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The Progressive Ruiin Swimsuit Special remains an unrealized dream.

§ November 27th, 2023 § Filed under publishing, zines § 4 Comments

Just a reminder: reader Daniel pointed out that, which had featured search engines for Amazing Heroes and The Comics Journal, has been greatly expanded. Now it includes Wizard, Hero Illustrated, Comics Interview, Comics Scene, Comics Feature, Marvel Age, FOOM(!) and The Comic Reader(!!!).

The Comic Reader database is the one I’m most excited about, being a huge fan and collector of that particular ‘zine. This search engine covers issues #75 through the end of the run, #219, with some scattered earlier issues.

When looking at the Amazing Heroes page, I noticed in the little rotating cover gallery they have there a cover from the post-Fantagraphics era of the magazine, when it was acquired by another publisher. Now when I went to look this up on Wikipedia, that article claims the title was obtained by Personality Comics, but “nothing came of it.”

Except something did come of it…Personality (under its Spoof Comics imprint) published at least two issues of new(?) Swimsuit Specials in 1993 (numbered 4 and 5), like this one:

And there were at least four issues of Amazing Heroes Interviews published in 1993 from “Amazing Heroes Publishing,” which I am presuming was another imprint of Personality:

I don’t have these on hand…I seem to recall looking at these at the time and thinking “…nah” (hence the “borrowed from eBay” images)…and I can’t find a lot of info on them online aside from finding sale listings. I think the interviews are new…doing a search on some specific phrases from the Walter Koenig interview only turns up references to the later magazine, not the original Fantagraphics series. And speaking of which, many online sources refer to the interview mag as “Fantagraphics,” though that doesn’t look like their trade dress. Maybe someone can set me straight.

So there you go. Despite Wikipedia’s assertion, another publisher did use the “Amazing Heroes” name, if even justr briefly. Perhaps amending the reference to “almost nothing came of it” would be more appropriate.

• • •

Anyway, speaking of thirty years ago, I’ve been monitoring your responses to my quest for the most 1990s comic and I do plan on addressing the ensuing shenanigans there. I personally still think the ’90s remain Rob Liefeld’s world, and we were just living in it, though I waffle a bit on which comic is the most representative. I said Youngblood at first, but am now leaning toward, teeth gritted and my contorted footless body backed by speedlines, towards X-Force #1. It’s the perfect storm of both artistic and marketing…let’s say “qualities” of the time.

But you folks are bringing up some compelling arguments for other books. Like I said, I’ll get back to this and crown the ’90s King eventually (which may go to my choice, because this is my website and I’m a jerk) but keep on chiming in with your thoughts. I always appreciate them.

The ghost of Harlan is going to get me for putting his book so close to a Fantagraphics thing.

§ November 6th, 2023 § Filed under publishing, zines § 5 Comments

My apologies for skipping out on Friday’s post…I’d been a little under the weather, and I’m still recovering though I’m feeling much better now. Not COVID, thankfully (and I got the most recent booster just a couple of weeks ago), but still, enough to throw me off my game.

So I’ll just try to do a little catch-up today, noting some things of interest, like (courtesy Daniel T.) this search engine for the Amazing Heroes comics ‘zine. Well, the link takes you to a page explaining how it was made, with a link to the search engine itself. But it’s worth reading the behind-the-scenes because, man, if I spent this much time putting something together I’d want people to read about my travails, too.

But I’ve tested it out on a couple of things, and it seems to work fine. Now I have an whole run of Amazing Heroes and its associated specials here at home, and over the years, mostly because of writing for this site, I’ve had to dive deep into the collection to research somethin’ or ‘nother and it would take a while because unless I knew right off the top of my head where it would have been, I otherwise would only have a vague sense of where to locate it and I would spend an inordinate amount of time paging through the mags. Anyway, this was quite the project, and I hope it stays around.

Also of note, I just found out there’s a new edition of Harlan Ellison’s legendary anthology Dangerous Visions on its way early in 2024:

That’s a wild color. I discovered this via a post on Bluesky via J. Michael J. Straczynski, who says he’s providing a new introduction to the volume (which makes sense, since the infamously-unpublished Last Dangerous Visions is in his hands). Another new intro is by Patton Oswalt, which…I mean, sure, why not, I like him, I’m sure both he and JMS can provide a modern context as to the importance of this book, and the cutting-edge nature of the work at the time.

It’s been a while since I’ve read Dangerous Visions. I don’t even own a copy, which is why I’m happy to have this new edition (and my choice of hard or soft covers, apparently being released simultaneously next March). I do wonder how the stories have aged since the book was first released in 1967, and how much time may have blunted those cutting edges. I do own a battered hardcover of Again, Dangerous Visions which is probably due a new poke-through after sitting on my shelf for many a year. (Or I can wait for that book’s reissue next summer.)

I don’t want to relitigate the whole Last Dangerous Visions thing here, which you can read about on Wikipedia if you don’t know the details. But I do wish JMS the best of luck wrestling that beast…the Wiki entry does claim that Blackstone (the publisher of the DV reissue) will be releasing Last Dangerous Visions late next year, but surely no one can blame me if I say “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

“Holding, What, Two or Three Titles at $2.99.”

§ August 25th, 2023 § Filed under zines § 11 Comments

Picking up on the promise from this post, I finally brought home the pile of ‘zines I had sitting at the shop. BEHOLD: Comics Feature #1 (March 1980):

The stack included the first three issues of the run, along with 5-6 and 8-9. These were rescued from my former boss Ralph’s stash of books from the last days of that old shop, and I finally badgered Ralph into selling them to me. So, here they are, more stuff in my house to be sorted into the collection which is already in disarray.

But enough about that. The magazines have some pretty cool features blurbed on the covers I think I’m most interested in the Cary Bates interview in #8, though I’m sure the Len Wein interview in #6 will be fun as well.

What I like seeing on the first issue pictured above is the “DC Adds Pages…Raises Price” tag, reminding me of the days when the adjusting of the standard funnybook’s cost was Big News. Not to be outdone, Marvel gets its own cover blurb on #2 regarding their own page count/price increase news. When was the last time comic price changes were a big point of discussion like this (I mean, aside from DC’s “Holding the Line at $2.99” thing, or just general complaining about how they cost too much?)

Another item on the cover to #1 that…bemuses me, I suppose, the “The Legion [of Super-Heroes]: Then And Now,” if only because I can picture the culture shock if they were to just peek ahead a couple of decades. “Hello fanzine writer! Let me tell you a little about something called ‘Five Years Later.'”

As implied by my statements here, I haven’t had much of a chance to actually crack these open and read the things, aside from a glance or two. I did see a news blurb about Marv Wolfman and Dave Cockrum creating an inventory story teaming Batman with the Blackhawks. I love seeing stuff like this…news about someone creating a fill-in story that may or may not see print. In this case, however, it did, in Brave and the Bold #167, cover date October 1980.

I look forward to finding more gems like these squirrled away in the pages of these ‘zines. Lot of interesting folks working on these, too…Carol Kalish, Don and Maggie Thompson, Carl Macek, Dean Mullaney, Kurt Busiek, Richard Howell, Peter Gillis, Peter Sanderson, Cat Yronwode…the list just goes on and on.

Also, along with these Comics Features, I also grabbed the first issue of this (from 1981):

Look, they got me with the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy article, okay? But I’m not sure about all this “Doctor Who” business…that’s probably never gonna last.

Monday mscellany.

§ August 21st, 2023 § Filed under obituary, zines § 5 Comments

So Matthew recommended the newer comics ‘zine Bubbles, and you know, if you’re gonna get me to buy a ‘zine, put Nancy on the cover:

I also ordered a copy of #2 as well, and I’m sure this is going to result in me collecting up the whole series a couple issues at a time. Anyway, this looks good and thanks to Matthew for pointing it out to me.

• • •

Also wanted to point out that a couple of Joshua Quagmire’s friends have left comments on the post about his passing. They came in a bit later, thus I wanted to point them out so you didn’t miss them.

• • •

I will be getting back to the Final ’80s Countdown later this week. Thank you for your patience!

• • •

I have essentially scaled back my Twitter (or “X”) usage to just using the direct messaging system (as I do a lot of business with folks there still), and no longer post on my main feed. My primary social media shenanigans are on Bluesky, where you can find my account at I can be found less frequently on Mastodon as well. You can also keep tabs on me at (or

At this point it’ll take the removal of Elon Musk from Xwitter and a reversal of his decisions (along with removal of the bigots, harassers and other assholes so emboldened on the platform) for me to go back to regular usage, but that seems unlikely. Anyway, if you’re on there, I highly recommend departing for safer and friendlier waters.

What a way to find out Fu Manchu is dead.

§ August 18th, 2023 § Filed under zines § 14 Comments

Sorry again, it’s been busy at Chez Mike this week, so the dreaded Low Content Mode struck again at Progressive Ruin Industries. Don’t worry, I’m still here, I’m still “blogging” on my “website” here on “the Internet,” and despite popular demand, I’m not going anywhere.

But I saw that in the comments to my last entry folks were mentioning other cool comic ‘zines of the ’80s, and, well…here’s the thing. I was going to dip into the ol’ magazine boxes and pull out my copies of various ‘zines that were mentioned, but, well, I’m in the midst of a huge reorganizing project with my collection, and not everything is where it should be. I know, for example, I have Comics Features, or at least the one with the Steve Bissette/John Totleben Swamp Thing art gallery inside. And somewhere I have the first issue of Comic Collector.

I did find my fun of Comics Scene, which was a good mag that brought comic news to the general public in an appealing way. (I believe it was an article in Comics Scene that first got me interested in Cerebus.) And I found the one issue I own of Four Color Magazine, a slick color news/interviews mag.

Something else I did find, and this is a relatively recent acquisition, is LOC #1 from 1980:

Taking its name from the abbreviation for “Letters of Comment,” the black and white magazine featured news, reviews, and general commentary pieces. You can kind of get an idea looking at some of the subjects on the cover there (and I feel like the placement of the “Why Don’t Women Read Comics?” blurb right below one of the possible answers is on purpose.)

I don’t recall seeing it on the stands at the time, though it’s possible it may have ended its run before I started frequenting comic book stores and other unsavory joints. But I have a few of these things and they have quite the interesting line-up of contributors. That #1 has a cover by Frank Miller and Terry Austin. Contributing writers include Kurt Busiek, Peter Gillis, Carol Kalish (who wrote the “Why Don’t Women Read Comics” article), and several other familiar names.

At my store, I know I have more copies of this magazine, along with a few more Comic Features and other ‘zines of the period, but I’m leaving them there until I get the mag situation at home nailed down.

So, did any of you read LOC at the time? Any other comic news/reviews mags that you can think of the from period? Let me know in The Usual Spot!

Amazing prices.

§ August 14th, 2023 § Filed under zines § 13 Comments

So last time, I mentioned that Amazing Heroes #45 (1984) was the first issue of that news/interviews/reviews mag I’d ever read. In chatting over on Bluesky with Johanna from Comics Worth Reading, she mentioned that was the only issue of the ‘zine she purchased read from her husband’s collection (for the “Sherlock Holmes in Comics” article).

She also noted that it apparently contained the first published artwork for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a comic book of some note. I was aware folks desperate to make anything collectible and, hopefully, expensive, were moving into things like ‘zines and distributor catalogs and house organs like Marvel Age to try to establish supposed “early” or “first” appearances of various characters. I’ve said in the past that I was lucky I bought all the ‘zines I did back when they were cheap, like getting a dozen Comic Readers for ten bucks, when now you’re lucky if you can get one issue of Comic Reader for less than that.

And that was just the result of people realizing “hey, some of these ‘zines are hard to get now,” with the attendant boost in secondary market prices. But this new wave of forced collectibles, pushing things like a solicit in Previews as a hot item (Spawn’s appearance apparently garnering $400+) are bumping up prices above and beyond what you’d think normal supply and demand would cause.

But, it’s still supply and demand…I don’t know how many copies of Amazing Heroes #45 are out there, but I’m guessing there aren’t a lot, and according to this entry on the Hot Comics App, there are a couple of reasons why it would command demand:

That…is absolutely buck wild. Note it doesn’t say “first” TMNT, but this is definitely an early appearance, with this illo (and accompanying patented editorial comment from our Fantagraphics pals) showing up in the news section:

The actual news blurb is headed, in bold capital letters “JUST WHAT WE NEED” before giving a basically straight description of the comic. It’s funny to see that the reaction, at least from this mag, to the advent of Turtledom was in effect a rolling of the eyes at this nonsense.

The Spider-Man black costume illo appears in the “Comics in Review” column, accompanying the critique of Amazing Spider-Man #252 where said costume first appeared in a narrative.

Again, I’m pretty sure this is just an early appearance of the costume, as I’m sure sketches and promo illos have popped up elsewhere prior to this Amazing Heroes…I think an issue of Marvel Age is considered its in-print debut, maybe? Though honestly I think it’s this Marvel Previews catalog sent to retailers for product appearing in 1992, when the line was still “2093” and he only creative team member they had listed was Stan Lee on Ravage.

Oh, I should note that the review for Amazing Spider-Man #252 is a positive one. As well it should be…beyond all the hype and “collectaqbility,” it’s actually a pretty good issue as I recall.

Anyway, I’m not selling my copy of Amazing Heroes #45 and breaking up my run. Also, like I said, this was the first issue of the run I’d ever bought, so it has some sentimental value to me. But I’m certainly glad that was the issue I’d started with, because I’d hate to be looking for a copy of it now.

“Tongue-lashed” sounds dirtier than I meant it.

§ August 4th, 2023 § Filed under indies, publishing, zines § 11 Comments

Sorry for skipping days here and there lately…just have a lot of stuff going on, on top of my aged body just being too tired to blog at the late hours that usually are the only time I have for such activity. So, let me get a few topics out of the way today and maybe sometime next week I can get back to the Final ’80s Countdown.

First off, it’s here, it’s here…or rather, they’re here, a sample of the very bullet and casing used to shoot them holes right through the much-discussed-on-this-site Jab #3.

And there they are, direct from Jab #3 contributor and “Too Much Coffee Man” creator Shannon Wheeler his own self. The accompanying note reads “Never let me see you near my girlfriend again!” and the temptation was to just hide this item somewhere in my collection, unexplained, and leave some serious questions behind for anyone eventually handling whatever passes for my estate. But no, here I am blabbing about it on my comic book weblog, which of course has immense worldwide reach so all my secrets are revealed. Ah well.

But big thanks to Mr. Wheeler for offering up this peculiar bit of comic book history (and also for kindly answering my questions about the whole Jab #3 project). Also, I need to add links to the older Jab posts so they get the whole story if they come upon my writings via Google or Ask Jeeves or whatever.

• • •

Next up, reader Cassandra asked if I could post a link to William Messner-Loebs’ GoFundMe, and yes I can! That poor guy and his wife have had a real time of it for years now, and I most sincerely hope they can get themselves into a comfortable, stable place.

What would be nice is if more of his comic book work were in print and providing him at least a little money. Like, was any of his Flash work collected? A recent DC Pride one-shot had that one story of his with the Pied Piper, but beyond that there wasn’t a lot of comprehensive reprinting of his run, far as I can tell. I don’t think even #50 was reprinted anywhere, and that was kind of a hot issue at the time.

A chunk of his Wonder Woman made it into a trade that could stand reprinting. And how ’bout a nice big archival hardcover of Journey? Or maybe a new printing of Epicurus the Sage? Or just giving him new work if he wants to do it?

Anyway, help him out, even if it’s just spreading the word.

• • •

Sean asked about Pee Wee Herman (RIP the great Paul Ruebens) in comics, and the first thing I thought of was this:

…which, if memory serves, was a kinda/sorta parody of Pee Wee, maybe…it’s been a while since I’ve read it, but it’s something like that. Anyway, there you go.

• • •

Longtime reader Michael G. came by the shop in person and admonished me, tongue-lashed me in the cruelest manner, for my lack of content this week. But to show me all is forgiven, he gifted me with some Dave Sim Cerebus trading cards, which are, of course, the Dave Simmest, but you’d be disappointed if they weren’t:

Yup, they’re Swamp Thing-ish…the other cards are nice too, but look, I’m too tired to keep this post going for too much longer, so let’s just throw out one more scan here and call it a night.

• • •

As promised, one more scan, this time from my fanzine collection:

This ‘zine is from 1965, which means Spider-Man had only been around about three years. Weird, huh?


§ July 16th, 2021 § Filed under zines § 3 Comments

So a long time ago (early summer 1991, judging by the date on the file) customer Dave asked me if I’d like to contribute a cover to his mini-comic Wanted: The Rodent. I apparently agreed, and began production on it.

Pictured above is the main image for the cover, generated on whatever type of Macintosh I had at the time (may have still be the ol’ SE, but I might have upgraded to the LC II at this point). As you can see, I had a thing for that “brick” paint fill, which you saw on my “Hawk the Sensitive Skinhead” strip I showed you a few days ago. And also like that Hawk strip, I asked my dad to use valuable company time and resources to print out a copy or three on the business laser printer.

Once I got those printouts, I proceeded to cut ‘n’ paste my handdrawn image of the book’s hero, that wanted Rodent his own self (an anthropomorphic rat clad in cape and domino mask) on top of the background, which I thought looked reasonably good. I then handed a copy of the piece in to Dave, keeping the original for myself, natch, and at this late date I can’t remember if he ever got around to printing that mini-comic or not. At least, I don’t have a copy of it in my collection (though I do have another, earlier, Rodent comic he did).

And as you can tell by the lack of an image of the final product in this post, I don’t even seem to have a copy of the assembled piece. Or, at least, it’s not in any of the areas where I’ve kept my scribblings. I have folders of drawings of mine dating back to sometime around 1st or 2nd grade, but somehow this finished piece from a mere (checks watch) 30 years ago seems to have gone AWOL.

I can still remember the drawing as if I’d just done it. The upper chest along the bottom edge of the image, slightly right of center, the Rodent gritting his teeth and with a determined look on his face (it was the time for that sort of hero, after all).

Anyway, I still like this image, and I remember liking the final product, even if those “clouds” in the background make it look like the Rodent was about to defend the Earth from giant space doobies. And yes, the phone number is a Star Trek reference. Look, I was a 22-year-old dork, of course that was going to happen.

Watch This Space…if I find a copy of the completed picture I’ll post it here (and let you know in a future post, of course).

EDIT: no, really, WATCH THIS SPACE as I just now found a copy of the final piece…and did get a few details wrong so I’ll update later today. (No scanner at home so it’ll have to wait ’til I’m at work.)

EDIT 2: as promised, the final assembled image!

A couple of note: my memory that I had my dad print that background for me on a laser printer was incorrect, as I obviously printed the pic on…something a little more primitive. The old dot-matrix-y Imagewriter, maybe? Anyway, it was very light in color, which I contrast adjusted for the scan here.

Also, I could’ve sworn I had the Rodent with a clenched fist raised up in front of him, like he was ready for a fight. I guess the gritted teeth expressed that enough!

Or just dump ’em all in a shoebox.

§ July 14th, 2021 § Filed under collecting, zines § 4 Comments

So my former boss Ralph was at my shop this past weekend, helping me out with some things and stuff. I still had the Gouda Gazettes featuring in a post here last week, and being that it was from Ralph’s store I originally obtained these back in the ancient 1980s, I took the opportunity to ask him if he had any more details on these. I was wondering who these guys were, about how old they were, if they did more issues than this, that sort of thing.

Alas, Ralph didn’t even remember having these in his shop, so no more info was forthcoming. However, I did ask him if he remembered carrying another ‘zine at about the same time, and he did — 60 Miles North from 1983:

Now undoubtedly you see how it’s packaged here, which brings me to Keef’s comment from last week:

“What do you use for Zine storage? Modern boxes are too big. I found some weird boxes at Office Depot that work if you use ‘em sideways, but… I’ve always wanted something proper.”

As you see above, Keef, I just put ’em in a regular ol’ bag and board and then store them in a standard comic storage box. There are probably other storage solutions involving differently sized boxes, but I feel this is the simplest solution, using (usually) readily available supplies. I mean, I could bag ’em all up in paperback sleeves, or digest sleeves, and so on, but this way the storage box is uniform with others, and the comics inside are in mostly uniform protective packaging. Given the wide variety of sizes ‘zines like this can come in, putting them in bags and boards like this keeps the smaller ones from getting lost in the shuffle.

The Gouda Gazettes are a little wider, so I had to put those in Silver Age bags and boards:

…but even still, bagged and boarded, it fits nicely in the box along the much smaller, but still in a standard bag/board, Things Not to Say to a Comic Shop Employee by a young cartoonist of some note:

…which, by the way, you can read right here.

The smallest comics thingie in my collection is this mini, Baby! from my pal Fred, measuring about 2 1/4 by 2 1/4 inches:

…but it folds open into a larger work. And the pic’s a bit blurry…sorry about that, but just as well as that cover’s a little naughty.

So Keef, I hope that helps. Rather than trying to find protective packaging and storage to fit the variously-sized mini-comics and ‘zines, it’s easier to make them fit into the boxes you’ve got. Easier to find the supplies you need, easier to keep them organized…because you never know when you’ll have to pull your copy of this comic out of your collection:

All the cheese that’s fit to print.

§ July 9th, 2021 § Filed under zines § 5 Comments

Continuing the nostalgia trip from Wednesday’s post are these two free ‘zines which I picked up in the early ’80s at Ralph’s Comic Corner, the Ventura, CA comic shop that would, just a few short years later, eventually become my place of employment.

Here is issue #1 of Gouda Gazette:

…and here is #2:

I don’t know if these were the only two to come out. If there were more, I never saw them. These were 8 pages (two folded pieces of paper, unstapled), mostly handwritten text with illustrations, like this example from the poetry pages the comprised the centerspread of both issues:

…as well as the occasional comic strip:

The last page was given over to a continuing story titled “Beach Pad Blowout ’83” (with part one coming out in 1983, and part two in the second issue from ’84). This tale involved The Rats themselves, the group of folks responsible for the production of this publication (who went by names like “Mojo,” “Doodle,” “Mellow Roast,” and Squeaker,” though their secret identities were given in a credits box).

I can find no information online about them, which, I suppose, shouldn’t be a huge shock. Best I can surmise is that they were a comedy performance group of some sort, as the second issue contains the blurb

“Come see The Rats at Ventura College Theatre perform their political satire ‘Twisted World’ Jan. 29th 9:00 P.M. Yeah!”

Well, darn, 37 years later I’m kind of wishing I’d gone to see that. You know, put some of those names to faces.

Anyway, these two artifacts have been floating around in my possession for decades, in that I knew I never threw them out but I also never had any idea where I had them stored. A rational person would have kept them with my other comics and magazines, but they always seemed to end up in storage boxes with other papers.

Since this week I’d been digging through boxes looking for old computer stuff, I came across them again, and this time I made sure to 1) put them in bags and boards to continue to preserve them (surprisingly they’re still in pretty good shape) and 2) PUT THEM IN THE ‘ZINES BOXES WHERE THEY BELONG. Now, when I’m 70 years old in 2039, I’ll be able to go right to them when I want to look at them again.

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