mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, March 19, 2005


Barry (The Flash) Allen speaks inappropriately to a young comics fan:

...the Thing faces off against a space goalie (named, yes, "GAARD"):

...Peter David sneaks a dirty joke into a Popeye comic, that naughty man:

...and, once again, another moment with Cap and the Falcon:

1. Flash #268 (December 1978) by Cary Bates, Irv Novick & Frank McLaughlin
2. Fantastic Four #163 (October 1975) by Roy Thomas, Rich Buckler & Joe Sinnott
3. The Wedding of Popeye and Olive #1 (1999) by Peter David, Dave Garcia & Sam de la Rosa
4. Captain America #133 (January 1971) by Stan Lee, Gene Colan & Dick Ayers

Friday, March 18, 2005

Post fast, link hard, leave a beautiful website. 

A couple mostly positive reviews of advance screenings of Sin City, courtesy Greg and Ken. Ken reassures me that the film isn't as deadly boring as some of early previews would have indicated. Like I told him in his comments section, I'm still not sold on the spot-color usage (it looks silly and awkward to me), but I'm willing to at least give this movie a chance.

And, like I also told Ken, as long as the film does well enough to not kill our sales on the graphic novels, I'll be happy.

In a related story: Johanna links to a story on the ICV2 message boards about a retailer who was refused promotional Sin City posters, because that's not the audience the promotional company wants to cater to. Okay, aside from the fact that this is the audience that this film is aimed at (i.e. the audience that'll probably have have the most patience for this film)...well, a few weeks ago we received a bundle of Sin City movie posters from a promotional agency, so someone out there thinks that comic shops are okay places to advertise this flick. I don't remember if our posters are from the same agency that's mentioned in the article...I'll check the mailing tube when I return to the store. At any rate, not sending these posters to comic shops is foolishness, I think.

Congress investigates steroid use in comics.

Happy birthday to Logan!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Okay...this is the last time I'm doing this full rundown...a month's worth is enough, don't you think? (Here are entries
one, two, and three in the series...collect 'em all.) As always, just funnybooks...no mags, manga books, or graphic novels. Some titles may not be in your area, and vice versa.

ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #638 - Didn't we just have a Mr. Mxyzptlk story not that long ago? Not that I'm complaining...Mxy always seems to add some much needed fun to the Super-books. Plus...this is quite a different character from the malevolent being introduced in the mid-80s revamp. A lot more sympathetic, and a lot more interesting, than the sociopathic monster that they tried to force on us.

AFTERMATH BLADE OF KUMORI #4 - During the Wednesday morning unpacking panic, I took a half-glance at this cover and thought, for only a second, that it was Kabuki. And then I realized I could actually make sense of the cover, and thus it couldn't possibly be Kabuki.

ANGELTOWN #5 - Actually, I'm half-surprised DC didn't make this an ongoing series...though with the high-attrition rate new series have at the Big Two, you should probably make that "one-quarter surprised." Sold okay for us, but not great.

ASPEN SEASONS SPRING 2005 #1 - So after not getting any Michael Turner comics for weeks, we get two in one day?

BATMAN STRIKES #7 - I just can't get into this new animated version of Batman. It's just so...unappealingly designed.

BATTLE OF THE PLANETS PRINCESS #5 - I think once sales on a Battle of the Planets comic, even one starring the Panties...er, the Princess, can't warrant color interiors, it's probably time to just let the license rest.

BEST OF THE WEST #48 - So is there really any kind of cost advantage at printing this thing at digest size? I suppose there must be, giving the print run on this book has got to be at fanzine levels. I'm glad this book exists, but the smaller size...well, I was going to say it would hurt sales, but it's not exactly a blockbuster to begin with, is it? I imagine the audience for old Western reprints probably isn't too picky about the format, so long as it's readable.

BETTY & VERONICA #207 - For those of you longing for the days of naughty Archie comics, this issue brings you...Betty in her underwear. Yes, that's right, you heard me.

BIGFOOT #2 - It's Richard Corben, so it looks good...the first issue has had so-so sales at our shop, but once the Corben fans find out about it, I'm sure we'll sell through.

BIRDS OF PREY #80 - The only issues of this series I'd ever read were the Gilbert Hernandez ones, I'm afraid. Oh, and I watched that TV show...that was just like the comics, right? Okay, okay, actually this comic is doing quite well for us, and people seem to really like it, so I'm glad it's on the stands and doing well.

BLACK PANTHER #1 LTD ED VARIANT - So far, all of Marvel's reprin...er, "limited edition variants" have sold very well for us...whether it's people exciting about the newest popular series and they're trying to catch up, or if it's people buying these variants because "they'll be worth something someday" -- we seem to be getting a little bit of both at the store.

BLACK PANTHER #2 - Time to see if all the people who bought the first issue will come back for the second.

BRIAN PULIDOS LADY DEATH SWIMSUIT 2005 - Just when you thought you'd seen the last of these things. What is it with "swimsuit" editions of comics, anyway? When Amazing Heroes did it, it was a showcase of fun and funny art by a wide variety of cartoonists. Now, it's...well, it's all so serious and straightfaced..."look how beautiful our strong, independent female character is." I mean, honestly.

BRIAN PULIDOS LADY DEATH SWIMSUIT GRAVEYARD CVR 2005 - And it wouldn't be an Avatar/Lady Death book if there wasn't a variant. Sexy graveyard cover...ask for it by name!

BRIAN PULIDOS LADY DEATH SWIMSUIT WRAPAROUND CVR 2005 - See, it's ironic, since the swimsuit barely wraps around her! Ha! Now that's comedy!

BRIAN PULIDOS UNHOLY ADRIAN CVR #2 - Girls 'n' guns...what, in an Avatar book? The devil you say!

BRIAN PULIDOS UNHOLY WRAPAROUND CVR #2 - "Unholy wraparound, Batman!"

CABLE DEADPOOL #13 - So are people buying this book for the Cable, are they buying it for the Deadpool, or are they buying it for the wacky interplay between the two characters? (My vote's for Deadpool.)

CAPTAIN AMERICA #4 - So not long ago a brief internet brouhaha erupted over the fact that Captain America defended the French, which, as you might imagine, went over quite well with the kind of people who thought "Freedom Fries" was a good idea. I wonder how well this issue is going to sell, considering there are plenty of people out there looking for more reasons to get upset about stupid things that don't matter. (WARNING if you click on that link: like most comment sections attached to posts of a political nature, the signal-to-noise ratio is pretty bad.)

CATWOMAN #41 - Sales on this book bumped up when Paul Gulacy took over the art chores, and now that's he's off, sales are way down. Shame, really, because for the most part Catwoman has been (surprise surprise, considering the previous series) a quality book.

CVO COVERT VAMPIRIC OPERATIONS ROGUE STATE #5 - Here's one of the main reasons why I'm not doing this "every new comics overview" again after this week...I already said everything I had to say about this title last time, and I can't come up with anything else. Well, I suppose I could say the cover of this issue reminded me a little of Kelley Jones' work.

DIGITAL WEBBING PRESENTS #21 - All Zombie Issue! Bernie Wrightson cover (can't tell if it's brand new or an old sketch of his), plus it has the story "Citizen Zombie" by Eric Powell, so you Goon fans take note.

DONALD DUCK AND FRIENDS #326 - Still selling...not great, but not too badly either. Primarily to older fans, but some kids are picking them up, too.

EX MACHINA #9 - I think what I like best about the flashbacks in this series is that "The Great Machine's" superhero costume looks just as ridiculous as such a costume would look in real life. Oh, and that bit of business in the story about left-handers being forced into right-handedness...that happened to one of my grandmas. Could have happened to me, too, as a lefty myself, if they hadn't put an end to that nonsense. As it is, I use scissors with my right hand now since, as a kid, the only lefty scissors the schools ever had were those snub-nosed ones with the rubber-covered handles which invariably sucked. Well, that went on a tangent, didn't it?

EXILES #61 - Tying into the Age of Apocalypse series hasn't bumped up sales on these most recent issues, unfortunately. Maybe if the AoA "10th Anniversary" logo was slightly larger....

(EDIT - forgot one!): FANTASTIC FOUR FOES #3 - You know, we really don't see enough of the Super Skrull any more. It's nice to have him back again.

FATHOM #0 - Haven't we had a Fathom #0 before? After all the 1/2s and 500s and 1,000,000 and "Big Ted's Comics Emporium Special Limited Edition Foil Variant Fathom #0 (only 15,000 printed)," I can't keep track anymore.

FREEDOM FORCE #3 - "Hey, remember us? We were the superhero computer game until that Johnny-come-lately City of Heroes popped up!"

GI JOE MASTER & APPRENTICE VOL II BRASE CVR B #2 - G.I. Joe is just one of those comics that does nothing for me. That's a big sword on the cover, though.

GI JOE MASTER & APPRENTICE VOL II UDON CVR A #2 - Okay, you found me out, I got nothing. Here, go learn about the Elephant Bird...put your internet time to some good use, for once.

HOPELESS SAVAGES B-SIDES ALL FLASHBACK SP ONE SHOT - It's always so weird to see references to "b-sides" -- it's right up there with "rewind the tape" or "dial the phone" in the "English phrases racing to obsolescence" challenge. Yeah, I know, that says nothing about the comic itself...it's as charming and appealing as ever. Good stuff, sez I.

HUMAN RACE #1 - "Superhero adventure like you've never seen before!" it says across the top of the front cover...which is true, because a quick glance inside makes it look like a sci-fi adventure comic. I suppose DC is hedging its bets by trying to move it as a superhero book, to play it safe.

HUMAN TARGET #20 - Shame this series is on the chopping block, as it does okay, not great, for us...and the trades don't do badly either.

I HUNT MONSTERS VOL 2 #3 - Don't have much to say about this comic, but I'll point you to the preview on this page, where you can read it and leave a comment of your own right here (please use blue or black ink): _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

INCREDIBLE HULK #79 - I'm liking the story so far, but either word hasn't gotten around that Peter David is back on the book, or people have given up on the idea of a Hulk comic altogether, as sales have increased only slightly.

INVINCIBLE #21 - Didn't look inside...I'm killing the comics industry by only buying this in trades, so I'm trying to avoid looking at the single issues.

JACK SPADE & TONY TWO FIST #1 - Bad-ass beer-chugging penguin. There, now you have to see it, don't you?

JLA #112 - Still liking the Crime Syndicate stuff, still not really getting into the Qwardian stuff.

LIONS TIGERS & BEARS #2 - Eep. We really screwed up orders on this issue...we didn't even have enough for employees after pulling for the comic savers. And now it's on back order from Diamond. Well, that'll learn us.

LOVE & ROCKETS VOL 2 #13 - L&R is great and nutty, as usual...but I swear, that all-black cover picks up every possible fingerprint and dust mite and what have you. Also, I need to get our store added to that retailer map...I mean, we were the first store in the universe to carry the original self-published L&R, so we really should be on there! (And yes, I do have a copy of that original edition...I think there's one page in there that has never been reprinted anywhere.)

LUCIFER #60 - This is one of those Vertigo titles where we can't keep the trades in stock. They sell amazingly well...I swear I'm having to call in reorders on these things every week.

LULLABY WISDOM SEEKER #1 - I feel absolutely no urge whatsoever to discuss this book, or even crack open the cover, for some strange reason.

MANHUNTER #8 - The cover on this issue reminds me a bit of this cover.

MARVEL KNIGHTS 4 #16 - Pal Dorian's not talking about funnybooks this week, so I'm going to steal his observation...if you're going to do a "harder edged," continuity-light Fantastic Four comic presumably aimed at potential (and, as past performace has shown, mostly theoretical) new audiences brought in by the forthcoming movie, what three characters should you probably avoid using? Yes, that's right, Rama-Tut, Valeria, and Reed Richard's dimension-hopping pop. Guess who's in this issue?

MICKEY MOUSE AND FRIENDS #275 - You'd think a comic book starring freakin' Mickey Mouse wouldn't be a hard-sell, but we've had to cut our orders on this so low that we might as well not be ordering it at all. However (as usual), after months of not selling, suddenly we've experienced slightly increased demand for the title. But only slightly...and this is after several issues of this series just gathering dust.

NEXT EXIT #3 - I tried to come up with something to say about this comic...paged through it several times, even asked pal Dorian to contribute something about it...but no dice. It's manga-esque, it's in black and white, it has staples. I'm sorry...I'm sure it's good, and it has its fans, but it didn't really make any impact on me.

NOBLE CAUSES #8 - This comic has a real Astro City feel to it...it's probably one of those comics I should have been reading from the beginning, as it generally looks interesting.

100 GIRLS #4 - This is going to sell well as a trade, I think. The single issues have a small but loyal following at the shop, and the cartooning inside is appealing.

PANZER 1946 #5 - A quick flip through the comic gives me this impression: Girls, tanks, Nazis, planes, more Nazis, more planes.

PLASTIC MAN #15 - Sometimes you can just smell the scent of certain doom on some comics, can't you? The solicitation information tells you nothing, the book is a Big Two title that's bimonthly, it's actually good...all signs of impending cancellation. Oh, and this issue is the first "to be continued" story this series has seen in quite a while.

POISON ELVES HYENA #4 - Sells well to the fantasy role play gamers who don't otherwise read a lot of comics.

POWERPUFF GIRLS #60 - An interesting gimmick...the story features puzzles and brainteasers integrated into the narrative.

PVP #15 - I'm not much of a PVP fan, but it does get the occasional laugh out of me. Unfortunately, I hate hate hate this sideways format. The damn thing always flops off the shelves if someone as much as breathes too hard within the general area of the comic rack. Just print the strips a little smaller (it's not as if there's a lot of detail that'll get lost), print them three to a page, and release the comic in the more traditional format. (EDIT: Commenter Dan informs me that PVP is indeed going back to the traditional format. Kudos all around!)

QUESTION #5 - I think I like the idea that no one in the DC Universe really likes the Question all that much. Is this consistent with his characterization in the O'Neill series?

SABRINA VOL 2 #65 - Has making this comic manga-style tricked any kids anywhere into buying this comic? Hasn't really worked all that well here yet.

SHAOLIN COWBOY #2 - Don't worry, there's no 14-page-long panel in this issue. it's still another visual masterpiece by Geof Darrow. Oh, and there's a full-page ad for the forthcoming V for Vendetta movie in the back. That movie's not going to be any good, is it?

SHAOLIN COWBOY ALT CVR #2 - I think I saw this cover for about a second before someone bought it. I couldn't tell you what it looked like if my life depended on it.

SIMPSONS COMICS #104 - John Costanza, letterer supreme, pencils this issue. He's a fine cartoonist, and I wish we could see more of his work.

SPACE GHOST #5 - See, it's funny because it looks like Zorak is going to cram that scepter-thingie right up...well, anyway.

SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED #8 - Of the main Spidey titles, this one sells the most poorly...I think even the Marvel Adventures Spider-title sells better.

STAR WARS GENERAL GRIEVOUS #1 - I was completely convinced that for all the hype over this General Grievous character, we were only going to see him for a brief moment in the actual movie. You know, how Lucasfilm tried to make "Aurra Sing" from Episode I into the new Boba Fett, only to find out that, oops, practically no one gave a rat's butt. I'm still encountering people who weren't even aware that Aurra was in the first film. Hell, the E.T.s got more screen time than she did. Er, anyway, I guess Grievous is more of a major presence in this film, so, um, never mind.

STORMBREAKER SAGA OF BETA RAY BILL #3 - Beautiful cover on this book...it's designed after this John Buscema cover, but it's still darn eye-catching.

SUPERFIST AYUMI #3 - Hey, I'm a live and let live kinda guy...if you're into this sort of naughty book, that's fine with me. But it's still, you know, kind of peculiar.

TEEN TITANS #22 - That darn Legion/Titans crossover sucked me into this title, along with the "Future Titans" storyline that immediately followed. Crud. Anyway, Dr. Light pops up in this issue, fresh from that feel-good hit Identity Crisis, and, creepily enough, there are very brief moments where he's almost sympathetic in this story. He's a very bad person that has done unforgivable things, but has had unforgivable things done to him as well...a nice moral grey area for the heroes to be stuck in.

UDON DARKSTALKERS ALVIN LEE CVR A #4 - This is the cover with the girls, so it'll be the one that sells the best.

UDON DARKSTALKERS JOE VRIENS CVR B #4 - I hate to sound like a broken record, but I really don't like it when Diamond invoices titles like this. It should go under "D" -- "D"!

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #74 - Say what you will about this book...but it's nice to see a creative team remain more or less consistent on a comic for this long. Has Bagley missed any issues of this series?

ULTIMATE X-MEN #57 - Pal Dorian and I have been noticing a slight decline in sales for the Ultimate Spidey and Ultimate X-Men books...even the trades have slowed to almost no movement. The bloom may be coming off the rose.

ULTIMATES 2 #4 - Oh, good, three Ultimate titles in one week. This issue of Ultimates finally starts getting down to business regarding Thor and his origins: either he's nuts and just thinks he's the God of Thunder, or he really is the honest-to-goodness Thor. His origin, as related in this issue, explicitly states that it's one of those options, but I'm still thinking it's going to turn out the other option will be the truth.

ULTRA #8 - Another low key superhero title (similar to Astro City or Invincible) that I probably should have paid more attention to from the start. Ah, well, there's always the trade!

UNCANNY X-MEN #457 - I keep noting that I really enjoy Alan Davis' work on this title, and I'm probably the one person on the planet that likes his redesign for Marvel Girl. But, no, I really don't have any other incentive to read any more Claremont X-Men.

WILD GIRL #5 - Is anyone else reading this comic? (I mean, aside from pal Dorian.)

WOLVERINE #26 - Well, the John Romita Jr. art is pretty.

WOLVERINE SILVESTRI VARIANT CVR #26 - Wolverine choking Nick Fury while falling from a plane, and Fury pressing guns against Wolvie's temples. This is a fetish for someone.

WONDER WOMAN #214 - Hey, who got Flash subplots in my Wonder Woman com...oh, never mind. Oh, and this issue and the first Flash part of the crossover are sold out from DC, apparently.

X-MEN AGE OF APOCALYPSE #3 - Maybe making this weekly wasn't such a good idea. Sales have slowed down a bit...but I still think this will do well as a back issue for some time to come.

YOUNG AVENGERS #1 DIRECTORS CUT - I really wish Marvel would either 1) cut these out, or 2) just make these the initial edition.

YOUNG AVENGERS #2 - I've said it before...this is actually a pretty good book. Yes, you have to get around names like "Hulkling," but it all works in context, I swear.


Okay, that's that. Back to reasonably shorter new comics day overviews next week.

Oh, and Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

image from this page

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Okay, now I've been avoiding buying Back Issue, yet another in the Twomorrows line of comics history/interview mags, since, well, trying to plow though Alter Ego each month is enough of a challenge without adding another similar mag to the readin' pile. However, I'm weakening...a Back Issue from a couple months ago had an article or two on Swamp Thing, and I'm sure most of you out there know how I like the Swamp Thing.

And the new issue, #9, is out today...well, here's a quick rundown of the issue's contents:

An interview with Mike Baron and Steve Rude about working on Nexus

- A publishing history of Grimjack

- Sketch pages by Gil Kane

- An in-depth look at Marvel's Star Wars comics

- Another interview, this time with Jim Starlin and Mike Mignola on their DC mini-series Cosmic Odyssey

- The Greatest Stories Never Told: DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths follow-up, Crisis of the Soul!

Goodness me, I had to buy this issue.

Also out today is the third volume of It's Science with Dr. Radium, cartooned by
this fine fellow. Enjoy this preview if you need some convincing. I read most (if not all) of this stuff as it was coming out originally, and, let me assure you, it's mighty funny.

Oh, and a lot of funnybooks came out today, too...I'll discuss 'em all tomorrow. Hoo, boy.

And while I'm at it: dear Credit Card Machine gods...please stop making our card reader lose its programming for no good reason whatsoever during one of our busiest shopping days of the week. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Yeah, more Star Trek stuff. Sorry. 

I should point out that Tom of Comics Ate My Brain posted his own thoughts on Star Trek's future a couple days ago. As to the likely resistance to recasting the original trio of Kirk, Spock and McCoy that Tom mentions...my idea of a new animated series could probably get around that, casting voice-a-likes should any theoretical animated series go in that direction. (Ideally, the cartoon I'm sorta envisioning would go in an entirely new direction, with new characters, in an attempt to give the franchise a fresh start.) The hardcore Trek fans would probably object, but as has been noted by others in the past, those are the people you need to ignore in order to kickstart the franchise again with a potentially wider audience.

Oh, and to clear things up a bit since, as Rick correctly notes, I didn't exactly pin down my feelings about First Contact: I think it's great. It's fast-paced, a lot of fun, and has a more natural sense of humor (as opposed to some of the forced humor of the later films). In fact, the DVD is on "pause" right now in the other room while I take a short break to type up this post.

In fact, I like all the Trek movies (yes, even this one)...I'm just a big ol' Trek nerd at heart. I've been buying these "collector's edition" DVDs as they've been coming out, and they really are something else...the text commentaries that run in conjunction with the films are a particular favorite feature of these new releases.

I've been avoiding the season releases of the multiple TV series as those are a bottomless pit I'd just as soon not fall into...especially since there's about a five minute gap between each new set arriving on the shelves. I may someday get the Classic series, since there are only three sets of those, and really, Trek never got much better than its original incarnation. I like the other series, but I don't need to own every single episode...maybe once they perfect the "DVD on Demand" technology, so I can buy only the episodes I want on individually-manufactured discs, I'll start picking up some of those Next Generations I really liked.

Okay, that's enough nerd talk...I'm back to comics tomorrow, I promise! ("...He said with absolutely no ironic self-awareness whatsoever.")

Special thanks to commenters
Bob and Tim for providing additional information on cover dates and newsstand distribution!

Your "Wow! Wish I'd thought of that" link of the day: Filing Cabinet of the Damned's overview of comic publishing lines of yesteryear. I don't necessarily share all his opinions (I'm a little more favorably inclined toward early Valiant comics, for example) but still, nicely done.

New DVD releases today: The Incredibles is out, with a remarkably short turnaround between theatrical release and home release. I still haven't seen it, but I think I'll add it to the Netflix queue and give it a go.

Also out is the new "collector's edition" DVD of Star Trek: First Contact, which is generally among Trek fans' top three films of the series (along with Star Trek V: Hey, Didn't We Rocket-Boot Past The Same Deck Twice? and Star Trek I: A Three-Hour Tour).

The only reason I really bring up the Star Trek disc is that it reminded me of a conversation I had with fellow comics emporium worker Kid Chris the other day. I was mentioning that I'd like to see the Star Trek animated series on DVD someday, when it suddenly came to me - HOW TO SAVE STAR TREK:

Give it to the people who do the Star Wars: Clone Wars cartoon.

This may be the only way, at this point in the franchise's history, to get new blood (i.e. kids) interested in Trek, since the primary Trek fanbase is 1) giving up on the TV shows and movies, or 2) dying off. The Clone Wars cartoon has apparently inspired kids to start seeking out the ancillary Clone Wars merchandise, including the comics...something I didn't see too much of during the runs of Episodes I & II. Maybe a new Star Trek cartoon may have the same effect.

Hell, can't hurt.

Just noticed that the DC soliciations are up. C'mon, who's not going to want a Joker in a Santa hat action figure for Christmas?

Monday, March 14, 2005

Archie's T.V. Laugh-Out #100 (April 1985) - art by Dan DeCarlo

Thought maybe you all would like to see Archie Comics' tribute to the King of Pop - by whom I mean Michael Jackson, not Glenn Scarpelli (whom I'll discuss in a moment). The lead story revolves around the Archie gang encountering "Jackie Maxon," a Jackson-a-like who shares Jackson's love for animals:

At any rate, as Jackie is thanking the Archies for performing as the opening band at his show, he accidentally drops and leaves behind what appears to be his private diary, which, apparently just like the real Michael Jackson, he carries with him everywhere. Eager to keep this journal from falling into the wrong hands (i.e. "Ed Sleaze," a tabloid muckracker), the gang treks to Maxon's spacious estate to return the book. After a series of misadventures, they finally reach Maxon...who reveals that it's not a diary, but a book of "special food formulas for the different animals" in his zoo!

The second story stars Glenn Scarpelli, one of the stars of the sitcom One Day at a Time. If that seems like an odd person to be featured in an Archie comic, all becomes clear once you realize he's the son of longtime Archie cartoonist Henry Scarpelli. And yes, Henry is responsible for this story, where Glenn's car has broken down and he has to hitch a ride:

Fleeing from these girl groupies (uh...what?), Glenn finds himself lost in the forest, facing off against a bear, and finally, after hiking through the woods all night, happens upon a remote gas station. Unfortunately, the attendant doesn't believe that this disheveled mess could possibly be the real Glenn Scarpelli:

Poor Glenn is stuck in a nightmare, where no one recognizes him! Not the attendant, not the dad 'n' daughter who take pity on him and give him a ride, not even his faithful butler Otto whom he manages to call with the quarter the gas attendant gave him. Luckily, it turns out that it really was a nightmare, as Glenn wakes in his own bed, back in a world where everyone recognizes him as the famous Glenn Scarpelli.

Anyway, inspired by something pal JP mentioned to me as we were talking about this comic a couple days ago, I did a Google search on Mr. Scarpelli. Of course, there's the inevitable
Internet Movie Database entry, and here's an article from last year about Mr. Scarpelli's latest TV project.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Thanks to everyone for the kind birthday wishes, both in
my comments and via e-mail.

While I was at work today, I just happened to be sorting through some of our Amazing Spider-Man backstock and found another copy of #73. Like the one I posted earlier, this copy also had a "MAR 13" cover date stamp, but in a different typeface from the first. So, there we go...about as good as a confirmation as I'm going to get that this issue of Amazing Spider-Man did indeed come out on the day I was born. Cool. Now if I could only find some other comic released on my birthday....

A couple people have asked me why the printed cover dates are so far off from the actual release date...well, I have read a couple reasons why, and I thought I'd note them here. I'm no expert on this particular aspect of comicdom, so if someone has a better, or at least an additional, explanation, feel free to chime in.

1. To trick the retailer into keeping the comic on the stands longer. You know, March rolls around, it's time to take the February issues off the stands, but this here copy of the True Bride-to-Be Romances comic has a cover date of June. Better keep that one on the rack! Well, I'm not sure how successful a tactic that was, though it must have caused some retailers a minor bit of confusion. Otherwise, we wouldn't have copies of old comics now with the actual arrival dates written or stamped on the cover.

Nowadays, of course, that almost certainly doesn't work on most comic store retailers, since, at least in our case, we keep very detailed cycle sheets tracking what came in when and how it's selling. At the very least, you know to take the old one off the rack when the new issue comes in. For comics sold on newsstands, they still have the color-coded bars at the top of the pages which tell those retailers when to cycle out the books, bypassing the need for the cover dates entirely. (You can find more info on this here, under "3-17" near the bottom of the page.)

2. To create the psychological perception of "newness" to the reader. Well, it wasn't worded exactly like that when I came across this explanation, but that's the gist of it. It was felt that maybe a kid trying to choose which comic to spend his 15 cents on would lean toward the comic that was the "newer" issue. You know, passing up the September issue of Avengers for the October issue of Superman, even though both may have been released more or less at about the same time. I never really quite bought that idea, since a kid that likes the Avengers is going to buy the Avengers, regardless if there are newer books on the stands.

3. Stuff happens. You know, behind the scenes shenanigans, shipping skip weeks, missed deadlines or something ships ahead of time...and the next thing you know, issues cover dated November are coming out in August. Okay, that's more likely today than in the '50s or '60s, but more along the lines of comics dated, say, November '04 coming out in August '05.

Anyway, whatever the reason, it hardly matters anymore. Once in a blue moon I have someone ask me for a comic by a specific month - "do you have the April Cable & Deadpool?" - as most people just go by the issue numbers (at least in the direct market).

Again, thank you for the birthday well-wishes...and be sure to think happy thoughts for my sister, whose birthday is the 14th!

It's my birthday... 

...so I'm taking the day off from the weblog, but not without showing you this Amazing Spider-Man comic from 1969:

...which has a cover date stamp of March 13th:

That means some newsstand owner somewhere was stamping these and putting them out for sale at the same time I was tied up with the whole "being given birth to" thing -- which, of course, kept me from getting to the racks and picking up the new releases. Some fan I am.

And, yeah, I know the comic has a printed cover date of "June," but I don't think comic cover dates have ever been accurate. All the Marvels and DCs from last week are either April or May editions, for example. There was a brief period of time in the '90s, if I recall correctly, that the major publishers tried to do some cover date adjustments. End result: cover dates are only a month or two off, instead of a whole four months.

Er...birthday. Day off. No posting. Right...see you tomorrow!

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