mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, January 21, 2006

"I've only an eighth grade education. Will Mystic Chants work for me?" 

from Punchy And The Black Crow #10 (October 1985)

Friday, January 20, 2006

"There's a black Green Lantern now." 

A fellow on a UFO message board laments the preponderance of conspiracy-minded and just plain loopy folks in the flying saucer biz, and in a less than serious response, another poster leaves his parody of a typical paranoiac rant:

"Do you remember Green Lantern, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, AquaMan, Hawkman, the Atom, Martian Manhunter, The Flash, The Green Arrow, Snapper Carr, the original Justice League? If you remember they used to fly in outerspace in their undergarments in the 60's with no visible means of support. Suddenly one day they came back with breasts and sex organs and there uniforms got all bulgy and supergirl suddenly became a babe although lately they have her looking anorexic with her belly button showing. They have taken away her muscles and made her look a lot like a waif model.But even Super Girl has breasts now although she has moved to the Amazon island to be with Wonder Woman and get away from men. You see just about that same time they came back from space and got bulges some superheroes suddenly became black or Asian. There's a black Green Lantern now."

You can see the second half of the "rant" at the above link.

Hey, pal Dorian has started a "meme." By accident. Honest.

Speaking of pal Dorian...at the shop Thursday night, we were discussing this message board exchange where the person's request for a non-superhero comic recommendation was met with the immediate suggestion of X-Men. In Dorian's words:

"The answer to any comics recommendation request is never X-Men."

And yeah, that's usually true enough. With very, very rare exceptions, the X-books are not the best example of the comics medium as an artistic means of expression, particularly for someone new to the comics world. It's comics specifically for comics fans, insular and self-referential. If someone new does come in expressing a specific interest in X-Men books, I explain that they're essentially soap operas, with very few clean starting points...just jump in and hang on, and hopefully anything you don't get will get covered eventually.

But that got me to thinking...is there a single issue (or short-run storyline) from the X-books that shows these comics in their best light? Something that you could show a new comics reader and have them not throw the book down in disgust...a single X-book that might make them think, if only briefly, "say, these colorful pamphlets of mutant adventures may actually be not half bad!" Yes, I know everyone wants to say the stuff from 94 to 144 (or whatever those issues of Uncanny were)...what would you say aside from that particular run?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

New comic daze. 

With apologies to pal Dorian:

So it seems our customers, having been trained by the recent Diamond Comics shipping delays caused by Christmas and New Year's Day, assumed Martin Luther King Day would do the same and either 1) didn't drop by on New Comics Day or 2) placed many, many calls asking if the week's shipment had come in yet.

Just can't win, sometimes.

Speaking of Diamond, our shipment was shorted about a bazillion random things, including a replacement for an item that we had been shorted on the previous week. Oy.

By the way, I haven't been on the internet much lately, so I haven't noticed...has there been any other coverage of the missing material from the new DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore trade paperback?

  • New release of the week: Schizo #4 by Ivan Brunetti. Oh, yeah. It's huge (11 by 15 inches), it's filled with despair and hatred of his fellow man, and it's incredibly funny. There's nothing in here as obviously appalling as, oh, say, a full page of hundreds of little naked Ivan Brunettis killing each other in hideous fashions (as seen in a previous Schizo), but it's still disturbing and hilarious.

  • Strangers in Paradise #79 - This comic's release reminded me of a few weeks ago, when I had the following exchange with a longtime customer of mine who happens to be a fan of this comic:

    Customer: "Hey, did you hear that Strangers in Paradise is going to be ending soon?"

    Me: "Finally!"

    Customer: (laughs)

  • All-Star Superman #2 - This comic makes one wish that Superman can be done this well all the time. It's not quite as crammed full of weirdness and wonder as some of the old Silver Age stories it's trying to emulate...but it'll do. Yeah, I know, I'm greedy.

  • Red Sonja #4 - So one of the ordering incentives for this comic book was a glow-in-the-dark version of the Marc Silvestri cover, which was one of the four (or so) variant covers for this issue. When we were unpacking the order, the two covers just got tossed in the Red Sonja pile, and didn't realize 'til later that they were in fact the incentive comics. To make sure I got the right ones, I took them into the bathroom, closed the door, turned off the lights, and made sure that these covers did indeed glow in the dark.

    The things I do at this job.

    And yes, I shut myself up in the bathroom with a Red Sonja comic. Quiet, you.

  • Girls #9 - Not only is there a letter in this issue commenting on the lack of naked girls on recent covers of this series, there's an editorial promise that, yes indeed, naked girls will return to the covers soon. In case you were concerned.

  • Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy #1 - There just seems something fundamentally wrong with a Joe Kubert Sgt. Rock comic book having three variant covers. It's two different eras of comics colliding uncomfortably together.

  • Infinite Crisis #4 - Things are explained, action ensues, and there's a surprisingly violent battle at the end. Thankfully, very little OMAC robot action in this issue...I'm enjoying the IC crossover, but I never need to see an OMAC ever again, ever. Unless it's the Buddy Blank version.

    On a related note, a couple weeks ago at the shop I was discussing the fact that, when the Earth Prime Superboy was introduced during the original Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover shenanigans, the only purpose he really served was 1) to represent the concept of Earth Prime (i.e. "our" Earth), and 2) to act as a symbolic "goodbye" to the Superboy concept* at the end of the series. He didn't really serve any plot purpose that I can recall (beyond being involved in a minor continuity glitch in the series). Now that he has a slightly larger role in Infinite Crisis, I realized that it took 20 years to find something to do with the character!

  • Glamor Girls Of Don Flowers TPB - Another excellent collection of girlie (and not-so-girlie) cartoons, collected in a handsome square paperback. Unlike the previous volumes in this series (like the Dan DeCarlo book I discussed previously) the cartoons are presented solely in black and white, without the third color printing. And, now that I see one of these volumes without that color...I kinda miss it. Still a nicely done collection, and funny and charming as well.

  • Back Issue #14 - Features a short article on one of DC's greatest comic books: Hex!

For reading this far...I give you Celebrities with Phones!

* That may not be how it was originally intended, but, at least to me, that's how it reads now.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

No wonder Jean Loring went insane. 

So Ray Palmer, in his superhero identity of the Atom, has acquired a mynah bird (by the name of Major Mynah, which makes me want to slap someone...or give someone one of those Gil Kane-patented head-over-heels roundhouse punches) who has an unfortunate habit of repeating things other people say. Oh, and the bird also has artificial Thanagarian wings provided by Hawkman, but that's beside the point. Anyway, after the day's adventure is concluded, Ray and the Major show up at Jean's for dinner, and the bird goes and flaps his big mouth...er, beak:

from The Atom #37 (June/July 1968) by Gardner Fox, Gil Kane & Sid Greene

Ray's big excuse:

"I have an explanation as far as I'm concerned -- but Atom will have to do his own explaining!

"Major Mynah must have been watching the Five Star Final newscast on television -- the show that dramatizes the news of the day -- even to using the same words the participants used!"

And Ray's explanation of "oh, it's just a big conincidence that both the Atom and I now have pet mynah birds" gets this response from Jean:

What th--she bought that? And dig Ray's solution to avoiding this problem in the future...in the great tradition of Ace the Bat-hound (under Jan. 14th) and Krypto the Superdog, AKA Skippy, Major Mynah will have to wear a disguise.

Quite frankly, I think Jean and Ray are both nuts. The bird's the only sane one.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

As some of you may recall, I recently moved to a new house here in lovely Ventura County, CA. And, when you move to a new house, you suddenly get a whole lot of gardening and window treatment flyers left on your doorstep. I received one such flyer today:

"It's a blind...it's a shutter
It's a custom drapery treatment

You can have it all with...


Now, it seems to me I recall the DC Comics lawyers going after a -- oh, I don't recall, a car dealership or something? -- that was using the phrase "Dynamic Duo," which, it turns out, is copyrighted by the good folks at DC. I wonder how "Window Wonder Woman" (which, according to the flyer, has been around for 40 years) managed to slip past the DC radar? Was adding "Window" enough to keep this person from being harassed by The Man?

In the "thanks but no thanks" department:

"Comic novice"

"I am looking for a recommendation for something that might get me interested. To give some parameters, I would rule out *standard* super hero or horror stuff (but am open to something different) In general I am a science fiction/space opera fan. Long Epics with good characters. I would be looking more for story than for art. Any direction would be appreciated."

First response?

"X-MEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well, that's the only comics I ever read, I used to have a spiderman comic with kull in it, and it was great."

Yeah, these forums posts are a few years old, but it made me laugh. And the guy looking for good comics ended up with the Invisibles, so at least there's a happy ending.

The tragic death* of "Nutsy" Dave. 

from New Beginning #4 (1992) by Terry Kalkanian & Bruce White

*If it makes you feel any better, Dave survives. "Tragic near-death" isn't as catchy.

Monday, January 16, 2006

"Death of Aquababy" and other phrases I thought I'd never say. 

"So, Mike, what'd you do at work today?"

"Oh, looked for the death of Aquababy."

"That's ni...uh, what?"

For some reason, that subject was brought up over the weekend, which had me turn to the Overstreet Price Guide to track down the exact issue in which this happened. (I suppose I could have e-mailed Laura, keeper of all Aqua-knowledge, but why make things easy on myself?)

Anyway, I don't bring this up to talk about the death of Aquababy (which the mighty Dave's Long Box has already covered quite well), but to talk about Overstreet's guide notations. You'd think, given Overstreet's predilection for the lurid, they'd be all over a character death like this. But, no, here's how it's listed:

"441-452-Aquaman app."

Adding insult to Aquababy's injury, issue 443 is pointed out for special attention:

"443-Fisherman app."

I'm guessing, since, as Dave mentions, Aquababy's death is remarkably underplayed, and not even cover-featured, it's just been missed by whoever it is that decides what gets notated and what doesn't.

Just poking through the Adventure listings, I see notations that would be of use to fans, like "Death Earth-2 Batman," and "Unpubbed G.A. Black Canary story," but then you see something like "Intro. Mighty Girl" in #453. One, I think this is the one and only appearance of "Mighty Girl," and two, given who Mighty Girl really is, fans may be more interested in knowing that this issue actually features a young Barbara (Batgirl) Gordon (er...SPOILER, I guess).

Now, I've heard anecdotal evidence of comic dealers putting crazy notations on some of the comics they'd list in ads, just as a goof, only to see those same notations show up in subsequent price guides. I'm guessing this is the result of price guide researchers scouring comic listings and actual sales seeing these notations, thinking "hey, people must be looking for 'Mighty Girl' appearances," and adding that info to their guides.

I need to start doing that in our ads. "Silver Surfer #59: 1st hatless Thanos - $99.95."

Hey, as a result of those House of M/X-Men: The 198 shenanigans, did the Sub-Mariner, as "Marvel's first mutant," lose his powers? Or is he a different kind of mutant from all those X-folks runnin' around, and thus unaffected? (The things I wonder about at work, sometimes.)

"Graphic novel is enjoyable"

"The comic book genre has evolved quite a bit over the past few years, though, resulting in a new incarnation called 'graphic novels.'"

Actually, it's a positive review of Paul Has A Summer Job, so I shouldn't make fun. I'd rather have a well-meaning positive article (or an open-minded critical appraisal) than something like this (found via The Comics Reporter):

"I used to be crazy about comic books. But I really can't figure out why anyone would pay good money for such supposed 'adult' versions of the stuff I read back then, or why reams of words have been wasted explicating such 'books.'"

Ouch. (EDIT: Just noticed that same quote had been posted on the Great Curve's "Heroes & Villains" entry earlier today. Didn't mean to step on any toes, there!)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

And now...a romantic moment with Douglas and Naomi. 

from Soap Opera Love #2 (March 1983)

And now...romantic moments with Shag and Sue. 

from Soap Opera Love #2 (March 1983) - art by Pete Morisi

And now...a romantic moment with David and Eileen. 

from Soap Opera Love #2 (March 1983) - art by A. Martinez & J. Zuniga

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?