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In which I tell you more about how I sort out my Superman comics than you ever wanted to know.

§ November 16th, 2010 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, peanuts, superman, triangle numbers § 21 Comments

So thanks to pal Nat for dropping by yesterday’s post, being a good sport, and laying down some Peanuts knowledge re: the production of those Charlie Brown ‘Cyclopedias. If you missed that comment, go back and check it out. Thanks, Nat!

Another comment, from reader “Masonic Youth” (good nickname!) mentioned a book I hadn’t heard of before, called Will Eisner’s Gleeful Guide to Living with Astrology, a picture of which you can find on this Amazon listing. I didn’t find a whole lot of information about it via the Googling, though Gary Groth describes the book as “satirical” in this appreciation of Eisner’s work. Would kind of like to see a copy of this…or maybe Mr. (or “Ms.” or “Mrs.” — I shouldn’t presume) M. Youth, who has a copy, would be nice enough to give us a brief description of the book. (You can see images and descriptions of some of the other books in this series…but not the astrology one…on this page under “Humor.”)

Boy, that was a whole lot of links squeezed into a small space. Let me try to talk about something that doesn’t involve linking anything. Well, maybe one thing.

So, on Monday, I was recovering from some follow-up root canal business, and I decided to sort through and put away some comics that’d been piling up in the “Hey, Mike, log these and sort them into your Vast Comic Archives someday” boxes that occupy a corner of the bedroom. I’ve actually been doing this on and off as I’ve been finding the time over the last few weeks, putting away some Hulks here, some Justice Leagues there…and finally, I decided to tackle the Superman books.

Now, here’s the thing about the Superman books, particularly the (for the nerdy) post-Crisis (or for the non-nerdy) mid-1980s and forward run of the series: as some of you may know, the three, sometimes four, and very briefly five ongoing Superman series had “triangle numbers” on the covers, a separate numbering system (presented within a little triangle shape also bearing the year, hence the name) indicating what order the comics should be read in. This ran for little over a decade, starting in the early ’90s and running ’til the early 2000s (and popping up again briefly in the last couple of years). So, those comics I have sorted in triangle-number order, making for ease of rereading in all this copious free time I have to reread long runs of my old comic books.

In addition, at some point during the ’90s, back when I was still young and full of hope, I decided to “chronologically” sort the post-Crisis, pre-triangle number issues as well, even though at that time the books weren’t quite as intertwined as they would be later. And if that weren’t enough, even after the triangle numbers ended, I continued sorting the Superman books into the boxes in chronological order. Because I’m crazy.

Anyway, I realized I was, ahem, a couple of years behind in getting the books sorted into the proper boxes, so without doing a little research I wouldn’t be able to sort out the Superman books in exact order. Oh, sure, I could do them by month, putting all the May ’09 books together and so on, but I wouldn’t know for sure if the May ’09 Action Comics came before the May ’09 Superman comic or not, without having to pop ’em all out of the bags to check the “coming soon/next week/next issue” box, and who’s got that kind of time?

As you may be able to tell, this is stupid. Sure, it made sense when the multiple Superman series were effectively a weekly serial, and you had to read them in a certain order, but nowadays, with one Superman book actually featuring Lex Luthor with a Jimmy Olsen back-up and is totally awesome, and the other Superman book featuring Superman walking across the country and being a smug asshole to the locals, and never the twain shall meet, the need for maintaining the exact release/reading order of the various series as they related to each other is hardly necessary.

Just so you know, I am aware of how obsessive-compulsive this all sounds. Thought I should mention that, the further along into this I get.

But I decided just to make the cut-off issue for this chronological sorting Action Comics #800 (April 2003). There are a few inter-series storylines past that, but I figured that was far enough beyond the constant intertwining of the series to allow for splitting the titles back up into their individual runs without causing too much inconvenience when I’m in my 90s and I decide I want to reread all my Superman comics. Plus, given how often I seem to be able to put comics away at home, I no longer need the additional time-sink of sorting the damned things chronologically. “Title” and “issue number” are enough, thank you.

I pulled myself back from the brink. There’s a happy ending after all! I’m no longer obsessed about comics, he said in his nearly seven-year-old daily-updated comics blog.

In case you didn’t get enough Superman triangle-number talk, and boy, I’m sure you didn’t, I actually made a category for it so you can see what I said about these things the last time DC tried to implement them.

It ends with a hat.

§ November 18th, 2008 § Filed under triangle numbers Comments Off on It ends with a hat.

  • Here’s yet more on the topic of the Superman “triangle numbers” thing, this time from Tim O’Neil. He discusses the inherent downside in the interlocking continuity among the multiple Super-books, emphasized by the triangle numbering, which reduces the individuality of the titles and creative teams in favor of editorially-mandated crossover events/”sagas.”

    I was going to respond further, but too much of what I just tried to write seemed like it was duplicating what Tim was saying, and I don’t want to be That Guy, you know? I do want to make two points, though:

    1. When the interlocking Superbooks worked, they worked really well, and that was during the whole “Death/Return of Superman” storyline. Outside of the sensationalism and influx of magpies into the market looking to “invest” in a “collectible,” the actual serialized story generated genuine interest and excitement in at least our customers, and certainly in other readers elsewhere, I’m sure.

    Not disputing any of Tim’s points, here, mind you. I do agree that the tight continuity among the Super-books probably lasted far too long, as he says, in favor of DC’s hopes that they could get lightning to strike twice with later Superman “events.” I suppose one could argue that, during the industry’s lean times of the post-crash ’90s, that the serial nature of the titles was what was keeping the hardcore readers coming back, and DC couldn’t take the chance of losing what was left of their Superman readership by cutting that last incentive to keep reading. Just a little wild speculation, is all.

    2. I can see the current iteration of the “triangle numbers” on the Superman books having the primary effect of raising numbers on the Supergirl title. At our store, Supergirl generally sells about 2/3rds of the Superman titles. If the Superman readers decide they want to work Supergirl into their weekly Super-reading, and depending on just how tightly the Supergirl storylines are tied in with the Superman titles, I expect sales to eventually even out.

    Keeping Tim’s criticisms of the older Superman titles in mind, what this means for the actual content of the Supergirl comic, its individuality or lack thereof, remains to be seen. And given that a month in, we’ve already had those triangle numbers on two “specials,” I don’t know how many extra books Super-fans are going to want to put up with just to maintain an unbroken triangle chain.

    Anyway, Tim says he plans on saying more on the topic, so hopefully I didn’t step on any toes, here.

  • By the way, remember when the two Legion of Super-Heroes titles had “L numbers?”

    Related: remember when the Legion could support two monthly books?

  • I’m thinking about this triangle number thing way too much.
  • Pal Tom has been going through his Grimjack comics in chronological order, with commentary and images and gosh darn if it doesn’t make me want to pull out my Grimjacks and read them. Here’s part one, here’s part two, and the man owns a Munden’s Bar hat. A Munden’s Bar hat. He must know what he’s talking out.

“Reprints?” This is like the most reprinted comic ever…oh, wait, you mean in regular comic format.

§ November 17th, 2008 § Filed under superman, triangle numbers, watchmen Comments Off on “Reprints?” This is like the most reprinted comic ever…oh, wait, you mean in regular comic format.

  • And Chris thought he was joking.

    So I was looking in the most recent issue of Comic Buyer’s Guide, and happened across a letter from a reader, who was wondering about DC Comics’ publishing strategies re: Watchmen, what with the new movie coming out an’ all. To wit:

    “For Watchmen, there should be reprints of the original Alan Moore series or one-shots of each Watchman character by today’s hottest writers and artists. The only things I’ve seen from DC on this epic series are the trade paperback, the Absolute edition, and a Millennium Edition reprint of the first issue. And outside of Rorschach’s cameo in The Question some years back, nothing else. Why is that? I know Alan Moore wants nothing more to do with DC Comics, but, since they’re company-owned, why not showcase the characters in one-shots or Hypertime team-ups?”

    Okay, I promise I’m not posting that excerpt from the letter to make fun of the guy. (Well, except for the Hypertime comment. That reference is a few years out of date.) Because, while on the face of it, it does seem ridiculous that new comics featuring the Watchmen characters would even be considered…I have to admit, I am at least a little surprised that DC hasn’t published new material based on the original mini.

    I suppose a lot of it has to do with not wanting to dilute the perception, or the sales, of the original with new, and almost certainly inferior, material. And of course there’s not wanting to tick off Alan Moore or Dave Gibbons (more Gibbons, now, since it’s pretty clear hell will freeze over before Moore comes back to DC), and then there’s the possible fan backlash, and the attendant bad publicity, and so on.

    But that letter shows that there very well may be a market for such things, now…people who don’t care, or even remember, the whole brouhaha involving Moore and Watchmen and DC…who just want new adventures of the characters, and aren’t interested in the creators behind them. A Batman/Rorschach team-up comic would find a pretty welcoming audience, I’d imagine. Hell, even I’d want to check it out, just for the sheer “what th–!?” factor.

    I don’t expect any such thing to actually happen, of course…if it were to happen at any time, right now, with the movie adaptation on the horizon, would be the time for it. Though we have at least one or two more rounds of solicitations from DC Comics for books that would come out before or around the movie’s release date…there’s always a slim chance we’d have a shocking surprise. (“The NEW Birds of Prey #1…starring Silk Spectre!”)

    We are getting new story material, of a sort…original Watchmen editor Len Wein is writing the script for the prequel video game (while noting in the interview that a sequel to the original story is very unlikely). And Gibbons has done a few new illustrations, for bookcovers or movie promos or what have you…not new story material, by any means, but still, they are new pics.

    I suppose this is one of those times we should be thankful for comics’ general irrelevance in relation to Big Hollywood Promotion/Money-Making (aside from being R&D for new films). One memo handed down from Warner Brothers asking DC for more new Watchmen comics to capitalize on the film could be all it takes, Mike said cynically.

  • Following up on the whole “triangle numbers” thing from yesterdayTom reminds me that the triangle number did eventually get enclosed in a Superman shield-shaped pentagon. A quick glance at the books reveal that this happened, at least in Action Comics, with the March 2000 issue. So there you go, in case you were wondering.
  • Speaking of my comments, JET asks

    “So, just how long are you going to hold off commenting on the fact that your president-elect is a comics collector?”

    Well, it’s neat, assuming it’s true. But I haven’t brought it up because, really, I don’t know what to add. I’ve not seen any pics of him kicking it on a beach somewhere, reading an issue of Conan. But if he gives a speech after he takes office, recommending the solution to the troubled economy is slabbing all of your professionally-graded comics…well, make space in the guesthouse, Steven, because I’m comin’ to Canada and movin’ in!

  • Would you like to know what is the awesome? An eight-page preview of El Gorgo #2, that is what is the awesome. The first comment in reaction to that preview over there is “El Gorgo! you are fantastico!” — and there’s nothing I can add to that.
  • PLEASE NOTE: one of my favorite writers on comics, a certain Andrew W., has moved from his old Blogspot digs to the new address of No more freebie MP3 downloads (he explains why in his initial post, though you can probably guess the reasons), but it still remains some of the smartest writing on popular culture you’ll find. He gets my HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION…and you know me, I don’t like anyone, so you know that recommendation really means something.

You may be sick of seeing the phrase "triangle number," but I’m sick of typing it.

§ November 16th, 2008 § Filed under superman, triangle numbers Comments Off on You may be sick of seeing the phrase "triangle number," but I’m sick of typing it.

  • So apparently the revival of the “triangle number” on the Superman family of books is having its intended effect. (For the uninitiated, the “triangle number” is like a secondary issue number that appears on the covers of the multiple Superman books, indicating in which order they are to be read; e.g. Action #871 is triangle #4, Supergirl #35 is triangle #5, etc.) I had a number of requests over the last couple of days for people wondering where “triangle #3” was, since the regular Superman books appeared to skip over that number. It was in fact Adventure Comics Special, and once pointed out to the folks who’d missed it on their first pass over the rack, we sold quite a few of them.

    Okay, you’d think a big green “NEW KRYPTON” banner across the top of the cover would help draw attention to it…but really, when you stand back from the rack and look at the whole beautiful gory layout, it does sort of get lost in there, so I really can’t blame anyone for missing it.

    And yes, it’s not really a “triangle number” anymore…when they first introduced the concept in the ’90s, the number was in a triangle. Now it’s in the Superman-shield outline, which really makes a lot more sense.

    And in “can Mike get any more pathetic” news, it’s not the triangle number that’s going to get me to pick up the next issue of Supergirl…it’s the fact that the cover of that issue is the third part of a larger image spread out over two previous Superman covers, and I don’t want to have 2/3rds of the image in my collection.

    I told pal Dorian this, and he laughed at me and called me stupid. And then he pushed me down and took my lunch money.

  • ALSO SELLING: That Justice Society by Alex Ross and Kingdom Come Tie-In Superman Sequel Follow-up Book by Alex Ross or Did I Mention That Already? comic I was complaining about the price on a couple of days back. Flew off the shelves…nearly out!

    NOT SELLING: First issue of Push, apparently tying into a movie I haven’t heard of. Luckily we didn’t get that many of them.

    WHAT I’D LIKE TO SELL: That new Joker graphic novel. Currently unavailable from our distributor. Multiple requests from customers every day. Ah, well.

  • COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Have some Disney books on the eBay…just clearing out some redundancies in the collection, and frankly, I won’t say no to any money that it’d bring. So bid early, bid often! (And more stuff to come on Monday!)
  • Every once in a while, I just go back to this page Kevin Church put together, based on this post of mine from last year, and sit and stare and let it soak in. I half-suspect Kevin is using this to somehow brainwaMUST DESTROY THE HU-MANS