mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Friday, February 11, 2005

In which Mike finds another meme to get behind, and has a question for you, too. 

Now this is something else...inspired by Fred Hembeck's wonderful cartoons (under February 10th), Alan David Doane posted his awe-inspiring image featuring his own list of 100 things he loves about comics. (And I'd like to say thanks to ADD for including my little ol' site on there.)

Anyway, I thought that was such a good idea, I'm gonna steal it. Well, maybe not the "image for every entry" part (the bandwidth, the bandwidth!), but a full-on list of 100 things that I love about comics, posted on the most appropriate day possible, Valentine's Day. Look for it on Monday...and I hope everyone else on the comicsweblogosphere chimes in with lists of their own.

Yes, I know, the fella what hates the "memes," encouraging others to participate in one. "Irony sense...tingling!"

Of course, the challenge is to make my list distinct from ADD's, as it appears we like a lot of the same things. Though how anyone can prefer the first Superman/Spider-Man team-up to the second.... (Oh, I'm only kidding!)

We received this Flash poster by Michael Turner on Wednesday, which got me thinking two things: 1) why'd they go with that picture, when this Turner cover is much more striking (and actually shows the Flash running), and 2) when was the last time I actually had a comic book poster on my walls at home?

Well, it's been quite some time...more than ten years, at least, but the two comic posters I had on my walls were the Groo poster Marvel put out (the one with Groo fighting an army outside a castle...one of those huge, highly detailed crowd scenes Sergio Aragones excels at) and a group shot of the cast of Nexus, painted by Steve Rude. Oh, and there was a third that I had up for while...the movie poster for Comic Book Confidential (it looked like the image at the bottom right at this page). I can't find any online images of the first two posters, and I'm not entirely sure where my copies of the posters are (it was a few moves ago).

And, yes, I do have Swamp Thing posters, but I'm just lazy and haven't bought frames for them yet. Yes, frames, stop that snickering.

Anyway, all this meandering has brought me to my new Friday Question (here are the results to the last one):

Do you currently have any comic book posters on your walls at home? If so, which ones? Leave a comment...satisfy my nosy nelliness.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Boring weblog stuff. 

1. Lots of new comics weblogs popping up on the ol' Update-A-Tron 3000, so I imagine I'll be revising the sidebar there a bit in the very near future. Some definite additions: Two Dimensional, focusing on indie funnybooks; The Less Said The Better, by the mighty Don Simpson...yes, that Don Simpson; the fun and interesting Comic Book Wife; and the downright nutty SUPERFRANKENSTEIN (all capitals MANDATORY) by the esteemed Tom Peyer.

I may also have to start deleting some sites that appear to have been abandoned. A couple (like the much missed Grotesque Anatomy and the equally much missed Flat Earth) will stick around with the (ret.) tags, but there are a few that just seem to have dried up in short order, which is a shame. However, pal Sean is swearing up and down that he's got something new coming up, so watch his space for details.

2. I don't feel so bad about posting the music meme a few days back, if even Warren Ellis can get stuck doing it as well. I was beginning to wonder if anyone else in the online comics world had 20 gigs of MP3s on their hard drive....

3. I could reveal the identity of the person who brought this image to Franklin's attention, but said person would then probably kill me.

4. Why are some people so down on weblogs? What'd we ever do to anyone? God forbid people have a way to express their opinions on comics.

EDIT: 5. I've been fooling around with the comments form template (now with a PREVIEW button...thank God for that!), so if you run into any problems with the comments-thingie, let me know.

New comics. 

SPOILERS, maybe:

Oh, my...now this is comic of the week: Masked Commander. Picture, if you will, millionaire Bruce Wayne and his double-life as Batman. Now, picture Mr. Wayne as President Wayne, and that's what you've got here. The President of the United States, secretly the Masked Commander, taking on threats to America that normal political channels cannot. The first story is standard issue set-up stuff (with M.C. taking on his arch-nemesis Anarchy, with an origin flashback mixed in) - it's played completely straight, but it's all just goofy enough to make me want to see the second issue. The best part is the "Marvel Universe"-type full-page entries on M.C.'s friends and foes...I think the entry on the friendly femme fatale named "Foreign Affair" is what finally sold me. Honestly, you have to see this comic...check out the preview.

Mad Magazine #451 features the Constantine parody (which I suppose I'll enjoy more after I see the film itself), as well as Sergio Aragones' "A Mad Look at Cheating." Goon fans will want to know that Eric Powell provides a two-page video game ad parody ("Madison Avenue Smack Down!"). The Fundalini Pages section contains a "review" of The Anally Complete Peanuts, with a couple of sample strips that are just downright disturbing, in particular the one with Snoopy eating his own...well, anyway....

Grant Morrison brings us more of his inimitable nuttiness in the new Vimanarama mini-series from Vertigo...I'll let other people discuss the deep, hidden meanings of the text. I just want to say that I'm always happy to see comic book work from artist Philip Bond.

JSA #70 - isn't that a great cover? Dave Gibbons has managed to make one of the silliest costumes of the Golden Age look...well, still silly, but very nicely drawn.

I sure wish I can take a peek inside our copies of The Thrilling Comic Book Cover Art of Alex Schomberg, but alas, both the regular hardcover and the slipcased edition are sealed in shrinkwrap.

Lady Pep by Julie Doucet - I like Julie Doucet's comics, and read every issue of Dirty Plotte, but I think I'm going to have to pass on this collection of photos of her art pieces. It's a nice presentation in a handsome package, but it's still just pictures of everyday objects with drawings on them. Maybe I'm just a philistine who can't appreciate art, but it does nothing for me. Sorry!

Speaking of art, it's a good week for the porn comics, what with Housewives at Play and Menage a Trois and Alruane...why, you're spoilt for choice, you are. I should note that the artist on Alruane is actually pretty good...I wonder if he's done any non-naughty work?

(EDIT: Leave it to pal Dorian and me to cover the dirty comics this week!)

We finally got in the new printing of Blankets. Hope people are still looking for copies.

During a discussion at work, somehow I managed to come up with the concept of "Ultimate Marvel Knights." Aaaaaah! Maybe it can be published by Marvel's Icon line! AAAAAAAH!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

What would H.P. Lovecraft say? (Yeah, we got these in stock today. How could I resist this cute little fella?)

Also...Young Avengers? Not as bad as you feared. Not ground-breaking, but no one ever said it had to be. If kids still read superhero comics (aside from the ones starring characters they've seen in movies) they'd probably enjoy it. And it's selling well, too...pal Dorian noted that everyone he helped at the register today had a copy. Let's see if they come back for issue #2.

Since Slave Labor released the first volume of Evan Dorkin's Bill 'n' Ted's Most Excellent Adventures last week, I thought I'd take a brief look back at the very first Bill 'n' Ted comic from 1989. Written by Bob Rozakis and illustrated by Mad Magazine's Angelo Torres, it's a straightforward adaptation of the first film. It hits all the beats of the movie, but doesn't really add anything to the material...of course, it really suffers in comparison to Dorkin's fabulously-nutty adaptation of Bogus Journey. In addition, the art seems scratchy and rushed...Torres' carticatures are usually right on, but as a whole the production seems very rough.

I think this comic was only distributed in video stores, but I'm not 100% positive. I never saw it in the wild, having bought my copy from a convention bargain bin. It presumably was meant solely to advertise the video release, which kind of brings up a point that's been made several times before...that comic book movie adaptations are pretty much useless now. In decades past, once a movie was out of the theatres, your only chance to see it again was if it was rerun on television. A comic book adaptation served as your connection to the film, a reminder of all those great scenes in, say, The Boatniks, that you can relive in the comics' pages.

Now, with the DVDs and VCRs and 700 cable channels all you kids are into, comic book adaptations have lost that edge. When you can own the actual movie, or be pretty much guaranteed of catching it on cable sooner or later, why bother with actual reading? You can still sell movie adaptations to a limited extent, by getting it out before the movie* or releasing it in that brief** months-long window between the movie's theatrical run and its DVD release. The other way around this is by publishing comics based on the movie, featuring brand new stories starring the film's characters rather than just a straight adaptation.

The Bill 'n' Ted comic pictured above is just a disposable ad for the video...an interesting artifact of the film's cult popularity, but that's about it. It does have a rare George Carlin comic book appearance (if not his only one) so it does have that to recommend it.

Oh, and I have this other item...a postcard produced by the "Bill and Ted's Outstanding Past and Future Appreciation Society," a San Dimas-based B&T fan club:

The back reads:
"While future issues are as yet unobtainable by non-time travelling entities, current issues are on sale now at your local comics dealer! Ask for Bill and Ted's Excellent Comic Book, published monthly by the most triumphant personages at Marvel Comics!"

* I remember when Marvel got in a lot of hot water with Lucasfilm by accidentally releasing the comic adaptation of Return of the Jedi prior to the film's debut, thus spoiling the surprises. Now, though, the Dark Horse Star Wars adaptations are released ahead of the movies. Apparently it's not the problem it used to be.

** Very brief, in
Elektra's case.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Someday, I will look like this man. 

from Kendor El Hombre del Tibet #80 (February 1980) by Daniel Munoz & Joel Kuri Garcia

Huh, hadn't heard about this: the fan film
Losing Lois Lane - a depressed Superman crashes with Jimmy Olsen and begins to overstay his welcome. The opening credits alone challenge the very meaning of "fair use."

The official site for the folks behind the film can be found here.

Logan at
House of the Ded is giving away a run of Marvel's recent Loki mini-series...go here for details.

I remember when I first heard about the Loki mini-series, mostly through Marvel's slightly excessive hype machine,* I figured we were looking at yet another unnecessary spinoff of a Marvel property that currently isn't really doing all that well to begin with. Well, surprise surprise, it actually turned out to be pretty good, nicely painted, and it sold well to boot.

I'm still kinda pleased with my interpretation of the ending of the series, if I may break my arm patting myself on the back for a moment.

(Kid Chris and I are processing some back issues at the shop on Sunday. Chris pulls up a copy of a Marvel MAX book....)

Kid Chris: "Hey, this cover makes it look kind of like a Vertigo comic!"

Me: "Yeah, well, one of Marvel's primary marketing strategies is 'consumer confusion.'"

Kid Chris: "Oh, you mean like Marvel publishing Identity Disc at the same time as DC's Identity Crisis?"

Me: "Sorta like that, yeah."

My favorite example of that particular strategy is this comic, which I'm sure wasn't inspired at all by this one.

* Though, as pal Dorian says, what's Marvel supposed to do..."oh, Loki's coming out, you may want to buy it if you happen to have an extra couple of bucks."

Monday, February 07, 2005

Found via
Memepool - a list of 100 Bad Mother F'ers, currently in progress. Pointed out here due to the number of comic-book related entries...though the very first entry, the non-comic related #100, is my absolute favorite so far.

1. This new case picked up by the CBLDF (Tom Spurgeon gives us the
coverage overview) hopefully will be seen as the one-time oversight that it certainly is (and accidents do happen) and not as part of a pattern of distributing naughty books to kids. We try to be really careful about this at our own store, erring on the side of caution, insisting parents look through certain comics before buying them for their children. That said, I'm still glad we have several lawyers and a D.A. as customers!

2. The real name of The Simpsons' Comic Book Guy is revealed here...and it's not Louis Lane. Rats.

3. I don't have a silly comics overview today, but Chaosmonkey does. The 1987 Fantastic Four Vs. The X-Men mini-series, given the treatment it most likely deserves...go check it out!

4. Your "ganked from Boing Boing" link of the day: "Superhero thugs captured on CCTV."

from Swamp Thing #73 (June 1988) by Rick Veitch & Alfredo Alcala

I thought this was a little amusing...Chester apparently pronounces Constantine's name incorrectly, with the last bit as "-teen," causing John to correct him. However, it's Chester's pronunciation that's being used in
the film, according to the movie trailers.

I think this was the only time the pronunciation of Constantine's name was addressed in the comics...pal Cully mentioned to me on Sunday that he thought he came across a similar scene in Hellblazer, but I haven't yet tracked it down.

Don't worry, I'm not going to turn into "that guy" ("They said his name wrong! This film is a debacle, a debacle!"), and for all I know Veitch was the one guy at DC who thought John's name should be said this way, but I just thought I'd point it out. It amused me, anyway.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

That Comic Reader cover
I posted yesterday wasn't what I was planning on posting. I had scanned a page out of an old British Marvel hardcover annual a couple weeks back, and now I can't find the scan. And I can't rescan the page, because I've since sold the book on the eBay, and it's currently winging its way to the wild jungles of Canada. Well, rats.

Here's a conversation I have entirely too often at the shop:

Customer: "Hey, I have a Spawn #1. What do you sell it for?" (i.e. tell me how much my copy is worth so I don't have to buy a price guide to find out)

Me: "Well, I have a copy here in near mint for $15.00."

Customer: "That's it? When did the price drop?"

Me: "Well, I think we had copies at $18.00 for a brief period of time a while back, but for the most part it's been around $15.00."*

The customer will then proceed to tell me that he either thought it was worth a lot more or that he paid much more for a copy. It seems to be a common perception that Spawn #1 has to be a valuable comic, since it's a #1 (and we all know #1s always go up in value, he said sarcastically), it's an early Image comic, it's a comic with some visibility in the general public (thanks to the movie, cartoons, toys, etc.), and it's by Todd McFarlane (a distant second to Stan Lee in the realm of "comic creators non-comic fans may actually have heard of").

And though Spawn new issue sales are only a fraction of what they were (at least at our shop), back issue sales are still fairly brisk. Spawn #1 itself is not rare by any means, but it still has enough demand to keep its price range at that level. In fact, around here the only "rare" issues are the ones in the 40 to 70 range.

We've sort of been through the "I can't believe it's that cheap" thing before, with Superman #75 (the black-bagged "Death of Superman" issue). I can sort of see why people would be surprised at the pricing of this item (coincidentally, also between $15 and $18...at least until a recent slight jump in price), given that at the time of its release there was a lot of "panic" pricing. The most extreme price I heard was $200(!), and I'm sure there were even more outrageous examples than that. I've shocked plenty of people when I told them that we never sold it for more than $18 at our shop...and that wasn't until years after its release.

Did someone say Wildcat? Yes indeedy, someone's favorite superhero turned up on Justice League Unlimited last night for a surprisingly brutal half-hour. Then again, the episode was focused around an underground fighting arena, so the violence should be expected, but it was still tough going. TV Tome, as usual, has a fairly comprehensive overview of the episode.

* I know some people have way overpaid for graded 'n' slabbed copies of #1, but that's more the exception than the rule, I think.

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