mike sterling's progressive ruin

Monday, February 22, 2010

REMINDER! Update your Progressive Ruin feed links! 

Hey, you guys and gals what read my site through the Bloglines and the Google Readers...my site's transition to Wordpress means a different link for my RSS feeds, so hie yourself hither to here:


...and resubscribe! Thanks, pals!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Hey! New feeds for my site! 

With the change to Wordpress comes new feeds for your feed readers, so please resubscribe here:


Thanks, pals!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Blogging about Wordpress is a sin. 

Gang, I'm finally in the process of making that jump to Wordpress from Blogger, due to Blogger's impending removal of certain publishing tools that I use to produce this award-winning content day in and day out. (NOTE: No awards have actually been won by this site.)

As such, I spent most of my Tuesday evening transferring posts from one spot to another, messing around with templates, and not coming up with a post for today. So I apologize, and hopefully soon I can finish up and get at least a barebones Wordpress version of my site going. Not sure if my rotating "since 1969"/"what people are saying about PR" thingies will make the transition, but we'll see.

Another problem is the comments, which may not make the transfer and makes all that hoohar about the changing comments system sort of moot. I think there's a Wordpress install for the comments system I'm using, but I'll look into it this evening. (I'm writing this at past midnight Wednesday morning, by the way...say, don't I have to break down a new comics order in a few hours?)

One question I want to ask you folks...the Wordpress theme I plan on using (essentially the same one pal Dorian is using, but with one sidebar) has the option of an 800 pixel-wide display, or a 1024 pixel-wide one. I'm leaning towards 1024, but I want to hear what you folks think, so please let me know.

Thanks in advance for your patience over the next couple of days as I try to make this transition.

A handful of links:

  • It's episode 7 of The Variants! It's like your comic shop, but funnier!

  • War Rocket Ajax interviews the boys from El Gorgo! Stick around through the end of the interview to hear an awful, awful question I submitted to be asked of these poor guys.

  • Over at Coimcs Alliance, Chris Sims has a new installment of Chris Vs. Previews, which is kind of like my End of Civilization posts, except that son-of-a-bitch gets paid for it. Plus, he totally borrowed a joke from my Previews write-up for his article, which he asked if he could do, and I of course said yes, because why? Because Chris and I are BROTHERS IN COMICS, that's why.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Pied Piper Graphic Album #1: Hero Alliance - End of the Golden Age GN (Pied Piper Press, 1986). 

I remember an extensive preview in Amazing Heroes catching my attention for this graphic novel (by Kevin Juaire, David Campti, Ron Lim, Michael Whitherby, and others) and subsequent series. In a way, it was kind of a proto-Astro City, throwing the reader into a generational superhero saga with just a touch of poignancy and a focus on how superheroes and "the real world" interact. This initial installment focuses on Victor, one of the last original heroes still active, and his encounter with the villainous son of a former comrade. Here's a quick shorthand sequence of how Victor experienced the passage of time and changing attitudes:

This came out during the period of reimaginings of superheroes in "realistic" terms, trying to play out the implications of superheroic activity and relationships to their logical ends. Watchmen and Marvelman and even Mark Gruenwald's Squadron Supreme series were part of this movement, if not outright defining it, and Hero Alliance kind of falls within this spectrum. Maybe more toward Squadron Supreme's more "traditional superhero" end than the "dismantling of the genre" end of the Alan Moore works, but it's definitely an attempt at a more mature superhero story.

The follow-up monthly series from Innovation unfortunately didn't keep my interest for all of its short run (I only bought 11 of the 17 issues), and it did have maybe a few too many cheesecake-y covers, which wasn't unusual for this particular publisher. But for a while there, Hero Alliance was an interesting series, and a reasonably successful experiment in an alternate take on superheroic funnybooks. I wouldn't mind seeing this reprinted in a volume or two for modern audiences, someday.

Monday, February 01, 2010

This is pretty much exactly what Samuel Taylor Coleridge had in mind. 

from Batman #142 (September 1961)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

And you thought "Paste Pot Pete" was a terrible villain name. 

Not only does "Parade-Hater-Horace" have a remarkable name, get a load of his swank costume:

His mom so totally made that for him. "Oh, Horace, why must you be so negative? Why can't you like parades?" "Mooooom, just put what I told you on the sweater!"

This is the Iverson they're talking about...how could Parade-Hater-Horace hate a parade comprised of these fine pieces of modern engineering?

EDIT: Just been informed that the weblog Comics Make No Sense addressed the Parade-Hater-Horace situation just recently. You know, I swear I Googled it before I posted. Ah, well.

In other news:
  • Andrew Weiss has unleashed another installment of "Growing Up 2600" - his ongoing series about the classic and not-so-classic games of the Atari 2600 video game system. I'm proud to say this particular installment was inspired by yours truly, so I invite you to go check it out and find out just how cheap I can be.

  • FOLLOW-UP to the story of the mystery certificates/coins/dolls from last week: turns out these girls were somehow offended by Employee Timmy when he did not invite them to his birthday party, and thus formed the Anti-Timmy Force 4 (hence the ATF4), dedicated to...making out certificates for the store and, um, dropping coins outside our door, and...basically, having no impact on Timmy at all, since I'm the person cleaning all this up.

    Or, to sum all that up more succinctly: high schoolers. So there you go.

  • DC is offering Flash and Green Lantern rings to tie into the Brightest Day promotion connected to Flash #1 and Green Lantern #53. Seems odd to me that another green ring is being offered so shortly after the last one, and a small part of me (probably the pinkie toe) thinks that we're in fact getting a white ring in this promotion, and it's simply being advertised as a green ring for the time being to avoid spoilers for future issues of Blackest Night. If so, there would still be plenty of time for DC to go "hey, it's actually a white ring" and for retailers to adjust their final orders, after the point when spoilers are no longer a worry.

    Of course, this all assumes there's going to be a white ring to begin with, which may be sorta kinda implied by some of the Brightest Day ad art. But just so we're clear...I'm fully aware this is likely just a bunch of crazy talk on my part.

    ...This is what I think about instead of important things.

  • Here are some important things...some important Swamp Things, that is:

    1. Jim Kingman writes a brief history and appreciation of Swamp Thing supporting character The Patchwork Man.

    2. Comic book-themed wedding centerpieces...including a couple of...well, guess who.

  • Dear Superman: NEVER do this again:

    from World's Finest #241 (Oct. 1976) by Bob Haney, Pablo Marcos & John Calnan

    Not magically altered, not under the influence of Red Kryptonite...Superman here is revealing the superpower of being able to balloon up to enormous site after inhaling, well, in this case, a sizable amount of human-breathable atmosphere.

    Oh, Bob Haney, you nutty guy!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sluggo Saturday #39. 



from The Best of Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy (1988) - thanks to pal Andres


Friday, January 29, 2010

Mean Cat (Steve Lafler, 1981). 

This 24-page, magazine-sized, black and white comic is Steve Lafler's second publication, as per his introduction on the first page. Our titular aggressive feline is featured in a couple of stories within...here he is in action:

...though half of the book is devoted to other characters and features, such as "Angry Young Carrot," "Crazy Eddie," and "Naked Avenger," as well as a page of poems by Steve Beaupre.

I spent a lot of the eighties and the early nineties being a Steve Lafler completist, or at least as best as I was able. I think I'm still missing a couple of the Dog Boy comics he published under his Cat Head imprint, but I've got his short-run and one-shot books like Femme Noire and Out the Next and a complete run of his Buzzard magazine, and so on. When Bughouse came out in the mid 1990s, it didn't really do anything for me and, for whatever reason, I just sort of fell out of following his work after that. But I still have fond memories of getting big laffs from Dog Boy and Benb and his other crazy comics, so thank you for that, Mr. Lafler. And the man is still producing plenty of comics, which you can learn about at his official website.

This copy of Mean Cat turned up in a very large collection we acquired at the shop in the late '80s, from a collector who didn't do very much to protect his comics from the elements. For example, by not bothering to invest a couple of bucks in some comic bags, his entire run of Iron Man had a half-inch of water damage at the bottom of each issue. You can probably see the water spotting in my scan above, though the paper of the cover is heavily tanned as well, particularly on the inside. There was a copy of Guts (another early Lafler book) in this collection, but seeing as then-coworker Rob was also a Lafler fan, he and I split the acquisitions and he took the Guts, and I took this goodie. (Come to think of it, Rob's kind of been out of the comics world for a while...I wonder if I can get it back from him? If he even still has it.) (This is a terribly selfish geek-thing to think, by the way.)

I'll be taking another weekend break from my journey through my collection, but I'll be picking up again on Monday if nobody objects or shows up on my doorstep with rakes and torches. Thank you all for reading and, hopefully, enjoying my show-and-tell.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Previews #257 (Diamond Comic Distributors, February 2010). 

Previews was a catalog used by Diamond Comics Distributors, the largest company of its kind in the country...and possibly the world, I have no idea. Anyway, this catalog contained a wide variety of items, and not just comic books...you could also find t-shirts, games, videos, naked Japanese girl statues, action figures, candy, naked Japanese girl statues, iPhone covers, posters, naked Japanese girl statues, and naked Japanese girl statues. So it pretty much had everything, as you can see.

One of this catalog's many cultural impacts was the entirely petty and unjustified fun-poking immature folks on the internet would inflict upon some of the items listed within. As difficult as this may be to believe, one person even believed said items to be indicative of some kind of symptom of humanity's decline...markers of an "end of civilization," you might say.

Well, let's take a look at this February 2010 edition of Previews and find out ourselves, shall we? Links to previous examinations of the publication may be found in the sidebar of this webpage.

p. 55 - 12" Barb Wire Figure:

Not saying I couldn't probably sell this to a customer or two, because hey, bosomy blonde gal, but even so...a Barb Wire figure does seem a bit...late-ish, wouldn't you think?

p. 128 - Michael Keaton as Batman Bust:

Yup, those are Keaton's abs, all right. A stunning likeness!

p. 134 - JLA Trophy Room Wonder Woman Tiara, Bracelets and Lasso Prop Replica:

"Wonder Woman's tiara, bracelets and lasso are prop replicas ONLY and are not meant to be worn or used as weapons."

And would be totally embarrassing to have noted in your coroner's report. So please, friends, use your safewords.

p. 193 - Sarah Palin Rogue Warrior:

Okay, I'm hardly a fan of Sarah Palin, but there are just some things I wouldn't wish on anybody.

(Then again, there's still an audience for all these political spoof comics, so who am I to judge?)

p. 198 - Archie and Friends #143:

"Chuck, I feel that I have been 'molded' by your 'dissing' of me in your 'gags.' I believe you must 'do me a solid' and 'own up' to this offensive 'burn.'"

"Sir, please, your slang usage is inhibiting our ability to communicate."

p. 212 - Faith #1 Jesus Christ:

Man, these unauthorized biographies are getting way out of hand. Wait 'til Jesus' lawyers hear about this!

p. 334 - Here is a little blurb beneath the Graphitti Designs listings:

"On Dec. 7th, our Violet Lantern T-shirt made its screen debut on CBS's blockbuster series THE BIG BANG THEORY."

And nobody watching the show, aside from the already-initiated, knew what it was. "Hey, cool starburst design. If I had any idea what it was called or where to get one, I could have a shirt like that, too!"

p. 337 - Zombie Shakespeare Alas Poor Yorick and Zombie Che Viva La Dead t-shirts:

Surely someone's already drawn a connection between the fictional spread of the zombie plague and the real spread of the zombie fad. Except the fad seems even more insidious and widespread. At least the fictional version usually only spreads by bites and blood infection.

REMINDER: Previews regularly uses this slug on some of their listings:

p. 348 - Hellboy Fan Toffee Doll:

"...The Hellboy Fan Toffee Doll is something many a fan can related to, dressing up in their own unique style to emulate a character they love."

So it's a doll of someone dressing up as another character. It's a cosplay doll. Okay, I know Captain Action did it, too, but I don't know that the good captain was explicitly a fan of the characters he was dressing as. It's...it's just...look, I'm just going to say this is weird, and leave it at that, okay?

And don't tell me this has been going for a while in Japan. I don't want to know.

p. 361 - Achilles 1:5-Scale Statue:

"Dammit, this statue is broken by the foot, too! Well, pack it up and we'll ship it back to the distributor."

p. 361 - Phantom of the Opera Life-Size Resin Bust Kit:

You know, you really need one of those on a nightstand or a bureau right next to your bed, so that the Phantom's comforting presence and gentle gaze are always nearby. And each morning, as your eyes slowly open and the sun's warm glow peeks between your curtains, you can look up at your friend the Phantom and greet him as you begin your brand new day.

p. 362 - Arcade Mini-Bust:

So pal Dorian and I were discussing the Marvel bust line (insert joke about the White Queen statue on the same page of Previews here) and how it really seems to scrape the bottom of the barrel sometimes. I mean, a Magneto bust? Sure, okay. A Bi-Beast bust? Sales of that are going to depend on the Marvel bust completists more than some vast and silent network of Bi-Beast fans coming out from hiding to place their preorders.

Now, an Arcade bust seems to fall between the two extremes there...I'm sure there are plenty of Arcade fans out there, somewhere, and whether there is a large enough subset of those fans who are also buying statues to make a significant impact on this item's sales, I have no idea. But then there's the larger base of X-Men fans and completists, who will probably comprise the majority of sales, or at least match the folks who buy every bust, regardless of character.

Regardless of the reason, if you buy this bust, you're going to have a guy that looks like that sitting on your mantelpiece. With that tie. That's a decision only you can make.

I do like that metallic sphere base, though. That's kinda neat.

p. 365 - Star Wars Animated Slave Leia Maquette:

"This version of Leia has been, by far, the most requested character in Gentle Giant's Star Wars Animated series."

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Wait, let me try to contain my surprise. Because seriously, I could have sworn the Ugnaught Animated Statue would have been, at the very least, neck and neck with the "Nearly Naked Strong Female Character Forced to Be in A Submissive Position" statue. Just goes to show you, man.

p. 374 - Creators Labo #24 Tsukasa Bullet - Compact Hog PVC Figure:

After all that build-up at the beginning about "naked Japanese girl statues," I suppose I should throw one in here somewhere. Okay, she's not naked, but does feature "such exquisite details from her helmet, shoulder armor, and leather outfit to her soft, supple flesh" so I guess this will do. Well, thank goodness her shoulder is armored. And is there a more flattering name than "Compact Hog?" I submit that there is not.

p. 382 - DC Comics Blackest Night Buttons:

I understand Marvel's got a deal where if retailers send 'em fifty of these buttons, they'll get one rare Deadpool pin in return.

p. 383 - Serenity Blue Sun Travel Poster Set 2:

Perfect for college students trying to out-obscure their roommates with posters they won't know a damned thing about.

Marvel Previews p. 68 - X-Men Second Coming:

"Second Coming?" When have the X-Men ever been away long enough to have a second coming? Hell, the comic even went into reprints for a while in the early '70s instead of getting canceled, so we couldn't even get rid of them then.

On the other hand, maybe this is a crossover with that Faith comic book I noted above.

Marvel Previews p. 109 - Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk TPB:

For an authentic recreation of the story's original telling, after reading chapter two put the book aside for about three years and read a bunch of other Wolverine and Hulk comics in the meantime.

...Yeah, yeah, cheap shot, I know. Hey, I'll be making the same joke about my much-beloved All Star Batman soon enough.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kandykorn-Jackhammer #1-#3 (Pneumatic Press, 1990-1). 

This was a local 'zine published by artist/writer/mad genius Johnny Brewton, featuring his work as well as contributions from the remarkably various and the most definitely sundry from across Ventura County and distant parts beyond. It was a potpourri of cartoons, fiction, interviews (with the Jeff Dahl Group and Bob Forrest), reviews, clip art, poetry...basically, if it could be printed on a page, it was fair game for the magazine. The second issue even had an additional mini-comic stapled to the inside back cover.

Brewton would later move on to the X-Ray Book Company, a publisher of high-end, limited edition books and art pieces. One book he published had a swell cover by Jaime Hernandez, and another had some copies hand-signed by Hunter S. Thompson! Pretty neat.

Somewhat less neat is the following cartoon, which appeared in issue #3 of Kandykorn-Jackhammer. Yes, it's a contribution from a 21 or 22 year old version of yours truly, your pal Mike, upon whom Johnny took a great deal of pity and willingly wasted one valuable page on my amateurish scribblings, which by all rights I should be too embarrassed to show you:

Behold the obvious jokes! The terrible hand-lettering! The inkjet-printed computer lettering! The head mirror! (Actually, I still kinda like how that doctor came out.) And isn't that cute, I actually put a little © on it, like someone was going to steal it.

Well, maybe it's not that bad, and it was a precursor to my brief stint as a mini-comics creator under the Full-Frontal Harvey publishing banner. But I always did appreciate Johnny's inclusion of my comic, and I was quite happy to see it in print, and certainly proud to have been at least a tiny part of this interesting project.

And before you ask...no, that first issue did not have nude pictures of Ed Asner as promised on the cover. Nor did the other two issues. Sorry to disappoint.

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