mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Just some random back issue thoughts from yesterday. 

  • While looking something else up in the Overstreet Price Guide, I spotted that Hex #1 was up to $8.00 in near mint condition. Eight bucks. How the heck did that happen? Is this another case of everyone's copies going straight to the quarter boxes, and therefore are now hard to find in nice condition (like I theorized about Shazam #1)?

  • On a related note, how many comic shops out there still have quarter boxes? When we still had them, we just dumped the absolute unsellable junk, unbagged, in there and hoped for the best. We did move some stuff, but occasionally selling books at a quarter each didn't really justify the retail space the boxes were taking up. For a while we had 50-cent boxes, and currently we have dollar boxes (or 13 for ten bucks...woo hoo!) which are working very well for us, and more easily support the space in our store that these boxes occupy. Plus, the material in the dollar boxes is actually pretty good (we even had some reader copies of '60s Marvels in there), so we have no problem moving them.

    The only problem with bargain boxes is thinking about all the things we sold for cheap in the past that we wish we had now. You know how many DC 100 pagers we sold for 50 cents a pop? Those things used to be common as dirt. I wonder what future high-priced collectibles are currently living in our dollar boxes?

  • Discovered while restocking: we actually sold some West Coast Avengers, somehow. Well, I know we sold this issue, which introduced the Great Lakes Avengers (gee, wonder why that sold), but it turned out we actually had sold quite a few other issues of this series as well. Go figure.

  • Someone's also been buying the Evolutionary War crossover annuals...I didn't read this when it came out, and I don't think I've even looked inside a single installment of this adventure. I looked inside a couple of the annuals I was restocking yesterday...hoo boy, I didn't really miss anything, did I? It looked like this series just plain summed up the generic-ness of late '80s Marvel.

  • We've also been selling Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn back issues lately, surely inspired by the current Green Lantern: Rebirth series. The first issue of this series has one of my favorite covers...that purple is really eye-catching.

  • We also sold some copies of Arana #1 as back issues...none yet to the apparent young Hispanic female audience that Marvel supposedly was hoping for. (That particular demographic is more interested in manga and the "goth" comics, at least at our shop.)

  • Other consistent back issue sellers: Avengers #196 (1st appearance of Taskmaster...I think we're finally down to our last copy), New Mutants #98 (1st Dead Pool...Deadpool...Dead-pool...I don't feel like looking up the proper spelling), and the current Adam Strange mini-series.

Also, before I forget...thanks to Commenter Bob for pointing out this page...Good Lord, that's absolutely terrifying. (Actually, Bob, I'd completely forgotten about the Super Jrs. -- I don't think I've even ever seen a copy of that digest. And now I must have it.)

Friday, April 08, 2005

Well, I was certainly overcome yesterday...after what seemed like several hours of drilling and gagging and multiple shots of novocaine (and that was even before I got to the dentist's office), I was in no real mood to poke around the internet and think about website content.

...So thank goodness for pal JP, and the weird stuff he sends me via the e-mail:

I have no idea where he found this, but I'm glad he did.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Yeah, fine, new comics day. 

I have a cracked filling that's driving me to distraction (and hopefully will get taken care of today), so I plan on taking out my irritation on all of you. Thanks for reading!

I'm so distracted, I almost forgot my SPOILERS AHOY warning!

Well, first off, a full third of our order on Seven Soldiers: Zatanna showed up damaged, with tears and holes in the spines. Given our sales on the Seven Soldiers of Victory books, I had upped the orders on this particular book to take advantage of the current interest...and, of course, they show up unsellable. Rats. Nice book, otherwise, with some slight nods in the direction of Alan Moore-era Swamp Thing continuity.

I've lost track: do we all hate Green Lantern: Rebirth or do we like it? I think I've said before that, if we're going to have to have the return of Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, then this comic probably does it as well as can be managed. Geoff Johns has a thankless job here, trying to paste back together Green Lantern continuity, while pro-Hal fans and pro-Kyle fans watch, waiting to get pissed off about one thing or another. I've been enjoying it, even as super-fanboyish as it is. And hey, Ethan Van Sciver draws an evil looking Sinestro, doesn't he? I think I'm happier about Sinestro being back than I am about Hal.

Superman/Batman #18 has a surprising callback to a classic mid-80s Superman tale. I don't want to go into more detail than that, except to say it was appreciated.

Oh, and if you're a Will Eisner fan, grab the new issue of The Comics Journal, if only for the complete reprint of "A Medal for Bowzer" - it pleased pal Dorian to no end to see this comic. Of course, the rest of the mag is quite full of fine Eisner material as well.

Identity Crisis #1 & #2, final printings: okay, remember the movie River's Edge? Well, in the late '80s my old pal Rob had a copy of this on videotape, and I swear, every time I went to his apartment he had it playing. He and I must have seen that movie...well, I'm not going to say "hundreds," but by God it was a lot. We saw it to the point of memorization. We also saw it to the point that, though nominally a tragedy, it became a comedy. Of course, having both Dennis Hopper and Cripsin Glover in this film helped push it in that direction, but I swear, we would watch this movie and laugh and laugh at each new completely bizarre thing we noticed. That's how I'm beginning to feel about Identity Crisis. Don't get me wrong...I enjoyed IC, but seeing the continuing debate and interminable histrionic dismay over this series and related tie-ins...well, that's why there are words like "schadenfreude." Yeah, I know, I'm a bad human being. I don't like puppies either.*

(Okay, I will concede the red covers on the IC reprints are a bit much. Hokey smokes. But they sure stand out on the rack.)

Whenever my faith in my fellow man is at its lowest ebb...out comes a new issue of Deep Fried and all is right with the world again.

And there's a new Swamp Thing out this week...it's completely wacked-out, and I'm not sure I buy the ending (oh, well, there go a bunch of people off to their doom...hope they enjoy it!) but it did evoke, for a moment, some of the weirder post-Wrightson issues of the '70s series.

* I lied. I love puppies. I think they taste great.**

** I'm joking. Save the hate e-mail.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Yeah, okay, I saw Sin City, along with pals
Dorian, Tom, and Ian. Overall...I'd probably grade it a fairly solid B. Draggy in parts, kind of got the feeling some of the actors weren't really buying into the dialogue...but, heck, I mostly enjoyed it.

Some random notes, involving SPOILERS AHOY:

  • Let's get the biggie out of the way...Mickey Rourke's Marv makeup. Okay, as I was watching the film, I was pondering just what the purpose was behind such garish, obvious prostheses and doodads and whatnot. So there's Problem #1 - I probably shouldn't be thinking about someone's makeup as I'm watching the film. I was wondering if the Marv look was intended to dehumanize the character, to make him monstrous, to make us accept that he can still keep on operating after all the damage he takes, after being shot and hit by cars and so forth. At any rate, the makeup was a minor distraction, and I never really suspended my disbelief long enough to accept it as someone's actual face. Ah, well.

  • Elijah Wood - yeah, that's right, he rules. When I heard that he was playing Kevin, I had no idea how Mr. Wood was going to pull off a creepy cannibalistic serial killer...but pull it off he did.

  • Devon Aoki as Miho rules too. My two favorite characters in the film had no dialogue. Coincidence?

  • Okay, the Yellow Bastard smells. He smells bad. His blood smells even worse. It's repeatedly brought up in the movie. So neither Hartigan nor Nancy can smell the YB hiding in the back seat of their car? I suppose the explanation would be that they thought the smell was coming from the YB's blood on Hartigan's fingers...but that stuck me as a little odd. EDIT: Commenter Brian notes that this is addressed in the film's narrative...I just didn't remember.

  • Should I be reading something into Frank Miller being killed by one of his own creations?

  • Audiences don't like it when bad things happen to penises.

  • My other concern with the movie was the spot coloring...it was distracting at first, but I did get used to it as the film progressed. The "high contrast" bits -- the reverse silhouette white-on-black images -- worked much less well. It was an interesting experiment, at any rate.

  • On the other hand...the film's music started off well enough, but seemed to become increasingly distracting as the movie moved along. That cacophony over most of the closing credits is downright unlistenable.

  • I really liked the opening credit sequence...the music, the credits flashing over Miller's artwork, the "SPECIAL GUEST DIRECTOR" credit, all added up to a great beginning. I have a soft spot for comic book movies that have opening sequences which incorporate actual comic artwork...The Return of the Swamp Thing is still my favorite example of this.

The movie did have a successful opening weekend, but our theatre (normally quite a busy spot, one of the few theatres in our immediate area) was nearly empty when we saw it on an early Monday evening. That doesn't bode well. I don't think any significant movie competition is in the offing for this coming weekend, so Sin City may have another strong weekend, particularly with the mostly positive reviews.

Despite my minor qualms with the film, it was like Chinatown compared to most of the trailers that preceded it. If any movie needed remaking, it wasn't The Amityville Horror (and both Dorian and I had to contain our laughter at the "based on a true story" tag). When the best trailer was for Revenge of the Sith (and I'm saying this as a longtime Star Wars fan), that's probably indicative of a huge wave of crap movies coming our way. Also, I swear, if find out that any of you spent good money on seeing the House of Wax remake, I'm going to go to your house and leave flaming bags of poop on your porch.

In other news:

Johanna Draper Carlson has announced the latest round of the Squiddie Awards. Vote early, vote often!

Suddenly, without warning...Sean Collin's Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat is back in action! Comic talk is still verboten, but it's good to see it back nonetheless.

We get one, we lose one: Franklin Harris has been promoted at work, but his gain is our loss as he shutters his fine weblog. He holds out hope that he'll be back...and let's hope that it's soon!

Swamp Thing - the drink.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Some Comic Reader covers I like. 

The Comic Reader #123 (November 1975) - art by Mark Evanier

The Comic Reader #133 (July/August 1976) - art by Sergio Aragones

The Comic Reader #161 (October 1978) - art by Fred Hembeck

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Matt Drudge trying to create some kind of false connection between a violent action movie and the death of the Pope? Surely you jest! And, no, the text in this piece doesn't link to any off-site story...that's pure Drudge editorializing, friends.*

My day at work with Kid Chris:

(Kid Chris is saying this sarcastically in response to a particular comic book...no, not that one): "I like things just one way, and if they aren't that way, I don't like it!"

Me: "Wow, you are a comic book fan!"**

In reference to my note about Star Wars Dark Empire being originally announced from Marvel, commenter Bob points out that this information appeared in the last Amazing Heroes Preview Special (#11, from 1990). What's funny is that I happened to have my copies of the AH Preview Specials out, and I poked through most of them looking for the Star Wars listing...except for some reason I didn't bother with #11. Ah, well...my 'zine-fu is not so strong after all.

In case you're interested, the Marvel/Epic version of Star Wars: Dark Empire was announced as a 4-issue prestige format series, with each issue running 64 pages.

From the mighty Grow-a-brain: a directory of magazine and comic book covers that have been modified (some may say, improved) with cross-dressing shenanigans. I highly recommend #15.

* Yes, I cut the image off there on purpose.

** I'm only kidding...mostly.

No; My zine-fu is strong; a much delayed contest link is given; I sell comics; did you know that fan fiction can be nutty; this title is too long. 

No, I haven't seen the Sin City movie yet.

So I was processing some old issues of The Comics Journal at the shop yesterday, and I just happened to flip open an issue (#110, from August 1986) right to an article on the cancellation of Marvel's Star Wars comic...which I just happened to have been discussing on this site that morning. A couple choice quotes from the article:

"...An unnamed Lucasfilm official [said] that the book was not terminated: rather, 'We're just putting it on hold until the next film is released.' [...] ...A Marvel spokesperson [said]: 'If there's another movie, we'll be publishing tomorrow morning.'"

Of course, as it turned out, it was a few years before there was another Star Wars series, Dark Empire from Dark Horse Comics. (And it seems to me that this particular project was in fact originally announced as being from Marvel...can anyone confirm?)

Another quote, detailing the release date snafu I mentioned yesterday:
"The 1983 adaptation of The Return of the Jedi was marred by the early shipment and placement on sale of the issues, revealing the plot twists and surprises of the film before it had opened. Despite Marvel's attempts at retrieving the shipping books, tens of thousands of the issues were bought and circulated, with the advance story of the film even being read on the radio in one instance, scooping the film's opening."

Clearly, things are a lot different now...probably with the realization that the prime time to sell the comics is before the film is released, since demand will almost certainly dip as soon as the movie is actually in theatres.

Hey, you! Yeah, you, readin' the website. Go enter The House of the Ded's mighty Bluesman contest giveaway...there are two copies being given away, and they're both autographed by author Rob Vollmar. It's free, free, I tell you, so you have no excuse to not enter.

Something I did on Friday that no other comic shop in the country did that day: I sold a full run of Impact Comics. All 112 issues. Yeah, that's right, you heard me. No, that didn't include the looseleaf Who's Who booklets, but I could have provided them had the customer wanted them.

I liked the Impact line, myself....The Fly was the best of the bunch, and I think we're all in agreement that The Web was...rough going, to say the least. I always had a soft spot for The Comet as well.

Green Lantern-Elfquest fan fiction.

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