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§ March 13th, 2024 § Filed under old § 12 Comments

Just in time for the U.S.’s National Maximum Speed Law to change to 65 MPH in 1987, here’s Sammy Hagar’s 1984 hit “I Can’t Drive 55.”

And also wish a hard-rocking birthday to my special internet pal, Andrew.


§ March 13th, 2023 § Filed under old § 12 Comments

And also birthday wishes to my blogging brother Andrew. Plus a special thanks to Bully the Stuffed-with-Birthday-Cake Bull…HE KNOWS WHAT HE DID.


§ March 13th, 2022 § Filed under old § 10 Comments

(and a special shared birthday wish to my equally-atomic blogging brother Andrew)

The Old 52.

§ March 13th, 2021 § Filed under dc comics, old § 24 Comments

I realize it’s a bit early to be commemorating the 10th anniversary of the launching of DC’s “The New 52” publishing strategy (which began with Justice League #1 in August 2011). However, with today being my 52nd birthday, it seemed, at least to me, like an opportune time to briefly gaze back upon this event and its eventual ignoble end.

Aside from the online news sources and whatever we were getting in Comic Shop News, I think the main source of into on this particular initiative to which our customers were exposed was that little preview comic DC released listing all the new first issues planned for release in late 2011. It was quite the tantalizing assortment, actually, with the old standbys relaunching with #1s (shockingly including Action Comics and Detective Comics, DC’s two longest-running, highest-numbered books, as well as Batman, also way up there in consecutive numbering) and a variety of other titles attempting to expand the line outside the Supes/Bats/Wondy-related franchises (like O.M.A.C. and Blackhawks).

As I recall, there was some grumbling about knocking Action etc. back to 1, but otherwise people seemed pretty excited about all this. I mean, it was fairly unprecedented (though reminiscent of what Marv Wolfman wanted to do after the conclusion of Crisis on Infinite Earths)…taking an entire existing superhero universe and starting it all from scratch with all-new series.

Not that we had a lot of extant or well-established/defined superhero universes with which to do this. Realistically, the only alternative one is Marvel, which followed suit seemingly with relaunching their titles with new #1s at the drop of a hat, after seeing how well DC with with this whole New 52 hoohar.

And well DC I reported shortly after the launch of Justice League, the premiere New 52 release, response from our customers was very enthusiastic, and we sold out of that comic in short order. A restock of first printings for that #1, which we placed but didn’t expect to be filled, was indeed filled and we blew through those as well.

Now whether it was hot because fans were excited about how DC was going to rebuild their universe, or whether they thought it “would be worth something someday” — well, speculation wasn’t quite as rampant then as now, but it wasn’t nonexistent and I’m certain more than a few folks were intrigued by the idea of getting their hands on something in relatively short supply and high demand.

So yes, sales were strong at first, but quickly settled down once the novelty of what DC was doing began to fade. I think of all the titles that passed through this New 52 gauntlet, it was Batman that may have benefited the most, maintaining good numbers throughout the New 52’s run and continuing on through Rebirth and beyond, mostly due to a mix of excellent creative work on the stories combined with the occasional misleading promotion and reasons to get the investors salivating. And plus just the fact that it’s Batman.

So anyway, the New 52 promised a fresh start, kinda sorta, with their entire line. Some books essentially restarted from the beginning (like the Superman books), others just kinda kept on keeping on (like Green Lantern) barely acknowledging that there even was a reboot. DC’s shared universe, which had hit a 20-year timespan for its “modern age” of superheroes, as of around Identity Crisis, had now been knocked back down to about five years. Older veteran heroes were now younger rookies, or at least closer to their beginnings than they had been.

And it quickly became apparent that the New 52 had been rushed into existence. I expressed some reservations early on about how the conclusion of Brightest Day (the event just before the New 52-introcuing Flashpoint) offered up some epilogues setting up future events…which were all mostly discarded once the DCU was rebooted. Combined with George Perez’s comments about how no one was quite sure was Superman’s deal was in the New 52 (something he needed to know since he was writing the book), and that edits had to be made to Teen Titans stories because their exact history hadn’t been nailed down either. It all smelled of a top-down instruction to DC from the parent company of Warner Bros. to “hurry up and make these funnybooks sell” — reinforced by Perez’s mention that he had to meet demands of folks higher up the food chain than DC’s editor-in-chief Dan DiDio.

While I was certain at the time this was DC’s “last chance” at making the comics thing work before it all got handed over to the toy companies or whatever, once the bloom faded off the New 52 sales, and bumps from various gimmicks and events became less effective, and there was once again a linewide refurbishing of all DC’s titles in 2016. Which put lie to my “last chance for DC” thought from earlier.

Dubbed “Rebirth,” it seemed to learn from The New 52’s mistakes, in that it all felt a little more…planned, this time around, that it wasn’t just DC immediately asking “how high?” when Warner Bros. told it to jump back in 2011. There seemed to be an effort at fixing what didn’t work with various properties during New 52. In particular, with the Superman books, which went through an extensive, and a little complicated, retooling to discard the New 52 version of Superman, bring back the post-Crisis/pre-Flashpoint. Superman.

And through all of “Rebirth” was a thread, introduced in the final pages of that DC Universe Rebirth one-shot that kicked it all off, that somehow the previously-verboten-from-playing-with-others Watchmen was somehow tied to whatever continuity shenanigans were occurring.

Were fans excited? Oh, sure. Sales on “Rebirth” titles never really reached the overall highs of the New 52, but it certainly got people interested and involved. They were certainly curious about the Watchmen involvement, as DC was finally desperate enough to acknowledge that Alan Moore hated their collective guts and that it wasn’t like they were going to piss him off more, so why not use Watchmen in this fashion?

And as it turns out (SPOILERS) we find out in Doomsday Clock that, basically, the New 52 relaunch was due to Dr. Manhattan’s meddling. In essence, that five years of the DC Universe sorta flailing about trying to see what sticks? It was the result of an attack on said DCU by a “bad guy” from outside it. I’ve said in the past that it’s a somewhat clever (and meta) way to deal with the ramifications of a more-or-less defunct publishing initiative, while still being a curious, if not potentially-if-inadvertently insulting, way of recontextualizing the hard work of many creators and editorial staff put in what was almost surely a difficult position.

The New 52, ultimately, was yet another iteration of DC’s attempts at fixing what the decades-old Crisis on Infinite Earths had wrought, where supposedly simplifying and codifying the DC Universe only resulted in more complications and problems. Much of DC’s output and events, like Generations and the Dark Nights: Metal and Death Metal, and the earlier Zero Hour and The Kingdom (with its introduction of “Hypertime”), are tries at reexpanding a fictional world that had been forcibly contracted to meet a demand for consistency that didn’t really need to be met.

DC’s “Infinite Frontier” is the ultimate refutation of Crisis, in which, spinning off from Death Metal, the DC Universe is now again part of an endless multiverse. How long this will last, and whether this solves whatever DC’s been trying to solve for all these years, remains to be seen. I definitely hope I live long enough to see the company find the balance it’s been seeking, as the other possibility, that I outlive DC Comics, is not one I’d want to experience.

As always, a happy shared birthday to my blogging brother Andrew.


§ March 13th, 2020 § Filed under old § 11 Comments

I bought this book sometime in the very early 1980s, and I remember taking some time to save up enough money to pay that remarkably high $3.95 cover price, which was like, what, six, seven, eight times the cover price of the monthly Mad. I was fascinated at the time by the very idea of this oversized squarebound collection, so much larger than the other Mad paperbacks I would occasionally acquire.

And once I had it in my hands…frankly, when I pulled it off my shelf to scan that picture above, I was surprised it was in as good a shape as it was. By all rights it should have been in tatters, I read it so often. It’s such a great compilation of the variety of Al Jaffee’s output for Mad over the years, with parodies and weird inventions and his Snappy Comebacks to Stupid Questions…he’s synonymous with the Fold-In, but he did so much more.

Jaffee is 99 years old today. He is purt’near the very definition of a living legend and I’m glad he’s still around and able to see how much everyone loves his amazing work, both old and new. I follow his Instagram and there’s almost always something delightful going on there.

And I’m very happy I get to have my 51st birthday on this momentous occasion. And happy birthday to my atomic blogging brother Andrew as well.


§ March 13th, 2019 § Filed under old § 31 Comments

And now, 50 things I’ve learned from, or discovered about, comic book retail over the last thirty or so years I’ve been doing this:

1. “Collector’s Items” aren’t.

2. New first issues are jumping-off points as well as jumping-on points for readers.

3. A whole lot of folks unfamiliar with comics think that Hawkman is called “Birdman,” and that Green Lantern is “Green Hornet.”

4. There’s only one real way to put your standard comic book storage box together, but hoo boy have I uncovered any number of ways folks have forced their boxes into shape using tape, staples, baling wire, what have you.

5. 95% of the comic supplies I’ve sold have been “current” (or “new”) sized, but the supplies I find on collections I acquire are almost invariably the larger sizes.

6. Folks who ask “have the movies and TV shows improved sales?” are always surprised to hear “um, not especially.” They are pleased to hear that the primary effect is that everyone knows who Groot is now.

7. I still kind of freeze up a bit whenever anyone asks me if I have any “key books,” as my definition of “key book” may not be the same as theirs. “Why yes, I do have a copy of Honey Bunny’s first appearance in Bugs Bunny #108!”

8. There are some people who feel entirely no shame in asking things like “where can I download all these new comics for free?” or “can I take pictures of all the pages of this comic with my phone?”

9. Any new person who comes into the store declaring “WOW! I love comic books! This is going to be my favorite shop, I’ll be your best customer!” will never be seen again.

10. Yeah, sure, y’all make fun of him, but I’m telling you, Rob Liefeld comics usually sell. I’m still selling copies of Youngblood #1, for God’s sake.

11. I was bothered by the continual “Hey where’s Sheldon?”/Big Bang Theory-related comments I’d get from people who’d pop into the store, until I realized at least the non-comics reading public is at least associating comic book stores with something they like. Quite a change from just a few years ago.

12. When someone encounters The Walking Dead comics for the first time, the general assumption is that it’s based on the TV show, not the other way around.

13. A lot of people think Maggie and/or Hopey from Love and Rockets is based on them. (Perhaps specific to the Ventura County area.)

14. When a publisher doesn’t give you any information about an upcoming comic aside from “TRUST US, YOU’LL WANT TO ORDER PLENTY,” most of the time you can safely not order plenty.

15. Used to be bemused by people bringing in comics that “used to belong to my late grandfather,” implying heavily that these were old, old books, and then they’d turn out to be Spawn and Witchblade…until I realized recently these have been around long enogh that they would likely be found in Grandpa’s comic boxes now.

16. Folks just don’t get tired of Batman. Other characters wax and wane, but Batman just keeps chugging along in a variety of formats and stories. It is a perpetual comics machine.

17. Most everybody, fans and non-fans alike, love Stan Lee. …I know his legacy is a bit more…nuanced than that, but I found it best not to disillusion these folks. Nobody likes a party pooper.

18. Readers don’t mind high issue numbers. They certainly find them less frustrating than constant reboots/relaunches. When Marvel did their “Legacy” initiative and briefly restored original numbering to a lot of their books, my sales went up on them.

19. If something doesn’t have a price marked on it, and the customer says “that means it’s free!” they don’t care for it when you replay “no, it means I can make up whatever price I’d like…ONE MILLION DOLLARS PLEASE.”


21. When people ask me “do you know anything about this Swamp Thing character,” I’ve learned not exclaim John Lithgow-style “oh DO I!” and immediately drop an infodump on them. …Only took about two and half decades in the business to break that habit.

22. As annoyed as I generally was by Wizard, I kinda miss it now that I realize the part it played it getting kids excited about comic books. That was certainly better than today’s kids being, I don’t know, being exposed to YouTube videos about how icky girls are ruining Marvel or whatever.

23. It’s a common assumption that I get to read comics all day at work. Man, I barely have time to read comics at home.

24. As a comic shop clerk/owner, you are assumed to have seen every superhero TV show/movie as soon as it’s released, if not sooner. (NOTE: I’m behind on every CW DC show, and I didn’t see that last Avengers movie ’til it made it to home video.)

25. Every Furry customer I’ve ever had has been nothing less than friendly and kind, except for that one guy who was an annoying jerk, but that really didn’t have anything to do with him being a Furry.

26. Turns out if companies go to the “DEATH OF [CHARACTER]” well too often, the general public will stop falling for it.

27. That said…it took a long time to stop hearing “there are new Superman comics? I thought he died!” from people who weren’t joking.

28. “Comic shop” is just a catch-all for “store that carries any weird thing I can think of” for some folks. I’ve taken calls from people looking for inflatable sheep, or asking if I buy “slightly used” Halloween masks.

29. Role playing games (and collectible card games) have become so associated with comic book stores, people are shocked to discover a shop like mine that doesn’t deal in them.

30. If anyone comes through the door looking for sports cards, it’s only because they want to sell you some, never because they want to buy any.

31. No matter how busy I’d been just previously, when the store clears out and the next person comes into the now-empty shop, there is a non-zero chance of him or her saying “so…slow day, huh?”

32. Nobody wants Woody Woodpecker comics. NOBODY. If any of you write in to say you do, I will have to assume you’re either lying or deranged.

33. If someone tells you they have a comic book at home in Near Mint, it’s probably been set on fire at some point.

34. Just realized that I don’t hear “I remember when they only cost a nickel!” so much any more is because, um, persons of that particular age group…uh, aren’t, um…how can I put this?

35. Nobody who says “I have a copy of the first appearance of Superman” at home actually has one. …I mean, somebody has copies of Action #1 out there, they’re just not going into comic shops and telling the clerks about it.

36. There are a whole lot of Golden Age comic stories that, well, aren’t very good. YEAH THAT’S RIGHT I SAID IT

37. There are a whole lot more comics autographed by Jack Kirby than you think. Some of those comics were even done by him.

38. Anyone looking for Tales from the Crypt comics are generally surprised to find out there are other similar comics from the same publisher (like Vault of Horror, and so on). I mean, if there was a Vault of Horror TV show that ran for years, it’d go the other way, surely.

39. The old Robotech comics from Comico in the 1980s used to sell better at our shop once they were in the back issue bins than they did on the new shelf. Weird, huh?

40. All those foil/die-cut/hologram covers from the ’90s nearly did the industry in, but customers today who weren’t around then for all that nonsense think those fancy covers are great now! I can even sell Turok #1s!

41. The worst damage that can happen to any comic book is cat pee. I will accept no counterpoints to this.

42. Someone will invariably read the “1ST SATURDAY IN MAY!” on the Free Comic Book Day promo material as “May 1st” and show up on the wrong day.

43. Related: it still comes as a surprise to many that comic shops have to pay for the FCBD comics. I know everyone tries to get the word out about this every year, but it’s still news to some.

44. “It’s old, therefore it’s worth money” is a very common belief. Well, I’m old, and I’m worth practically nothing, so there you go.

45. Not every licensed comic, but enough licensed comics based on non-superhero properties eventually do a story involving superheroes somehow.

46. The Number One Giveaway that someone’s come from another hobby to try their hand at comic book collecting was when I repeatedly was asked for “comic book Becketts in the early ’90s. Nothing else ever came close.

47. “Crumb comics” is slowly becoming the generic term for “underground comix.”

48. Folks who haven’t been in a comic book store in a while are always surprised to discover Spawn is still being published.

49. Turns out if you carry a variety of product in an organized, welcoming store, you’ll acquire a diverse customer base, including plenty of women and children. Who knew?

50. Also found out that blogging is a fun way to not only educate others about the industry and day-to-day realities of selling comic books, but also a great way to promote one’s business, organize one’s thoughts about running said business, and maybe learn a little more about just what it is I think I’m doing. It’s also a fine way to connect with the many wonderful people out there on the internet (no, really, there are some!) who have supported both my shop and my silly online endeavor here for so many years. Thanks, everyone.

50 1/2. I also learned that blogging brother Andrew shares his birthday with me! Happy birthday, Andrew!

49 (and change).

§ March 16th, 2018 § Filed under jack kirby, obituary, old, smallville, superman, television § 13 Comments

So one of the victims of my part-week blogging break was no birthday post. Yes, that’s right, your pal Mike just began his last year of his forties this past Tuesday…the warranty’s long expired, the creaking frame continues to bow, and the decay continues apace. I did mention the occasion on the Twitters, however, and received some very kind response there (as well as wishing birthday-and-blogging-brother Andrew a happy day).

The Bullest with the Mostest, Bully the Little Birthday Bull, worked up a bit of magic:

You can find the original image he used on this page of nightmare fuel. Oh, and by the way, now that I can make GIFs I may need to revisit that last pic.

Oh, and Tom Spurgeon over at Ye Olde Comics Reporter also noted the occasion, as he does every year. Thanks, Tom!

Another reason I kinda skipped out on the birthday post this time around is that I had my heart set on a particular panel, but could not find the thing, which has me wondering if I’m remembering the right comic, or if my age-addled brain has it confused with another comic, or if I didn’t just make up the whole thing out of thin air. Anyway, I’ll mention it here in case it rings a bell with any of you fine folks:

What I’m remembering is a panel from a Star Trek comic, maybe in the first DC series, or possibly the second run, where mention is made of Captain Kirk’s 49th birthday. However, and the reason this has stuck with me all this time (assuming I’m remembering it correctly at all) is that the “49th” in the comic had very obviously been relettered just prior to going to print, and almost certainly read “50th” originally. I mean, that was my presumption, in that they probably wouldn’t be making any kind of big deal out of a 49th birthday for story purposes. I remember guessing they were likely saving a 50th birthday story for some bigger event, or someone at the main Trek headquarters decided that they didn’t want Kirk to be that old, or some darned thing.

I hunted through my Trek comics for the scene, and couldn’t find it…I still have full runs of both series (didn’t give ’em up to my store!) plus all the specials and minis and whatnot, so if it actually exists, it’s in there somewhere. But, like I said, at this point I’m even sure it was in a Trek comic and involving Kirk. If you know, please share your knowledge!

• • •

So this week, DC released a freebie funnybook tying into the imminent Superman-prequel Krypton series appearing on the SyFy cable channel:

My immediate reaction to seeing that cover is “…Tom? Tom Welling?” but that’s likely because I watched all ten seasons of Smallville and I’m still recovering. But it didn’t help when I looked inside the comic at the “meet the characters” section and Superman’s grandfather is dressed like this:

…which all the world looks like the get-up Clark was wearing in the latter seasons of Smallville:

I mean, that has to be deliberate, right? Aside from all that…despite my initial skepticism regarding the show (“It’s about Superman’s grandpa?”) I’m actually intrigued, particularly now that I know about the time travel element and the inclusion of DC’s classic space hero Adam Strange. I may be one of those “wait to binge it on streaming” guys, since I’m way behind on everything as it is, but I’ll at least try to catch the first episode. …There better be at least one Thought-Beast on the show, that’s all I’m saying.

This tweet from Twitter pal Joe sort of got me thinking about that Smallville-esque comparison, though Joe’s point of contention/admiration was more for the “Fight Like El” tagline, which is admittedly both amazing and appalling. And if you’re wondering, yes, the entry for the Zod family character has a reference to kneeling, because that’s just a Zod thing now and you better be used to it. (“Fight Like El” reminded me of these somewhat confrontational DC bookmarks from a while back.)

Oh, that World of Krypton comic, by the way, is a reprint of the first issue of the mini-series of the same name from the mid-ish 1980s by John Byrne and Hellboy creator Mike Mignola. If you’ve never read it, it’s not bad…and if you like it, the entire series has been very conveniently reprinted in a World of Krypton trade paperback released just a week or two ago (along with other Krypton-based stories).

• • •

Oh, and there’s going to be a live-action New Gods movie…you know, no big deal. That of course means…LIVE ACTION SLEEZ:

Well, okay, maybe not. But the director of A Wrinkle in Time, Ava DuVernay, is signed on to direct, and given what I’ve seen of the visuals for that film (which I haven’t had a chance to see yet, despite really, really wanting to) gives me a good feeling about her take on Kirby’s Fourth World. Also, to quote my hopes for this film from Twitter, only with the stupid typo in the original corrected:

“I want this New Gods movie to be the Kirby-est thing that’s ever Kirbied. I want to SEE the quotation marks around assorted words in actors’ dialogue.”

I mean…right? Yes, yes, I know Thor: Ragnarok was very Kirby-ish, but New Gods was straight out of Kirby’s head, no Stan Lee required. I want everyone in their original costumes (yes, even…especially…Black Racer), I want dialogue quoted from the comics, I want that opening bit preserved in its entirety (“THERE CAME A TIME WHEN THE OLD GODS DIED!”), everything. I don’t care if movie audiences are ready for it. Let the studio paraphrase Jack himself on the movie posters: “DON’T ASK, JUST WATCH IT!”

Alas, it comes too late for the Don Rickles cameo:

…though it was suggested having one of his old movies/TV appearances on a television screen might be a good reference for those in the know.

But…c’mon, a New Gods movie. I can’t wait.

• • •

Mark Evanier reports that comics writer Michael Fleisher passed away last month at the age of 75. He was probably most famous for his Spectre and his Jonah Hex (and, ’round these here parts, the amazing Hex), but this is what I’ll remember him for the most:

I wrote a bit about that book a couple of years back…man, I spent I don’t know how many hours perusing that tome. And there it still sits on my bookshelf today, nearly forty years after I first acquired it. Thanks, Michael, for all that entertaining information you provided a young me, just beginning to learn about Superman’s history.


§ March 13th, 2017 § Filed under old § 20 Comments





Yes, that’s supposed to be a cake with 48 flaming candles. Also, best wishes to my blogging-and-birthday brother, pal Andrew, whose own cake is almost certainly illuminated by tiny mushroom clouds.


§ March 13th, 2016 § Filed under old § 7 Comments

(Additional data may be located here.)

And a happy non-47th birthday to fellow blog trekker pal Andrew!


§ March 13th, 2015 § Filed under old § 18 Comments


And I wish the most atomic of happy birthdays to my blogging brother, the blastedly brilliant Andrew Weiss!

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