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Actually, only ’til 1 in the morning this time.

§ October 26th, 2020 § Filed under archie, question time § 5 Comments

Once again, getting a late start on the ol’ question thingie, plus I have plans for a Tuesday post here (WHAT!?!? GASP!) so let’s take a look at a couple of easier (i.e. “Mike won’t be typing ’til 2 in the morning”) inquiries here:

William Burns is on fire with the following

“Now that Big Bang Theory is receding into the mist of yesteryear, do people still do that “Where’s Sheldon” routine in your store?”

Come to think of it…it has been a while. And it’s not like 1) it’s been all that long since the series wrapped, and 2) it’s not like there’s not some cable channel that seems to be Big Bang 24/7, so it shouldn’t be out of our collective memory (no matter how hard some of you are trying to forget it, I know). I suppose it can at least be partially attributed to fewer casual passerby dropping in just to say their BBT remark that I’ve never, ever heard before and move on without, you know, buying anything, due to the whole Captain Trips bug currently ravaging the globe.

You might be inclined to believe that this is something of a relief to me, and to a certain extent, it is, as part of me was getting a little tired of hearing it. But on the other hand, as I’d said before and probably bears repeating, these folks weren’t coming in to say these things in a disparaging manner…they were actually amused, or happy, to see that such a thing as “a comic book store” actually existed, like the one on the television show they enjoyed so much. And as far as I’m concerned, anything that makes The General Public associate “comic book store” with positive feelings is just fine and dandy with me. Believe me, I spent plenty of years dealing with people who’d rather be doing the backstroke through the sewers than crossing the threshold of a comic shop, so I welcomed this shift in perception.

• • •

Daniel T tees up this one

“What back issue would you most like to own but know you never will? (And I don’t mean, like, a 9.0 Action #1. Something that is theoretically attainable but unlikely due to JUST being out of your price range or because it’s just hard to find one.)”

Please, a 10.0 Action #1! DREAM BIG, MY FRIEND.

Okay, seriously…I wrote on this site a long time ago (and frankly, I’ve been doing this site long enough that it’d probably be easier to note things I haven’t written about) about how lucky I was that I started reading comics when I did, which meant I got in on things on the ground floor that would later be harder to piece together (like Eclipse’s Miracleman. Or, something that occurred to me just the other day in fact, how lucky I was that I got into comics before the current wave of rebooting and relaunching beginning with Crisis on Infinite Earths, that I had a better sense of what had come before, and what changed after, as it was happening rather than trying to figure out what the hell happened decades after the fact.

As such, pretty much anything I was interested in reading over, say, the last thirty years, I bought new off the shelf. Anything earlier than that I was interested in, I was able to pick up at generally reasonable prices. For example, I’m glad I completed my run of all the original issues of Doom Patrol when I did, back in the early ’90s, paying what was probably only a fraction of the price I’d have to dole out today. Or getting most of Turok Son of Stone, including the earliest Four Color issues. Or buying all those Comic Reader fanzines at a dime a dozen.

So, a lot of the back issues I was seriously interested in picking up, I picked up. Which isn’t to say there aren’t a few white whales out there I wouldn’t mind getting my mitts on. Now, luckily, being in a comic shop most of my time, there is a non-zero chance something I’m actively interested in obtaining will float on in…for example, this Showcase issue introducing Dolphin. I’d been wanting one of those for years, and, whaddaya know, there it is. And stuff like that has happened then and again…an issue of Yummy Fur I’d been missing forever finally turned up, and that Virginian one-shot from 1963 came into my store not all that long ago. Oh, and I was gifted a new-conditioned copy of the original “black and white” Love and Rockets #1 as a store-warming present from Jaime Hernandez his own self, so I was able to scratch that off the list!

But there’s the stuff I would like, but expect will never make it into my hands. I mean, it’s not impossible, but not terribly likely. I’d sure like an authentic Cerebus #1 for my run of that series, but I’m going to have to be satisfied with this recent reissue, I imagine.

I actually had a chance at Four Color #178, the first appearance of Uncle Scrooge McDuck, when my former boss had one at my former place of employment, waaaay early on in my comics retailing “career.” I just couldn’t spring the, what, $175 or whatever it was at the time, and I’m sure I couldn’t spring the thousands of dollars that same copy would bring now. Well, not spending that kind of money and expecting to keep it, at any rate.

But I think the big one I would like to have, which, unlike those other two, I don’t think has ever been reprinted, is Jughead’s Folly, a single issue released in 1957:

I’ve actually read a copy of this that someone brought into the other shop long ago, but it’s been such a while that I don’t recall that much of it. But it’s basically Jughead (perhaps my favorite Archie character) as Elvis Style Rock Star, and it’s pretty amazing. And hard to find. If one came into the shop, I would totally throw money at the person selling it until it was mine, all mine, yes, my precious.

Though I wouldn’t thumb my nose at a run of Jughead’s Fantasy, either.

I just make the same gag with googum’s questions every time.

§ October 23rd, 2020 § Filed under question time § 23 Comments

Getting a late start on the ol’ blogging tonight, so let me see if I can answer a couple of your questions right quick:

Bruce Baugh breaks in the following

“From time to time, Marvel and DC would launch a series that stood on its own, then later fold it into their regularity continuing – I’m thinking here of the Eternals, Omega the Unknown, and such. If you could pick a series now embedded in a larger continuity (regardless of whether it began that way or not) and pull it out to be its own stand-alone thing for ever after, what’d you go for?”

It’s funny, that when you ask this question, I immediately thought of the reverse, in that I’d love to see the cast of Atari Force returned from licensing purgatory and given a home in DC Universe proper. Dart in the Suicide Squad? Babe in the Teen Titans? Martin Champion working for S.T.A.R. Labs?

Hmm, the S.T.A.R. Labs thing could be the vector for getting Atari Force into the mainline DC continuity (whatever that is). With some minor rejiggering (and some relettering/art touch-up of the originals) we could have S.T.A.R. Force, with the team originating with a future version of S.T.A.R. Labs, trapped in the current DC Universe after a time travel mishap. …If I recall correctly, Dan Jurgens took characters from the outside-continuity Sun Devils sci-fi mini and brought them into his Superman comics, so there’s some minor precedent.

Anyway, it’s a moot point, since I believe all the Atari Force I.P. is owned by whoever it is that owns the Atari brand now, and no longer under any control by DC. But it’s nice to think about.

And that wasn’t your question anyway. What would I extract from the larger DC and/or Marvel continuity to be its own thing? Maybe DC’s Warlord, Mike Grell’s sci-fantasy weird adventure comic which began as its own non-DCU property and, eventually, particularly near the end of the initial series run and after, was merged into the larger shared universe. It’s very possible I’m remembering that timeline incorrectly, and aside from some short bursts here and there, I wasn’t a regular reader of the title. But whatever connection there was I don’t think was ever that strong, and removing Warlord from the DCU would do any harm, aside from losing a team-up where he and Green Arrow could compare their similar beards:

Oh, and also Jack Kirby’s New Gods should stand apart from the DC Universe, if only to keep comics folks who don’t understand it from, like, diminishing Darkseid with overuse outside his original context. If that means making the surprise villain of “The Great Darkness Saga” Terra-Man, well, what’s gotta be has gotta be.

I know it was part of the shared universe from the get-go, via Jimmy Olsen of all characters, but it should have just all been one solid run, from beginning to end, by Kirby, over and done when he concluded it, and that was it. This means losing Simonson’s Orion, which would be a hard blow, and some of the wilder stuff Morrison did, but SACRIFICES MUST BE MADE.

Over on the Marvel end of things…hmm, that’s a little trickier. Just to keep it simple, so I’m not typing all night, let’s say Ghost Rider. Yes, Johnny Blaze. Make that a standalone horror comic, instead of putting a literal damned soul chained to a demon in the middle of a bunch of superheroes who don’t really lift a finger to help him.

Oh, and Tomb of Dracula, too, which was a moody horror-action comic that was chugging along just fine ’til “Guest-Starring the Silver Surfer.” And then we had to wonder “why aren’t the Avengers stepping in to take care of this immortal blood-sucking monster?” I’m sure it was addressed at some point in larger Marvel continuity, but it still seems weird.

If you disagree, please send your letters of complaint to pal Ian. Thanks.

• • •

googum googummed

“What comic event series left you holding the most stock, and do you still have it?”

Let’s end this session on a depressing note as I bring up the specter of the Secret Wars series from a couple of years back, where the main series itself sold fine, it’s just the too-many tie-in mini-series launched to coincide with the event that tanked. I ended up dumping most of them in the bargain bin, though I still maintain most of a short box of bagged and priced back issues in case anyone specifically comes in looking for them. Which they do, surprisingly.

The recently completed Empyre was not exactly flying off the shelves either, but I did manage to move most, if not all, my copies of the main series from 2 on, but was stuck with a few too many variants for the first issue. The tie-in minis weren’t nearly as numerous, though several were planned that were canned, and the ones that did some out did…okay. This is certainly informing my orders on the forthcoming “King in Black” event at Marvel, which also has a main mini and a handful of tie-in minis which I’m ordering close to the bone.

I mean, none of these are a patch on Deathmate, of course, but my dealings with that series was at another shop and a lifetime ago. I don’t think I have even a single issue of Deathmate in my store right now.


Look, I’ve never been to a Piggly Wiggly.

§ October 12th, 2020 § Filed under batman, question time, retailing § 13 Comments

Okay, let me follow up briefly (ha, you know how that usually goes) to some of the responses to my last post. Regarding the idea of getting comics into supermarket checkstands, it was pointed out that’s a lot easier said than done, given that 1) Archie digests were basically grandfathered in (hence that brief deal Marvel had with them to get their digests distributed into your local Piggly Wiggly), and 2) there’s a stupid amount of competition for that immensely valuable space. Marvel and/or DC aren’t exactly going to be able to march right in there. (Y’know, without cutting a deal with Archie again.)

Also noted is that putting comics into anything other than a bookstore environment is likely not going to work out. Department stores are, in general, allotting less space for books and magazines these days, and even if they did, there’s no real care or curation going on there. No guarantee you’ll see your comics on a regular basis (as Brad points out, a new run of Disney comics are pretty tough to find), or even at all (I never did see any of these DC Giants at Walmart).

I suppose it doesn’t really matter so much…as long as they’re there, they’re visible, and kids show an interest, and the sale is made, the job is done. These sources can act as feeders to places like actual bookstores and even a comic shop where there would be ample supply of related material and (hopefully) a knowledgeable employee to help them along. Which is ultimately the goal of this sort of distribution.

Thom H. asked, in response to my assertion that comic shops may not be ready for a switch from a periodical model to a trade based model:

“Is this because there are so many readers of the periodicals still around, and they wouldn’t make the switch? Or comic shops wouldn’t be able to handle the change in format? Or some other reason? I’m genuinely curious because I can’t decide how I feel about the idea.”

I’m probably being a tad bit shortsighted, admittedly. I’ve heard of stores that have made that change, at least partway, focusing more on the book end of the comics market versus that weekly Wednesday (and now a little Tuesday, thanks DC) bump.

But as it stands now, it’s the arrival of the new comic books that drives most customers into stores. Now if suddenly the only way to get stories of your favorite characters is to buy a $14.99-$19.99 trade paperback of new material once every four to six months, then I suppose several people would make the switch. But the frequency of visits would decline, I’d imagine…instead of coming in monthly for Green Lantern comics, now it’s every few months for the new paperback), and yes, prices may go up but without as many people buying as many comics on a frequent basis…well, basically, there’d be a lot of economic adjustment on both the retailer and the customer’s parts to continue this hobby.

Short answer: I don’t know what would happen, but it would involve change and after 32 years in this business, change gives me the stomach-tumblies. But I’d figure a way to make it work, because what else am I going to do at this point? Get a real job?

• • •

Okay, let’s try to tackle a couple more questions before I hit the sack, and let me tell you, that sack has it coming:

Dean puts me on double secret probation with

“Since you e opened your own shop., what’s the oddest/most random request for a back issue you actually had in stock?”

That’s a good question…I don’t think I’ve been hit with any particularly wild requests, though. I think having someone ask “do you have Reagan’s Raiders

and lo, I had it.

Not to say I’ve not had people amazed that 1) I’ve heard of the comic they’re asking after, and 2) I actually had a copy, but I don’t think it’s been anything especially strange. Had one fella just falling over himself in surprise that I had any copies at all of Too Much Coffee Man, for example, but that’s not really a weird or funny answer, I think. I guess Reagan’s Raiders is the one that comes to mind. Sorry, I’ll try to remember if there was anything else!

• • •

Tim conjures up this question

“Do you, like me, think the Joker is played out as a viable character?”

I think he’s overutilized, especially right now (what with an extended storyline in Batman wrapping up, a prestige series currently in progress, and a couple other oversized Black Label books running or just wrapped up). Plus we had a high profile movie featuring the character not too long ago, back when there were still movies, and other mass media appearances of the Joker tend to cast long shadows. So yes, there’s more than enough Joker to go around of late.

But does that make him less viable? The Joker is Batman’s arch-nemesis, the literal embodiment of the world’s chaos that Batman seeks to bring to order. That, I believe, makes the Joker eternally viable…as long as there’s a Batman, there will be a Joker, to be really on the nose about it. But how can we miss the Joker if he won’t go away, and having Joker always appearing in something on the new comics rack makes his appearances less special, have less of an impact, and that does lessen the viability of the character. Batman: Three Jokers should stand out more than it does as A Special Event, but instead it’s Yet Another Joker Comic.

Maybe it’s nostalgia feeding this feeling of mine. I remember reading one Joker story as a kid where he seemingly dies at the end of the story (a boat he’s on blows up, and Batman’s all “is that the last we’ll see of the Joker?”). I knew full well the Joker wasn’t dead, but I was looking forward to his next appearance where I presumed there’d be an explanation of how he got out of that one. However, when he eventually popped up again, no dice. We just swung back into the next Joker adventure.

Now I bring that up partially to register a complaint from Young Mike about comics continuity, but mostly to point out I had to wait for a follow-up Joker story. It had to have been a few months, at least. It kept me wondering, and anticipating his return. But today, you kids have it easy, what with a Joker in every other comic.

Well, Joker is immensely popular, and he sells comics, so I see why DC wants to use him as often as they do. But maaaaybe spacing out the appearances a bit might make those Joker stories a little more special. I mean, c’mon, when was the last time we had a good Tweedledum and
Tweedledee story? Let’s give them their time in the sun with a multi-parter already.

whynotboth dot jpeg

§ October 9th, 2020 § Filed under comic strips, publishing, question time, Uncategorized § 10 Comments

So this got brought up in a discussion I happened to witness between Twitter pal Ben and another person, and decided it was something I needed to acquire for my own self. May I present to you, from the co-creator of Twin Peaks, the creator of Eraserhead, and the guy what did that one Dune movie…a collection of David Lynch’s comic strip The Angriest Dog in the World:

For those of you unfamiliar with the strip, each installment is a series of the same panels (an introductory caption box, three panels of the Angriest Dog growling and straining at the chain in a yard, and a final panel of the same scene at night. Only the dialogue balloons of someone speaking off-panel change. A look at the Wikipedia page will give you a sample strip.

Anyway, this book is not in any way a comprehensive collection of the strip, which had run for about ten years. This is a short book, presenting only a very few strips, each one separated by a page that’s black on one side and white on the other. It’s more of an art piece than anything else, purposefully strange in the way you’d probably expect from anything that would come from David Lynch. It’s a handsome looking item, measuring 11 inches wide by 5 inches tall, 36 pages plus covers. A neat curiosity, but if you’re waiting for the Definitive Compleat Angriest Dog Hardcover Set, I’m afraid that’s not yet a thing. There was a previous collection, now out of print, but I don’t really know anything about it. Strips were also reprinted in Dark Horse Comics’ Cheval Noir a couple of decades back.

You can find this new book at Rotland Press.

• • •


“What is your reaction to Gerry Conway’s recent screed?”

What Paul is referencing is this message [WARNING: pop-up ads my blocker didn’t block, which locked up my machine for a minute] from longtime comic writer/editor Conway in regards to improving the comics industry. His idea is basically for Marvel/DC to cancel everything, repurpose properties into books aimed at a younger market and get ’em into bookstores/grocery stores/movie theaters/anywhere that’s not a comic shop, and cater to the older fans with occasional trade paperbacks with new material.

I mean, this isn’t a new idea, and the fact that the best-selling comics in the U.S. are in fact books aimed at kids. I mean, DC and Marvel both had their eyes pop out of their heads shaped like giant dollar signs when they saw how well Raina’s books were doing and immediately started their own line of reasonably successful young reader graphic novels.

Now my response is a bit biased, as I’d see this drastic of a plan as being the end of comic shops, or at least comic shops as we generally know them. Eventually DC/Marvel/etc. will have to come up with some kind of format for their regular titles that’s more cost effective in regards to size and cost and so on. Probably a shift away from the periodicals to a regular trade paperback format, but I don’t think the market is quite ready for that yet.

That doesn’t mean that Conway’s idea of getting comics into other retail spaces isn’t a good idea. Of course, you’d have to convince these other retail spaces to consider even carrying comics, assuming whatever format these will be in will be at a price point that’s profitable enough for these other venues to be worth the hassle. And frankly, I can’t see movie theaters wanting to deal with them…I’m picturing a few months of theater employees having to clean up The Book Corner because folks are just standing around reading grpahic novels while waiting for the movie to start, and tossing them back on the shelf haphazardly, if at all, when showtime starts.

But whatever they do I don’t see any real reason to “kill all the comics” in order to do this. Can’t see why there can’t be a parallel to get graphic novels into new places and getting the regular monthlies, or whatever they eventually become, into comic shops. Or everything just goes to digital, leaving print for eventual collections of that material, or throwback releases for a niche collectors market, which the comic book industry already kind of is but you get my meaning.

Basically, everyone has ideas on how to “save comics,” and Mr. Conway’s isn’t any better or worse or even that much different from what’s been proposed. The big trick is getting other industries to cooperate with any of these schemes.

So long as the comic doesn’t feature Dr. Doom crying.

§ October 7th, 2020 § Filed under question time, this week's comics § 10 Comments

Let’s see if I can get through another one of your questions today, but first let me recommend the new comic book from Ahoy called Penultiman by Tom Peyer and Alan Robinson:

Now, I’m still way behind on many comics from the last couple of years, as I touched upon last time, and in fact spent a good part of last night reading about 15 issues of the current Daredevil series by Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto and their pals (verdict: it’s good). So basically I’m not looking to add anything more to the teetering “to read” stacks. Buuuuut I’ll always take a peek at a new Ahoy Comics release, and I like writer Tom Peyer, so ah what the heck, throw it on the pile.

And read it I did, as anything new I take home I’m not behind on I am trying to read right away. It’s very good, drawn in a nicely clearly and appropriate Silver Age-y style by Robinson, which my poor ol’ eyes appreciated. It’s primarily about the relationship between A Superhero and his robot duplicate assistant, and I don’t really want to get into it any more than that because I don’t want to spoil anything. You get a tiny hint on that cover I posted above, but there’s more to the story that definitely plays on the very basics of, well, let’s face it, Superman, for whom Penultiman is a definite analog.

Speaking of which, the first page is a nod of sorts to Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman, introducing the title character in a similar fashion. So just buy it already…it’s great. Two thumbs up from Mike’s eyeballs!

• • •


Rich (who had a brief cameo in Monday’s post) coughs up the following

“Do you think the real-world pandemic, the need for social distancing and masks, and the blunders on the part of multiple national governments in dealing with this crisis will soon be commonly depicted in comics, as well as in TV shows and movies based on same? In other words, do you predict we will see characters OTHER than superheroes and supervillains wearing masks in comics and onscreen for the foreseeable future–and, if so, how profoundly will this change the storytelling landscape?”

I suspect we’ll get comics specifically about COVID-19…I mean, know we are already, via webcomics and small press stuff and the like. But I presume you are asking about the major comic publishers, and whether we’ll see, like, Jimmy Olsen wearing a mask and whatnot, or Iris’s dad Joe wearing a mask in the FLash TV series. (Is Joe even still around? I’m about three seasons behind on that show, too.) And, like, Image or somebody from the front of Previews probably has a “Live in the Time of COVID” semi-autobiographical mini in the hopper.

But as far as other regular titles referencing the pandemic? I…generally don’t think so. I mean, I think recent issues of Savage Dragon have, but I don’t believe we’ll be seeing incidental civilians in, like, The Avengers in PPE. Except, of course, if they decide to do a Very Special Episode of Your Favorite Superhero Comic where they talk about the pandemic or at least some kind of symbolic representation of same. So no, while I’m sure the virus is inspiring plenty of small press/indie work, the ongoing fictional milieus of superhero comics will likely not incorporate it as any part of “the world outside your door!” type of storytelling.

Unless this goes on for another, oh, say, year or two, in which case, all bets are off. But with superhero comics in particular, the pandemic’s inclusion would raise the “World War II” question…if the world’s at war, and the Justice Society of America exists, why don’t they just go capture Hitler? Like, America’s got Superman, Green Lantern, the Spectre, and Johnny Thunder’s Thunderbolt…they’d have WWII wrapped up in a hot minute. And that requires a lot of in-story handwaving and explanations why our super-pals didn’t put an end to things (like Hitler having the magical Spear of Destiny, which kept the JSA from getting their mitts on him…can’t recall if that’s a Golden Age thing or something Roy Thomas or someone cooked decades after the fact).

In essence, if you had the pandemic as a presence in the Marvel Universe, for example, why wouldn’t Reed Richards have, if not a cure, at least some invention that would stall infections until a cure is found? You’d have to do more handwaving to explain why Reed or some other Marvel U. smartypants couldn’t help, and frankly given the offense it could cause, especially after so many folks have died already, it’s probably best that DC and Marvel and whoever else don’t put themselves in that position.

I could totally see one of the companies doing a one-shot out-of-continuity special to raise awareness…well, okay, sure, we’re all pretty aware of this disease already, I know. But some kind of charity book, featuring heroes addressing the coronavirus, maybe packaged with a specialty mask…that’d be somethin’, I think.

So Rich, I think my answer is “they won’t, unless they do, and I think Savage Dragon already did.” Glad I was able to nail that down definitively for you!

Yes, technically this is answering two questions from the same person.

§ October 5th, 2020 § Filed under question time, swamp thing, Swamp Thing-a-Thon § 3 Comments

Okay, boys and ghoooouls, let’s take a crack at the most recent batch of questions you fine folks decided to leave for me.

First off, Michael Grabowski reaches out with the following:

“Which are your favorite creative-combo takes on the Swamp Thing character in the comics?

“Actually, what I would really like to read would be a few blog posts with your deeper analysis of the more significant creative runs on the character & comic series, if I could make that request.”

Well, I’ve actually been asked this before! Probably not a surprise given how often I’ve been all “rah rah Swamp Thing-boom-bah” on this site, I suppose. About three years ago old friend of the site Rich had asked me to rank the creative teams, and I gave it the ol’ two-part college try here and here.

Now it’s not entirely comprehensive, but I hit most of the major teams of the first two series and touch a bit on the later ones (though I link to, and will link again here, extended discussions of that weird pre-New 52 mini and that Len Wein/Kelley Jones mini).

In that post I note I’ll need to do more of a re-read of the assorted Swamp Thing comic book series in order to have that material fresher in my mind for any sort of meaningful deep commentary. The plan was maybe to start rereading the comics that I hadn’t committed to memory, like, or, say everything published from the early 1970s until the early 1990s. The later runs were read and mostly enjoyed, but I’m not sure I can lay any details on you.

Anyway, my plan was derailed a bit as this was about the time I was beginning to have some vision issues (though I wouldn’t be properly diagnosed for another year). My reading was slowing down, and then stopped almost completely the following year. I couldn’t keep up with new stuff, much less re-read anything old.

Another thing my eyeball issues derailed was the plan for tempoarily-exclusive content on my Patreon, where I intended to do in-depth discussions of each issue of Swamp Thing in order. I talk about the Patreon at the end of that second Rank-the-ST-Teams post (and you can read the first installment for free here). But trying to read these comics in any real detail was becoming increasingly difficult, mostly because I thought I needed glasses (which yes, I did) but not realizing that I was having other severe physical issues with eyes beyond just poor sight.

Now that my vision issues have been stabilized and at least somewhat corrected, I would like to at least attempt at getting back to doing that issue-by-issue examination. Perhaps on a sporadic basis at first, just to allow for time issues, the fact that I am reading more slowly than I used to, and that I’m stupidly behind on new comics due to not having read anything for months. Except Doomsday Clock, I didn’t miss an installment of that.

At the very least I should publicly post the Patreon-only installments (still up at my Patreon!) like I said I’d do after sufficient time had passed. Maybe once I’m closer to starting that project up again. But my sincere thanks to everyone who kept contributing there.

So, Michael…no, I haven’t forgotten you in the middle of all this rambling nonsense…I did do something like you’d asked already, but more complete commentary on the other regular Swamp Thing creatives is still owed someday, pending my review of those documents.

Also, to answer your question from three years ago since I forgot to then:

“Was the Pasko/Yeates run published bimonthly? I seem to remember it that way but could be wrong. I do remember thinking that the big story took a long time to resolve, at least as 12-yr-old me processed time and waiting in those days.”

No, the Marty Pasko/Tom Yeates run of Saga of the Swamp Thing never went bimonthly. I was told at a comic book store around the time those comics were coming out, back when I was but a lowly and not the high-powered comic shop owner drunk with power I am today, that the series was about to go bimonthly, which worried me because that meant sales were lousy and the next step would have been cancellation. But then the Alam Moore era began and those bimonthly worries went away in short order.

As for the story feeling like it dragged on…that seemed to be a common sentiment at the time, as some fans weren’t thrilled with longish stories that demanded more patience and attention. (See also “The Trial of the Flash.”) But nowadays multi-part stories are more common than not, usually in six issue installments that entirely coincidentally make for a good trade paperback.

• • •

There we go, one question down that I think was answered somewhere in the midst of all that typing. If you want to throw a question in the hopper then hie yourself hither to this post to submit!

You can tell Mike’s mismanaged his blogging time when he resorts to the “ask him a question” post.

§ September 25th, 2020 § Filed under question time § 33 Comments

I’m sorry, D, I am working on a reply to your question about what else I read from Aardvark-Vanaheim and Renegade Press, but it’s running long (shocking, I know) and frankly I’m not sure if the post is hanging together as much as I’d like. So…sorry about that! It’s still in the hopper, and I’ll get to it next week.

So, since I’m stuck for a post now that it’s (checks watch) way past my bedtime, let’s make this a Question Time, since, you know, turning your questions into posts is about half my content lately anyhow!

Thus, ASK ME A QUESTION, preferably related to comics or the comics industry. Just leave it in the comments there. If it’s too personal, or asks me to reveal rocket secrets, I may demur, but otherwise I’ll try to answer your question in a future post. Unless you’re D. SORRY D

And please, ONE QUESTION PER CUSTOMER. To reiterate:


Take it easy on your pal Mike.

I’ll get to these questions over the next few weeks (or months, let’s face it). And don’t worry, D…I’ll respond to you before I start on any of these!

Thanks, pals! Just leave a comment with a question in the comments here.

Okay, that one RAW technically had a variant cover, too.

§ April 24th, 2020 § Filed under question time § 7 Comments

Just addressing some comments from the last couple of posts. Wednesday first:

Matthew asked

“Unrelated to anything, but I read recently-ish that the original Fathom #1 from the 1990s had variant interiors. Do you remember anything about this?”

I believe that’s correct…a little Googling around seems to confirm that, but I meant to check the Fathom #1s at the shop (I have two of the three main covers) but I forgot because brain no work good.

But yes, I’m pretty sure that was a thing. DC Comics also did that with Team Titans, their attempt at an edgier, hipper superhero team more like those X-Forces and the Youngbloods all the kids are into. First issue had multiple variations, each featuring a different solo story of one of the title’s characters. Anyway, variant interiors like that are dumb and don’t do it (unless you’re RAW magazine, which did “variant interiors” to much better effect).

jmurphy lays down the law with

“What’s this Episode IV New Hope nonsense? That wording didn’t exist until 1981. Anything from the late ’70s is just ‘Star Wars.’ Kids these days…”

Hey, I’ll have you know I was there in the theater as an excited 8-year-old in 1977 watching Star Wars during its original run, so don’t you try to out-Star Wars fan me! Besides, as we all know, every change made to Star Wars post-release ripples backwards through time, replacing all previously released versions with the newest revision. As such, we have always been at war with Episode IV, A New Hope.

JohnJ has this to say

“Didn’t Marvel also do a Treasury combining all 6 issues?”

Indeed they did! That’s what I was referencing in the title to Wednesday’s post!

Issue #3 of Marvel Special Edition collected the contents of the first two treasuries under a new cover. I remember when it came out, I had the first two treasuries pretty much memorized and, when I saw this third one, I immediately thought “oh boy, new Star Wars stories!” Until I got a better look at it and realized it was stuff I already had. I’m pretty sure I asked anyway whichever parent was in attendance if they could buy that for me, and my request was declined, which was just as well.

JohnJ also adds

“Speaking of Star Wars, doesn’t everybody think it’s way past time for Disney to put out dvds of the original versions of the first three movies??”

Well, the original versions (more or less, it’s hard to tell) did get released as “special features” on some DVD release or ‘nother many years ago, which I have somewhere in the “Remember Physical Media?” section of my home. As I recall, they weren’t remastered in any way, nor were they anamorphic. I’d imagine Disney could make a mint by releasing nice versions of those films…except of course they no longer exist due to that retroactive time-rippling effect I was speaking about earlier.

Now, you wanna talk what Disney should put out on DVD? Lucas ain’t around to stop no more, so I do believe it’s time for The Holday Special, The Deluxe Edition. C’MON DISNEY, you’re already doing stuff with Yoda’s people, once verboten territory per Big George, what’s one more thing?

Okay, now let’s go back to Monday for Snark Shark, who bites off more than he can chew with

“Seems like I’ve seen extra copies of [Superman’s Fortress of Solitude and Captain America Bicentennial treasuries] than most of the treasury editions. I wonder if those 2 were overprinted?”

I can’t say to the Cap book, but I got my copy of Fortress, it was in a freestanding cardboard display at our local grocery store. I can’t remember if the display itself was specific to the comic or just a generic cardboard dump, but it certainly must have come with that treasury. I have no idea how widespread that form of display for this specific comic was, and I don’t recall seeing any other treasuries displayed this way before or after. Was there a special deal in which you got that display with a certain number of copies, and maybe there was a bump up in print numbers to go along with this promotion? Don’t know enough to say.

It could also be just a regional thing specifically to you…maybe more copies just made it to your area for whatever reason. If only we could go back in time four decades or more and find out for sure, right?

I Googled “comics pariah” and all I found was a picture of me.

§ April 13th, 2020 § Filed under question time § 3 Comments

Got a lot to get through today, but first let me note that yes, your favorite comic shop owner…me, I’m talking about me, smart guy…was interviewed for this New York Times article about the impact of the coronavirus on the comic book industry. Now, you might be able to read it for free or not, ain’t entirely sure how that whole set-up works, but hey, I’m ihn the Times, spreading some of that fake news you’ve all heard about. It’s an interesting article, and I think the writer did a good job making me sound like I know what I’m talking about, for which I’m grateful.

Okay, now let’s finish up what I couldn’t finish on Friday, my responses to your commments on this post about characters what may have some long-term staying power.

The extremely positive Yes! said

“DC sort of hit a wall in New 52, having to spend the a lot of stories attempting to reintroduce everyone. There’s been a lot of fun new ones like Bunker and Super-Man. But karma insists that for every Gotham Academy there’s must be a Green Team.”

Hmm, that’s something I hadn’t considered, that the focus was on retooling what already existed for current audiences versus trying to get new concepts out there. I do agree that the New Super-Man was a very fun title, but I don’t know if we’ll see that character again, or if we do, it’ll be in the same tone as in his own series.

“I bet soon Pandora will end up like Harbinger, a forgotten footnote to confuse future TPB readers.”

Remember when we were all excited about trying to find Pandora’s “Where’s Waldo?”-esque appearances in the early New 52 comics? Anyway, I suspect we’ll see Harbinger in a comic again before we ever see the return of Pandora.

Funny thing about Harbinger, and the other two Big! New! Star! that popped up in Crisis on Infinite Earths:

…is that they pop up now and again to this day. Well, maybe not this exact day but you get my meaning. So they’ve beeen around for 35 years, two of ’em even made it into live-action TV shows…I think they’re qualifying as long-lasting, if not houshold name, characters.

I was also looking them up on Wikipedia to see what’s up with them, and it turns out they sure died a lot. People just loved killin’ ’em off. And I noticed that for a couple of them, Pariah and Lady Quark, they would get kiled, then show up later alive in another comic with no explanation other than “the writer/editor forget to check. Or in Pariah’s case, killed, revived, then show as still dead later. Anyway, thought that was interesting.

Oh, and despite being around for as long as she was, I was looking up Lady Quark to see if she’d made any appearances beyond Crisis and that issue of DC Comics Presents and lo, she was a big part of L.E.G.I.O.N.….a comic that I read and really enjoyed. She was just that memorable, I guess.

Oh, right, Yes! still has more to say:

“(Chris Kent seems in retrospect to have been a dry run of sorts. He didn’t get a ton of negative response if I remember correctly. I wonder if that gave DC the confidence to try a more permanent introduction)”

For those of you coming in late, Chris Kent was a Kryptonian child Supes and Lois were raising until he ended up trapped in the Phantom Zone and out of the series.* I glossed over a whole lot there but that’s basically it. But yes, Yes1, maybe it wasn’t a direct tryout for giving Lois and Clark a kid of their own, but maybe the mostly positive response helped influence the decision.

There’s precedence, in that there was a “Supergirl” wished into existence by Jimmy Olsen in Superman #123, not long before the actual Supergirl showed up in Action #252. (There were other “Super Girl” type characters in the Superman comics prior to that one, but that one in Superman #123 felt like more of the dry run for what was coming.)

• • •

BK Munn lets me know

“The only reason I know Skaar is the Hulk and the Agents of SMASH cartoon show, which is still on one of the kids channels here.”

Oh, okay, that’s interesting. I didn’t realize that. So Skaar is still getting some usage somewhere, if not (current, that I recall) in the comics. Marvel and/or Disney lets no IP gather moss, I guess!

• • •

And just to acknowledge a couple of you jokers, yes, perhaps my phrasing it “Damian Wayne, the son of Batman and the current Robin” is a tad ambiguous. LOOK YOU KNOW WHAT I MEANT

• • •

So for next time, I’ll finally be covering Tim’s long-ago Twitter question regarding Twitter pal Tim’s query about folks overvaluing comics they were trying to sell. I’ve got a couple of specific examples that I’ll be covering, so I hope to see you back here on Wednesday. I mean, what else are we all doing, right?

* Cassand’s comment made me go look it up, since I couldn’t remember, and yup, there was a new version of Chris Kent who shows up during DC’s “Rebirth” initiative.

First thing to go is the luxurious mane of golden hair.

§ April 10th, 2020 § Filed under question time § 2 Comments

So let’s wrap up this long week (it is Friday, today, right? I’m not 100% sure) by looking at your responses to Monday’s post. As a reminder, I was responding to the question “what new character introduced in the 21st century do you think will have staying power?” or words to that effect. And anyway, I totally forgot to bring up the new Batwoman, introduced in 2006, and certainly a distinct version of the character from previous iterations. I mean, she’s got a TV show now and everything.

So, to your comments:

I was wondering about that dinosaur what’s in the Runaways comic and whether it also appeared in the TV show adaptation, and BRR informs me

“I’ll blissfully ignore the possibility the question is rhetorical. The dinosaur is in the show!”

Not rhetorical at all! I genuinely was curious.

Chris G notes

“The funny thing about Jon Kent is that it wasn’t all that long ago that Lois & Clark had essentially adopted another super-powered Kryptonian teen. But nobody ever mentions Chris Kent these days!”

This is true…the whole “Chris Kent” thing occurred prior to the Flashpoint rejiggering of the DC Universe, and now that the pre-Flashpoint Superman and Lois have been moved into current continuity, he typed even as he realized how nonsensical that all sounded, that means those events are part of the current Superman’s past. …Except with the said rejiggering, both Flashpoint and whatever Rebirth was, the argument could be made that the Chris Kent stuff was made never was at some point, which is why he’s not brought up.

Or who knows. Maybe Bendis will bring him back and suddenly Lois and Clark will have two sons.

Matthew brings up some possibilities for new characters with staying power:

First mentioned are X-23 and Quentin Quire, and…yeah, probably they’ll be around for a while. X-Men characters I feel like have a better chance of sticking around or at least not being forgotten. The X-books always seemed like a franchise that wasn’t afraid to dig into is own history on a fairly regular basis for new subplots and story ideas. If X-23 goes away for a while, I’m sure she’d be back in some for or ‘noter sooner rather than later.

“Would the current version of Groot count?”

That’s a tricky question. The Wiki entry says that it’s a different Groot, but…part of the same species, maybe? I feel like there’s some continuity of existence between the two. By the standard we’d been going with, in which a prexisting superhero name/concept can be introduced with a new person under the cowl and be considered “new,” then this new version of Groot is a new, distinct character. WEIRD BUT TRUE

“The characters people have mentioned tend to be superheroes, are there any supervillains people think will stand the test of time.”

Think I’ll save that one for a future post. It’s a much harder question, I think!

“And yes, I have seen Simon Baz recently. He was in the Lego DC Super Heroes blind bag minifigure series released in January. Why him? I have no idea.”

There are worse fates than achieving a form of immortality via Lego!

Aaaand…let’s wrap up on Monday, because once again I’m dead tired (hey, it’s hard work running a store that’s closed!) and just can’t stay up any later to finish this post. Yeah, I know, back in my blogging prime i’d be up ’til 4 in the morning making sure I had one of my 7-day-a-week entries ready for the world. But, you know what they say, blogging is the second thing to go.

See you guys then.

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