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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.

Remember when comics bloggers were all concerned about “snark?”

§ April 22nd, 2019 § Filed under dc comics, publishing § 5 Comments

Hiya pals! I’m still recovering from my recent eyeball bugaboos, so please be patient as I slowly get the hamster-wheels running on the ol’ Progressive Ruin website again. In case you missed it, I did have a couple of smaller posts over the last few days, and I think that may be par for the course for a little while as my vision continues to defog. So you’re not rid of me just yet.

One thing I wanted to post about last week is the fact that the new DC solicitations include the beginning of the direct market-available reprintings of the new content from the Walmart-exclusive 100-page giants. My thought was that they were probably going to collect those stories into trade paperbacks, but nope, they’re going for periodicals, each containing two installments from the giants. $4.99 cover-priced periodicals, natch, but What Can You Do? I’m sure the trade will follow eventually.

The Superman one (cover pictured here in the post somewhere) is titled Superman: Up in The Sky, and the Batman one is Batman Universe. I particularly like the title of the Superman book, and quite frankly I’m surprised it hasn’t been used yet. Or maybe it has, I don’t know, there are lots of Superman comics. Batman Universe is a pretty good title, too. Hopefully the eventual collection of the Swamp Thing stories from the Walmart giants will be called…what? Swamp Thing: Out of the Muck? Swamp Thing: Born on the Bayou? Swamp Thing: Gotta Defuse It Before? …I bet they go wtih Roots of the Swamp Thing. Y’know, again.

The interesting thing about this…when I made a comment about this on the Twitters, about how nice it was to be able to get these stories since no local Walmarts carried these comics, well, the following happened:


THEIR EYES ARE EVERYWHERE. Though I notice they didn’t comment on my rather cynical observation from a couple of years prior. …Yeah, that’s a tad snarky. Not as snarky as this, but still.

Okay, enough of these shenangians…time to return my eyes to th evault. I’ll be back midweek. Thanks for sticking around and I’ll see — well, “see” — you then.

I think “The Violence and the Vulgarity” was my prom theme.

§ October 22nd, 2018 § Filed under batman, publishing, question time, retailing § 3 Comments

I’ll get back to the topic of extended breaks in ongoing series (1 and 2) shortly, but I wanted to get a couple more questions ahead if at all possible:

William opens the gate to the following:

“Let’s talk about that evergreen topic, The Bat Penis.

“Maybe I’m cynical, but it seems like the image was provided just to garner controversy (and sales) for that issue. The image does not play into the plot, and is basically superfluous. It’s only there to either satisfy the kinks of the creators or stir up word of mouth and demand, which if it was the latter, it did magnificently.

“My question is this. I know you touched on this briefly in your post on the subject, but, as a retailer, do you feel that DC left you out to dry in this case. I am old enough to remember the Friendly Frank’s raid when it was current events, and while a lot of things changed since then, a lot of things stayed the same. I know the book was advertised as mature readers from the get go, but it seems DC didn’t let retailers in on just how ‘mature’ the book really was. And there is a difference between ‘expletive-laden’ mature readers and ‘Let’s look at the Batwang’ mature readers, and parent would be far more upset if the latter landed in their kids hands.

“I’m just wondering if you wish DC was more upfront about what the mature content was beforehand or if it didn’t really make a difference. I’m not a censorship guy, but an informed retailer can better avoid any potential legal entanglements that might cause. I’m curious on your opinion on the matter.”

So I’ve been watching that new Titans series on the DC Universe streaming channel, and…well, if you’ve been following my Twitterings, you’ve probably seen a few of my comments on the show. Overall, I do like it, but it does inspire a bit of eyerolling when they lay on the violence and the vulgarity. Especially in that one scene from the premiere episoide, the one that made it into the pilot, with Robin, um, expressing his opinion about his former crime-fighting partner. What I tweeted was

“Yes, in context Robin’s ‘F Batman’ line is totally gratuitous and tacked on as the buzz-creating ‘everyone will talk about this’ free advertising moment it was meant to be.”

Okay, maybe when they were writing this scene, they were simply intent on making this as “adult” and “gritty” as possible, and that meant the occasional f-bomb…but they still put that scene into the trailer, knowing full well that would engender some controversy and get mouths yappin’ and fingers typin’ about this new TV show.

That I think was an intentional usage of unexpected “mature” content to garner attention. I honestly don’t think Full-Frontal Bruce in Batman: Damned was the same situation. I don’t know the specific reasons why they decided to include that image (if the creators were interviewed about that topic, I haven’t seen it) but my guess is that they took this new “mature readers” “almost anything goes” imprint at DC to heart and, well, went for it. I could see ’em saying “mature imprint, huh? Let’s see if THIS gets past the editor” and then a while later: “oh dang it did.”

I don’t think I was blindsided by the image…I knew it was a mature readers title, and granted, the image itself it relatively minor…silhouetted, almost easy to miss, not like other popular comic book penises like Watchmen‘s Doctor Manhattan. His Lower Manhattan just popped up (heh) in DC’s Big Event Series Doomsday Clock, and seems more like a thing (ahem) than Batman’s deal. I think exposed wedding tackles fit well within the subject matter covered by the “mature readers” label. Now if there were explicit close-up images of Tab A being inserted into Slot B, that’d be a different story…one likely published by Avatar or Boundless.

I don’t think I felt legal problems were potentially a threat here…I mean, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund still exists for a reason, but the naughty Batman comic probably received more jokes about it on late night talk shows than actual complaints from concerned citizens. Raina Telgemeier’s publisher probably receives more letters from uptight parents about her graphic novels per week than the whole of DC does all year. Superheroes are “mainstreamed” now, and I think enough people have been exposed to tie-in media where Batman says “shit” or where Deadpool gets, um, rogered roundly, or where Robin says “fuck Batman” that the idea of an adult-oriented comic book isn’t quite the foreign idea it once was. I’m not saying problems wouldn’t, or don’t, happen, just that Batman: Damned probably wasn’t going to open those particular floodgates.

Not that I shouldn’t be careful, of course. Keep the Bondage Fairies off he kids rack an’ all that.

File under “death, beaten to.”

§ October 17th, 2018 § Filed under publishing, question time § 16 Comments

Following up on the last post, where I answered Paul’s question about “longest publication gap” in a series, I feel like I may have confused the issue a bit. So let’s clarify:

THE PRODUCTION DELAY: what I think Paul was specifically referring to, where an ongoing series, which is intended to continue or complete, experiences a huge unintended delay between issues. Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk, with its years-long pause between issues, is my go-to example of this, though there are plenty of others (like Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do, or Camelot 3000, or anything in the Dark Knight Returns ongoing saga).

THE RETURN FROM THE GRAVE: where a series totally ends, and is not intended to continue at the time…but the title is later revived and continues the numbering. Seems like such a foreign idea now, where any given comic book series seems to have a new #1 every few months or so, but there was a time when the Golden Age Flash series would end at #104, and a few years later, after the introduction of the Silver Age Flash, said series would be resurrected beginning with issue #105. Those “Blackest Night” one-shots which purported to be, like, issue #48 of the canceled Power of the Shazam series and whatnot, would fit in here, as well as those new issues of long-canceled Marvel titles (like Power Pack #63). Ghost Rider #94 would probably fit here, too, since as far as anyone was concerned at the time, #93 was the end of that series, and it wasn’t like there was an editor impatiently waiting nine years for script pages to come in so they could wrap the title.

THE INTENDED SPORADIC RELEASE: where there are extended gaps between issues, but more from design than because of any particular delays in production. I’m pretty sure something like Zap Comix would go here, where it was just released as the participants came together to produce it. (Unless Zap was intended to be monthly, in which case hoo boy did they blow it.)

There are other permutations and variations, but I think those are the big divisions, there. The recent Miracleman reprints probably span a couple of these categories, and some of the longrunning Disney comics which nobody thought would go away for long but definitely stopped publishing at times ’til a new publisher put ’em out again. but I think I’ve created enough headaches splitting these funnybook hairs like this.

Separate from all that are the aborted series, where an issue or three came out and then never continued. I mean, sure, this happens all the time, but it’s relatively unusual from Marvel and DC. Daredevil: The Target is one fairly high profile series that got out one issue and then vanished, never to be seen again except when we dug out our unsold copies of that first issue to return them to the distributor for credit. Or something like Sonic Distruptors, which I liked, but stopped at 7 out of the intended 12 issue run.

But I think what we’re specifically talking about is the first category: the comic that did eventually complete in the format and numbering in which it was intended, just with excessive pauses/delays in the release schedule, and never officially intended to be over and done with. Like Ronin with a much delayed final issue.

That’s the spirit in which I took the question, and sorry if I confused the topic initially. You all had interesting (and some extreme) examples of extended gaps in comic series publication, mostly of the resurrected title kind, which would probably be an all new post just by itself! DON’T TEMPT ME

So, with all that in mind…what’s the record production delay in a comic that did eventually publish an issue after said delay? And again, not meaning a revived title that picks up the numbering, but rather has everyone involved going “holy crap, is this book late.” Excluding Ghost Rider #93/#94 for reasons noted above, would that Spider-Man/Black Cat mini, with 3 1/2 years between issues, be in the top spot?

Let the answering of questions begin!

§ October 15th, 2018 § Filed under publishing, question time § 12 Comments

Here’s Paul, filling my comment section with this, the first question from this post I’m addressing:

“What is the current winner in the “Longest Delayed Issue” contest? Completion of a mini-series, etc. Please feel free to discourse on this title as much as you wish:”

…which he follows with a mention of the never-released follow-up to the as-yet-unfinished comics classic All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder by Frank “The Spirit” Miller and Jim “Put a Collar on Everybody” Lee.

Now, I’d meant to bring home my copy of the Überstraße comical book pricing guide for research purposes, but dumb ol’ me left it sitting on the front counter at work, so what’cha gonna do. So, I’m going to depend on online databases like the Grand Comics Database for my info here.

For the purposes of argument, let’s just consider series that did have a follow-up issue after an extended pause in publication (which would leave out something like that All Star Batman follow-up, which is more theoretical at this point anyway, not to mention technically being a separate mini-series aside from the original).

The first thing that comes to mind is of course Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk, a six part mini-series that had a three-year gap right in the middle there. That’s one of the more obnoxious examples of this sort of thing.

However, there’s an even longer gap from another Marvel title: the 1990s Ghost Rider series, which ended at #93 in 1998 even though an issue #94 had been intended to wrap up the series, sales (and orders!) just didn’t warrant the expense to publish it! Eventually, Marvel did publish #94 as an extra-sized special in 2007, 9 years later, which included a reprint of #93 as well as the heretofore unpublished #94, finally bringing closure to that run.

Then I suppose there’s the legendary underground comic Zap Comix, which published #15 of its run in 2005, and #16 (the final issue, supposedly) in 2016. I mean, this is slightly different from the other examples, in that its not a serialized story that was suddenly interrupted, keeping everyone in suspense until the shocking conclusion was released. …I mean, I suppose once you start looking into undergrounds, there may be all kinds of long publication gaps between issues like this. That’s a whole ‘nother ball of research.

Then there are circumstances like this one, where a Buck Rogers #1 was released in 1964, and then 15 years later, in 1979, when the title was revived due to the TV series, the comic continued with an issue #2. I feel for the Buck Rogers fan who picked up #2 on the stands and lamented that he just missed the first issue, surely containing a prequel to the television show.

I guess I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Miracleman, which doesn’t quite fit the criteria I established above in that it hasn’t yet had the follow-up to its final issue in 1993, and the continuation would have had a newly numbered series anyway. But Marvel came close, coming within a couple of issues in its recent reprint series to finally getting to the promised new material. Had that come out when expected, that would have been a 23 year gap. And though it wouldn’t have had “#25” on the cover, it would have been “The Silver Age” Part 3, so maybe we can consider that the numbering system that was so cruelly interrupted. It’s all a moot point anyway, since those new Miracleman stories don’t appear to be arriving anytime soon, and frankly I’m surprised Marvel hasn’t thrown some version of Marvelman into the Avengers or whatever, and try to recoup whatever money and resources they put into acquiring the character.

Oh, and I just remembered Amazing Fantasy, which had a somewhat famous issue #15 in 1962, followed by #16, #17 and #18 in 1995. Plus, there were all those Blackest Night books that purported to be the next issue after each series’ last issue (like Atom and Hawkman, ending with #45 in 1968, getting a new one-shot event tie-in special #46 in 2010). I’m not sure I’d count these specific cases as “interrupted series runs” as clearly these next issues weren’t part of the plan when the original series were canned.

Well, that’s certainly a lot of typing. Paul, these are the best examples I can think of off the top of my head. I haven’t yet looked into the Disney conics, as I’m pretty sure here there are some lengthy publication gaps, particularly in the 1970s. Admittedly I got a bit off track near the end there, so if anyone can think of any series with lengthy publication gaps that retain their actual numbering, and clearly were meant to continue on but got horribly delayed (as opposed to my examples where a series definitely had its ending, but then had follow-up issues that continued the numbering), just let me know.

Good thing there wasn’t a Swamp Thing one, else I’d be traveling across the country looking for it.

§ July 16th, 2018 § Filed under dc comics, publishing, retailing § 8 Comments

(NOTE: I’ve been told that these aren’t actually “digest-sized,” which for some reason I got into my head these actually were, similar to the ’80s DC digests. This is why I wanted a copy to look at for myself! Also, I’ve heard from various sources that they’re racked “with the Pokemon and Magic cards near the registers,” and, um, my local Walmarts don’t appear to have those either, unless I’m really missing that particular series of shelves.)

(NOTE TO MY NOTE: So, uh, just ignore every time I call these things “digests,” okay? Thanks!)

So I’ve been trying to track down copies of those Walmart-exclusive DC digests, mostly to have just at least one sample copy I can look at and discuss here on the site, before passing it on to a niece or nephew. Like, I wanted to know the actual dimensions of the thing, its readability at that size (likely extra problematic for me, Mr. Gots Eye Troubles), the paper quality, the story selection, etc. And as it turns out…no dice at two of the Walmarts in my immediate area. Not that I found the DC Digest display bereft of copies, sitting on a shelf somewhere…I couldn’t find any sign that there were any on display at all.

Now, given the, um, state of said local Walmarts, “not finding something” could be said to be the default result of any product search, and it could very well be that they were there, somewhere, diplayed in plain view in a disused lavatory with a sign that read “BEWARE OF THE LEOPARD” Douglas Adams-style, but I checked all the usual spots and didn’t find a thing. So, let us hope that this was a case of the comics finding their target audience (i.e. not me, Elderly Comics Guy) and the empty displays were removed to make room for economy-sized tins of mixed nuts, and not, as was suggested by some Twitter pals, disappeared into the hands of speculators, a possibility I honestly hadn’t considered but…well, yeah, that could’ve happened.

I mean, it’s just as well…these digests are not for me, but to get kids to try out comics. Despite my near-despotic command over comic sales in my area (via my foreboding Camarillo headquarters at Sterling Silver Comics) I realized not every young’un will come through my doors to discover the sublime delights of Swamp Thing and…well, pretty much just that, but kids like comics and if you get them into their hands, they more often than not will devour them. I mean, read them, but get ’em young enough they may very well eat them…it’s just paper, they should be okay. So yes, I’m very much for the idea of getting comics into the hands of new readers via publishing initiatives such as this one. I have zero idea if it’s actually happening around here, since I don’t know if our local Marts of Wals even had ’em, but they’re out there somewhere, presumably getting into young people’s hands and not just being mailed off to Comic Slabbers, Inc. to get graded and traded.

I heard about some comics collectin’ and retailin’ folks getting bent out of shape over these things even existing, for some reason. I mean, yes, there are new stories mixed in with the reprints, but, c’mon, it’s not like DC is going to sit on that Brian Michael Bendis Batman story…that’ll be a trade or a mini-series or something down the line. Or it could just be “there’s something out there I can’t have!” — how dare there be a Collectible Issue #1 of Something we can’t order through our shops. (‘Course, if it were, then we’d hear “$4.99 for a new 12 page story and a bunch of reprints? BAH!”) I mean, whatever…the good these could do versus…basically no valid argument against, I think. Get kids used to the idea of reading comics…that’s a net gain for the industry as a whole! And it’s not like Walmart’s going to “steal” your customers, since most of those kids weren’t going to your shop anyway, but now, maybe, if they decide they want more comics, maybe they’ll seek you out. You never know. And besides, just given my personal experience seeking them out, it’s not like you’re going to find well-curated permanent comic racks in these shops directly competing with you.

Going back to that DC Comics release, i can see a lot of the actual contents of the initial digest wave right there, and it looks like a pretty solid mix of recent-ish stories. Now, the old ’80s DC Comics digest fan in me was kinda sorta hoping for some Silver Age-y or even Bronze Age-ish reprints, but I realize those may come across as a little old fashioned. But man, at the very least I hope they drop some Neal Adams Batman stories into some of these digests, just to blow some kids’ minds. Here’s that Shirtless Batman fighting Ra’s al Ghul you’ve been waiting all six years of your life to read, Little Billy!

Anyway, these digests are fine in theory (assuming others have better luck than me finding them). If it gets some kids to realize that, oh, hey, these just aren’t movie characters, they came from somewhere…good. I hope whoever got their hands on these reads the hell out of them, leaving it with tattered covers and bent pages and happily awaiting even more.

Let me just end this on saying that this pic of an empty digest display pocket (courtesy Twitter pal Joe) leaves me in deep appreciation of some designer’s dark sense of humor, considering the source of the image:

\
“For all my super-speed I wasn’t (choke) fast enough!” …Me neither, Superman — me neither.

“Realistically.”

§ July 11th, 2018 § Filed under batman, publishing § 9 Comments

In response to my not-at-all-about-Batman-#50 post from the other day, I’ve had a few folks here and there note that a “these characters get married!” comics event isn’t really the same as a “this character dies!” event, and, well, yeah, sure. There’s more of an implied permanence, I think, with marriage in comics, versus a death in a comic basically having the “well, how will our hero get out of this one?” question implied. (Though maybe that question is implied in the former situation as well…joking, I’m joking.)

However, to clarify my thoughts on the matter…I don’t think the nature of the event itself matters so much as the fact a specific event was specifically marketed and then not delivered. It’s kind of a moot point now, I suppose, as the initial sales window for Batman #50 has come and gone, and hopefully retailers managed to sell the majority of their copies that they almost certainly ordered large-ish numbers on. I mean, yes, realistically, Batman and Catwoman shouldn’t get married, such a major change to iconic characters may be too much…but then again, Superman and Lois Lane are married. And have a kid. And for that matter, Batman has a child as well. Those are all fairly significant changes to the status quo, so yet another marriage didn’t seem entirely out of the question. And besides, all these changes could be swept away in the next series of relaunches/reboots when everyone gets tired of dealing with them.

Like I said, no beef with the story itself, or the tie-in “Prelude to the Wedding” issues and whatnot. But the “invitation” postcards and retailers being encouraged to do in-store celebrations…that’s the sort of thing that seemingly should only be occurring with an event that’s actually happening, not “FAKE-OUT! Nothing’s changed!”

It reminds me in a little way of the Fantastic Four issue where it was promoted as a big deal character death (complete with putting the issue in a black polybag deliberately reminiscent of the “Death of Superman” issue) and it was reasonably clear within the story itself that there wasn’t really any death happening. I wrote about it way back when, and yeah, a character goes missing, and the rest of the team is bummed and thinking he’s dead, but…it just felt like marketing overhyping a minor plot line that would get resolved in short order. I mean, most character death stories are like that, I guess, but this one in particular. Under normal circumstances that issue would have been follwed by the next one emblazoned “THE SEARTH FOR THE HUMAN TORCH!” and then we’d have that goin’ on for four or five issues.

So that’s that. I know a lot of you agree with me that the Batman “event” build-up was misleading, which I appreciate. Everything sold great anyway, so yeah yeah, I know, what are you complaining about, Mike? I just hope it doesn’t encourage more fake-outs: “hey, if we just TELL them that Iron Man is going to lose a leg in isue #12 and then never actually do it…they’re still gonna buy it!”

Okay, no Batman marriage stuff in the next post…I mostly promise!

Someone remind me to make an MST3K category for my site.

§ June 8th, 2018 § Filed under publishing, television § 3 Comments

Okay, I was planning on this being a two-post week, but I find myself having to report on the only big comic news to come out in the last few days. I am, of course, talking about the reveal of the covers for the first issue of Dark Horse’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 series.

The regular cover, by Todd Nauck, which has a real Mad Magazine vibe to it:

The variant, by regular contributor to the MST3K box sets Steve Vance, featuring Tom Servo’s very disturbing man-hands:

I have no idea what ratio that variant will be available in…1 in 10? 1 in 100? 1 in 1000? Well, I hope my customers are ready for 1,000 copies of the MST3K comic, because I’m gonna need both versions. Anyway, read more about it at this article here.

As I assumed back in ye olden tymes, the comics will indeed be the Satellite of Love crew riffing over old comics (as was the original plan waaaaay back even farther when Acclaim Comics intended to do their own MST funnybooks). I’ve been waiting for a MST3K comic book for a very long time, and I’m very glad it’s almost here.

Oh, and I guess there’s some big to-do about Vertigo this week as well. I mean, in much less important news.

Any reason at all to talk about Land of the Lost.

§ April 11th, 2018 § Filed under publishing § 7 Comments

So on the Twitters the other day I lamented the fact that there never has been a comic book based on the classic ’70s Saturday morning show Land of the Lost. I did mention that a Land of the Lost comic was at one point solicited in the Diamond Previews catalog in April 2009, featuring this solicitation text:

“Rick Marshall, his son Will, and younger daughter Holly are trapped in an alien world inhabited by dinosaurs, monkey-people called Pakuni, and aggressive, humanoid/lizard creatures called Sleestak. The family’s struggle to survive and find a way back to their own world continues in this comic book series. Land of the Lost is also a $100 million budget film starring Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel coming from Universal Studios on June 5th!”

I had mentioned in my Twitter thread that, based on the solicit, I wasn’t sure if the comic would be based on the TV show or the Ferrell vehicle, until it was correctly pointed out that the familial relationship in the TV show and described in the solicit is not present in the film, so it appears the comic would have been based on the original version. I mean, one could hardly blame me for forgetting the details of that mostly execrable movie. Anyway, this was the image accompanying said solicitation:


..so it seemed like it was a safe bet this would have been the TV show version of the concept.

Now, it never did come out…Diamond has it marked as “CANCELLED” in big red letters, and why exactly it was canned I’m not entirely sure. I’ve always assumed it was because the Big Budget Movie whose coattails the comic’s publishers had hoped to ride, based on that solicitation text, turned out to be a bust. Or maybe it was more complex behind-the-scenes licensing shenanigans, or creative issues, or…I haven’t a clue.

But it’s a shame…I’d still love to see a Land of the Lost comic of some kind. The Ferrell movie seems mostly forgotten by now, so a new comic book series wouldn’t have that particular shadow cast over it, I’d think. And there was enough weird world-building elements and hints in at least the first couple of seasons of the TV show that I would love to see some of the original writers for the program participate in this proposed comic book series and maybe put some of those pieces together. Um, y’know, while they’re…uh, still around.

Now to the other thing I wanted to discuss, which was inspired by Twitter pal J.R. Jenks very wisely pointing out “But how would the banjo music translate to the page? That series had great banjo.” Yes indeed it did (and you can look here for all the Land of the Lost banjo discussion you could ever use), and my immediate and somewhat facetious response was “sound chip, like greeting cards.”

And you know what? Why wadn’t there ever a comic book with a sound ship? You open the cover of, say, Justice League International, and there’s Blue Beetle doing the “BWA-HA-HA!” laugh. Or open a Shazam! comic to a crack of thunder. Or…well, there’s plenty of possibilities. Now, as a retailer, I would eventually be driven to murder after listening to these repeatedly play several hours each day, but “practicality” and “the sanity of comic shop owners” rarely enter the discussion when planning gimmicks like these. However, to the best of my knowledge, even during the 1990s cover gimmick heyday, the comic book sound ship threshold was never breached. If someone knows differently, I’d like to hear about it. There are probably production and cost reasons it didn’t happen, I’m sure, but I’m still a little surprised. Plus, those batteries don’t last forever…I’ve got a Star Wars sound-chipped birthday card which plays a very sadly worn-down and depressing rendition of the theme at this point.

I know relatively recently we’ve had the “talking comics” from the current iteration of Valiant, where you’d hold your smartphone in front of a character’s face on the cover, and software internet magic would happen the character would “talk,” but that’s not exactly what I’m talking about.

So basically what I’m asking for here is a new, ongoing Land of the Lost comic which has an embedded sound chip that gives you either banjo music, Grumpy’s roar, or a Sleestak hiss whenever you open the cover. So long as it’s not this terrible, terrible sound from the show that’s always creeped me out.

I’m pretty sure some of the sentences I typed here make sense.

§ March 9th, 2018 § Filed under publishing § 7 Comments

So I’ve been trying to think of a solution to the issue-numbering albatross that’s been hanging around the comic industry’s neck for so long, and surprise, I don’t know any easy fixes that don’t involve everyone who publishes/buys/is otherwise attached to comics just, you know, not worrying about issue numbers. Honestly, I really think the best best, and one that was working at least up until Marvel said “ha ha, never mind, here are more #1s” was just keeping that issue number where it was, based on the number of previous issues published. People were buying Doctor Strange #387 or whatever…like I said, sales were beginning to creep up as consumer confidence rose in the titles they were following having some established (and potentially future) consistency. I mean, over at DC, Action and Detective seem to be doing fine with their issue numbers in the hundreds.

Some points were made in the comments to my last post on the topic. Both Brian and Daniel T bring up what Dark Horse does with their Hellboy-universe books, having an overall series number inside the book, while having, if necessary, “chapter” numbers on the fronts of the book. I went into annoying detail on this very topic almost exactly five years ago discussing this very thing.

I mean…maybe that could work for superhero books, maybe, but that would require a huge change in mindsets regarding how readers approach the titles they follow. We’re too used to there being a regular monthly Batman book, for example…while, with a regular monthly title, switches in storylines and creative teams would in effect make an ongoing feel like a bunch of “mini-series” that just happen to be tied together with a shared numbering system. Actually making them literally different mini-series, with new #1s on the cover of each first chapter, even with a secondary overall numbering inside that ties them all together. The Hellboy/BPRD comics can pull this off, as the comics have a mostly consistent aesthetic/tone with a relatively small circle of creative teams. It’s the nature of superhero comics to change in style pretty significantly with new stories and creators, so a “mini-series” by J. Master Artist might sell a lot better than the follow up “mini” by Hacky McHackerton, causing a distinct change in order numbers and sales figures that might be smoothed out by a more obvious shared-numbering system and a sense that it’s all “of a piece.”

My personal preference would just be picking a numbering system, sticking to it, and don’t kill a series and crank out a new #1 just because, I don’t know, the Beast changed the color of his trunks or something. First issues used to be special, a big event…”here’s a brand new series starring the character YOU demanded!” I’d like to see them that way again. Not to say we still don’t get occasional excitement over some new first issues…the recent batch of new launches from DC is getting a small amount of interest, which is a change from that lack of response that “DC-You” thing got. Anyway, the ultimate solution to all this is likely going to be the transition away from monthlies to trades/graphic novels. Which, of course, will still be numbered so here we go again, but possibly would be more conducive to an environment where the specific order of release is less important than the individual reading experience of each volume.

So let’s meet back here in a decade or two and see how it all shakes out.

• • •

In other news…I love — well, cringe sympathetically at, more accurately — stories about shops that have been stuck with way too many copies of something, particularly from the years of excess during the 1990s. You may recall this tale of the tragic fate of 14 long boxes full of Valiant’s Turok #1. Well, here’s a brief remembrance of the Superman Wedding Special which leaves me thankful that we only had as many left over as we did.

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