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I keep rememering another employee every couple of minutes to add to that list.

§ May 25th, 2020 § Filed under how the sausage is made, sterling silver comics § 3 Comments

So first, a correction/addendum to a previous post.

I was talking to my former boss Ralph, who owned the comic shop I used to work at, the other day, and he had a bone to pick with me. “I was reading your blog, and you co-opted my story!” he admonished me, and I was genuinely didn’t know what he meant. And he told me it was that story about the Superboy Annual #1 some folks were trying to sell. “That happened to me, not you!” he chided me.

Now first, Ralph was just giving me a bad time…he wasn’t really mad. Ralph’s a friend, and we’ve known each other pretty close to 40 years now, and if anyone has the right to give me a ration of shit, it’s Ralph.

Second…I honestly wasn’t trying to steal Ralph’s sauce in my story, or really in any story I tell about my days in servitude at the previous place of employment. In the case of the Superboy comic story, I believe I was in fact the person who took that initial call, as stated. But the rest of the related events did in fact directly involve Ralph. I was merely a Concerned Onlooker, watching and thinking “this will make a good story on my blog once those are a thing a decade from now.”

When I write about happenings at the old job, I tend to use an editorial “we,” as in “all us guys and the occasional gal who were at the shop.” I think my thinking in how I tell these stories is that what is happening and who is doing it is the point of the tale, over to whom these events are happening. In my head I know this stuff happened to Ralph, or to Rob, or Dorian, or Corey, or Aaron, or Dave, or Rachel, or Sean, or Timmy, or Damian, or Nathan, or the other Nathan, or Shirley, or one of the Joshes, or Greg, or someone else I’m probably forgetting, or even me.

I mean, there are specific events that happen to specific people at the shop. The lady who gave a withering “I’m very disappointed” when we didn’t have an issue of Stray Toasters…that happened to me. When the shop was visited by lady wrestlers in full regalia…I’d say that’s a thing that happened to “us.” Sometimes I don’t remember who was there at the time when things happened…like I don’t remember which fellow employee was with me when the lady selling a cleaning product door-to-door demonstrated how safe and non-toxic it was by removing the nozzle and licking the tube that dropped down into the bottle.

But in the case of the Superboy story, that was definitely Ralph who had to deal with those folks. When I said “we” in that story, that meant “Ralph, who was dealing with them directly, and me, who was listening to Ralph dealing with them while I was restocking, I don’t know, West Coast Avengers or something.” I’ll try to be a little clearer about these things in the future, and give credit where credit is due.

In current store news…so far, things are going swimmingly. Customers are happy to shop in the store again (while practiciing proper health safety, of course) and I finally had some reasonable days of business after two months of scrambling to make sales. Well, okay, Sunday was a bit slowish, and I expect Monday, a holiday, may be a little slow as well. Or it may be hugely busy because it’s a holiday…who knows. People are still being cautious about venturing into the diseased outdoors, so it may be a while before my business..or anyone’s business, is back to normal. I’m just glad I was able ride out the shutdown, but there are still plenty of challenges to come.

You get to retell stories you’ve already told once you’re an old person like me.

§ April 15th, 2020 § Filed under how the sausage is made, retailing § 13 Comments

Okee doke, finally going back to this question posed by Twitter pal Tim (which I first mentioned in this post):

“Best example of people overvaluing comics which they were attempting to sell to you (another excuse for you to reference the Death / Return of Superman)”

When I first brought this up, I mentioned I had a specific story in mind that I’d discussed before, probably on this site, certainly on Twitter, and most definitely on Alan David Doane‘s “Comic Book Galaxy” site, where I wrote a monthly column entitled “Mike Sterling’s Behind the Counter” about a decade ago. Look, I had a logo and everything:


Now as it turns out, on the old version of Progressive Ruin, I had a sidebar link to an index page linking all the articles I wrote for the site. That particular piece of HTML still exists, but only the latter half of the articles are archived here. For reasons I no longer remember, the other half were still linking to their original spot over on CBG which no longer exists. And of course, the story I wanted to tell was in the very first column I wrote for that site.

The good news is that I did go and save copies of all those pages directly from CBG before it went down, so back-ups of those earlier columns do exist, and with, you know, the extra free time everyone seems to have nowadays maybe I can get all those earlier columns back up for you to enjoy. Or “enjoy,” as the case may be.

Anyway, that whole preamble is just to tell you that I’m totally just cutting-and-pasting the story Tim’s tweet brought to mind from that old column to this current post. So, here’s Younger Mike with Browner Hair and Working Eyes to tell you about the day someone had an old Superboy comic to sell:

A few years ago, I received a call from someone claiming to have a copy of Superboy #1 in absolutely perfect condition, and that he wanted to bring it in to sell. “Which one?” I ask, since there have been several Superboy #1s on the stands over the years.

“Oh, it’s the very first one…from the 1940s. And it’s in pristine condition!’

Well, I tell him to bring it in and we’ll take a gander at it.

The next day, a couple comes in carrying a briefcase. They identify themselves as the people with the Superboy #1, and gingerly place the briefcase on the counter. Popping the latches, they open the case and carefully lift the comic out.

It’s a Superboy Annual #1, from 1964. Still a nice item, not as rare or expensive as the original Superboy #1, but still not a shabby item to have around. That is, it would have been nice to have around, if not for the fact that this “perfect condition” comic had no cover, and had been so waterlogged at some point in the past that it was now pretty much a solid brick. We tried to explain to the couple, as nicely as we could, that the comic wasn’t the title they thought it was, and it didn’t matter anyway since it was in completely unsellable condition.

Well, they were pretty darn mad. They thought we were trying to pull something over on them, perhaps supposedly trying to get them to part with the book for a pittance…even though we were making it quite clear that we weren’t interested in buying. Angrily, they grabbed up their comic, shoved it back in their briefcase, and stomped out of the store in a huff. For all I know, they’re still wandering from town to town, getting increasingly upset that all these comic shops are turning their noses up at such a “great item.”

That’s gotta be at least 20 years ago now that this happened. I bet they’re still wandering the Earth lookin’ for buyers. Or maybe there was a bitter divorce, with the greatest acrimony saved for the battle over who was going to keep this priceless heirloom. Who’s to say.

If you know this story already, I apologize. For the 70% or so of you out there who don’t have my every online utterance memorized, I hope you enjoyed that story. Granted, it may not entirely fit Tim’s request, as no specific anticipated costs were noted by the hopeful sellers, but it’s pretty safe to say they weren’t expecting a Rip Taylor-esque $1.98 if they were lugging the damn thing around in a briefcase.

And that’s probably the apex of my “people hoping for more than what they were offered” stories. I mean, it happens all the time, of course…people walk in (or used to walk in, before The End Times) thinking their comic is worth millions, and are shocked when they get offered $10. Most people understand, once “condition” and “demand” are explained to them, but it’s so commonplace it’s hardly even stands out any more. Even with the Death of Superman issue, one of which I have in the case right now, the customer is usually all “I remember when these sold for $300!” before selling it to me for, like, $15 or $20.

More common is when comics show up in collections with price tags from other shops/sellers…and not current or local sellers, usually, but tags on things that had been in storage for a while, that sort of thing. I wrote about a couple examples here, where some shop apparently only saw the price of “$24.00” for every price guide entry.

Another example is that there’s someone at a local flea market who sells old comics in decaying, yellowing polyethelyne bags with felt-tip pen prices written on them (the bags, not the comics) that are laughably out of bounds. Could be these bags were reused from previous, actually expensive comics (not likely), or that the prices were deliberately inflated so that when he actually had them priced at $2 or whatever, buyers would think they’re getting a real bargain, or they’re just streaight up invented. I have no idea what the story is.

Oh, there’s another thing that happens once in a while that I just remembered. It’s the personal collection where someone’s already gone through all the issues and assigned prices to them by affixing sticky notes to each bag (or directly on the comic) with their estimated price scribbled thereon. Sometimes the prices are the mint ones, sometimes they’re the lowest marked price in the guide (and occasionally even that’s too high), and sometimes, again, they’re just made up out of thin air. I understand the impulse to do it, to make sure they’re at least somewhat informed before attempting to unload the stash, but the prices almost never have any bearing on whatever offer is eventually made.

As to a couple of your examples:

William Lynch serves up the following

“There’s a guy in our coin club who keeps trying to convince us that his 1990s Pizza Hut X-Men giveaways are worth a mint.”

That’s a weird sort of collectible, in that it seems like it should be something that’s rare, valuable and in demand. It features big name characters, it’s in a non-standard format and it comes from a non-traditional comics venue. Surely these are hard to come by and command high prices! Except nobody cares, really. No comment on the actual quality of the books, but…I don’t know if it’s because of the nonstandard format, or because they come from a period of X-Cessive X-Men stuff being available everywhere, but they’re almost impossible for me to move. For a while they were even getting dumped on me in collections, and I have a stash in the backroom still, waiting for the ones in the main room to sell and require replacing.

• • •

Michael Grabowski hands over this

“…In the mid-80s my uncle gave me a bunch of fair (or less) condition late 60s Marvel Annuals. One of them was X-Men Annual #1, published in 1970. I loved those comics and that gift, but they are long gone. He now insists that it was a mint condition X-Men #1 which he regrets having given to me.”

Ah yes, the imaginary expensive comic. I get that every once in a while. The folks who insist that they have a “first Superman comic” or something back at the house or in their grandma’s attic or whatever that they swear they’re going to find and bring in. Well, okay, it’s been a long time since this was a commonplace occurrence, but 15, 20 years ago I seemed to get it all the time, to the point where it was a kind of running joke. No idea what they actually had, unless it was one of these treasury edition reprints from the 1970s.

Sometimes folks would ask “what would you give me for [old comic I totally have at home, no foolin’]?” and we’d say “probably a lot of money…bring it in!” and of course we’d never see that person again.

• • •

And a couple of you brought up the dreaded “cat pee” comics, which is an entirely different problem. Usually we didn’t even get to the point of discussing money, we’d just say “plese remove these from our presence, they do offend the olfactory senses” or words to that effect.

On par with the awfulness of cat pee was the time at the previous place of employment we somehow ended up with a collection that had been kept in, of all places, an airplane hanger. The wonderful smell attached to said comice we were told was plane fuel. …For all I know, those are still being aired out. So kids, keep your comics away from cat pee and airplanes, and especially from cats flying planes.

• • •

Speaking of cats, Robcat slinks in with

“I am actually more interested in the flip side. You ever find anything really valuable in what people thought was probably all junk?”

Hoo boy…I think the closest I came was at my own shop, where someone brought in a shoebox full of old comics and on the top of the stack inside was Adventure Comics #247, the first appearance of the Legion of Super-Heroes, which I’d never actually had as a comic for sale either at the old job or at my current one. Now the other comics in the box were pretty good too (mostly Batman comics from the same period) but a major key book like this sure stood out from the rest of the bunch.

A story I once heard (and now I can’t remember if it was my old boss Ralph or our late, lamented customer Bruce) involved the cleaning of a garage stuffed with old junk and newspapers, and finding, tucked into one of those newspapers, a mint copy of Captain America #1, the 1940s one with Cap slugging Hitler. (And if either Ralph or Bruce called it “mint,” it was definitely mint.) Needless to say, the garage cleaning slowed to a crawl as now suddenly everything was searched, every box, every drawer, every remaining newspaper, for similar funnybook treasures. …Of course, that Cap comic was the only one found.

For another story of surprise finds, please see this comment from Tenzil Kem.

• • •

If you read this far, you’re probably home by now, so let me leave you with this: speaking of things I’ve talked about before, in reference to our recent discussions about Pariah from Crisis on Infinite Earths, please enjoy this old post of mine.

Quick. someone Ask Jeeves.

§ May 17th, 2019 § Filed under dc comics, how the sausage is made, publishing, swamp thing § 7 Comments

So the plan was to continue my dicussion of DC’s history of getting superhero chocolate into Swamp Thing’s peanut butter, and to do so I was going to, ahem, “borrow” some images from the DC Universe streaming app/service/comic library thing to save myself the time scanning the appropriate images. But lo and also behold, when I went to check out issue #23 of the original 1970s Swamp Thing series, this is what I found:

…It was in black and white. And so was #24. And when I checked other issues in the series, the available online scans from #14 ’til the end of that first run are all in black and white. Oh, and I eventually noticed the little, um, notice that was in the short text intro for each issue letting you know that, yes, this issue you’re about to read is in blcak and white.

That struck me as a bit…odd. I haven’t come across any other series on the service that was originally in color being presented in black and white. Granted, I haven’t done much of a deep dive beyond scattered issues of DC Comics Presents and some Silver Age Green Lantern, and there are literally thousands of digital comics recent thrown onto the service here, but it seems like this is weird.

Now there never was one of those black and white DC Showcase paperbacks for this series, and the entire run of the book was recently recolored and reprinted in that big ol’ Bronze Age Ominbus that came out not long ago. And other recently returned for regrooving and recoloring issues of other Swamp Thing series, like the 1982 run (also in that omnibus) is on the service, in full glorious technicolor. So why did the ’70s series get singled out?

There must be some kind of production issue involved here, though I have no idea what it is. The first thirteen issues are presented in color, and those same thirteen (representing Len Wein’s entire run of stories) were also recolored and reprinted in a hardcover some years back. So, I guess, maybe since those issues were reprocessed a few years back, they were ready for digitizing and uploading, but the later issues had yet to be recolored for that much more recent omnibus and weren’t ready when it was time to get all this online? But then, the pre-Alan Moore issues of the 1982 series had also never been reprinted before, but they’re all up and newly colored…so I have no idea. I’m really just guessing, and someone’s probably already explained why somewhere, but Alta Vista’s down and I know of no other way to search the World Wide Web.

Anyway, thought that was interesting. I’m still gonna talk about those issues soon, but I’m going to have to scan my own comics like some kind of caveman. I have talked about issues #23 and #24, the particularly superhero=y Swampys, on the site before, back in ye olden dayes of comics blogging, back before the meteor struck and killed 90% of Earth’s comics-blogging population. The scans I used then were tiny little things designed for dial-up, and not the glorious giant bandwidth-hogging pics I try to use now, so I’ll get on that in short order.

To follow up on BobH’s question from Friday’s comments section, about whether or not that final caption from issue #24 is in the currently-available print editions…my answer is “I don’t know.” I got pretty wiped out on much of my trade paperback stock during Free Comic Book Day, so I don’t have those Swamp Thing books readily available to peek at. I’m restocking best I can, and those Swampys are a priority what with the TV show about to debut. When last I investigated this important matter, that caption was missing from the then relatively recent hardcover printing, but present in the softcover edition. I believe we’ve had a repackaging of those issues since, so when my stock of those gets replenished, I’ll take a looksee.

In other Swamp Thing reprint news, DC has a series of “facsimile editions” (new printings of classic comics, ads and all, kind of like what Marvel’s been doing lately) coming soon. And House of Secrets #92, featuring the work of Jack Kirby and alos the first appearance of some swamp creature, is on the docket. That’ll make reprint number…man, I don’t know, I’ve lost count of how many versions of this I have. I made a list on this site long ago, and a later addendum or three, and I was up to, what, 15? 16? Whatever it is, it’s too many, and I’ll be adding to that collection soon, it seems.

I know about the images-in-the-feed issue.

§ November 9th, 2018 § Filed under how the sausage is made Comments Off on I know about the images-in-the-feed issue.

I’ve been informed that since I’ve secured the site, my images aren’t making it through on the RSS feeds. I’m aware of the issue, and will try to get it corrected shortly. Thank you for your patience!

I swear this isn’t just a commercial for my eBay store, but if you happened to go there and buy something, I would not disapprove of your selfless behavior.

§ September 11th, 2018 § Filed under advertising, how the sausage is made, promo, self-promotion, Uncategorized § 3 Comments

So here’s the thing: I’m still planning on an End of Civilization post, but I just haven’t had the time to start putting it together yet. I’ve barely even cracked open the new Previews…I have no idea if that deluxe hardcover edition of Swamp Thing Meets Jesus is finally announced, or if the last issues of the Sonic Distruptors mini-series have finally been solicited. Could be in there, I have no idea.

But anyway…usually when I’m having a lunch break at work, I’ll buzz through the Previews and pick out some likely suspects for my EoC post, and then write up the “humorous” “gags” at home. Alas, this month my lunch breaks have been less leisurely and more “cram this food down my throat so I can get back to processing these huge collections I have to process” and “oh Lordy I gotta get all these things on eBay” and…well, you know, actual work. So, no Previews perusal has occurred as of yet. But soon…soooooooon. Hopefully before the DC Universe streaming service starts up next weekend and I suddenly disappar into binge-watching the Constantine series at long last.

Soooooo…let’s shoot for next Monday for the new End of Civilization. Agreed? Agreed! (I totally spoke for you there, I hope you don’t mind.)

In the meantime, let me tell you about some of the stuff I’ve been working on and processing (and may eventually get to my eBay store, if it’s not there already, and if it’s ite> already sold). Basically, former boss Ralph (I’m trying not to call him “old boss Ralph,” y’know) broght me more boxes of promotional funnybook items from the Good Ol’ Days, back when there was only one (or two) X-Men series, when many titles still had triple-digit numbering, when the only “-gate” we had to worry about had “Water” in front of it. I’ve been digging though them, and within I found:

Malibu Sun #13 from 1992:


…featuring a preview of Spawn #1, back when Image and Malibu Comics were briefly iinked together. As others have commented when I posted a pic of this on the Twitters…”that’s some logo.” Anyway, there are some black and white pin-ups by McFarlane inside, and a short (very short, since it had barely existed at this point) history of Image Comics and where it came from and why, and boy howdy do these things go for a pretty penny on the eBay.

Valiant Comics loved its chromium, as evidenced by this wee little “Ninjak on Sale” display piece from 1994 (I presume):


Measures about 5 by 8 inches, and is basically just a miniature version of the cover to the first ossie drawm by future Marvel head honcho Joe Quesada.

“Hey, where’s the new issue of Thor Corps?” “Why, right below the Thor Corps ‘New Arrivals’ sign, of course!”


Dated 1992. Odd choice to represent Marvel’s publishing line for All Time on a sign that’d be posted about the new comics and left there ’til it sunfaded into nothingness, but who am I to judge?

Speaking of odd choices, please enjoy this unopened pack of First Comics stickers from 1983:

And a closer look at said stickers:


Now, I read and enjoyed Mars as it was coming out, but even I’m like “…what would I do with a bunch of Mars cover stickers?” But stickers featuring First Comics mascot Teddy Q — well, those have no end of uses!

My favorite piece so far is the one that’s in the worst condition (a lot of dings and creases, but somehow never actually displayed!)…this promo poster for the second issue of the original magazine series of Nexus, from 1982:


Never did buy all those original mag-sized Nexus issues…got the third one for the flexidisc, but was otherwise satisfied with the trade collection First released years later. Also, that’s Paul Gulacy art on that nice-lookin’ cover, which I misidentified as “Steve Rude” in my rush to get this thing listed. Ah, well…fixed now.

You know, every time I’m reminded of Nexus, it makes me want to go back and reread all the comics. Man, I don’t have time for that…I’m behind on the new comics as it is. Anyway, Nexus is a good comic, is what I’m trying to say.

Next time…more stuff!

It’s dumb o’clock in the morning…

§ September 10th, 2018 § Filed under how the sausage is made § 3 Comments

…my planned Monday post is only halfway completed, my computer keeps hanging on me, and if I don’t go to bed now, I’m going to be of no use…well, even less use…at work. So, sorry pals, I hate starting the ProgRuin week on a Tuesday again this close to the last time, but that’s how it goes. Hey, it’s my computer’s fault, and as the saying goes, “a good blogger always blames his tools.”

SIGH. I’ll be back tomorrow.

Happy Nude Year!

§ January 1st, 2018 § Filed under happy new year, how the sausage is made § 4 Comments


Here’s to a happy and safe and successful and occasionally nude 2018 for all of us!

Now, for you, a Progressive Ruin Secret: almost since the beginning of this blog, what, 30, 40 years ago, I had plans in the back of my mind for a post titled “AND NOW…IMPLIED NUDITY,” which would feature panels or covers from assorted comic books where the character was clearly intended to be in the altogether, but was covered up in sufficiently Comics Code approved fashion. I mean, nothing particularly salacious…it was stuff from 1970s Flintstones comics and, y’know, like that. No idea why I never got around to assembling said post, aside from fear of the kind of search engine referrals I’d get (not that the ones I get now aren’t particularly…imaginative), but just thought I’d at least present the very cover that inspired the idea: Beetle Bailey #74 (March 1970), my actual copy of which is buried in the stacks of unsorted comics that hopefully I’ll get around to un-unsorting during my day off today.

Thanks for reading, pals, and I’ll see you again in a day or two.

And every Valentine’s Day for the past decade, I think about doing another one of those lists.

§ August 26th, 2016 § Filed under how the sausage is made, self-promotion § 9 Comments

I’d been on hiatus from the Trouble with Comics crew for a bit, since of late what small amount of blogging time I’ve had I’ve been focusing right here on this site, keeping the content up, patching up some old entries, and otherwise justifying the ol’ Patreon. But, the Trouble with Comics Question Time feature was hitting its 50th installment, and who am I to pass up an anniversary issue?

The Question this time was simply to list 50 Things We Loved About Comics, and you can read our answers in the three installments right here (1 2 3) and my entry is located in Part the Second.

Those of you who’ve been around a while may remember three consecutive Valentine’s Day entries where I listed “100 Things I Love About Comics” in each — they’re right here and I should warn you I haven’t fixed any dead links in those posts yet. As I say in the first post, that was inspired by a couple of Fred Hembeck strips (1 2) and by a post by Chief Troublemaker Alan David Doane (which included my then-relatively new site, which surprised the heck out of me!). Lots of people did lists of their own, but leave it to Tom Spurgeon to have unleashed the 1000 Things He Loves About Comics, and hoo boy that’s hard to beat.

Anyway, for my new Top 50 list I was going to do something similar to my old Top 100 lists…just list a bunch of stuff I like, whether it’s characters or creators or titles or what have you. In fact, my first pass at my entry, I did just that…and it turned out I duplicated quite a bit from my old lists, and I didn’t want to do exactly what I’d done before. So the second time ’round I tried to stick to just listing specific events in comics (though a couple more general entries slipped in there), and I hope you are reminded of some fun things when you read my entry (and everyone else’s entries, too!) or maybe are intrigued by some bit of nonsense you hadn’t heard of before.

When I started my second pass at that list, I figured “oh man, this is going to take forever,” but I’m pleased to say that it took hardly any time at all to fill up all fifty spots. I had plenty more besides, and of course a day or two later I’m thinking of entries that should have been in that list but they simply slipped my mind.

Top of that “shoulda been in dere” list is Hawkman #4 in which we learn at long last the secret identity of Kite Man, who turns out to be a real blockhead. I can’t believe I left it off the list, but one of the wonders of the Comics Internet is that I been able to tell the writer of said issue, the eternally swell Tony Isabella, how much I loved that comic, so hopefully that makes up for my recent forgetfulness.

I also forgot to mention Lex Luthor anywhere in that list, which stuns me because I do loves me some Lex Luthor. It’d be hard for me to narrow it down to just one entry, but I think that one panel in Superman #149 (1961), “The Death of Superman,” where Luthor contemptuously thinks “The puny ants!” as he is on trial for Superman’s murder. Maybe more generally, I always liked those stories where Luthor is shown that, despite his hatred for Superman, he’s not entirely a monster and reveals some soft spot or ‘nother for, like, his sister, or for Einstein, or something like that. That’s an element lost in post-Crisis Luthor, who was just straight up pure evil, 24/7. (Maybe that’s part of the reason why I’m enjoying the Rebirth Superman titles so much, with Luthor’s redemption arc…he’s still an arrogant jerk, but he seems to be doing the right thing.)

And then there’s Dr. Doom, who really should have been in there somewhere, too. Again, it’s hard to pin down one particular moment or story…maybe that one Fantastic Four issue where we follow Doom around during a typical day in his country of Latveria. Or more generally, I just love the fact that Reed Richards and Doom were once (very briefly, like for what, a minute?) college roommates, now mortal enemies which I expect more than a few people can relate to.

And plenty more besides. Nobody needs to tell me what else I forgot…believe me, I know. I did manage to keep the Swamp Thing entries down to just one, but it’s a good’un. There are entries for three different Frank Miller Batman-related things, however. You’re welcome!

I wonder if Ian ever notices when I reference him in my blog posts.

§ June 20th, 2016 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, how the sausage is made, question time § 4 Comments

Back to your questions…cruisin’ in with the following is Pedro de Pacas:

“So how DOES the sausage get made?”

Well, I take some of the excess bits of Progressive Ruin, ground it up, and…okay, that’s not what I do. Generally, before I turn in for the evening, I plop myself down in front of the ol’ Atari 800 and start to type away. Now, typing’s the easy part. I’m a goood tipyst. It’s the actual content that can be tricky, since, as you likely know, I’ve been hackin’ away at this blogging thing and generating content for nearly 12 1/2 years now, and that’s not counting my previous online behavior at LiveJournal or on message boards or on local BBSes and of course the secret journals that can only be revealed after my death and I’m long past Ian’s vengeful reach. Point is, I’ve said a lot of stuff, and covered a lot of ground, and I’m not sure I have any more “good ol’ ‘Death of Superman‘ days” stories left in me.

In general, though, posts on this site can come from just my daily adventures in retail and overall retailing philosophy, seeing something odd in an old comic, reminiscing about past events, reacting to current comics news, occasionally reviewing comics, and just being silly…you know, the usual stuff comic blogs are made of, but hopefully I provide enough of a unique perspective to keep you all coming back every couple of days. I mean, I see my stats, and that can’t all be search engine spiders and people in the Ukraine trying to crack my password.

The one source of blog content I do miss is interactions with store employees, most of whom were about halfway nuts and therefore good inspirations for postings. Like, for example, this interaction I had with Employee Aaron about the Dungeons & Dragons comic, or my conversations with Kid Chris. Sadly, now, at my own store, it’s just me and my volleyball Wilson, and he doesn’t say much.

And on a related note, googum googums

“Anything new and good in what’s left of the comics blogosphere, or is it all over?”

I’d been sort of dreading this particular question, since I felt like this would be a big topic that I couldn’t do justice to. For example, I might end a sentence with a preposition.

However, I wouldn’t say the “comics blogosphere” is over, by any means, though even typing the phrase “comics blogsphere” whisks me away on nostalgic winds to the year 2004. Even now, you can go take a look at the current iteration of the Comics Weblog Update-A-Tron 3000 and see the latest updates from many still active comic book weblogs. (And I always point out that I saddled the previous iteration of the Update-A-Tron with that particular name, an act for which I likely should apologize.)

The comics blogosphere as it existed Way Back When in the early/mid-2000s, when I entered the mess, is largely gone, of course. I don’t just mean “folks ain’t around,” though folks did move on, leaving behind blogs to move into actual paying writing jobs, or just leaving when they decided they were done, or guided their blogs toward other topics, or just lost interest and let things peter out. A lot of the interaction between bloggers is gone, too, as others have mentioned…inter-blog discussions and debates and the infrequent feud (joking and otherwise) aren’t as common as they used to be. At least, not that I’ve seen, and that’s another thing….

…I don’t frequent other blogs as much. It used to be, before I’d post, I’d do a quick rundown of the latest posts on the Update-A-Tron to make sure I wasn’t accidentally duplicating another person’s content. Seems crazy now, since I’m pretty sure I was the only person championing All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, and besides, even if I was tackling the same topic as another blogger, I’d like to think my voice is unique enough to put my own personal spin on the matter. Nowadays, however, I simply don’t spend a lot of time reading comic blogs. I mean, I do follow some, and I have ’em in my feed reader, and sometimes other sources (like Twitter) will direct me to blog posts that interest me. But that level of interaction I used to have, going directly to other sites, leaving comments, building conversations…there just isn’t enough time anymore.

Another change in the blogging world that initially discouraged me was the advent of the group blogs, the ones hosted at the comics news/press release sites that had several people creating multiple posts every day, and how was one poor dumb blogger like me going to compete with that amount of content? Why go to Progressive Ruin and his handful of posts per week, when you can go to The Big Professional Comics Blog Emporium and get dozens of posts about Lois Lane having to become a Black woman every hour upon the hour? …Okay, I’m teasing slightly, but it was a bit imposing at first, until I accepted this wasn’t a competition, that several folks working for these sites were people I liked, and that my site had the one thing I was “selling” that other sites couldn’t: me! Sure that’s a bit egotistical, but one doesn’t write a comic blog with his name in the title, relating his opinions for nearly 13 years by being a shy, retiring wallflower. (Also, I did write for the group comics blog Trouble with Comics for a while until some scheduling problems took me away from the site for the time being, so take my group-blog comments with a grain of virtual salt.)

The other thing is that online comics discussion is always evolving…traditional blogs may have been “the thing,” and for lots of people they still are, but there’s Tumblr, there’s Instagram, there’s Twitter, there’s podcasting, and so on. I’m sure there’s some platform people are actively using to discuss comic books about which I am totally unaware, because I am an old person and not hep to your current jive. I suspect I’ll be sticking with my trusty WordPress installation long after everyone’s moved on to BrainJet DirectConnext online communications since I tend to hold onto things way past their shelf life.

In short; yes, googum, the comics blogosphere, or Twittersphere, or Tumblrsphere, is not yet over. It’s not the same as it was, but that’s a good thing. …But I’ll require someone to tap me on the shoulder when it’s time to go, because I won’t be able to tell, myself.

The End of Civilization will have to wait ’til tomorrow…

§ August 29th, 2013 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, how the sausage is made § 7 Comments

…as I have been too short on time in the last couple of days to give it the proper attention it deserves. It will be up Friday, I’m reasonably certain.

In the meantime, a few clarifications:

  • It sort of dawned on me that perhaps I wasn’t clear about the origins of that “Mike Sterling is a jerk!” image that Bully, the Little Photoshopping Bull, made for me and I linked to at the end of this post. It was created in response to this Twitter post of mine in which I quote Employee Aaron expressing his opinion of me, based of course on the famous X-Men comic splash page. So, to be very clear, Bully does not actually think I’m a jerk, nor did I ever think he did. I know he was just teasing!

    However, Bully does think Professor X is a jerk, and for good reason!

  • For this post, my example of Power Pack #27 was used almost entirely at random. In fact, as I was writing the post, it was originally New Warriors #27, until I decided to write a little something about New Warriors #1 at the end. I thought “well, that’s two mentions of New Warriors in one post, clearly that violates some sort of zoning law” and Power Pack was the first thing to pop into my head to replace it. So, I wasn’t really making any kind of specific point about Power Pack #27, just a general one about guide-pricing versus real world sales potential.

    However, in response to my mention, this nice person (who also says a few much-appreciated kind words about my goofy site) takes a more in-depth look at the comic in question.

  • MrJM was only kidding with the “Thanks, Obama!” comment. Honest!
  • A few of you have noted that Howard the Duck #1 was a comic that was once red hot and inflated in value, due to its 1970s popularity, and remained fairly pricy up until a certain movie of some note was released. I wish I’d remembered to dig up some of the old guides while I was at the shop to double-check pricing, but in general I do recall a sudden dip in demand and value on the comic. Exactly how much, monetarily speaking, I am not sure, but yeah, it certainly happened. In recent years prices have been creeping back up, partially because those comics are sort of crawling out from under the shadow of the film and regaining some critical appreciation again, and partially because it’s a noteworthy series that’s approaching its 40th birthday and it’s getting more difficult to find high-grade copies.

Anyway, that’s enough of that. I’ll bring a proper end to civilization tomorrow, I (mostly) promise!

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