mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, March 04, 2006

My first thought upon finally counting the last of 100,000 comics that we're blowing out in a bulk comics sale. 

"At least I finally found a way to sell Marville."

"I'm huge now."* 

Via Mark Evanier, a gallery of treasury-sized comics from DC, Marvel, and others. Lots of good cover scans, with info on each featured item. The man in charge of the site calls this comic "one of the greatest, craziest comics ever," and therefore clearly knows what he's talking about.

And there was a Smurfs treasury, and I didn't know about it? Gosh dang it....

* Mystery Science Theatre reference...don't mind me.

"This most intimate question of our times!" 

Friday, March 03, 2006

A quick Friday night update. 

Take off those pants, doff that top, and Read A Comic Book Naked today! (But not Power Pack, that'd be creepy.)

Okay, it's a late reminder, but if you miss it today, read a comic naked tomorrow. I won't tell Steve if you won't.

Shorter version of my post from this morning: Ken is swell, even entertainment can educate, and I need an editor.

The Jack Chick Tract Generator I linked to a few days ago is working again. Click, sinner.

Waxy, @$$ies, Headmen, and blogging about blogging is a sin. 

Pal Andy is facing legal shenanigans from Bill Cosby's lawyers for hosting the House of Cosby parody animations. And he ain't backin' down. Good on him.

Ain't It Cool News is offering up their comic book awards for the last year. They're called the "@$$ies." Mmm-hmm. Anyway, it's about 75% Marvel 'n' DC stuff, and if I hear that criticism about All Star Batman one more freakin' time....

Yesterday at the store:

Employee Nathan: "I think the most underappreciated villains at Marvel must be the Headmen."

Me: "God help us if there's ever a MAX version of the Headmen."

I promised you all a response, of sorts, to the mighty Ringwood Ken's State of the Comicsweblogosphere post from a few days back, and I've been trying to come up with one, on and off, ever since then. And to be real honest, it's been a struggle.

As I told Ken in e-mail, my initial attempt at composing said response ended up being longer than the Bible, and thus perhaps a bit trying of the patience of you good people. It was terribly self-indulgent, too...I mean, even more so than the very idea of "blogging" is.

So let me try to respond and further comment briefly (or as briefly as I can manage, and I think you should know by now about how successful I usually am at being "brief") upon at least one specific point made by Ken in his essay.

First, let me establish something. Now I usually don't hold up a specific weblogger as a "favorite" -- usually, when the topic comes up, I tend to say something along the lines of "I like all the comic webloggers out there," and to a certain extent, that's true. Okay, there may be a couple out there that don't blow my skirt up, but the very idea that all you folks are out there, revealing your thoughts on comics for all to see, mostly on a regular basis, is enough to make me happy. I like that fact that there are so many people expressing themselves however they can on a subject that we all enjoy, and I don't want to play favorites by saying "this guy is better than that guy" or something similar. But...there is a list of certain webloggers I immediately gravitate to as soon as I see them on the Comics Weblog Update-A-Tron. It's probably a given that pal Dorian and the other members of the ACAPCWOVCCAOE are on that list, as is comics 'blogging trailblazer Neilalien. And Ken is on that list as well...I can't get to his site fast enough as soon as I learn that he's got something new to say. I once referred to him as "America's only comics weblogger," and I may have only been half-joking. He's one of my favorite webloggers, and I just wanted you (and Ken!) to keep that in mind on the off-chance that it sounds like I'm getting down on him in the slightest.

Well, it looks like I blew the "brief" thing already, but let's continue anyway.

Ken says:

"There's a lot of sloppiness in blogging now; we seem to be going more for entertainment than edification...."

And I have to admit, I may have been slacking off slightly on the site lately, but not from a lack of desire. I enjoy doing this weblog, and hope I can continue for some time to come...and when the weblog fad eventually dies out, on the assumption that it's the 21st century's CB radio, hopefully I can continue my online discussion of comics in whatever format is to follow.

The real problem is time; Some days I just don't have the time to devote to putting together a post. That was built into the structure of my posting schedule almost from the start...the reason you get image posts on Wednesdays and Saturdays is because I generally don't have much time to assemble a post on those days, given my working hours. And sometimes I'm just plain rushed, even on mornings when I would normally have plenty of time to put a post together...stuff happens, can't be helped.

And that's when you get the news story posts...the trouble isn't finding them, it's making sure I'm not stepping on Tom's toes by duplicating anything he's already posted.

And that's when you get the message board posts...yes, I know it can be very Fanboy Rampage of me, but where Graeme was mostly following the comic news topics of the day via board postings, and thus actually had some kind of point to make, I'm just looking for crazy talk. I mean, how else would we have learned about the glory that is...the Kryptonite Lightsaber? And the reason I think it's sloppy posting on my part is because I could easily do that all day. I could do nothing but quotes from crazy message boards. It's an easy fallback position when I don't have the time or inclination to provide my own content. I know this type of post can be fun to read, and most of you seem to enjoy it, but it can be a lazy out for me. It may not be cheating, but it feels like cheating.

Ken mentions that folks in the comicsweblogosphere are going more for entertainment than education, and...well, I don't know that there's really anything wrong with that. I sympathize with his point, that we all have forums for our voices, that some of us carry some minimal amount of weight and influence with our readers, and we should use our influence to guide our readers and expose them to new works and new ideas.

On the other hand...when I started this site, I never expected more than a handful of readers. That I have any influence at all on anybody, beyond (hopefully) providing a few moments of amusement, usually comes as a shock to me.

Now, do I actually think that I am educating anybody? I'd like to think so. I've turned a few people on to various books...even though I see pal Tom all the time, it was my constant plugging of Little Lulu on the site that got him to try it out. And a few of my other customers who are aware of my site have tried out various books due to my online recommendations.

I also like to think I've taught a few comic fans out there about what it's like for the guy on the other side of the comic shoppe counter. Not all of us funnybook dealers are the Simpsons' Comic Book Guy. At least, I hope that's what you're taking away from my rants and venting. ("Worst...weblog...ever.")

As for the emphasizing entertainment part...well, to repeat, I see Ken's point. Going for the joke or the cheap shot over the thoughtful analysis may seem like a wasted opportunity. But I think some education can slip into the entertainment...it's not like we're Superdickery, where it seems a lot of the people just throwing panels up for mockery don't really seem to know anything about comics. Most of us have an understanding of the history of the characters and of the medium, and hopefully that comes across in some of the more extensive detailings of the oddities of yesteryear.

Not that there's really anything wrong with just throwing a random bizarre panel out there, though. A good laugh is its own reward.

That there's any kind of serious, thoughtful, and extensive analysis at all on any weblogs is something to be grateful for. I mean, what do you want for free? Most of us aren't getting paid for this. We're just doing this for fun, as extensions of our hobbies. I like comic books, I like to talk about comic books, and I wanted a forum for sharing my enjoyment of comics with other people, without the undercurrent of "I like this comic, and I think you should give me money for it" that can occur when I talk about comics at the store.

But the beauty of weblogging, as it exists today, is that if you don't like your reading options out there, it's really easy to start a weblog of your own. If you don't think your point of view is being represented, or that topics aren't being discussed to the extent that you think they should be discussed...well, get off your hinder and get your site going. I would like to see what you have to say.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


From the cover of the new issue of Comics & Games Retailer:

Read 'til the end. It'll be worth it. 

A brief exchange at work:

Employee Nathan: "That Will Smith I, Robot movie was probably the one film adaptation that was the least faithful to the original source material."

Me: "There are movies with no robots in them are more faithful to the original I, Robot than the I, Robot movie."

Don't remember why the topic came up, exactly...unless we were talking about V for Vendetta , which is beginning to get some positive reviews here and there on the glorious world wide interweb (currently at 71% on Rotten Tomatoes). I'll wait and see and judge it for myself...but I'm still expecting any kind of subtlety in the book to become a sledgehammer on film. But I'm a big cynicalpants, so there.

As I mentioned last night, we were totally rooked on our full order of Marvel Zombies, which blows. We also didn't receive our copies of Spider-Girl, but for some reason I'm not expecting a lot of complaints about that. We also didn't receive a lot of other items as well, and we're receiving an "emergency shipment," so we should have most of the items in our hand today or tomorrow...with the exception of Marvel Zombies, natch, since copies weren't available for the shipment for some reason. We're supposed to get them next week with our regular order, with any luck.

Very annoying.

As for some of the comics that did arrive:

Infinite Crisis #5 - Okay, I'm a big ol' DC fanboy. I loves me the DC superheroes, the convoluted continuity, the multiple Earths, the crossovers...the whole shebang. However, even a huge nerd like me is getting a little continuity-referenced out by the events of IC. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy it, but I think I'm ready for the story to wrap up now. Nice tribute inside to the classic Golden Age cover, too.

Detective Comics #817 - I swear to God, I was so close to buying this comic solely for the brief dialogue mention of Swamp Thing. Not an appearance, mind you, but simply a mention of the character's name. Yes, I know that's all kinds of pathetic.

Batman Annual #25 - Sold through all our copies. Immediately. And it's sort of an Infinite Crisis tie-in, too, though it's not marked as such on the cover. If sales are this strong everywhere, surely DC will take the hint that annuals will sell if they're presenting a longer story on subjects of great interest to their readers. And not, say, flooding the market with dozens of annuals filled with whatever junk will fill 48 pages since, clearly, "annuals sell." Heaven knows they'd never do anything like that.

Batman: Secrets #1 - First, I can't read that title without thinking of the Conan O'Brien sketches ("George Takei...SECRETS," among others). Second...well, we've been seeing an increase of people buying multiple copies of comics for investment purposes. Someone bought ten copies of this particular issue. No idea why. Sure plays havoc with our cycle sheets, I'll tell you what.

Runaway Comics #1 - Finally, a new Mark Martin release...crazy humor comics for crazy people. If you haven't previously enjoyed the anarchic confusion of "Montgomery Wart," you need to grab a copy of this here funnybook.

War of the Worlds Second Wave #1 - Another fine release from Boom! Studios, this time a sequel to the original H.G. Wells novel, movie, whatever...doesn't matter, we all know the story, more or less. And this issue is mostly just set-up, as it follows our point-of-view character, Miles, through the initial invasion and his attempts to get back to his wife. It's fast-paced, with just enough dialogue and captions (from writer Michael Alan Nelson) to keep the story moving without slowing it down. Chee, the artist, keeps the action easy to follow, and though there are multiple full-page splashes during the course of the story, they don't feel like space-filling cheats as multiple splashes often do in your average superhero comic. The splashes have impact, imparting a sense of the immensity of the events and the danger everyone is in. Well done, and I look forward to seeing what happens next.

Next Wave #2 - I've read some complaints here and there that it seems as if Warren Ellis is maybe trying just a little too hard to be irreverent and "wacky" in this comic. Well, if he is, that's apparently okay with me, since this comic is quite unlike anything I've read, and I'm enjoying the heck out of it. Well, in terms of actual plot (superheroes stop monster), it ain't nothing new, but it's all about the presentation, baby. Funny dialogue, funny captions, funny asides, and a lot is made about Fin Fang Foom's giant monster pants.

And that Watcher action figure? It's better than I even imagined. The Watcher also wears little blue Speedo trunks under his robes, apparently. And, because of the way the head was connected to the neck, I heard a lot of comments about the figure looking like a bobblehead. Sigh.

For reading all this, I give you...


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Dear Diamond: 

Sure wish you would have included the new issue of Marvel Zombies in our shipment today. Go figure that the one Marvel comic that's currently in huge demand would be the one you'd forget to pack.



P.S. Losing a third of our Infinite Crisis order is bit of a pisser as well.

The colors...the colors! 

from Secrets of Young Brides #3 (November 1975)

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I'm running a tad bit behind this morning... 

...so here are a couple "real world" comic book reviews for your enjoyment:

"DC Comics revists indie division classics"

It's a positive review of DC's two Vertigo sampler books, which includes this particular perspective:

"Over the past several years, though, Vertigo has been faced with the difficulty of creating another hit comic book series, and with the increase in attention from Hollywood and consumers in the past several years, the pressure has been high to release something that strikes it big."

I know pal Dorian and I have often discussed how a few of Vertigo's releases seemed to be "Look, we're the new Preacher, except movie-friendly!" Since, you know, a movie where the bad guy is God is not likely to fly in today's climate, to say the least.

Anyway, this writer floats the idea of putting out subsequent volumes of these sampler books featuring the second issues, the third issues, and so on, effectively making them ongoing anthology series. Given how well it worked that last time someone did this (Crossgen and their two anthology books, reprinting material already in trade form), I wouldn't expect it to happen (and neither does that writer), but it is interesting to think about.

"Tonight, Leave Your Comics Bedside - Alan Moore Reminds Us That Not All Graphics Are for Kids"

Brief, positive reviews of Alan Moore's graphic novels...primarily the ones that would be familiar to the general public via their film adaptations, with the exception of Watchmen, which was in Time, doncha know.

Meanwhile, back in the comicsweblogosphere...Alan David Doane speaks hard about Speakeasy. You know, we carried all of Speakeasy's comics...and with the exception of Rocketo (which ADD mentions) and Beowulf -- and the first issue of Atomika, I guess -- they didn't do all that terribly well for us. It was just plain too much, too fast...well, I'm gonna duplicate what Alan said, so just go read his post.

Monday, February 27, 2006

So, Monday, we meet again. 

Another quickie post for today...would you believe this will be the third Monday in a row that I'm expecting those workers to come to the house to do repairs? And it's not like I can hire different people...these are the workers from the house's builder. Sigh. And it's raining today, so I wonder if that'll be the excuse for not showing up this time (even though 99% of the work is inside the house).

Ah, well...so once again you get random thoughts and links (yeah, I know, "as opposed to what, exactly").

I'm also thinking about a response to Ringwood Ken's thoughts on the Comicsweblogosphere -- well, "response" is too strong a word, it's more like "my own ponderings (mostly regarding my favorite topic: myself) piggy-backing on Ken's hard work." Hopefully I'll get to it this week.

Employee Nathan: "You think Marvel Comics ever considered doing a iron-plated cover for a special issue of Iron Man?"

Me: "Boy, you think retailers complain about Diamond's shipping charges now...."

Actually, my initial comment was "Marvel can't afford iron," but that wouldn't be very nice of me to say.

Things noticed during my Sunday reorder session:

Star Wars Clone Wars Adventures digests #1 and #3 haven't been available through Diamond's reorder system in months. Surprisingly, Star Wars books are still selling...but I bet I could sell more of #2 and #4 of the CWAdv books if #1 and #3 were around.

Remember what I said about Marvel Zombies still selling well, due to availability of previous issues? Well, forget it...only #2 is still available for reorder now. Here's hoping for more reprints. Like I noted, people still seem to pick up later issues even if they can't get the earlier ones, unlike most Marvel minis, but lack of availability will probably curtail any increased sales on later issues anyway. It was nice while it lasted. EDIT: Commenter Don tells me that orders are being solicited this week for reprints of #1 and #3. I stand corrected. (I would have noticed that eventually...I hope!)

Not to turn this into "picking on Robert Kirkman books" or anything, but we finally moved a few more Walking Dead books after a few weeks of moribund sales. For a while there I was having to restock these books every week, then...pfffft! Nada movement.

And, despite what I said about our customers' skepticism regarding the Spider-Man costume change...we sold through all copies. And are getting calls for more. Luckily I called in our reorders early on this, since looking at Diamond's most recent stock list...there are none to be had.

Boy, that Mouse Guard sure came out of nowhere, didn't it? It's sold fairly well for us, too.

And we've had a sudden rush on Batman books again. We've also had more requests for Killing Joke, which is now no longer available on its own, but rather in a trade paperback I don't really want to reorder until they fix its problems.

Due out this week:

Man oh man, I can't wait. And no, I'm not being sarcastic. This Watcher figure rules.

See, I can be a fanboy sometimes, too.

"How come?"

"I have always wondered why really powerful superheros ie. superman dont train and learn how to fight. If sups took some kung fu from batman he would be able to handle people like doomsday."

"If you throw Karate master on top of being the most powerful Super hero then the guy could conceivably just walk through any bad guy he comes up against with no challenge."

"There was this really bad live action 70s show where Superman gets depressed because he's different, and he meets up with 2 hippies who tell him its OK to be different. Anyway, he uses karate in that."

What show is that last person talking about? Just wondering, because it sounds fantastic.

One of the things I've never covered on this site, because I figured everyone already knew about it, was "The Day Mark Gruenwald Stole The Flash," in that one issue of Quasar. Basically, Gruenwald took DC Comics' deceased Barry "The Flash" Allen, and revived him in a barely-disguised form in the Marvel Universe. A good joke, and an amusing, and slightly touching, tribute to the classic Silver Age character.

Well, it so happened that I mentioned this story in passing at the store a few days ago, and both Employee Nathan and Employee Aaron had absolutely no idea what I was talking about.

So, if you didn't know about this before, you can read this synopsis or you can get your mitts on a copy of Quasar #17 your own self. Actually, even though it sort of fell apart right near the end, Quasar itself is a pretty good superhero comic throughout its run, particularly if you like Marvel's cosmic characters.

For reading this far, you get a picture of a vampire reading an issue of Ghost:

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Sunday morning misc. 

Customer: "I'm looking for comics with pictures of devils in them. They're for a seven-year-old. Do you have any?"

Me: "Did I wake up in Opposite Land today?"

Okay, I didn't say that, but I did sell the gentleman a handful of inexpensive '70s Ghost Riders, which apparently fit the bill quite nicely. SATANISM: Kids love it!

(Employee Aaron takes a phone call, which I only barely overhear. Aaron answers the caller's question, and hangs up.)

Me: "Did I hear right? Was that customer asking for J-Lo action figures? Please tell me he was."

A: "No, he was looking for Halo action figures."

M: "Gosh darn it...'J-Lo' would have been funnier! Are you sure that's not what he was asking for?"

A: "It was definitely Halo. But, yes Mike, I'm sure he was going to ask for J-Lo action figures next."

M: "Oh, don't you be condescending to me!"

A happy sixth(!) anniversary to the comics weblogger what taught us all how to do it, the always-excellent, always-enigmatic Neilalien. Congrats to you, good sir!

And a happy second anniversary to Ken "Ringwood" Lowery, who ponders the state of the Comicsweblogosphere for his special day. Hola, Ken - one post of yours is like ten posts by any normal man.

I mentioned a few days back that I kicked off my New Comics Day by listening to National Lampoon's "Deteriorata" -- well, commenter Randy points us in the direction of this flash animation, which includes the full song. Go, listen, watch. But mostly listen.

"Who's Going to Want Grandma's Hoard Of Antique Gnomes? - Since Kids Aren't Connecting With Collecting Today, Answer May Be Nobody"

"Collecting things, once a big part of childhood, is now pretty much pass̀© with kids. Preoccupied with MP3 players and computer games, they are rarely found sitting at the kitchen table putting postage stamps into collectors' books or slipping old coins into plastic sleeves. These days, baseball cards and comic books are collected by adults. Of the estimated 37 million Americans who identified themselves as collectors in 2000, just 11% were under the age of 36, according to a study by marketing consultant Unity Marketing Inc. Most were over 50."

(Parts of this article remind me of some thoughts I had on a related topic.)

So long, Don.

Also, so long to Darren and to Andreas as well.

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