mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, August 27, 2005

"A small price to pay...for cuteness!" 

Friday, August 26, 2005

After yesterday's
magnum opus, I think I'll keep it short 'n' sweet today:

1. Pal Dorian has reported to me that he's received several phone calls from people looking for Marvel Comics' Logan's Run #2 from 1977. Aside from being the only issue of Logan's Run I owned as a kid, there's nothing particularly special about this issue that makes it stand out. It's drawn by George Perez, but so are most of the issues. It's written by David Kraft, but again, so are most of 'em.

Usually, when we're asked for Logan's Run, it's for the issue with the Thanos back-up story. But #2? No idea. I wonder if this is another case of the Masters of the Universe situation I found myself in a few years back, where just by apparent coincidence, everyone started looking for the same oddball Marvel comic all at once.

2. For those of you patiently waiting for the long-delayed Wha-huh comic from Marvel, I can report that it's finally turned up in the preview packs sent to retailers, so supposedly we can expect it on the shelves next week.

Well, both pal Dorian and I have read it, and, alas, it ain't a patch on the original What If humor issue (#34, from 1982), or even the second less-funny all-humor What If issue (also #34, from 1992). The art by Jim Mahfood is nice, and the story "What if the Black Panther Was White" had some good jokes in it, but overall - eh. That Identity Crisis parody is just baffling, and if you manage to blow a parody of internet message boards, friend, you just aren't trying.

3. I'm rapidly approaching post #1000 on my site, here...any suggestions as to what to do for that momentous occasion? (Aside from "retire," that is.)

Thursday, August 25, 2005

In which Mike makes friends, looks at some new funnybooks, and ponders the End of Civilization. 

"Everyone knows that people who like comics are unsuccessful losers who die alone."

--Kid Chris

Okay, perhaps I should provide some context to that.

Pal Dorian, Kid Chris, and I were discussing all the contentiousness out there on the Comicsweblogosphere, with controversies seemingly breaking out at the drop of a hat, and how I personally would just as soon not get mired in them. Who needs the hassle, you know? I've got enough real problems to worry about (like landscaping the backyard, getting the curtains up....). Though, sez I, I'm occasionally tempted to put something on my site specifically designed to honk people off. That's when Kid Chris chimed in with the above bon mot as something I should put on the site to...encourage discussion, as it were. Please note he said this as he was holding a handful of comic books he was planning to buy for himself.

So, relax, he wasn't being serious about it, and neither am I. (And he didn't say it around any customers, either, so don't worry about that.) Besides, if I really wanted to irritate people, I'd say something along the lines of "why are orders on Peng so low? Maybe retailers saw Sharknife." (Only a joke, only a joke! We ordered Peng, and regularly reorder Sharknife...it's not my thing, as I've noted before, but it does sell for us.)

So I was strangely obsessed with Midori Days on Wednesday, a comic in which the right hand of the local tough kid is suddenly, magically replaced with...a cute girl. And not just any cute girl, but apparently a real girl who had a crush on our protagonist. This is one of those comics that makes me wonder just what the heck is going on over there in Japan. Man, they got some weird-ass ideas for comics...and good on them for it. (Though I wonder if this could be considered a romantic comedy version of Parasite, in which a fellow's hand (or whole arm?) is replaced with an alien being. Unless Parasite was a romantic comedy, and I was just reading it wrong.)

The filing category noted on the back of the Arana paperback released by Marvel this week is "teen drama/superhero action," so look for it near the sci-fi/role playing game books at your local big chain bookstore, kids!

On the cover of The Darkness Versus Mr. Hyde, the newest installment in the "Top Cow Characters Fight Public Domain Monsters" series, is the following quote from Paperback Reader: "It's a crossover series that provides fun and adventure by combining the characters." I guess the "fun" part counts as the positive review, as the rest of the quote is pretty much just defining what a "crossover" is. Granted, this is better than one of the review quotes they used in TV commercials for Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles: "Crocodile Dundee is back, and this time he's in L.A.!" Yes, and...? I swear to God, that was the quote they used.

Teen Titans #27 by Gail Simone and Rob Liefeld - okay, gotta give them points for the self-aware cover blurb ("Come on - you know you want it!"), but, man, this is Liefeld at his Liefeldest, and while I love Simone's deft touch with dialogue, I just couldn't do it. And I wasn't the only one...I saw a lot of customers struggling with indecision over it at the racks, and I had a couple of resigned sighs of "well, I've got the rest of them" as they made their decisions to purchase. I've said before that Liefeld can still sell X-books like crazy, but on anything else? Not as well, I'm afraid. (At first, I flipped open to a couple pages and thought "hey, this doesn't look too bad," and then I realized I was looking at the Bioncle ad.)

JSA Classified #2 - Power Girl explains to Superman why she has a big hole in her top exposing her cleavage. Still bound to tick someone off.

Spike: Old Times one-shot - Sold though all our copies on Wednesday. Okay, we didn't order a lot (it's seven and a half bucks, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer hadn't been quite the hot comics commodity it used to be) but people like Spike, and they like Peter David, and they make a good combination on this book. The old fan speculation that Spike's old crush was the same person as the vengeance demon he met over a century later (since they were played by the same actress on the TV show) is made explicit in this story. Likenesses are generally accurate throughout, courtesy artist Fernando Goni, though occasionally backgrounds suffer from a lack of detail. Still, a fun and quick read...not deep, but entertaining, with David's signature touch of humor.

Little Lulu Vol. 5: Lulu in The Doghouse also came out this week...really, you need to buy this. It's some of the most charming and funny cartooning you'll ever read. And, to flog the dead (Dark) horse a little more, all the pages appear to be in order this time.

And now, what you've been waiting for...the End of Civilization, as revealed through the pages of the latest Diamond Previews catalog. Follow along in your own copies, won't you? (Previous entries in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6)

p. 251 - Offered again, the Shi 10th Anniversary Limited Edition Naginata:

"Wield the most infamous weapon of Japanese Antiquity, and the choice of Billy Tucci's Warrior Heroine Shi. This Limited 10th Anniversary Naginata comes with [sic] engraved with the Shi Kanji, numbers and is limited to 99 editions. Originating over 1,000 years ago and due to its massive height, it was most successful in battle against horsemen and swords. Stretching over 5 feet tall with a 20" carbon steel blade with intense blood grooves and blade cover. Comes complete with wooden stand."

Only $199.99.

p. 391 - Dungeons & Dragons for Dummies: chapters include "Worshipping Satan," "Who Buys The Pizza," and "Friday Nights Are Always Open." (DISCLAIMER FOR THE SENSITIVE: I played D&D too...I joke with love, with love!)

Also p. 391 - Garfield's Book of Cat Names: sure, go ahead and laugh, but I bet it outsells any given issue of Ultimate Spider-Man.

p. 393 - Family Guy: The Ultimate Episode Guide: includes a one-page chapter discussing the episodes that were actually funny.

(A BRIEF INTERRUPTION: Please note on page 405 and 406, in the "International" section, are two new Jim Woodring Frank items - a 48-page book called "Lute String" ($5.95) and a DVD of Frank animations ($24.95). Turn back the fall of civilization by buying these items.)

p. 412 - UDA Tiger Woods Breaking Through Framed Photo: "features a raised 12" by 20" image of Tiger Woods with an actual Nike golf ball 'breaking through' the Plexiglass...." Yes, it's a photo with a golf ball glued to it. If any sports fans give any of you comic fans grief over the stuff you buy, feel free to bring up this item.

p. 436 - Barbie as Elektra.



Where's your messiah now?

p. 444 - How is it that the two-dimensional face decal on the Faith figure from the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Palz" series has a better likeness of the actress than the three-dimensional Faith action figure?

p. 452 - Star Trek Riker & Worf core figures: "limited to one per case is the Lieutenant Thomas Riker figure," which is the Riker figure with a yellow top instead of a red one. I explained to Dorian that Thomas was Riker's transporter clone, and I literally stunned Dor speechless.

p. 454 - G.I. Joe Destro Mask Replica: 14 inches tall, made of metal, $350.00, and I swear, if I find out you bought this, I will find you and I will administer punishment.

p. 458 - 13-inch Man Thing statue...look, if I'm not going to buy this, then who is?

p. 486 - Zombie Outbreak Survival Kit for $14.95, includes "caution: zombie outbreak" warning tape, trading cards, signs, toe tags, a CD-ROM (with desktop themes and games), and other things that will make you wonder why you spent $14.95 on this.

p. 519 - Tripping the Rift Season One 2-Disc DVD Set: no one actually likes this show, do they?

p. 520 - Dungeons & Dragons 2: The Elemental Might DVD:
"When the evil sorcerer Damodar braves a perilous whirlwind vortex to steal the elemental black orb, he declares a sinister plan of vengeance against the kingdom of Ismir. Berek, a decorated warrior, and Melora, an amateur sorceress join four other heroes to battle against Damodar's growing army of gruesome creatures and prevent him from summoning the sleeping black dragon whose omnipotent evil powers could lay waste to the entire kingdom!"

Based on the John Irving novel.

If you've read this far, you deserve a prize...and that prize is a Super Chicken fan site. Thanks to The Comic Treadmill for pointing it out!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

It's no fun to do the weblogging thing when you're sick, especially if you've got a full day of work ahead of you as well. Feh, sez I.

However, I do want to make a mention of today's new
Boom Studios release What Were They Thinking?! -- a comic where Keith Giffen and Mike Leib basically take some old war comics drawn by Wally Wood and rewrite them with humorous, irreverent dialogue. I'm not entirely sure if I'd want to read something like this on a regular basis, but, hey, it's good for a laugh or two. Some of the humor is pretty crass and tasteless, but I like crass and tasteless, so that's fine with me.

If you're just interested in seeing some vintage Wally Wood art, I should note that the reproduction isn't bad, considering they shot from the printed pages (yellowing borders and all). I wish more straight reprint books would do this...I really like how it looks, seeing the pages as they originally appeared all those years ago.

Another comic I want to mention (since I've been owing these good folks a review for like three weeks now) is Sara Ryan and Steve Leiber's Flytrap Episode One: Juggling Act, a short comics digest introducing us to Maddy and her busy, complicated life...the "juggling act" of the title. Her boyfriend's trying to make it in a band, her mom is badgering her on the phone, her office work is overwhelming, her car gets towed...it's just one thing on top of another, and Ryan and Leiber do an excellent job conveying Maddy's frustration and the hectic confusion of her day. This is basically an introductory chapter to an ongoing story, as Maddy is thrust out of her normal busy life into a surprising new direction. It's only fourteen pages long, but it's a packed fourteen pages, and it feels like it delivers more content than any standard-sized four color comic. I want to see what happens next, so everyone order a copy (only $2.00 domestic, including shipping...they take the PayPal) and give them incentive to keep producing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I don't know what
this has to do with the Scottish Open Volleyball Tournament, but there it is anyway.

Okay, okay, making with the clicky-clicky reveals that it's a costumed volleyball team named...well, go see for yourself. Alas, the only award they won at this tourney was "Best Dressed Team" which I guess isn't so bad.

So pal Dorian
posted this dopey Birds of Prey panel, where a gun that was used in a crime was disposed of by one of our heroes by tossing it into a sewer drain and not, say, giving it to the police or anything.

And that reminded me of a scene that apparently appeared in a Marvel comic sometime in the late 70s/early 80s, that unfortunately I didn't see myself. Rather, I read a reference to it in one of the many, many fanzines I have in the vast Mikester Comic Archives...but, again unfortunately, I don't remember which one. The scene I'm thinking of involved a character disposing of a gun by...flushing it down a toilet.

Now, I was around guns a lot in my younger days, so I'm somewhat familiar with them. And I am also somewhat familiar with toilets, having found good use for them on occasion over the years. And I'm fairly certain, unless it's a really small gun and/or a really large toilet, you ain't getting rid of a gun that way.

Anyway, what I'm asking is if any of you know where the comic panel appeared, if it did appear and it's not a figment of my fevered brain, and if you could let me know where. I'd like to see it for myself. I'm pretty sure it's in a Spider-Man comic, and Bill Mantlo may be the writer responsible. I suppose I could plow though the store's run of Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man, but I'm lazy.

In other news:

I did some readjusting of the links sidebar over there, including adding the newest member of the Associated Comics And Pop Culture Webloggers of Ventura County, CA And Outlying Environs...Batfatty! Longtime readers of my site might know him better as "pal JP," who has contributed his fair share of material to this page of mine. Well, now, you can go straight to the source! He's gathered lots of the craziest comic book images you'll ever see, so go see 'em already.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Ladies and gentlemen...the Calculator:

So I had Kid Chris processing several old comics we purchased recently, and, flipping through a copy of Detective Comics #468 (Mar/Apr '77), he wondered just what was up with this Calculator fella. "Yes," I told Kid Chris, "the Calculator really did materialize objects out of his helmet that he could use to fight superheroes."

I'm no Calculator scholar, but I figured objects just popped out of the front of his helmet, and I think this is the only time where I saw a hatch open on top. It reminds me a little of the scene in Time Bandits where the knife/drill thingie pops out of the top of David Warner's head.

Besides, wouldn't that crane make the Calculator awfully top-heavy? Or did that helmet generate unseen braces and supports to keep Calc upright? And really, what good is that going to do fighting Batman anyway?

Anyway, this story ends with this panel:

...where Batman is laughing because he (as Bruce Wayne) just screwed Morgan Edge on some business deal. Add that to your list of Things Batman Doesn't Do Anymore. (Laugh, that is, not screw people on business deals.)

We also recently acquired a full run of Ultimate Marvel titles, from Ultimate Spider-Man #1 on up, including a complete set of that Ultimate Marvel magazine. You know, the one Marvel saw fit not to distribute to comic shops at first. Which is just as well, since later issues didn't sell worth poop anyway. I was poking through the last issue, and saw this line in an interview with Jack Black about comics he enjoys:

"I got into the Black Knight, and the Minute Men by Alan Moore. Now, I like 8 Ball and Chris Weir who does those Acme novels."

Okay, I'm not faulting Black for not remembering the name of Watchmen...he's probably (and wisely) not obsessive about this stuff like we are. But surely an editor would have caught the misspellings...unless, of course, nobody gave a rat's butt because it's the last issue. "Hey, isn't that supposed to be spelled W-A-R-E?" "Ah, who cares, nobody's gonna read this anyway."

Remember that Spider-Man entry in the smart-alecky
Comics FAQ I posted a few days ago, where I said Spidey lives on in movies, TV, and toys? Peter David has a real-life example of this.

Ladies and gentlemen...pal Dorian and me:

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Yesterday, a question from a customer who didn't know what he was getting himself into: "Hey, do you know anything about Swamp Thing?"

No, no, don't worry, I didn't lay into him with every single fact about Swamp Thing that I have swirling around my brain -- I don't want to be one of those guys -- but I did try to tell him that the current issue is probably not the best place to start with the character, and that he might want to try some older issues first. He didn't listen to me and bought the current issue anyway, so hopefully he'll be more intrigued than confused and come back for more. We'll see.

Another question I occasionally get hit with:

Customer: "So, what's good?"

Me: "Well, this Acme Novelty Library graphic novel is really good...it's a darkly-humored examination of loneliness and alienation."

Customer: "Huh, that's interesting...say, has Michael Turner done anything lately? We draws some fantastic babes."

The problem is that my definition of "good" and the customer's definition are usually at odds with each other...this example is just a slight exaggeration, but when given not much to work with beyond "I'm looking for something good," it can be a minor struggle to find something appropriate. Now, I've been at this for a long time...once I get an idea of the kind of thing the customer's looking for, even if it's something I don't much care for myself, even if it's
the worst comic book ever, I can generally find something to the customer's taste.

Of course, sometimes what the customer is asking for is entirely different from what they apparently want. I had a woman ask me for a female superhero comic, one that wasn't "oversexualized" or "exploitive." I immediately thought of Go Girl, by Trina Robbins and Anne Timmons...a perfectly innocent and charming comic written by one of the industry's most prominent feminist cartoonists...nope, apparently Go Girl's breasts were too large, and thus was too sexist.

What that customer ended up buying...Dogwitch. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not casting aspersions on Dogwitch, but given the book's mature content, it didn't seem like the sort of thing she was asking for. Plus, that's kinda stretching the definition of "superhero" a bit.

And don't get me started on the Sam Keith "fans," who "love all his work," but won't buy Four Women or The Maxx or Zero Girl, but only want his Wolverine comics.

Requests I don't get enough of: "I have $900 in my pocket, and I want to spend it on any items in the store that have been sitting around for a while, and you'd be happy to see leave the shelves. What have you got?" "Right this way to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer trade paperbacks, sir!"

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