mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, October 22, 2005

"You suck, Mom!" 

from Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery #85 (October 1978)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Is there a reason why the Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe - Horror 2005 doesn't have Man-Thing in it? Did the Man-Thing movie just totally kill any desire by Marvel to remind anyone that it's their character? (EDIT:
Commenter Nik noted something I missed, that the comic itself states that Man-Thing is in the Marvel Knights 2005 handbook. Which is too bad...that might have convinced me to buy the horror book, which I was sort of undecided on. Oh, well.)

I finally got around to reading Apocalypse Nerd #2, which came out last week, and oddly enough, pal Dorian mentioned his theory about the story to me, which was the exact same thing I thought as I was reading it: that the "apocalypse" (i.e. a nuclear strike on Seattle) that triggers the events of the story is not actually what happened.

I'd actually planned to mention something about it yesterday, but I wanted to look at the first issue and see what evidence existed there...and Dor and I did so on Thursday.

The events in the first issue are as follows:

1. Vehicles loaded with essential supplies are speeding out of the area.

2. A radio message (only part of which is heard due to poor reception) indicated that there is an emergency and that people should not panic. The nature of the emergency is not indicated.

3. An out-of-the-way mini-mart is managed by a crazed woman, guarding her store with a rifle, who does state that Seattle has been struck by a nuclear missile.

So, the only statement to the effect that the emergency was indeed a missile strike is from a less-than-reliable source. Clearly an emergency of some kind happened, causing people to grab supplies and flee the area, but World War III doesn't appear to be what it is. So Dorian and I both arrived independently at the same conclusion, that the "heroes" of Apocalypse Nerd jumped the gun and fled from the fall of civilization...a fall that never occurred.

Of course, the next issue could take place in the midst of the radioactive ruins of the city, proving us wrong, but as of the second issue, "it didn't actualy happen" appears to be the conclusion towards which this series seems to be heading.

Both of the previous points had been covered elsewhere, haven't they?

So in response to my post yesterday, about what's gonna happen to my funnybooks after I join the choir invisible, I think Commenter David had the best response. Not about what to do with my comics, but about the most depressing thing: that if comics are still being published, that means they'll continue coming out after I'm dead, which means I'm going to miss out. The very potential that I could quite possibly miss out on an issue of Swamp Thing is enough to keep me alive and kicking.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I'm dead now, don't smoke read comics. 

Okay, I'm not really dead (but if I were, this would be the scariest weblog post ever! OoooooOOOOOOoooooh, spooky!), but I was, I don't know, in a morbid mood, I guess, and was thinking about what would happen to my collection of funnybooks after I kick the bucket.

I suppose it came to mind as I've recently been going through some of the old Comic Reader fanzines that I own. Some of them were subscription copies that were purchased (along with a sizable chunk of a comics collection) from an estate sale a few years back, and had the name and address of the decedent printed on the back covers. Every time I espy this gentleman's name as I'm perusing decades-old comics news, I think about how he spent his spare time putting together a comics collection, only to have it split up and sold pretty much as soon as he passed on.

That's a bit depressing, though I really can't say that it's unsurprising. After all, following my eventual death, I don't expect that the vast Mikester Comic Archives will be sealed in high-grade industrial plastic and displayed as an eternal tribute to my greatness. But it would be nice...send enough PayPal donations to my e-mail address and I'll get right on it.

I've no intention of having children, so most likely I won't have any heirs to inherit my collection. Which is just as well, since more often than not geekiness tends to skip a generation, and any potential children of mine wouldn't be interested in comics anyway. They'd probably be more into crazy, out-there things like "sports," and "going out," and "having social lives," in total contrast to dear old Dad, and would probably sell my comics for just enough money to buy a tankful of fuel for their flying cars.

Selling is a tricky proposition as well...assuming I live to a ripe old age, there's no assurance that there'll still be a market for old comics after my passing. Or any kind of comics market at all. If we were to extrapolate from today's society, kids of the future will most likely communicate only in grunts and only occasionally turn away from their vid-screens long enough to eat their food-pills, and thus wouldn't be interested in "reading" anything printed on "paper." That would be something only the old and the poor do, and thus any hobby based on paper products would likely have no economic support.

On the other hand, by that time there may not be any trees left, what with the last remaining old-growth forests having been replaced by vast fields of drilling machinery futilely attempting to extract that last milliliter of oil, and most books and magazines having been converted to building materials to house the 17 billion people living on Earth at that point, so paper might be a rare, valuable commodity. 100 Nu-Dollars per cubic ton of paper! Woo-hoo!

I suppose I could will them to a library or something, but having worked in a library, I know the average lifespan for a comic book once it's on the shelves is about 46 seconds. Plus, there's no telling if libraries will still be around at that point, since, given the progressing reduction of funds for our local libraries over the years, I think they're open for approximately 3 hours a week now as it is.

Perhaps I could "take it with me," as it were, and be buried Egyptian pharaoh style, surrounded by golden long comic boxes, in an underground tomb. Or have my body burned, Viking-style, on a giant pyre made from my collection.

But no, most likely, my collection will go the way of the fellow whose Comic Readers I own, pieced out and divided up among comic stores and comic collectors, with no idea that particular copy of Superman #202 came from my full run of Eighty-Page Giants, no idea that issue of Spider-Man was bought because it came out on my birthday, no idea that those Sugar & Spikes came from a run I was never able to complete.

Or maybe they'll just all be recycled into other paper products. Or into food..."Soylent Green is made of comics!"

Anyway, that's my depressing thought for the morning.

Have a nice day!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Just got a copy of the new
BOOM! Studios release Giant Monster by Steve Niles and Nat Jones, courtesy Ross Richie...it's a good old-fashioned sci-fi "horrible space accident unleashes a giant monster on Earth" story -- if this were a movie, the monster would be played by a guy in a rubber suit, smashing scale model cities, throwing toy boats. It's a bit more horrific than the monster movies that clearly inspired it (this is Steve Niles, the fella what brung you 30 Days of Night, after all), but still there's a sense of goofy fun through the book...despite the horror, the tongue is very firmly in cheek here. Nat Jones' art is clear and detailed, conveying the horror without going for the gross-out (which could have been very easy to do in some scenes).

This should be in your better comic shops today. It's the first of two issues...you can see the cover of issue 2 here.

Hot on the heels of the Doc Doom's euphemisms for sex thing, posted here a few days ago, comes Doctor Doom for Homecoming King. Hey, I was Prom King my senior year...Doom wants to be Homecoming King? Wimp. I can take him, easy.

A review of the Elektra: Unrated Director's Cut DVD:

"...The additional touches of violence (cut for ratings) and the demonstrations of the time-warping powers that Elektra and the Hand possess add a marginal level of darkness that doesn't really elevate the poor original to a level of actual quality as much as give a glimpse of what could've been if only the filmmakers had chosen not to screw up the rich source material."

Sad: Lone Ranger artist Tom Gill has passed away. As per usual, Mark Evanier has a nice write-up on the man and his work.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

My primary reaction to the new DC solicitations:

Gah, it's

And hasn't there already been a "baby Superman arrives in Smallville statue" or did I just imagine that? (At least they're paying attention to detail...the rocket in the Smallville statue looks identical to the one in this statue, showing Supes' Kryptonian parents preparing him for his escape.)

Speaking of Superman, I was finally finishing up the Showcase Presents Superman tome, and was reading the story "How Perry White Hired Clark Kent," when I noticed a couple things.

One, Clark's living in a Metropolis apartment, paying his rent in cash for at least two months, causing his landlady to inquire after his source of income:

The question is never answered...where did Clark get his money? He didn't sell the Kent home, since later stories show that he still owns the Smallville properties. The most likely answer is that Clark is living off the insurance money he collected after his adoptive parents died (and perhaps off whatever savings his family had)...a little morbid, I suppose, but I prefer that answer to Superman pocketing a twenty here and there from every bank robber he apprehends.

Plus, Clark cheats like crazy to get his Daily Planet job, which is behavior we've seen before. Perry tests Clark's knowledge of past Planet stories, which Clark is able to answer by using his super-vision to read the answers directly out of the paper's archives.

On top of that, later in the story he dons a gorilla costume to fake an event at the zoo just so he can get a scoop, not to mention the fact that Clark's primary source of newstories, once he actually does become a reporter, is reporting on his own activities as Superman. I know I've said it before, but man, for someone fighting against evil, he's sure piling up the ethical dilemmas.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The end of a rampage; blogging about blogging is a sin; hey, it's the Infinite Crisis, for you and for me; I type too much. 

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the closure of Fanboy Rampage, the comics weblog that read terrible, terrible comic message boards so you didn't have to. I've said before that the Rampage was one of the inspirations for me to finally get my own weblog going...though it's hard to believe Graeme's site had only been around for a couple months at that point. It already seemed like a vital part of the comicsweblogosphere, even at that early stage.

So, arrivederci, Graeme, and good luck to you.

So, who does that leave for the long-running webloggers? We have Comic Treadmill, which just celebrated its two-year anniversary; Laura "Tegan" Gjovagg, Aquaman's #1 proponent for nearly three years; Johnny Bacardi, serving 'em up for about three years; and of course, the nigh-invincible Neilalien, who showed everyone else how to do it. Plus, I'm just about at the two year mark myself. And I'm sure I'm missing somebody, but that's what the comments section is for.

There are also new comic webloggers popping up all the time, so belay that "comic weblogs are dead" talk, mister! (As opposed to "the nature of discussion on the comicsweblogosphere is changing" talk, as Neilalien mentions.)

I'm not fooling myself...I know that the whole weblog fad won't last forever, and that sooner or later the current weblog boom will probably scale itself back to a relative handful of dedicated webloggers, leaving the desiccated corpses of abandoned journals and link-logs and Myspace accounts scattered across the internet. I mean, I was there for the late-70s CB radio boom, I've seen it happen before. ("Pathfinder Jr." in case you were wondering. Don't ask.)

But so long as weblogs are around, some percentage of them (about 0.000000002%) will be comic book weblogs, so comic 'blogs won't go away until 'blogs in general do. But I'm sure whatever follows weblogs as the primary form of World Wide Web communication, there'll be people using it to talk about the funnybooks...including me, I'm sure. (Unless it's online interpretive dance videos, in which case I draw the line.)

Pal Ian talks about Infinite Crisis and brings up a point that I had been pondering myself...if the stated goal of IC was to "lighten the tone" of the DC Universe, why use a crossover series to do it? Why not just start writing the books with a lighter tone?

Well, money, of course.

As everyone knows (or should know), comic book crossovers started out as a way to get kids exposed to characters they otherwise wouldn't read. A Green Lantern fan would see that he's in a Justice Society story in the latest All-Star Comics, so he'd want to buy that comic, too. In the process, maybe he'd see GL's fellow Society member the Flash, and think "hey, that Flash character is pretty neat...maybe I should look for his comic book, too!"

And so on.

That's what I see Infinite Crisis doing as well, particularly with the tie-in series. "This mini-series shows you all the cool super-villains we have, this mini-series has our magical and oddball heroes, this one has our space heroes...." I'm not a huge Batman fan, by any means, but IC got me to buy Omac Project, nominally a Batman mini-series. A lot of people bought the "Sacrifice" issue of Wonder Woman that tied into the series, and stuck around for further issues.

You may not care for the content of the series (and judging by at least one page-by-page allegedly-humorous overview of IC that pal Dorian tried to warn you about, some of you really don't), you can't really fault DC on its planning. This is about as well-structured a "crossover event" I'd ever seen from the Big Two, that genuinely has readers excited about what's going on, and has them looking forward to, and buying, titles that they might not ordinarily have bought. I'm hearing very little griping about about being "forced" to buy IC tie-ins as well, which is certainly unusual for a crossover event like this.

Note, that by "readers" in that last paragraph, I mean "people who come into our store and buy comics from us and discuss them with us as well." I don't mean "people I see complaining online, who are probably buying IC and all its tie-ins anyway." In the wild, at least in my direct experience, IC is being quite well-received, thank you.

On a related note, just prior to IC's release, I was singing an Infinite Crisis theme song, much to Dorian's amusement, though darn if I can remember it now. The lyrics aren't the ones in this post's title (I stole that from the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 ersatz theme song for Undersea Kingdom), but I sure wish I knew what they were. (This would be sign #343 that I've sold comics for too long.)

So Dorian and I were discussing that the latest issue of a particular toy magazine seemed to have several articles that weren't toy-related, and in fact could have been easily put, with little or no changes, in other magazines from the same publisher. And we were thinking, how hard is it to stay on topic? Okay, I can understand if you want to diversify the mag a little, but why cover the same ground your sister magazines already cover?

And that got us on the topic, somehow, of how much we write on our goofy little weblogs, here. Dorian's topics are a little more wide-ranging, discussing horror movies, music and such, but I'm pretty much 98% comics (with the occasional Star Wars and Star Trek and Snakes on a Plane post). Just on a whim, I took all my posts from the last month and cut 'n' pasted them into a word processing file. It came to about 62 pages, without images. If you take out the non-comics posts, it comes to about, say, 60 pages. That's enough to fill a small magazine (well, fanzine), just on my own. If we were to add in the comics-related writing from Dor, pal Tom, and pal Ian, we could have a respectably-sized publication.

Of course, putting out a comics magazine in this market would almost certainly have us looking back on the milk 'n' honey days of weblogging, where the money was free and easy. Plus, I'd need to find an editor to trim down my writing to something an actual human being could read.

So, I'm not sure what my point is really, beyond "I type too much." If you read all my crazy-talk on a regular basis, I appreciate it.

If you've read this far, here's a gallery/listing of spy comics drawn by this person when he was a kid. Gave me some nostalgic feelings for my own young comic-drawing days, it did.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

What did I learn this past week? That the people want
Doctor Doom sex jokes. Holy frijole, I blew through some bandwidth right quick. Thanks to pal Andy (and everyone who gets their links from pal Andy) for the attention.

I've been pondering a theory regarding new comics for quite a while now, and I think it holds true for the most part. Let me know if you can come up with any exceptions:

The quality of a new comic book series is inversely proportionate to the amount of related "preview" books, sketchbooks, script and/or rough-pencilled page books, etc., that are released prior to that series' debut.

Speaking of comic promos, I recently received an envelope in the store mail filled with promotional trading cards for a forthcoming comic book series. The accompanying letter stated that we were receiving these promo cards because fans in our local area were writing to the company and requesting that these cards be made available to them. And that, since there was such demand in our area, we should of course order lots of the comic in question to meet said demand.

Yeah, since I was apparently born yesterday, I'll jump right on that.

Things I did at work on Saturday, while processing some inventory -- idly making up scenarios for Marvel's What If series:

"What if Daredevil became the Punisher, joined the Avengers, and fought Galactus during the Secret Wars?"

"What if the Fantastic Four were the Fantastic Fourteen?"

"What if Peter Parker had been bitten by a radioactive tongue-eating fish parasite?"

"What if Wolverine had been Lord of the Vampires during Inferno?" (Oh, wait, I didn't make that one up.)

Confidential to pal JP: I wasn't making up the "avenging the dead puppy" genre of war comics, honest! (I first saw this referenced in some fanzine or another, probably Amazing Heroes.)

For those of you who were worried (and I'm sure some of you were), Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1 sales have finally picked up at our shop. Thank goodness...I'd hate to think one of the half-dozen or so Spidey titles on the shelves in any given month was a poor seller. That might indicate that, oh, I don't know, that there were more Spidey titles than the market could support, or something.

Your casual dismissal of the comics industry for the day:

"You may think that gamers are much like comic book geeks. They are not. Games are a multi-billion dollar business, on par with other entertainment mediums."

Ooh, harsh. (via Metafilter)

EDIT: To clarify my comments about the AC Comics' Nightveil DVD...I wasn't trying to be overly negative about it, and I hope I didn't give anyone that impression. The movie does look like cheesy, low-budget fun, which is the best kind of fun, as I'm sure you'll all agree. Congrats to the folk at AC for being able to pull together the resources to produce and release their own film.

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