mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, November 19, 2005

"It's Madness...!" 

Midnight Tales #1 (Dec. 1972) - art by Wayne Howard

Tonight is the shop's big Midnight Madness sale, with prices so low we must be suffering from sleep deprivation!

The original Midnight Madness started this way...we decided we wanted to do an after-hours sale of some kind, to unload some excess stock for cheap and get it out of our hair. The plan was, after closing at our normal time, we'd take an hour to prepare the shop for the sale (bringing out the boxes of blow-out comics, getting the toys and graphic novels and what have you that have been sitting out on the shelves in the back room, put up the signs directing you to the great deals), and then open up again for a couple hours for the fun to ensue. Now I thought that seemed like a lot of work for just a couple hours' worth of "big sale" time, so, me and my big mouth, I suggested "hey, why not stay open all the way 'til midnight? It could be, oh, I don't know, our 'Midnight Madness' sale!"

Sigh. I successfully talked myself into working an excessively long work day. I'm stupid. Especially since if people are still around at midnight happily spending money, I'm willing to stay and keep the store open until they're done. I've shut the doors at 2 or so in the morning for previous Midnight Madness sales.

One time I tried to get around it by having a daytime clearance sale on Sunday, calling it our "Sunday Silliness" sale. Not quite as successful, I'm afraid.

The actual "Madness" itself isn't really all that much work...for that hour we're setting up, it's chaos and confusion, but once it gets going, it pretty much runs itself. But it's still a long workday for me...so don't be surprised if my post here tomorrow is "too tired...must sleep...adfjadsfjkl;ads...."

Friday, November 18, 2005

Mike's brush with flaming death! 

...Well, not really. But you know that Southern California brush fire that you may have heard about in the news today? That's right up there on the hills behind our store. Though the fire was coming down the side of the hills towards the city during the day, by the evening the fire had been driven back into the canyon, where it's still burning even now.

Business was slow, as everyone out of town assumed all of Ventura was on fire and didn't want to make the trip, and everyone in town was either standing on the streets watching the flames, or wisely inside the house and not breathing in the ash and smoke. Or, they were in the traffic jam of cars along the main drag through town right in front of our shop, since streets were being closed off.

So, no, it wasn't really a brush with death. The Ventura hills seem to explode into flame every few years, so we should probably be used to it by now. Besides, pal Tom was closer to the fire anyway. (Don't worry, he's okay. Well, relatively speaking.)

In happier news, Kid Chris popped by the shop to regale us with stories of college life, and his pal Scott bought a copy of Elfquest magazine #16 from us, because of this post of mine. That's right, my weblog made us some money...a whole $1.80 worth, so take that, Google Ads!

"Aqualad? You're kidding, right?" 

An extensive history of Aqualad and his many (okay, two) incarnations.

On this page, you can see some original animation cels featuring Aqualad. Here's another cel.

A Hero Machine-generated image of our favorite underwater sidekick.

An unpublished George Perez drawing.

A review of the DC Direct Aquaman/Aqualad two-pack. "...Reports have surfaced that their ankle joints had a tendency to break when forced in extreme positions." Ouch.

Another official Aqualad figure is on this page of the Teen Titans Mego figures.

The Aqualad costume for Captain Action's sidekick, Action Boy! (Full site here, since I'm linking to a specific frame.) You can also see it in its original packaging on this page.

Custom figures, ahoy: Aqualad and his later incarnation as Tempest, a Super Powers custom with backer card, an "animated style" figure, a figure whose expression says "I'M INSANE," and another Super Powers-style custom.

The Aqualad card for the trading card game.

Kevin Nowlan's black and white art for the previously-linked card.


A 3D Aqualad for all your 3D Aqualad needs.

For pal Dorian - some not-safe-for-work photo-manips of Aquaman and Aqualad. Oh, dear.

A page of Aqualad fan-fic and/or slash.

I don't know what "wees" are, but there's an Aqualad one on this page. It's small, and cute!

Special Aqualad from the Teen Titans cartoon section!

Background on the animated version of the character.

"This site is for those devotees of animation who believe that animated characters are as real as those in any other kind of movie." ...And here they present some choice stills from the cartoon.

"I have a bit of a grudge against Aqualad because both Raven and Starfire liked him and Raven is supposed to like Beast Boy and Starfire is supposed to like Robin."

A close look at the animated Aqualad figure.

The supremely-cool Wil Wheaton writes briefly about his Aqualad voice-work.

Animated Aqualad cosplay. Fantastic.

For future Aqualad (or Aquaman) news, please refer to that mighty Aquafan, Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

An unsolicited testimonial. 

New employee Nicknameless Aaron tells me today that, last night at home, his dad saw a copy of All-Star Superman sitting at the top of Aaron's funnybook stack. Aaron's pop, who reportedly hasn't read a comic book in years, picked it up, read it, and proclaimed "that was good -- when's the next one coming out?"

"All-Star Superman - Even Aaron's Dad Liked It."

New comics, Thanos, and wieners. 


The Marvel Select Thanos figure is now out in stores, and baby, it's fantastic. Or, dare I say, Than-tastic? Why yes, I do dare say that. It's a freakin' huge chunk o'plastic, and he comes with a figure of his true love, Death, complete with removable skull mask. Thany (as his pals call him) also comes with an extra swapable hand wearing the Infinity Gauntlet. The paint job is well done, and the overall quality of the figure gives me hope for the forthcoming Watcher figure, which is a must buy.

Discussing the Thanos figure with pal Cully, the biggest fan of Thanos creator Jim Starlin that I know, I mentioned that I hope to see more of Marvel's cosmic characters show up in action figure form. The In-Betweener would be kind of neat, and Cully brought up the Living Tribunal (complete with hovering head, courtesy some kind of complex magnet arrangement?). Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you the second worst-selling Marvel action figure series ever. (Here's the first.)

Of course, not that I'm buying a lot of toys at the moment, since I'm waiting until the toy room at the new house is set up before adding more to the collection. Yes, we're going to have a room for toys...how delightfully decadent. But the girlfriend continually refers to it as "the Spider-Man room," which makes me worried that my collection will be confined to a rickety table in one corner while her boatload of Spider-goodies fill up the room. Ah, well.

Now, to the other fantastic thing that our store received on Wednesday...

...All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely.

Clean, uncluttered art...visually interesting supporting characters...beautiful coloring...snappy writing...situations we've seen plenty of times before, made fresh again...a powerful and friendly-looking Superman...there's a lot to love in this comic.

Though I bet it'll get nitpicked to pieces by those sorts of people who don't like things that are marginally different from that which has come before.

Don't listen to them...trust me, for I am old, and wise in these matters. It's a great darn funnybook, deserving of your attention. It's Superman boiled down to its basic essence, similar to Morrison's work on New X-Men. Unlike New X-Men, which was primarily Morrison taking a tour of long-abused X-cliches and showing how they could actually be interesting if handled correctly, the new Superman title simply pares everything down to the basics everyone knows (or should know) about Supes: Lex hates Superman, Superman is a hero, Clark is a goof, Jimmy is Superman's best friend, Lois is a reporter. No company-wide crossovers or supporting character subplots here...just plain ol' Silver Age super adventure.

Other new items this week:

Mad Kids #1, the "all-ages" version of Mad Magazine, is now out, and the primary differences between it and its apparently not all ages counterpart is more puzzle pages, an interview section (with a band I've never heard of), and more pull-out posters and pages and cut-out crafts. It's not as watered down as I feared it might be (the cover features Gromit of Wallace and... fame spewing out a river of vomit, for example), so maybe it'll get the necessary parental disapproval it needs to help it sell.

Captain Universe: X-23 - Primary reaction of our customers to the cosmically-powered version of the female Wolverine (i.e. her glowing blue claws): "aw, c'mon." Not exactly putting its best foot forward, I'm afraid.

Supergirl #3 - It has the (apparently) pre-Crisis Luthor, in full battle armor, fighting Supergirl. Ordinarily, I'd be all over this book, since I'm a Luthor fan...but since I read the first issue of Supergirl, I'm pretty gunshy about buying any more.

Complete Omaha The Cat Dancer trade paperback - With a cover (not safe for work) that I absolutely cannot display on the rack. Oy.

"Everybody's a comic book artist"

"'He has wiener vision,' Sam said of his hero, who looks like a giant hot dog in a bun with stick arms and legs. 'Hot dogs shoot out of his eyes and they're poisoned, so if the criminals eat them, they get killed.'"

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Just a quick note... 

...to say I really, really hate it when there's no cover price on a new comic book, leaving us to scramble for the invoice to look up the cost the first time someone brings a copy to the register. Like, for example, today's release of Vampirella: Revelations #1.

It's $2.99, in case you're wondering.

And, just to remind you of something I noted before, Powers #14 is really $2.95, not $3.95 like it says on the cover. If your local funnybook dealers insists it's the higher price, tell him to bust out his invoice for the items that came in Nov. 2nd, and to check it himself.

A couple reviews, and how to enhance your hole. 

Due out in the funnybook stores today: Local #1 (Oni Press) by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly, which I reviewed a couple months ago - if you liked Wood's Demo series, give this one a try; and Hero Squared #3 (Boom! Studios) by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and Joe Abraham, wrapping up ths current mini-series (and leading into a regular Hero Squared series next year). I've reviewed previous issues here, here, and here, and this new issue continues the fun, kicking off with a humorous exchange between the non-super version of Milo and Sloat, the lackey of Lord Caliginous. Hero Squared is a fine comic, and here's looking forward to the ongoing series.

Earlier this week I mentioned the fact that if you were to put a copy of the sixteenth issue of the original Elfquest magazine in the front of a magazine box, the eyes of the elf on the cover would peer through the handle hole, piercing into the very darkest depths of your guilt-ridden soul. A couple folks recalled an old comic strip referencing this very fact...the very same comic strip where I learned about it, I'm fairly certain. I couldn't remember where the strip appeared, but thankfully one of those commentors, Chris, was good enough to send me a scan of the strip in question. The strip, drawn by Ward Batty and appearing in Comics Collector #6 (1985), was about decorating the ends of your comic boxes with faces of comic book characters, and the final tier of panels describes how to best enhance those illustrations:

Seems to me a wallful of those comic box faces staring back at me would creep me the heck out. Yikes!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I've got quite enough of these comics, thank you. 

If there was one thing I wasn't expecting from this morning's post, it was Lex Luthor penis jokes.

Anyway, I was doing some inventory work at the shop today, and it struck me that there were certain comics we really don't need to order ever again:

1. Benefit comics - Okay, sorry, I know they're for good causes, but with the possible exception of Marvel and DC's respective Africa benefit comics, as well as Marvel's initial foray into their 9/11 exploit-athon, they just plain don't sell.

2. Comics celebrating the anniversaries of other comic book stores - If I'd had the time and money, I may have done such a comic for our store's 25th anniversary, but I would have just sold it locally. Why would any customers of any other comic shop care about our anniversary?

3. Comics featuring the fictionalized adventures of real people - The era for this type of comic was decades ago...nobody cares now.

4. Youngblood.

5. "Sketchbook issues" for series that haven't officially started yet.

6. Mini-series for characters that already have several monthly titles on the stands - Sweet jumpin' Judas on a pogo stick, aren't eighteen Spider-Man comics enough to tell the stores that apparently need to be told?

7. Any autobiographical comic that tells us more than we need to know about the subject's masturbation habits - Not quite the problem it was several years back, during the great Joe Matt/Chester Brown era, but, really, enough is enough.

8. Any comic that has any combination of two or more of the following words in its title: "Elementals," "Sexy," "Lingerie," "Special."

9. "Comics" that are basically illustrated short stories...text with the occasional image. Neil Gaiman just barely got away with it with his Sandman: Dream Hunters...you, sir, are no Neil Gaiman.

10. Nude variant covers- c'mon, that's just embarrassing.

And I haven't quite reached the end of my patience with Sandman spin-offs that aren't by Gaiman, since DC wisely cut back their production once the diminishing returns threatened to set in.

But, honestly, no more Youngblood. That needs to stop.

Shelves, solicits. 

Last week, a new tenant moved into the empty storefront next door to us, and he asked us if we wanted any of the fixtures abandoned by the store that was previously there. Among said fixtures were several units of metal shelving, sized just perfectly for holding short comic book boxes. Our store didn't need them, since we have shelving out the wazoo, but I certainly could use them...and thus, I now have a few hundred dollars' worth of shelving, and it cost me absolutely nothing. Therefore, the storage arrangement of the vast Mikester Comic Archives will be undergoing some renovation over the next week or two...this is what I'll be doing instead of yard work.

Yes, it's DC Solicitations time...you know, I never do this for the Marvel solicits. Just not as fun, I guess, and each entry would probably have the simple comment "(slaps forehead in dismay)," so it's probably just as well.

The big news is, of course, the confrontation I'd been hoping for turning up in Infinite Crisis #5. Okay, I know this makes me a complete fanboy, but I can't wait to see it. (As a side note...please, before you do your panel-by-panel over-the-top lambasting of each new issue of IC, refer to pal Dorian's pointed parody of same. Learn from it.)

Eddie Campbell cowrites Legends of the Dark Knight #200...it's another Joker story, but with Campbell involved, it'll probably be a good'un.

The history of the Earth-2 Superman runs through this month's Superman books...I'm thinking that, after the whole Infinite Crisis thing is over and done with, we're never going to see the Earth-2 Supes ever again. So enjoy it while you can, kids.

This Superman: The Daily Planet trade, reprinting some Silver Age stories focusing around that great metropolitan newspaper, reminds me of this Best of DC digest on the same topic. And, it looks like six of the stories from that digest are going to be in this book. It'll be nice to have them at full size, since my aged eyes can't easily take in those digests anymore.

Infinite Crisis Secret Files 2006 - this is the kind of thing funnybook retailers hate to try to order...it's a tie-in to a very successful series, and it looks like it'll be good (Marv Wolfman returning to Crisis on Infinite Earths, after all), and it should sell big numbers. But, it is $5.99 a pop, which will impact sales...so should we order high, and hope it sells like IC does, or order conservatively, like we would on most $5.99 items, and hope reorders are available if it does sell well? It's gonna put our thinkers to the task, pondering the ordering decision on this one.

Showcase Presents House of Mystery - 552 pages of classic horror comics, in black and white, by Wrightson, Toth, et al...man, sign me up for this.

What th--!? Paul Levitz and George Perez doing a new JSA story? With the Earth-2 Superman fighting the Gentleman Ghost on the cover? Suddenly, I'm 12 again. Fan-tastic.

Wildcat's in JSA Classified, which should make you-know-who happy.

Well, the damn thing is sixty bucks, but this 13-inch deluxe Luthor figure is darn cool:

And it comes with a ray gun. A ray gun! I can't afford it myself, but one of you generous folk out there, feel free to buy it for me.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Boxes, late shipping, "Chick," and footnotes. 

Now this is an old fandom observation, that if you were to take a copy of the old magazine-sized Elfquest #16 and put in the front of a standard cardboard magazine box:

...you'd have a weepy-eyed elf peerin' right back at you through the handhold opening.

I was reminded of this the other day because, as I was walking through our backroom storage area, Angel from the cover of Uncanny X-Men #399 was staring at me from one of the boxes:

Of course, Chaos Comics and the like can offer up a surprise or two, such as the cover from Lady Death: The Crucible #2:

At our store, we've been in the habit of taping white cardboard backings into the inside-fronts of our boxes, mostly to protect the comics inside from accidentally catching on the lip of one of the inner pieces of the box, but partially to hide the images that may be seen through the box holes. It may not seem like a big deal, but considering the sort of things that may poke through that little cardboard window in our boxes of adult back issues, it's probably best to take a little precaution.

Any other comics you can think of that can function along these lines?

This week Green Lantern #5 and Supergirl #2 are due to be released from DC Comics. Now, it seemed like it's been quite a while since we've seen issues of either of these, so I whipped out the cycle sheets to see when they were last on the shelves.

According to the records, GL #4 came in on August 31st, which means that #5 probably should have been in around the end of September. So, this issue is about 1 1/2 months late.

The previous issue of Supergirl, #2, was in on September 22nd, so #3 probably should have been out the third week of October. Instead, it's coming out three weeks later.

I know stuff happens, production delays and what have you, but these are two particularly high profile relaunches for both these characters...it would seem that these kind of delays would hurt the momentum a little. Plus, if these titles are tying in closely to events in DC's Infinite Crisis crossover event (I know Supergirl is, don't remember about GL), they may have to rush production to make sure the right issues are out at the right time.

On a related note, I have a mail order comics subscriber who gets his stuff mailed to him about every two to three months. He primarily gets Marvel books, and I was sorting his stuff out to make sure that, by some incredibly extreme and rare chance*, I didn't miss anything from his pull list, when I noticed something. In a 2 1/2 month period, some titles had released three or four issues, while Fantastic Four released only one. It may not be the flagship title it once was, but it's still the first of Marvel's modern superhero era. You'd think they'd want this to come out on a timely** basis. I don't know why it's running so behind (if it's at the creative level, perhaps no one at Marvel wants to tell their big-name writer to get the lead out...see also Kevin Smith)...but thankfully*** there's something like two dozen other FF titles to take up the slack.

And then there are those titles that no one expects to come out on time. Superman/Batman, anyone?

So, when Archie Andrews first appeared in comics, under the "Archie" logo, the very first caption to describe our favorite red-headed teenager tells us to call him "Chick:"

That's a bit of characterization that couldn't be dropped fast enough. It's my guess that it didn't last past that first story...I didn't spot any other examples in my quick scans of Archie in The Forties and Archie His First 50 Years, though those are hardly complete. I like finding things like this in early comics...those bits that the creators had second thoughts about and discarded, or just plain forgot about. (Remember when Superman was able to mold his facial features to disguise himself? That's something he hasn't done lately.)

And isn't saying that if we shouldn't call him Archie if we "value life and limb" overstating it a bit? C'mon, Dilton could probably take Archie in a fight****.

* That "ahem"-ing you hear in the background is pal Dorian clearing his throat, for some reason.

** It's funny, because Timely was the company that would (more or less) become Marvel. See, it's like a play on words...oh, never mind.

*** That would be sarcasm.

**** Sorry, nothing here. I had a leftover footnote and had to put it somewhere.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

"...As intimidating and dynamic as a bowl of warm oatmeal." 

A few webpages that have come in handy at the shop for finding things for customers:

The Heavy Metal Magazine Fan Page, with story and artist listings for each year, plus cover scans. I had a customer looking for "Big" Bill Stout's and "Frankly" Frank Thorne's contributions to the mag, and this site took me right to 'em.

Inducks.org - Great name for a great site, which has a searchable index for Disney comics, both for American releases and releases in countries where comics actually sell well. I don't know how many times I've had a customer come in asking for a particular Donald Duck story, and I was able to find not only the original appearance of that story, but every reprint, with this site.

Taskmastersite.com - Yes, I had someone looking to complete his run of Taskmaster appearances. One print-out from this site later, I've given this customer a shopping list to use for weeks to come. I've talked about this site before, I'm pretty sure, but this just amuses me. A Taskmaster site. Fantastic.

Last time I did this was when Ain't It Cool News covered an alleged X-Men 3 script...but here we are, with a supposed new promo image from Nicolas Cage's Ghost Rider movie - let the AICN readers' talkback parade begin:

"mmmmmm undead leather gay-bondage"

"I hope his 'eyes' aren't lit up all the time..."

"Nic Cage is as intimidating and Dynamic as a bowl of warm oatmeal"

"PS: National Treasure sucked SO Hard it had it's own Event Horizon..."

"A Taco Bell tie-in would be great. What a great promotion for anything spicey - HOT. Does KFC have HOTWINGS? After all, this guy is the poster boy for anything spicey - HOT."

"When are we going to get some more pictures of Eva Mendes?"

"I think they need to get Richard Simmons to play Johnny Blaze!"

"Oh this is going to bomb in ways no one thought possible..."

"This looks so bad it reminds me of the Spawn movie."

"looks good to me. kind of manga-inflected."

"Warm oatmeal always gave me gas. Then, I found out, if cooked in apple cider, oatmeal can be quite tasty and digestible. Do you think Nicholas cage would be more tolerable if I knocked back a shot or two of cider before watching him mope on screen?"

"Listen, Ghost Rider can't even make it as a comic book, so..."

This is an archive page for the old Blogger version of Progressive Ruin, kept around to maintain all the old permalinks. Please visit the main page for the current version of this site. Thanks for visiting, and sorry for the inconvenience!

Copyright © 2003-10 Mike Sterling. Some images used are copyright © their respective copyright owners.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?