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Jack, Richard, and Jerry.

§ July 29th, 2016 § Filed under obituary § 4 Comments

As I’m sure you may have heard, Jack Davis, “MAD‘s Maddest Artist,” passed away this week at the age of 91. Now, I loved MAD, and I loved the work of Jack Davis both there and in the other EC Comics (this is probably my favorite horror cover of his). If you remember, a few years back a rumor briefly went around that Mr. Davis had passed away, and I had a tribute post ready to go. I held off posting ’til I had confirmation, and of course it turned out he was fine. But, not one to let a little bit of work go to waste, I posted it anyway, because why not celebrate a great talent while he’s still with us? We should do that more often.

So, here’s that post, with plenty of links to samples of his work. Like all of the man’s art isn’t permanently embedded in our collective consciousness anyway.

Another comics artist passed away this week: Richard Thompson, creator of the strip Cul de Sac. Unfortunately, his strip ran at a time when I wasn’t really paying attention to the comic strip world, beyond archival reprints of other older strips. I’d seen his work, of course, and always made the mental note of “I’ve got to dig into his material,” but never got around to it. What I’ve seen of it, though, has always impressed, and it’s clear from the outpouring of grief at his loss just how much love and respect he had earned. In a way, I’m sort of lucky…I still get to discover how wonderful his talent was, and that excitement of being exposed to a new great work is still before me. This time, I will seek it out, and not just put it on the back burner.

Also passed away this week is one of the stars of the Babylon 5 television series, Jerry Doyle, who played Garibaldi. He was the down-to-earth, sardonic voice that grounded all the alien warfare and ancient prophecies and other sci-fi shenanigans…sort of a gruff “everyguy” that you couldn’t help but like, even as the character went through some dark places. The creator of Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski, wrote this funny and touching tribute.

As much as I want to write “enough already, 2016,” I’m going to point you to pal Andrew who has some smart words on what Achewood so accurately calls “the only game in town.”


§ June 3rd, 2016 § Filed under obituary Comments Off on THE CHAMP.


from All New Collectors’ Edition #C-56 (1978) – by Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, Dick Giordano and Terry Austin

Darwyn Cooke (1962 – 2016).

§ May 14th, 2016 § Filed under obituary § 7 Comments

When I went to my one (and so far only) Wizard World convention a few years ago, the only panel I sat in on was the DC Comics one. Dan DiDio was there, and James Robinson…and Darwyn Cooke. A couple of observations I noted from that original post:

“When Didio noted that they’re trying to create a ‘cohesive continuity,’ Cooke openly laughed at him. ‘These panels are a gas,’ says he.”


And there was some fun had at Cooke’s expense, regarding his affinity for older material. When current DCU plans were being discussed, Cooke piped in saying he had no idea what anyone was talking about. ‘We send you a box [of comp books],’ DiDio said — ‘Do you even open it?'”

Anyway, I thought he was pretty funny on that panel. His New Frontier is legendary, of course, and the Parker adaptations were finding him a brand new audience. And regardless of what you thought of the “Before Watchmen” project as a whole, you can’t deny that Cooke’s Minutemen series sure looked fantastic.

My condolences to Cooke’s family, friends, and fans. So long, Darwyn.

image from Solo #9 (2005)

Sign o’ the times.

§ April 21st, 2016 § Filed under obituary Comments Off on Sign o’ the times.


My grandmother.

§ January 11th, 2016 § Filed under obituary § 27 Comments

My grandmother, Beulah Sterling, passed away Sunday afternoon in her own home at the age of 96. She had a good, long and active life, always surrounded by lots of family and friends. When Grandpa retired early, he and Grandma spent the next couple of decades traveling all over the world, and making even more friends in every country they visited. Grandma always made sure to send me postcards from whatever far-flung destination they visited. When they visited Scotland in the late ’70s, they brought back for me a Loch Ness Monster souvenir book, which I’ve still got around. Yes, Mr. Skeptical-about-Stuff is still hanging onto an old booklet about Nessie.

She still lived in the same Oxnard house that was basically built for her and Grandpa back in the 1940s. She was even still driving herself around up until a couple of years ago, when hearing and eyesight issues made her give that up. Even up until just within the last few months, she was still up and around doing things and going places…her housekeeper Susan even drove her out to my new store shortly after it opened so she could check it out. Every time I saw her after that, she always made sure to mention how happy she was that I had my own store, and how glad she was she was able to see it. Even in the last few weeks of her life, bedridden and fading, she would smile as she told me how much she liked visiting my shop.

She was always kind and friendly and supportive, and always kept up on everything the family was doing. Visits with her would bring me the latest updates on the latest goings-on of relations, near and distant. Occasionally I would bring her some of the classic strip reprints to look at, such as the Fantagraphics Mickey Mouse volumes, and she would be amazed that such things existed. She’d say that she never imagined there’d be such nice books collecting together the strips she used to read in the old newspapers.

When I saw her last, just this past Saturday morning, even though she was unable to sit up or talk, she still gave me a big smile, letting me know that she knew I was there and that she was glad to see me.

One time, she told me that planned on being around ’til she was a hundred and ten, so we wouldn’t be rid of her anytime soon. Well, she didn’t quite make that goal, but you know, 96 ain’t too shabby, I think.

Goodbye, Grandma.

• • •

As you might imagine, this has put me a bit off current postings for the site. I’ll be back later in the week for business as usual, but in the meantime, spare a thought for your loved ones, either departed or still with us.

Wes Craven (1939 – 2015).

§ August 31st, 2015 § Filed under obituary, swamp thing § 2 Comments

I know there’s no shortage of more impressive and better remembered films the man was responsible for, but, by God, Wes Craven brought Swamp Thing to the screen. Sure, the film may have its issues, and may have taken the occasional liberty with the source material, but it works anyway and I still am quite fond of it. And Roger Ebert liked it too, so there.

So long, Wes.

How I was never quoted in any kind of advertising or on any print edition for All-Star Batman and Robin, I’ll never know.

§ August 20th, 2015 § Filed under dc comics, obituary § 6 Comments

So the other day I sold a copy of the Superman: Krypton Returns trade paperback, and as I flipped it over to get the price, I noticed the following pullquote on the back cover:

“Superman is still super.”

And, well…yes, I know it’s a play on words meaning “Superman comics are great!” but it’s hard not to look at that and immediately parse it as “Superman still retains super abilities, hence the name ‘Superman.'” But that got me to thinking.

I’ve been quoted by publishers in the past, once or twice. I know I had a quote on the back of an AiT/Planet Lar trade, and I was quoted in this Previews ad for a Rick Veitch book. But boy, I think it’d be pretty neat to get quoted on the back of a DC graphic novel.

And thus…DC Comics or representatives thereof, if you’re reading this, hear me out. Now, you guys ‘n’ gals publish, what, four or five dozen Batman graphic novels and trade paperbacks a month? I might be rounding up a bit, but it’s a whole lot. You’ve got plenty of space to fill on the backs of all those books with pullquotes from, like, the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal or Modern Bride or whatever. Now, my little site here, Progressive Ruin Super Adventure Hour and Family Recipes dot com, may only have approximately three quarters of the prestige of any of those fine publications/organizations, but surely there’s room for just a few words from your pal Mike.

You can use this quote for any Batman book you’d like. I would be perfectly okay endorsing any Bat-title with the following words:

“Batman is still batty.”

                            –Mike Sterling,

Perfect for every Batman story, I’m sure you’d agree. If you want to save it for the eventual print collection of Dark Knight III, feel free. If you want to use it on every Bat-collection over the next year, well, who could blame you? Anyway, I look forward to your usage of this pullquote, DC Comics.

• • •

All seriousness aside: just as there is the Best Batman, there was also the Best Batgirl, Yvonne Craig, who sadly passed away this week. Mark Evanier has a pretty good story about her that you should read.

So long, Yvonne.

Phil Austin (1941 – 2015).

§ June 20th, 2015 § Filed under obituary § 3 Comments

So long, Phil.

images from The Three Faces of Al CD by the Firesign Theatre (1984) and The Firesign Theatre’s Big Mystery Joke Book (1974)

Christopher Lee (1922 – 2015).

§ June 12th, 2015 § Filed under obituary § 5 Comments

Oh man, just how amazing was this guy? From playing Dracula, to recording heavy metal albums in his nineties, to this terrifying bit of information, to this musical piece from an obscure superhero parody, to hangin’ with J.R.R. Tolkien, to…well, just Google him up, everybody‘s talking about the life this man had. And boy, did he ever have one. Pal Andrew speaks more eloquently about his impact than I ever could.

So long, Mr. Lee. You will absolutely be missed, but thankfully you left behind an immense body of work that we can continue to enjoy and remember you by.

stills from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (2002), just before Lee fights Yoda in a lightsaber battle. …CHRISTOPHER LEE FIGHTS YODA IN A LIGHTSABER BATTLE. C’MON.

Herb Trimpe (1939 – 2015).

§ April 15th, 2015 § Filed under obituary § 7 Comments

My earliest experience with Herb Trimpe’s work, at least as far as I was aware, was this issue of Marvel Super-Heroes #100. I was mostly a DC kid at the time, but I also liked buying extra-sized anniversary issues, which this was. The artwork was a lot more…grainy and lumpy and odd-looking compared to the seemingly more polished DC Comics I was reading, partially because of John Severin’s inking (a name I did know thanks to his work in Cracked). That’s not meant to be a negative description…the comic certainly captured my interest.

I became more familiar with his work as time went by, particularly after my entrance into comics retail. He was a good and dependable artist who worked on Hulk comics far longer than I’d realized, including the first appearance of Wolverine, and lived quite the eventful life even after mostly leaving the comics industry. (If you follow any link here, read that last one.)

Of interest to folks who may recall Trimpe’s ’90s work is this entry in Brian Cronin’s “Comic Book Legends Revealed” column, which Brian wrote directly in response to my long-held belief that Trimbe was asked to change his classic art style to one more closely emulating the then-popular “Image Comics” style. Read that article to hear the truth of the matter straight from the Trimpe’s mouth. (HINT: I may have been incorrect.)

So long, Herb.

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