mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Friday, June 17, 2005

When things are slow at the comic shop:

(Mike and
pal Dorian are discussing the phrase "mouse heaven" from the instruction manual for the Atari 2600 version of Mouse Trap)

M: "So, would mouse hell be cat heaven?"

D: "Yes, and cat hell would be dog heaven."

M: "There is a certain economy to that."

D: "But what would dog hell be?"

(a moment passes)

M: "I think the default hell for any animal at the top of these progressions would be 'shark heaven.'"

Shameless huckstering; Comic Book Galaxy; free advertising; steal these links. 

Hey, that issue of Dolfin I was showing off earlier in the week is in our current batch of auctions on the eBay...you can see it here. So's that issue of Spaced. And Walt Disney's Beaver Valley. You know you want Beaver Valley. Starring "Mister Beaver" as himself.

As long as I'm in plugging mode, lemme throw out another pointer to the new Comic Book Galaxy, with extra material added throughout the week. Have I mentioned my monthly column there?

Sometime next week I will be putting up a superhero comics display at a local library, to tie in with their superhero-themed summer reading program. Just thought I'd mention that.

(And before anyone says anything...that's the theme the library settled on, they asked me to provide a display matching that theme, and I'm doing so. They do know about manga and other non-superhero type comics...I've sold enough of those to this library in the past.)

Superhero capes for kids

"The letter on each Superhero Cape can be personalized to your child - add his or her initial!"

"Capes tie around child's neck - therefore, proper adult supervision should be used at all times while child is wearing cape."

"Managing superhero play"

"Discuss the ways that conflicts are solved on superhero shows. When children are accustomed to seeing superheroes using violence as a solution to problems, appropriate responses must be constantly reinforced. Talk about conflict resolution skills and how they could be applied to situations that superheroes and heroines find themselves in."

"Save your child from summer brain drain"

"'Let the child choose the book,' [librarian Karen Lucas] said. 'Don't make them feel bad for choosing a comic book over a chapter book or a novel. Let them enjoy that comic book, and then they're going to read more.'"

Thursday, June 16, 2005

New comics day:

In the "Unintended Consequences" department...the release of Giant-Size X-Men #3 has resulted in a flurry of folks asking at the shop, "hey, where are issues #1 and #2?" ("Here you go...#1, only $675.00.")

Speaking of GSXM #3...did anyone else think Neal Adams' contribution looked a little on the rough side? Was he just cramped for time, or is that just how his style looks now?

Other new comics day stuff:

We got in restocks of the We3 trade paperback and the fantastic Super F*ckers (ask for it by name)...and they both sold out immediately. That's what I like to see. We also sold out of the new Essential Fantastic Four, which came as a slight surprise to me.

Following Cerebus #4 is the Will Eisner Tribute issue, and includes the full four-page Spirit Meets Cerebus story from Cerebus Jam. Lots of info and interviews with and about Eisner, and worth investigating. (And is anyone else kinda disturbed by the continuing "Dave Sim's Favorite Buffy Pic This Month" feature? Dave picks a still of Sarah Michelle Gellar and way overanalyzes it? I'm pretty sure he's trying to be amusing, but it seems...well, I can't quite put my finger on it.)

Captain America Bicentennial Battles trade paperback by Jack Kirby - if you never read the Bicentennial Battles treasury-sized comic from the '70s, and you're even slightly a Kirby fan...you must read this comic. Bicentennial Battles is Kirby at his most Kirbiest...it's completely heartfelt, earnest, and downright nutty.

AEIOU by Jeffrey Brown - I don't get it. Not trying to be contrary, or offensive, or anything like that...what is it about Brown's work that makes people react to it so positively? Why do you like it?

The Black Diamond Onramp, new this week from
AiT/Planetlar, is a teaser for a forthcoming series, revolving around the Black Diamond (an elevated cross-country superhighway where anything goes). It may be only a brief (but interesting) preview of the series, but the comic is packed with plenty of background material, with detailed character and descriptions, plus a Newsarama interview with writer/publisher Larry Young. That's what I like about some of Ait/Planetlar's releases...the transparency of the process of creating the books, either as part of the package itself (as in this case, or in Proof of Concept) or as a separate release (Making of Astronauts in Trouble, True Facts).

The rest of Black Diamond Onramp contains a few pages of Smoke and Guns, a tough gal with...well, guns-type comic by Kirsten Baldock and Fabio Moon, as well as Matt Fraction and Steve Sander's Five Fists of Science with Nikola Tesla. Tesla? I'm sold right there. Altogether, a solid package stuffed with material, and well worth your three bones.

Darn you, Jim Henley!

He's called me out on some new superhero-related meme/questionnaire thingie, so I'll go ahead and answer it...but only because he's a swell guy who's said a nice thing or two about my goofy little site, here.

So, here we go:

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why? (Assume you also get baseline superhero enhancements like moderately increased strength, endurance and agility.)

Well, the easy answer would be "flight," so I'm gonna say being able to shrink to any size, like the Silver Age Atom...it would be kind of neat, I think, at least for a while. And who wouldn't want to be able to travel over a telephone wire?

Which, if any, 'existing' superhero(es) do you fancy, and why?

According to Jim (er, so to speak), "fancy," as intended here, means "which character with whom would you like to bang the gong slowly," and, quite frankly, that's the kind of question that, once answered, you can never come back from. Once you've crossed the line and actually admitted that there's a pen and ink drawing on newsprint with whom you'd like to get it on, you might as resign yourself to going to conventions dressed as, say, Green Lantern, looking for someone dressed as Sinestro to spank you.

That said...Kurt Schaffenberger's Lois Lane. Totally.

Which, if any, 'existing' superhero(es) do you hate?

Jim beat me to my answer of "Gambit," so...ah, the heck with it. Gambit. Feh.

OK, here's the tough one. What would your superhero name be? (No prefab porn-name formulas here, you have to make up the name you think you'd be proud to mask under.)

"The Baron of Comics."

For extra credit: Is there an 'existing' superhero with whom you identify/whom you would like to be?

I suppose if I could be any hero, it's be Superman...he's got all the cool powers anyone would really want, anyway. Well, except telepathy. That'd come in handy, once in a while. Hmmmm...okay, I change my answer, I'd want to be J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter, who has all of Superman's powers and can read minds and can shape change and can turn invisible. There is that pesky weakness to fire thing ("Pain! My only weakness!"), but that can be dealt with. Plus, that's a small price to pay to be able to transform yourself into Phoebe Cates, and....um, I didn't just type that, did I?

Pass it on. Three people please, and why they're the wind beneath your wings.

I hate passing it on, but I will anyway: Jog and Beaucoup Kevin, because I think their answers would be funny, and pal Dorian, because I'm a jerk.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

A review of an alleged X-Men 3 script is up at
Ain't It Cool News.

From the "talkback" section:

"If anything remotely resembling this makes it to screen anyone who goes to see it is a traitor to fandom."

"I haven't actually thought about how big this whole X3 situation is, sure I bitched about it, but only now, after reading this, did I take a moment to reflect... I LOVED this franchise and now it's GONE!"

"Why is it that people who don't understand movies are placed in charge of them??"

"I abandoned Marvel the moment magneto extracted wolverine's adamantium skeleton.."

"The only way a movie can be successful by catering to the fanboys is if it's budgeted at $32,000"

"Xavier IS NOT Malcolm X, he s Martin Luther King. Magneto is Malcolm X. I thought everyone knew that."

"Forget poverty, war, and famine...write your letters to FOx about X3 dammit!!!!"

"What do you expect from a company that keeps a show like The Simpsons, which has not been funny for the last 5 years, on only because of the merchandising. Yeah, they know quality. I hope Jackman refuses to do it so the franchise crumbles."

"I tell you one thing if future X Men film DO NOT have Stewart and especially McKellan , I aint bothering to see the flicks, Wolverine is a 1 trick pony without them"

"the first x men film was 90 minutes long and was very short on action and excitement - the 2nd was markedly better but only cause the first was lacklustre - never forget that guys"

"Couldn't Fox have this site shut down for reproducing copyrighted material?"

And these are just the subject lines, folks!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I really should do audio posts
like yesterday's more often...in fact, I've been thinking about doing a podcast (or, as we used to call them in the olden days, "downloadable MP3s"). Alan and Augie have fun with theirs, and I'd like to horn in on their action. Alas, I've no idea what happened to my computer's microphone...but I suppose I could use Blogger's Audioblogger function, record my message, save it to my hard drive from the Blogger work page, slap on the Swamp Thing cartoon music as my theme song, drop the bit rate, and vee-ola, a podcast of sorts to lull a few thousand of my closest friends into a deep slumber.

Unfortunately, I'm not terribly good at extemperaneous speaking...I'd probably have to work up a script, or at least heavily detailed notes, prior to recording, and that's a little too much like work. Anyway, I'm sure I'll do another audio post in the future...likely more dramatic readings from your favorite comics.

Speaking of Alan, the new Comic Book Galaxy continues to terrorize the world, with new features added today (including charter ACAPCWOVCCAOE member Ian Brill's review of F Stop). Go pay a visit!

I just bought a Marvel Legends Man-Thing action figure off the eBay. Don't look; I'm too ashamed. Hey, I couldn't find the darn thing anywhere around here. At least it was cheap.

"There are keys to successful comic book adaptation"

"So why are some comic book movies better-received than others? What is the difference between a good adaptation and a bad one? What separates 'Spider-Man 2' from a film such as 'Elektra?'"

"Drawn from the soul"

"Comics have had a chequered history: dismissed as mere children's entertainment; admired in the hands of politically astute newspaper cartoonists; and hailed, when created by an Andy Warhol or a Roy Lichtenstein, as innovative art."

Monday, June 13, 2005

Moral: Never make an audio post after moving several heavy boxes down a flight of stairs. 

Say, can you guess who drew these two panels? Answer at the end of today's post.

As I not-so-vaguely
hinted yesterday, I am one of the contributors to Alan David Doane's All-New Comic Book Galaxy, with my (hopefully) monthly column "Mike Sterling's Behind the Counter." There I'll be discussing issues related to comics retailing...probably inspired by various things already discussed on this site of mine. Sooner or later, I'll get around to putting together an expanded "Things Not to Say to A Comic Shop Employee," I think....

So, why am I writing for ADD's CBG, when I have a perfectly acceptable internet soapbox here?

Well, I was asked. I get along with ADD, I like what he's done with his site so far, and that second shoebox filled with twenty-dollar bills finally convinced me. Plus, it gives me incentive to write something a little more weighty and thought-out than the goofy stuff I'm always posting here. Not that I'm intending on being Mr. Serious-Pants...I'm shooting for "somewhat amusing, yet informative," and I hope I can achieve it.

At any rate, go visit the site...there's a bunch of new content up today, and more swell stuff to come during the rest of the week. You at least have to see this mind-blowing contest...I'm considering hiring people to enter the contest for me, since I can't!

Talking about comics retailing, after a fashion...now, since I sell things on the eBay, it would be hard cheese for me to criticize other people's eBay auctions. "Boy, that auction is crappy...you should buy our stuff!" You know what I mean. But I swear, occasionally I'll poke through eBay at work doing research on items that I'd like to list for the store (just to see if it's worth my time, you know...honest!), and more than once I'll say out loud something like "they're calling that a Very Fine? Are they high?" (Ask pal Dorian, I did that a couple times on Saturday.)

However, I love finding weird comic book stuff on eBay and showing it to you...pal JP usually finds good stuff on there (like this adult Batman diaper I linked to a while back). I did find today this Death of Superman Neon Bar Sign. Of all things to make into a neon sign....

"It is a Great decor item for den, home bar, commercial bar, restaurant, game room, store or garage...."


So, I wonder if George Lucas read underground comic books? Here's a cover detail from Jim Pinkoski's Spaced #1 from 1974, three years before Star Wars (featuring a character with a similar hairstyle) was released:

The full cover (not work safe) can be seen here.

Saturday's new episode of Justice League Unlimited featuring the Cartoon Network debut of Captain Marvel (but not his animated debut...well done, I thought, with a nice contrast between Cap's cheerful attitude and the slightly more dour JL members. I know pal Dorian had expressed some concerns about the Big Red Cheese being so easily bamboozled, given that the "S" in "Shazam" represents the Wisdom of Solomon. Dor does have a point, but it may not be entirely inconsistent with Cap's portrayal in the past. The Wisdom part of his power doesn't always appear to be "on" -- Cap's been tricked and swindled in the comics, so it's not terribly surprising that he didn't access Solomon's Wisdom to figure out what was going on with Luthor in the cartoon. Granted, he should have known enough to use his Wisdom when dealing with Luthor.

I particularly liked the speech Cap gives at the end, about believing in the inherent goodness of people and taking them at their word...even if he was wrong in this instance. And I don't think I've seen an animated superhero battle quite like that (between Supes and Cap) in...well, ever. Can you picture something like that ever happening on The Super Friends? Kids' brains would have exploded.

The ultimate result of this episode is that I now want to see a regular Shazam! cartoon. C'mon, you too, don't deny it.

Just prior to that evening's JLU, I caught a couple minutes of the new Batman cartoon, and it looked to me like they lifted a scene right out of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's The Killing Joke. There's a sequence in the cartoon where Batman grabs what appears to be the Joker and rubs make-up off the Joker's face, leaving three pink streaks of revealed skin. Batman then shouts (well, growls) "where is he," noting to this fake Joker (and the audience) that the Joker doesn't wear make-up, since his skin is normally white.

That's more or less right out of Killing Joke, and still sort of effective...if it weren't for that terrible new Joker design. Gads.

Those two panels at the beginning of this post represent very early work from Jim Starlin, printed in Dolfin #1, a 1968 fanzine with a print-run of about 500 copies. Here, enjoy the cover.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

So anyway, I was poking through
other comic weblogs this evening, and noticed, via Greg (in a post that's not safe for work, BTW), that Laura already linked to a story about that Australian academic superhero conference that I mentioned this morning. Oops! Thankfully, I linked to a different site on the subject, so I don't feel too much like a link claim-jumper.

I will say that as I was putting together this morning's post, thanks to the Google, every time I picked a story I did think, "hmmmm, I wonder if Tom Spurgeon got to it first." That's why I don't do a whole lot of news-weblogging. It's easier to post links to, say, Wonder Woman and her dog in a race, or to Mattress the Super Cat, or to a gallery of DC Direct and Buffy figures in action scenes, and not worry about doubling-up on some news story someone else has already handled.

At any rate, you should visit Laura's site (and that naughty fellow Greg, too) if you don't already. There is always something worthwhile to read at either site.

Yes, I'm blogging about blogging. Wanna make something of it?

Pal Nat reviews a CD I sent him.

The mighty Fred Hembeck posts (under "June 12") what may be the greatest cover Marvel Comics ever published. Honestly, it's pure brilliance. I had a subscription to the magazine in question, so I was lucky enough to receive this piece of comic book gold in my mailbox. (I still had issues to go when the mag was cancelled, so I finished out my subscription with The Amazing Spider-Man...a run that included #200, about which I still have fond memories.)

Starting tomorrow...the new Comic Book Galaxy! Alan David Doane's been sweating blood putting it together, so the least you could do is give it a visit. Maybe you'll see a new name or two there that might strike you as familiar....

"Dr Simon Locke, sociology lecturer at Kingston University [...] looks at how public attitudes to science can be charted through the pages of comic books of the last century."

"'Superman comics were first published almost 70 years ago and they were massively popular. Today, the same stories are just as successful, although they tend to come as films rather than in comics.'"

The Golden Plates, Mike Allred's comic based on the Books of Mormon, setting sales records at a store in Utah:

"'The first volume sold 2000 copies and number two will come very close to that as well.'"

"Holy mackerel, Batman! An Australian university is hosting what it claims is the world's first academic conference on superheroes."

"Other topics to be dissected will be a comparison between the superhero worlds created by rival publishers Marvel and DC, and a scrutiny of Arnold Schwarzenegger as an example of a superhero character who has crossed over into real life."

Batman's got milk:

"'DC Comics provides a powerful way to leverage the hugely popular appeal of Batman with the milk moustache's campaign focus on health and nutrition.'"

"Zap! Pow! Amen!"

"Using comics is a delicate balance for artists and writers trying to spread a religious message through a medium sometimes viewed as frivolous or tawdry."

"Keep Sunday comics funny, clean"

"Consider the June 5, 2005, strip of 'Opus.' Reference was made to a 'belly fart.' Do we really need this type of gutter comedy on the funny pages for our young people?"

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