The preop postmortem.

§ May 6th, 2019 § Filed under eyeball, free comic book day § 2 Comments


PICTURED: artist’s rendering of the what the Free Comic Book Day logo looks like through Mike’s left eye


So I’m going in first thing the morning for what we can only hope is my final eye surgery for the time being, and as such I’ll try to keep my Free Comic Book Day report relatively short.

And in short…it was yet another highly successful FCBD event at my shop, the most recent in essentially an unbroken chain of successful FCBD events for me since their very beginning. We gave away lots of comics, saw lots of new faces, and did plenty of actual business of the coin-of-the-realm type. In fact, I had in my mind a certain amount of monetary expectations, and we easily blew right past that. Once again, Free Comic Book Day paid for itself many times over.

I didn’t do it alone…as always, my dad and pal Dorian were on hand to help out…especially needed this year since 1) my eyes still aren’t up to snuff given the last year’s travails, and 2) I was told by the doctor not to exert myself or really lift anything, so hefting boxes of comics and moving tables around was verboten. However, one of my very longtime customers, Deon, dropped by the store the day before offering his services if I ever needed them, as he had left his job to go back to school and was looking for the occasional odd job if I had any available. “Boy, do I,” said I, and that’s how Deon made the set-up and break-down of the store for FCBD such a breeze.

(Also, my girlfriend Nora had, and is still recovering from, some form of hideous plague and could not also assist, though she really wanted to come in!)

Speaking of set-up, here’s a look at the giveaway tables prior to the onslaught:

And here’s a pic I took of the back issue tables that were pushed together near the front of the shop and provided sale signage:

And here’s one of the very few crowd photos I took when I had a moment:

We were slammed from the moment we opened our doors — I knew we were probably in for a big crowd at opening judging by the huge number of phones calls and in-store queries asking when the event would begin. Before we opened, we had a line stretching across the strip of businesses I’m in, and when the doors did open, we literally had more people than could fit inside the shop…crowds were building up at the front anxiously awaiting entrance.

Nice mix of folks coming in, from preschoolers to grandmas, all taking advantage of the giveaways. And, once again, my policy of not restricting the number of different books one could take worked out just fine…as I’ve said before, when given the choice, only a few people take one of each, while others are happier voluntarily taking a smaller selection. Either way is fine with me! I did have to reassure some people that they could take more than a couple if they so desired, such as in this tweet I posted that day relating one conversattion:

“So all of these comics are free?”

“Yes!”

“And we can take one of each of them?”

“Yes!”

“And we can just walk out the door with them?”

“Yes!”

I think that poor girl still thought she was gettin’ away with something when she left.

Anyway, I said I was going to keep this short and failed miserably, but there’s not too much to tell, really. Like I said, lots of customers, lot of new people, gave away lots of comics (still have a few in a short box on the counter for anyone who couldn’t make it that day), and lots of sales. No real problems during the day…did have one fella who didn’t quite get that Free Comic Book Day was not the day to ask me to go through his collection and buy it, when, like, the store was at one of its busier points and I had a line at the register, but What Can You Do?

One odd thing…the exclusive Funko Pop for FCBD this year was John Constantine, and I ordered a small pile of them, as previous years’ exclusives went right quick. But ol’ Johnny just kinda sat there for most of the day…I was wondering it the Pop fad finally ran its course and it picked FCBD to start pushing up daisies, but suddenly in the late afternoon they started selling, thank goodness. Think I have one left…well, two, if you count the one that somehow maybe made it back to my house.

Eep. This isn’t short at all. Sorry about that. If I don’t get to bed soon, I’m going to be asleep the entire time the doctor is poking sharp objects into my eyeball, and I certainly don’t want to miss that! Thanks for reading, pals, and let’s do all this again next year!

Free Comic Book Day is today!

§ May 4th, 2019 § Filed under free comic book day § No Comments

Get yourself to the funnybook emporium of your choice (preferably mine!) and grab up some free comics to enjoy! And don’t forget to maybe drop a dollar or four while you’re there to help support the kind retailer (preferably me!) offering up the goodies.

Have fun, and I’ll see you all on the other side!

The only Free Comic Book Day t-shirt I can find in my closet is for the May 1st, 2010 event, which means I should clean out my closet more often.

§ May 3rd, 2019 § Filed under eyeball, free comic book day, sterling silver comics § 6 Comments

The Free Comic Book Day, she is coming tomorrow, so I hope you’re all ready to get out there and get your mitts on some free comics. Also, don’t forget to drop a dollar or two or a hundred while you’re there to support your local shop, as those free comics ain’t free to us, friends! I’ve been involved in the FCBD event every year since it started, and as a result, have written a whole lot about it, if you care to check out the Free Comic Book category on this here site.

I’m pretty much ready, though at the moment I am medically precluded from tossing boxes of comics around for the time being, so my job Friday night will be pointing at where I want stuff to go while others who are kindly devoting their time to help me do the actual labor. I mean, I can still unload comics out of the boxes and fill up the display tables, so I won’t be entirely useless. But still, kind of a bad time to be told “DON’T OVEREXERT YOURSELF, DON’T MOVE OR LIFT HEAVY STUFF” when one has to, you know, rearrange one’s entire store.

Speaking of my health, Chuck V. asked in response to Monday’s post:

“You know, I don’t want to get too personal and I realize it would take away from the supposed theme of the blog, but have you considered sharing a bit more about what caused this? Kind of a public service announcement.”

Well, if I had to sum up my problems in a public service announcement, it would be “Don’t Be Like Me — Don’t Be An Idiot about Your Health.” I wasn’t taking good care of myself, I wasn’t eating properly, I was drinking way too much soda, I had enormously high blood sugar and high blood pressure, I was overweight…I was a mess, basically. I felt fine, so of course I didn’t think there was any problem, until there was.

What’s causing the problem in my eyes is neovascularization, where new, weaker blood vessels started forming as a result of my poor health and circulation and blood sugar levels. Because the new vessels are so fragile, they can burst easily, especially when one’s blood pressure was crazy high.

Now, the good news is, I’ve basically been Scared Straight. I’ve lost weight, my blood pressure is normal, my blood sugar levels are where they’re supposed to be, I’ve changed my diet (no sodas for a year now!) and I’m doing a lot better than I was. But, the damage I did to my body is still there, especially in my eyes, and needs to be dealt with. Those injections in my eye I’ve mentioned over the last few months? Those were to keep those new vessels sealed and prevent new bleeding. The surgeries I’ve had in the right eye removed (or at least reduced) those vessels, so I shouldn’t have a recurrence of that problem there.

Now the left eye had been doing fine…there was no bleeding there, despite also having those weak vessls. A couple of injections were given to keep that situation stable while work was focused on saving the right eye. But, eventually, despite improvements in my overall health, the vessels in there burst as well. My eye doctor says it could have been just a random spike in my blood pressure that broke those vessels, like maybe exerting myself a little too much, or even just a bad dream could have done it. But whatever the reason, I got bleeding in my left eye now, and I am going back in or surgery on Monday to have that blood removed.

The overall health of my left eye is significantly better than my right, which had some tissue damage. As such, the surgery should be relatively easy and result in quick healing and restoration of my sight back to about as close to normal as we can hope for. And yes, those extra vessels will be expunged as well, and with any luck my new health regime will prevent them from coming back.

So that’s probably more than you wanted to know. I should probably add an “eyeball” category to my site here.

“It wasn’t bio-restorative formula, was it?”

After the last surgery, my right eye was about as red as Swamp Thing’s eyes, so you’re close!

Okay, enough Eyeball Talk….I hope everyone has a fun Free Comic Book Day! And remember, if anyone makes buying something a requirement to get a free comic, give ’em the ol’ bra’s d’honneur and march on outta there. Then come to my store, where I won’t make you buy anything to get your freebies…but I may make sad puppydog eyes at you until you do buy something. THAT’S MY PROMISE TO YOU.

And speaking of my store, I got some paperwork the other day regarding the nomination of my shop for the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award. Clearly some kind of terrible mistake has been made. Anyway, more on that later.

Thanks for reading, and have a good Free Comic Book Day, pals!

Welcome to Mike’s Eye Health Blog.

§ April 29th, 2019 § Filed under does mike ever shut up, eyeball § 20 Comments

So basically what’s been happening is this…a year ago, during an eye exam, it was discovered that the blurry vision in my right eye wasn’t just age and a need for glasses, but in fact caused by internal bleeding and blood basically stuck there inside my eyeball and not getting flushed out. Several eyeball injections, operations, and a cataract replacement later, that eye is now well on its way to healing.

However, in the meantime, about two weeks ago I was at the shop when I suddenly noticed a lot of blood suddenly appearing in my line of vision in my left eye. The same situation that had occurred in my right eye was now happening literally before my eyes…well, eye…and I rushed back to Ye Olde Eye Doctor for treatment. One more shot put a stop to the bleeded, but now I had to wait for the blood to eventually wash out of that eyeball.

That meant the left eye, the good eye that I have been depending on all this time, the eye that let me still drive and read and such, was now more or less out of commission. I mean, I could still see out of that eye, but it was like looking through gaps in my vision, like there was a beaded curtain of blood that was parted in places that I could see through. With a little effort, I was able to kind of focus around it, thought frustratingly when I would try to directly focus on something, it was like one spiral of blood would just swing directly into my light of sight…I would almost have to look at things out of the side of my eye to see whatever it was I was trying to see.

During all this, my right eye was still healing, and was almost but not quite able to pick up some of the slack. Large images, like say watching TV or something, was fine, but looking at text was difficult…letters looked at straight on were slightly distorted, and it would take some doing, and some slow going, to read anything at length.

Then within the last week or so, I had some other complications. My right eye, which had been coming along fine, had what was described to me as “post-operative bleeding.” A little blood got in there and essentially diffused throughout my eye, fuzzing out whatever vision I had. The good news was that, since the actual gel in my eye is still in the process of being replaced post my multiple surgeries, the blood pretty evenly spread out and cleaned itself out over a few days.

The big problem, however, was early last week, when the blood in my left eye, whicih had been in those “beaded curtain” clumps, suddenly broke apart and also diffused throughout my eye, obscuring pretty much all vision there at the same time my right eye was also fogged up with blood. For a couple of days there, I was more or less effectively blind. I mean, I could see shapes and light and such, but no way was I able to, say, break down and process the new comics shipment on Tuesday, check anything off an invoice, or do the pull lists.

Thankfully my dad has been able to help me at the shop for the last week or so, and my girlfriend as well, otherwise I’d still be sitting on last week’s Diamond shipment wishing for elves to appear overnight and do my job for me. And my right eye has cleared up, so my vision is…well, not perfect yet, but I can see well enough out of that eye to function, though I’m still having trouble with low-contrast things (and I still can’t quite make out Marvel’s cover prices in this tiny tiny type without the aid of a magnifying glass). Even now as I type this on my computer at home, I have the screen colors inverted, with white on black being far easier for me to handle.

My left eye, however, is likely also going to need some surgery to properly clear out that mess in there. We could wait and see if it’ll wash out on its own, but it could take weeks and because that gel in that eye is still intact, that blood is just kind of suspended there. Apparently the fact that it diffused like it did is a mostly good sign, that it’s breaking down and possibly getting reabsorbed, but it may still take too long and surgery appears to be the bst option.

So, for now, I still can’t drive, my dad is still going to help me at the shop (and likely will need him to check things off the invoice when the new comics come in, since those seem to be printed in off-white ink on white paper)…but my right eye is improving, and I should be reasonably functional during Free Comic Book Day.

The good news is that the poor health I was in that caused these issues has more or less been corrected or controlled…the bad news is that I still have to deal with the damage I caused myself. It’s affected my ability to work, it’s affected my ability to keep up on this site…I can’t even read comics right now, which is a terrible thing for a guy who, oh, I don’t know, owns a comic book store. But I really have no one to blame but myself.

Anyway, I’m surprised I was able to type all that. And it turns out, I’m having a less difficult time being able to read the text as I type it than I expected. It feels like my right eye has improved at least a bit since even yesterday, which is a good sign. Not perfect yet, and I’m certainly going to need some sort of glasses eventually (aside from the dollar store cheaters I’ve been depending on), but it’s certainly better than the nuthin’ I was getting last Tuesday.

So that’s what’s going on. I will be back blogging on a regular basis eventually, and I do want to post something about Free Comic Book Day, coming soon to a fairly okay comic book store near you. It may be a couple weeks before I get up to speed again, so thank you for your patience, and continuing to indulge my extended blatherings. I’ll talk to you again soon.

Gun status: jumped.

§ April 24th, 2019 § Filed under sick day § 1 Comment

Turns out the Great Return to ProgRuin blogging has to wait a little longer, as my eyeballs refuse to cooperate. Please excuse the downtime and I’ll be back as soon as possible. Again, it’s all stuff that’ll heal up fine, but it’ll take time and I’m currently at the wrong end of the “take time” part. So hang in there, and I’ll be back before you know, or even before you’d want me to.

Remember when comics bloggers were all concerned about “snark?”

§ April 22nd, 2019 § Filed under dc comics, publishing § 5 Comments

Hiya pals! I’m still recovering from my recent eyeball bugaboos, so please be patient as I slowly get the hamster-wheels running on the ol’ Progressive Ruin website again. In case you missed it, I did have a couple of smaller posts over the last few days, and I think that may be par for the course for a little while as my vision continues to defog. So you’re not rid of me just yet.

One thing I wanted to post about last week is the fact that the new DC solicitations include the beginning of the direct market-available reprintings of the new content from the Walmart-exclusive 100-page giants. My thought was that they were probably going to collect those stories into trade paperbacks, but nope, they’re going for periodicals, each containing two installments from the giants. $4.99 cover-priced periodicals, natch, but What Can You Do? I’m sure the trade will follow eventually.

The Superman one (cover pictured here in the post somewhere) is titled Superman: Up in The Sky, and the Batman one is Batman Universe. I particularly like the title of the Superman book, and quite frankly I’m surprised it hasn’t been used yet. Or maybe it has, I don’t know, there are lots of Superman comics. Batman Universe is a pretty good title, too. Hopefully the eventual collection of the Swamp Thing stories from the Walmart giants will be called…what? Swamp Thing: Out of the Muck? Swamp Thing: Born on the Bayou? Swamp Thing: Gotta Defuse It Before? …I bet they go wtih Roots of the Swamp Thing. Y’know, again.

The interesting thing about this…when I made a comment about this on the Twitters, about how nice it was to be able to get these stories since no local Walmarts carried these comics, well, the following happened:


THEIR EYES ARE EVERYWHERE. Though I notice they didn’t comment on my rather cynical observation from a couple of years prior. …Yeah, that’s a tad snarky. Not as snarky as this, but still.

Okay, enough of these shenangians…time to return my eyes to th evault. I’ll be back midweek. Thanks for sticking around and I’ll see — well, “see” — you then.

Just thought I’d share a picture of this CD from my collection with you all today.

§ April 20th, 2019 § Filed under undergrounds Comments Off on Just thought I’d share a picture of this CD from my collection with you all today.

Purely for the comic book connection of the Freak Brothers, of course:

“DO NOT BRING YOUR EVIL HERE.”

§ April 18th, 2019 § Filed under swamp thing § 2 Comments

The good news – a teaser trailer for the upcoming Swamp Thing TV series guest-starring Blue Devil on DC Universe:

The bad news: due to some behind the scenes stuff, the series order was cut from 13 episodes down to 10:

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/swamp-thing-order-cut-as-dc-universes-role-warnermedia-streaming-unclear-1202680

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!

A slightly less brief hiatus.

§ April 15th, 2019 § Filed under sick day § 8 Comments

Well, the plan was to be back to blogging this week, with a brand new “End of Civilization” and everything, but unfortunately I had a one-two punch of vision setbacks over the weekend and things will have to be on hold here for just a little while longer. Sorry about that!

Don’t worry, it’s nothing that’s not fixable, but until I recover a little bit more, activities like this will be curtailed. I will be back to it soon, I promise…I am not going to be one of those blogs that’s all “oh, I’ haven’t had time lately, but I’ll return shortly!” and that was heir last post in 2008. I’m still around, I still have stuff to say, I just, um, can’t see very well at the moment.

Thanks for your patience, and I’ll be back in no time. Honest! No foolin’!

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