mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Friday, January 21, 2005

Suddenly, for no reason, a Warp Graphics promo poster:

So, among the many boxes of back issues we have on our shelves, we have a few that contain miscellaneous titles from the '80s to the present - titles that only ran an issue or two, or were the only title from its publisher, or (usually) both. Essentially, titles that don't have homes anywhere else in the other back issue boxes.

Anyway, the boxes for these particular comics were getting a little too tightly packed, and as I was adding another box and moving some of the comics around to loosen things up a bit, a sad thought stuck me.

I stopped what I was doing and paged through a comic that released one whole issue in the late '80s, and was, in fact, the only release from this publisher. "This comic," I thought, "represented someone's dream...someone put a lot of time, effort, and money into this, and probably thought it was the beginning of something big. And, now, all it turned out to be is yet another forgotten comic in a plastic bag in an old comic box."

Well, okay, my thoughts weren't that coherent -- they were more like "we're stuck with this stupid comic forever" -- but it still saddened me to think someone put all their hard work into something that's essentially lost. (Unless they have cases of unsold copies in their garage that they're still pawning off on friends and neighbors.)

I think that way sometimes about older comics, ones from the off-brand companies from the Golden and Silver age that are highly unlikely to ever be reprinted. For example, that
Spunky the Monkey story...it was fairly clever, it was appealingly drawn, and it's totally forgotten except by sad old fanboys like me who happens to enjoy vintage funny animal comics.

None of the above applies to the approximately 7,000 worthless Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rip-offs and Dark Knight parodies that plagued the '80s. Most of those deserve to be forgotten.*

Your disturbing Batman image for the day. Oh, heck, have another.

* I said most - I know that there were a very, very small handful that were actually pretty good, Mark Martin's Gnatrat being the best of them.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Star Wars, new comics, and Mike freaks out. 

Here's a old store story I was reminded of yesterday:

Several years ago, we had two cases of the oversized Star Wars movie adaptation treasury edition (technically, Marvel Special Edition Featuring... #1). I don't remember rightly how we got stuck with those turkeys, but we had 'em, and we were trying to get rid of 'em. We put a big stack of them on the counter, put a sign on them that read "25 cents each," and hoped for the best.

One day, I get a phone call:

Caller: "Hi! I recently damaged a friend's copy of a Star Wars comic, and I wanted to buy a replacement."

Me: "Oh, sure, which one was it?"

Caller: "Star Wars #1...it's really big, bigger than a normal comic."

Me: "Yeah, we got those...they're a quarter each."

Caller: "Uh, no, this is number one, it's a Star Wars #1, the large sized one."

Me: "Yes, I know, it's the oversized Star Wars #1. We got 'em. We got a lot of them. It's 25 cents."

Caller: "This is the Star Wars #1, it says Special Edition across the top. I don't think it's the same thing."

Me: "That's the exact same thing we have here. I swear to you, it's only a quarter. We're trying to get rid of them."

Caller: "But it's the collectible first issue."

Me: "They printed a ton of them...we have lots, and we don't want them. I promise you, it's the same thing you're talking about, and we're selling it for only a quarter."

Caller: "Um, okay, thanks anyway."

And that was that. I probably should have said, "oh, wait, I misread the price tag, it's actually $25" - that would have been less grief in the long run.

Before you ask...no, they're all gone now. Yup, only at a quarter each. We were also selling an overload of copies of All-New Collectors' Edition #C56 (the Superman vs. Muhammad Ali issue*) at fifty cents a pop. Makes you sick now, doesn't it? It does, me.

Anyway, I told you all that since I don't have a lot to say about new comics day - the Hellblazer: All His Engines hardcover was actually pretty good, though I don't see the reason for the hardcover treatment (aside from the forthcoming movie). We don't really learn anything new about the characters, there's a slight change in the status quo for Chas (though it could easily be ignored), and basically it's just a longer Constantine tale. Plus, I believe those are pages from the Hellblazer Secret Files reprinted in the back, detailing Constantine's history for the newcomer, at whom this book is presumably aimed.

Oh, and Adventure of Superman #636 continues to build upon situations from everyone's favorite mini-series event Identity Crisis, in way that's sure to tick off all the people who weren't ticked off before.

Plastic Man #14, more than any other issue in this series, felt like an animated cartoon. It's Plastic Man versus a mouse, and it's page after page of mostly wordless man-against-rodent hijinks. It does read very quickly, but it's a lot of fun, and Kyle Baker's art is always a joy to look at.

Invincible #19 came out this week, and this is the one series that I wait for the trade on. I think the industry will survive if I follow just one comic in TPB format only. Well, the books are attractively done, I like the extra material included, and the price is right. I'm really tempted to peek inside...but no...must...be...patient.

Demo Scriptbook - an attractive package, as we've come to expect from AiT/Planetlar. I'm not a big "scriptbook" person myself, but I'm sure there are Demo fans out there who would enjoy this peek behind the scenes.

Comics Journal #265 - now, I've been reading this magazine for over 20 years now, and it's so weird to see names of people I know suddenly popping up in there. Pal Dorian last issue, pal Ian** this ish...it's freaking me out, man.

* I sure wish DC would reprint this...and reprint it nice and big, just like the original, to show off that great Neal Adams art. Yeah, the story's dopey, but by God it's gorgeous.

** Yes, Ian, I'm holding a copy for you.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

A few random new comics day thoughts... 

1. That Hanging Out With The Dream King book of interviews and discussions focusing on Neil Gaiman includes a visit with Shawn McManus, which is prefaced by a note that this is McManus' first interview since 1978. I just found that a little mind-boggling...not even Comics Interview ever got around to talking to the guy?

2. It occurred to me that the performance of the Elektra movie can be seen as the end result of a film that only comic fans go to see. I mean, even the talking zebra film did better....

3. I received a restock of an issue of the Stargate SG-1 color magazine, which has a banner across the top of the cover that reads something like "INSIDE! An exclusive excerpt from the new Stargate SG-1 novel!"

Of course it's "exclusive" to this mag...who else is going to run it, Redbook?

4. I'm only the #6 result on Google for Spunky the Monkey?

5. DON'T WORRY...I'll stop with the bold headlines. I thought they looked neat...but now that I have a page half-full o'them, it just looks cluttered to me.

6. I would post more tonight, but pal Dorian let me borrow his DVD of Wet Hot American Summer, and I'm gonna go watch it. I can always talk more about comics tomorrow!

Animal Crackers #9 (1959)

you demanded it!

Alas, Spunky the Monkey (discussed previously) does not appear inside, nor do any of the other characters on that cover. There's some Atomic Rabbit, and a couple of other features, but alas, it is Spunky-deficient.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Ah, so that's what the
real trailer for the Fantastic Four movie looks like.

Well...it looks like it might be marginally better than what I was expecting. It looks like a dumb movie with lots of explosions and (I'm guessing) hokey dialogue, but the effects seem to be pretty good. So, in all, your typical summer "blockbuster" film. It should do better than Elektra, anyway. I have home movies that have had bigger audiences than Elektra.

Mostly, I'm just hoping Fantastic Four doesn't suck completely for Michael Chiklis' sake. At the very least, I don't want to have to start referring to Roger Corman's version as "the good FF movie."

Also noticed: the site says the film opens July 1st, the trailer says July 4th. Hopefully they'll get that straightened out before I start standing in line.

(thanks to pal Jason for pointing out that the trailer was up...I completely forgot about it!)

CLARIFICATION: I hope no one looked at my semi-snarky comment from yesterday's post, regarding people not recognizing certain comic book characters, as being indicative of a "clubhouse mentality" at our shop. Believe me, I'm not down on people just because they don't know the intricacies of our business...I don't stand over them, arms crossed, saying in a haughty
Comic Book Guy voice "I believe you have called the winged Thanagarian warrior by the incorrect name of 'Birdman,' when it is, in fact, 'Hawkman' -- please leave my store." I'm just amused by it, and see it as an indicator of public awareness of certain characters.* That person who repeatedly looked at the Archie comic (the one where the "Archie" logo was in big red letters and took up a quarter of the cover) and called him "Richie Rich" still baffles me, however.

WEBBING BLISS: Spider-Man crashes a wedding (bottom of page)...as do some Stormtroopers. Hopefully not the same wedding.

MY COMICS WEBLOGGING OBLIGATIONS: DC Comics solicits are up...comics and merchandise:

Superman Vs. The Flash TP - I already have all the stories reprinted herein, but I appreciate that DC is still doing relatively inexpensive themed reprint books of its older material. In fact, I just recently reread the first two issues of DC Comics Presents, which are included in this volume, and, while nicely illustrated by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, the story doesn't make a lick of sense.

Identity Crisis #1-#7 final printings - oh, dear. Well, they are still selling fairly well for us right now, but I'm not sure how they'll being doing two to three months down the road when these reprints finally arrive.

The OMAC Project #1 - it's another spin-off from this year's Big DC Event, but the magic word "OMAC" is in the title, and I gotta give it at least a look.**

Solo #4 - I concur with esteemed weblogging collegue pal Ian: big book o'Chaykin? It's a must have. (And so is Columbia, Chaykin's Wildstorm offering.)

Bite Club TP - yup, more Chaykin...in a very reasonably priced ($9.99) paperback. That seems a bit odd for a one-off book (as opposed to the under-$10 volume 1s for Fables and Swamp Thing).

The Batman: Joker Maquette - I suppose someone somewhere likes the Joker's redesign for the Batman Strikes cartoon. Can't say I've met that person.

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Series One - is there something wrong with their thighs?

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH COMIC BOOKS: One of my favorite bands, Honest Bob And The Factory-to-Dealer Incentives, has a new album out, and you can listen to samples (and possibly even buy a copy) right here. Their highly recommended first album is also still available.

* Almost everyone recognizes Plastic Man, for example...but, given that most people who recognize him ask about Hula-Hula, clearly it's just because of the cartoon show.

** There used to be a large office building in our area with the acronym "OMAC" in giant letters on the building's side. Yes, I though of the Kirby character every time I saw it. How could I not?

Monday, January 17, 2005

Bits 'n' pieces. 

WE LOVE THE FREE COMICS: Now here's a contest! Alan David Doane, Slave Labor Graphics, Jim Rugg, and Brian Maruca are holding one whopper of a Street Angel giveaway!

RECOGNITION IS HARD: I've spoken before about how certain people will come into our store identify Green Lantern as Green Hornet, or look at a picture of Hawkman and call him Birdman. Okay, if you're just looking at a picture of the character, and you have no knowledge of comics, I suppose I can see why a person would do that. But, if you, a fully grown adult with (I'm assuming) reading skills, pull up an old Archie comic, with the huge logo reading "ARCHIE" across the top of the comic in full view, and you say, repeatedly, "oh, look, it's Richie Rich" -- I don't know how to react to that.

A while back, I was reading a Stephen Baxter novel (Titan, I think), and I had someone get a good look at the cover and say, "oh, reading Star Trek, huh?" Apparently anything space-related is from Star Trek. I believe this is a condition related to the "Archie/Richie Rich" incident...a condition called "we don't care about your stupid interests...why don't you watch sports like a normal person."

WE MUST STOP THE INTERNET: Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers fan fiction. Some stories are rated "R" for violence. No slash, I think. I hope. (via Portal of Evil)

WE LOVE THE SILLY COMICS: Action Comics #393 (Oct. 1970) features the story "The Day Superboy Became Superman" -- no, no, he doesn't become a man that way.* In short, Clark Kent is a student at Metropolis University, and as Superboy he's continually putting the smackdown on underprivileged people who keep sneaking onto the school to cool off in the pool, steal food, and so on. They're only doing so out of need, but Superboy sees it only as breaking the law, and treats the perps as such. A student activist named Marla is riding Superboy about how he's treating these poor people:

"Look at this miserable slum, Superboy! While you're preventing catastrophes on remote worlds, who prevents disaster in your own back yard? When will you do something for these people?"

Superboy's response?

"You and your bleeding heart! I have more important things to do!"

Anyway, Marla's off-campus "school" (actually a condemned building) where she tries to help the poor is demolished while she's still inside, since she apparently didn't hear the heavy equipment approaching. Superboy arrives just in the nick of time to listen to her dying words:

"The kids...my students...there'll be no one to teach them now...to educate them for a better life! ...Promise me you'll help them..."

Guilt trip in hand, Superboy decides to go into action. He smashes down a row of abandoned buildings, and begins to build a brand new school at super-speed. However, even as the poor people in this slum area cheer Superboy's efforts, he has some qualms:

"They're applauding my super-feat! But is that all Marla wanted? Didn't she tell me I've got to stop acting like a Superboy and start thinking like a Superman?"

He stops the rebuilding, and tells the crowd "I could have rebuilt the entire slum area..."

Several months later, after construction on the school is completed, a dedication ceremony is held. As the school, and the Superboy statue in front of the building, is about to be dedicated in Superboy's honor, the Young Adult of Steel interrupts. Using his super-strength and his super-sculpting skills, Superboy remolds the statue into the likeness of Marla:

"...Who gave her life for the children of the slums -- and who helped Superboy become Superman!"

And, presumably, there was much snickering by the audience after that, until they realized that probably wasn't what he meant.

* You'll have to see DC Super-Stars #12 (Feb 1977), "Don't Call Me Superboy," for that! And it's with a woman brainwashed by a Kryptonian robot, no less.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Pop Culture Junk Mail, I found links to PCJM's webmaster's other weblog on MSNBC, where favorite (and not-so-favorite) comic strips are being discussed.

Also via Test Pattern, the MSNBC.com weblog, I found this old article about Calvin & Hobbes creator Bill Watterson. I know we've all seen it before, but it's still fascinating reading...and it has me wondering as to the extent of Watterson's involvement in the forthcoming complete C&H collection.

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