mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Today, at work. 

Me (while briefly flipping through a Bob The Angry Flower collection): "Hey, did I just see a gratuitous appearance of MODOK*? On the other hand, is there ever a gratuitous appearance of MODOK?"

Pal Dorian: "Yes...yes there is. All appearances of MODOK are gratuitous."

Me: "No, they're not."

Dorian: "Yes, they are."

Me: "No, they're not."

Dorian: "Well, what about MODAM**?"

Me: "Okay, I'd have to draw the line at MODAM."

*Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing
**Mobile Organism Designed for Aggressive Maneuvers

Friday, June 04, 2004

Thursday, June 03, 2004

1. Okay, so I'm a doofus: when
I listed the other webloggers who answered this questionnaire, I unfortunately did not mention some of my other favorite webloggers who also answered the questions, for which I apologize. So, in addition to Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat, Comic Book Galaxy, Motime Like The Present, Johnny Bacardi Show, and Otto's Coffee Shop, we also have Legomancer, Chris Brown (thanks for the kind words!), Near Mint Heroes, and the inimitable Ringwood.

EDIT: Miraclo Miles, too.

2. Pal Dorian and I both forwarded copies to ourselves of the forthcoming DC trades e-mail I mentioned here, so there may be some overlap in discussion. (You can also find the list here, via Thought Balloons, who also points to Comics.212's commentary.) Anyway, I did want to point out a couple things:

  • The Vertigo book My Faith in Frankie is manga-format for $6.95. Nice to see DC putting some thought into what actually might appeal to your basic manga buyer, rather than just pumping out superhero trades in smaller formats and hoping they fly.
  • Oh dear: the cover price on JLA: Another Nail is $4.90 less than the cover price for all three issues of the mini-series.
  • That DC Rarities Archives I mentioned previously is a pretty hefty volume at 348 pages...given that the New York World's Fair comics are 100 pages apiece, and The Big All-American Comic Book is 132(!), it's a necessity. The other archives are about 200 to 220 pages, for comparison.
  • Swamp Thing: Bad Seed, reprinting the initial storyline of the new series, is only $9.95. I like this trend of starting off Vertigo trade paperback series with a nice, low introductory price. I hope this continues.
  • Gen 13: Ordinary Heroes: seems a little late in the game to be putting out Gen 13 books, but since this one has Alan Davis art and thus will most likely be cross-marketed with Another Nail (and it doesn't hurt that he's got a high-profile assigment at Marvel), it makes sense to release at least this volume, I suppose.
  • Starman: Grand Guignol is, I'm pretty sure, the last of the Starman trades...hopefully, that'll jumpstart sales on the other books in the series, as sales on them have stagnated around here. A shame, really, since it's a fine comic...drags a little in places, but nicely illustrated and quite thoughtful. Plus, it took a couple of your dopier Golden Age villains (Shade and the Mist) and made them interesting.
  • ...and, looking at the rest of the list (lots of Humanoids, 2000 AD, Elfquest books, and so on) it almost makes DC look like a real publisher, with a wide range of products aimed at different markets. Whether the people in those different markets will come looking for them is another matter altogether.

3. New comics day: I hate when new comics day is pushed back a day due to holidays...it really throws me off. Don't really have much to say about the new funnybooks: Superman: Birthright #11 opens with Lois spouting some dialogue that might as well have been "hey, you, reading this comic! Here's what happened last issue!" It doesn't seem terribly likely that anyone is starting this series with the next-to-last issue, so a little less exposition would probably be called for. Plus, it's going to look darn awkward when the whole thing's collected in that $29.95 hardcover. I do like this series, don't get me wrong.

Girl Genius #11 - hey, it's bigger! It's magazine-size now, and that's fine (even though everyone complained today that they won't be able to file it with their other issues...look, we all survived the Great Eightball Size Shift, we can survive this too), as anything that emphasizes Phil Foglio's fantastic art is okay with me.

Why must three of the four current Fantastic Four titles ship out on the exact same day?

4. My Canadian blood-brother Flat Earth has been on a Turok binge lately, of which I wholeheartedly approve. Go visit and hunt some honkers with the man. He even interviews Gary Panter about Turok...now that's cool.

I probably should have posted these links with
my own answers to that questionnaire from the Comics Journal Message Boards, but fellow comicsweblogospherians Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat, Comic Book Galaxy, Motime Like The Present, Johnny Bacardi Show, and Otto's Coffee Shop had all posted responses prior to my taking a shot at it. Go take a look and see what these fine folks have to say.

(Did I miss anybody?)

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

"Superboy, you can't be Hitler in personality!" 

from Adventure Comics #314 (1963) by Edmond Hamilton, Curt Swan, & George Klein
(as reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives #2)

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

1. Courtesy pal Tom again...
more reviews of Green Arrow's arrows. Hey, I think it's funny.

2. Word on the street is that Thought Balloon's Kevin Melrose has a new site, Scryptic Studios, for "aspiring, semi-professional, and professional comic book writers." Neat! (I particularly like Kevin's confession on this page.)

3. THE MEME: From the Comics Journal message board, a list of questions regarding comic stores and comic-buying habits...I see pal Ian answered those questions -- that's my place of employment he's talkin' 'bout, brother! I thought it might be at least a little interesting (well, for me, anyway) to answer these, at least from the perspective of someone who manages a comic shop:

A. Do you tend to go to the nearest store, the best store, any store, or does it matter?

I go to the store I work at. Actually, before I entered my indentured servitude, that was my store of choice since first shopping there over 20 years ago.

B. Ladies, what books do you tend to purchase, or what kind would you like to purchase (if you are a male please leave blank or supply what a girlfriend reads)?

The girlfriend really, really, really likes Spider-Man...she was also a fan of Marvel's G.I. Joe series.

C. What one thing would you add or change about your most frequented store (i.e. What is the worst thing about the store)?

I would change the backroom organization (i.e. less stuff), and get even more shelves for the front of the store. Ideally, I would love more space...we may have to wait for one of our neighboring stores to move out so we can knock down a wall and expand, because I'll be damned if I'm moving the whole store again. (After our last move into a larger location a few years back, I had dreams about moving boxes of comics for months.)

Oh, and I'd also change my salary to a million dollars a month.

D. What one thing would you not change (i.e. What is the best thing about the store)?

The wide and varied selection of new and old funnybooks! And our customers...despite my recent gripes about certain types of customers, we've got a pretty good clientele with several cool and nice people.

E. Do you read any small press comic books currently? Which one(s)? (examples: Lone Star Press, Avatar)

Yes...I've been a long supporter of independent comics, stemming in part from being exposed to a wide selection of indies at my shop of choice from the very beginning of my comic-shop patronage. I'll check out just about anything from Fantagraphics, Slave Labor, and, oh, that AiT/Planetlar company too, I guess...and I'll poke through any indie that happens to grab my attention.

F. What back issues do you buy?

Mostly DC's funny animal stuff by Shelly Mayer, as well as his Sugar & Spike, Nancy comics, the Dell/Gold Key Peanuts comics (still missing a couple!), Turok (the original good stuff, not Valiant era), any fun-looking Silver Age Superman-family comics, 1950s and 60s-era Archies, Herbie, and old fanzines.

G. How do you decide what comic book to buy? Writer, artist, character, word of mouth, etc?

All kinds of things...I notice that I'll buy DC Comics based on character, while Marvel books I'll buy based on creator, more or less (though I've been buying Hulk for decades, through thick and thin). Word of mouth usually doesn't convince me to buy comics, but all that talk about Street Angel online got me to try it out. Mostly...if it grabs my eye, it's halfway there to getting onto my purchase pile.

H. Do you buy strictly current age comic books or do you buy older comic books? What kinds?

I mostly buy new comics, if only because I've been buying comics on a regular basis for the last 25 years...if I wanted to read it, I would have bought it off the shelf when it was new.

I. How do you feel about graded comic books?

I'm assuming this means those slabbed, "professionally-graded" comics you see people paying too much for on eBay all the time. I don't know...I can understand the need for such a service, given most auction sellers can't grade their way out of a paper bag (to use one of our favorite nonsensical expressions)...but the end result is people paying far too much for items that don't warrant such prices. People investing too much money in overpriced slabbed books are people that won't be in the hobby much longer, once they realize they'll never get back the money they've spent.

J. What comic book related merchandise do you buy?

Not much...I do occasionally pick up a single HeroClix of certain characters (like Swamp Thing, natch), and I'll buy the DC Direct Golden Age character action figures, though they've mostly dried up lately. Also, I am still sort of semi-looking for that Fin Fang Foom figure Toy Biz put out a while ago.

K. What do you read if you are not reading comic books?

Geez...just about anything. I'm a voracious (and fast, thankfully!) reader. Just finished The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (lent to me by a customer, who had also let me borrow his run of Flashman novels). Also just read Coalescent by Stephen Baxter (who for once didn't end his science fiction novel with "we'll never interact with other worlds in any meaningful fashion, we're pretty much stuck on Earth, and there's no escape from the entropical death of the universe. The end"). On the waiting to read pile: Death Rat by Mystery Science Theatre 3000's Mike Nelson. I also have a subscription to Macaddict. And I'm slowly working my way through The Old West history series from Time/Life Books that my parents subscribed to in the early-to-mid-70s, and have just recently given to me. And, sometimes, if I'm waiting for something on the computer (like for a CD to burn, a restart, etc.), I'll pick up the dictionary that I keep on the desk near my Mac and just randomly go through a page.

L. What do you buy at comic book conventions?

I haven't been in years...when I did go, I just mostly poured through the dollar boxes looking for bargains. My best find was someone selling 1960s Archie comics three for a buck. Woo-hoo!

Monday, May 31, 2004

Via pal Tom:
reviews of Green Arrow's trick arrows. (Net arrow - a C+? Don't they know how useful that is?)

Tales of Suspense #28 (April 1962)

In the distant future, as shown in "The Secret of the Black Planet" by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, criminals still bust rocks with sledgehammers, only in space:

And bust out Bruno does, by hiding in an empty crate which is placed on a supply ship. In space, mind you. Anyway, once in space, Bruno pops out of his crate, grabs a jet pack, and jumps out through the very clearly labeled "Emergency Escape Hatch" (which looks more like a pneumatic tube). Luckily, the ship was apparently passing so close to a random planet that Bruno was able to fly down to the surface without ever being exposed to open space, since he clearly isn't wearing a spacesuit:

Note that second panel: "I'll never pay for my crimes now!" Ironic comeuppance, dead ahead! He finds signs of civilization on this planet:

Thus his plan, stated in an earlier panel, to "steal a private ship and head for another galaxy" (which seems a little drastic...a distant solar system would be enough, you think) appears to be approaching fruition. And sure enough, Bruno spots what appears to be a rocket ship in the distance. He rushes toward the rocket, only to notice something odd:

Only it's not getting bigger...it's coming closer! And once it gets close enough, Bruno reaches a horrifying conclusion:

Okay, where do I start:

1. I really hope to God that's supposed to be a mouth.

2. As
pal Dorian mentioned to me, it doesn't appear that the rocket-ship creature really has speed on its side, so Bruno could probably outrun it fairly easily.

3. It also appears pretty top heavy, and there are hills on this planet, judging from background shots in previous panels...if Bruno takes to high ground, he should be safe. Unless those "arms" on the rocket creature are more effective than they look, in which case he's screwed.

4. What are Bruno's crimes, anyway? I guess we're supposed to assume that they're pretty awful, given that the twist ending means he's "doomed forever." It's gotta be at least murder. I mean, if it's just tax evasion or embezzlement, does he really deserve to be "doomed forever?"

5. What kind of turn of phrase is "doomed forever," anyway? Is he going to be chased by a slow, lumbering rocket-monster for all time? Either he's going to escape, or he's going to be eaten right quick. It looks like the situation will be resolved one way or the other sooner rather than later.

6. If the surprise twist ending of your story is that the giant rocket that your main character sees is actually a horrible monster, the very first image the reader sees from this story probably shouldn't be this:

7. Why is it called "The Black Planet?" It doesn't appear to be any darker in hue than normal. It's never called "The Black Planet" in the story. Maybe the giant rocket aliens are Public Enemy fans.

8. Back to the rocket-monster...those legs appear to be placed toward the front of the body, and I don't see a tail. If that creature tries to move at all, unless it's hunched forward, or unless the gravity on this world is much less than that of Earth, it's gonna fall.

9. I'm guessing that the tube Bruno found was all that was left of a previous victim of the rocket-monster...Bruno states, upon finding another piece of equipment, that the items could have fallen from a passing spaceship (and not, say, burn up in the atmosphere or anything), but it's never decided one way or another.

10. Did I mention that I hope that's a mouth?

Sunday, May 30, 2004

It's Sunday, it's a holiday weekend, and I'm tired: so you're getting one of my lazy posts:

1. Recent acquisitions: Nancy and Sluggo #192 (Dell Comics, Oct 1963) - this is the last issue of the series...it's in really beat condition (including glue "repair" at the staples). It's complete, it's readable, and it was cheap (two bucks!). Also included was a short Peanuts strip, just as slightly off-model as the Nancy stories. Fun stuff, if a little strange...Nancy and Sluggo seem so out of place in extended narratives, but it's oddly compelling. (Read more about this comic series

The Nostalgia Journal #27 (Fantagraphics, Aug (July on the cover) 1976) - this is the first issue of the adzine edited by Gary Groth, as it began its transition to The Comics Journal we all know and love today. It's newspaper tabloid format, and most of the issue is given over to exposing the business practices of the publisher of adzine competitor The Buyer's Guide (which would later become The Comic Buyer's Guide). Also featured is a transcript of a '71 radio interview with Jack Kirby, and a short article by Doug Fratz on his top ten favorite fanzines from the 1960s. And, being an adzine, there're plenty of ads....Jungle Comics in fair to good condition for $1.50? Arrgh! Where's my time machine?

2. Heard a customer say to her significant other yesterday: "aren't comic books supposed to be funny?" (Me: "Just the X-Men." -- Okay, I really didn't say that.)

3. Hey, look, Alan David Doane's Comic Book Galaxy is back!

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