You are currently browsing the the thing category

As in “editorial edict,” not “the model of car.”

§ November 17th, 2023 § Filed under does mike ever shut up, fantastic four, the thing § 11 Comments

So Matthew brings up another option I’d totally forgotten aboiut in the Thing eyebrow/no eyebrow raging debate: TWO eyebrows, as per Fantasic Four #502 (art by Casey Jones):

Now I was all ready to not like this, based on the description. This issue, though, was one I had read, probably a couple of times, given this particular run of the book was a favorite of mine, and I don’t recall being put off by the appearance of Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew at any point.

Pulling up that above image and giving the dual-brow look a once-over, I find…I don’t hate it. (And to be fair, I don’t really hate any of the Thing’s various visual permutations, despite some interpretations of his “pineapple Thing” days proving…challenging.) I can picture Benjy waggling his eyebrows up and down, individually, Groucho-style, stogie in his better-be-toothless mouth if he were still allowed to have his stogies (banned long ago via editorial).

The aforementioned “raging debate” in the comments of Wednesday’s post is described as such in the Mighty Mike’s Facetious Manner, as folks from both sides of the conflict, the no-eyebrow people and the wrong people, have cheerfully piped up with their love for the character no matter the state of his forehead. As I said then, either interpretation of the Thing is perfectly fine, and though my personal preference is no-eyebrow, the charm of the expressive separate eyebrow is certainly not lost on me.

One thing (cough) we can all agree on, as brought up a couple of times in my comments, is “Woe Betide You If You Give the Thing Teeth,” as so:

Look, God bless Neal Adams, that man did a lot for our beloved funnybooks, at his peak his art was unmatchable, he gave us Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali, he was instrumental in Superman’s creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster getting their due. And maybe he had some…odd ideas about science, and maybe his latter-day comics were…idiosyncratic, but he was a legend and absolutely rightfully so.

But when I turned the page and saw the above image in his Fantastic Four: Antithesis series, it was like a jump scare in a horror film. I mean, wow, that is not a Thing I am used to. It was an entertaining series, and the art was nice overall, but the Toothsome Mr. Grimm took some getting used to, not that I really ever did.

The Thing is one of those characters that is open to a wide amount of variation and still being “The Thing,” but there are certain elements that to his look that can just look wrong if pushed too far or simply not done correctly.

John Byrne’s “How to Draw the Thing” from the early ’80s is oft-cited:

…and my early exposure to it, and internalization thereof, has definitely influenced my opinions on the Thing’s appearance. I notice when someone gives him a neck, for instance, and it always reads as “wrong” to me. Despite this, I am up for versions of the character that don’t necessarily follow Byrne’s fiat.

However, with increasing talk about the forthcoming Fantastic Four movie, and Marvel’s predilection for letting the tail wag the dog, one wonders how much a live-action/CGI Hollywood Thing design will alter the character in the comics. I got to wondering about this after seeing a post on…probably Xwitter, lamenting the fact that whatever is done with the FF in the movies will be reflected by the comics for the following few years.

This doesn’t take into account that Marvel movies may very well be entering a period of decline, as moviegoers appear to be becoming pickier about the movies they see, and films budgeted with near-billion box office takes in mind are barely breaking even, if at all. Lots of reasons for this, and it’s less the ever-threatened “Marvel burnout” and more “COVID has changed movie-going patterns” and “people have turned increasingly to streaming options” and “it’s just easier to wait a month or two and watch at home instead of going to a theater.”

And maybe it is a little bit about “Marvel burnout,” as I saw an article recently ask, nonironically, “why did The Marvels, the 33rd film in the franchise, fail?” Well, maybe after 2 1/2 dozen films, the novelty’s worn off, and folks just won’t go to see any movie with a Marvel logo in front of it. The movies might be perfectly fine (I myself would like to see The Marvels, but I haven’t been to a theater since the pandemic started and have no plans to return) but unless it’s something special, it’s not going to pull people in. (Compare to Barbie, which was new and different and had a point of view and an individualistic style and made that coveted billion bucks.)

And I’m not picking on Marvel movies specifically. DC’s last few movies underperformed, and I don’t see that trend changing even under James Gunn’s purview. That last Indiana Jones film made $300 million in the box office, an impressive take under normal circumstances, but its production costs were about that much, and that’s not even counting the advertising. It had to become a phenomenon to turn a profit, and there just wasn’t enough of an audience that excited for the last installment of a decades-old franchise. Which is why I think forthcoming Star Wars movies may also see the same fate.

Anyway, what all this means is that maybe we don’t need to worry too much about an FF movie having undue influence on its poor print cousin. Even if they make the Thing purple with eight arms and teeth for days, there’s every possibility the film will come and go without making a ripple and ol’ Bashful Benjy will be safe. Except if there’s too many flops Marvel The Comic Publishing Company may outlive its usefulness to Disney and be scrapped so they can spend that money on cleaning the Star Tours queue area instead.

Not that I expect that to happen. Marvel movies will more likely slow down in production, maybe one a year if that, making them more “events” again and giving them a better chance at bringing in viewers. Like, Spider-Man movies will always make money. This new Deadpool film will do fine. If Marvel ever gets around to doing a new X-Men movie, that should also do well, assuming they don’t screw it up. But I just don’t see the Fantastic Four capturing audience excitement in the way it needs to in order to justify that likely $250+ million budget. Which would be disappointing because I love the FF.

Well, that’s not where I expected this post to go. Please take a lot of the above with all the authority that I, a dude that sells comic books for a living and doesn’t make Hollywood movies, bring to it. I hope I’m wrong about the movie end of things, since I enjoy superhero films and want them to continue, even as I’m part of the problem by no longer attending theaters. It’s a trickier marketplace than ever, and I’m glad I’m just working at the nickel-and-dime level I’m at rather than having millions upon millions of dollars on the line.

The most important debate of our day.

§ November 15th, 2023 § Filed under the thing § 25 Comments

So which portrayal of the Thing do you prefer? Big Separate Eyebrow Thing?

…or No Separate Eyebrow Piece Thing?

Now I didn’t dive deep researching this or anything, but a cursory glace through the history of the Fantastic Four seems to reveal that Eyebrow Thing started during the Lee/Kirby days, and No Eyebrow Thing was reestablished during Byrne’s run in the ’80s. At the very least, he definitely pointed it out in his “How to draw the Thing” page from the early issues of the Thing series:

Now I have a preference for which version I like, but I do want to make it clear the version I don’t care for does nothing to lessen my admiration for our ever-lovin’ blue-eyed hero. Pretty much no matter how he looks, he remains not just Marvel’s greatest character, but one of the greatest characters in fiction period. Yeah, you heard me, eat it, Pierre Bezukhov.

And look, I’m not going to razz, like, George Pérez’s drawing of Eyebrow Thing above, as that’s absolutely lovely. Also, no way can anyone dismiss Barry Windsor-Smith’s Eyebrowless Thing on that Marvel Fanfare cover.

For those of you wishing to cast spoiler votes for the dreaded “Pineapple Thing,” as per this cover:

…let’s not confuse the issue. Let’s stick to just picking Eyebrow or No. But all things (heh) considered, that cover is still pretty good. All Things are beautiful in their own way, but the eyebrow is the dividing line and I just want to know where y’all land.

For more Thing Reading, may I direct you to “365 Days of Ben Grimm,” as assembled by Stuffed Bully, Space Ranger?

The rare almost-appropriate usage of the phrase “here’s the thing.”

§ January 2nd, 2023 § Filed under collecting, the thing, watchmen § 13 Comments

So I’m not good at “end-of-year” lists where I run down the best comics, simply because 1) I haven’t read everything, so I’ll feel like a dummy for leaving some stuff out, and 2) I haven’t even read everything from the past year that I’ve taken home to read. As I’ve noted time and again, I have stuff from four years ago, about the time I started having my eyeball shenanigans, that I haven’t read yet. I still have that big ol’ collection of pre-Popeye Thimble Theatre to read, for example.

Thus the plan was to at least point out a handful of oversized collections I picked up this year, as I obviously did’t have enough already to read. I had my reasons for acquiring each, which I can detail (though in at least one case you can probably guess).

But here’s the thing…one of these I’ve already discussed, another I need to take some decent pictures of for use here since I can’t find any decent ones at distributors or on eBay that I can steal borrow, and the third is still at the shop stilling on a shelf behind my counter.

The first one, the one I already talked about, is the Absolute Edition of Doomsday Clock. Yes, it’s garbage, but it’s well-presented garbage, with beautiful artwork reproduced at good size, and plenty of behind-the-scenes material to be had. There’s also that extra thingie in the back of the book that literally shocked me. It remains a “was this trip really necessary” kind of thing, with its ultimate purpose (attempting to once again give in-universe explanations for DC’s rejiggering/rebooting of its fictional milieu) already pretty much ignored or supplanted or piled-upon by other DC event books, as everyone assumed would happen.

But, as a collector of weird Watchmen-related ephemera, this felt like an interesting item to have. Plus, it matches up nicely with my Absolute Watchmen slipcased edition, a thought that probably is giving someone somewhere a bit of a twinge right behind their eyes.

The second oversized collection I’ll talk about later in the week, once I get some pictures taken.

The third collection, still sitting shrinkwrapped at the store, is the Thing Omnibus:

This collects the 36 issues of the Thing series from the 1980s, along with a couple of issues of Fantastic Four that tie into storylines in that book. There are also other miscellaneous Thing stories from the period mixed in (like the Barry Windsor-Smith story from Marvel Fanfare, a Marvel Tales back-up, and that Jim Starlin/Bernie Wrightson Thing/Hulk graphic novel). Issue #3 of the computer-game tie-in Questprobe is even included. I kinda wish they’d made room for the Hulk/Thing team-up in Marvel Fanfare #20 and #21, also by Starlin, which has never been reprinted in the U.S. as far as I know. Ah, well, there’s always the next omnibus.

Now why did I need this volume? Well…I didn’t, really. I own nearly all of its contents still…that Thing series, the graphic novel, the FFs, the BWS story. But it is nice to have it all in once place, and that cover…! There were two covers for this book, because of course there were. One cover, by John Byrne (who wrote the early part of the series), was taken from this issue, and it’s…fine, though not a patch on the Ron Wilson cover they did use. That’s one of the great and iconic images of Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew.

Ron Wilson drew a whole lotta this book, and he is one of the unsung heroes of superhero funnybooks…clearly inspired by Jack Kirby, but not, like, outright copying the guy. One of the surprises this omnibus has for me is its inclusion of a story from the 1990s version of Marvel Super-Heroes which I hadn’t read, featuring 22 new-to-me pages of Wilson art. Can’t wait to see that.

One thing (heh) I am curious about is that in this issue there was a scripting/editing error which resulted in two conflicting names for the same character. It would be nice if that was straightened out. Also, the “How to Draw The Thing” page from this ish better be in there. I need nice, quality printing of the Thing telling me to not give him no lips. (Which of course literally works out to “give him lips,” but I’m not gonna tell ol’ Benji that.) Also, stop giving the Thing a neck, you guys, so long as we’re on the topic.

I know that’s Too Many Words for a book I haven’t even cracked the covers on yet, but it’s an exciting book to have. That Thing series was quite good, with some nice emotional/background work on the character, particuarly in the early issues. And the whole post-Secret Wars “Rocky Grimm, Space Ranger” was a weird ride, with Ben Grimm, adventuring on an alien world, finally with the ability to switch back and forth between human and Thing forms. All fun, all well-drawn, and all solid support for why the Thing is one of the greatest Marvel characters ever created. If not in fact the greatest. Yeah, that’s right, I said it. He’s even better than Hellcow, don’t make me fight you.

Apparently Twitter was celebrating some Cat Day or ‘nother recently…

§ August 11th, 2017 § Filed under pal plugging, retailing, scans, self-promotion, the thing § 2 Comments

…being one of the at least three Cat Days recognized by God and man. Alas, I missed the August event, but I’m ready for the ones in October and February with this little ol’ panel right here:

Yeah, that’s right, cats are doin’ it for themselves, standin’ on their little cat feet, and not taking any guff from the fella with the syringe. He totally had it coming. Anyway: Cat Day, everyone, Cat Day!

In other news:

  • I mentioned the new Mister Miracle #1 on Wednesday, and it was quite the hit apparently. My initial order on this was a little on the low side, since New Gods material that’s not by Kirby can be bit of a hard sell…but after having several customers ask about it and getting some additions to the pull lists, well, I was convinced to go a little higher. Not high enough, it seems, as they’re gone now, but I would have been out a lot more quickly otherwise. Oh, and Diamond seems to be out of stock on ’em as well, so look forward to that second printing announcement Any Day Now…if it hasn’t happened already. I don’t know, I was busy today.

    Now it remains to be seen if the right lessons are learned, two of which are of course 1) more Tom King/Mitch Gerads comics, and 2) more good Fourth World comics. The wrong lesson is 3) “better crank out more Fourth World comics as fast as possible by anyone we can get, it’s hot hot hot right now!” but let’s see what happens.

    I did have one person come in to grab the comics because, as this customer declared, “Mister Miracle is my favorite character!” I’m really curious about what her reaction was to the actual comic, since it’s quite a different take than what we’ve seen before. Depends how she liked Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers version, I guess.

    Fellow blogging machine Ryan has a few words to say about this here new Scott Free funnybook, so go see what he’s got to say.

  • NOT COMICS: pal Andrew talks about his brief obsession with slot car racing, one that I also shared for a short time in my long-ago youth. As I recall, the gimmick with the set I had was that the cars could change lanes, which I thought was pretty slick. The neighbor kid across the street and I whiled away some precious days goofin’ around with these things. …I’ve got no big reveal or life lesson here, just thought you should know I wasted my life doing stuff other than reading comics.
  • Don’t tell Bully, the Little Stuffed Bull Too Young to Know about Such Things, but that Amalgam-ated character’s name could have been truncated into much, much worse form. I mean, that had to be on purpose, right? …Anyway, I apologize in advance. (Oh, and I just looked at the comments there, and I guess Twitter pal Evan beat me to the same shameful conclusion.)
  • Hey, have I reminded you lately about my store‘s Instagram page? I set it up quite a while ago, but I’m trying to use it more frequently now…usually posting pics of goodies around the store and new acquisitions, with the occasional pic of Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew. Please, follow me there if you are so inclined!


image from Unexpected #197 (April 1980) by George Kashdan & Ruben Yandoc

You may now refer to me as “The Ever-Lovin’ Gray-Haired Mike.”

§ September 19th, 2011 § Filed under sir-links-a-lot, the thing, this week's comics § 5 Comments

The fact that there isn’t an ongoing Thing solo series with this exact title and logo:

…is a sad indication of our failure as a culture. How could a comic titled The Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing not sell like gangbusters?

Also, said theoretical The Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing logo would require that pic of the Thing in a circle just to the left of it at all times.

image from Marvel Two-in-One Annual #1 (1976)

• • •

In other news:

  • I never got around to reviewing my picks from last week’s New DC #1 haul, but thankfully pal Dorian did. Dor points out something about Mr. Terrific’s name that…I hadn’t really considered. Hmm.

    In case you were wondering: I picked up Batwoman, Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Green Lantern, Red Lanterns, and Demon Knights. Will be back for second issues on all these. Tried Mr. Terrific, but didn’t do anything for me, sadly.

  • Tony Isabella presents six-part behind-the-scenes look at an Ant-Man story he did with Steve Ditko, beginning with the introduction here and the first page of the story (including original Ditko pencils!) here.

    Also, at the end of this post, Mr. Isabella expands on a comment he left here, lamenting the lack of a creator credit for Jack Kirby in the new Omac series. I hadn’t noticed that lack of a credit, so shame on me for that. Another person noted that Kirby did get a credit in Demon Knights, so hopefully the same will pop up soon in Omac.

  • Bully, the Post-Flashpoint Little Stuffed Bull with an All-New Costume and Origin, details all those other changes made to the DC Universe you might have missed.

So I’ve had the kind of day that can only be improved by looking at pictures of the Thing fighting guys in vegetable costumes.

§ August 28th, 2011 § Filed under the thing § 8 Comments

Lucky for me that Marvel Two-in-One #78 (August 1981), by Tom DeFalco, David Michelinie, Ron Wilson and Chic Stone, exists then, isn’t it?

For more pics of the ever-lovin’, blue-eyed Thing in action, check out the 365 Days with Ben Grimm project assembled entirely by hoof by Bully the Little Stuffed Bull.

The main reason I scanned this panel was to get it large enough for me to make sure they were actually shaking hands.

§ January 11th, 2011 § Filed under batman, the thing § 2 Comments

So I received for Christmas the slipcased oversized-hardcover edition of JLA/Avengers by Kurt Busiek and George Perez, giving me a change to revisit this fun intercompany crossover series and enjoy the crazily-overstuffed pages of art. And while there are lots of momentous events in the story that get the most attention, like Superman wielding Thor’s hammer, or the Avengers fighting Starro…I think one of my favorite moments is this brief meeting between Batman and the ever-lovin’, blue-eyed Thing:

Batman’s “uh…okay, sure” look makes it for me.

To see this panel in context, Bully the Little Stuffed Bull has the full page, presented as part of his 2009 365 Days with Ben Grimm series.