mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, July 31, 2004

God bless you, Internet... 

...for showing me the Scourge web page...complete with a list of victims.

Not updated in four years...and yet as timely as ever!

To think I wouldn't have found it if it weren't for the Comic Treadmill's Heroclix collection.

Friday, July 30, 2004

As you may recall, Wednesday we received our UPS shipment from Diamond Comics, but alas, we were short a box that was apparently taking the scenic route through Laguna Hills. Said box contains about a third of the new DC titles, so I was a little peeved (especially since it meant pulling books for our subscription service twice, when believe me, once a week is plenty). Well, it did arrive today, about two hours after we opened, so I guess all's well that ends well, and all that. Thought now I have to wonder what will happen next week? Will UPS arrive early but be missing a box? Or will we get everything, but not until after we've opened our doors for business that day? Stay tuned!

The delayed book I was most looking forward do was DC Comics Presents Hawkman, as the previous Julius Schwartz tribute books have been mostly quite well done. So far the pattern has been to have one great story (the Morrison story in Mystery in Space, the Azzarello story in Green Lantern), paired with a more...well, "average" story, for the lack of a better term, though that has a negative connotation I don't intend. For Hawkman, however, both stories are closer to the "average" level, but are enjoyable nonetheless...Cary "Mr. Surprise" Bates returns to comics with a story starring Julie himself, with nice art by John Byrne and Lary Stucker. Very evocative of the Silver Age trend of the comic creators somehow getting mixed up in the very adventures they're writing/illustrating/editing. The second story, by Kurt Busiek and Walt Simonson, is a tale of the love between Hawkman and Hawkgirl, with of course a flying gorilla mixed in, and it's fun as well. It does make one wish for a longer Simonson Hawkman tale, as his art style is very suited to the Winged Wonder.

Speaking of comics that are new this week...Marvel needs to go back to an actual publishing schedule, instead of just immediately sending books out to the printer as soon as the art is in-house, which is what appears to be happening. Getting three of the four Fantastic Four books in the same week is inexcusable. It's like Marvel is daring the reader to realize that, you know, maybe they don't need to read all these FF books and that they should drop one, or two, or all of them. What made Marvel think that the market could support multiple FF titles anyway, when it could barely manage one? ...Oh, right.

On a completely unrelated note, I was watching a little bit of RoboCop on cable TV last night...this is one of those movies that, even though I already own the Criterion edition DVD (he said snobbily), I always feel compelled to watch at least a little bit of it whenever I come across it on TV. It's a great darn flick...I've referred to it as "the best superhero movie not based on a comic book," and I'll stand by that statement, mister, so don't give me any guff. It's got one of my favorite villain-comeuppances of all time, and no one plays "sleaze" like Miguel Ferrer.

Er, I got a little off the point, there. Anyway, I noticed something in the film last night that hadn't occurred to me before. Comic books pop up once or twice in the film, and each time they appear (at least in the hour or so of the film I saw last night), Rom is prominently featured. Rom...the comic about the space warrior whose body has been mostly replaced by robotic parts. Hmmm. Coincidence?

Speaking of RoboCop, in the second film (the one written, at least in part, by Frank Miller), there is a scene where a computer screen is flashing through several files of criminals as candidates for the RoboCop program. Now, I haven't seen this movie on regular television, so I don't know if you can make it out on the small screen (maybe on the 50-inch plus screens you can), but all the names of these criminals are people from the comics industry. I remember specifically "Deitch," "Crumb," "Hernandez," and (I believe) "Groth," and "Kirby" might have been in there, too. Every name that flashes by was the name of some comics guy or gal. Hmmm. Coincidence? Probably not. Yeah, I was watching the computer screen instead of the actual action of the film. I was probably better off.

And on yet another unrelated note...welcome to Matt Maxwell and his new comics weblog Highway 62.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Good news!
Scott Saavedra announces that his great comics-zine Comic Book Heaven has been granted a reprieve.

Retailer Brian Hibbs has a weblog now, so, in addition to pal Dorian and me, you have three regular webloggers from the other side of the counter...unless there's someone I'm missing.

Speaking of Dorian, sorry, man, you've been drafted.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Well, due to circumstances beyond our control, we've had to have our comic shipments sent to the store by UPS rather than picking them up at the warehouse like we usually do. Last week, the boxes arrived at opening time, which meant we were frantically breaking down our order while trying not to let our big mess get in our customers' way, which was a bit tough. This week, the UPS shipment came early...alas, one of the boxes apparently ended up in Laguna Hills, so we were shorted several DC titles and some of our reorders. Crud. So if you happen to be in Laguna Hills and spot a Diamond Comics Distribution box wandering the streets, lonely and confused, send it up our way, would you?

Some brief thoughts about the new comics we did get:

Other random notes from the day:

  • It's a couple hours before we open. I'm sitting in the store doing some computer work while waiting for UPS. Most of store's lights are off. (Most of the stores in the surrounding area are also closed at this time in the morning.) There are two closed signs in the front door and window. A truck pulls up with a dad (presumably) and his little son (about 7 or 8). They both look at the front of the store, right at the closed signs. The dad turns off the motor, and sends his son out of the truck. The son tries the door, finds it's locked, and returns to the truck. They drive off.

  • Okay, so I lied: for no good reason, the following tagline for a possible Jack Black Green Lantern movie popped into my head: "BLACK IS THE NEW GREEN." If this movie is real, I can almost guarantee this is the tagline they'll be using. You know I'm right.

    EDIT: Someone beat me to it. Note to self: "Google before post!"

  • Pal Dorian was just a little miffed over not getting a post in General Smallnut's Squirrel Army, so with help of the Squirrel Name Generator, Dorian's squirrel name has been determined to be - "Baron Bushkisser." Oh, the irony**.

  • Pal Ian dropped by the store and regaled us with his tales of Comic Con derring-do...which you can be following too, should you go to his website.

  • And Pal Corey and Pal Tom dropped by as well, which I only mention in order to plug their sites.

* Yes, yes, I know he was apparently "welding" or "melting" the costume back together...you have to admit it still looks weird.
** Oh, quiet you...I'm his friend, I'm allowed.

"Liz isn't interested in boys...you know what I mean!" 

Young Romance #197 (Feb 1974)

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

In which Mike puts on his jealous pants. 

Pal Ian is linked by Mark Evanier, making him the first in our merry band of the ACAPCWOVCCAOE* to receive this honor.

Gosh dang it.

*Associated Comics and Pop Culture Webloggers of Ventura County, CA and Outlying Environs

1. You may henceforth start referring to me as "
Nibbles Wobblebottom." At least, those of you who weren't calling me that already.

2. So I was given a little bag of goodies from the San Diego Comic Con...all freebies scored from various tables: a whole bunch of buttons (including several for Stargate: Atlantis - has anyone watched this show?), a keychain pimping The Hire, a tiny Dark Horse Comics magnet, a Stargate: Atlantis pen, a SciFi Channel "poplite" (some kind of candy-flashlight thing), and, best of all, a tiny set (about 1/2 by 2 inches) of Dark Horse Comics playing cards (Dark Horse's motto this year must have been "think small!"). The face of each card features a different character from the DH publishing line: Hellboy is the King of Spades, Little Lulu is the two of Hearts, publisher Michael Richardson is the Joker.

3. Pal Ian continues his San Diego coverage, discussing the Marv Wolfman and Jack Kirby Tribute panels...managing to compare me to Mark Evanier in the process.

4. Gasoline Alley whips out one of the oldest jokes in the book...admirable in its shamelessness, it is.

This is it for superhero movies, I promise. 

Hellboy: The Movie is out on DVD today, if you're interested. I wonder if I should expect more Hellboy comic sales because of it?

Also, I screwed up in my post from yesterday...the Grayson movie can be found here.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Augie De Blieck Jr. mentions that a fellow advertising the previously-mentioned Secret Spider-Man Movie site was at the San Diego Comic Con, in costume, loudly proclaiming his dislike of Hollywood's superhero movies. I did a quick Google-search for pics, and all I could find was an image of a hand-printed sign advertising the site's address posted on a pole (look a few pictures down). Probably too early yet...I'll check again in a few days.

Actually, like Augie says, I'm not sure what that fella was complaining about, since the Spider-Man and X-Men movies, while certainly not perfect, were a darn sight better than they had any reason to be. I mean, it's not like they were on par with James Batman or anything (though James Batman is wonderful in its own peculiar way). Apparently the problem is that the films are not spot-on adaptations of the comics...you know the type: "Well, clearly Spider-Man is flawed from the start by its complete glossing over of Gwen in favor of Mary Jane." Or Spidey has organic webshooters, like Chris mentions, or Wolverine is too tall, like Shane mentions...it's getting caught up in the little details without looking at the big picture. It's like the people who got bent out of shape over Tom Bombadil not being in The Lord of the Rings movies, even though his presence almost certainly would have brought the proceedings to a grinding halt. Though speaking of little details -- it's "SPIDER-MAN," not "SPIDERMAN." If these people are going to complain about the quality of someone else's work, they should at least spell the name correctly.

I was joking the other day with a customer of mine about how I think they should do a completely true-to-the-source-material adaptation of, say, The Korvac Saga from The Avengers just so people would see what bad idea a 100% accurate comic to film translation would be. Sure, we comic fans would probably dig it (some at face value, some on a self-aware ironic level), but the general public would almost certainly stay away in droves.

Anyway, that's enough carrying on about comic book movies. Go read a comic. I'm reading the first Adventures of Barry Ween Boy Genius trade paperback, which I picked up after reading the Free Comic Book Day issue. What are you reading?

So I was poking around the fanfilms available on
Theforce.net, and found another fan-made superhero trailer in the style of Batman: Dead End and World's Finest: Grayson, featuring an older Dick Grayson returning to Gotham to avenge the murder of Batman. It's fun for sad old comic fans like me, and I would enjoy seeing a full-length version of this film. Amazing what they can put together on a small budget...there's a behind-the-scenes documentary available for download as well.

It is nice to see a live-action version of Commissioner Gordon that actually looks like the comic-book version:

They even manage to make Robin not look goofy. Well, less goofy, anyway:

If only the same could be said for Green Lantern...nice ring effect, though:

And it makes the Earth 2 fan in me smile to see a grey-haired Superman:

But I can't abide random comic rack abuse. Shame!

Elsewhere you can find a longer fan-film - Nightwing: A Knight in Bludhaven, that's perhaps a little less polished, but it at least attempts to tell a full story.

Also found on Theforce.net is Secret Spider-Man Movie - fans angry at how comic book movies portray their favorite heroes plan to make their own version of Spider-Man 3 before Hollywood does. The trailer doesn't show any home-made Spider-action...rather, it's just interviews with comic fans about why they don't think Hollywood treats superheroes with respect, starting with some brief comments from director Richard Donner. (Actually, I think they're missing a bet...instead of making a Spider-Man film, they should do a documentary on comic fandom.) I got a laugh out of their "Why Hollywood Blows" link - they didn't like Hugh Jackman as Wolverine? They must have seen a different X-Men movie than I did.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

1. Today's giant feathered phallic symbol brought to you by Alan Moore and Bruce Timm:

"How stimulating," indeed.

2. Pal Ian has begun his
San Diego Con reports. Apparently he was having trouble with his backpack.

3. Pal Dorian saw Catwoman...and lived! And he kinda liked it. Go read his review.

4. Customer: "Hi...I'm looking for a comic called Batman: Goth. Do you have it?

Us: "Um...I don't think there've been any Batman comics by that name."

Customer: "Are you sure? I remember seeing the cover...it definitely said 'Batman Goth' on the front."

Us: "Yes, we're sure, there's no such...wait a second:"

Customer: "Yeah, that's it!"

Yes, the customer did mean Batman: Gotham Knights #1.

Actually, a comic called Batman: Goth would probably sell like gangbusters. How 'bout a Goth Batman/Lenore crossover?

Okay, I'll stop now.

5. The Variety magazine Bags and Boards weblog posted a Letterman-style Top Ten list read by Sarah Michelle Gellar regarding her reasons why she hadn't attended the 'Con before. Very obviously someone slapped together a list of comic book-related jokes and forced the gal to read them off, and I'm certain she didn't get many of the jokes she was reading. Maybe the "Phantom Zone" reference, but the David/McFarlane debate? This isn't meant as a slam at her...I just felt sort of embarrassed for her.

6. My last post (on movies and such) was long and rambling and I apologize. If you require any clarification, just leave me a comment or send an e-mail.

7. Speaking of movies...today I had a vision of the forthcoming Aliens Vs. Predator movie, and I saw a carful of Predators chasing a carful of Aliens through the streets of San Francisco, with some of the Predators and Aliens leaning out of their respective car windows and shaking fists at each other. I have now ruined the movie for myself, since this scene will certainly not be in the film and I will be terribly disappointed at its omission.

The last time I'm mentioning the whole Jack Black as Green Lantern thing on my weblog, I swear to God... 

...at least until there's some kind of real news about it.

Anyway, I had one final thing to say about that particular bit of theoretical casting:

Michael Keaton.

Man alive, did people hate the idea of Michael Keaton as Batman. "But that guy does wacky comedies," everyone said. "He's not heavily muscled!" etc. etc. But, in retrospect, the casting of Michael Keaton as Batman is probably one of the few good things about that movie. (It certainly wasn't the screenplay or the direction.) It seems to me that the same people who were complaining the most about Keaton's casting prior to the film's release later lamented Keaton's loss after the second film.

Okay, a Jack Black Green Lantern film is a slightly different situation, since it is supposedly a comedy...but basically, all we really know about this alleged film is that 1) Black is GL, and 2) it's a comedy. Hey, it could be a really good comedy...we don't know yet. It's way too early to go into histrionics based solely on casting. We don't know who's writing, we don't know who's directing, we don't know what sort of perspective on the whole GL thing they're gonna be taking. You might all be pleasantly surprised, for all you know.

Yes, I know chances are it'll be bad simply because most Hollywood movies are bad...but the presence of Jack Black doesn't automatically mean it's going to be stinky. Besides, to borrow an observation from another weblogger (I don't remember which one...let me know, please!) -- what do you want from a GL movie? A serious take on a guy who makes big green fists with his magic ring?

And that kinda sorta leads me into this: a couple days ago there was a brief exchange on pal Dorian's weblog thingie regarding the impact of films on comic sales...Dorian asserts that there is an impact, the commenter remarks that it's not really the case at his shop.

Well, in my experience, there's the first Tim Burton Batman film, and then there's everything else. Bat-fever was at its height in the late-80s, centered around this film, coupled with the peak faddishness of comic books in general. So, business was way up, people couldn't get enough of Bat-stuff (we had waiting lists for T-shirts, for pete's sake), and everyone, comic fans and newcomers to the field alike, were excited about Batman. New Batman comics sold like crazy, back issues flew out the door, and there was an attendant increase in prices on those back issues. (Example...a couple years prior to the movie, I bought a Joker #1 out of a dime box at a convention. After the movie, Joker #1 became a $30 book in the price guides!)

The superhero movies that followed never even came close to this sort of crazed activity. However, that's not to say the movies have had no impact on comic sales. Recently, the Hellboy film was very successful in getting people interested in the comic (despite difficulties in getting our trade paperback stock replenished in a timely manner), spurred along by the 25-cent Hellboy comic Dark Horse Comics produced just for the occasion.

Marvel could have learned from Dark Horse's example, as I'll never understand the decision to publish 25-cent versions of Hulk and Daredevil to tie in with those respective movies that don't feature the title characters in any significant fashion. The Hulk comic in particular is absolutely shameful...the Hulk's arm appears in a flashback panel. That's it. That's all the Hulk you get from that 25-cent comic. No kid is going to buy that and want to come back for more Hulk comics. Fortunately for us, we have a significant back issue supply of both titles that do feature Hulk and Daredevil in significant amounts, and thus we were able to give the public what it demanded and what Marvel itself wasn't currently supplying.

Spider-Man is a whole different matter. Kids always want Spider-Man comics. Yes, there was a brief bump in sales after the first film (people were even snapping up the pretty-much universally-reviled Spider-Man: Chapter One series). I didn't see much of a difference in sales in relation to the second film, though most everyone seemed pretty sick of Doctor Octopus appearances.

There was also a surge of interest in the Alan Moore properties The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and From Hell...in the former case, League had been selling well anyway, but the movie seemed to get a few people (regulars and new customers alike) to try it out. In the case of the latter film, the number of people who picked it up because of the film was matched by the the number of people who picked it up, looked at it, and decided not to buy it because it didn't look anything like the movie (i.e. it was good).

For the non-superhero movies...there was a brief spurt of interest in American Splendor, and I managed to sell several back issues of the magazine, as well as the two available collections. Ghost World too had an increase in interest...unfortunately, we had a great deal of difficulty getting it in stock for pretty much the entire theatrical run of the film. However, we can get all we need now, and it remains a fairly steady seller.

Now you may have noticed that I haven't mentioned X-Men. That's because the X-Men movies haven't really had much of an impact on the sales of the comics, since the comics themselves are pretty much resistant to acquiring new readers (the sole recent exception being Grant Morrison's run). Rather, the X-Men films serve as an example of another phenomenon I've noticed in regards to movies' impact on comic sales: people either dumping their collections or suddenly acquiring an interest in buying old "key" issues. Prior to, and for a brief period shortly after, the release of a major superhero movie, we'll get a slew of people hauling in their cardboard boxes or supermarket bags filled with issues of the superhero in question, hoping that they've got a fortune on their hands. At the same time, there is a certain group of people that decide that now is the time to start investing in back issues of that superhero's title, since they're certain to skyrocket in value following the release of the film. (Hint: they don't. They increase at the same slow and steady rate they always do...unless it's Howard the Duck, then they plummet for a few years.) You'd think these two groups would be perfectly matched for us to make a lot of money buying and selling back issues...but the people selling comics never have any comics for sale that the people buying the comics want. This activity dries up almost immediately after the film has been out for about a week or so.

There are other examples, too...pal Dorian mentions that he can always tell when one of the Swamp Thing movies has been on TV, since kids come charging in looking for the comics. Just yesterday, Dorian theorized that Judge Dredd must have just been on, since he had kids looking for those. And then there's Catwoman, which has slightly increased the number of people looking at Catwoman goodies, but not by a whole lot...then again, Catwoman is one of those characters that has always had a non-comics fan following...more as an icon than a character, in much the same way the general public is aware of the Silver Surfer as an image rather than a character in a story.

So, to wrap up this huge block of typing that almost none of you made it though, comic movies in general do give our comic sales a slight increase, mostly with kids, though adults will look into the non-superhero comics that have inspired films. Hellboy is probably the one big crossover book, in that kids and adults were suddenly very interested in the character (thanks to the publisher's providing a 25-cent comic and a stand-up book display).

(JB as GL picture courtesy pal Corey)

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