mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Friday, February 17, 2006

Clarification, accidental insults, and how not to cut your hair. 

Just to clarify my discussion of Infinite Crisis and other house-cleaning company crossovers...I'm not stuck on the idea of company-wide continuity, and it doesn't much bother me if, say, the revamp of Hedge-Trimming Man contradicts the back-story given to Punch Squad. I'm more bemused than anything else...I'm not going to write nasty letters to the publisher, or write fan-fiction "correcting" the mistake, or anything like that. I might comment on it here because, hey, this weblog doesn't write itself, but it ain't nothin' I'm gonna get worked up over.

Unless it screws with Swamp Thing continuity. Then you'd better look out.

And I did like Hawkworld, since the subject came up. I particularly enjoyed the fun first annual, which was, I believe, the first of many efforts at explaining how this revamped Hawkman fit into the history of the DC Universe. And probably the initial moment when the folks at DC realized "Uh, oh...what'd we do?"

For further reading on internal consistency/revamps in myths and storytelling, may I recommend this discussion?

So former employee Kid Chris (here's a photo for the ladies and so-inclined guys) related a tale to current employee Nathan, which he shared with me, which I'm now going to share with all of you (though names will be omitted to protect the embarrassed). KC was at a party recently, and the topic of his involvement in the funnybook retail world came up. Someone at the party informed Chris that his roommate was, in fact, a comic book writer...a writer of a particular indie title that had received a good amount of positive buzz. Tact-master Chris responded with "Wow, that comic flopped!" And, as it turned out, the person's roommate, the writer in question, happened to be standing right there. He simply turned to Chris and said, sadly, "Yeah...I know."

I'd been in a similar situation...many years ago, when I still went to the occasional comic convention, I was in the process of purchasing stock for the store when a fellow going through a comic box next to me decided to start up a conversation.

Fellow: "Hey, you guys sell [a particular now-defunct publisher] Comics?"

Me: "Yeah, they do okay, I suppose."

Fellow: "So, what do you think of them?"

Okay, at this point I should have realized, "Hey, this guy may be involved with the company somehow." However, I was but a young Mikester, my instincts not yet fully honed, so this was my response:

Me: "Well, they're pretty amateurish...there are one or two okay artists, but otherwise, I don't think they're very good."

Fellow: "Um...I draw for that company."

And that's how I felt like a real jerk for the rest of that day. Yeah, I know, he asked, but I still felt pretty bad.

Not as bad as that one time I completely and unintentionally mocked a customer from Ireland who was visiting our store, but that may be a story for later. (And it was unintentional, I swear!)

"Is it weird to get your hair cut like a super hero?"

"I just really liked the way Clark Kent's hair looked in this issue of Birthright and got my hair cut person to do it like that for me. I know it's just you basic part, but it just looked really cool. I didn't begin to question whether or not this was kind of weird up until I was flipping through the latest Premier magazine with Brandon Routh on the cover and really liked his hair, too, then I got my hair cut person to cut my hair like that. Is that weird?"

"Yes, if it looks like Wolverine's style..."

"Now if you were trying to get Guy Gardener's Bowl cut, or try to have it on fire like Firestorm, then I'd be worried."

"I ended up getting up a Guy Gardener cut once. I'll never forget the expression on my face when I saw it in a mirror."

"My hair is long.Brandon Lee from The Crow long."

"Every summer, I get the Lex Luthor 'do."

"I got my haircut like super legend Guy Garner. Once a guy called me Moe so I kicked his behind."

"Id love to have hair like Hal Jordan,He has a great head of hear."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

"Screw Bob Kane! Frank Miller created Batman!" - Pal Corey 

That was pal Corey's response to my telling him about Miller's forever forthcoming Batman Versus al-Qaida. It may be no Daredevil Battles Hitler, but I'm sure it'll be...well, I'm not sure what it'll be, but I'm sure it's going to get someone ticked off somewhere. (Oh, and Corey may not have used the word "screw." I just didn't want "f***" in the title.)

Anyway, another new comics day, another dollar:

Dear Diamond - please don't let your employees use one of the books we ordered as a clipboard prior to sending it to us. The House of M book doesn't look very appealing when we can plainly read the writing gouged into the cover by whoever was using the book to support the paper they were scribbling on.

Question of the day: "So, what's Apocalypse Vs. Dracula about?" My response: "I don't think I can explain any better than the title."

The Rosen Graphic Mysteries: UFOs/Bigfoot/Loch Ness Monster/etc. - Well, at least the text pieces in the back make a token reference to the fact all this stuff is hogwash. Otherwise, so long as you take this material with a big ol' grain of salt these books can be fun...a little crudely drawn, a bit garish, but still good old fashioned unacceptable entertainment, like comics should be. Kinda wish we didn't get a dozen of 'em at once (including the related "Myths" line), however.

Planetary Brigade #1 - Boom! Studios's newest release is a spin-off of the very entertaining Hero Squared, focusing on the adventures of Captain Valor before he "teamed up" with a parallel-universe slacker version of himself. It's superhero team hijinks a la the Keith Giffen/J.M. DeMatteis Justice League, which is only natural since these are the folks writing it. Amusing, entertaining, and imaginative...I think my favorite new character is the Mauve Visitor, the haughty and vain alien member of the Brigade, more concerned with his coat and drink than with the troubles at hand. He's a "Prissuvian," and that name probably tells you what you need to know about him. Very funny stuff. A variety of artists contribute to the book, including Hero Squared regular Joe Abraham, as well as Cynthia Martin, Eduardo Barretto, and Mark Badger, whose loose cartoony style is always welcome in my book. Anyway, check it out...previous knowledge of Hero Squared not necessary, though you should be reading that, too.

The Identity Crisis action figures have arrived, based on Michael Turner's artwork, and...well, Deadshot and Zatanna come off okay. Green Arrow's head seems awfully out of proportion with the rest of his body, and Hawkman appears to be just a little too buff. And I had about a half-dozen incredibly inappropriate things to say about the Dr. Light figure, but I think I'd better just keep those to myself.

Speaking of inappropriate...Angry Youth Comics #10. That's all I'm saying. Go look at it yourself, next time you're in the store.

Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy #2 - That puppy's going to come to no good end, isn't it? (I've talked about the "avenging the dead puppy" DC war stories before...you know, hero befriends puppy, puppy dies horribly, hero uses anger over puppy's death to give him the strength to kill the enemy..."this one's for you, dead puppy!" This is going to be another one, I just know it.)

So were were talking about Infinite Crisis at the shop, and while we all agreed that, as far as crossovers go, this is probably one of the most exactingly planned crossover events in comic book history, with very little minor scheduling hitches (i.e. Supergirl) along the way, something was bound to be screwed up somewhere. Like, hugely screwed up, as in "we better do another crossover series to fix the mistakes caused by Infinite Crisis," which of course would create more problems for yet more crossovers to fix, and so on. For example, what happened to Hawkman in all the revamping following Crisis on Infinite Earths, which they tried to fix during Zero Hour, which ended up getting sorta fixed in JSA by skipping over the revamped Hawkman entirely and going back to the Golden Age one.

It's still too early to tell what's likely to be the problem caused by IC...we're still in the middle of the story, and they're in the process of breaking things apart before putting them back together again...and it may not even be until a couple years after the fact before we get an inkling of any problems this series may cause. There was no clue in the original Crisis that Hawkman was going to get the short end of the stick, for example...that was more a symptom than a direct result of the series' events.

But still, I wonder what "corrective measures" we have to look forward to after IC is over?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

"Tubby, no!" 

reprinted in Little Lulu Vol. 8: Late for School - by John Stanley & Irving Tripp

I may never look at Tubby the same way ever again....

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

100 More Things I Love About Comics! 

As you can see with Swamp Thing and Abby above, love is in the air today, and so following up on last year's Valentine's Day entry is, yes, another post with a hundred more things I love about comics. (Inspired, of course, by Fred Hembeck and Alan David Doane...see my original post for links to more lists from last year.)

1. Acme Novelty Library

2. Art Adams

3. All-Star Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder

4. All-Star Superman

5. America’s Best Comics

6. America Versus The Justice Society

7. Avengers #100 (particularly the first few pages pencilled and inked by Barry Windsor-Smith

8. Badger by Mike Baron and others (about the first 30 issues or so)

9. The 1960s Batman TV show

10. The Beyonder (i.e. Jim Shooter’s Mary Sue) -- this character just kills me.

11. Blackhawks as superheroes (particularly "The Listener")

12. Bloom County by Berke Breathed

13. Blue Devil

14. BOOM! Studios

15. Wayne Boring

16. Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

17. Captain American and the Falcon, 70s-style

18. Captain Carrot And His Amazing Zoo Crew

19. Adventures of Captain Jack by Mike Kazaleh

20. Nick Cardy

21. Howard Chaykin

22. Cholly and Flytrap by Arthur Suydam

23. Comic book adaptations of movies that feature full scenes that were cut from the final released films (like the original Marvel Star Wars or Superman IV: The Quest for Peace)

24. Comic book covers that feature "big questions" or otherwise directly address the reader

25. Comic book covers where the disembodied floating heads of supporting characters/teammates look on in dismay and/or shock.

26. Comics Reporter

27. Cutey Bunny

28. Dan DeCarlo

29. DC Comics Presents #61 (Superman and Omac) by Len Wein and George Perez

30. DC's old line of science fiction graphic novels

31. Deadman

32. Kim Deitch

33. Desolation Jones by Warren Ellis & J.H. Williams III

34. Dick Tracy by Chester Gould

35. Doctor Doom & Doctor Strange: Triumph and Torment graphic novel by Roger Stern & Mike Mignola ("Pain? Pain is like love, like compassion. It is a thing only for lesser men. What is pain to Doom?")

36. Dog Boy by Steve Lafler

37. Dorothy of Oz

38. Dreadstar by Jim Starlin

39. E.C. Comics

40. Earth-2 and the rest of DC’s Multiverse

41. The Fantastic Four Roast by Fred Hembeck and a cast of thousands

42. Fatman, The Human Flying Saucer

43. Fell by Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith

44. Flipping open an old comic and finding a letter from someone who later became a comics pro

45. Frank by Jim Woodring

46. Galactus

47. Gentleman Ghost

48. Gnatrat by Mark Martin

49. Gorilla Grodd (as promised)

50. Grand Comic Book Database

51. Hawkman drawn by Joe Kubert

52. Inducks.org

53. Journey by William Messner-Loebs

54. "The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man"

55. Land of Nod by Jay Stephens

56. Mage by Matt Wagner

57. Man-Thing by Steve Gerber and others (but especially Mike Ploog)

58. Mars by Mark Wheatley and Marc Hempel

59. Marvel's many and varied fan clubs (F.O.O.M., M.M.M.S., and God help us, W.A.M.)

60. That 1980s Meat Loaf ad

61. Maxwell the Magic Cat

62. Mister O by Lewis Trondheim

63. Mr. Mxyzptlk

64. New Adventures of Abraham Lincoln by Scott McCloud (I liked it, Scott!)

65. normalman by Jim Valentino

66. Mike Parobeck

67. Per Degaton

68. The Phantom Stranger

69. Plop!

70. "Quiet, or Papa spank!"

71. Reid Fleming, World’s Toughest Milkman

72. Sam & Max Freelance Police

73. Seven Soldiers of Victory by Grant Morrison ‘n’ pals

74. Sgt. Fury

75. Sgt. Rock

76. Gail Simone

77. Snarf

78. The very fact that Marvel published a comic book titled The Son of Satan

79. Dick Sprang

80. The Showcase Presents reprint line

81. Squa Tront (scroll down a bit)

82. Squadron Supreme by Mark Gruenwald and Bob Hall

83. Steven by Doug Allen

84. The now-defunct Strand Newsstand, one of the places I used to buy comics in my pre-comic book store days...this was where I first saw indie comics (in the early days of Fantagraphics, Eclipse, PC, and Cerebus) as well as my first fanzines. Mr. Burns (no, not that one) and his wife, who used to run the store, would hold onto comics for me, without my even asking, in case they were in danger of selling out.

85. Superboy stories where he has his "first" meetings with other DC superheroes

86. Superman And His Fortress of Solitude treasury edition

87. Superman whenever he’s drawn as being really, really old, with a full flowing white beard, but still in his Superman costume

88. Curt Swan’s aliens (a couple samples)

89. Tales Designed to Thrizzle by Michael Kupperman

90. Ty Templeton

91. Thunderbolts by Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley (primarily the first couple dozen issues)

92. The Tick by Ben Edlund

93. Time Bandits comic book adaptation by Steve Parkhouse, David Lloyd & John Stokes

94. The Trouble with Girls (discussed at end of article) by Will Jacobs, Gerard Jones & Tim Hamilton

95. Uncle Scrooge and Money

96. Valiant Comics (early on, before Jim Shooter left)

97. Vaughn Bode

98. "You Can’t Pin A Medal on A Gorilla!"

99. Zatanna

100. ...And, of course, all of you, readers and/or fellow webloggers, who (hopefully) enjoy reading this site of mine. My sincere thanks.

100 1/2. "These are my words."

Monday, February 13, 2006

Still waiting for the repairmen... 

...so here's a discussion from the Greatest Internet Message Board Ever, Killer Movies:

"Could Batman Actually Happen??"

"Scenario: I'm a multi-millionaire who's in decent shape and I'm bored. I decide to hire a bunch of personal martial arts trainers (the best money can buy) to train me rigorously for a year or so. [...] Given the money and the will to do it, Batman as we saw him in the movie could actually exist."

"Even if you did train yourself like him, you probably wouldn't have the motivation to do it for so long and your psyche would probably not handle the continuous battle against the psychos on a regular basis."

"you would break your ankle the first time you jumped off a roof"

"i dont think so yout hink theres a guy who owns a group of ninjas and a guy who always smiels and a guy who survived some cold liquid stuff i dont think so"

"There is a reason super heroes stay in the movie. Nobody gets as lucky as they do, or as close to death as many times as they do without dying."

"fool, you can't make a batman with gadgets and atheltic ability alone. tragedy is what made batman."

"but if you did that, the cops would arrest you cuz your not a cop."

"Likely? Not at all. Rich people are scum (seriously, what rich person ISN'T greedy?). As if any of them would be strong enough to be Batman. They'd do it for shits and giggles then give up after a week when they break a nail in a fist fight with a 13 year old car theif."

"Couldnt have a Batmobile though, in a big city, you'd get stuck in traffic jams all the time."

"Do you know how ****ing awesome it would be do see some man is a military TRULY realistic Batman costume stop some gangsta die pig die bling bling thug? ****ING AWESOMe. It'd be all over the news with security cameras and shit and be all over the internet."

"Perhaps a group of Batmen, working like ninjas, would be possible for a short while."

"I don't think batman could hapopen. The three most likely superheroes would be Sandman (put people to sleep with sleeping gas that could happen batman should use that) Hourman (come takes a steroid to make himself strong it could happen) and Punisher just a crazy guy with guns."

"I know what you mean about the character's close up abilities to ours but never. You cannot imitate a comic book character. You can create your own symbol and become a new hero but not exposed. If you cannot keep a secret, forget it. These are my words."

Well said.

More sales reports. 

I enjoyed doing the sales report post from yesterday, and while I'm just sitting around and waiting for people to come over and do some repair to the house, I thought I'd do it again. Enjoy, won't you?

Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy - Sold very well, though there was some initial resistance from the older Rock fans to the non-Joe Kubert alternate covers. However, I am now getting requests from those fans for the other covers.

Showcase Presents - Hard to judge what's going to sell. The Metamorpho volume did very well, the Justice League volume just kinda sat there. Green Arrow didn't move as expected, but we sold out of Jonah Hex and House of Mystery immediately. Maybe the oddball titles are more in demand...if that's the case, I expect Haunted Tank to do tremendously well.

Fury: Peacemaker - The first issue hasn't exactly taken off, perhaps because people who want to read Garth Ennis' take on the character preferred the over-the-top, black humored MAX line version to the relatively played-straight version in this series. It's a good read, and maybe first issue sales will pick up once we get two or three issues in.

Mickey Mouse and Friends - I wish I could make sense of this title. Of the Disney comics, the Mickey titles always pale in sales comparison to the Duck books. And some months, this current series just sits there on the rack and doesn't move a single copy. Then, for a few issues in a row, it'll sell through completely. Very frustrating come ordering time.

Walt Disney's Comics and Stories and Uncle Scrooge - These high-end Disney titles ($6.95 the copy) sell okay in general, but they fly out the door in good numbers whenever there's a new (or, at least, previously-unprinted in the U.S.) Don Rosa story inside.

Sable and Fortune - Combine a Spider-Man villain that isn't nearly as interesting as Marvel seems to think she is, with a character that was pretty much only done right when his creator, Howard Chaykin, was working on him, and the end result? One D.O.A. mini-series. When it was time to call in order reductions on this title to our distributor, the customer rep didn't seem terribly surprised.

Alias comics in general - Tenth Muse does okay, due to local artists working on the book. Other Alias titles...not so much.

Conan - Still selling well, with good back issue movement. Beginning to see an increase in interest in the original Marvel mags and comics again, too.

Schizo #4 - The long-awaited new release from Ivan Brunetti is selling okay for us, given the unusual size and price point...just had to put in my third reorder.

Maze Agency - First issue sold okay, second issue selling primarily to people who were fans of the previous Maze Agency series.

Freshmen - The "created by Seth Green" novelty has worn off. Sales way down.

Nodwick - Not a big seller, but with a vocal and loyal following.

Jonah Hex - Still maintaining its strong sales, with good back issue movement. I was lucky enough to get copies of #1 and #2 before DC ran out, so I'm able to feed demand for the time being.

Spider-Man titles - Sensational Spider-Man #23 seems to have confused a few folks..."What's this? Where are the first 22 issues?" "It used to be the Marvel Knights Spider-Man title." "What?" It's selling okay, and that striking cover helps (hey, I happen to like Angel Medina's work). The other Spider-titles are beginning to show more movement after an initial resistance to the 12-part "Other" storyline, with people catching up on the back issues they originally skipped. The variant/alternate covers for each "Other" chapter, while popular at first, no longer seem to be in demand. I think it was the "Peter Porker" cover that killed it.

Simpsons titles - Still strong movers, both as a new issue and as a back issue. Trade sales are good as well.

Speakeasy comics in general - Well, Beowulf does okay for us, anyway.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Sunday evening sales report. 

from Superman Family #195 (June 1979) - by Ross Andru & Dick Giordano

Some brief thoughts on recent funnybook sales trends at the shop:

Infinite Crisis - Sales up on IC and tie-in comics across the board. Firestorm in particular has benefited from the current crossover.

Walking Dead - Comic sales (new and back issue) are down, as are the trade paperback sales. I haven't had to call in a reorder on these books in weeks.

Astro City - Trades are moving again, which is unusual since sales generally pick up only when there's a series currently on the stands. Maybe in anticipation of a forthcoming series?

Marvel Zombies - Like printing money. And, surprisingly, copies are still available for reorder, so I'm able to (mostly) meet demand. I know there's extreme demand for this series because, unlike every other Marvel series in recent memory, people will still buy the current issue even if the previous issues aren't available.

Hellboy - The new comic by Mignola and Corben has sold very well. Trade sales still soft, but Hellboy Jr. is suddenly in demand.

Animal Man/Invisibles - Trades suddenly moving again, perhaps in the case of the former due to its possible connection to Infinite Crisis, and in the case of the latter possibly due to increased interest in Morrison's work.

Sonic the Hedgehog - Sales down on the original series, Sonic X dead in the water. Still plenty of kids coming in...just not interested in Sonic right now, I guess.

Mad Magazine - Just noticed that I'm apparently the only person buying it from our store right now. Goes in cycles...it'll consistently sell out for a few months, then die completely for a few months. We must be in the "down" part of the cycle.

G.I. Joe/Transformers - Someone please put these franchises out of our misery. Nobody cares anymore.

Red Sonja - Stealth seller. Always looks like we have a lot on the rack, always looks like no one is buying it...but then at the end of the month, somehow we've sold a bunch. Go figure. Must be ghosts.

Powers - Trade sales up, individual comic sales way down. It's even dipped below our numbers when we were ordering it from Image. (I've discussed Powers' sales before, if you're interested.)

Hulk - "Planet Hulk" storyline has bumped sales up...now we're sold out of the first chapter. With no reprint apparently forthcoming, we'll see how this hurts sales on future installments.

X-Men: Deadly Genesis - Strong seller, helped by availability of all issues. People seem actually interested in this crossover, as opposed to House of M which most of our customers seemed to buy sorta grudgingly.

Johnny the Homicidal Maniac/Lenore/Squee - After all these years, still strong sellers. Very popular with our female customers.

All-Star Superman - Very strong seller. Tons of requests for #1s, and #2 is moving very well.

All-Star Batman and Robin - Also selling well...demand is increasing for all issues. Must be all that good word of mouth on the internet.

Good morning. 

1. Big Bill Sherman has his own observations about the Bones comic book episode that aired this past week. Don't know why I'm so interested in this, particularly since I didn't see this episode, and don't watch the show normally anyway. Just feel like picking at the "everyone hates comic fans" scab, I guess.

2. Recently received issue #45 of Comic Effect, a good old-fashioned fanzine, on real paper with staples and everything. This particular issue focuses on Superman and Superboy comics, with plenty of black and white cover repos, discussion on the changes Superman has undergone over the years, specific vintage issue reviews, and much more. It's fun reading, and recommended for fans of Silver and "Bronze" age Super-books. Ordering information is available on the 'zine's site...this issue isn't up on the site yet, but it exists, I promise.

3. "True Blue"

"...Do we really know the man in tights? One problem is that Superman's back story was written on the fly, so to speak. Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster created the comic book character in 1938 (Action Comics #1), but soon Superman became the collective construct of an army of animators, radio and TV script writers and comic book authors all trying to catch the tail of the blue comet."

Yes, I saw that "Shuster" was misspelled. Again. And that, eleswhere in the article, the Man of Steel mini-series was given the wrong release date...it was confused with the MOS regular series from '91. And...well, there are a couple other mistakes, but otherwise it's an interesting look at what a non-fan (I'm presuming) thinks of Superman's current media presence.

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