mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, January 28, 2006

"Well, now then, that's hard cheese, old bean." 

Employee Nathan overhead the following exchange between two participants in the Yu-Gi-Oh tournament going on at the game store next door:

Kid 1: "I destroyed your monster!"

Kid 2: "No you didn't!"

Kid 1: "Yes I did!"

Kid 2: "Oh yeah? Well...I hate Green Day!"

"I can't help but twitch, twist, and turn!" 

from The Close Shaves of Pauline Peril #3 (December 1970) by Del Connell & Jack Manning

Read more about it here.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Actual content after the meme. 

Always remember:



The first two were suggested by pal Sean, the last one was entirely my fault.

Some notes from this week's New Comics Day:

Nextwave #1, Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen's somewhat less-than-serious Marvel superhero team book, blew out the door immediately...even after I had bumped up numbers on our initial orders. And it's funny...I'm sure some humorless Marvel fan somewhere is offended at the lack of respect afforded, say, Captain Marvel/Photon or Fin Fang Foom, but it's a real hoot. And, surprisingly for a Marvel comic, I was able to place reorders for additional copies.

Plastic Man #20 - the last issue of Kyle Baker's run, which, I still suspect, suffered in sales because it wasn't the "serious" Plastic Man comic people apparently were hoping for. Those of us who stuck with it got a fun and bizarre funnybook...and this issue had probably the last Dr. Light joke you'll ever need. Woo boy.

Doris Danger Seeks Where Giant Monsters Creep & Stomp - this is listed as a "trade paperback," but it's an oversized staplebound magazine. But, if you like the old Marvel Kirby 'n' Ditko monster comics, this is probably right up your alley. Pin-up pages include work by both Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, as well as Mike Mignola. Worth a look if you like the giant monsters.

Serenity trade paperback - wish I had it for that one or two week period the movie was in theatres, but hey, we still sold through all our copies, so I shouldn't complain.

Catwoman #51 - sales are way up on this series...we keep selling out of the new issues, and our adjusted orders haven't quite caught up yet. Finally, a Catwoman comic people seem to be enjoying.

Savage Dragon #122 - 1) yes, it's finally out, and 2) I don't seem to recall the cover's paper stock being this thin. Exactly one micron thick. Okay, not that thin, but boy it feels flimsy.

Cartoon Guide to Sex by Larry Gonick - destined to be the most flipped through book on our shelves...at least until the flipper realizes that the book isn't filled with nekkid girls.

"Underdressed heroines"

"It's my opinion, but Starfire's skirt should be longer, and both Starfire's and Raven's bodies should be covered up more-I think it's kind of inappropiate to parade around in a one-piece, and Raven's one piece is too tight-looking, somewhat revealing and shows too much of her contours."

"Dude, they look like nuns compared to the new Supergirl."

"Really, Superheroines (and heroes for that matter) would need to have clothing that isn't loose, given their career choice. I mean, how well would Starfire fly around and fire starbolts if she's wearing a more conservative outfit?"

"When you look at the bare skin , you dont see the fist heading toward you."

I need to post the next one in full for the proper effect (and because I want pal JP to see it):

"I find the discusssions here without moral character. If you read the Bible and follow the teachings of the church, you should know that being underdressed is sinful. That is why in Christian and Jewish traditions, woman have always been portrayed as the temptress....the way to sin. Eve and Mary Magdalene comes to mind although the latter showed penitance. There should be laws to prohibit all these bad influence in comics. Freedom of expression is one thing but not blasphemy in the eyes of the Lord. I am not some bible thumper and I enjoy my comics as much as anyone else but to hear some of the comments here makes me sick to the core. I just want you all to know that there are still good folks here in these message boards. And for your information, homosexuality is a sin."

"If anyone wants to see one of the sexiest female depictions in the entire DC Universe, you need to check out Jim Lee's AllStar Batman and Robin. The first issue is 2/3 Vicki Vale, and I have never seen a female character look sooooo good in any book."

"Raven should wear a parka. Swimwear should resemble wet-suits, but bulkier. Like deep-diving suits. Wonder Woman, if she appears at all, should always appear behind a fence so only her head is visible, like that guy on Home Improvement."

"oh god, WHO GIVES A BLOODY ****?! these threads are sooooooo stupid, and usually degrade into a series of unimaginitive sexual inuendos. [...] god, can't people these days have an INTELIGENT BLOODY CONVERSATION ABOUT SOMETHING WITH SOME INTELECTUAL MERIT?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?"

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The End of Civilization. 

Because no one dared to stop me...bust out the new issue of the Diamond Previews catalog and follow along as we examine...the End of Civilization. (Previous installments: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11)

Cover - Man, things start off with a bang, featuring the Michael Turner variant cover for some new Wolverine series. Not so much an incentive as a decentive.

p. 242 - Lost in Space: Voyage to the Bottom of the Soul TPB: reprinting the Innovation mini-series of several years ago, written by Lost in Space star Bill Mumy. Plus: in full color. Minus: you pay for that color, to the tune of $37.95. I know it ain't cheap for a small press publisher to publish a fancy book like this, but $37.95 is still quite the hit on the pocketbook.

p. 380 - X-Men 3 Movie Novelization MMPB: "By Chris Claremont, based on the screenplay by Zak Penn & Simon Kindberg." Sorta speaks for itself, doesn't it?

p. 382 - The Superhero Kit TP:

"The Superhero Kit comes with a handy booklet of tips on how to be a super-hero, and comes packaged with a Super Identity-Hiding Mask, a 'special person' sticker for everyone to know how unique you are, a celebratory blow-horn for those after-life-saving victory parties, and a super-hero award to display with pride."

Only $16.99. Pride not included. Probably wouldn't make a good gift for these characters. (You can find an image of the kit here...be sure to check out the "celebratory blow-horn.")

p. 404 - Superman Tattoo Watch: sometimes it gets depressing watching comic book companies and licensees desperately market 40- to 70-year-old superhero characters to a demographic that increasingly couldn't care less about them. But apparently the watch is "funky" and "new," according to the solicitation.

p. 418 - Vampire Angel Puppet: okay, when they did that episode of Angel where the title character was turned into, essentially, a Muppet, that was funny, and a high point of the whole series. Then there was a tie-in licensed item, an actual 21-inch plush doll version of Puppet Angel, which was wildly popular. Then there was "Battle Damaged Puppet Angel," with, um, battle damage. Scars and stuff. Now we have Puppet Vampire Angel, with little plushy fangs.

This is what's known as "going to the well one too many times."

p. 432 - Snowbird Sasquatch Mini-Bust: so, not just a bust of Alpha Flight member Sasquatch, but a bust of when (Sasquatch's alter ego) Walter's mind was in the body of Snowbird, who had taken the form of a white Sasquatch (AKA "Great Beast Tanaraq").

p. 452 - Marvel Heroes jewelry: lots of rings and pendants, but Wolverine's dog tags are in the assortment as well. Just thought that should be pointed out.

p. 454 - Peanuts Classic Wacky Wobblers: not that most of the Peanuts characters look right when seen head on, but Woodstock is particularly disturbing:


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Always remember... 

I'm just curious how long we can make pal Dorian's list.

And if you're getting tired of seeing these...well, please feel free to return the unused portion of this weblog to the webmaster for a full refund of your admission price.

Hey, I'm usually all about the content, baby...let me "meme" out for a while.

And now...an important message. 

DARRYL: "Hey Omar...look at how the plastic cup acts like a boat in water!"


SWAMP THING: "You kids know that plastic lasts hundreds of years when thrown into the environment?"

OMAR: "That stuff lasts that long?"

SWAMP THING: "Sure does, Omar. We all have to protect the Green, recycle our litter."

DARRYL: "You need us to help protect the land and water?"

SWAMP THING: "Sure do!"

OMAR: "You really that busy?"*

SWAMP THING: "As a matter of fact, kids...I'm swamped!"

ALL: (laughter)

(As featured on the Return of Swamp Thing DVD...highly recommended!)

* Not 100% sure on this line.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Okay, so I lied

Always remember...

I couldn't let the "meme" go without a Swamp Thing entry, surely.

The debate rages on: "Would you rather be the Man of Steel or a Jedi?"

"i would go for jedi...... superman is bullshit"

"...The Jedi could get [Superman] to a place without a yellow sun and kick his ass."

"Superman is okay, but he would lose. Lightsabers can cut through anything."

"The Christopher Reeve version could beat Luke Skywalker with both hands tied behind his back. The Hulk is debateable considering his brute strength."

"yoda could prolly make supermans blood boil from the inside making him explode from the inside out. One of the strongest powers exist is within the mind for the mind can make anyone strong physically, in this case the jedi's mind is the most powerful, as much as i love superman i know a jedi will bring him down."

"nothing a jedi could do, including a lightsaber, could hurt or even phase superman. nothing short of a full fledged nuclear strike would even harm supes. (discluding kryptonite)."

"I'm Superman, slicing in half though the light of multiple lightsabers and the Jedi's holding them, with my heat-vision then freeze breath all torsos in the air. Now shatter Jedi, along with your cut in half frozen saber light.. Superman Forever.."

"Now just imagine Superman training with a lightsaber under The Emperor..........learning the dark side of the force. HOLY SHIT! Now that would be doom for the entire universe........lol"

"imagine using kryptonite as the crystal in the lightsabre then supes wouldnt stand a chance"

Kryptonite lightsabres. I love you, Internet.

Monday, January 23, 2006


...some other coverage of the whole DC Universe: Stories of Alan Moore screw-up that we discussed here nearly two weeks ago. Also discussed in Rich's column are the other omissions from this book, and the first Moore Swamp Thing trade, that were brought up in the comments section for that post of mine.

(I hadn't heard about the copyright problems Rich mentions, though...that was news to me.)

Hopefully this will bring DC one step closer to doing something about correcting the problems in this book...at least returning the text intro to the Superman story. I mean, c'mon.

"42 - The Enterprise can only be in action for five years." 

So over the weekend, I had an old customer of mine bring in a box of magazines to sell...mostly it was Savage Sword of Conans that had seen better days, and combining their conditions with the fact that we've recently bought several Conan collections, and were thus stocked to the gills with barbarian funnies, I unfortunately had to tell this gentleman that we couldn't use them. However, there were a couple non-Conan mags in the box that I decided I couldn't live without:

Yes, the actual title of this magazine was indeed All About Star Trek Fan Clubs. Both these issues (#2 and #3) were released in 1977, and edited by comics veteran Tony Tallarico. Despite the name, the actual amount of space devoted to Star Trek Fan Clubs was minimal, with a couple pages of listings ("The Association for the Propagation of Trekkism," "The Harcourt Fenton Mudd Android Society of America," "Science Fiction Club of The Cosmos") and some short features devoted to fan art and fan profiles. The rest of it is typical Star Trek fanzine type stuff, with convention reports, news and rumors, as well as actor profiles and photos. My favorite actor profile is probably "Shatner's Biorhythms:"

"If you know about this science (not astrology) you know it measures the three basic rhythms of one's life from birth to any day of life.

"Beginning with Shatner's day of birth (Sunday March 22, 1931) we can discover through biorhythmic calculations that Shatner was at his intellectual peak, but at his lowest physical and emotional cycle on the day Star Trek rehersals originally began (April 7, 1965)."

The article ends with this caveat:

"It is difficult to figure in the biorhythms of the other Star Trek actors since exact birthdates are not always known. Some of the stars will tell their 'sign,' but not the year of their birth."

What can I tell you. It was the '70s.

Other features include a photo tour of the Smithsonian, with a special focus on its display of an 11-foot U.S.S. Enterprise model from the show, a couple poems written by Nichelle "Uhura" Nichols (with fan illustrations), a gallery of fan art of Vulcan wildlife, and a long list of Star Trek facts, a few of which follow:

"7 - Itaka is Sulu's first name."

"84 - The funniest episode was 'The Trouble with Tribbles.'"

"87 - There are such things as Spock ears that can be purchased."

"131 - The phaser beams shot on the show are done by animation."

"134 - Romulans look like Vulcans."

It's not all Star Trek, however...one amusing article presents excerpts from reviews of 2001: A Space Odyssey ("Such movies as 2001 may be no more than trash in the latest, up-to-the-minute guises, using 'artistic techniques' to give trash the look of art" - Pauline Kael).

The thing I like most about fanzines, both the comic book fanzines I normally collect as well as these Star Trek 'zines I bought on a whim, is the snapshots they provide of fandom's concerns and obsessions from a particular time. And that's the advantage the print medium has over something like internet message boards or weblogs...unless I print out and widely distribute hard copies of my website, some kid interested in comics thirty years down the line isn't likely to come across a copy of "Progressive Ruin" in a dusty box of beat-up magazines. I know there are still plenty of print 'zines out there, but I can't shake the feeling that Wizard is going to end up representing the current state of comic fandom to future generations.

Okay, I didn't mean to depress myself, there...cheer me up, Casual Spock:

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Employee Nathan would like you to always remember... 

Don't worry, that's the last one from me. Please click this link or on the sidebar banner to keep up with newer additions.

This is all pal Dorian's fault, you know.

X-Men, ads, store stuff. 

Thank you for many varied and well-chosen suggestions for good X-Men comics for new readers, particularly given my initial request was a tad more negative than I intended. Let me add a couple thoughts to some of your suggestions:

  • I agree that the Grant Morrison run probably would be good for new readers...if their primary exposure to the characters was the movies, this comic would be a natural extension of same. However, the more you know about the X-books, the more you get from this series, particularly once you see it as a tour of all the standard X-cliches, given a new coat of paint and made to appear fresh again.

  • The Asgardian Wars sequence of stories is...well, I don't know how good that would be for new readers, as it seems like an awful lot of information for a newbie to absorb, but I do want to say that this is one of my favorite X-Men stories. Art Adams and Paul Smith art? Fantastic.

  • God Lives, Man Kills - I read this years and years ago, and remember very little about it. In fact, my primary memory of the graphic novel is seeing it (along with several other Marvel comics) being discussed on a religion television show shortly after its release. The hosts of the show were, as I recall, a little taken aback by the scene where a crucified Xavier hallucinates his X-Men, including Kitty Pryde "phasing" through his body. After discussing this and other comics ("They're calling this 'Thor' character a 'god!?'"), the conversation ends with this exchange:
    "So, what's the price on a comic like that?" (indicating the God Loves, Man Kills graphic novel)

    "It's $5.95."

    "Wow, they're expensive...I remember when they were a dime!"

  • Uncanny X-Men Annual #11 - Another comic I read years ago and barely remember...but I remember enjoying it, and it is drawn by Alan Davis, who's made many a troublesome script go down easy.

So that issue of Punchy And The Black Crow where I got that ad I posted yesterday has an interesting mix of other advertisements contained within. You've got your standard comic book ads, like "Grit" and "Gain Weight Now," but then you also have things like "Beautiful Bust for You," "Cover Up Those Varicose Veins," and that happy fellow to the left, there, in the slimmin' suit.

Of special note is a full-page ad for Fantagraphics publications, which was (at least in my copy of this comic) printed horribly off-register. There's a portion of said ad to the right. It seems like an odd mix, but there is a minor connection between this comic and Fantagraphics, as Milton Knight, creator of Hugo (another title featured in the ad) is plugged as a future cover artist for Punchy on Charlton's hype page.

It's been said that a good way to tell what a publication's perceived audience is by looking at its advertising, so I guess this comic's readers were veiny, skinny (but still in need of a slimmer look), Grit-selling mystical chanters who read Love & Rockets. That's prime demographic, baby!

Around the store:

  • The new Jonah Hex series is selling quite well, with lots of requests for the first two issues. Luckily I managed to get my reorders in and processed on these issues before DC Comics announced sell-outs on them.

  • Firestorm has seen a jump in sales over the last couple of issues, thanks to the Infinite Crisis tie-in shenanigans.

  • Speaking of which, the Jim Lee cover for Infinite Crisis appears to be the cover of choice for our customers this time.

  • Haunted Mansion #2 was a quick sell-out...I'm very curious how the other Disney titles from Slave Labor will do. Tron, in particular, seems to be greatly anticipated by some of our customers.

  • From the Secret Files 2 series that came out this week...we blew through all the figures except the lonely, lonely Martian Pegwarmer Manhunter. The gimmick of switching heads on these figures (well, except Supes) has me wondering the obvious: can the heads from these figures be put on the headless Crisis figures I just happen to have floating around?

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