mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, October 30, 2004

this fellow is gettin' hitched today, so I'll be at the wedding festivities along with a few of my fellow ACAPCWOVCCAOE members. While I'm doing that, maybe some of you can go enter some contests:

Ed at The Low Road is giving away a copy of Adam Sacks' Salmon Doubts. Details here; ends Oct. 31st.

The Peiratikos are offering up copies of Scott Pilgrim, a Scott Pilgrim T-shirt, and an original watercolor by creator Bryan Lee O'Malley. Details here; ends Nov. 5th.

Shane at Near Mint Heroes is giving away a Walking Dead trade and a 24 Hour Comics trade. Details here; ends Oct. 31st.

And, what may be my favorite current contest...Tim at The Hurting wants you to insult him! Best insult (as judged by Tim's wife) could win the DC Comics Encyclopedia (yes, that new one, the forty buck one), a copy of Warren Ellis' Come in Alone, or Andi Watson's Breakfast After Noon. Details here; ends Nov. 10th.

In non-contest news, a big ol' THANK YOU goes out to Scott Saavedra for posting a swell Swamp Thing drawing on his site. Scott's fanzine Comic Book Heaven was one of the inspirations for this weblog of mine, and it's good to see his love of comic history's bizarre moments continuing on his own weblog. If you haven't checked it out, really, go take a look.

Friday, October 29, 2004

1. Thank you for your
web-comics suggestions...I've not had a lot of time for the weblogging over the last few days, but I'll hopefully be back up to speed next week and be able to check out all the sites you all have pointed out.

2. Found via pal JP - a supposed one-sheet for James Cameron's unproduced Spider-Man film. I get the feeling that this item has been relisted several times (and with a minimum bid of $675, it's no surprise), given that one of the lines in the description is "Only a few days untill the Spiderman 2 movie with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst opens!"

3. This week's Smallville...okay, Lionel Luthor and Clark Kent switch brains, which is a groaner of a premise, but the execution was a lot better than it had any reason to be. Yes, it was yet another Kryptonian artifact that triggered the change, but the look on Lionel-as-Clark's face as he discovers the powers that body holds was a laugh-out-loud moment, even as you go "oh, crap." And seeing him using Clark's body to sexually assualt/tease Clark's female friends and family was just downright creepy.

4. Ken at Ringwood does his overview of the Comicsweblogosphere as part of his larger criticism of comics weblogging in general. (Neilalien, Johnny Bacardi, and I will survive the coming apocalypse, apparently. Well, I'm hoping!) I thought about responding to it at length (but then again, when do I respond to anything not at length?) with my own views on comics weblogs; I think, instead, I'll sum it up with how I view weblogs: it's like reading a big ol' fanzine, where all the writers complement each other...everyone's got something unique to contribute.

And I wouldn't want Milo George to change in the slightest.

4a. Rick Geerling refers to me and my ACAPCWOVCCAOE pals as The West Coast Avengers - and, like I told him, as long as we're not referred to as The Great Lakes Avengers, that's jake with me.

5. Found via Metaphorge - Neil Gaiman's Endless, in LEGO form.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

First off, my condolences to the friends and family of Golden Apple's Bill Liebowitz,
who passed away Wednesday morning. I've met him only on a couple of occasions, when he had popped into our store to say hello, but he was always nice to me. Again, best wishes to his loved ones. Mark Evanier also has a nice tribute to the man, along with a fun photo that, as Mark says, Bill would have appreciated.

Now, to new comics day (SPOILERS may follow):

Okay, let's deal with that elephant in the living room first...yes, Green Lantern Rebirth #1. (Ken, avert your eyes!) I feel sorry for anyone for whom this is their first comic (though, as pal Dorian told me earlier when I made this observation, this is no one's first comic)...the sheer weight of continuity would be more than anyone (other than experienced fanboys like myself) could take.

Okay, I just deleted a whole long essay I was writing here about how all those years ago, they screwed up the transition of Green Lantern from Hal to Kyle Rayner (and how this sort of thing can be done well - see Barry Allen/Wally West), and how the writer of this mini-series Geoff Johns has a long way to go to get Jordan back to full hero status, untainted by the evil deeds of his (Jordan's, not Johns' -- that I know of) past. But, really, it's nothing you haven't heard before. So, in short...while I appreciated how Johns dealt with the Silver/Modern age Hawkman's screwed up continuity (solution - skip over that Hawkman entirely, bring back the Golden Age Hawkman), it looks like Johns is going to be going over Jordan's history pretty thoroughly, knocking out the dents and polishing the chrome. He's got a long way to go, though...this first issue is just setting up the pieces, so I don't know where he's going just yet. There is a nice confrontation between John Stewart and Batman regarding Stewart's opinion on why Bats doesn't like Hal...and there's a good scene right near the beginning where Hal (who's still the Spectre, remember) can't get away from his Spectral duties even when he's just briefly trying to relax at a ball game. And it all sure is done up purty, with art by Ethan Van Sciver.

And in case you're wondering...yes, we sold out at our store (though granted, we probably didn't order as many as well should have). Only one multiple copy sale that I know of (to a mail order customer, who regularly gets extra copies of some titles for friends of his, so that wasn't unusual). If you didn't get a copy, don't worry...DC is reprinting, and those people who bought 10 or 20 copies (why???) will almost certainly be unloading them on the eBay right quick.

Other new arrivals:

At long last, The Complete Peanuts 1953-4 has arrived in our store, and it looks just as beautiful as the first volume. The characters are slowly transitioning into their more familiar forms, but still different enough to look slightly odd to those of us more accustomed to their modern appearances. I haven't had much of a chance to do more than read a few pages...the introduction by Walter Cronkite is as well-done as you'd expect, and a note at the end of the book details some of the production difficulties in assembling strips for this volume (some source materials were less than optimal, which translates into a few strips being not as perfect and clear as others). Still, nicely done, and I'm sure I'll be anxiously awaiting the next volume as soon as I'm finished with this one.

WE3 #2 - Morrison and Quitely's tale of three cyborg-animal weapons looking for home is as grotesque as it is heartbreaking. Seeing what these animals can actually do once faced with a threat is downright terrifying. Seeing 1 say "GUD DOG" (and later, "BAD DOG") is emotionally distressing. Certain superhero comics only wish they were this involving.

JLA #107 - if you've been avoiding this title for, oh, the last year -- come back! It's safe now! Kurt Busiek has taken over the writing, and it's a promising start. J'onn J'onnz and the Flash are on duty in the JLA HQ, doing security checks, monitoring threats (not that there really are any), and tending to an old villain, the Construct. (If memory serves, Busiek also featured the Construct in an old Red Tornado mini-series...he must like that character!) The issue also follows up on situations from the JLA/Avengers mini-series, which makes that series officially a part of (at least) DC continuity. One thing about that cover, though...Batman's huge!

Others: Demo #11 (good as usual, funny and depressing, as slackers realize slacking is not a good career option), Adam Strange #2 (goodness, this is a gorgeous book...Pascal Ferry is doing a great job, and writer Andy Diggle ain't doing a half bad job either), Planetary #21 (another mind-bender), Hellblazer #201 (felt like an old Jaime Delano story...group of people get mixed up in magic they don't understand, pay a terrible price -- all remarkably understated, considering), and Flash #215 (Johns dips into late-70s/early-80s Flash continuity - maybe he can bring back Colonel Computron next!).

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Okay, I probably won't post too many
audio messages on this here site, but I figured telling you all how to pronounce ACAPCWOVCCAOE was reason enough to do at least one. Anyway, after seeing how much fun The Real Sam Johnson was having with his audio posts, I couldn't resist.

Other site news: I plan on making a few organizational changes to my sidebar, and you may have noticed one change already. Instead of having every quote listed under "What Other People Are Saying About MSPR," they now rotate, changing every time you reload the page (like my "...since 1969" quotes at the top). It took me darn near forever to figure out how to do it and include clickable links (i.e. it took me forever to figure out the right combination of search terms to Google up the javascript I needed), so if it doesn't display right for you, or if it causes some kind of crash or error, or if it makes your computer catch on fire, let me know.

I also plan on listing comic strips and webcomics in the sidebar as well, just to make it easier on me to keep up on the ones I like. Alas, I don't read a whole lot of webcomics...any good ones out there I should know about?

Because I know you all were wondering.... 

Monday, October 25, 2004

"Here comes Swampmania." 

Add this to your "will never show up on CD, ever" collection - the Swamp Thing movie soundtrack composed by Harry Manfredini. Track titles include "Ferret Meets The Swamp Thing," "Swamp Thing to The Rescue," and the heartbreaking "Swamp Thing's Farewell." The best song title is "Airboats, Guns, and Grenades," which movies quite frankly don't have enough of nowadays.

The front of the album cover features that great movie poster illustration by Richard Hescox, while half of the back cover is taken up by an extensive essay by the film's co-producer Michael Uslan (who went on to work on another comic-based movie or two). He details the history of the Swamp Thing character, as well as the efforts made in translating the character to the big screen. Most tantalizing (for me, at least) is this paragraph near the end of the essay:

"Coinciding with the world premiere of Swamp Thing in Charleston, South Carolina, the location of the filming, related books and merchandise will be hitting stores all over the world. Tor Books is publishing the movie novelization by Len Wein and David Houston, as well as a paperback reprinting the first three original Wein & Wrightson comic books. From Eclipse Enterprises comes the official souvenir program book which sells in the theatres as well as in comic book specialty shops, the illustrated Wes Craven screenplay, and an art portfolio book of scenes from the film as rendered by fandom favorite Paul Gulacy. A children's hardcover book detailing the movie make-up of Swamp Thing will be forthcoming from Crown. A poster fold-out magazine will be published in addition to the great new monthly Swamp Thing comic book series from DC Comics. DC also has the Swamp Thing Annual #1, which is a comic book adaptation of the film. Meanwhile, keep a look out for Swamp Thing bubble gum cards, sleepwear, Halloween costumes, toys, games, T-shirts and (believe it or not) underwear! All this and a Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning cartoon series too. Here comes Swampmania."

Okay, some of those I have already, but I don't believe I ever saw the trading cards, and I think I'm lucky the underwear never came out (I'd have a hard time explaining why I had those in the collection). I'm also fairly certain the Crown book on the make-up was never released...I wonder how much of the merchandise was held back or outright cancelled once the licensors saw the film.

Another vaguely Swamp Thing-related record release is this 1986 45 RPM single by the Chameleons (b/w with the David Bowie cover "John, I'm Only Dancing"). While the lyrics to the song might only be tangentially related to the comic character (if you kind of squint a bit), the song itself is quite moody and fitting to the tone of the comic. The song is available on the Strange Times CD (and you can hear a sample here)

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Today at work:

Kid Chris: "There should be a Sexy Men of Comics Retailing calendar!"

Me (miming picking up said calendar): "'Hey, why is this calendar only two months long?'"

Anyway, today at the shop was very busy, with lots of people passing through and buying lots of things (including lots of people I've not seen before, not to mention several children), and pal Dorian will be glad to know that
his Halloween display did its job. Oh, and I was also playing these CDs on the store stereo, so everyone was in a good, Halloweeny mood.

In other news:

Found via Milo George's site, it appears that writer (and former Comics Journal editor) Tom Spurgeon now has a website of his very own: The Comics Reporter. Looks exceptionally promising, and it already has a ton of content to check out...so go do so, already! (And how a great domain name like that went unsnagged for so long is beyond me.)

I finally got around to watching last week's Smallville, guest-starring "The Flash" - nicely done, with plenty of in-jokes for comic fans* which, thankfully, didn't derail the story for the non-comics fans that presumably comprise the vast majority of the show's audience. Also, this episode had one of the few logical uses of the Matrix-esque "bullet time" slow motion effect, when Clark encounters Bart Allen at super-speed. I also thought the lightning-effects on Bart when we was using his powers was a nice touch.

An interesting side effect of this episode...
pal Dorian pointed out to me yesterday that we seem to be having a few more people asking about Flash comics at the store over the last few days, since the show aired.

Also yesterday, I had a father and his young daughter come in looking for Tinkerbell comics (I'm assuming for a Halloween costume). Well, the two Tinkerbell comics I knew about (two issues of Dell's Four Color Comics series) were out of stock, so I turned to the extremely valuable Inducks Disney Comics Database, since that would probably be easier than going through our four boxes of Walt Disney's Comics and Stories and looking through each issue individually. One of the odd things I discovered while running this search...Tinkerbell seemed to appear in stories with Chip 'n' Dale an awful lot. I really can't think of any explanation why, aside from they're all about the same size.

For some reason, finding any of the assorted Peter Pan characters outside of their original context always seems a little strange to me. Captain Hook turned up as the villain in various non-Pan Disney comics on a regular basis...Dorian mentioned to me a story where Hook appears as an 1800s riverboat captain, which made my brain go afhadjklsfjakldas. And if I'm reading this listing correctly...the Seven Dwarves encounter Captain Hook? Oh, man.

* Somebody somewhere on the comicsweblogosphere had a rundown of the in-jokes in this episode, but I don't remember where I saw it...please let me know if you remember where it is (or if you are the one who did it), so I can add the link to this entry!

EDIT: That list may be found here.

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