mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Friday, August 19, 2005

Some quick linky-linky, since I'm a busy man:

Thanks to
Boom Studios publisher Ross Richie, who said some nice things about my site on his new forum.

David "meme"-tagged me, and I haven't had time to really go through it and answer all the questions, aside from "5 things I would do with $100,000,000: Buy 400,000,000 copies of Daredevil #41 and build a stairway to the moon with them," which is only one, well, maybe two things, so, well, there you go.

Your terrifying homemade Hulk costume for today.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

So Wednesday we received a couple new Sesame Street Cine-Mangas from Tokyopop, Elmo & Zoe Fly A Kite and Happy Hungry Monsters, which is actually one of the few good uses of the "let's construct a new story out of stills borrowed from several TV episodes" Cine-Manga format. Nice, big, colorful photos in a book that's a little larger than the normal manga format (if a bit thinner) and competitively priced with other children's books.

There may have been a slight nostalgic feeling, as I remember reading several Sesame Street books as a kid, and it's always nice to see old friends Grover and the Cookie Monster still getting the attention they deserve. (I don't know about these Elmo and Zoe newcomers, though.) The Happy Hungry Monsters book does have a slightly disturbing scene where a milk carton with an eyeball tells Cookie Monster about how great milk is, basically cajoling CM into sucking out the carton's innards. Well, perhaps put more delicately than that, but still.

Other new releases include the first installment of Top Ten mini-series, the one not written by Alan Moore, which has caused some small measure of consternation here and there. Well, don't worry, it's fine...author Paul Di Filippo doesn't quite have the juggling of several storylines down like Moore did on this series, and he's not quite as subtle with the character nuance and motivation as Moore is...but heck, it's still darn good reading, and it's nice to see these characters again. And it's illustrated by Jerry Ordway, who's more or less incapable of doing a bad drawing.

The arrival of Star Wars: General Grevious #4 prompted
pal Dorian to ask me if there was any contextual evidence in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith for the apparent fan-belief that Grevious was, in fact, a resurrected Darth Maul. To which I said "wha-huh?" People aren't really thinking that, are they? I mean, c'mon.

So Marvel can't wait to rush out reprints of books that really don't need them (like, say, any given issue of Captain America), but for Defenders, a book we're actually seeing demand for, and the first issue of which has completely sold out...I know it says sold out at "retailer level," but my reorders all went to backorder, which means "no dice, jack." Shame, as I would have bumped orders way up, but there's no point since people won't want to have only four issues of a five issue series.

Dear kid in the store on new comics day: no, you may not lie down completely flat on the ground in front of the register so you can read comics neither you nor your parents intend to buy. Yes, I guess that makes me the jerk.

(Don't worry...I didn't make him cry or anything, and in fact I gave him some left over Free Comic Book Day comics, because I am right and good. Practically saintlike, in fact.)

A few days ago, a customer said something quite nice as he was walking into the store: "You know, every time I walk into this store, no matter how busy or not-busy it is, you guys are always working! I've been to a lot of stores where the guys behind the counter are just reading comics, but you guys -- you guys are always doing something." That made me feel pretty good.

Of course, on Wednesday pal Cully caught me paging through a comic..."reading on the job, eh?" Ah, well...the job can't be all fistfights and gunplay, you know.

And remember...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Due out today:
G.I. Spy #1, from the fine folks at Boom Studios. Andrew Cosby and Matt Haley present us with a spy-versus-Nazis story, with the twist being that the G.I. Spy in question, Jack Shepherd, is a beginner in the James Bond business, making such neophyte mistakes as, oh, say, accidentally knocking out his own partner during a scuffle. It could have easily been a slapstick farce, but it's still enough of a serious adventure to satisfy the "no humor in my comics, thank you" crowd, while keeping the attention of those of us who appreciate a light-humored touch to our action comics. Snappily written, well drawn, and though the whole spy genre has been worked through pretty thoroughly over the last few decades, G.I. Spy's presentation is attractive enough to stand out in a crowed field.

Nice twist: Albert Einstein as the scientific advisor to our heroes. Hey, who doesn't like Einstein?

Alan David Doane brings us KOCHALKAHOLIC, a weblog devoted to the life and times of James Kochalka, Superstar. Go, enjoy.

Found on this page...a new UK DVD edition of the 1980 Flash Gordon film, complete with Brian Blessed commentary.

Let me repeat that:


That darn well had better show up on the U.S. version.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

At long last, the national nightmare is over...I finally have my DSL connection at the new house. I can catch up on what I've been missing on the Comicsweblogosphere, like...um, well, I'm sure something's been going on, anyway.

my post from Sunday night seemed to awaken some warm fuzzies toward the late Marvel Age house organ, and, yes, there was much to recommend it. Several of you mentioned Fred Hembeck's regular contributions to the mag, and a lot of the covers were fun...I keep waiting for the collectors' market to notice those Groo covers Sergio Aragones provided for it. And one issue had some sample pages by one Kyle Baker, along with a "critique" of his work by some established Marvel artist or other.

My favorite issue featured the official Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars letters pages, with a smiling Jim Shooter pictured on the cover, sitting among the stacks and stacks of mail. The introduction to the letters section stated "some people are awe-struck, some are shocked, some are amazed -- and everybody loves it!" ...Which resulted in several people popping up in the fan press at the time, claiming that they had in fact sent in negative letters commenting on Secret Wars. At any rate, if you can find this issue of Marvel Age (#20) check it out...you gotta read it.

Monday, August 15, 2005

"The Wildest Super-Hero Ever -- Because He's REAL!" 

Apparently based on a real, live, honest-to-goodness stuntman, I can find precious little information on him on-line. However, I did find these pages of photos of the real Human Fly in full-fledged stunt action.

A letters page in the third issue has this editorial note: "We have no plans of turning the Human Fly into a crime-fighter -- simply because, in real life, he isn't one!" And this commitment to accurately reflecting the Human Fly's life can be seen in this team-up with Ghost Rider:

Okay, I'm being a jerk...that same letters page owns up to the fact that they're taking some liberties with the Human Fly character by having him team up with Marvel heroes, but still....

Now, those pages I linked above relate this statement about the eventual fate of the real Human Fly: "according to Marvel Comics, he apparently changed his life direction and was last seen playing guitar somewhere in a Canadian Coffee House." And perhaps there's some foreshadowing of that in issue #11, as the Human Fly cradles dying rock musician Willie Silver:

...and proceeds to play a song in tribute to the fallen star:

Please note that they couldn't even wait for Willie's carcass to be hauled off the stage before Mr. Fly takes over the show.

Most interesting of all is the caption at the end of the story, which reads "the Human Fly -- stuntman extraordinaire -- will soon become a recording artist as well." I'm gonna guess no such album ever came out, but man, what I wouldn't do for a copy of "The Human Fly Sings." You know that would be fantastic.

Okay, these are just a couple random thoughts about the Human Fly that came to mind as I was dealing with some copies of these at the shop...for additional info, try this page about the comic series, featuring a zip file of cover scans, a description of the series by writer Bill Mantlo from the first issue, and even a screensaver. Or this page about the Human Fly's rocket-cycle, which even gives a real name for the Fly ("Rick Rojatt," which is a nice Marvel-esque secret identity monicker, don't you think?)...that was news to me, but my Googling around shows that it's not exactly a secret.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Things I Did Today That You Didn't. 

I sold a full run of Marvel Vision to a customer today. You know, the 1990s version of Marvel Age? Yeah, that one. Sold 'em all.

Now if I could sell a full run of Marvel Age to someone, that would be the greatest day ever.

I kinda miss Marvel Age, come to think of it. Oh, Lordy, I'm nostalgic for Marvel Age...that's probably not a good sign.

So, to clarify
my post from Friday, I have no problem with people picking out nice copies of comics for themselves. Even I still have the habit of reaching two or three down the stack to get a copy for myself, and I'm getting my comics before we even open the store's doors for the business day. Most people want to get a reasonably good condition new comic for their money, and I know my customers don't want to buy comics off the rack that are obviously pre-read.

The point that was being made that the people who carefully examine each and every spine for microscopic damage may be taking that behavior to a slight extreme.

Which reminds me: pal Dorian spotted a reference in a toy magazine regarding condition grading, in which a comment is made regarding defects that may not be visible to the naked eye. Um, if it's not visible to the naked eye, is it really a defect? "I spotted a dent in the plastic bubble through my electron microscope...it's not mint! It's not mint!"

In case you're wondering, the cover of choice for Supergirl #1 is the Michael Turner variant. More than once we've been left with nothing but the Churchill cover left on the rack.

By the way, there's a second printing coming.

The comic still isn't any good.

Random thought: the whole Robotech thing is pretty much dead for good, isn't it? It used to be that Robotech was one of those comics that used to sell as a back issue rather than a new one...it would just sit there on the rack, but as soon as it was in the backstock bins, people couldn't get enough of them.

But now? That last attempt at publishing Robotech comics (by Wildstorm, I believe) couldn't have been more of a dog if it had fur and barked.

A couple days ago, we had a mother drop her son off at the store to shop, while she drove off and disappeared for about an hour or so to (presumably) do some shopping herself. Well, she came back, clearly unhappy about having to actually come into the store to get her son, and impatiently waited for him at the register while he paid.

As Dorian rang her up, she apparently said to her son, under her breath, "You shouldn't be reading these...you don't want to end up like these people."

Like whom, exactly? The small business owner who's run a business in this town for a quarter of a century? Like the doctors, lawyers, policemen, and the assistant district attorney we have as customers? Like the people who simply enjoy reading comics for the fun of it, and aren't hurting or bothering anybody?

Like a woman who dumps her unsupervised child off on us for an hour while she runs off to do God knows what, and then comes back to give us a superior attitude? Well, okay, in that case, she might have a point: you don't want your kid to grow up to be like that.

You know, it's stuff like that which really makes me wonder why we bother. Dor touched upon this on his site a while back, echoing a common lament of mine: some of our customers just don't know how good they have it. We run a nice store, clean, relatively organized, well-stocked, family-friendly...and apparently that's not enough for some people. Just the very fact it's a comic book store is enough to elicit contempt from the petty and small-minded. And when she said it, it's not like we had a store full of freaks or something to trigger that response...Dor and I were just working, and we had a couple perfectly normal people quietly perusing the racks. No peculiar shenanigans were going on.

So, to my friends on the Comicsweblogosphere who recently opened their own stores...you have that to look forward to as well.

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