mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, August 13, 2005

A word of advice to my friends on the Comicsweblogosphere who just opened their own stores, from a guy who's been selling funnybooks for a long time. 

Sometimes, when you're asked for your copies of the "Death of Superman" comic, it's from someone actually looking to purchase it. Most of the time, however, the person asking is just looking to price their copies that they most likely paid too much for all those years ago.

Friday, August 12, 2005

A while back, the weblog Listen to Us, We're Right posted
"An Open Letter to Guys That Check The Spine of Every Comic", and I do have to say that I've had my fair share of customers like that over the years. It doesn't really bother me so much...if it makes them happy, if they're spending money, and it's not interfering with other customers purchasing comics, hey, go to town. I do agree with Listen to Us's assessment that, ultimately, the condition of the comics being purchased probably isn't going to make much difference since the prices on the books in question aren't, in most cases, going to skyrocket...unless comics become huge again, with million-copy print runs, and people start trying to snap up back issues that had print runs of about 30,000. That doesn't seem terribly likely, however.

It did remind me of a story I used to hear a lot when I was younger, generally second or third-hand, about folks who'd go to the local newsstand, pick out the best copies of the "hot" comic to buy, then damage the rest of the books to ensure that they'd have the best copies in the local market. Like I said, it's been a while since I've heard about someone doing this (last time I heard the story make the rounds around here, it was about Thor #337), and I think Mark Evanier may have related a similar story, either on his site or in one of his books. I haven't seen anyone try to pull this in our store (God help them if they do) so hopefully this is one of those fan behaviors that has died, or is dying, out, if it was ever that prevalent before.

When the topic comes up at the shop, I like to tell people that given how these comics are printed and shipped, it's a miracle they show up in as good as a condition as they do.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

My weblogging routine still isn't back to normal due to the relocation to the new house (we're about 95% moved, and about 5% unpacked), I still don't have my much missed DSL connection (I cajoled my ISP into giving me a dial-up connection in the meantime, and they say they're working on the problem), and I appear to be getting even more grey hair, but surely that's a trick of the light.

At any rate, I owe people a couple reviews of items they were good enough to send me (I'll get to 'em, I promise!), and I've been meaning to link to a bunch of weblogs...in fact, here are a few right now:
Ramblin' with Roger, Face Down in the Gutters, Eddie-torial Comments, ViComics, and (probably my favorite weblog name in a while) Nobody Laughs at Mister Fish. So go check 'em out...tell them I said "hi."

I've been keeping up on my funnybook reading lately, though...there's always times for comics.

I did pick up the new Supergirl #1, being the longtime fan of the Superman family of comics. I took the Churchill variant cover, which I wasn't thrilled about, but vastly superior to the Turner cover with the "going tharn" look in Kara's eyes. As for the interior...oh, good heavens, this is appalling. Cluttered layouts, dependence on old continuity...it's everything pal Dorian feared it would be. The little girl customers we have shopping at our store who want a Supergirl comic aren't going to want this. Okay, good on DC, I suppose, for bringing Supergirl back to the "Superman's cousin from Krypton" premise, but if this is what we're going to get, I'd rather we'd stuck with the slightly more convoluted version Peter David was writing.

Speaking of Supes, the new issue of Action makes reference to old Doom Patrol continuity, a continuity that no longer exists in the DC universe due to the recent DP revamp...and, for that extra little tad of irony, said issue of Action is illustrated by the person responsible for the DP "reboot." Nobody else at DC is paying the slightest bit of attention to the revamped condition of the Doom Patrol, are they?

I wanted to buy The King by Rich Koslowski, a new Top Shelf graphic novel, but I just can't swing a $20 graphic novel at the moment (I need to buy curtains, still, and get landscaping for the backyard, and hair dye...oh, wait, did I say that?) but it looks swell, and I loved Koslowski's last book Three Fingers. And it's about an Elvis impersonator (or...is it?), which is story gold, as far as I'm concerned.

I would be remiss if I didn't bid pal Ian a fond farewell, as he leaves Ventura County for some really outlying environs, up there in the far-flung wild jungles of Northern California. As pal Sean likes to say, "vaya con pollos," my friend.

Yes, that's right, "go with chickens." Don't ask.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Can you guess the surprise shock ending? 

Most of the issue takes place in Ronnie Raymond's mind, as he is mentally cut off from the outside world by some terribly shocking event he doesn't remember. The other half of Firestorm, Professor Stein, must talk Ron through his memories, leading him to eventually recall (and gradually reveal to the reader) just what it was that put him in such a state.

Hmmmm, wonder what it could be...maybe it has something to do with the scene on the cover, with Ronnie's dad being blown up real good.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

So, no, no internet access at home yet, so here I am, using the store computer after hours to keep in contact with you all. I suppose I can justify it by it by
linking to the store auctions that I just put up today...lots of undergrounds and Starting Lineups, so bid early, bid often!

One of the auctions I listed today was Robert Crumb's Big Ass Comics #2, which has this description in Jay Kennedy's Underground Comix Price Guide:

"1st [printing]. [...] Has a glossy cover.

"2nd. [...] Has a less glossy (almost matt) cover."

It ain't easy telling the difference between the two unless you have both versions right in front of you, and the five copies of this particular printing I have in the store right now are all exactly the same...and my vague memory is that even the glossy cover isn't as glossy as most normal comic covers, and the fourth printing I have of this comic is definitely a matt cover by comparison, so here I am, gently stroking Big Ass covers, trying to decide they're glossy or more of a matty/glossy, and isn't this the most fascinating thing you've read on a comics weblog all day? Sure it is. Anyway, I'm calling it "glossy" and a 1st print, and if the winning bidder doesn't like it...well, I suppose I can offer their money back or something.

So, on Tuesdays, DC and Marvel Comics send out their retailer newsletters, and I get to see them as soon as they come in, but usually by the time I get home, they've already been discussed to death and I don't really have anything to add. However, the Mad Magazine announcement (which you can also presumably see here, even though it's not loading at the moment) struck kind of an odd note with me:

"This November, MAD launches MADKIDS, a new magazine for
6 - 11 years olds. [...] MADKIDS [...] will feature both age-
appropriate classic MAD MAGAZINE parodies as well as fresh, new content...."

It seems to me that 6 to 11 is the prime age for a kid to discover Mad Magazine...by which I mean your standard Mad, not some watered down "age-appropriate" version. Of course, in this day and age, where hypersensitive parents (who, ironically, probably read the unexpurgated Mad as young'uns themselves) don't want their precious darlings exposed to anything unpleasant, a Madkids appears to be necessary. That strikes me as just a little sad. (Of course, that won't stop some parents from being offended by it anyway...some people out there just aren't happy unless they're being outraged by something.)

Of course, there's the more-specifically targeted advertising, which is probably the primary reason for Madkids' existence.

Good luck to them, anyway...and let's hope actual kids don't reject the mag the same way they're rejecting Marvel's kids line in favor of the original books.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Experiencing technical difficulties...please stand by. 

They tell me the DSL at the new house is working, but it ain't! And the bastards took away my courtesy dial-up, so I don't even have that now. Well, crap.

Hopefully this will be sorted out soon (as in "I'm goin' to the cable company for my DSL if the phone company doesn't get it fixed"), so I won't have to mooch off the work internet (or my parents' internet, like I'm doing right now) for long.

In the meantime, here's Spider-Man versus the Tickle Villain in the superhero room, while children are protecting their gold, apparently.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

So in his
list of things he "missed" during his internet downtime, pal Dorian mentions "'professional' comics reviewers [that] missed the point of the material they were reviewing." That reminded me of one of my favorite missing the point reviews, which is actually sort of timely now since the reviewed material in question, Alan Moore and Ian Gibson's The Ballad of Halo Jones, has recently been rereleased by DC Comics.

Anyway (and there may be a slight SPOILER here), during the segment of the book in which Halo Jones is in the army, she and her squad shoot and kill an enemy attacker, only to discover that the attacker was in fact just a kid. As Halo and the other soldiers continue on, they discuss the apparent age of the enemy soldier, talking themselves into believing that the kid couldn't possibly have been as young as she looked, to cover their guilt at having killed a child. The perceived age of the kid increases gradually, until "by the time we reached base, she'd practically died of old age," as it says in the final caption.

The review I read, a review which did appear in a nationally distributed and well respected review/interview comics magazine, interpreted this segment slightly differently: "A young sniper is shot by Halo's platoon, but continues to age rapidly after her death. The cause is never explained." The full page with this sequence is even reproduced with the review, so everyone reading the magazine can see how badly the sequence has been misinterpreted. (And I reread the review, just to make sure I wasn't misinterpreting the reviewer's intent, just in case he was trying to be snarky or ironic or something...nope, as far as I can tell, that comment was to be taken strictly at face value.)

In fairness, the fellow who wrote the review is a smart and witty guy, judging by his other work, so for all I know he reread the material a few weeks later, smacked his forehead, and shouted, "oh, for God's sake, how did I miss that?" I mean, we all miss painfully obvious things once in a while (ever tell you my Ms. Tree story? Sure I did).

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