mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, May 15, 2004

You know, as long as DC Comics is doing replica editions of old annuals and 80-page giants, why not do one of the 1962 Tasmanian Devil and His Tasty Friends 80 page one-shot from Gold Key (image
here)? I mean, DC is owned by Warner Brothers, and they've reprinted stories from the Dell and Gold Key Warner Brothers comics before. I get asked for Tasmanian Devil comics all the time...sure, half the time it's people looking for reference art for tattoos*, but still, kids and adults want their Taz, and it's getting harder and harder to track down Taz stories in the Looney Tunes comics (both old and new).

* Okay, more like 75% of the time.

Friday, May 14, 2004

a couple days ago I made a passing mention of the retailer accepting returns on Micah Wright's comics, and made the comment that I wasn't sure if anyone was really buying those comics based on Wright's invented military service. Well, the retailer in question popped in and noted that he said the same thing in the column I linked to, which I somehow managed to overlook in my rush to get my post done that day...otherwise, I would have mentioned it. He also notes that no one's taken him up on the deal yet, but you know what? That doesn't really matter. The offer alone is enough to generate a great deal of goodwill among your customers, even if they do decide to hang onto their Stormwatch issues. Plus, since this particular topic has been all the rage in the "comicsweblogosphere" and in the real world, this is a good way to get people talking about your store. Hey, as a longtime seller of funnybooks myself, I can appreciate a good publicity stunt when I see one! Like I told him...wish I'd thought of it myself.

I've actually been thinking a bit about store publicity lately, as the store I manage is quickly approaching its 25th anniversary and I'd like to try to cook up something special...like a big party for the customers, or a commemorative comic book, or something. (What..."a sale?" Okay, who said that!) I haven't used this weblog to plug my place of employment, if only because I don't want any hard feelings generated (inadvertently, certainly) by this site to reflect poorly on the store (or vice versa, har har), but maybe once the 25th anniversary arrives, I'll have to change that policy.

On other topics:

Near Mint Heroes and Thought Balloons are link-posting madmen! I tried to do the links-weblog thing very early on, but not to the extent that these folks can manage. Journalista may be resting at the moment, but these guys more than make up for it.

My evil Canadian twin Steven Wintle, beneath a great Night Nurse cover, makes a brief mention of Flat Earth's impending "termination date"...wha huh? What did I miss? Surely this can't be so!

I'm not entirely sure what to make of Beatles and Bizarros, but thank God it exists.

The many enemies of Superman... 

from Superman #419 (May 1986) by Elliot S! Maggin, Curt Swan, & Dave Hunt

...apparently include Muammar Gaddafi and a mushroom cloud.

(via pal Corey)

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Larry Young lists my little ol' site here as one of his daily weblog stops, which I'm very flattered by. I also owe Big Larry another review of one of his books, so we should see one of those shortly.

In the meantime...you know, you're not really a weblog until you post pictures of your cats. I don't have any cats, but I do have this:

Four Color #750 (1956)

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

1. New comics day...but I don't really have anything to say about the comics that came out today. Claremont and Byrne's JLA continues, and the art shows a slight improvement over the last issue. Not enough Crucifer in this issue, though, sadly. Action Comics #815 continues the "big, loud, and stupid" storytelling from the first issue...and I don't mean that in a bad way. Geoff Johns nostalgia-fest JSA #61 digs up some old 1970s continuity for this issue, while prepping the Hal Jordan Spectre for the Big Secret Changes we pretty much all know about.

2. Also,
pal Dorian and I, after looking at the previews for next weeks' X-Men-related comics, have jointly decided to pretend that the X-Men stories ended with Grant Morrison's last issue.

3. Evil genius Milo George has provided the humorous text sorely lacking in my most recent Batman cover posting.

4. A little bird told me that a comic shop is offering to take returns from customers on any comics written by Micah Wright (scroll way down), following the revelation that Wright didn't serve in the military as he claimed. I'm not sure how I feel about that...yes, it's interesting and a nice gesture, but I don't know if any comics fan bought Stormwatch because of Wright's alleged war record. Maybe you can make the argument that his invented history did influence purchases of this book, but the comics? I'm not so sure.

5. Heidi MacDonald responds on her weblog to the online brouhaha regarding her comics blogging article in the Comic Buyer's Guide. I did read the column in question, and aside from briefly noting to myself "someone's not going to be happy about this" I didn't really think a whole lot about it. So she thinks some weblogs are dopey. Hey, who doesn't? I know mine is! (via Grotesque Anatomy)

6. On a Blogger-related note...I've been having more trouble than usual getting my weblog updated, due to connection time-outs and whatnot probably caused by heavier-than-expected traffic on Blogger's servers. I've been lucky so far, but sooner or later my luck's gonna run out and I won't be able to get my weblog updated, thus blowing the "posting every day" streak that I've kept up since this website started. Have any other Blogger users had this problem?

"Because you asked for it!" 

Swamp Thing, once a critically-acclaimed horror book, began to see its sales and fan base slide as the 1970s wore on and the pop-culture horror trends began to make way for science fiction (epitomized, of course, by Star Wars).

The solution? Why, make Swampy a superhero, of course:

Swamp Thing #23 (July 1976)

Thus did Swamp Thing get its first cover word balloons, its snazzy new sleek logo, and its first super-villain. The story, by Law & Order writer and Firestorm The Nuclear Man co-creator Gerry Conway and the late Nestor Redondo, opens with the fellow in the blue tights and red wading boots smashing a large image of our mossy hero with his sabre-hand, shouting "I tell you, the Swamp Thing must die!" Speaking to a red-hooded gentlemen on a monitor, Sabre insists that, for costing him his career and his hand (more on that later), Swamp Thing must...well, you know:

The red-hood guy, "Councilman Red," says no, Swamp Thing (AKA Alec Holland) must be captured...and if Sabre can't do it, then Thrudvang, The Earth Master, will! (More on Thrudvang when I cover issue #24, I promise.)

Meanwhile, in Oregon, we see Swamp Thing headed up a driveway to a lonely house...a house that belongs to Holland's brother Edward. Upon entering, Swampy surprises Edwards beautiful red-headed friend, Ruth, who faints upon seeing the muck-encrusted monster. Edward enters the scene, and, fearing the monster before him had done harm to Ruth, attacks. Swampy easily subdues his brother, in order to tell him:

Swampy relates the tragic tale of his origin (criminals blow up Alec Holland's lab, Alec plunges into swamp, on fire and saturated with his own bio-restorative formula, rises again as Swamp Thing, proceeds to hide from society instead of seeking medical attention). Edward hears the tale of woe, and agrees to help find a cure for Alec's condition. Ruth wonders if it's even possible, which provokes this modest reply from Edward:

Geez, Edward, your brother's standing right there...he's mossy, not deaf. Anyway, thus begin the experiments, and one page and one day later, Edward's found the cure! In the meantime, Sabre has tracked down the Swamp Thing's location, using a transmitter embedded in Swampy's shoulder ("It's a long story," the captions say, as to how that transmitter got there, but they don't tell us how it got there or how it eluded being detected by Edward during his examinations of his brother). Anyway, the solution involves reconstructing Swampy's origin, down to the exploding lab apparently, and even a pool of "swamp water" sits outside. So loving Edward blows up his brother:

...and Swamp Thing plunges into the swamp...er, pool, and "as he did that time long ago, he feels a change occuring within him." Just then, Sabre crashes the pool party, intent on destroying the guest of honor:

Pulling off his mask, Sabre reveals himself to be John Zero, a government bureaucrat who had been responsible for capturing Swamp Thing back in issue #13, but was also held responsible when Swampy made his escape. Swamp Thing was also seemingly responsible for Sabre losing his hand, too, but we never find out how, exactly. Anyway, Holland is weakened by the chemical bath intended to cure his condition, and Ruth grabs Sabre's sword arm in an attempt to keep him from beating down on the former Swamp Thing. Sabre knocks her cold, and seeing Ruth struck down reminds him of how his own wife was offed by the very same criminals that originally blew up his lab:

The sight ticks Holland off royally, which gives him the strength to toss Sabre (and, as a result, himself) into the flaming chemical pool. Moments pass, and as Ruth recovers and sees to Edward, two figures come out of the flame: one is Sabre, flesh burned, his sabre melting (that must have been one hot fire)...the other is the cured Alec Holland!

And I think they missed a bet by not having the story "to be Swamp-inued" -- hey, if Marvel can get away with "to be Hulk-inued...."

My discussion of the attempted transformation of Swamp Thing into a superhero will continue in a few days, with a look at the last issue of the original series, #24.

(As a personal aside...this was the very first issue of Swamp Thing I ever read, all those years ago. And yet, Swamp Thing became my favorite comic book character anyway. Go figure.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Monday, May 10, 2004

Since Grant Morrison has
a new interview being linked all over the comicsblogosphere, I thought I'd reprint (I'm sorry, I mean "release a Commemorative Edition" of) a post of mine from a few months ago:

There has to be some word to use in reference to those groups of humorless comic fans who completely misinterpret comments made by a comics professional in an online interview, or simply fail to recognize when said professionial is pulling their legs.

I call it "Morrisoning."

Usage: "Boy, those comic fans are really morrisoning that Newsarama interview."

1. A reminder...the
Demo contest ends on May 12th, so get your entries in!

2. Simply Comics has just posted a FAQ for comics webloggers about the Comics Weblogs update page, in case you want to join up, have problems getting listed, etc.

At the end is this bit:

"Q: Can I link to your site?

A: Please do. You can even give it a more clever name, like 'Comics Weblog Update-A-Tron 3000.'"

Er...heh heh, sorry about that!

3. Have I mentioned that pal Dorian has a comics/movies/music weblog of his very own? Visit, won't you?

True Tales of Urine and Vomit. 

1. It's Sunday evening, and I'm working the store alone. It's about, oh, say, fifteen minutes away from closing. It's my day off tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to it. A young girl (about eight, maybe) and who I'm assuming to be her brother (about four or five) are at the comics rack, just looking at the covers. Parents are nowhere to be seen. Suddenly, after being generally quiet, they start giggling. I look over to see what they're doing, and the boy had just wet his pants...like, a lot. It's a real flood. And both kids think it's just the funniest thing ever. I'm trying not to be mad...they're just kids...but I'm pretty damned annoyed, especially at the still-missing parents. I tell the sister to get that wet kid out of here, and the two of them dart out the door, leaving me to stay after hours cleaning and sanitizing the area.

2. A mom is walking around the store holding her infant. She's with someone who appears to be her sister, and the two of them are just looking around at a leisurely pace. As I'm helping other customers, I notice that the mom and the sister dash out of the store pretty quickly. I don't realize why until, a few minutes later, a coworker discovers a healthy amount of baby spit-up in one of the aisles. Now, I realize that babies spit up, it's no big deal...but don't bail out on me and let me find the baby spit-up on my own! At least tell me so that it can get cleaned up right away, rather than letting me find that stinky surprise on my own.

3. A long-time customer brought his young cousin in the store with him on new comics day, and as he was looking at the new arrivals rack, his cousin suddenly spit up on the floor. Unlike the people in #2, the customer had the good grace to tell me immediately, and he helped me clean up the mess...but still, it was right in front of the new arrivals rack.

This was several years ago, but that customer still apologizes for it to this very day. Really, it's fine, honest! (But, right in front of the new comics?)

4. Again, it's Sunday, and again, I'm working alone. I have a store full of people. Someone I've never seen before, a heavier-set fellow in his late-50s, walks into the store and loudly asks to use the restroom. The restroom is employees-only, I inform the person...I'm not going to let someone I don't know wander around the back rooms, especially when I'm too busy up front to monitor the situation. Plus, I was getting an odd vibe off of him, which was almost immediately proved to be justified when he announced "well, I'm going to pee right here then!" -- "here" being the area right by the front counter and register. I immediately put my hand on the phone, and tell him "I'll just have to call the police then!"

"I'm gonna pee right here!" he repeats.

"I'll call the police," I retort, picking up the receiver.



...and so the debate continued. Well, for about 20 seconds or so, anyway, until he realized I wasn't going to budge and he'd have to go demand access to employee restrooms somewhere else.

Okay, I realize those stories aren't necessarily comic book store specific...most people in businesses that deal with the public have some kind of horrifying bodily-waste story to share...but I thought you'd be interested to know that comics retailing isn't all just glamour and elegance.

EDIT: The customer in #3 is a reader of this weblog, and gave me permission to tell this story. So, you know, it's not like I'm talking behind his back!

Sunday, May 09, 2004

"Will go up." 

Sometimes when we buy large comic collections, we'll come across comics that still have price tags from other stores and sellers affixed to the plastic bags. Occasionally, our reaction to these prices tags is "they tried to get ten bucks for that?!" but usually we just ignore them, peel them off the bag, replace the bag entirely, or whatever needs to be done as we're processing the new acquisitions.

When I saw this particular issue of X-Man in one collection we picked up a couple years back, I decided against removing the tag for...well, no good reason other than I was amused by the idea that some dealer, somewhere, thought that X-Man #18 was a sure thing investment.

I wonder how many other comics this dealer sold in this fashion? I wonder how many comics this dealer promised his customers "sure, it'll go up in price, honest!" And just so we're on the same page...the price increase implied (and that these customers were surely expecting) was certainly several times the cover price, maybe even into the $50 or $100 range, not the more-likely 25 or 50 cent back issue mark-up.

As a result, how many angry customers did the dealer have to face later on when they realized that most of the comics they bought with the promise that they'd "go up" didn't increase in price very much at all? Or, more likely, how many of these customers left the comics hobby altogether, feeling burned on these "investments?"

That's why, when customers ask me for "investment" advice, I tell them to buy comics that they'll like, that way the comics will always be worth something to them. I make no guarantees of future financial performance.

By the way, the most recent edition of the Overstreet Price Guide has this issue of X-Man priced at $2.50 in NM condition.

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