mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Etcetera & The Comic Reader #86 (June 1972) - art by Alan Kupperberg & Steve Mitchell

Friday, January 13, 2006

Quotes ahoy! 

Here is some positive feedback recently left for our store account on the eBay:

"like a log in the fire, burning itself to create warmth and comfort for us all"

"like the snowflake slowly dancing across the scy
[sic] to greet the weary ground"

"like a cool wind blowing against the legs freshly discarded from a pair of socks"

Had I known that selling Moebius books would inspire feedback poetry, I would do it more often.

Hey! Here's an advance look at Spider-Man's new temporary costume change: "it's playing an important role in the future of the web-slinger!" So, what's the general consensus as to how long it'll be around? Three months? Six months? Will it last out a year? It'll be gone before the next movie rolls around, at any rate.

A brief look at the DC Comics forums:

"Can Kid Eternity call upon Barry Allen?"

Hey, yeah, can he?

"How far can they take Joker without an R rating?"

"He can kill, shoot, hit someone with a car, throw some joker bombs...make people laugh themselves silly....but what happens when Doctor Joker wants to come out and play? Or if Joker wants to be a hair stylist...I mean...I am not saying show us blood goar and all that...but I mean...even Braveheart got an R rating for all the crap they were doing to William Wallace offstage"


























Nightwing Sucks Flash is better"

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Happy Bat-versary! 

As odd as it may seem, my recent run of Bat posts about the '60s Batman TV show was made without realizing that today is the show's 40th anniversary.

Funny how things work out, sometimes.

New comics, Shatner, and more Bat-links. 

Best thing I got at the store on New Comics Day:

...the Visions of Frank DVD, featuring nine different animated interpretations of Jim Woodring's comic work. (There's a RealPlayer clip of one of the animations on this page to get a taste.) The dreamlike qualities of the comics translate very successfully to motion, at least in the half I've had time to watch so far. It's a little pricey, considering it's less than an hour long, but production value is high (particularly on the package...very sharp looking, and includes a small 16-page booklet which reprints a couple Frank strips), and how could you not want a DVD in your collection with this menu page:

I should also note that along with the original soundtracks for each of the animations, there is a second set of accompanying tracks by different artists, including one by the inimitable Dame Darcy.

I also ordered another Japanese Jim Woodring import item, this one a book called The Lute String, that was supposed to come in this Wednesday as well...but, alas, our entire order for this item was shorted by Diamond. I'll have to wait for more Frank fun until next week, when the replacements will (hopefully) arrive.

Other new comics news:

The Batman Strikes #17 - So, upon seeing the Riddler on the cover, only one question comes to mind: are there any good character designs on this cartoon? Good heavens.

Marvel Milestones Bloodstone, X-51 and Captain Marvel II - "Quick, run into the archives and grab three completely random comics...we'll slap 'em together and reprint them under one cover!" "Genius!"

DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore - Quite frankly, I'd rather they just 1) kept the old edition of this book in print, and 2) kept the Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow and Killing Joke books in print separately (and yes, I know there are economic reasons why they don't). I foresee people looking for Killing Joke in the future not being terribly happy that it's now only available in a $20 paperback. (Then again, it's not as if Killing Joke didn't go through a bazillion printings...they should be relatively easy to find...I hope.) Nice cover, though.

Ed The Happy Clown #4 - Have I mentioned that I hope he collects these, with the footnotes, when he's done with the series? Probably. I wish I'd paid closer attention, and picked these up from the start.

Elfquest The Discovery #1 - Still not an Elfquest follower...sorry, but I thought I'd better mention it in case anyone wasn't aware that Wendy 'n' Richard are doing a brand new full-color mini-series. For those of you who like this kind of thing, it looks like it'll be the kind of thing that you want.

Mark Evanier pointed to the William Shatner DVD Club...and, as pal Dorian pointed out to me, it's not a club sending out DVDs starring Shatner...it's a club with DVDs picked by...well, take a look at the FAQ:

"...All films distributed through the William Shatner DVD Club are chosen by William Shatner himself with the help of his team of expert film critics and programming professionals from organizations such as the Sci-Fi Channel."

And, quite frankly, I think they're missing a bet. They should just have movies starring William Shatner. And when they run out of already-produced Shatner movies, they should start making new ones. One a month, every month, forever, each one starring the Shat, on any topic you can think of. (Well, except softcore erotica, like Red Shatner Diaries or something...I'm not ready for that.) Heck, maybe we could get another Spplat Attack sequel or something.

Because you demanded it...some more Batman TV show links:

Fiendish Observational Comedian has some Bat-comments, including the three Bat-characters he thinks (and I agree!) that have never been better portrayed in live action than on this show.

Fearless Fred Hembeck has some personal observations (under Jan. 12) about our favorite Bat-show...he is perhaps not as enamored of it as I, but you won't be able to tell from the effort he put into his specialized Batman TV Page. Great stuff!

Tom "Superfrankenstein" Peyer has a fine selection of Batman TV show links and some good show stills...he did it last year, too.

Great work all around, Bat-friends!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Addendums by an addendummy. 

So I was chatting with pal Ian (who's in town on school break) today about my post from this morning, and thus, following said chat, wanted to add a couple follow-ups about that class:

1. I wasn't making fun...I genuinely thought a whole college class on funnybooks is pretty cool. That bit warning students about the content was amusing if, sadly, necessary, what with thin-skinnedness on the rise. Plus, I'm a bit jealous...when I was in college (under Feb. 2), the most I got was one graphic novel per class. And I had to walk a mile through the snow to get there...you kids these days, you've got it easy.

2. Now, it's fairly safe to say that a good portion of the students taking this class have at least some interest in comic books. However, as I also recall from my college days, there were those classes that you took simply because 1) they met some requirement or other, and 2) they fit into your schedule. Thus, almost certainly there were a couple people, at least, who took the class more out of necessity than desire, and may in fact have never read a comic book before. It's also very possible when they found out that they actually had to make their own comic book as a class requirement, they rolled their eyes, groaned, and dreaded the task.

Those are the comic books from this class I want to read. Comics by people uninterested in the form, forced to create a comic despite themselves. I wonder what they had to say? What they learned?

Speaking of pal Ian, he's asking "after you gave up comics in some point of your life...what brought [you] back?" And I told him at the shop today that I almost answered in his comments section, but didn't because I don't really fit into that category. After I started reading comics, I never stopped. I've been reading comics about as long as I've been able to read, so that's well over three decades of uninterrupted funnybook enjoyment (with the occasional meal and sleep break). Combined with parents who, since they were forced to throw away their comics as young folk, never forced me to do the same with mine, I am now left with...well, a huge storage problem, but that's a different subject altogether.

Anyway, go answer Ian's worthy query, if you could. He already has some interesting responses.

Googling up some fun. 


"Among our readings this semester may be materials that you find offensive (indeed, among the readings are things even the instructor finds disturbing). Be aware that explicit violence, frank sexuality, and graphic explorations of socially taboo matters such as race and racism will be included in the readings for historical and literary-critical reasons. [...] Like other forms of literature, comics can cover a full range of topics, attitudes, and problems!"

20% of the grade was this assignment:

"This 4 to 5-page essay will involve visiting, describing, and critiquing a local comic book store. Your goal will be to 'read' and analyze each store as if it were a text, subject to your own critical interpretation."

Oh, dear. I imagine that got really ugly right quick.

Another 20% of the grade for this class was a mini-comics project:

"This will be a creative project, in which every member of the class (including the instructor!) creates her/his own comic book based on the same folktale or urban legend."

Cool! I wonder how those turned out....

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Due out on DVD today... 

...in the U.S., anyway...Black Books:

"Bernard Black runs his own bookshop even though he doesn't much like people who buy books and hates having customers."

Just sayin'.

"Progressive Ruin...now with less Batman per serving!" 

Bully speaks briefly about a street vendor with some rather...optimistic prices on back issues he's trying to unload. That's not terribly unusual. Most people outside of the hobby, when they think about comics at all ("they still print those things?") and, in particular, think about the monetary side of the medium, assume that any "old" comic is worth money. ("Old" is in quotes, because when someone tells me they have a bunch of really old comics, 99% of the time they aren't any older than the mid-1980s. If they insist the comics were owned by their grandparents, with 5-cent cover prices, kept in an attic in an old trunk they recently uncovered...then the comics are usually from the 1990s.)

His story reminded me of a couple kids that, a few years back, brought in a stack of comic books to sell to us -- mostly '90s books in fairly beat-up condition that we wouldn't have needed even if they were in perfect shape. I informed them that, sorry, couldn't use these comics, and they left, and I figured that was that. Well, about half an hour later, I looked out our front window, and saw those same kids on a street corner across the way from us. They had set up a small table with a sign that read "COMICS FOR SALE," and they were hawking the funnybook wares that we, apparently foolishly, turned down. They weren't there long...after about forty-five minutes or so of non-sales, they packed up and moved on. Amusing, and you have to admire the attempt.

Sometimes I get questions at the store that completely freeze up my brain: "Hey, whatever happened to the Aliens Vs. The Borg comic book?" And no, he didn't mean the Terminator, and said "the Borg" by mistake. He meant the Star Trek villains.

Although, now that I think about, I want to see it.

"Comic charaters that should'nt have their own movie"

"Fantastic Four - it's just too rediculous and silly. Human Torch is cool but the others have crap powers."

"Midnighter should never have his own film"

"Thor: not known to people that dont read comics
Avengers: Most characters arent known to people that dont read comics
Steel: Becuz it would stupid
Silver Surfer: Again it would be stupid
Hercules: Very Very Stupid
Flash: It going to be very hard to get people to believe that the Flash can hurt someone.
Martian Manhunter:not known to people that dont read comics
Green Arrow: fighting crime with Old weapons in Modern times, very very unbelievable.
Plastic Man: Very Very Very Very Very Stupid"

"i cant see a stand alone beta ray bill movie but i can see in appearing in one like thors movie but not one for himself"

"Captain Britain - I'm British and I know this charcters not gonna work on a British audience"

"Namor - c'mon, Aquaman is much cooler than him. Namor is gay."

"Deadpool should definitely get his own movie!!! he is cool, has a grat history and there's tons of possible villains, such as T-ray, slayback, Juggernaut, black Tom Cassidy, Bullseye, any hero!!"

There's another well-reasoned discussion on this forum -- "Why are all the most powerful Avengers blonde?" ("Have u noticed that the 4 most powerful Avengers ever are blonde? [...] I think thats kinda gay." "Blonde hair is gay?") -- but I think that's enough for now.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Your random "
Savage Dragon window painting at a guitar store just down the street from where Mike works" image of the day:

The end of Bat-week. 

The 1960s Batman TV show still remains one of my favorite media translations of comic books, as well as possibly one of the most accurate transitions from page to screen. A live action version of pretty much any random Batman comic from the '50s or '60s would almost have to turn out something like this show. The only way it could have been more accurate is if the TV show had aliens in it.

The primary difference between the comic and show is that while the comics were mostly simple adventure stories aimed almost solely at children, the TV show applied a more adult sensibility to the proceedings. The adventure aspect, the bright colors, the odd camera angles and odder villains...the elements of the comics that were so attractive to children still existed. But for adults there was the parodic subtext, the straight-faced acting of West and Ward, the pop-art live action recreation of the genre's excesses...in a way, it reminds me of the "Real Live Brady Bunch" stage shows, in which the original stories from the TV series are given an additional comedic value by being performed in a new context, forcing the audience to reinterpret familiar elements in a new setting. Reading the adventures of Batman on a printed page is one thing; seeing those exact same story elements performed by real adults in oddly-fitting costumes is another altogether. One could make the argument that the Batman TV show preceded the 1980s trend of superhero deconstruction, by holding up and emphasizing the cliches of the genre for examination, criticism, and mockery.

The show's immense popularity had an impact lasting even until today. The primary result of the show's existence is that it now provides a convenient vocabulary for speaking about comics to the general public. More often than not, a space-filling article on comic books in your average newspaper will have a reference to the "POW! ZAP!" sound effects that used to fill the screen during the TV show's fight scenes. Perhaps a reference to Robin's oft-used "Holy [whatever], Batman!" exclamation would appear as well. I'll admit to having been a bit irritated by this myself, more for its implicit laziness than for any reminder of the program.

The other impact was on comic fans themselves, where some felt that the Batman TV show maligned their hobby, causing irreparable damage to the public perception of their superhero stories. As a result, there is a heightened sensitivity to anything that even seems like it may be taking a less than serious approach to comic books. Not in "in-joke" comics like, for example, What The, which was there for superhero fans to laugh at themselves. It's when the characters and situations appear to be opened up for examination and parody by those not "in the club" (i.e. the general public, or even certain comic creators) that the nervousness begins. And when it looks as if that these fans themselves may be the object of a some minor tweaking...well, forget about it.

For example, when it was announced in the late '80s that Tim Burton (a director of comedy films) and Michael Keaton (a comedic actor) were to be involved in a new big-budget Batman film, there was, unsurprisingly, a huge outcry from these fans, fearing yet another "camp" interpretation of their character. (As it turned out, the bleak and dour Burton Bat-films that resulted could have used a little comedy, but that's a topic for another day.) However, that fear was mostly unwarranted...even when the fourth, and reportedly worst (haven't seen it, sorry), Batman film in that particular series was released, it didn't become in the public's eyes synonymous with comic books: it was just seen as another lousy film. When the recent Batman Begins film was released, despite apparent initial resistance prior to its debut, the movie ended up doing good business.

The reason behind all this rambling, today and in the last few days' posts? Other than defending the Batman TV show and trying to put lie to the claim that all comic fans hate it, I suppose that what I'm trying to say is...relax, man. Batman is one of those characters that is open to widely varying interpretations for a variety of purposes, be it straight adventure, comedy, parody, pastiche, farce, horror, science fiction, or whatever...the occasional clunker ain't gonna do any harm, and the occasional out-there Bat-comic ain't gonna kill you. And while the TV show may cast a long shadow, there are worse things to be shadowed by.

Additional linkage:

Booksteve has some personal memories (and a good pic or two) of the show.

"Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb!"

Sunday, January 08, 2006

"Holy hot links, Batman!" 

The 1966 Batman TV Tribute Site.

Another Batman TV show fan site, with an interesting Shockwave interface. I could just sit here and stare at the home page for hours.

The 1966 Batman message board.

Where are the TV show DVDs?

A review of the 1966 movie's DVD...a must-buy, by the way.

Lyrics for the theme song. Yes, really.

This NPR page about the history of Batman includes a Realaudio file of the theme.

Dolphins made to sing Batman theme, swear vengeance on humanity.

Nostalgia Central on our favorite Bat-show.

This Is Pop gives us a nice selection of photos.

A highly-detailed scale model of the TV show's Batcave.

The Original 1966 Batmobile website, with specs on the car, custom models, and much, much more! Here's another Batmobile site.

A brief discussion on which '60s Batman villain was tops.

"BATMAN!!!! The TV Show: The Play" - finished its run a few months ago, but here's a Flickr photo set celebrating the event.

The Museum of Broadcast Communications has this to say about the show.

So, when do you think Batman jumped the shark? "Batman surfs?" "Robin battles the Green Hornet?" "Alfred dons the Batsuit?"

YTMND-palooza: When Picard Attacks Batman, Batman versus Shark, Bomb over Batman, Batman Raps, Groove It Extreme Batman, and Batman's Drug Freakout.

An examination of which movie/TV show Batman (including Adam West's interpretation) would win in a fight. Comes to a shocking conclusion.

Do the Batusi, you magnificent bastards.

Some choice quotes from the show.

"Batman hit on my sister."

The infamous Siamese Human Knot Web Site, celebrating the most nefarious trap ever faced by the Dynamic Trio. Includes fan art, fan fiction, video of the event in question, and more info on this subject than you can ever possibly imagine.

On a similar subject, the Batgirl Bat-Trap Homepage, including fan art, photo manips, and cosplay.

The Return to the Batcave reunion show's official site...here's a brief photo gallery, and a review or two as well.

And now, official sites, fan sites, and the occasional merchandise site, for the actors: Adam (Batman) West, Burt (Robin) Ward, Yvonne (Batgirl) Craig, Frank (The Riddler) Gorshin, Burgess (Penguin) Meredith, Eartha (Catwoman) Kitt, Julie (Catwoman) Newmar, Victor (King Tut) Buono, Cesar (Joker) Romero, Roddy (Bookworm) McDowall, Art (The Archer) Carney, Vincent (Egghead) Price, Otto (Mr. Freeze) Preminger, and Neil (The Composer of The Show's Theme Song) Hefti.

The Wikipedia entry includes (for the moment) the following passage:

"Comic book fans who know Batman as a grim 'masked avenger of the night' speak of the TV series with a near-universal revulsion and hatred. The series is seen by fans as a black mark on the medium of comic books, as it cast comics as silly, light-weight entertainment meant strictly for young children...."

"Welcome to Hell" image courtesy the mighty Mr. Dan Kelly.

This is an archive page for the old Blogger version of Progressive Ruin, kept around to maintain all the old permalinks. Please visit the main page for the current version of this site. Thanks for visiting, and sorry for the inconvenience!

Copyright © 2003-10 Mike Sterling. Some images used are copyright © their respective copyright owners.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?