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Old Timer Mike here with some important blogging for you.

§ May 8th, 2024 § Filed under free comic book day, miraclemarvelman, superman § 13 Comments

Yes, it’s another Post of Miscellany for you to enjoy, for varying values of “enjoy.”

PART THE FIRST: Just to follow up on my 2024 Free Comic Book Day post-mortem, there was some concern that no children were spotted in my photos of the store in the midst of Free Comics action.

Well, let me assure you that there were plenty of children passing through the shop to get their free comics, and many, with the assistance of the parents and/or guardians, took advantage of the storewide sales. Some kids showed up in costume (one as the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man, anoother as the Kamala Khan Ms. Marvel). A girls softball team showed up, in uniform. Plenty of children thanking me for their comics, A whole bunch of smiling faces.

As was pointed out in my comments, probably not a cool thing to take pics of kids and post ’em to my site without permission. So you’ll just have to take my word that they were there. I promise.

PART THE SECOND: Miracleman talk is back in the news, what with the release of Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham’s The Silver Age in trade paperback form this week. This article on The Beat is about the lack of excitement over the completion of this long-interrupted story. Surprisingly, it includes a link to my own writings on the very same topic from back in January. I’m so used to shouting into the void here, since Linking to Blogs is a thing that folks don’t do much of that anymore, but it is nice to be acknowledged.

Anyway, on Bluesky Mr. Gaiman his own self linked to a New York Times article ballyhooing the release of the book, saying

“It’s interesting seeing the comics press going ‘Why isn’t there more talk of Miracleman: The Silver Age?’ Meanwhile, we get the kind of review that those of us who made comics in the dawn times dreamed of as a kind of grail.”

Now, look, I’ve done my part, which y’all can see right here in this category link, but…I think I’m correct in reading this more as “isn’t it ironic that one world ignores the book, meanwhile this other world is paying attention,” instead of “the comics press are a bunch of dummies, of course people are talking about it.”

The New York Times article doesn’t really counter the idea that Miracleman is mostly ignored within the comics world, and that actual sales aren’t want you’d think they should be, if “you” is me, a guy who waited the decades for Miracleman to start up again. I don’t have to go into again, see what I said at my self-link above, but the passing decades, the delays, the botched presentation by Marvel, all got in the way of a new audience discovering a lost unfinished classic in the process of being completed. Which is a shame. It honestly is very good. Even the initial kinda clunky chapters by Alan Moore have a style and power few comics can match today.

I said this a couple times in response to various discussions on Bluesky, but I feel like maybe the Moore/Gaiman/Buckingham/etc. era of Miracleman won’t properly get its due until it’s all done and collected into trades. At that point it can be sold as a finished masterpiece…assuming Marvel can keep the books in print.

PART THE SECOND AND A HALF: Just for some perspective: In 1985 I was sixteen, still in high school, when I bought the first issue of Eclipse’s Miracleman #1 new off the stands. I am now 55, waiting to eventually place orders for my store for the final chapters of the story begun back then.

PART THE THIRD: So anyway, here’s a picture of Superman from the movie coming out next year:

I mean, it’s fine. The top part looks a little too much like he’s wearing a sweater. I suppose we’ll have to see it in action (either live or CGI) to give it a full judgement. But lookin’ at that picture…c’mon, Supes, buddy, speed it up a bit, there’s something you need to attend to going on outside your window there.

The debate is raging on as to whether this is a good costume or not, whether there’s too much texture on there or if they should’ve gone for a Christopher Reeve-style smooth ‘n’ skintight spandex. I think the latter look, more accurately reflecting appearances in the comics, may be out of favor with studios, but given how superhero movies have been doing lately, what have they got to lose. However, having Wolverine in his classic comic togs for the Deadpool/Wolverine flick, a film that has a very good chance of getting that billion-dollar box office that’s been eluding Marvel for a while, may change some costuming trends.

At the very least I would have liked a brighter, maybe more optimistic look, but again, it’s just one promo photo. All depends on what they do with it. And it’s James Gunn, who actually made people care about Guardians of the Galaxy, so I’m still giving him the benefit of a doubt. I mean, c’mon, Metamorpho, the Fab Freak of 1,000 and 1 Changes, is gonna be it, I’ve gotta see that.

Did my mailman get a copy of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles FCBD book before I opened? I’m not saying “no.”

§ May 6th, 2024 § Filed under free comic book day § 9 Comments

Another Free Comic Book Day has come and gone, making my…23rd, outing for the event? However many it’s been since it started, I did ’em all, and I suppose it depends on how you count that one year when the books were just released in dribs and drabs over the summer because COVID.

And I’m pleased to report that this was the busiest FCBD I’ve had yet at the shop, and the most financially successful. It was a little over 20% increase over last year, which had been the previous Best FCBD for me. Which is good, because like I am every year, I’m anxious about how it’s going to go, even though I’ve literally never lost money on the event.

“Money?” some will ask, because even though it feels like word gets out more and more every year, some folks don’t realize that it does cost the retailers a little bit of money to order these giveaways. It’s not a lot, like 25 to 35 cents apiece, but it does add up. Hence the storewide sale I hold at the same time, which, as you can surmise from what I stated above, easily covered the costs.

And speaking of which, I probably could have ordered more than I did on some of the books. I try to have at least a few leftovers to keep for giveaways the rest of the year, either to folks visiting the shop, or for schools and libraries, whatever. Due to the huge crowds I ended up running through a lot of books in relatively short order, so it’s time to boost numbers back up a bit. I did dip into the leftovers from previous years to fill up the tables, and moved a whole lot of those too.

Helping me out this year was, as always, my dad and pal Dorian monitoring the tables, posted out in front of the store, joined by former boss Ralph and my girlfriend Nora keeping tabs on the crowds inside. And yours truly manning that register.

And speaking of overused transitions, my dad took a few photos of the event, including this one of the line waiting outside the store for it to start:

Thankfully, most of those storefronts were closed on the weekends, and one didn’t open until after the line had cleared, so I didn’t annoy any neighbors too much.

Here are a couple of photos of inside the shop:

…including the one photo I managed to snap before I had to get back to being the register monkey:

And yes, in one of the above photos, you can see the short box where I kept extras of previous FCBD throughout the year but forgot to squirrel away before opening. Ah well.

Of special note, Lene of the long-running Shatner-centric Star Trek podcat “Look at His Butt” dropped by to say hello. This was our first face-to-face meeting after being online pals for…just checking the dates, and goodness me, about 18 years! Actually, she and her husband came in the day before, so that was our first in-person encounter…she walked in with a “Hi Mike!” and my immediate response was “I know that voice!” It was swell to see her, and hopefully she can come back in the future for another visit! And a few other readers of this very site dropped by, too, which is always a nice surprise.

So overall, it was a solid outing for Free Comic Book Day. A lot of effort went into it, and my body still feels a little wearied from it, but I should hopefully be recovered when it’s time to do it all again next year!

Free Comic Book Day is…checks calendar…TODAY!

§ May 4th, 2024 § Filed under free comic book day § 1 Comment

Get yourself to a nearby comic book store (like mine) that hopefully is participating in Free Comic Book Day (like mine) and is giving away tons of free comics (like mine) and is having big storewide sales (like mine)!

Batman created by Bill Finger with Bob Kane.

§ May 3rd, 2024 § Filed under batman, free comic book day, pal plugging, sir-links-a-lot § 8 Comments

Okay, I don’t want to overload you with Byrne Superman Reboot talk, so I’ll probably stick to posting about that once or twice a week ’til I feel like I’ve said enough. But keep your comments and questions coming, since, as is my wont, I’ll probably spend some time responding to them in the near future.

I did want to cover a couple of other topics here, such as the fact I didn’t talk much — well, at all — about this year’s Free Comic Book Day. It’s not like I haven’t talked about before, and you can clickity-click that link to have my vast wisdom imparted upon you.

Like the last two or three years or however long it’s been, I can’t keep track, I’ll be posting the freebie tables in front of the store, instead of going through the trouble of rearranging the interior layout to make room for them. As you may recall, I started doing this post-COVID to reduce the number of bodies crammed into my little shop and hopefully lessen the risk of cooties exposure. Seems to have worked out great so far, since my creaky bones no longer have to strain at moving a ton of back issue boxes and heavy wooden tables in the shop, and having a huge crowd in front of the store around tables of free comics certainly grabs attention. And I certainly didn’t see any reduction of folks coming into the shop to take advantage of the sales.

So, yes, it still got a little crowded in the shop, but not nearly as much as if I was trying to have a big sale AND a freebie giveaway in the same space at the same time. It all works out.

I’m mostly ready to go…the bulk of the work occurs the night before and the morning of, so I just gotta get cracking soon as my doors close Friday evening. Plus I’m prepping other material to be given away, so that’ll probably take up my Friday afternoon. Oh, and I’m also taking in a large comics collection on Friday as well, from an out-of-town pal whose only opportunity to bring ’em by is that day, so I’ll probably be doing a little comics juggling over the next 24 hours. If the GUMBY OF SUCCESS was planning on making another visit to my store, now is the time!

Anyway, is this like the…23rd Free Comic Book Day? I mean, I guess it depends if you count that one year where it was called off due to COVID and the freebies were just sent out a few at a time to be given away each week. However you count it, I’ve worked ’em all, and look forward to doing it again this year!

• • •

They said it couldn’t be done, and yet Adam Farrar has done dood it: an oral history of the 1990s Marvel UK comic book series Blackwulf! (Here’s Part Two and Part Three.) It’s a whole lotta comics people in here talking, not just about Blackwulf, but the ’90s comics business in general. And who better to speak about ’90s comics than the man who saw ’em in and escorted ’em out…yours truly, Michael Ricardo Anatoly Sterling. I’m mostly in the first part, with a brief cameo in the second, but you should overcome your disappointment at the lack of me in the third part and read it anyway, but it’s all great.

• • •

Mark Evanier is trying to set the visual record straight on comics legends Robert Kanigher and Bill Finger, in that a photo of the former keeps getting identified as the latter. So he’s asked if comics folks would post this pic (leaving the file name unchanged, in case you decide to download it from here and post it yourself) to get those search engines to propagate the correct information:

Also the title of this very post is my attempt at getting some other Batman-related info scraped up and spread around.

Two days ago was the day!

§ May 8th, 2023 § Filed under free comic book day, pal plugging, self-promotion § 5 Comments

Just a brief follow-up on this year’s Free Comic Book Day event, presented at my store, Sterling Silver Comics, Ventura County’s spiritual home of FCBD. (Because, you know, I was there 22(?) years ago when FCBD started locally, and I’ve been doing ’em ever since!)

Anyway, it was very successful, moving lots of comics and also being the best financially-performing FCBD I’ve had at the store yet thanks to the storewide sales I use to supplement the event. I’m still doing the COVID-inspired set-up, putting the free comic book tables out in front of the shop, which leaves more room for shopping inside. Here’s I think the one photo we managed to get this year, thanks to my dad:

Yes, my dad helped out again this year, as did Pal Dorian (whom you can see in the above photo, wearing the black mask just sorta right of center). Former boss Ralph was there too, helping me keep an eye on things as I was mostly at the register. And Batman (AKA primo-cosplayer customer Mark) came by to guard to festivities.

Dorian reported that the comics of choice this year seemed to be the Red Sonja giveaway, and (unsurprisingly) the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles book. The Conan comic seemed to be a slow-starter but ultimately did well. The Marvel books were popular, of course, and DC’s Batman crossover preview thing moved plenty of copies. DC’s more kid-friendly books didn’t do quite as well, despite having plenty of kids come through. And I think Dor and I decided that the 2000 AD giveaway may have performed better if, say, Judge Dredd, their one character recognized by the general public, had been on the comic somewhere. Ah well, What Can You Do?

One oddity this year was that a couple weeks ago, a person came by with piles of circa-2018 Marvel comics for sale. I didn’t need them, so she said “well, I don’t want to take them back home, so you can have them.” I didn’t really want them, frankly, so for FCBD I put them out in a couple of short boxes with signs that read “Take as many as you want, just leave the boxes.” Dor let me know that they didn’t last very long once the event started. I think next year I’m going to have to go through the too-many boxes in the store’s back room and find more dead stock to unload this way.

And the streak continues…no weirdos or strange problems or anything cropped up to spoil the fun again this year! I did have a light fixture go out during the day, which was kind of bad timing but not a crippling blow or anything.

I also sold a couple more copies of Write More Good, the @FakeAPStylebook book that both Dorian and I helped write several years ago. One copy I sold to customer who asked if I’d sign it by saying “sure, and you can get another writer to sign it too, today only!” So I’m out again, and since Marvel’s new distributor Penguin Random House also carries copies of this book, I can get more easily enough! (Someone at the PRH warehouse is probably thinking “who’s asking for copies of this book now?”)

Plus two-thirds of the Vintage Video crew dropped by…Vintage Video of course being the podcast where I helped them discuss the 1981 Heavy Metal animated movie. (Look for me on their eventual coverage of the first Swamp Thing movie sometime next year!)

Okay, I’ve successfully moved the FCBD coverage to “how did FCBD go” to “let’s plug stuff I worked on,” so let’s wrap this up. A big thanks to everyone who showed up…every single time I sweat it out the morning of, thinking “oh man what if nobody shows up” and every year I’m shown that I worried for nothing. So, you know, I suppose I’ll do this again next year.

Today’s the day!

§ May 6th, 2023 § Filed under free comic book day § 1 Comment

Get yourself to a local funnybook store (preferably mine) and grab up a bunch of free comics! Remember…they’re free, no purchase necessary! (But maybe make a purchase anyway to help your retailer cover some costs!)

Have fun, stay safe, and enjoy some good reading!

FFCBD (Fabulous Furry Comic Book Day).

§ May 5th, 2023 § Filed under free comic book day § 3 Comments

I always forget that the Free Comic Book Day giveaways have color-coded ratings on their covers now. Not sure what good it does since it seems like every year there’s some hullabaloo about a kid getting a copy of “Full-Frontal Nudity #1 FCBD Edition” from some store somewhere. But it does make it a lot easier to sort out the books on the tables by age group, when before we had to check through every single free comic to make sure there weren’t any surprise time bombs in there.

That said, my favorite book of the FCBD batch this year is the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers:

…which is SAFE FOR TEENS:

…which, c’mon, go back to 1983 when my comic shop had to make sure they had my dad’s permission before I could buy any Freak Brothers comics. “Hey, it was my dad who told me to check them out in the first place!” apparently wasn’t enough to gain access to the undergrounds box. (And then I got a job at that shop a few years later and I was the guy keeping you rotten children away from the naughty books.)

Yes, I’ll be doing Free Comic Book Day at my store (Sterling Silver Comics, located in Camarillo, CA) yet again! I was there for FCBD when it started, and I’ll be there for it when it ends. Or rather, when I end, unless I’ll be doing it…from BEYOND THE GRAVE woooOOOooo! …Well, okay, that took a weird turn, but if you’re in the area, drop by the store and pick up some free comics and take advantage of my great deals! No ghosts, I promise! Mostly!

You can read what I’ve written about Free Comic Book Day over the last, oh, couple of decades at that link there.

• • •

Speaking of old posts, I recently refurbished my old “Superman’s Super-Hypnosis” page (much linked to by the internet) with Brand New Big Images, courtesy a certain little stuffed bull of some note.

Blogging about Free Comic Book Day is a sin.

§ May 13th, 2022 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, free comic book day § 5 Comments

A few follow-up Free Comic Book Day questions:

Daniel T crosses over with

“I’m curious about one of the freebies: how excited are people for Dark Crisis?”

That…is hard for me to judge, simply because I was inside working the register while all the free comics were outside getting snapped up by the madding crowds. While I had given away nearly every copy, I can’t say that was more out of interest in the Dark Crisis event itself or simply because it was The Free Mainline Superhero DC Freebie and therefore a top target of FCBD-ers.

I haven’t heard a lot of in-store interest in the comic in general, aside from inquiries into the variant covers. Maybe it’ll be like my experience with the new Flashpoint Beyond event thingie, where I didn’t have a lot of folks asking about it up front, but once it hit the stands then the demand showed up. Or maybe people are just tired with Big Deal Comics with “Crisis” in the title, who knows?

• • •

John Maurer had maur to say

“Isn’t the Avengers/X-Men FCBD book the one that has the speculators drooling because it is the first appearance of Blade’s daughter or some such character? THAT MISTAKE WILL MAKE YOU RICH, MIKE!*

“* OK, probably not, but you might could get like $5-10 each if Disney ever brings the character into the MCU.”

You know, I have no idea what’s going on in that Avengers/X-Men/Eternals thing. Lemme look at the eBays.


Okay, I looked at eBay long enough for the gorge to rise, and sure ’nuff that very freebie is being sold for between a relatively reasonable one dollar up to at least $10. And yes, it’s because it introduces Blade’s daughter. I haven’t had anyone come in after the fact specifically requesting that issue, so I don’t know if the news hasn’t filtered down to my area yet (unlikely) or that the local investors have looked at that item and found it not worth the trouble (more likely). Or many they snapped up stacks of them off the front tables when nobody was looking.

I did a more general search on the 2022 FCBD offerings over on eBay and most things appears to be offered for between $2 to $5 bucks. One person was selling Dark Crisis for $6. Seems pretty mellow this year…usually there’s at least one comic that’s the Speculator’s Choice, but aside from folks pushing that X/Av/Et book hard, nothing’s really standing out.

• • •

Randal Yard sticks it to me with

“Don’t think you need to bother putting Your Pal Dorian’s link up there anymore…in fact, woof, that sidebar of links really needs some TLC. Is it just you and Neil chugging along?”

Yeah, I know, I know, I need to, at least, update some of those links to more current, active locations for some of those folks (like maybe their Twitter feeds). That takes a little bit of time, which I’ve been short on a bit lately. And if you think that sidebar is bad, The Deity of Your Choice help you if you ever poke in on my links page.

In pal Dorian’s case, I was just linking his name to his site pretty much automatically, even though he hadn’t updated in a while. And I just noticed, looking now, that it’s currently going to a domain parking page. I swear I checked not long ago and it was still going to his dormant, but still present, website. At one point I talked with Dor about taking over hosting an archived version of his site on my webspace, but we ran into a difficulty or two trying to move files around and we both ended up just getting too busy to deal with it otherwise. Eep, I’ll have to ask him what we can do about this.

But yes, my sidebar and my links page are both graveyards of dormant or straight-up dead sites, which, y’know, Such Is The Internet. I feel sad about some of those losses, certainly, as I got on well with a number of them. Many of those folks started about the same time as me, or somewhat before, in the Comicsweblogosphere, but I suppose it’s a lot to ask of someone to still be posting about comic books on their World Wide Website nearly twenty years on, like some weirdos.

There are still a few blogs left standing, like Neilalien (whom you mentioned) and Bully the Little Stuffed Bull (slight format change, but still as stuffed and little as ever). Johanna is still plugging along as well. And there are others, as well as newer blogs that have come along.

A good place to look at what comic blogs are still active is the Comics Weblog Update-A-Tron…plenty of folks still “blogging” about “comics,” all of whom guaranteed to be confirmed social deviants. Otherwise, why would they do it? WHYYYY

• • •

Andrew Davison schools me with

“Any pics of happy kids?”

Look, no kid will ever be happier at Free Comic Book Day that the one pictured at the top of this post on the store website from a few years back. I mean, that’s just science.

But like I said earlier, I was at the register most of the day, and didn’t get a chance to take pics. My dad took a couple, like this shot of inside the store:

As you can see, young folks were in evidence, and I can assure you I saw plenty throughout the day.

• • •

Well, that’s that for this year…I mean, there weren’t any “but what good does FCBD do?” or “don’t you lose money?” questions this time ’round (answers: plenty and nope, in that order, please refer to all my previous posts), but that’ll do. Thanks for your interest in the subject, and we’ll see you next week!

Free as can be.

§ May 11th, 2022 § Filed under free comic book day § 7 Comments

I know I promised a Free Comic Book Day report on Monday, but it was delayed for obvious reasons. But now that I’m here for my FCBD debriefing…no, not these kind of briefs:

…anyway, now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t know that I have that much to say that’s much different from my endless bloviating on the topic in the past. I mean, it was a good day, gave away a lot of comics, and all the freebies were more than paid for by the amount of business I did that day. It was yet another successful event in the…however long I’ve been doing Free Comic Book Days. Since they started having them, so, like, 21 years or so, I guess?

Had a nice line outside the store in the morning, and when I welcomed everyone as I opened up the shop, I had a few people shouting back “thank you, Mike!” which was nice. And if you recall, last year I set up tables outside the shop to reduce crowding inside, due to COVID concerns. You can see how I had it set up last year here. Again, it all worked out fine, with crowds mostly manageable, and I especially like the fact that I didn’t have to rearrange the inside of the shop to make room for the freebie tables. Though even still, I was still pretty beat at the end of the day even without having to move those big wooden back issue tables inside the store.

In terms of the giveaways themselves, last year I sort of overdid it on the ordering, apparently thinking I was still at the old job in Ventura and pretty much the only game in town. I got my orders down to more realistic numbers, giving away probably just as much, if not more, than last year, but just not getting stuck with as many leftovers. And speaking of leftovers, we took care of much of 2021’s FCBD overstock by putting it out again this year. Plus, I had teachers come in the days following looking for FCBD comics for their kids, and I gave away even more in bulk to them.

My cohorts in crime that day were the usual suspects, my dad as well as pal Dorian, with cameo accomplicing by both my former boss Ralph and my girlfriend Nora. It was Dorian who reported to me during the afternoon that the Marvel book of choice was Marvel Voices, which is nice. He also noted that the Avengers/X-Men/Eternals comic wasn’t getting much love, which was a shame because, um, I accidentally double-ordered that from both Diamond and Penguin Random House. Ah, well, not an expensive mistake, just a storage one.

Overall, another successful venture, even if it may take another year for me to recover. People who ask “why isn’t Free Comic Book Day monthly?” don’t realize they’re trying to kill me. On top of everything else, I had a series of vaccinations just a couple nights before, and apparently the shingles shot did a real number on me. Thursday was the worst, just weak and tired and shaky all day, but it was mostly gone by Saturday. Mostly. I was probably extra wiped out because of that. But no one said running a comic shop would be easy! Well, maybe I did once.

So that’s that, another Free Comic Book Day in the books and maybe if I forget how exhausting it was to do by next May, I’ll do it again!


§ May 6th, 2022 § Filed under free comic book day Comments Off on FREE COMICS ARE IMMINENT.

Just a reminder that this Saturday, Free Comic Book Day is happening at a participating comic shop near you…and no shop is nearer than my own Sterling Silver Comics, located at the heart of the civilized world in sunny Camarillo, CA! C’mon by and say hello, if you can reach me through the excited crowds getting their freebies!

I’ve written a whole lot on FCBD in the past, given that I’ve been involved in it every year since it started, so click this link to see what words of wisdom I’ve imparted on you in the past. Unless some of the words were dumb, ignore those.

Also, my apologies for the sparseness of updates this week…another early morning doctor’s appointment, combined with a not-great reaction to one of the vaccines I received, have conspired to keep me away from proper blogging. But hopefully I’ll be back to full comic retailing strength by Saturday for the free comic shenanigans. With any luck, I’ll have a good report on the event for Monday! Thanks for reading, pals, and we’ll talk again soon.

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