mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Friday, August 13, 2004

Yesterday, as I was going over orders, I actually found myself saying this to
pal Dorian: "Hey, do Venom and Carnage actually appear in the Venom & Carnage comic?" Yes, that's what Marvel has driven me to.

On a completely unrelated note, here's a link to a comprehensive website by someone nearly as obsessed with Swamp Thing as I am. (courtesy Thrillmer)

(Real content will resume shortly...weblogging time has been in short supply!)

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

How the day began:

Pal Dorian and I are unpacking the new comic books, and I see that the only DCs that come bagged with the Sky Captain CDs are Legends of the Dark Knight and Nightwing:

Me: "Oh man, that Sky Captain CD only comes with comics I don't buy."

Dorian: "I'm getting both of those comics - I guess I can give you one of the CDs."

Me (poking fun at the tone in Dorian's voice): "...'he said grudgingly!'"

Dorian: "That's the only way anyone can talk to you."

Anyway, definitely the best-looking new arrival of the day was the Jimbo in Purgatory hardcover by Gary Panter. My goodness, it's a nice-looking book. And it's HUGE. And it manages to have gold-foil highlights on the front cover without looking ugly. I couldn't swing it today, but it will have to be a purchase soon.

Didn't have much of a chance to read all the comics I did manage to get this week, but I did get through the following:

  • Identity Crisis #3 - and the hits just keep on coming. Now when I think about this comic I just laugh, because I can't wait to see the inevitable online blowing of gaskets each issue brings forth. The comic itself was enjoyable, and though Dorian pointed to this Identity Crisis message thread as an example of comic message boards gone wrong, I did find it somewhat refreshing to see some people simply arguing about whether or not a particular super-villain could take on this group of super-heroes.

  • DC Comics Presents The Flash - this week's Julius Schwartz tribute comic is the first real disappointment, as neither story really sticks out as anything special. "Disappointment" may be too strong a word, as I did enjoy it...but nothing about this comic really screamed "special." The second story (by Dennis O'Neil and Doug Mahnke) comes close, as the Flash pops in for a visit with his "old friend" Julius.

  • Fables #28 - a flashback to Bigby's adventures in World War II, which reminds me ever so slightly of "The Creature Commandos"*. If I may second the plea of another comics weblogger: please, no more cursive font in the captions!

  • Haven't read it yet, but wanted to put in a mention of Daisy Kutter: The Last Train #1, which looks like a lot of fun, and is a bargain for $3.99 for a prestige format funnybook. The cartooning on this book is really appealing...go look at the preview at that link and check it out for yourself.

Also, as Dorian has mentioned, we did not get our copies of the oversized JLA/Avengers hardcovers. Aaargh! So we got charged for them, but we can't make any money on them yet. Very frustrating.

X-Force #1 came out today. Hoo boy. Everything old is new again, my friends, and Rob Liefeld's art is at its Rob Liefeldest. I know everyone makes fun of his work, but by golly, it still sells. Well, it's nothing like last time...when the original X-Force #1 came out, we had devoted a small table just to that comic, and we had hordes of people charging in the door to buy handfuls of them. Of course, that was back in the boom days of the comic market, when the rivers ran with gold, and comic store entrepreneurs lit their expensive imported cigars with burning $50 bills.

By the way, any statements by a certain Mr. The Dog regarding what I may or may not allegedly do to anyone buying X-Force #1 can not be proven in any court of law.

* If you want to read more about werewolves** fighting Nazis in World War II, may I suggest Robert McCammon's novel The Wolf's Hour, which also evokes that "Creature Commandos" feeling.

** Yes, I know Bigby isn't technically a werewolf. Close enough.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

"I am sharp, and my Scoot is aces!" 

Johanna mentions something that I probably should have brought up last week, that the paperwork for the Marvel Comics settlement has been sent out to retailers and that we received ours on Friday. It's a fairly sizable amount (several hundred dollars) and should cover a couple weeks' worth of Marvel books (or part of one week, if Marvel decides to release every X-Men comic they publish on the same day). We supposedly should be seeing this credit come through by the end of the year. Let's hope, anyway.

In other news:

  • So remember that I mentioned that someone called Byrne on his mistaken assumption that Moore had a "glaring plot hole" in "For the Man Who Has Everything?" Several of Byrne's responses can be found on this page, mostly built around the spurious assumption that Moore set up a premise and proceeded to ignore it. The very last post on the page from a forum member pretty much nips Byrne's arguments in the bud, though I notice the battle continues for another couple pages of messages.

  • Speaking of missing the point entirely, another message board person (maybe also on the Byrne forum) said something a while back that really cheesed my crackers. Somebody referred to Grant Morrison's run on Animal Man and how Morrison killed off and brought back Animal Man's family for "no reason whatsoever." There are only one of two conclusions you can draw from this statement. The most likely conclusion is that this person never actually read the story and is just going off what he's heard or read about it. The other conclusion is that the person did read the story, and somehow managed to miss the several issues with the explicitly-explored theme of "real" reality vs. fictional reality (you know, the common theme to most of Morrison's work for the last couple of decades)...and, in particular, the comparison between Morrison's real life loss (the death of his pet cat) and Animal Man's loss of his family.

  • I'm glad I managed to cajole pal Dorian into saying something about that person on a message board who missed the point about his article on The Gayest Comic Ever. Apparently this person thought Dorian was using "gay" as a pejorative, despite 1) Dorian explicitly stating he's gay, a fact brought up on the very message board this person is posting on, and 2) the context in which "gay" is used is not in the sense of "that sucks" (you know, "that's so gay"), but rather in the sense of "why, that exudes quite the large amount of homosexuality." Listen, I've heard Dorian tell off people in the store who've used "gay" as a pejorative, so he's the last person who would do so.

  • I'm going to assume Warren Ellis was just "taking the piss," as it were, when he said that online comic fans now like Dan Clowes since he's done a superhero comic. (via Neilalien, among others...I know I saw someone with a more complete takedown on this - who was it?)

  • To counter my free-floating hostility toward my fellow humans, here is an archived page of Sanrio comic strips. Warning - may kill diabetics.

Special all-theft edition! 

Stolen from Franklin's Findings, a link to a newspaper story where the reporter confuses Green Lantern with Green Hornet. See, I told you people did this!

Stolen from pal Andy, a link to an audio interview with Chris Ware. (WARNING: Realaudio)

Stolen from Peter David, a preview of his forthcoming title Madrox.

Monday, August 09, 2004

As The World's Biggest Swamp Thing Fan™, I'm always on the lookout for Swampy goodies of all varieties (remind me to tell you about the very first item I ever bought on
eBay). Now, I've known about the Swamp Thing video game for the Nintendo system for quite a while, but it wasn't until very recently that I got to play it for myself.

Like the majority of Swamp Thing-related merchandise, the game was based on the nigh-unwatchable Swamp Thing cartoon (coming soon to a DVD near you). The title screen features the image (based on a drawing by Rick Veitch and Alfredo Alcala, I believe) that appeared on all the Swamp-stuff:

Before the game begins, you get a brief overview of Swamp Thing's origin:

Did I say brief? The "cut-scenes" go on forever. You get to watch this image of a burning barn for about an hour and a half:

You don't follow Holland's burning body offscreen...the text at the top of the screen tells how he dives into the swamp and turns into you-know-who. But, really, it takes forever to do so, and the whole time you're watching a barn burn. And yes, I know I could have interrupted the cut-scene at any time, but I sort of felt obligated to watch it, being The World's Biggest Swamp Thing Fan™ and all.

After you start the game, you get another interminable cut scene, where you stare at Arcane's purple face for a day or two while he explains his plan (something about getting hold of Swamp Thing's body, that naughty man).

And then the game begins. Like 90% of all post-Atari video games, it's a run/jump/hit game. Here's Swampy jumping:

...and here's Swampy hitting:

Not shown: Swampy running. Er, lumbering, actually.

Anyway, since I'm old, and my video game heyday predates the Nintendo (back in the good ol' days, when all we had to deal with was killing alien invaders and eating glowing pellets), I suck at this game, and could only get through some of the first level so far. One, I've only had the game for a day or so, and two, according to this review it may not entirely be my fault, due to the game's bad design.

One nice touch is that, unlike most video games, falling in the water doesn't mean immediate death*:

Your enemies include robot birds and robot...armadillos, or something. One thing I don't get (and is also mentioned in the review I linked above), is the deadly tin can attack. Tin cans, either floating in the water or falling from some indeterminate source in the sky, cause damage to Swamp Thing. Somehow.

Anyway, I saw this screen a lot, which is what the game shows you when you die:

Unlike the other cut-scenes, this one is relatively quick. Thankfully. No reason to add insult to injury.

This game is no competition to my favorite comic book inspired video game (which was also the inspiration for my 404 page). But, I'll probably still play it, just to see what other bizarre situations the game designers tried to squeeze Swampy into.

* Pal Dorian always wonders why falling in the water would mean death in the classic video game Frogger. It's a frog...they're amphibious!

Sunday, August 08, 2004

1. The Justice League Unlimited episode based on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's
Superman Annual story aired last night...and hey, they managed to do the story justice. Not perfect, but it was a lot better than I expected it to be. Lines of dialogue made it intact from the printed page into the cartoon, and the emotional impact of Superman being forced to give up his fantasy world remains unchanged. Seeing Kal-El tell his "son" "I don't think you're real" is still as distressing, even 19 years after I first read that line.

1a. John Byrne mentions a "glaring plot hole" in the original Superman Annual (that, of course, isn't really a plot hole) a few posts in on this thread, and one of the forum members points out to Byrne that, no, that supposed plot hole doesn't exist, given a careful reading of the text. Insulting response by Byrne in 3...2....

2. So I guess Michael Chabon made a speech in which he stated that American publishers need to try harder to get kids to read comics, and some comic creators took him to task for that horribly controversial statement, and so on. By the time I started paying attention to this, everyone's pretty much already had their say in the matter so I don't know what I have to add, beyond mentioning that I have plenty of children customers at my store, and they are interested in a wide range of comics. As pal Dorian (who also works at the same shop) has stated, they'll pick up superhero comics if there's a currently popular movie or cartoon based on the property (with the exception of the always popular Spider-Man titles), but they're also reading Simpsons, or Sonic the Hedgehog, or the Archie line, or manga. There are plenty of comics for kids out there...you just have to 1) cultivate the clientele (having a clean, organized, well-lit store is a step in that direction); 2) realize that kids probably will never return to reading superhero comics en masse;
and 3) carry the books kids do want. How many comic shops out there don't even bother with ordering Archies or Disney titles?

3. As Legomancer points out here, my warning to not do a search on "elfquest orgy" has had an ironic result...it appears I am the top search for "elfquest orgy" on Google. (Ringwood is #2...I'm not takin' the fall alone, buddy!)

4. You know what other comic I don't get? Strangers in Paradise. Is it a romance? Is it a super-spy story? Is it a domestic comedy? Is it fakey-lesbian tomfoolery? Is it a support mechanism for the kind of poetry you really shouldn't be writing once you're out of middle school? If you're a fan, more power to you, and the trades usually sell consistently for us, but every time I look at the comic, I really have no idea what kind of story Terry Moore is trying to tell. I'm sure it's all well and good (except for that poetry), but again, I get the "reading someone else's mail" feeling whenever I crack open the covers on this title.

5. Happy birthday to pal Tom!

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