mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, June 17, 2006


Single Series #1 (1938)


The above was acquired in a collection earlier this week, along with several other Captain and the Kids/Katzenjammer Kids comics. But that's the oldest one in the bunch, the first issue of the series that would eventually become Comics on Parade.

You can read more about the Katzenjammer Kids comic strip at this comprehensive website.

And the strip is still running.

EDIT: Find more Captain and the Kids at Barnacle Press.

Friday, June 16, 2006

A brief follow-up. 

Okay, maybe in retrospect I shouldn't have gone with the "packing a book for a customer" story in the last post. It amused me at the time, since I could just see a disaster waiting to happen to that book in transit, but I guess it's a "you had to be there" moment.

But I did want to give an example of the kind of customer service that we try to provide, to counterbalance the tales I usually relate here of our smart-aleckiness, or of things at the shop going awry, or of "customers" mistreating us...not to mention just trying to counter the usual stereotype of the slovenly comic store clerk more interested in sitting on his butt, eating and watching television and/or reading the new X-Men than helping his own clientele.*

I don't toot the store's horn an awful lot on this site, but hey, our store has been in business for 26 years...we must be doing something right. Not saying we're perfect...there are plenty of things that could use some improvement, but at least we're trying.

And contrary to what this anonymous commenter implied, we don't help just the "cute" people. If that were true, I never would have helped Employees Nathan and Aaron back when they were customers. (bada-bing!)



In happier news...my favorite comic news source, the Unsinkable Tom Spurgeon, points us to this article with details about DC Comics' forthcoming Snakes on a Plane comic book. Fantastic. I'm assuming it's an adaptation, and not, say, a prequel ("Who are these snakes? Where do they come from? What dark compulsions drive them?").

Please let there be photo covers on these. Please.


* Says the guy who spent his break on new comics day setting up a couple photographs for his website.

Random bits. 

For my most recent column for Comic Book Galaxy, I discussed people who came to our store with the apparent purpose of making us miserable.

Well, I found this commentary on my article, and nicely expounds on the issues I brought forth. Go, read.



MATT DRUDGE IN "CAN'T SPELL 'SPIDER-MAN'" SHOCKER. ("spoiler," if it still can be considered as such, in image)



At the store, a couple days ago:

Employee Aaron: "Where should I file the Family Guy comics?"

Me: "Well, you could put them with the Simpsons books."

Aaron: "Oh damn....!"



File under "horn, tooting of one's own:" So on Thursday, we had a young woman looking for a copy of a particular DC Comics trade paperback. Alas, we'd run through all our copies, and our reorder had not yet arrived. I did have a copy of the large slipcased hardcover "Absolute" edition of the very same book, which the woman liked even better than the plain ol' softcover.

She bought it, and mentioned that, while the book was great, it was going to cost a lot to ship to her fiance, for whom it was a gift.

Well, where does he live, I ask, and which she replies with the name of one of the southern states.

Can't you ship that book by media mail? It should be pretty cheap that way, I suggest. She didn't understand what exactly I meant by that, which is okay...it seems like I live at the post office, what with all the mail order our store does, so I'm not going to be too hard on her for not knowing as much about the different mailing services as I do.

Since I happened to be in the middle of packing up mail order for the store, I whipped out one of the priority mail flat rate boxes, telling her it would only cost $8.10 to ship the book in one of these. Here, take it, I've got plenty of them, I tell her.

Wow, thanks, sez she, and asks where the post office is. I give her directions, at which point she says she's just going to seal the book into the box and take it to the post office right away.

Whoa, I exclaim, hold on there, that box is quite a bit larger than the book, so the book's just going to rattle around in there...do you want some packing material?

Before she can answer, I just say, here, give me the box and the book, at which point I proceed to pack the book up for her, sealing up the box and making it ready for the tender mercies of the postal service.

So there you go...Mike giving the customers the full service treatment. Ooh, yeah. That's the kind of quality customer relations I deliver.



Yes, I just told a story about packing a book into a box. Every day is a new adventure.



Inspired by the greatness that is Composite Superman, here is a very rough sketch of Composite Swamp Thing (half Swampy, half Man-Thing), which I doodled out right quick at work yesterday:


I think there are some possibilities here...one of which is "art lessons."

Thursday, June 15, 2006

And now... 

...sixty-nine copies of Marvel's Time Bandits adaptation:


We recently found ourselves in possession of a collection that consisted of lots of multiple copies of various titles from the early '80s, primarily extra-sized comics, anniversary issues, and annuals. We paid well for the stuff we could use, and everything else (sloppily packed into old and decaying cardboard boxes) ended up getting dumped on us.

But that's okay...as a result, you may be getting more pictures like the above in the near future. In fact, on Wednesday, on new comics day, instead of doing actual work, there I was, carefully spreading out Time Bandits comics on the floor, then balancing on top of the aluminum ladder that I dragged out of the back of the store in order to get the right angle for my shot.

The things I do for this site.



Hey, look, I have an article over on Cracked.com...."Awesome Super-Powers (And Why You Don't Want Them)." Go read, you.

I can't take credit for the swell job done on the graphic element of that article, but those Cracked guys sure dressed up my textual drivel right purty.



Speaking of new comics day (as I was, up there, somewhere), we received our case of Spawn Series 29, the one supposedly containing the Man of Miracles figure (based on Marvelman/Miracleman, ownership of which is...contested, to say the least). I say "supposedly" because our case didn't have one. Comments I've seen here and there have stated that this figure is the short-pack of the case...if so, ours was so short-packed we didn't even get one.

We also received the figures based on Michael Turner's artwork from the nigh-unreadable Superman/Batman "Return of Supergirl" storyline. Oh, Sweet Mother McCrea, these figures are even more appalling in person. Supergirl is frightful, and Corrupted Supergirl, even more so.



While Googling up some info on the Man of Miracles figure, I came across a reference to the character on this Wikipedia disambiguation page:

"A thinly-veiled rip-off of Miracleman, 'created' by Todd McFarlane for the comic book Spawn."

That instance of opining has been removed from the current version of the page. As noted in the page history file:

"(Removal of POV (even if I agree with it!) from disambig.)"

Well, I thought it was amusing, anyway.



I'm not going to talk about this today, but how long do I have to wait before I discuss the "surprise" twist from the end of this week's release of Civil War #2, without having to surround it with SPOILER WARNINGS? Is it safe to assume that anyone online with any interest in the story already knows it? (Here's the reveal if you hadn't heard.)

You know what? Forget it. I am going to discuss it. so current SPOILERS in effect, kids.

So the big reveal at the end (the same reveal that ended up in this week's Thunderbolts, so everybody found out about it last week when they read that comic in the Marvel preview pack) is almost certainly going to get reversed in short order. A friend of mine, whose first initial is Dorian, has noted that Marvel's current talking point is that this character's current relationship status quo is a bad idea, and shouldn't have been done...probably to get folks ready for something to happen to that status quo during the course of Civil War. Probably not death or divorce, as the Marvel folks seem to be against that.

Well, my guess is that whenever they reverse the reveal from Civil War #2 (maybe Dr. Strange casting a spell, or time travel, or however they do it), the hero in question will ask that his relationship be undone, retconned, "made never was," to protect his loved ones from any harm being caused by their proximity to him. Particularly if said loved ones undergo some kind of traumatic experience as a result of the reveal. And vee-ola, we're back to square one.

That's just my guess, anyway. Could be completely off.

I did like the reaction of the hero's boss to his reveal, though. Very funny.



Super F*ckers "#277" by James Kochalka is out this week...more charming, wistful, violent, silly, and remarkably potty-mouthed superhero funnies. It's probably my favorite superhero book of the week. It may be five bucks for 24 pages, but it's so densely-packed that you certainly get more than your money's worth. (Unlike, say, my experience with last week's Wonder Woman #1, which felt like I got from one cover to the other in no time at all). Kochalka says a few words about Super F*ckers (and other topics) in Alan David Doane's Five Questions interview.



I don't have much new to say about it, but I always like to note when the new volumes of Little Lulu arrive. This one is Volume 10, All Dressed Up, and John Stanley and Irving Tripp's work is about as close to "perfect" as comics can get. Classic, funny, and ageless material.



For reading all this, you get a picture of twenty-eight copies of The Life of Pope John Paul II:


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

What do they mean, "match?" 


Ad from World's Finest #252 (Aug/Sept '78) - art by the Joe Kubert School

In case you can't read the blurb in the lower left-hand corner, the other figures noted as being available are Steve Trevor, Queen Hippolyte, and Nubia.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Dipping into this well yet again. 

So I bet you're wondering where the Official William Shatner Website Forum stands on the whole gay superhero thing. Well, wonder no more, effendi:

"A gay Superman and other annoyances"

"Jay Leno mentioned in his monologue tonite that in the upcoming "Superman Returns" that our new Superman comes across as gay. Just what the world needs today, a gay Superman."

"Why can't gay folks create their own heros? This is not an attack, but a genuine question. I am sure that there are plenty of historical role models who were gay. Why not choose one of them to immortalize in the comics?"

"From what I read, it's not that they made Superman gay (unlike Batwoman who's history they're rewriting to make her a lesbian) but rather bad acting and writing makes him SEEM gay."

"I thought Superman was already gay.
Just look at his choice of outfit."

"It's axiomatic that a guy with the power of flight is going to be light in the loafers but I'll wait to watch the DVD before I pass judgement."

I believe this person is trying to make a point of some kind:

"I'm trying really hard to be gay cuz I think it'll be really cool and fun. I like girls, but I think they'll understand if I decide to be brokeback for a while. I can't wait! This will be the thrill of a lifetime!"

The James Randi Educational Foundation Forum has some thoughts on the matter as well:

"Twenty plus years of Vertigo, the Watchmen, Maus, Strangers in Paradise, and the rest, but somehow this the mainstream media waits for this very tepid bit to make a big deal about?"

"I think you're missing one crucial piece of the puzzle:

"'Originally Posted by CNN.com article:
(DC Comics, like CNN, is a division of Time Warner.)'"

Dear DC Forums: don't ever change. Love, Mike. 

So the whole "gay Batwoman" thing has inspired some related lines of inquiry:

"Should Lois become a Lesbian?"
"Let's face it, if Lesbians are this trendy, maybe DC's most endurung female character should take the plunge. People have been complaining for years about how 'stale' the marrage is, this is one way to really perk it up. You would'nt have to to worry about the Clark, Lois, Superman triangle, because you could have the Superman, Lois, Wonder Woman Triangle or the Lois, Lana, Lori triangle to add a bit of seafood. Let's face it, Lois has always been pretty butch so the transition should be easy. I say, strike while the iron is hot, or whatever."

"HELL NO!!!!!!! why does everyone want gay charactors.Im not against them but I dont think everyone needs to go gay,just my opinion,"

"I hear they're gonna do a Vicki Vale, Catwoman, and Julie Madison triangle first.
If enough people don't retch, they may actually consider doing something similar with the Super-Family."

"That would pretty much be the dumbest idea yet. Seems like DC couldn't have made a bigger mistake by turning characters gay. Now all we have is talk about what characters should be next. Whatever happened to discussing stories?"

"i hear lois will be a lesbo in 'Singerman Returns.' This is an 'issues' movie after all, and her kid was artificially inseminated."

"Well I guess some of you have finally figured out what DCs next big crossover event is going to be, Sexual Identity Crisis. When the Rainbow Raider and Trickster get together for a little fun something goes wrong, terribly wrong and before they know it 99% of the people on Earth have changed their sexual preference."

"I say make every one gay in the DCU for a year and all of the gay/lesbian characters straight and make all of the white characters black and the black/brown//yellow characters white and the green characters red and the blue characters orange."

"f they go the Batwoman route, then they should bring in "Lois Lane" as a totally new character--no relation to the other Lois Lane and all the previous continuity instantly becomes defunct. This character then has a relationship with Maggie Sawyer. Sawyer dies, and Lois becomes Superwoman to avenge Maggie's death."

"I think it would be dumb to maker a lesbian. Better to make her a polyamorous bi-sexual."

"Yes Lois should become a lesbian.She should then have an affair with Lana Lang and then Wonder Woman and then have one big lesbian orgy with the previously mentioned and Selina Kyle,Supergirl,Powergirl and of course Renne Montoya & Kate Kane...hell why stop there,why not make it an orgy with every female in the DC Universe invited.
My sarcasm amuses me..."

"If people really want to read about DC characters gettin down n' dirty with each other then there are PLENTY of fan fiction sites on the net."



"Batman vs. ZOD!!!"

"Always kinda pondered on this paticular thought of should our Bats ever be forced to have no choice but to face off for the sake of ALL humanity (just say all his other commrades including Kal, Kara, Diana, Kara Zor-L... ect are down for the count by this stage on the DCU's earth) against the almighty demonic Kryptonian smarts and might of ol' Zod HIMSELF exactly how would y'all here possibly see the only logical outcome of this here dire situation playing out as?"

"wouldn't happen
DC wouldn't let Batman face this kind of enemy. [...] But Zod would win"

"I wouldn't write off Batman just yet. Zod has one major obvious flaw, his colossal arrogance. Still, if it comes down to these two, I agree Earth is pretty much screwed."

"...Batman will never fall to ANY character, let alone a wimp like ZOD!"

"Zod trying to get the batsmear of his boots would take longer then the actuall fight."

"It's Zod. Why does he even care about Batman? why try and find him and fight him up close and personal-like? Why not just throw one of Jupiter's moons at Gotham City... and then another at Metropolis... maybe a third into New York City... Halley's Comet into Paris... Phobos at Tokyo...
That should take care of the Batman pretty well, along with pretty much all other life on Earth as well.
I'm sure Batman has plans somewhere for how he can use just the right leverage and tautness on his grapple to save the Earth from a bombardment of astronomical objects... but can he do it without setting himself up for a long-range heat vision sniper shot?"

"Actually you can't disregard kryptonite bullets."

"Ah, but you're forgetting that Batman, being a complete wuss, absolutely refuses to kill."



OH NO YOU DIDN'T:

"Does anyone else think Gil Kane was a hack?"
"I mean he takes Alan Scott, adds some air force fighter pilot Cold War propaganda, and then does a bunch of crappy and poorly drawn panels. Its an insult to the creators before and since who actually put thought into their work."

Someone apparently waited 'til now to get pissed about the Silver Age revamp of the Green Lantern concept (though most likely it's just someone purposefully flame-baiting). Most of the responding commenters deliver Kane-style roundhouse punches to the very idea.


As one commenter says:

"The funny thing about it is that [the poster] may have united most of the GL fans on this board for once...against him!"

Monday, June 12, 2006

My one cent's worth. 

On Saturday I took a look at a few oddities on the eBay, including a Silver Surfer hologram from the first Marvel Universe set that didn't sell for its minimum bid of $0.01. As I noted, that was quite the comedown for an item that, as I recall, once had a large consumer demand.

I thought that for today, I'd take a brief glance at a few other items that did or did not sell on the eBay for one measly penny for whatever reason (beyond some of the more...optimistic shipping charges some of these items have):

NO SALE


"Plastic Comic Bags" -

"10 plastic comic book bags. Excellent condition, but slightly used. Fits current standard comic size.

Pictures available on request."

With a "Buy It Now" price of $10.00, and a $10.00 shipping fee. There's "balls," and then there's "BALLS."

"1 Cent WIZARD COMICS MAGAZINE 150th Rare As New SH$1.99" - You know, if you're a store, and you ever have any Wizard Magazines left over when the next issue arrives, you're gonna be stuck with them, pretty much.

"GOLD KEY 1966 Gomer Pyle Issue #2!" - Okay, it's not in mint shape, by any means, but it's a '60s TV comic, with a photo cover, and the shipping is reasonable ($2.50, running my zip code through the shipping calculator)...wonder why nobody snapped it up?

"Cathy (Comic Strip) Coffee Mug" - There's no mystery why this didn't sell for a penny...IT'S CATHY.

"Uncanny X-Men 305-314 books Magneto HOT MOVIE" - Even the promise of a HOT MOVIE can't seem to move these vastly overprinted mutant books. Part of it might be the shipping costs (a run through the shipping calculator indicates $11.00 for priority, or $8.66 parcel post...these would easily fit in a $4.05 flat rate priority envelope (for example), and even the flat rate priority box is only $8.10.)

"MAXX 1-4 SAM KIETH IMAGE" - I honestly don't get this. On one hand, I realize that there are probably more copies of the first four issues of The Maxx in the world than there are of, say, copies of The Bible. But, on the other hand, at least at our shop, The Maxx is still an enormous back issue seller. Not a week goes by when I don't have to restock our depleted Maxx section. It's possible it's just a local market condition, but I still find myself baffled by the non-sale of this particular auction.

"BUGS BUNNY COMIC BOOK ANTIQUE ISSUE #2 RARE HARD 2 FIND"

"HERE YOU WILL FIND A FASTINATING BIT OF COMIC HISTORY, I HAVE FOR YOUR CONCIDERATION AND BID, A # 2 ISSUE OF ( THE BEST OF BUG'S BUNNY ), THE COMIC IS IN GOOD READABLE SHAPE AND WOULD MAKE A WOUNDERFUL CONVERSATION PIECE TO ANY HOME."


"Droids #1 Star/Marvel 1986 VF/NM C3PO R2D2 No Res" - Believe it or not, there was once a time when even these Droids comics were in huge demand, as some of the "rarest" Star Wars funnybook tie-ins.

"Batman Silver Laser Engraved Dog Tag Keychain Plate D11"

"These engraved pendants are the hottest items in malls and kiosks. Each pendant is created using impact metal engraving. This technology creates dazzling image reproduction. View the pictures and note how detailed the images are."

"MAD MAGAZINE 217 1980 Alfred Neuman for President Comic" - Mads seem to be hard sells on the eBay, unless they're really early issues in very nice condition. I did want to link to this one since it has one of my all-time favorite Mad covers.

"Robin II #1 Hologram Comic (1991) -Joker!!- Ships Cheap" - DC's insane "each issue will have multiple covers, and we'll sell all the variations together in one package, and the number of variants will decrease as the series continues" publishing strategy on this series had this end result: too many copies of this mini-series running around, clogging up collections and store backrooms. No wonder this auction didn't sell for a penny.

"Taboo #8 Kitchen Sink Press trade paperback" - Not trying to toot my own horn or anything, but we sold one of these a while back for a few bucks, while this one didn't sell for anything. Don't see any reason why, beyond having the good timing of putting up a Taboo #8 at the same time someone was looking for one.

"1979 DC Comics Inc. Superman Nutcracker collectible" - This would have been worth a penny just for the nightmare fuel alone:


SALE:


"SWORDS OF CEREBUS VOL.1" - Used to be that I'd be able to sell the Swords of Cerebus volumes for $5 to $10 apiece fairly consistently...then all of a sudden demand dropped off, and I ended up with a few Swords auctions ending without bids. We must have hit the eBay's Swords of Cerebus saturation point.

"SPIDER-MAN BLACK CAT EVIL.MEN DO 1-6 comic lot full st" - Wasn't this a hot series at one point? I know we were moving copies pretty consistently, even during the two-year publishing gap in the middle of the series. Even with the $8.95 shipping, that still works out to only $1.50 an issue, or half cover price. Not bad.

"UNCANNY X MEN#277 gAmBiT VS. w0lVeRiNeeeeeeeeeeee" - You know, the only way you're gonna grab the people using the eBay search function to find their favorite character "ww0lVeRiNeeeeeeeeeeee" is by making sure "w0lVeRiNeeeeeeeeeeee" appears somewhere in the title or auction text. (But hey, he got his penny, who am I to judge?)

"Wilbur #47 1953 NR" - the "NR" stands for "No reserve price," in case you were wondering. Anyway, getting this early Wilbur for a penny is a score, even with the $7.05 shipping fees.

"Phantom Skull Ring (Metal) *SEALED*" - Okay, this is pretty cool. "Very Rare to find brand new and never opened! Don't worry if you lose the bid, I got over 100 of them:)" Fantastic.

AND THEN THERE WAS THIS AUCTION IN THE COMICS CATEGORY:


"Nevermind" - I like the cat picture.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Jaxon is no longer with us. 


Underground legend (in fact, the likely creator of what we've come to think of as the underground comix movement) Jack Jackson died on June 8th. My condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.

Tom Spurgeon has a good overview of the man's importance to the comics medium.

Read the explanation before you get mad at me. 

So, Saturday at the store, we laughed at a customer because he had cancer.

...

Perhaps I should explain that.

Customer Rob was talking to Employee Aaron about his enjoyment of the current Jonah Hex series. At one point in the conversation, Rob asked if Aaron had read the previous Vertigo Jonah Hex series. Aaron replied in the negative, and Rob mentioned that one of his favorite parts of those series was Hex's flippant replies to questions about his hideously-scarred face:

"Jonah, what happened to your face?"

"Cut myself shaving."

Or:

"Jonah, how'd you get your scars?"

"Bit my lip."

You know, like that.

Anyway, after saying that, Rob pulled up his shirt slightly, revealing a long operation scar, and stated that he should use responses similar to Hex's when people inquire about his scar.

Aaron then asked, "So, how did you get that scar?"

Rob: "Cancer operation."

Aaron (thinking that was a Hex-esque response): "Oh...ha ha!"

Rob: "Um...no, really, it was a cancer operation."

Aaron: "..."

And of course me, being Mr. Sensitive, immediately jumped in and made things worse for my minion by exclaiming in mock shock: "Aaron! You didn't just laugh at a customer for having cancer, did you?" There was then much merriment had by all, poking fun at Aaron's mortification, and Rob was laughing harder than any of us.

Anyway, I should emphasize that 1) Rob has been a good customer of ours for many years, 2) he wasn't offended by this incident in the slightest, 3) he's been thankfully cancer-free since his operation, and 4) he reads this site, and gave permission to relate this story. (In fact, if anything he gives me grief for not mentioning him more often...so there you go, Rob, a whole entry just about you!)

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