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Oh, right, remember Miracleman?

§ July 8th, 2020 § Filed under self-promotion, superman, this week's comics, x-men § No Comments

So a couple of days ago I asked you all for a little help regarding my eyeball-related medical treatments and associated bills via a GoFundMe campaign. I was thinking at best I’d reach the goal amount, which would cover some outstanding bills, a couple laser treatments to hopefully, finally stem the constant bleeding in my eyes, and a few follow-up visits (likely requiring more injections).

Well, you really came through for me. The goal was reached within twelve ours, and folks are still contributing. Any extra money I receive will continue to go to medical bills and debt. If, with any luck, I finally get through this eye stuff and money is left over, I’ll find a worthy charity to give it to.

I said this on the GoFundMe page, and I’ve been blathering about it on Twitter…but I have been very moved by this enormous outpouring of help from everyone. I just couldn’t believe so many people care about some dude who sells comics and also types too much about them on the internet. I can’t possibly thank you all enough for what you’ve done.

• • •

Okay, so this week’s new issue of Superman reminded me a lot of the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League series from the ’80s, and I’m sure having that series’ artist Kevin Maguire on this new book helped a lot.

It was mostly a light, funny read except, of course, when it wasn’t, as Superman and Dr. Fate try to work out whatever problems Supes is having. More something that’s essentially talking heads (what, in a Bendis book, who would’ve guessed) it remains compelling reading as Superman works through his feelings on recent events in his comics. It’s not often you see your mainstream superhero books tackle the emotional impact of whatever super-shenanigans they were responsible for. And here you do, and somehow it’s interesting.

Plus I forgot we had a new Dr. Fate, which is from…I don’t know, two or three reboots ago, right? So I didn’t know if that new Fate was still around or if we were back to the original dude. If the new guy’s turned up in other stuff recently, I don’t know, since I’m still behind on just about everything. I’m catching up, though, one comic at a time!

Now this one I was interested in, as, hold onto your hats, I’ve never actually read the original graphic novel! In fact, my primary memory of God Loves, Man Kills is when I somehow managed to catch some religious TV show in the early 1980s looking at some then-recent comic books, including that very volume. I can’t remember many specifics about what the panel on this show had to say, except they weren’t entirely thrilled with the imagery of Professor X being crucified, and that the ended the discussion with “this cost $5.95? I remember when they were ten cents!” (Also, they talked a little about Thor, and his being the “God of Thunder” which was also apparently a problem.)

Anyway, I finally have my mitts on at least half the story, and since this is the “extended cut,” there are a few new introductory pages of what I’m presuming to be a framing sequence (with the other part of the frame in #2), featuring Kitty Pryde. Oh, and it’s by Chris (excuse me, “Christopher”) Claremont and Brent Anderson, the folks what did the original book. You know, that’s kinda neat. And there’s some back matter, too, interviews and such about the making of this story.

The story is pretty much Peak X-Men, with all the characters you’d expect, hanging out in the mansion, getting persecuted for being mutants, all that sort of thing. I mean, when I think “X-Men Comics,” this is what I think of, down to being written by Mr. Claremont, back before the 1990s arrived and the X-franchise was splintered and more-or-less destroyed. Well, okay, maybe the endless array of never-ending subplots aren’t as involved, but you can’t have everything.

And it turns out, it’s a good story, in case you hadn’t heard about this here graphical novel. A Falwell-type religious leader has it in for them mutants, successfully taking them on in the media, and meanwhile, some bad people are going around killing mutants, and The X-Men Are There to put a stop to all this. A nice point that’s made is that in a televised debate between said religious leader (Stryker) and leader of the X-Men, Professer Charles Xavier, it’s Stryker who comes out the clear winner, being charismatic and convincing and knowing ahow to play to the cameras, while our Professor X, who doesn’t know how to deal with the media, comes out a bit off-putting. A nice comment on how “truth” and “facts” can get easily steamrolled.

Another interesting bit in this half of the story involves Kitty, and the aftermath of her fight with a fellow dance class student who thinks Stryker’s got the right idea about getting rid of mutants. Kitty, a mutant herself, clearly objects to this, and her classmate refers to her as a “mutie-lover.” Following a brief scuffle, the instructor of the class, Stevie Hunter, a Black woman, tries to calm Kitty down, to which Kitty responds how Ms. Hunter would have responded if the other student had said “n*****-lover” instead.

The N-word is not censored in the comic, which I wanted to address, if only because not that long ago, in Marvel’s Miracleman reprints, the same word was censored, when it wasn’t in the original. I suspect the difference is context, in which the X-Men usage is simply making explicit the X-Men’s allegorical themes regarding racism and bigotry, while in Miracleman it’s a Black man using the word to describe himself in a derisive manner. Both uses are about the racist treatment of Black people, but the X-Men example is a little more obvious in its purpose. …Or, you know, just different editors making different decisions, and I’m just reading too much into it, which, you know, I never do. Regardless, it was still a bit of a shock to see, particularly in the current questioning of whether white people should even be using that slur in any context, no matter the point being made. Look, I don’t even like typing the censored version here.

I am glad I finally read this, or at least half of it, after all these years. It’s definitely a product of its time, with evil folks using religious as a weapon against the oppressed. Whew, thank goodness that doesn’t happen anymore. Anyway, maybe I’ll get around to reading that New Mutants graphic novel next. Nobody spoil it for me.

So it’s come to this.

§ July 6th, 2020 § Filed under eyeball, letters of comment, self-promotion § 4 Comments

Hi pals! I actually spent my blogging time Sunday night to work on this: a GoFundMe campaign to help me pay for more eyeball procedures. I didn’t want to have to do it, but also I want to see, and with my personal resources kinda stripmined after a couple of years of eyeball injections and surgeries, plus the recent economic COVID-19 downturn, I could use the help. If you can contribute, or at least share, it would be appreciated.

Okay, let me try to get a little comic book-y content into this post so it’s not all just me picking your pocket.

Longtime reader Wayne (who recently gifted me with a replacement copy of the Darkseid/Galactus crossover — thanks, Wayne!) asked about letter column writers:

“…Has anyone ever written to a prolific letter writer? I’m as old as dirt, but I wrote to T. M. (The Mad) Maple and even found Irene Vartanoff online with her own blog. I wrote Dean Mullaney long before Eclipse Comics was a thing. I don’t necessarily miss letter columns, but even Martin Pasko was prolific for awhile.

“Other names I remember are Danny Fingeroth and Elvis Orten. I’ve been meaning to bring this up for awhile.”

All familiar names, of course! I know at the previous place of employment I either sold via eBay or just direct mail order somethin’ or ‘nother to Mr. Mullaney. I suppose that counts as “writing” him, maybe.

Now I never really sought out and directly wrote any letterhacks (though I believe I’ve mentioned before how my one letter printed in an issue of Superman resulted in convention and club fliers being mailed to me). BUT…shortly after I started blogging here, I made a silly joke about how, rather than waiting for the trade, I was waiting for the microfiche. Well, Augie De Blieck Jr. was tickled by that and mentioned it in his column for Comic Book Resources. [Should tell you right now…plenty of linkrot in those posts, but not for the actual microfiche link, amazingly enough.] I recognized Augie’s name from letter columns and from the fact that I’d been reading his stuff on the comic sties for a while, so I was equally tickled by that. And Augie and I have had an online friendship ever since, which makes me very happy.

Now one of my habits, when I’m processing old comic books, is peeking at the letters pages to see if I recognize any names. Sometimes I’d see future pros, but every once in a while I’d catch a letter from a customer of mine at the shop! I once found one in a 1973 comic from someone I knew had to be the same person because he had a very unusual name…and when I asked, yup, sure enough.

Had another customer get a letter printed in…Green Lantern, I think, in the 1960s, back when they were giving away original art to “best letter of the month” or whatever, and he ended up with a chapter from a Flash/GL crossover. I remember him telling me (sometime in the 1990s) that he still had people tracking him down to get that art from him. He still has it all, far as I know.

A little more recently, my old friend Mark got the “featured letter” treatment in a couple of latter day Astro City issues, which were nice surprises to me.

UGH. Up too late again, so it’s off to the ol’ hammock for me. Thanks for reading, and for contributing lots and lots of money to my GoFundMe, nudge nudge. See you Wednesday.

All the Mike that’s fit to print.

§ May 6th, 2020 § Filed under self-promotion § 5 Comments

Short post today (no, honestly, it’s going to be a short one) but I’ll give you plenty to read regardless, if you’re so inclined. I was interviewed for The Comics Journal regarding the state of my store and the comics industry in general during the current virus crisis. And when the interviewer says things were “edited for clarity,” I can only imagine what the poor guy had to do to turn my word salad into something readable by humans.

It was really exciting to be straight up interviewed for The Comics Journal (as well as being featured on the front page…remind me to screencap that before it goes away). I was a big fan of the original iteration of the print magazine (and still have my run starting in the 30s and running all the way to 300), and this website’s success owes a lot to the old Journalista news/link blog pointing people my way on a fairly regular basis early in Progressive Ruin’s existence. Glad to be at least a tiny part of this magazine’s storied history.

Anyway, between this and the New York Times interview, I’m all set to speak to even more outlets about this industry. …Someone get Cat Fancy on the phone!

Least appropriate use of he phrase “all the rage” thus far.

§ March 30th, 2020 § Filed under collecting, retailing, self-promotion, sterling silver comics § 5 Comments

So over the last few days I’d been getting requests for two specific issues of Spectacular Spider-Man. No, not that series. Or the other series. Or that other one. I’m talkin’ the original one, the one that began with “Peter Parker, The…” before the title. …No, not that one.

Anyway, my curiosity was piqued as to why these issues, and though I (almost certainly correctly) suspected one of those websites or apps that “inform” folks intent on speculation and investing was responsible, I was wondering just what specific thing was driving this demand.

As you all know, things have been a tad topsy turvy this past week or two, so I had other things on my mind besides researching peculiar demand for a couple of issues of a Spider-Man comic that generally, and no offense to any fans or involved creators, back issue bin filler of no particular note.

But I had some time on Sunday, my first break in a while (more on that later in this very post) and finally sat down an did an eBay search on these requested issues. And I found many a listing with multiple variations on this title:


They’re in demand. Because there’s a character named “Corona” introduced in these books.

Oh come ON.

Needless to say, there’s no connection between Corona the comic book character and the coronavirus, aside from the names, much like there’s no connection between Corona the beer and said virus (but if you saw any of those articles claiming that Corona the beer had suffering sales as of late due to the pandemic, here comes Snopes to clear that particular misconception).

This doesn’t smell like “investment” so much as a recommendation by others to buy ’em cheap out of back issue bins of unsuspecting dealers and then bilk someone on eBay for a lotta dollars by making them think they’re getting a rare collectible.” Well, okay, that’s investment of a sort, but there’s no way something like this is any kind of long-term investment. It’s “buy and flip quick” while the coronavirus is all the rage.

Look, I’ve said before, however people want to enjoy the comics hobby, that’s fine, knock yourself out. But when I found out what was driving this need for these comics…well, my mostly-working eyes couldn’t help but roll awfully hard. Sheesh, “it’s an ill wind…” and all that.

Speaking of ill winds and what they don’t blow, my shop and I have been lucky enough to avoid such zephyrs and actually take in normal income since the California shutdown a couple of weeks back, despite being closed to walk-ins. My doors may be shut, but I’m working hard behind them all by my own self, taking phone orders and internet orders and eBay sales and getting ’em all packed up and shipped out. Now I don’t know how long that’ll last, given I did have a boost from a last new comics shipment from Diamond on Wednesday (resulting in sales that were pretty much on par with regular non-shutdown New Comics Day sales). But folks have been eager to throw business my way, and even prepay for material I won’t receive ’til Diamond revs up the ol’ supply line again.

Now I have been very busy, as it seems like I just take a phone or email order, start packing stuff, get another order called in, add that to the pile, then get more orders, and so on. Like I said above, I haven’t really had a chance to sit and relax for a moment at the shop until I had a brief respite on Sunday. And even then, I began posting some random books in a Twitter feed and on the store Instagram and will likely do more of that as time allows.

And speaking of the Instagrams, I offered (and am still offering) a special deal…$20 (which includes shipping) gets you 30 random comics. Good way to get you some comics for reading, giving to the kids, cutting up for art projects, and the like. And it clears out some stock from my backroom, too! It’s a win/win! Just PayPal $20 to my store’s email address (mike at sterlingsilvercomics dot com) and I’ll send you a package, too! Domestic customers only, though if you live in another country let me know and maybe I can get something worked out for you.

Bet you weren’t expecting a commercial. Sorry, gotta find ways to keep that cash flow active, especially if things get a bit leaner as this situation continues.

Anyway, stay safe out there, follow Nancy’s advice, and let’s all get through this so we can get back to focusing on fun stuff…all them funnybooks. Tell you what…next post I make here will be virus-free. …Er, you know what I mean.

We interrupt this hiatus…

§ April 16th, 2019 § Filed under pal plugging, self-promotion § 1 Comment

…to let you know that my store sponsored this week’s episode of War Rocket Ajax. Hear pals Matt ‘n’ Chris sing the praises of Sterling Silver Comics! …It was definitely nice to hear after a couple of rough eyeball days, so that was good timing!

I swear this isn’t just a commercial for my eBay store, but if you happened to go there and buy something, I would not disapprove of your selfless behavior.

§ September 11th, 2018 § Filed under advertising, how the sausage is made, promo, self-promotion, Uncategorized § 3 Comments

So here’s the thing: I’m still planning on an End of Civilization post, but I just haven’t had the time to start putting it together yet. I’ve barely even cracked open the new Previews…I have no idea if that deluxe hardcover edition of Swamp Thing Meets Jesus is finally announced, or if the last issues of the Sonic Distruptors mini-series have finally been solicited. Could be in there, I have no idea.

But anyway…usually when I’m having a lunch break at work, I’ll buzz through the Previews and pick out some likely suspects for my EoC post, and then write up the “humorous” “gags” at home. Alas, this month my lunch breaks have been less leisurely and more “cram this food down my throat so I can get back to processing these huge collections I have to process” and “oh Lordy I gotta get all these things on eBay” and…well, you know, actual work. So, no Previews perusal has occurred as of yet. But soon…soooooooon. Hopefully before the DC Universe streaming service starts up next weekend and I suddenly disappar into binge-watching the Constantine series at long last.

Soooooo…let’s shoot for next Monday for the new End of Civilization. Agreed? Agreed! (I totally spoke for you there, I hope you don’t mind.)

In the meantime, let me tell you about some of the stuff I’ve been working on and processing (and may eventually get to my eBay store, if it’s not there already, and if it’s ite> already sold). Basically, former boss Ralph (I’m trying not to call him “old boss Ralph,” y’know) broght me more boxes of promotional funnybook items from the Good Ol’ Days, back when there was only one (or two) X-Men series, when many titles still had triple-digit numbering, when the only “-gate” we had to worry about had “Water” in front of it. I’ve been digging though them, and within I found:

Malibu Sun #13 from 1992:


…featuring a preview of Spawn #1, back when Image and Malibu Comics were briefly iinked together. As others have commented when I posted a pic of this on the Twitters…”that’s some logo.” Anyway, there are some black and white pin-ups by McFarlane inside, and a short (very short, since it had barely existed at this point) history of Image Comics and where it came from and why, and boy howdy do these things go for a pretty penny on the eBay.

Valiant Comics loved its chromium, as evidenced by this wee little “Ninjak on Sale” display piece from 1994 (I presume):


Measures about 5 by 8 inches, and is basically just a miniature version of the cover to the first ossie drawm by future Marvel head honcho Joe Quesada.

“Hey, where’s the new issue of Thor Corps?” “Why, right below the Thor Corps ‘New Arrivals’ sign, of course!”


Dated 1992. Odd choice to represent Marvel’s publishing line for All Time on a sign that’d be posted about the new comics and left there ’til it sunfaded into nothingness, but who am I to judge?

Speaking of odd choices, please enjoy this unopened pack of First Comics stickers from 1983:

And a closer look at said stickers:


Now, I read and enjoyed Mars as it was coming out, but even I’m like “…what would I do with a bunch of Mars cover stickers?” But stickers featuring First Comics mascot Teddy Q — well, those have no end of uses!

My favorite piece so far is the one that’s in the worst condition (a lot of dings and creases, but somehow never actually displayed!)…this promo poster for the second issue of the original magazine series of Nexus, from 1982:


Never did buy all those original mag-sized Nexus issues…got the third one for the flexidisc, but was otherwise satisfied with the trade collection First released years later. Also, that’s Paul Gulacy art on that nice-lookin’ cover, which I misidentified as “Steve Rude” in my rush to get this thing listed. Ah, well…fixed now.

You know, every time I’m reminded of Nexus, it makes me want to go back and reread all the comics. Man, I don’t have time for that…I’m behind on the new comics as it is. Anyway, Nexus is a good comic, is what I’m trying to say.

Next time…more stuff!

It only seems like 29 years and 12 months.

§ September 1st, 2018 § Filed under self-promotion, sterling silver comics § 3 Comments

I started working in comics retail in September of 1988, so this marks my 30th anniversary slinging the ol’ funnybooks. I wrote a little thingie marking the occasion over at my store’s website.

Let me know in the comments about the huge forthcoming DC war comic reprint initiative that I somehow missed.

§ June 22nd, 2018 § Filed under self-promotion, what is it good for § 1 Comment

So earlier in the week, comments were left on my war comics post regarding where one could find inexpensive reprints/collections of those very books. As was noted, DC put out several black and white volumes of their war books when they were still doing the Showcase series of paperback reprints.

Many of DC’s old war books had been reprinted, in digests and specials and 80/64/48-Page Giants over the years, but it’s been a while, and as the market is wont to do, even those reprints have crept up a bit in price. Now as it turns out, most of the war books I received in this collection I was talking about on Monday are in…less than pristine condition, and priced accordingly, so if anyone wants some cheap war comics and won’t be too particularly about the shape they’re in, I’m your guy!

Now all this talk about war comic reprints reminded me of one item that I rarely see…the last time I saw it was several years ago at the previous place of employment:


Totally stole the image from here, and if you look at the publisher listing you can see many of the other titles that were of the same ilk. Including, for example, the most famous of the bunch, Origins of Marvel Comics and Son of Origins, which I’ve seen pop in collections several dozen times versus the whole one time I found that America at War volume.

I’m sure once this Blackhawk movie gets a little closer to release we’ll start seeing some collections of those comics come back into print (with any luck, those great Mark Evanier/Dan Spiegel stories from the ’80s). Maybe it would be too much to hope that other war comic collections would follow suit? Maybe if Arnold Schwarzenegger had actually made that Sgt. Rock movie we would have had all the war comic reprints we could stand.

Some neat stuff I found.

§ November 21st, 2017 § Filed under advertising, pal plugging, self-promotion, swamp thing § 1 Comment

Here’s yet another installment of “what did Mike find in the boxes of old promo stuff from his previous job this time,” featuring this poster advertising the Marvel graphic novel Death of Captain Marvel by Jim Starlin:


Unlike a lot of the posters I’ve been seeing, this one was totally displayed, with pieces of tape still affixed to the back, and even a couple of tape tears noticeable on the front from where another poster with tape on its back was placed on top of it. Even still, it’s a nice piece of retail history from the very early 1980s.

From a couple of years later is, not a promo poster, but an odd piece of photocopier humor that was passed around in the wake of the release of Frank Miller’s mini-series Ronin:


You see, the joke is the comic is called Ronin, so the picture on the original cover has been replaced with an image of Marvel’s Red Ronin fighting Godzilla, and…well, look, this is what we had before Photoshop and image sharing on your Tumblrs and whathaveyou. Just eighth-generation Xerox copies of Xerox copies of gags being passed around by hand for everyone to enjoy. From the few examples of these I remember seeing way back when, at least this one wasn’t, like, purposefully offensive, which was a rarity in itself.

• • •

Hey, my friend Cathy, who does lots of medically-themed comics (some of which you can sample right here) has started up a Patreon of her very own. I know everyone’s got a Patreon right now and times are tough all over, but if you’ve got a dollar to spare, I bet she’d appreciate it.

And speaking of Patreons, I know I fell behind on mine and its exclusive content a bit, but I have started on the next Swamp Thing-a-Thon installment (covering original series #8, The Lovecraftian One). That should be up soon. I apologize, but sometimes real life gets in the way of doing fun stuff. I’m sure some of you can relate.

Oh, and on the topic of Swamp Thing, I did get a copy of the Bernie Wrightson Artifact Edition from IDW, featuring tons of original art for Swamp Thing another other DC horror comics. I’ll probably post a more extensive review of it soon, but in the meantime, let me assure you that it is sufficiently fantastic. I told myself a long time ago the only Artifact Edition book I’d personally get would be one that featured Wrightson’s Swamp Thing work, and I chose wisely. Not to say the other volumes don’t look great (and they do!) but Wrightson’s originals are the ones I felt I’d appreciate the most, and I wasn’t wrong. This book is printed in almost literally tear-inducing detail…I was comparing the original art in the IDW volume to the original printed comics from the ’70s and…sheesh, wotta revelation. And yes, the werewolf splash and these two covers are in there, too. …So go buy one already! Or order one from me! I won’t stop you!

Hiya, pals!

§ October 30th, 2017 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, self-promotion § 1 Comment

I didn’t want to skip another Monday, but I don’t really have anything ready to go for today, so let me just cover a couple of things:

1. The new End of Civilization post will be up on Tuesday, just in time for Halloween. Not that it’s specifically Halloween-themed or anything, beyond its typically scary content. Sorry for skipping last month, but this month’s installment should be, you know, okay, I guess.

2. No, I haven’t forgotten the Swamp Thing-a-Thon over on my Patreon. I’ve been otherwise occupied the last few weeks, with health issues and other distractions, but I should good to go from here on out. I may be down to one entry a month rather than the planned two, but we’ll see what happens. Thanks for all your patience.

3. Googum wonders in response to my previous post:

“Returns, or ‘returns’? Didn’t they used to have to mail back part of the cover for credit, but not always?”

Yes, in general newsstands returned either just the logo, or perhaps the whole cover, in order to receive credit on unsold copies. Even in the direct market, in which I “make” my “living,” where comics are generally sold on a non-returnable basis (advantage: higher profit margins for retailers; disadvantage: enjoy eating those unsold copies) sometimes comics are returnable. Reasons vary: either a special publisher promotion (“try this comic out, and your order is returnable!”), or the comic is distributed not as originally solicited, or it’s hideously late, or, you know, whatever. Every week we get a list of what’s returnable, and it’s indicated on the sheet if we should just send back the stripped covers (usually the case, particularly with periodicals) or send back the whole thing (not terribly often, and usually for books and such).

Also in those comments: Ben has a few words about how direct-sales-only books were offered up in England, and Dave explains why even just a reprint book could be so unprofitable. Oh, and read Thom H.‘s and Dallas‘s comments, too, so they don’t feel left out.

• • •

Okay, be back with the End of Civilization tomorrow…if the actual End of Civilization doesn’t beat me to it.

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