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Words not deeds.

§ March 25th, 2024 § Filed under dc comics, movie reviews, pal plugging, sir-links-a-lot § 18 Comments

So last time I was talking about Carmine Infantino’s alleged list of “things what you put onna cover to make a funnybook sell.” It’s just one of those things that’s generally common shared knowledge in the comics world.

But like many things that are common shared knowledge, there’s more to the story, and to the rescue is Comics Worth Reading‘s Johanna, who drops a link to a Bluesky interaction between Mark Waid (editor of that Secret Origins comic I presented last time) and Kurt Busiek, a couple of comics fellas who obviously know more about what’s going on here than I do.

In short, publisher Irwin Donenfeld came up with the list in the 1950s, which Infantino related to Waid in the ’80s. But I think we can all agree comics would be improved if we returned to list.

• • •

Hey, Old Timey Comics Blog Readers? You remember Dave Campbell, don’t you? The man who brought us “Dave’s Long Box,” which ended in 2008 and that seems like so long ago. Good gravy.

Anyway, Dave’s been busy lately, working on a documentary about Hal Needham’s 1982 film Megaforce, starring Barry Bostwick, and remembered by all of you for the “DEEDS NOT WORDS” ads that were all over the back covers of comics at the time. The doc, Making Megaforce, is currently funding on Indiegogo.

Plenty of contributor levels, which can get you Blu-rays and/or digital downloads of the doc, autographs, patches, screen credits, and at the top of the heap…an actual film-used (non-operable) dune buggy from the original movie! Only one of those buggies are being offered, so don’t worry, I didn’t take that option so it’s still available for you to get!

I like Dave, and hope this project reaches its goal. Looks like a lot of fun.

• • •

The latest comics drama to break out is a noted cartoonist allegedly being a creep to a young lady. I’m using the word “allegedly” for my own protection here, but…said alleged creep has shut down his social media, and I’d seen reports of the associated popular YouTube show being closed down as well. A quick look at YouTube shows ’em all still up and running, so who knows.

Now this just happened over the weekend, so we’ll probably get some actual reporting on these events in the next day or two (or likely a reposting of the chat screenshots and some additional commentary, like what everyone’s doing on Xwitter and Bluesky). It’s an ugly situation, and the person who was the object of the reported harassment (she is also a cartoonist) has been driven off social media by people attacking her because of course they are. Waiting to see how all this shakes out…it sure doesn’t seem good.

• • •

And on a much lighter topic…I watched Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom the other night, and I think I may have liked it more than the first one. Not that the initial installment was bad, it was enjoyable, but it just felt very “by the numbers” superhero filmmaking. It could be I’d just seen enough “superhero origin” movies by that point that getting yet another one was trying my patience.

The second one just felt more fun, with an enjoyable dynamic between Aquaman and his half-brother Orm AKA “Ocean Master.” I think the fact that the main antagonist of the film was Black Manta, who appeared briefly in the previous movie. He’s here full-time however, and there’s no logical reason in the world as to why that costume should work in live action, but boy it looks cool.

It’s goofy and outlandish and Randall Park’s character “Dr. Shin” should have died no less than like a half-dozen times during the course of this story, and if I never see a diaper-changing scene ever again where the dad gets a stream of pee directly to the face it’ll be too soon…but it’s a breezy ride and I enjoyed it. Two movies is probably enough, though, so it’s probably just as well it’s ending here 1) because I think the sequel only barely broke even at the box office, and 2) they’re clearing the way for the new DC Media Adaptation regime by James Gunn and that other guy whose name I never remember.

I think there’s been some talk about Aquaman star Jason Momoa turning up as Lobo, maybe possibly, and I can see that.

How much sin must a man commit in a single lifetime to end up with two Return of Swamp Thing enamel pins?

§ January 31st, 2024 § Filed under pal plugging, podcast, swamp thing § 2 Comments

So a while back, I was a Kickstarter backer for the Rifftrax-ed version of the 1989 cinematic classic The Return of Swamp Thing, now currently available here. As part of my Kickstartering package, I received the following enamel pin:

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Brook (the same one who turned me on to this piece of Nancy art I bought, as well as this “Nobody Loves the Hulk” record) came back from a trip to Georgia, where he visited the Graveface Museum. While there, he picked up for me…a Return of Swamp Thing enamel pin:

Both clearly inspired by the film’s classy and sedate movie posters:

…of which that’s one, and you can see others here (where you can see which posters provided inspiration for which pin). Do I have a Return of Swamp Thing poster? You bet! Do I have the one that has the words “Sheer Nightgowns!” in a balloon burst? I’m afraid so.

And is that all the new Swamp Thing stuff your pal Mike has in his hands? Why no, of course not, thanks to my little envelope-stuffing bull pal, Bully, who mailed me this sticker designed by comics superstar Kyle Starks:

The real mystery here, of course, is how did Bully hold the pen with his little hooves when addressing the letter? Anyway, a big thanks to Bully for this surprise gift!

AND WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Longtime pals Matt and Chris have reached episode #666 of their longrunning podcast War Rocket Ajax! To celebrate this most diabolically evil of achievements, the Bits Boys called for contributions to their regular “Thursday Night Raw” segment revolving around Hell, demons, and all sorts of other deviltry. For those unfamiliar, this segment seeks to find and rank the “rawest” moments in comics.

I had an entry ready to submit for a while now, but never got around to it…but this seemed like the opportune time given the theme. My entry, of course, being from Swamp Thing Annual #2 (1985) by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and John Totleben, in which Swamp Thing, having journeyed to Hell to rescue Abby, encounters his old nemesis Arcane:

Perhaps…too raw? What do Matt & Chris think of my submission? Other than probably being glad I didn’t make another Frank Miller’s The Spirit joke? You’ll have to listen to find out!

(Also, for the benefit of the boys who appear to have forgotten…I have been a sponsor of the show! Granted, it’s been five years…probably about time to do so again!)

The laziest way to start the next year of comics blogging.

§ December 8th, 2023 § Filed under how the sausage is made, pal plugging § 10 Comments

Thanks, gang, for the positive response to my 20th anniversary post, both here and elsewhere. And thanks to most of you for not making fun of my appearance in the Youtube video, Andrew. Ah, just kidding with ya, I knew my face was goofy when I took it.

But anyhoo, I was going to dive back into the 1990s comics thing, and I promise I’ll get back to the 1980s comics thing next week, but I thought I’d respond to a couple of recent comments before they’re lost to the mists of blogging time.

First, Donald G mentions

“May you be here for many more and not disappear like so many others.”

I’ve talked about this before, but it’s likely been, oh, a decade or more, so it probably won’t hurt to address it again. Barring accident or sudden health issues or something, like a big cartoony piano being hauled up the side of a building suddenly snaps its rope and it comes crashing down, accordionizing me beneath it, I promise if it comes time to shut off the lights here, I will let you know. I won’t leave y’all hanging.

I’ve seen a lot of blogs over the years where the last post reads something like “sorry, been busy, will post again soon!” and the entry is marked like five or six years before the current date. It was prevalent enough to where when I when post something like “sorry gang, no post today, will be back later” I’d add something like “no really, I’m coming back, I’m not like those other blogs.”

I used to post every day, because I read something once long ago that you should post every day to maintain your readership, get people used to the idea that Regular Content would appear on your site. Well, maybe doing that in the early years helped build an audience, but now I’m on a more…sporadic schedule (usually Mon-Wed-Fri, but not always) and that doesn’t seem to have hurt anything. I mean, someday the schedule may get even looser…once a week, three times a month, something like that, but don’t worry, I don’t plan to scale it back that far anytime soon.

BUT…scaling it back is likely inevitable. As long as I’m in the comics business, I plan on keeping this site going (so if you want this place to continue, the obvious solution is sending lots of money to my store). But it may be as free time decreases, or the simple desire to post as much wanes, new content here will diminish. I can’t see ever not wanting to talk about comics, so the site staying open so I can continue to pontificate at excruciating length at least once in a while.

Like I said, that’s a long, long way off before I do anything like that, at least three or four months, so don’t worry about it. One of the ultimate goals for this site is to create an index page, with links to specific posts or categories of posts, so that even when I decide to stop the blog or slow it to a crawl, it can remain a more easily-searchable resource. I used to have in the site’s sidebar links to posts of note…it would be sort of like that, only perhaps a little more comprehensive.

One thing I won’t being doing if/when I bring the site to an end is “Scorched Earth.” This was a post I thought about doing very early on, before I realized this site was going to become a lifelong task. It would be the final entry here, where I stopped being polite and started getting real, just laying into the people who annoyed me, crushing my enemies, speak truth to power, etc.

But if I’ve changed at all in the last couple of decades, it’s that I’ve mellowed out a bit. I don’t get quite as worked up over the whole “Someone Is Wrong on The Internet!” thing as I used to, mostly just shaking my head at the absurdity of it all. Besides, I’ve outlived most of my enemies, at least here on the Information Superhighway, so the burning need to do a Scorched Earth post has diminished over the years. …Wait, I just thought of that one guy. OOOOH I hate that guy. NEVER MIND, SCORCHED EARTH IS BACK ON.

The TOO LONG, DIDN’T READ version: I’ll tell you when I’m stopping the blog. Unless I’m hit by a train or something, in which case someone else can tell you.

• • •

Here’s a quickie link to something amusing you folks might like. I know I did! Matthew Murray gives us the mini-comic Juchebert for free, free, free, in which Dilbert strips are mashed up with North Korean propaganda slogans. Very strange and amusing, and you can download it your own self here.

• • •

Lastly, customer Sean asks, among other things, if I’d rank the various Swamp Thing runs. Well, I did, a while back, in these two posts: 1 2. It’s been nearly seven years, probably pointing folks to them again wouldn’t hurt. Anyway, this is the sort of thing a big ol’ index page would come in handy for.

• • •

Thanks for reading, pals, and it’s back to Business as Usual Monday!

You don’t need to reference the Flash Gordon movie in the comments, I understand that you’ve seen it.

§ November 1st, 2023 § Filed under newspaper strips, pal plugging, sir-links-a-lot § 24 Comments

When you weren’t looking, someone took the moribund Flash Gordon newspaper strip, in reruns for decades, and revived it into something awesome. Dan Schkade started on the strip a couple of weeks ago, and has really been kicking butt and taking names. Fast-paced, beautifully illustrated, wittily dialogued, it’s a solid demonstration that just because something’s been around forever and left to basically rot, it doesn’t mean someone can’t come along and apply a little elbow grease and get things working again. It’s a great strip, and I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier as the first couple of installments are behind a paywall now, but you can catch on to what’s going on easily enough.

Amusingly in the comments now and again are a tiny handful of people upset that Flash Gordon is suddenly new and interesting, wishing for the return of artists who have done them the disfavor of no longer being alive. Anyway, you have to kind of admire the commitment of the same four or five people who turn up at that site every day to click the “ANGRY” response button for each strip. But frankly, all things considered, they should be grateful anyone’s even bothering to maintain the comic at all.

• • •

Andrew Farago has written an excellent obituary for the late and, needless to say, great Keith Giffen for The Comics Journal. He rightly lists the accolades, while not ignoring one of the more…unfortunate periods of his career (to which I just barely alluded in my own barely-adequate remembrance).

So check out Andrew’s coverage of everything Giffen did for the comics industry over the last few decades. His influence is probably greater than you realize. Or even I realized…even though I read most of the stuff he worked on for the last thirty years as it was coming out, seeing it all assembled and quantified as to its importance to this medium (and its expansion into film) was a real eye-opener. Giffen was a giant, even if we didn’t always understand just how tall he was.

Get yourself Jupitered.

§ July 24th, 2023 § Filed under indies, pal plugging, this week's comics § 2 Comments

It’s here, it’s here, in my hot little hands direct from Jason Sandberg himself, as predicted by prophecy, the new Jupiter #1:

Jupiter was a black and white indie publisher too briefly in the 1990s, and I discussed that run here. Then in 2018 Jason put up a digital compilation of the best of Jupiter. And now, here we are, with a brand new color comic featuring his weird and wonderful cartooning.

Now, ever since I wrote that first blog post about Jupiter way back when, Jason and I have been online pals, chatting regularly, me hopefully being encouraging about his work, and he sending me the occasional goodie in the mail (like when he sent a stack of mini-comics he did for me to give away on Free Comic Book Day).

This time, he made sure I had plenty of the new Jupiter on hand, along with a few extra bits of business just for me.

First, he sent me a signed copy. That was nice!

Then there were the membership/fan club cards:

And of course, the official Jupiter coin:

Then, inexplicably, or perhaps entirely explicably, this WildC.A.T.s promo trading card:

He also sent me a personal note, but that’s personal, like I said. MIND YOUR OWN BEESWAX

Last but not least, yours truly gets not one, but two mentions within this mind-shattering publication, including a plug for the very site you’re theoretically reading right now:

…as well as for the store I reportedly own:

“Drop?” “Drop in?” “DROP IT, PUNK?” “Dropout Boogie by Captain Beefheart?” You’ll have to buy the comic, or surreptitiously sneak a peek in the shop, to see the whole pulse-pounding prose Jason attached to mentions of ME ME ME.

Anyway, there it is. YEARS IN THE MAKING! I’m glad Jason’s funding campaigns were a success, and that hopefully more people will get exposed to his wonderful cartooning.

I think you can still order it from that Indiegogo link? I’m not sure. But while supplies last, you can order them from me! Tell me I sent you!

Giving you the kind of book you want.

§ June 16th, 2023 § Filed under pal plugging, swamp thing § 5 Comments

At long last…Official Pal of the Site Rich Handley (of “In The Special Features on Planet of the Apes DVDs” fame) has finished his comprehensive overview of pre-Flashpoint Swamp Thing and will be coming to us in book form.

Born on the Bayou: A Pre-Flashpoint Chronology of Swamp Thing and Hellblazer (or BOTBAPFCOSTAH for short) will be shambling its way out of the marsh this September. Rich sent me an advance copy of the manuscript, and I can guarantee, if it’s not in this book, it’s not Swamp Thing or John Constantine-related. It has a foreword by famed Swamp Thing artist (and my Close Personal Friend) Steve Bissette! And I hear tell that I personally may be referenced more than a few times in the book itself! Just look in the index for “Swamp Thing, Best Friend of…” and there I’ll be.

But seriously, it’s a great book, a teeming repository of Swamp Thing knowledge you’ll lose yourself in. Check it out this fall, and tell them…well, don’t tell them Mike sent you, that’d be weird. Just tell ’em “gimme that swamp book, I gots to start readin’!”

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 orimo-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.

Don’t be a dupe, get Jupe…iter.

§ March 31st, 2023 § Filed under indies, pal plugging § 23 Comments

Gird whatever needs girding, as Jason Sandberg is bringing new Jupiter print comics to you via Indiegogo! The campaign is already fully funded, but you still have nearly a month to get in there and order some great funnybookin’ for your own home or office. Lots of swell add-ons to be had as well! I’ve been a longtime fan of Jupiter and pal of Jason, and this work gets my highest recommendation!

I’ve written about the original late-1990s print version of Jupiter here, though I don’t think the Pelasgus feature is continuing. Maybe if we all demand a Pelasgus graphic novel….

You can hear Jason talk about his comic and the Indiegogo campaign on the Longbox Heroes podcast with Todd and Joe. I know the interview isn’t noted in the description but it’s there, I promise! I’m listening to the interview in episode #651 again right now. And at one point the three of them start talking about my favorite topic — me! — so definitely worth a listen.

• • •

Okay, to continue the 1980s indies talk…yes, I’ll get back to some of your older comments, but let me react to a couple newer ones that aren’t…parody songs? Is there something in the water? What’s going on with you nuts.

Customer Sean asked about maybe including Marvel’s Epic imprint or Dark Horse into my indie comic rankings. Well, Epic might be okay, even though it’s not really an “indie” in the sense we mean it here, and Dark Horse is still an ongoing concern and I was trying to stick to companies that are defunct, or at least no longer the same operations they were back in the ’80s. I think both the Comico and the First Comics brands returned within the last few years, but I’m not sure of their current statuses.

It’s funny…this puts me in mind of a long-ago article in The Comics Journal #98 (May 1985) by Jan Strnad, “The Alternative Comics Cadaver Derby.”

Following the demise of publishers Capital Comics and Pacific Comics, Strnad wondered who would be the next company/cpmpanies to fall, and thus lists several then-extant publishers and lays the odds on who would “win” by dying off first.

The general premise of the commentary is that the closer to being like Marvel Comics they were, the more likely they would “lose” the derby by surviving. And conversely, the higher quality of the material they publish, the more likely they were to “win.” A bit cynical, a bit smartass-y, a bit…well, right, kind of.

About three quarters of the companies listed are still around…including the Journal’s publisher Fantagraphics, which has managed to stick around despite publishing good comics.

Anyway, was reminded of that article, and wondered a bit what a modern version of that would be like — NOTE: NOT INVITING GUESSES AS TO WHAT CURRENT PUBLISHERS WILL GO OUT OF BUSINESS. I’m just curious what new factors would go into deciding who might live/who might die. Obviously the companies with the most variant covers and the highest ratio of CGC-slabbed investibility would be the big “losers” of that derby now.

Fine sarcasm is a lost art.

Sean also mentions looking back at the black and white boom, and I’ve said before I was only on the retail side of things for the tail end of that era. Mostly I was a wanderer through the wreckage, observing the boxes of unsold comics, the countless Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Dark Knight Returns parodies that came and went unsold, the b&w publishers slowly petering out or pivoting to color, the poor bastard at that one convention who had a longbox full of nothing but Shadow of the Groundhog.

Thankfully, my former boss, who did ride out that era, avoided overordering and getting stuck with the terrible comics cranked out to take advantage of the boom. But I read a lot about it as it was happening, saw it on the shelves (not to as great extent at my soon-to-be place of employment, but certainly saw it elsewhere), so I imagine I could say something about it. I mean, I suppose I just did. I also wrote about Solson Comics last year, so I’ve at least served part of my sentence.

But that’s enough for now. See you all next week. And ease up on the song parodies in the comments, geez louise.

An impending beginning and an unfortunate ending.

§ March 15th, 2023 § Filed under doom patrol, pal plugging § 4 Comments

I’ll be back to “1980s Indie Talk” in short order, but first I wanted to note a couple of things:

First, old internet pal Matt D. Wilson (whose melodious voice you hear every week on War Rocket Ajax) is raising funds to publish a new comic, Imposter Syndicate, via Zoop. Matt’s a good guy, the comic sounds interesting, the art by Rodrigo Vargas looks great, and I’ve already thrown in my support by pledging for the retailer multi-copy bundle!

• • •

Second, I am sorry to relate that writer Rachel Pollack is reportedly near the end of her life, and as a result folks are talking a lot about her tenure writing Doom Patrol. She was put in the presumably thankless position of following Grant Morrison on the title, and at the time I didn’t quite warm to her work right away, though certain individual issues (the Codpiece!) were a hoot. However, my plan had been to give her run a reconsideration, as I’ve been in the process of reorganizing my collection at home and have set aside my Doom Patrols as a whole for perusal.

However, I hope people don’t forget the absolutely wild mini-series she wrote for DC’s short-lived Helix imprint, Time Breakers.

It’s an imaginative time travel adventure, and it’s a shame we didn’t get more than just this. Well worth seeking out, though it may be a little hard to find now. It’s not on DC’s digital app, so hunt through those back issue bins and bargain boxes, folks! I can’t even remember if there was a trade paperback for this. But find her comics if you can.

DC recently released an omnibus edition of Pollack’s Doom Patrol, so at least that should be easy to find.

Anyway, I’m sorry to hear Pollack is about to leave us…I hope she’s still capable of knowing about all the outpouring of love and appreciation for the work she’s done.

A special big stuffed thanks to Bully the Little Substitute Bull…

§ June 13th, 2022 § Filed under Bully, pal plugging § 2 Comments

…for filling in for me last week when I had health stuff, family stuff, all kinds of stuff keeping me from my regular blogging shenanigans.

I apologize in advance to anyone expecting more Bully and only getting me here. I’m not quite as little or bull-ish, though I am a bit on the stuffed side, but I hope you folks will stick around as I go through the usual nonsense I’ve been delivering here for over 18 years now.

If you want to keep up with Bully’s happy trails throughout the internet, you can visit his long-running website Comics Oughta Be Fun! as well as his equally fun Twitter feed.

Thanks Bully, and always remember:

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