mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Out of Context Theatre Presents - What Hulk Can't Fight 

Defenders #30 (Dec 1975) - cover by John Romita & Mike Esposito

Friday, July 16, 2004

Okay, I'm feeling better now.

1. So just so you don't think I was defending the forthcoming Catwoman movie with
my post from the other day, let me clarify: I don't think the Catwoman movie will be any good, but it will be for the same reasons most movies aren't any good, and not just because it isn't "faithful" to the Catwoman "character."

1a. And I completely stand by my thoughts on a Jack Black Green Lantern movie. I also want to see John Goodman take over the role of James Bond (but played straight, not as a comedy). I'm perverse that way.

2. I've read Eightball #23 - and yes, it's quite good. It's similar in style to the previous issue, in that it's essentially one story comprised of a multitude of strips, and it's compelling reading. Look here, here, and here for better reviews than I can manage.

3. I don't know if you're still reading Gasoline Alley after the brief flurry of excitement regarding the death of a long-time cast member, but things are not going too well for Walt and his somewhat inadequate "caretaker" - start here and work your way forward. It's distressing how poorly ol' Walt is treated. (And today's installment has a marijuana joke. Wha huh?)

4. Re: the Byrne forum on Identity Crisis - told ya so. I like this thread, too. (Spoilers ahoy, by the way.)

5. So Big Larry passed along this piece of art from Joe Casey and Ian Richardson's forthcoming AiT/Planetlar title Warhead:

Read more about it (and other coming projects) at Comicon Pulse. And hie thee hither to other comic weblogs for more preview art pieces.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

New comics day, yet again: we finally got our copies of Eightball after everyone else in the country got theirs...I didn't know how big the darn thing was! It's downright sizable. Haven't had a chance to read it yet, but a quick flip-through tells me it's gonna be a treat.

Also arrived this week is Scurvy Dogs #5, which again it seems like everyone else on the planet already got their copies before they ever showed up at the store. At least, several webloggers have been talkin' about their copies, and now I can read it for myself. Good stuff...I love the silvery-ink cover.

Identity Crisis #2 - if you didn't like what happened to You-Know-Who in the first issue, you're definitely not going to like what happens in the second issue. (For additional entertainment: visit the
John Byrne Message Forum in the next day or two and look for a message thread devoted to this comic. I can hear the outrage already.)

DC Comics Presents: Mystery in Space - while the lead story (by Elliot S! Maggin and J.H. Williams III) was entertaining (and will please fans of the aforementioned You-Know-Who), the second story by Grant Morrison and Jerry Ordway really is something else. It's a tribute to Julius Schwartz, to Adam Strange, and to the particular moment in time surrounding the beginning of the Silver Age of comics. Very touching.

In other news:

  • Smallville fans: we have achieved Lois Lane.

  • Today at the store I was talking with coworker Kid Chris about the remote possibility of a Green Lantern movie starring Jack Black...and you know what? I want to see it. Yes, everyone on comic book message boards and weblogs will complain, but this represents only the tiniest fraction of a potential audience for this film. Compare to the forthcoming Catwoman film, which, pal Dorian has convinced me in our discussions on the subject, will probably do reasonably well at the box office even though comic fans loathe what they've seen of it. If this film were actually being marketed to comic fans, maybe the studio would care what the fans thought.

    So, a superhero comedy film? No one is currently filling that niche, maybe aside from the coming Pixar film The Incredibles. It's not as if a superhero comedy film will change anyone's opinions on comics...we've had several successful "serious" superhero movies in recent years, and that didn't really do anything for the public perception of funnybooks, so it's unlikely a funny Green Lantern will do any harm. Besides, most non-comics fans really don't know or care who Green Lantern is anyway...I don't know how many times I've had someone in the store who wasn't familiar with comics look at Green Lantern and ask me, "where's Kato?"

    Anyway, Kid Chris suggested Ben Stiller as Sinestro. Now tell me you don't want to see this film.

Buster Makes The Team! (1959) 

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

So, like several other comics webloggers, I received a couple mini-comics from the kind and good Steve Lieber: Me and Edith Head and Family Reunion. Me and Edith Head I had actually carried at the store, as one of our distributors (
Cold Cut) had it available, and I'm always looking to expand our mini-comics section. (Used to do the mini-comic thing myself, but that's another story.)

Anyway, Me and Edith Head by Lieber and Sara Ryan is about high school student Katrina's discovery of self-confidence, juxtaposed with her dealing with her parents' crumbling marriage at home. It's a demonstration of storytelling economy - a lot of ground is covered in only 15 pages, and you're given just enough background details to get the important points across. You don't need to know why the parents are getting divorced...they just are. You don't need page after page of Katrina's fellow students giving her grief over being "unpopular" or "unattractive" or whatever...four panels total cover that whole arc. It doesn't seem like it's as short as it is...the comic is packed with information, yet it feels like a light read. It's an absolute steal at its cover price of $2. I'll need to order more for the store!

The second comic, Family Reunion by Lieber and Sean Stewart, introduces the lead character and situations from Stewart's prose novel Perfect Circle, in which William "Dead" Kennedy (wearing a Dead Kennedy's t-shirt, natch) has the ability to see ghosts...a talent tolerated, but not generally discussed, by his family. This story focuses around a family reunion at a park, where Great-Aunt Ginny Mae laments the long-ago death of her soldier son...and, as William discovers, that son is present at the reunion as well. It's a quiet story, with a heartbreaking surprise about the son's death, and since it now has me wanting to read the novel, the mini-comic was clearly very successful in its purpose. Both this comic and Me and Edith Head have a heavy focus on character's emotions, and Lieber's art is very much up to the task, rendering a while variety of human forms while making all the expressions recognizable.

If you're interested in getting either of these fine minis into your own paws, give Steve Lieber's official website a visit and send the guy a couple bucks.

1. I don't really have much to say about the new
DC Comics solicitations except, as pal Dorian has noted, that DC Rarities Archives is $75! I may probably still spring for it (actually, it'll be released pretty close to Christmas, he hinted gently) since it's reprinting The Big All-American Comic Book which I've wanted for years.

Oh, and Kurt Busiek on JLA sounds like fun, too.

2. Spotted via Milo George's site (and also reported here) is Jeff Mason's call for help regarding his Alternative Comics publishing concern. His company is in a financial bind for various reasons (including being stiffed on some money from an out-of-business distributor) and he asks that you purchase Alternative Comics items from your local retailer. And, as a seller of funnybooks myself, I'll be doing some reordering of any Alternative Comics we happen to be missing.

3. Stolen from Boingboing - The Famous Cartoonist Button Series. Individual buttons cost $2 to $8, and you can score the whole set for $195. As a button-horder myself, I'm sorely tempted...but I think I'll just have to be satisfied with lookin' at the pictures. Though I think I might pick up the Sergio Aragones pin. Oh, and maybe the Kim Deitch pin. And the Bill Griffith pin, and...oh, dammit.

4. Also, special thanks to all of you for reading my site...yesterday was the highest number of visits to this site ever in a single day (due in part to pal Andy linking me from his mighty weblog). And whoever it was that found my site by Googling for "Spidey slash fiction" -- sorry I couldn't help you. Anyway, as long as I have this excess of visitors, after you're all done looking at my site, go send some of your internet traffic love to my close, personal friends Dorian, Ian, Corey, Tom, and Reid.

Monday, July 12, 2004

a brief Metafilter discussion thread on graphic novels, notable mostly for someone mentioning Will Eisner in the context of "he's alive, but not active." Really? That's news to me...and to Eisner as well, I bet.

Found via Fark - a huge freakin' comic book collection up for auction on eBay, including Superman #1, Batman #1, multiple copies of Giant Size X-Men #1 and Incredible Hulk #181, and more multiple copies of comics you don't expect to see multiple copies of. That picture of 60-something copies of Wolverine mini-series #1 is a desktop picture waiting to happen, don't you think?

Found via everywhere: collector acquires every comic book published by DC Comics. (I wonder if this includes foreign editions? "Collector Finds Out about DC's Foreign Editions - 'Oh, Crap' He Says.") My favorite quote in the article is about how this collector's comic shop "urged" him to try to collect every DC comic. Of course they did! What did anyone expect them to say? "No, please don't buy our full runs of Arak Son of Thunder and Sun Devils!"

Oh, okay, I suppose I couldn't leave you hanging with
just the cover:

from Strange Adventures #156 (Sept 1963) by Gardner Fox & Sid Greene

Astronomy professor (and former Korean War soldier) Bill Smathers is having a reunion with fellow veterans from the war when suddenly, a duplicate of the planet Saturn materializes around his head!

The "planet" proceeds to start shooting bolts of energy, like what you saw on the cover there...but instead of destroying, the beams are in fact teleporting Bill's fellow veterans -- and finally, Bill himself. They all find themselves on the planet of Saturn (even though it's a gas giant) face to face with "a strange and alien being."

"It was I -- Kandare Ohl -- who brought you and your fellow-warriors here to fight the longest war in history," he explains, as he removes the Saturn-globe from Bill's head. And get this explanation as to why his teleportion-thingie looks the way it does:

Yes, it's the most ridiculous transportation device in the history of science fiction. Anyway, Kandare was the ruler of Saturn, and his twin brother Alagor Von was the ruler of Jupiter (another gas giant, mind you), and there was a big war, blah blah blah, and eventually only the two of them were left on their respective worlds. Since they are telepathic, they were able to continually read each other's minds and thus were evenly matched. Kandare then had the bright idea to recruit Earthlings to do the fighting for him, since Alagor would be unable to read their thoughts, presumably. And yes, Kandare did realize that Alagor, reading his brother's thoughts, would do the same thing...and indeed he does, as we see here:

...except he got himself some of them Russians. Please note the Jupiter head on Ivan.

Kandare informs the humans that, should the battle go his way, he would then teleport himself to Earth, wearing a "life-suit" that would give him immortality the way his domed city on Saturn does, so that he would have a population to rule. Kandare then puts a mental whammy on the humans, compelling them attack Alagor, and puts them on a rocket ship to Jupiter. On the way there, their ship passes the rocket-o'Russians headed the other way, and Bill jumps on the radio to signal his "plan" to them. And what's that plan? We'll find out soon enough.

For the next couple of pages there's a lot of running around and general mayhem, and finally Bill confronts Alagor.

As the raygun fire-fight continues, Bill notes that Alagor avoids one part of the room -- almost as if he's trying to protect something from getting hit by a random shot there. After Alagor hightails it like a big pansy, Bill finds a hidden cabinet in that particular part of the room...a cabinet containing another teleportation device in the form of the Earth!

I'm not sure that's a technically accurate definition of "telekinesis." I'm pretty sure that's not even the accurate spelling.

Bill quickly hunts down Alagor (no easy trick, given that the globe has no eye-holes) and prepares to send him packing to Earth. Alagor begs for his life -- since he isn't wearing his own "life-suit," being sent to Earth away from the protection of his Jovian environment would mean his death.

Will the humans realize that death is not the answer, that a show of mercy would correct the paths of these two brothers, perhaps even healing the rift between them and showing them that their fraternal love is greater than any reason for war?


And it appears that Bill's brilliant plan was to tell the Russians to run around Kandare's pad looking for an Earth-globe, too...and, since they did make it home, it appears that there's probably a pile of Kandare-ash floating around the streets of St. Petersburg or somewhere.

This grand adventure has taught all humanity an important lesson:

...at least until we all get to these planets and start fighting over who gets what.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Phone follies. 

  • Please tell me where this phone call went awry:

    Me: "Hello, this is Mike, can I help you?"

    Person on the phone: "Yes, I have some Reagan memorabilia for sale...do you buy this sort of thing?"

    Me: "No, I'm sorry, but we don't deal in that type of merchandise."

    P.O.T.P.: "Well, I have some commemorative coins, a copy of a newspaper from when he got shot, some collectors plates..." etc. etc.

    This phone call went awry -

    a) when the caller completely ignored the fact that I said we didn't deal in those items and told me what he had anyway

    b) when I wasn't firm enough with my "no" answer

    c) when I picked up the phone

  • As a comic shop manager, I must be well-rounded in my knowledge. To wit:

    Me: "Hi, this is Mike, can I help you?"

    P.O.T.P.: "What years did the Brady Bunch TV show originally run?"

    Me: "From '69 to '74."

    P.O.T.P.: "Okay, thanks!"

    (Yes, I knew what years the Brady Bunch ran, just off the top of my head. Wanna make somethin' of it?)

  • The prank phone call I received:

    "Do you have any butt comics?"

    What I said: nothing. I just ended the call.

    What I should have said: "No, but I'm sure Eros Comix will get around to them eventually."

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