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Yes, yes, and the “blonde Latina” thing.

§ June 21st, 2019 § Filed under question time § 13 Comments

Okay, I’m going to tackle another inquiry from the last time I took questions from you folks…but first, I encouragge you to look at the responses to Monday’s entry. Some alternative watchlists for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, incorporating ideas/arcs I didn’t consider, and some discussino of just why Kryptonians weren’t all that into space travel. I know comment sections can be a nightmare on the internet sometimes, but I’m glad my readers here are thoughtful, interesting, and funny. Thanks, pals.

• • •

Dave’s here, man, with this

“I am lately having resurgence of love for work of John Byrne. Re-reading all his old stuff! So I’d be happy to read about what you think of Byrne’s stupendous output. Like what is favorite/least favorite, if you ever met him, anything about John Byrne really (except X-Men).”

Now, John Byrne…that’s definitely a thing. I’ve never met the man, but some of his commentary online that one came across from time to time, specifically from his message board, would strike me as…..well, it would range from “inadvertently funny” to “downright disagreeable.” A lot of it struck me as the words of someone who didn’t much like where the industry is heading or his place in it, and, yeah, sure, I can understsand that, but then he’d gripe about how calling the heroes “Supes” or “Bats” was diminishing to those characters, and…well, look, I really shouldn’t be trying to turn you off there. You clearly enjoy his work, and I enjoyed his work over the years, and in fact wish he would do more comics work.

The last regular gig he had was Photoshopping Star Trek fumetti comics for IDW, but it looks like that’s pretty much over. I often think, in the back of my mind when Marvel and/or DC are looking to relaunch something, “why not bring in Byrne?” I always thought he had a good track record of getting down to the core of a character or concept, and making it work in a fun and accessible way. That’s the whole “back to basics” thing he was known for throughout the ’80s. Could be his style is a little…less contemporary than publishers thing modern readers would like, but maybe a little old-fashioned comic booking wouldn’t be entirely unwelcome nowadays.

I didn’t read everything he did, but I did read a lot. I read his early Doomsday +1 series he did for Charlton (in the Fantagraphics reprints), I was the one guy that bought Lab Rats, I think Next Men still holds up, the New Gods/Jack Kirby’s Fourth World was fun…in fact, any time Byrne was working on Kirby creations, it felt like he was really in his element.

Speaking of which, my all-time favorite work of his is still Fantastic Four. It remains, for me, the definitive version of the book (outside of Lee ‘n’ Kirby, of course). The “back to basics” idea I mentioned above basically came from here. I loved his versions of Doctor Doom and Galactus, and I especially loved his renidtion of Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew, the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing. (It’s because of Byrne that every time I see another artist draw the Thing with a neck, I think “WRONG WRONG WRONG!”) It remains a nostalgic treat for me…scenese from those comics still solidly live on in my head.

The weirdness of Alpha Flight was a close second. Though I often praise the Bill Mantlo/Mike Mignola run following Byrne for its heavy body-horror tone, which is very unusual for a mainstream superhero comic, I think Byrne’s take on a “non-team” team book, where the characters rarely all unify for a single adventure, still made for some compelling reading. Given that the characters weren’t Marvel first-listers, or even second-or-third listers, Byrne seemed to have a bit more leeway with what he could do with them, including the sudden (and seemingly permanent) demise of what seemed to be the primary character. Er, SPOILER, I guess.

And of course one can’t forget the Superman reboot from the mid-1980s. He was one the books for about a year, but he managed to get a lot of material out onto the stands before he moved on. It was definitely a strange feeling to be reading Superman comics at the time with a consistent direction and creative team(s), shorn of all past history. “Back to basics,” once again. And it was this version of the character, this “post-Crisis” Superman that, despite New 52s and Rebirths and Zero Hours and whatnot, still basically exists today. I mean, more or less. You can still sorta follow a thread from Man of Steel #1 to the most recent issue of Superman. It’s a little knotted and tangled and the occasional piece was cut out and the ends spliced together, but the thread is there.

Now, “least favorite” is a little more difficult. I haven’t outright hated anything…there are works where bits and pieces I didn’t care for, but generally nearly all his work has some entertainment value. I suppose there’s that FX series he did back in 2008, but that was over someone else’s script and it mostly was “not memorable” more than “bad.” And I guess maybe that OMAC mini he did…despite his usual affinity for Kirby characters, I wasn’t particularly enthused with this one. Ah well, What Can You Do?

Also, for a time he was doing commission work, and a lot of that was downright beautiful. Seek those pages out to gawk at them, if you can.

So in conclusion…Byrne: so long as I don’t look at what he’s written online, I can still mostly enjoy his comics. There are some bits of his stories that…tend to get picked apart pretty thoroughly online, and deservedly so, but overall, it’s a long career filled with a lot of good work. And maybe someday, he’ll get to add to it.

But don’t skip Howard the Duck.

§ June 17th, 2019 § Filed under question time § 10 Comments

Okay, let’s start dipping into some of those questions you all left me…if you want to join in the fun, or “fun,” feel free to add your own ’til the comments section there shuts down automatically after how ever many weeks I set it for. Look, I can’t remember everything.

Roger Owen Green ties everything together with

“I were to watch all the MU movies in order which one(s) could I skip?”

Hoo boy. That’s a toughie. I mean, if you just want the core “state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe” flicks, you could just watch the Avengers films, since everything either leads into or ties into that. If you are just looking to skip the…well, none of them are particularly bad as such, but certainly some are less essential viewing than others, I guess. But if you’re committing to watching them all anyway, you might as well not skip the second Thor movie, right? What’s two more hours?

I mean, if you’re really pressed for time, skipping the second Thor momvie and the second Iron Man movie would probably not affect your MCU world-building too much. Also, I’d say “skip that second Avengers movie, too” but like I said, that’s kinda part of the backbone of the whole thing. Maybe fast-forward through it.

• • •

Paul Di Filippo falls out of bed with

“How can you account for the virtual extinction of Welsh Rarebit and the lack of dreams derived from the consumption thereof?”

Sir, I would blame the lack of sufficient newspaper space for the funnypages to properly contain the brilliance of Winsor McCay. Imagine this, sequeezed down to three tiny boxes right next to, I don’t know, Marvin. Do they even make Marvin any more? I mean, don’t tell me, I’m not that interested, but then again, strips do exist that can fit their weird genius into limited space. Who knows what McCay could have done?

• • •

ScienceGiant looms over me with

“Has Superman ever brought up Lori Lemaris to Aquaman, or is he all now-I’m-just-somebody-that-you-used-to-know?”

I don’t know that he’s ever specifically mentioned his mermaid friend to the King of the Seas, but I do recall that DC established fairly early on that there were two…Alantises? I don’t know that both their realms were called “Atlantis” specifically (though in the early Silver Age Lori and Aquaman each claimed to be part of the Atlantis home team. But when Marvel started breathing down DC’s neck with their own slightly more consistent shared universe, I think the official DC continuity explanation was that they were both of Atlantis origin, but there was a split of some kind into “mer-people” and “people-people what could breathe underwater.” Pretty sure Peter David’s Atlantis Chronicles covers this, if I recall correctly.

You know, I bet the Wikipedia entry covers this somewhere. Let me look.

[TEMPUS FISH-IT]

Okay, I did find this page which lists a couple of times that Lori met Aquman (and I also forgot about this Justice League of Atlantis thing) so they totally me. And there’s a reference in the Lori Lemaris Wiki entry to the character looking for other lost Atlantean cities in her first post-Crisis appearance, so there’s your textual support for that.

So unfortunately I haven’t read every Lori Lemaris appearacnce, so I don’t know if there is specifically a panel somewhere with Superman bringing her up to Aquaman and asking “so where’s YOUR fishy half?” but I suppose there’s something like that somewhere.

ª ª ª

Chris works the room blue with

“While they always shuffle around the reasons depending on the era, I always wonder why a super smart race like the Kryptonians really whiffed at the whole exploration/colonization of the stars. Has there ever been a satisfactory reason/story as to why DC’s cosmic realm is so fraught with danger, despite space mall cops in every sector?”

I think the main reason is so we don’t have a universe populated with super-Kryptonians. Keeping all down on the farm when the planet exploded establishes the main premise, that Superman is the Last Son of Krypton and we’ll never see any other Kryptonians, ever (except for Supergirl, and the Phantom Zone villains, and Krypto the Superdog…). The in-univesre excuse I seem to recall was that there was some genetic problem in them, that kept them from being able to leave the world’s orbit without dying (which somewho Kal-El was able to avoid)…that may have been in one of Elliot S! Maggin’s novels. I also assumed there was an implied xenophobia in John Byrne’s portral of Krypton in his 1966 Man of Steel mini-series. My guess is that the reasons given for the Kryptonias didn’t split their plenet tend toward “there’s something wrong with them” rather than “the universe is terrible so let’s stay home.”

Okay, had to once again look at a Wiki page (“Hello, and welcome to ‘Mike Rewrites Portions of Wikipedia for His Blog'”) and it brings up “xenophobia” and a genetic inability to leave the planet as well, so I was remembering some of that correctly.

Also, I’d bet after Brainiac showed up and stole Kandor, the Kryptonins were all “NOPE TO SPACE, THANK YOU,” and who could blame them?

• • •

ENOUGH QUESTIONS FOR NOW. More answers in…the future!

Yes, I’m taking questions again.

§ May 27th, 2019 § Filed under question time § 25 Comments


Don’t be like Archie and his pals! I want you to (m)ask me some questions (or suggest a topic for a post) that I will discuss right here on Progressive Ruin Dot RU Dot Gov Backslash Flashindexframe Dot HTML, Optimized for Netscape. Not at all a tactic to cover the fact that I ran out of time for my planned follow-up post regarding The Mystery of he Black and White Swamp Thing Scans on DC Universe.

Try to make it comic book related, because that’s all I know about, and please just one question per customer, as I have but one eye as yet to look at them all. So, keeping that in mind, just pop your question or suggestion into the comments and I shall do my best to give you some kind of response! (And before ou ask…I’ll get back to that Swamp Thing stuff next time.)

Thanks, pals!

THE EYEBALL MUST BE OBEYED.

§ April 3rd, 2019 § Filed under eyeball, question time, retailing § 3 Comments

Going to keep this super-brief (no, really, I mean it this time) to give my peepers a rest, so let me just answer a couple of questions.

Allan wrenches out the following

“*looks at Mike’s twitter feed* Is…is that the same shirt you wore for your previous eye surgery? Do you have a lucky eye surgery shirt?”

He is of course referring to this photo, which is probably about as stoned-looking as you’ll ever see me, since the anesthesia and other assorted chemical-goodies they doped up with really threw me for a loop this time.

…Anyway, yes, that is indeed the same shirt I wore for the previous two operations. I was instructed to wear a “loose-fitting, short-sleeved shirt” and that was the loosest-fitting, shortest-sleeved shirt I had available. Also, it’s kinda oldish and worn out, not unlike its wearer, so I wouldn’t mind if, say, blood or eye-juice got squirted on it.

In response to my “new shelf at the store” post, philfromgermany imports the following question:

“The wall display look amazing. Are these mostly for trades? Do you leave the new books on the wall for a week or longer before filing them away?”

The big, long wall rack is for the periodicals (though I do have a couple books up there)…I tend to leave stuff up there for a month before filing them away, though I have enough space to keep some items up for longer if I wish. (For example, I’ve been keeping all of Doomsday Clock up there, and until just recently I had every issue of the new Uncanny X-Men series on the new comics shelf as well.) In general, the week’s new releases are on the top two rows, and the previous month’s (or so) books are on the bottom four.

The trade paperback shelves (which I was adding to with that bookshelf I just built and took that picture of) are on the opposite wall, though I have a three-leveled table near the front center of the store where I try to put all the new weekly TP and graphic novel arrivals. After that they get moved to the big bookshelf (that looks sorta like the comic racks) where they’re displayed front facing, then eventually movied to the regular bookshelves, spine out. Though some books of particular interest are kept on front-facing display (like Saga or the Star Wars books).

Matthew wonders

“Do you have a quarter/dollar/clearance section for back issues and trade paperbacks? If so, how do you decide what goes in it?”

I do! I didn’t take a picture of it, but I have a small table up near the register that holds a few long boxes of bargain comics (usually stuff acquired for cheap…or just dumped on me…in collections, or excess leftover stock, or material I just don’t think I’ll be able to get a premium back isue price for at any point in the near future). On the three-leveled table I mentioned previously, I have a section of bargain trades and graphic novels, usually items I got on clearance from one of my distributor’s regular discount sales.

OKAY ENOUGH QUESTIONS, Mike’s Eyeball needs to rest. I’ll be back Frieday…IF THE EYEBALL WILLS IT.

And the expletive of choice was “Shazbot.”

§ February 22nd, 2019 § Filed under question time § 6 Comments

Well, you know what, I’m so close to the end of the questions here that I’m just gonna go ahead and wrap things up. I’ve kept you nice folks who asked them waiting long enough!

Tom Cherry pits the following against me

“If NANCY ever crossed over with PEANUTS, do you think Sluggo and Pig Pen would be friends?”

I feel like Pig Pen would be one the regular walk-on weirdos that Nancy and Sluggo would be all “whoa, check this oddball out!” for a one-strip gag and that would be it. There wouldn’t be any animosity as such, but probably not someone Sluggo could connect with.

In fact, I’m having a hard time picturing any Peanuts character comfortably fitting into the Nancyverse. They’d all be annoying creatures to N&S. I mean, maybe Peppermint Patty…I could see Sluggo having something of a crush on her, while Nancy is totally put off by how pushy she is. …HOLD ON, LET ME GET MY FANFIC WRITIN’ PEN

• • •

@misterjayem spells out the following

“Will either of the Big Two ever again have continuity that stretches all the way back to 10 years ago?”

Well, here and there DC and Marvel make references to things that happened in the Long Ago Times of, like, 2002, or whatever, but I think the cohesive shared world continuity thing with a long history is a relic of the past. I feel like this is something they’re trying to do with Doomsday Clock, and restoring that sense of a lengthy continuity, but who knows if this will work any better than anything else?

Probably the best strategy, and probably the one that’s primarily being followed, is “we’ll access continuity and history when we need it,” and just otherwise do their own things without worrying about it. I mean, if anything, I wish they’d worry less about maintaining a consistent “universe” — that’s how you get all this rebootery.

• • •

BRR chills me with

“As a purveyor of back issues, would you like to see more editor’s notes*? They seem to disappear as a more ‘cinematic’ story style took hold, and I remember those notes occasionally driving a search through the local stores’ long boxes to get the rest of the story.

“* e.g. ‘Way back in Avengers#28!!’-ed”

Sure I would! Even more than just for storytelling clarity and sending people to my extensive back issue stock availble now at Sterling Silver Comics, located in the heart of beautiful Camarillo in Southern California, but for the connection between the creators/editors and the audience. Those editor notes made it seem like pals were sharing a cool story with you, that you were in a fun club where you got to enjoy these adventures with other like-minded people. The letters pages added to that feeling as well…when you bought a comic, you weren’t just buying that month’s tale of Spider-Man, but you were getting a piece of the real world community that built around reading that comic.

I might be romanticizing this a tad, but those little touches went a long way to making someone feel welcome in the worlds you were presented in these weird little booklets.

• • •

Robcat steals my heart, and my cat, with

“Ok, question. As a shop owner and collector and a guy who spends A LOT of time around comics, have you ever lost a substantial amount of money by accidentally damaging an issue of something yourself? Spilled coffee on Amazing Fantasy 15, opened a package containing Journey Into Mystery 83 and ripped the cover, that sort of thing? Not to wish you ill will or anything…”

Can’t say I’ve really done anything like that with comics, as such. I’ve had some close calls…just last week, when I was breaking down the new comics, I had pulled a water bottle out of the fridge that I hadn’t realized had been in there maybe a little too long, and when I opened it, the partially frozen state of it causes water to kinda explode out of it, just barely missing the stacks of new comics and the boxes of customer pulls I had out. That could have been a disaster of epic proportions.

Oh, and there was that time, early in my comics retail career nearly 30 years ago, when we were moving from the old store to a larger location across the street, that I accidentally dropped a short box filled with Golden Age books, spilling them all over the pavement. Thankfully, they way they slid out of the box kept them from experiencing harm, but still, nobody tell Ralph I did that.

The worst thing I did, also at the previous place of employment, that resulted in actual damage, was when I was moving some boxes or something around, and somehow forgot there was a big, fancy ceramic Spider-Man statue (one that also included, like, three or four villains of his) just out of my sight. Yup, ended up knocking it to the floor and smashing it to pieces. I felt the bump, heard the crash, froze, and softly uttered your favorite expletive of choice. As it turned out, the statue was basically given to us for free by someone just clearing their house of stuff, back before Marie Kondo made it cool, so no actual expense was lost. We lost the money would could have gained from selling the thing, but, well, at least nobody was mad. Your pal Mike got off scot-free that time.

Anyway, that’s all the stuff I’ll own up to. I have no idea how those boxes of Marvel Comics Presents caught on fire, and besides, you can’t prove anything, there were no witnesses.

• • •

And that’s it! Finally, all the questions are answered! Thanks for contributing, everyone, and I’ll probably open the floor to more questions soon. Or you can just ask me whenever you’d like…we’re pretty casual around here.

If you register that domain name, please use it for good, not evil.

§ February 20th, 2019 § Filed under question time § 6 Comments

I bet you thought I forgot! You folks still have some questions I need to answer, so let me knock a couple out before this new medicine I’m taking knocks me out:

William Burns fires me up with

“Are all these monster mega digital comics sales making it harder for you to sell trade paperbacks?”

I’ve got to be real honest here…I haven’t the foggiest. I’m sure there must be some diverting of monies from physical copies in my shop (well, everyone’s shops) to digital alternatives. I mean, it’s not like folks stick their heads in the door, announce “I’m not buying the Unicycle Tragedy: The First Decade trade paperback from you because I’m getting all the issues for eight cents each on UpYoursSmallBusinessOwners.com,” then rush off into the darkness, laughing. Well, okay, there’s that one guy back at the old shop who came in on New Comics Day, looked around, and loudly asked the room “where I can download all these for free?” but maybe that’s not quite the same.

So…yeah, I can’t really say. I know a lot of my customers use the digital codes in their comics to supplement their reading, but they’re still coming in and buying comics. I’m sure I’ve lost customers over the years who decided that they preferred to just get everything digitally for shopping and storage convenience, I’m also sure there are plenty of folks who just get all their goodies online, period, and never thought about going to a store…do they count as lost sales, or are those sales that would never have happened in the first place, from people who never would have considered buying a comic save for being able to click a button and suddenly have it available on their devices?

That’s a lot of words for “I don’t know,” I realize. I hope I haven’t suffered too much attrition of this sort, and can only hope I continue keeping the customers I do have happy and freshly replenished with actual printed-on-paper comics on a regular basis.

• • •

David has this goliath of a question

“Realizing that Progressive Ruin is pretty much a one-stop shop for all the comics info I need, I do still like poking around the web reading other sites. Do you have any favorite websites for comics news/reviews/reporting? It seems so bleak out there.”

I’m glad I’m keeping you up on all the early 1990s crash-era news that you can use, David! But as far as other comic news sites…I don’t really have a particular one that I regularly look at. Comics Reporter is probably the best for the most wide-ranging of comics news from all parts of the industry, and…well, I’m sure you’re aware of all the more mainstream-y sites for comic news about The Big Guys, though at some places you have to sort of pick it out from amongst the movie/TV news and listicles.

Your best bet may be a curated social media feed…like, following the Twitter accounts of companies and creators that you want to keep tabs on, or Instagrams, or the nightmare realm of Facebook, and so on. Generating your own news site may be the way to go.

• • •

Chris Gumprich spends his question on

“If you could bring back one cancelled title that did NOT start a muck-encrusted mockery of a man, what would it be and why?”

Hoo boy, not even sure where I would start. I was thinking ‘Mazing Man but feel like that’s so much of Its Time that bringing it back would just feel weird. Maybe leaving it as the short-run 1980s book that it was, keeping it a special thing that was here and gone and didn’t wear out its welcome, would be the best.

So I’m going with Atari Force, which had a terrible name but was an amazing comic. Imaginative and beautifully illustrated, and I was really bummed when it got canned. I think some of the characters (like Martin Champion) are straight up owned by Atari (or whoever owns the Atari IP now) so I don’t think DC could bring it back as, I don’t know, Syzygy Force or something and continue their adventures. But it would be nice!

“(That counts as one question because I only used one question mark.)”

YOU NE’ER-DO-WELL

* * *

AN ADDENDUM TO THE RECENT END OF CIVILIZATION POST: I’ve been informed by Matt from Moment of Cerebus that there is in fact a House of Cerebus comic coming in early 2020! You can see the schedule here. …You know, I did see that list at some point recently…guess I missed that title or (more likely) I just forgot! Well, I look forward to seeing House of Cerebus, and totally hope it’s the parody of #92 I’ve been waiting for!

“Save vs. hemorrhaged eye.”

§ December 7th, 2018 § Filed under question time § 4 Comments

Let’s get a few more questions answered here, before I go under the knife and I’m away for the week:

Cassandra Miller foresees

“Who’s right about the Lucky Dime, Magica or Scrooge?”

Ooh, a good question. The Lucky Dime AKA the Number One Dime is, of course, the first dime Uncle Scrooge ever earned, which Magica De Spell believes has imbued it with some mystical essence she could exploit for her own nefarious purposes. As I recall, Scrooge’s own belief in its “magic” comes and goes depending on the story, but in general it’s a highly personal symbol of the wealth that followed.

Given that the main “canon” of Scrooge, as presented by Carl Barks, tends to generally hew towards the “real” mundane world and away from more fanciful explanations, I would say that Scrooge is more correct, more or less. It’s true that “magic” and “luck” and other weirdo stuff exists in the Duckiverse, and there are times when Scrooge is parted from his Lucky Dime and suddenly everything just goes to hell for him, but I would say Scrooge’s fortune arose without any supernatural advantage from ownership of that dime. It simply served as an inspiration for Scrooge, and any of his difficulties that arose from losing said dime were likely psychological in nature, losing an old crutch he depended on to support his financial endeavors.

I’m sure there are comics and TV shows and such I haven’t read that directly contradicts the above, but I think the ultimate answer is, as always, “depends on the needs of the plot.”

• • •

Skyintheairwaves swoops in with

“Mad Magazine has been a ‘thing’ that has seen many phases and highs and lows. But it has a place in so many of our consciousnesses.

What has been the heyday of Mad for you?”

Kind of like how the “Golden Age of comics” is described “whatever you were reading when you were a kid,” what I think of when I consider the definite era of Mad is what I read in the 1970s and very early ’80s. I still think of issues from, say, 1984 as “those newer Mads.” Pretty sure this was during the publication’s era of its largest print runs, so just by sheer numbers this may be the definitive version for most people, featuring the classic cartoonists and features that comprise the Platonic ideal of a Mad.

I was exposed to earlier Mad, mostly thanks to an uncle who passed his copies down to me…but mostly still within the ’70s, from the earlier part of the decade as opposed to the latter half where I was getting my hands on them, but were still mostly the same (but with more gags about Nixon and hippies). It was when I got my hands on the occasional copy of an early ’60s era issue, where it was like “Dave Berg’s art looks different, and where are the Marginals, and why are there weird jokes written in the margins instead?” — they just felt slightly off to me. Recognizably Mad, just not my Mad.

• • •

Rob Staeger stages the following

“What novel that has never gotten a comic book adaptation do you think deserves one?”

Isaac Asimov’s Foundation. I mean, like, the whole thing. The trilogy, the prequel, the follow-ups, the novels from other Asimovian franchises that tie in, the whole enchilada. You thought the comic book adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand was a mountain of a project? Wait ’til you get a load of this. In some parallel universe, adapting all of Asimov’s novels into comic book form is the sole purpose and publishing concern of Positronic Comics, Inc.

• • •

Andrew Davison sneaks in with

“Do you visit other comic book establishments to see how they do things? What disguises do you normally use? A rubber mask, a la Mission Impossible, or stage makeup and wig, a la 50’s Batman?”

One time, very early on, a fella that used to shop at our store opened up a store in a neighboring town (long gone…the store, not the town). Just out of curiosity, I popped in to take a look and see what was goin’ on, but not with any specific plan to see what his display or marketing strategies or whatever. Later we heard that he was talkin’ up the fact that “oh yeah, a guy from the other store checked me out, they must be worried!” so I kind of put an end to that.

In the years since, particularly on the rare occasion I was out of town, I’d drop by other stores, mostly to shop for myself, and to some limited extent to see what they’re carrying and how it’s laid out and sometimes think how lucky our customers were they weren’t shopping at this store. Haven’t done that in a long time.

Nowadays, if I’m going to other shops, they’re usually shops run by people I actually know, and if I’m there, I’m either doing some horsetrading, or just saying “hi,” or picking up some of my UPS shipment from Diamond that got misrouted to the wrong comic store (which happened at least once in recent months). Thus, I’m otherwise occupied and not really there to steal…comic secrets. Or…am I?

• • •

philfromgermany drops in the last question for today

“Considering the TWERPS shout-out you must have at least a passing knowledge of pen & paper D&D and their ilk.

“Have you ever read any Knights of the Dinner Table and if so, who’s your favorite character?

“Is it selling at your store?”

Phil is referring to this post, where I dropped in a reference to Twerps, the simple and bargain-priced role-playing game that used only one die, and utilized characters with only one stat (Strength). We sold quite a a few of these at my previous place of employment, though I wonder how many sold because people just wanted the small-sized 20-sided die included with the game.

While RPGs aren’t my particular passion, I do have some familiarity with them simply from my years of carrying large stocks of them at the old job. Plus, I sold a lot of vintage gaming materials on eBay when they showed up in collections (some of which you can see in this site category). I don’t do anything in new gaming materials currently at my shop, but I wouldn’t object to dealing in more of the old items. I always found those fun.

Knights of the Dinner Table does sell at my store…not a lot, but it has its fans. If I had to pick a favorite character…well, Brian is just so hilariously single-minded when it comes to gaming, but Bob is just plain bonkers. It’s hard to choose!

• • •

Okay, pals, don’t forget I’m taking the next week off from the site following my eye procedure, so I’ll see you on the other side!

“Not to be morbid,” he says.

§ November 28th, 2018 § Filed under question time § 5 Comments

So I need to get back to your questions, but first, let me address the one left for me recently by JohnJ on this post:

“The two versions of Sgt.Rock #400 cover prompt me to ask you this question, have you ever had a customer who preferred newsstand covers versus direct market? Someone who thought that what was in the UPC box made a substantial difference to the comic?
I know one retailer who thinks newsstand covers triple the price on back issues and wondered how you stood on that difference.”

By and large, I don’t think there’s a significant difference. If there is a difference in price and collectability, it’s generally the result of something other than just the UPC code or lack thereof. Like, cover image differences (such as the Spider-Man/Mary Jane wedding issue, though honestly I haven’t looked at compared prices/demand on those in a while). I think some of the early Image releaes had newsstand editions that were a little harder to find in the direct market (like Spawn and WildC.A.T.s ) with UPC codes and, I believe, different paper stock on the covers. There was a little demand for those once upon a time (particularly the non-foil covered newsstand edition of WildC.A.T.s #2) but I haven’t had anyone ask about those lately.

I mean, I don’t know…it hasn’t really come up too much, and I’ve sold a lot of back issues to a lot of people over the last three decades. Aside from situations like the above, where there’s an actual difference between the two versions, I haven’t had anyone just wanting the covers with Spidey’s face in the little white box instead of a bunch of lines and numbers. But, you know, to each his own.

Okay, back to the salt mines! ExistentialMan gets existential, man, with this:

“So, you’ve been doing this comicbookin’ retail thing for quite a while now. Although it’s clearly kept you virile, young-looking, and famously wealthy, I’m curious about your plans for the future and, eventually, retirement. I’ve ssen a number of retailers retire over the years (most of them very successfully). Do you envision calling it quits at a certain age?”

Well, I don’t know if I’ll ever straight up retire, unless my business suddenly becomes The One Comic Book Store Left Standing and I’m suddenly carrying away buckets of cash to the bank. Instead, I suspect I’ll keep my hand in, turning over day-to-day operations to a trusted employee, or robot, while still drawing income as the evil taskmaster of the business. I can’t imagine I’ll be behind the counter forever and ever until…well, not to be morbid, but I want to go off to that great Comic Book Convention in the, um, let’s say Sky in the comfort of my own bed, not sprawled out over a pile of X-O Manowars I was in the process of bagging.

• • •

Dave Carter asks Yet Another question:

“As a comic shop owner, what do you see as the biggest challenge for your retail establishment over the next year? Over the next five years?”

The biggest thing is just trying to maintain sales in the face of publisher shenanigans, as relaunch after reboot after renumbering erodes consumer confidence. Plus, the rising prices of the periodical format is always going to be an issue…I don’t think the periodical comic is going away, or even really on the verge of changing that much, but I feel like folks are really at their limit as to how much they’re willing to spend for a single issue. And I don’t think the Big Two, especially Marvel, are ready for a trade-only model. Whatever change that’ll happen is going to be a rough one to ride out.

Aside from that, there are the more practical concerns…rising costs of simply running the business (rent and utilities ain’t goin’ down), increased competition from new shops, an economy that’s all over the map, the fragility of my own human body…you know, cheery stuff like that.

• • •

Patrick Gaffney pours out

“Who can drink more? Thor or Hulk?”

We know, from our studies at Stan Lee University, that the madder Hulk gets, the stronger he gets, so there’s some sort of energy source that exists within him to fuel this increase in his capabilities. Like, there’s this giant radioactive engine inside him, powered by that long-ago Gamma Bomb burst, that flares hotter with Hulk’s emotions. I believe the Official Marvel Universe Handbook has noted that “there could be no upper limit” to this rise in strength. So, as his anger increase, the radiation-borne effects in his body increase, generating more energy, and presumably anything the Hulk would have consumed would probably go toward feeding this upward output. Thus, assuming Hulk is in an agitated enough state, I could see any drink he imbibed being immediately converted to bolster his physical abilities.

But then again, Thor is magic, which could supersede my 100& entirely scientific explanation. So let me go to the fallback answer…”depends on whose comic the drinking contest appears in.”

That X-Men cover never fails to make me laugh, because I’m a bad person.

§ November 16th, 2018 § Filed under question time § 8 Comments

Sorry, was too pooped to post these last few nights, but here I am again, still alive and mostly aware. Let’s dip back into your questions from a little while ago:

Hooper Triplett doubles down on

“Outside of nostalgia and/or habit, why should I buy single printed issues instead of digital or print collections?”

Well…yeah, sure, that’s a good question. It all comes down to personal preference, I suppose, though there had been the economic reason of a periodical not lasting long enough to get a trade because of the perception that people were waiting for the trade and thus didn’t get enough sales to keep going. That was a tricky balance (Fables always stood out to me as one of comics that seems to maintain the right measure of “people reading the monthlies” vs. “waiting for the collections”). I don’t know how much digital downloads have affected that particular division, if those sales would be enough to subsidize the continued printing of physical copies of a title underperforming in the direct market.

Anyway, trying to pick one format over the other strictly for economic reasons (both the publishers’ and your own) is beside the point: you need to read comics in whatever way is preferable and convenient to you, naturally. I personally prefer having the monthly (or biweekly, or semi-annual) magazines in hand, as they’re just easier for me to read and enjoy in smaller doses, versus waiting for an eventual collection to plow through (though I don’t mind those for older material). And my brief dabblings in digital make for a novel experience, but I just like having the actual comic in hand when I have a choice.

So read ’em however you like, Hooper! Just be sure to buy plenty of them from me.

• • •

Kirk beams in the following

“Where did your love of Swampy & Sluggo begin & do you also love Sgt. Rock ( please say yes )?”

I shared the origin of my Sluggo love way back when, back when I thought I was going to end my Sluggo Saturday posts. In short: a friend turned me on to Nancy and Sluggo in particular, and I hope over the years I turned some of you on to them as well.

My love of Swamp Thing came about through a combination of finding a couple of issues of the original series in a used book store (oddly enough, not Wein ‘n’ Wrightson issues, but these two), and this very early Nickelodeon program I discussed here about five years ago (which did feature Wein ‘n’ Wrightson). That’s pretty much where it all began!

And yes, don’t you worry…I do love Sgt. Rock comics as well. Didn’t read nearly as many of those as I should, but I did have a few scattered issues and a digest reprint and that one team-up with Superman. I specifically remember buying this issue and this one off the racks at the local convenience markets.

Always found Sgt. Rock comics to be well-illustrated, usually short, punchy self-contained stories, that ran the gamut from tragic to heroic to sometimes a tad preachy but generally just preachy enough. They were essentially the Platonic ideal of A War Comic, and it’s a shame that specific kind of book is missing from the stands.

King of the Moon crowns me with

“Greatest hero who got their powers from a space wizard horse:
Alex Power, Julie Power, Jack Power or Katie Power?”

I’m gonna have to say Katie, because she’s the Power Pack member featured on this, the greatest X-Men cover of all time:

They should get Skottie Young to finish up Big Numbers.

§ October 31st, 2018 § Filed under question time § 12 Comments

Here I am with more unsatisfying answers to your inquiries:

Gareth Wilson reaches new frontiers with

“Which comic book had the best stories about exploring new worlds?”

Huh. That’s the kind of vague-ish question I occasionally get at the shop that sounds like it should be easy to answer but…I don’t know, can be hard to nail down sometimes. Taken literally, as in “going to new planets in outer space in a sci-fi type way” there are plenty of anthology titles published over the years with weird alien landscapes and critters and situations. Classics like Weird Science or Mystery in Space, or newer (er, relatively speaking) comics like Alien Worlds which pretty much has it right in the title there. For comics with more of a continuing narrative, there’s Black Science from Image, with folks bouncing from dimension to dimension. And there’s Legion of Super-Heroes and the various permutations of Star Trek, I suppose, though those would be far more superficial a take on the “new worlds” thing.

Oh, there’s Stellar from Image, too…I’ve only read the first issue so far (picked it up because I love Bret Blevins’s art) but that looks like it may be up this particular alley as well.

I’ve sure there are others that will come to mind after I hit the “PUBLISH” button on this post, but that’s probably a good start, I think!

• • •

Matthew suggests:

“…Maybe write about some never-to-be-finished comic book stories/series. (And not just Sonic Disruptors.)”

Sonic Distruptors was one of those comic series I was enjoying but got cut down in its prime…and I swear I saw a news blurb in the comics press at the time that a one-short or graphic novel or whatever was going to come out wrapping up the series, but of course that didn’t happen. I’ve written a little about it on this site in the past, but look to pal Andrew and his post for the best take on the situation.

Grimjack is another one I’ve mentioned before, where the forward progression of the story has halted. It wasn’t so much cut off mid-story like Sonic Disruptors — there was an ending to that final storyline — but more was definitely planned, continuing the ongoing Grimjack saga. It’s unusual in that there have been newer mini-series featuring the character, but they were essentially flashback tales involving the “classic” Grimjack and not the Grimjack that he had eventually evolved into.

And of course there was the Helfer/Baker Shadow, and Eye of Mongombo which I talked about way back in the very beginnings of this site, so I’m sure all the links are kaput by now. I seem to recall that cartoonist maybe emailing me or leaving a note in the now-deceased Haloscan comments that he planned on bringing the title back to finish it up, but I never saw that he did. Too bad.

Let’s not forget 1963, which is like the patron saint of this sort of thing. Or Big Numbers, which hadn’t really grabbed me as of its second and, as it turned out, final issue, but I was looking forward to to reading through ’til the end anyway. I’d also love to see more of Journey: Wardrums, too.

I was kinda digging this adaptation of the Illuminatus Trilogy, too, but they didn’t want it to finish. You know…them.

More recently there was that Badger revival, which far as I can tell never put out its last issue.

There are no end to series that never reached their intended conclusions, of course. What’s nice is that there is the occasional happy ending, play on words intended, with new collections of previously unfinished comics. I’ve talked about the Puma Blues hardcover before. I thought I talked about the Border Worlds volume on my site here, but I guess I missed it…but that book adds a new 30-page chapter that, despite the publisher’s description, doesn’t exactly conclude things, but is at least more of a stopping point than where it left off before.

So, you know, it’s possible that some of these interrupted comics can get the conclusions they need. Well, maybe not 1963, since it seems unlikely that particular band will ever get back together, but sometimes I think about stocking a complete 1963 hardcover that I’d have to reorder on a regular basis and I get a small tear just in the corner of my eye.

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