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Low Contrast Mode.

§ October 16th, 2020 § Filed under batman, eyeball, publishing § 15 Comments

So as many of you know (and I mostly can’t shut up about) I have had some eye trouble over the last couple of years, which has (among other things) interfered with my ability to read comics. Slowing me down at first, then, now and again, stopping me entirely.

While I’m still having the occasional bout of clouded vision, it’s a little less often, and my sight is pretty much as good as it’s going to be. My left eye is mostly good, my right eye is somewhat impaired, and my prescription glasses do help quite a bit, and I’m functioning more-or-less normally. I do have bit of a problem dealing with low contrast writing and images, but I’m adjusting best I can.

As my vision has stabilized, I’ve attempted to catch up on all those comics I’ve been accumulating but not reading. For example, I just finished reading something like 20 issues of the current run of Daredevil this past week. And I’ve done similar bulk-reads of titles trying to get current (and stay current as each new issue comes out).

One of the tools I’m using to read comics I’m behind on is the DC Universe digital library. While I do have print copies of the books I’m reading via this method, this actually makes it easier on the eyes to have larger (and sometimes clearer) panels that I can read a little more quickly than their on-paper counterparts. (And yes, I know I can get free digital copies of several Marvel titles, I’m just too lazy to go through the process of typing in the codes printed in the back of the books.)

Mostly I use my iPad mini to do the DC digital thing…my parents had ended up with a couple of free ones after buying a pair of iPhones, and gave one to me, which was nice. I have half-considered buying a larger iPad for my funnybook perusing, but that can wait for now. But I have used the DC Universe app via my television to read some material when certain troubles arose, in this case being the 2018 mini-series The Batman Who Laughs.

“Trouble you say?” I’m sure the three of you what still read the blogs are asking. Yes, the trouble is the very thing I’ve been having difficulty with ever since this particular evil Batman was introduced…his goldurned black-on-red word balloons:


It’s…not easy for me to make out in print comics, and even reading it on my iPad, zoomed in as much as I’m able, was a pain in the rear. I made it through an issue on my pad, and then opted to try reading it through my television instead.

That did the trick…blowing it up nice ‘n’ big on a large flatscreen made the red-on-black balloons a tad easer to discern. But apparently this mini-series realized it was being far too lenient on me, and unleased its secret weapon: RED ON GREY TEXT:


Man, there’s, like, almost no way I could have read this except for being blown up on a flatscreen, and even then it was a struggle. When I was doing screengrabs on my computer for this post, I found I couldn’t make them out, and I have a pretty good-sized monitor for my desktop computotron.

I eventually muddled through the series (I ended up enjoying it, despite everything), but man, I have a real distaste for these novelty-colored captions and word balloons. I think Swamp Thing’s black-on-orange dialogue is about as far as I’m willing to travel, and even that isn’t quite as legible to my peepers as it once was. If comics are going to continue to do that sort of thing, either bold the text more, or use higher contrast colors (the Batman Who Laughs seems to have white-on-black balloons in current appearances, which is a vast improvement).

And in short order DC Universe (when it becomes the digital comics only DC Univesre Infinite) is going strictly to tables/phones/computers, dropping TV support. I’m sure there are workarounds, but it won’t be as convenient as “selecting the app on my Roku” easy, so I may be losing that option for reading other comic lettering in this style.

Okay, okay, that’s enough waving my red-tipped cane at you publishers. I just hope they take things like “readability” into consideration when they do stuff like this.

I do have one more question arising from my Batman Who Laughs reading: what was the Gotham street planning commission meeting like that resulted in putting up an actual damn street sign that reads “Crime Alley?”


I mean, yeah, sure, it’s Gotham, this is probably the least crazy thing the city’s government has done. However, even assuming there are no businesses or residents on this particular stretch of road, surely anyone located nearby would be all “WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO OUR PROPERTY VALUES?”

I always figured “Crime Alley” was the nickname inhabitants of Gothan had for the road, I never realized it was an officially sanctioned street name. Though I suppose we’re lucky millionaire socialite Bruce Wayne didn’t insist that it be called “My Parents Are Deaaaaaad Way.”

Post-poned.

§ August 31st, 2020 § Filed under eyeball, obituary § 2 Comments

Sorry pals…was going to have an End of Civilization post ready for today, but I had a small eyeball issue and decided the less time in front of the computer monitor, the better. Hopefully I’ll have it up later in the week. Thanks for understanding.

In the meantime, I hope you join me in mourning the passing of Chadwick Boseman. My condolences to his family, friends, and fans.

Excuses, excuses.

§ July 24th, 2020 § Filed under eyeball § 3 Comments

If you’ve been following my various social media outlets, both personal and the store’s, you probably know I had some eyeball work done today (paid for by you!) that, with any luck, will be the beginning of the end of that seemingly endless plague of bleeding that continually clouded my vision.

I’m feeling better as I write this, but as it turned out, I spent a lot of the day a bit headache-y and maybe just a tad disoriented after the procedure. I did go back to work, but I just kinda flopped down in my chair at the front counter and processed some back issues and helped the occasional customer (not too many of those, given that I was shut down part of the day while at the doctor’s, and had warned folks that I might not even be in at all). Once I got home, had some dinner, and crashed for a few hours, I think that mostly cured what ailed me, but the end result is that it didn’t leave me with a whole lot of time to write the comics post I was planning.

(I know I’m writing a lot right now, but this is fast blathering that’s only taking me a few minutes, not the hours of prep and careful honing usually required by a ProgRuin post, as demanded by my tens of fans.)

So…let me start fresh on Monday, with two mostly working eyes and a head as clear as I’m able to manage, and that’ll probably be best for all of us. Everyone have a good weekend, and thanks, as always, for reading. See you in a couple of days.

So it’s come to this.

§ July 6th, 2020 § Filed under eyeball, letters of comment, self-promotion § 4 Comments

Hi pals! I actually spent my blogging time Sunday night to work on this: a GoFundMe campaign to help me pay for more eyeball procedures. I didn’t want to have to do it, but also I want to see, and with my personal resources kinda stripmined after a couple of years of eyeball injections and surgeries, plus the recent economic COVID-19 downturn, I could use the help. If you can contribute, or at least share, it would be appreciated.

Okay, let me try to get a little comic book-y content into this post so it’s not all just me picking your pocket.

Longtime reader Wayne (who recently gifted me with a replacement copy of the Darkseid/Galactus crossover — thanks, Wayne!) asked about letter column writers:

“…Has anyone ever written to a prolific letter writer? I’m as old as dirt, but I wrote to T. M. (The Mad) Maple and even found Irene Vartanoff online with her own blog. I wrote Dean Mullaney long before Eclipse Comics was a thing. I don’t necessarily miss letter columns, but even Martin Pasko was prolific for awhile.

“Other names I remember are Danny Fingeroth and Elvis Orten. I’ve been meaning to bring this up for awhile.”

All familiar names, of course! I know at the previous place of employment I either sold via eBay or just direct mail order somethin’ or ‘nother to Mr. Mullaney. I suppose that counts as “writing” him, maybe.

Now I never really sought out and directly wrote any letterhacks (though I believe I’ve mentioned before how my one letter printed in an issue of Superman resulted in convention and club fliers being mailed to me). BUT…shortly after I started blogging here, I made a silly joke about how, rather than waiting for the trade, I was waiting for the microfiche. Well, Augie De Blieck Jr. was tickled by that and mentioned it in his column for Comic Book Resources. [Should tell you right now…plenty of linkrot in those posts, but not for the actual microfiche link, amazingly enough.] I recognized Augie’s name from letter columns and from the fact that I’d been reading his stuff on the comic sties for a while, so I was equally tickled by that. And Augie and I have had an online friendship ever since, which makes me very happy.

Now one of my habits, when I’m processing old comic books, is peeking at the letters pages to see if I recognize any names. Sometimes I’d see future pros, but every once in a while I’d catch a letter from a customer of mine at the shop! I once found one in a 1973 comic from someone I knew had to be the same person because he had a very unusual name…and when I asked, yup, sure enough.

Had another customer get a letter printed in…Green Lantern, I think, in the 1960s, back when they were giving away original art to “best letter of the month” or whatever, and he ended up with a chapter from a Flash/GL crossover. I remember him telling me (sometime in the 1990s) that he still had people tracking him down to get that art from him. He still has it all, far as I know.

A little more recently, my old friend Mark got the “featured letter” treatment in a couple of latter day Astro City issues, which were nice surprises to me.

UGH. Up too late again, so it’s off to the ol’ hammock for me. Thanks for reading, and for contributing lots and lots of money to my GoFundMe, nudge nudge. See you Wednesday.

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.

“Buy a CD,” said the guy obviously in his 50s.

§ June 18th, 2020 § Filed under eyeball, real world stuff § 16 Comments

Okay, I do plan on getting back to the whole intercompany crossover business we were talking about last time. What I was going to talk about today was the fact that I finally got prescription glasses (my eyes finally being stable enough for them, but still prone to occasional bleeds) and have started to try to read the enormous backlog of comics I’ve got waiting for me at home. I’m literally a year behind on some titles.

But something needs to be said about comics writer Warren Ellis and writer/artist Cameron Stewart, both of whom are facing allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior. You can read about what’s going on with Ellis here, and Stewart here. No word that I’ve seen from Ellis, but I saw Stewart locked down some of his social media presence.

Now…okay, I don’t really know anything about Stewart, aside from seeing his name on some comics here and there (and I know I enjoyed the Batgirl run he worked on) but I am quite familiar with Ellis, as I suspect most of the folks reading a comics blog like this would be as well. I think it’s safe to say that Ellis had cultivated a persona of being someone who did not suffer fools, was encouraging of new work by independent creators, supportive of the rights of women and the LGBTQ community. So of course it’s greatly disappointing to hear these reports coming out about him. I mean, it’s disappointing to hear them come out about anybody, but Ellis, in particular…you can’t help but think “but surely he was smarter than that?”

I have no idea how this is going to shake out…while I’m all for “innocent until proven guilty,” I’m also for “believe women,” and there is a lot of stuff just kinda pouring out right now. I am curious as to what Ellis, and Stewart too I suppose, are going to have to say in response, whether they’re apologies of varying levels of sincerity, or just a flurry of self-defensive libel suits, I don’t know.

But I do know that I hate seeing these stories come out of the comics industry, a business primarily built on telling stories about good conquering evil, in which evil is continually inflicted on good people and so often goes unpunished. Or worse, unmentioned.

Reader Hooper left a comment on my last post regarding these recent events. You should read the whole post, but I did want to respond to one part of it. Hooper says

“…I feel guilty for contributing to their careers by seeking out their work and purchasing their art.”

Well…you really shouldn’t. How could you have known? It’s not your fault. I mean, you have to go through life and make your decisions based on the idea that folks whose work you’re supporting are operating in good faith. You can’t buy a CD thinking while you hand over the money “I sure hope this guy isn’t a child molester!” You’d drive yourself crazy second-guessing yourself like that. Don’t feel bad that you supported someone who turned out to not be a good person. Don’t even feel bad that you enjoyed the work in the past. Just think “I know better now” and stop supporting that creator. Maybe that creator will make amends, work to better himself, do proper penance, and someday be worthy of support again. Or maybe not. But it’s all on the person who did wrong. It’s certainly not on you, the consumer who didn’t know.

Sigh. Sorry, I don’t have a funny or pithy wrap-up to this post. These are just ugly situations, and I hate that these things happen. I really do.

The Spock/Jaws crossover we were all waiting for.

§ March 9th, 2020 § Filed under collecting, eyeball, sterling silver comics, video games § 5 Comments

Okay, I’m back, barring any further shenanigans. Quick update on the eye…still a little cloudy, but it’s very close to being clear and I suspect I’ll be back to whatever passes for normal in short order. Then it’ll probably be time for the other eye to go south on me again. Sigh.

Next…I did my jury duty service Monday. Waited around all day, wasn’t called in as part of the three different groups of jiuror pools pulled into courtrooms. Free for another year, hopefully!

Before that…the previous Friday, a construction crew behind my shop, building an addition to the restaurant, somehow managed to cut through the shop’s internet and phone lines. THAT WAS DELIGHTFUL. And of course the repair crew showed up Monday while I was at jury duty, where they managed to fix one of the problems and not the other. Hopefully we’ll get that final problem fixed Tuesday. Here’s hoping. …I had workarounds for both services, so the shop was still able to function, but…bleah.

In addition, since my vision hadn’t been that great in my good readin’ eye, leaving it difficult to read any print comics, I availed myself of the DC Universe app and my iPad to read some of the digital comics they had available. And that’s how I, at long last, finally read Garth Ennis and John McCrea’s Hitman run. I actually read the first four or five issues when they were originally released, but for some reason didn’t keep with the series. It’s the usual combination of serious war stories, thoughts on what it means to be a good person, and outrageous/weird/grossout humor, mixed in with Mr. Ennis’ general and hilarious contempt for superheroing (the exception being Superman, natch…and maybe Catwoman). Interesting that the title caaracter has been left mostly untouched outside of the creators’ work (though I seem to recall there was a New 52/Rebirth/whatever namecheck).

Anyway, it’s a good series, even if I kinda had to cover the screen now and again whilst reading it in the juror waiting room.

And one last thing…at long last, my Blip collection is finally on its way to becoming a thing, with the acquisition of issue #5 in a recent purchase:


It has all the latest and hottest tips for playing Zaxxon, which is good because I’m terrible at it.

Blip was Marvel’s short-lived video game comic-sized magazine from the early 1980s, of which I owned one copy originally, but had since discarded and now of course I wish I had back. But as I recall, the series hadn’t been terribly popular at the time, and just kinda stunk up the back issue bins as unsellable stock. But it was also the first place a comic book version of Mario from Donkey Kong (and likely other video game characters) appeared, making those particular issues quite the pricey items. This issue just has a Tootsie cameo on the cover, which frankly should make it a collectors item all by itself.

Anyway, send me your spare Blips. I might even pay you a nickel or two for the more notable ones.

Low content mode for a while…

§ March 1st, 2020 § Filed under eyeball, low content mode § 8 Comments

…as my left eye (my allegedly “good” eye) had a little more bleeding, and it’s a little too rough on me to try to do extensive typing with only my diminished-vision right eye to check for typos. So let me rest the week and we’ll see where I’m at around Thursday or Friday. Or maybe it’ll all wash out right away and I’ll be back on schedule. Who knows?

Also, on March 9ths I’ve got to go in for jury selection, so I may not have a post for that day…and depending on whether or not anyone actually wants me on a jury, that may affect my schedule afterwards, too. I’ll keep you posted.

And I’m sure I’ll be griping on Twitter about stuff, so you can always find me there, or you can drop me an email.

Talk to you soon, pals.

This is no way to start a seventeenth year of blogging.

§ December 9th, 2019 § Filed under eyeball, low content mode § 7 Comments

Hi gang! I am having what should be my final eyeball surgery tomorrow, and I know I’ve said “this will be my final eye surgery” at least three times before, so we’ll see. …Get it, “see?”

So the end result is I am probably taking the week off here while I recover/get adjusted to my new eyeball settings. If my vision is up to it, maybe I’ll be back at the end of the week, but I think I’m gonna shoot for next Monday.

In the meantime, please enjoy this swell bumper sticker Customer Brook picked up for me whilst on a business trip:


You can get your own right here!

Thanks pals, and we’ll talk again soon.

Which reminds me, someone tell certain comic publishers that having the prices on their covers in a 2pt font sucks.

§ November 18th, 2019 § Filed under eyeball, sterling silver comics § 4 Comments

Don’t really have a regular post as such today, for which I apologize. I’ve been busy and preoccupied with work-type stuff and thus didn’t have the spare brainpower to dream up anything at least somewhat entertaining for the site.

You can read about it here on my Facebook page, but basically, what with all the stuff regarding my eyeballs and the related costs, plus another surgery scheduled for next month, combined with the usual fall sales doldrums but no shortage of product being churned out by the Big Two comic companies (well, it’s mostly the One)…I find myself in a…less comfortable position than I’d prefer to be in.

I’m sure I’ll be okay…Christmas is coming up, and that’s usually a good time for the store. But I thought maybe encouraging some of my pull list folks to come by, and maybe encourage other folks to step into the shop and maybe grab a book or two, or perhaps visit my eBay store or maybe even just call in with a want list or three, would help me ride out some lean times here.

On the plus side, several people heeded the call and contributed to the cause, which was much appreciated. And hopefully it will continue. Every little bit helps, whether you visit the shop or mail order or join the Patreon or whatever, it’s all great support and very welcome. I can’t thank everyone enough.

I took kind of a hit throughout the year because of my vision issues…as one might imagine, if my vision is cloudy or obscured entirely due to bouts of internal bleeding, that makes it difficult to grade and price comics, or put things on eBay, or read prices printed on comics or even my own price tags, or check invoices. At one point I couldn’t even make out covers. I had to have people peeking over my shoulder, mostly my dad, telling me what I was looking at in order to function. Plus, having to pay someone to cover for me on the days I absolutely couldn’t be in the shop (like, say, when I was in surgery) was an additional financial burden.

It’s all very frustrating. And it’s probably going to recur with my next surgery, which is on my left eye, AKA my “good eye.” I have vision in my right eye, but it’s not as strong and has some obscuring issues and I won’t be able to drive while my left eye recovers. I’ll probably be able to read prices and stuff but grading comics is going to be out. Plus, I suspect I’ll probably have to print out my Diamond invoices at a ginormous font size rather than trying to read the tiny light grey-on-white lettering on the invoices they send me.

And that will be in the middle of December, when I should be doing good business with the holiday season.

This is a lot of complaining, I realize, and I’m sorry to make you read it, you four people who made it this far. All in all, I’m doing better…haven’t had a rebleed incident in my left eye for a while, and my eyes do seem to be healing nicely, and I am a lot closer to the end of this than the beginning. And this coming surgery is relatively simple (a lens replacement) so recovery should be short, but my eyes are tricksey things, yes they are, so who knows how long it’ll actually take for my eye to be back on its feet. Er, so to speak.

Anyway, this is a problem I never anticipated when opening my own store, I’ll tell you what. But I’ll muddle through it somehow. I mean, what’s the alternative, getting a real job? P’shaw on that, I tell you.

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