.

As I was talking about the book with the customer, a couple of things dawned on me that, I suppose, shouldn’t have surprised me but did anyway. The actual run of that “new direction” for Omega Men, from #26 to the book’s eventual cancellation, was only 13 issues, plus an annual. It sure felt like it was longer…not in a bad way, I mean. It’s that a whole lot of stuff happened along the course of that comic, and it’s hard to believe they managed to fit it all into only about a year’s worth of stories (well, technically a year…I think some issues ran a bit late, if I recall correctly). Also, there was a Teen Titans crossover, and, of all things, a Crisis on Infinite Earths-engineered Blue Devil crossover, and an appearance in DC Comics Presents, so that probably helped in the perception of the comics’ apparent length.

The other thing that dawned on me was that the series wrapped up while I was still in high school, which doesn’t feel weird for anyone but me, I realize, but still, it seems like it’s more recent than that. Ah, well…tempus fugit, and all that.

I’ve since picked up the remainder of the series, which of course includes the first appearance of Lobo (which guides at a low $7.00, which sort of surprises me, except I suppose Omega Men print runs at the time were fairly large), and despite the occasional terrifying Kevin O’Neill art job, those earlier issues were fairly staid compared to the outright craziness of the McManus-era stories. Still fun, and worth checking out if you can find ’em cheap, which they usually are.

• • •

Just to let you folks know, I’m probably entering Low Content Mode for the rest of the week, or at least lower content mode…the Thanksgiving holiday is coming up, and I’ve also got another project I’m working on at the moment that requires the focus of my creative energy, he said in a hopefully non-New Agey way, so probably you’ll not be seeing much more out of me this week aside from maybe a pic or two. Or you can follow me on the Twitter where I’m still likely to spout off about something. At any rate, I’ll see you on the other side, and please enjoy your Thanksgiving, where applicable, and everyone else, enjoy your Thursday. Thanks for reading!

• • •

Oh, here’s the end of the post! I was wondering where that was.

And now, one of the greatest openings for a letter of comment in a Superman comic, ever.

§ March 8th, 2012 § Filed under everyone's going to hate me, letters of comment, superman § 11 Comments

…The writer goes on to say that, since the Phantom Zone villains can see everything that goes on in the material world and therefore they should know Superman is Clark Kent, why wouldn’t they pass that info on, somehow, to another Earth-bound villain who could wreak some havoc on the Man of Steel.

Which of course brings up the fact that the Phantom Zone villains, while trapped unseen in that other dimension, could see into the real world, and why they wouldn’t, say, hang around Lois Lane’s boudoir and later taunt Superman with that knowledge. “HA HA we saw your girlfriend naked!” “Why, you…SHUT UP, YOU VILLAINS!” “HA HA look he’s all mad!”

I figure Superman probably walked around with some low level of paranoia dogging his every action, wondering if, while he’s using the restroom, or digging for some super-boogers, there’s Jax-Ur, hovering invisibly in a ghostly world, staring directly at him, observing everything and smirking all the while.

letter from Superman #211 (November 1968)…also, the editorial response was that the PZ villains did try, but “the crook just went to a psychiatrist and complained of hearing voices in his head, saying the most ridiculous things!”

So I should probably say something about that thing that happened…

§ April 7th, 2011 § Filed under dipsy doodle, everyone's going to hate me, run-on fun-on, S---- T----, self-promotion § 9 Comments

…even though I hate talking about things that I’ve already read and maybe other people haven’t read — well, not old things that people haven’t read that I have, since the likelihood of any of you out there just randomly having a copy of, say, Star-Studded Comics from the 1940s, and you’re all “oh boy, I can’t wait to read this issue of Star-Studded Comics, but first I shall check the Comics Internet for the latest news and besides, it’s not as if some inconsiderate blogger out there will spoil my forthcoming reading enjoyment,” and suddenly here I am, posting this story, causing you to fall to your knees and cry out “Dipsy Doodle, nooooooooo!!! Why, Mike Sterling, whyyyyyy,” as I laugh maniacally behind my computer — no, I talking about my preference to avoid talking about spoiling current events in comics that have only been out for a day or two, since not every single person on the planet rushes into their comic book store on New Comics Day to grab the new releases, assuming they are going to comic shops and grabbing the new releases, or at least purchasing them through legitimate online outlets, and not just being cheap bastards and torrenting them for free, but regardless of how folks get the new funnybooks, if they’re also the type of people who get their comic news online chances are they’ve already seen press releases about the big news I want to talk about but even if I do discuss it on my site, even behind big SPOILER! warnings there’s always someone who says “whoa, dude, you spoiled it for me” even though as online pal Caleb has pointed out to me, even mentioning the fact that people were emailing me about the latest issue of Brightest Day is kind of spilling the beans in and of itself, and as Caleb says, it’s not like they’re writing to me to say that Sluggo appears in that issue after all, but just the same I’d feel kind of funny just coming right out and discussing it the day after the comic came out even if plenty of people have already put in their two cents and besides I haven’t quite figured out what I want to say about it so instead I thought I’d vamp a bit to give me a little more time to ponder the matter…could you tell?

In short: yes, I’m glad the character is back. I’m also looking forward to his interaction with the rest of the DC Universe, after being away for so long. That should be an interesting novelty in and of itself, and given the nature of this return, it brings sort of an extra bit of meaning to the last sentence of this post of mine from a couple of weeks ago.

Also, I knew I should have been picking up that new Green Arrow series from the beginning. Ah, well…took home ten issues of it last night. Yes, just because of its connection to the returning character. As the saying goes, we’re all fanboys about something.

• • •

In other news that’s not insane: oh, hey, whose book just got positively reviewed by The New Yorker? OH YEAH.