mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, June 10, 2006

On the eBay. 

...said that these History Channel "Digging for Truth" comics were "recalled?" A quick Google search didn't turn anything up on it, and given we still have about one gazillion of these at the store, clearly word of any recall never reached us. I'm not saying it didn't happen, just that it was news to me.

However, that's not the reason I'm pointing out this auction. The reason is that this seller managed to get $1.99 for it. That's quite tempting. Quite tempting, indeed.

...the hell?

"Here is a 1 ounce .999 PURE silver ingot picturing Garfield. Proof condition."

...will these Marvel trading card holograms ever be in demand again? Heck, when will Marvel trading cards period be in demand again? It's hard to believe, but we used to be able to sell sealed box after sealed box of Marvel cards. People used to think nothing of buying a whole box of, say, "Marvel Masterpieces" as an impulse buy, along with that week's comics. And chase cards like the Silver Surfer hologram I linked to were red hot...if I told people then that years from now, these cards wouldn't sell for a penny, they'd think I was nuts.

Nowadays my primary business with Marvel cards usually involves people trying to sell their complete sets to us, rather than us moving any sets out.

...in the world is the first printing of Countdown to Infinite Crisis considered "rare?" Because I've got a number of copies left I'd love to sell there.

...would anyone want to own a Patrick Stewart "Life Mask?"

"It is life-size, realistic and heavy. It has been mounted with a hook to be hung for display. [...] It was hung in my nephew's room but it freaked him out at night so was stored until this auction. The detail is so life-like, especially with the proper lighting. It looks as though he is getting ready for a Psioninc mental attack!"

Geez, could you blame the nephew?

...in God's name did Star Wars: Legacy #0, currently selling for a quarter in every comic book store across the country, manage to sell for $19.31 in this auction? Was it just panic-buying before the comic's actual release? Did the bidder think he/she was getting something else? Did the bidder think that he/she had to pay for using all the desktop pictures that 90% of the auction text links to?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Mike's emo post. 

So for some reason, I had a bit of a weblogging malaise over the last couple of days. I'd sit there, the blank Blogger text box staring at me, and I'd just not feel the urge to write. Part of it may be attributable to the recent "absorption" of some group 'blogs by larger comic news sites. Several posts a day, on several topics, by many good writers...all the news and all the reviews you could possibly want, with large audiences fed into them by their respective host sites. I certainly hope this doesn't come across as any sort of ill will against Comics Should Be Good at Comic Book Resources or Blog@Newsarama (formerly "The Great Curve"), both of which provide fine and entertaining reading. I just...well, even though I know I really shouldn't have felt this way, I couldn't help but feel that my site was just a tad on the redundant side. I mean, what can my site offer that these sites don't already provide?

And then, just like that, my malaise vanished, as I realized what it was that my site has that those other sites don't.

My site has me.

Well, duh. And I don't mean "my site has me" in an "I'm the greatest, yay me" kind of way. I mean that in a "well, I think my point of view is still worth something, and it's not exactly duplicated by anyone else...so maybe my site isn't that redundant after all."

And I'm getting a few thousand people visiting my site every day, and they can't all be Google hits from people looking for nekkid pictures of Smallville actresses, so there's at least a few of you out there who still enjoying my goofy ramblings.

So, thank you for reading, and thank you for putting up with my occasional moody spells. I don't plan on going anywhere. Well, unless some much larger site decides to buy me out. (C'mon, Dietcoke.com...surely you guys need a comic 'blog!)

(And if you don't like me or my weblog, there's always this site for your Mike-disliking needs.)

Enough weepy whining...let's whip into a couple of the new books that came out this week:

Wonder Woman #1 - The much ballyhooed, though strangely mysterious (given the lack of info we had about it ahead of time) debut of the Amazon's newest series is finally out, and...well, it's certainly a gorgeous looking book. Terry and Rachel Dodson draw a mean comic, but the story, by Allan Heinberg...don't get me wrong, it was fine, it sets up the new storyline well, but the book just felt like it took about two minutes to read. Maybe it's just a result of my normal fast-paced reading, but when I got to the last page my immediate thought was "that's it?"

Punisher #34 - This cover has me looking forward to this situation: kids grabbing the comic off the shelf to see just what is being censored, and giggling when they find out that it's a word that they've heard plenty of times on TV and from their parents, only now it's funny because they're seeing it in a comic book. Ah, just kiddin', sorta. It's hard to top throwing a "CENSORED" on the cover to get people's attention, though.

Tag #1 - Honestly, the last thing in the world I want to see is yet another zombie comic. I mean, what's wrong with having a mummy comic once in a while? When will it be the Mummy's time to shine? Well, ignore all that, since Boom! Studios, along with Keith Giffen and Kody Chamberlain, has released the first issue of Tag, which, believe it or not, finds another tack to take with the zombie genre. The hero, Mitch, gets "tagged" by a horribly-decomposed zombie, and in short order, discovers that he too is now dead and beginning to rot. A nice twist is having Mitch's only ally in his search to discover what happened to him be the girlfriend with whom he was in the process of breaking up. It's a nightmarish situation, competently and breezily conveyed by Chamberlain's moody art and Giffen's natural and witty dialogue. A particularly disturbing element is...well, have you ever become "aware" of your breathing? Something that's normally an automatic function, and then all of a sudden you're aware of the effort you're putting into your breathing, and then, for a few brief moments, you feel like you have to put a conscious effort into filling your lungs. That comes into play in this comic, and it's made even more horrifying in that while in the real world, that feeling eventually goes away. For someone on his way to becoming a zombie...well, it's a slightly more disturbing story....

Star Wars: Legacy #0 - All of Dark Horse Comics' other 25-cent "#0" comics have been actual comics...panels, word balloons, gutters, the works. We fully expected Star Wars: Legacy #0 to be the same...in fact, there's nothing in the original solicitation info to indicate that would be anything otherwise. Guess what? It ain't. It's several pages of images of characters, weapons, buildings and the like, accompanied by brief text descriptions. It's a handbook, not a comic. Luckily, Star Wars fans generally like this sort of thing, so hasn't really impacted sales so far, but as someone who was intrigued by the series' premise (taking place over a century after the events of Return of the Jedi), I was disappointed to not get any actual story in this book. But what the heck, it's only a quarter. I'll live.

Superman Returns #1: Krypton to Earth - We've already sold out of this, and we thought we ordered high. As a comic...well, it expands a bit on the Krypton sequences from Superman: The Movie, but doesn't really give us anything too new or surprising.

Annihilation Silver Surfer #3 - I'm not reading this, but I did flip through this issue and spotted what Dave would call a "F@*K YEAH!" moment, as the end of the book features a pretty kick-ass return to a previous status quo for a particular character who may or may not be the titular star of the book. Yeah, I'm real subtle. Believe you me, it was a hard decision to not put a huge image of the page in question right here in place of this semi-vague description.

Luba's Comics & Stories #8 - You know how lucky you are that you're getting comics on a regular basis from Gilbert Hernandez? Maybe it's a bit of a steep learning curve trying to untangle all the characters' relations to each other, but it's worth the trouble. Fine cartooning, finer writing.

Action Philosophers V. 1: Giant Sized Thing trade paperback - That "Plato SMASH!" on the cover busts me up. Funny comic, to boot.

Power Girl trade paperback - Almost tempted to buy this, just to get the three issue Showcase story from the '70s on paper that isn't entirely lousy.

Superman/Doomsday Omnibus trade paperback - This thing is huge, it's in color, and it's only $19.99. I'd like to see DC's Showcase books in this format, though it's my guess the recoloring process would be cost-prohibitive. Oh, well. Maybe we'll get more modern comics in this format (like the Our Worlds at War that also came out this week, for $5 more). My primary fear was that the pages on these books would be exactly one micron thick, but the paper stock is...well, not top drawer, but good enough. Feels sturdy, holds color...that's plenty.

A couple random recent store things:

  • Went through a person's collection that he was selling, and many of the books were water-damaged. Not water-damaged as in the comics had been exposed to water at some point, and show some staining. They were water-damaged as in the bags the fellow carried the comics into the store with were still wet. Eeeeewwwwww.

  • Trying to explain to a customer the price of plastic bags:

    Me: "If you buy the bags singly, they're 6 cents each. If you buy them in packages of 100, they're a penny cheaper per bag, for a total of $5.00."

    Customer: "You're making that up."

    Well, yes, I suppose that's technically true...we had to make up the retail prices at some point, I suppose. But the accusation was that I just made up that price on the spot, just for her...because no one had ever offered quantity discounts before, I guess.

We have that Wonder Woman movie looming on the horizon, and I haven't been following any of the discussion on this project, aside from the occasional "this actress isn't playing Wonder Woman" news story. As such, I don't know if anyone has brought up this particular topic:

I'm wondering if this costume will fly with today's audiences. (And yes, before you get technical on me, I know her emblem has changed since then.) The costume worked then because 1) it's being worn by Lynda Carter...everyone loves the Lynda Carter; and 2) it was the 1970s...that costume wasn't too far off from what some people were actually wearing.

On the other hand, it's probably one of the most recognizable superhero costumes in the world...people will most likely cut it some slack, just out of familiarity. To be sure, people would be disappointed if the costume didn't appear.

The Wonder Woman comics lately have been pretty good about giving us costume variations that don't look like patriotic swimsuits, while still evoking the original outfit, so maybe that's what we'll get in the film, presuming it actually happens.

I would say that whatever they cook up, it can't be any worse than this costume, but I'd rather not tempt fate.

Anyway, as long as I'm on the topic, and as a reward for slogging through this longwinded post of mine, here's a fantastic Wonder Woman compilation video I stole from pal Dorian (who in turn stole it from Center of Gravitas). Enjoy, won't you?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Apparently, I'm dead now. 

This arrived in the mail today, addressed to Employee Nathan:

And yes, that would be "Chris Velasquez" as in "former employee Kid Chris."

Donations in my memory are welcome...feel free to send your PayPal payments to my e-mail address.

from The Comic Reader #47 (1966) - art by Doug Potter

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

"Not only can she steal a million, she also looks like one." 

The Comic Reader #46 (February 1966) - art by Alan Hutchinson

Some of the featured news items (all spellings are as they appear in the magazine):

"BATTLING BEINGS OF MARVEL. You'll find Sgt. Fury blowing up half of Italy with a young Italian girl helping. And soon there will be a traitor in the ranks of the Howling Commandos. Iron Man defeats Ultimo only to come back to battle the U.S.A. itself. And Captain America finally meets Nick Fury. The Behemoth won't keep Submariner busy very long because there are other dangers to overcome waiting for him."

"THE SAGAS OF SCHWARTZ. How does a man fight a mask? It's all part of the puzzle that faces the Atom when he selects sides to battle The Man In The Iron Mask. And if one Green Lantern can't solve a problem, you can always call up another. The GL's of Earths 1 and 2 meet again to battle Prince Peril's Power Play. Horrendous Horrors challenge the Flash when he enters the Corridor of Chills. CAW creeps again and the Winged Wonders find themselves trying to gain possession of the Treasure of the Talking Head. And you will find most of them teamed-up in the pages of the Justice League where they face the Shaggy Man and come a hair's breathe away from defeat."

"MENACES FOR THE MASKED MANHUNTER! Shades of the Thorn! Batman finds himself facing an itchy problem when he meets a new female villain, Poison Ivy. Not only can she steal a million, she also looks like one. And in Batman for that month, he gains a power that turns the underworld inside out. It is all part of Batman's Crime Hunt A-Go-Go!"

"MARVEL MAYHEM. Stan's stories get wilder and wilder. Spidey faces robots galore in a book entitled Once Upon a Time There Was A Robot! The X-Men find themselves in the West where Lucifer uses robots to battle them and the provessor. And somewhere in Earth a few thousand miles away the Hulk finds his hands full of Tyrannus and the minions of the Mole Man."

"COMIC FANDOM IN TOYLAND. Loads of toys are being planned for the market that will be based on Comic Heroes. There probably will be a BATMAN villains kit with masks the kids will wear to look like the Joker and other foes of Batty. It also looks like you'll be able to print up your own copies of The Daily Planet when the Clark Kent Newspaper Kit reaches the stores. Aurora of course is releasing the Wonder Woman kit now and they are working on four figures from the Marvel line. They had tentatively chosen Spidey, Iron Man, Hulk, and Captain America. I don't know when they will be on sale but you can start looking around sometime in the Summer. Right now you can buy a number of items based on DC's big two. Ideal is selling hand puppets of Batman and Superman at $1.00. Hasbro has a flying Superman selling for $1.00 also. Superman also appears in a colorform kit and you can create two pictures of Supey in the new Stardust series."

"SEIGAL AND SHUSTER AND SUPERMAN. The full rights return into the hands of the creators sometime in the late Spring. National is waiting to see what the pair will ask of them and how they will want their brain child treated in the future."

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

6-6-06: Blogging about blogging is even more of a sin today. 

I apologize for the quick 'n' sloppy weblogging for the last couple of days...my time has not been my own lately, and this "having a life" thing tends to get in the way of the important stuff: the funnybooks.

Anyway, you may have noticed that the sidebar links on my site and pal Dorian's has been sporadically up and down over the last couple of days. As I write this, Sideblog appears to be having some expired domain name issues which I certainly hope will be resolved soon.

So, um, anyway...how are you all doing?

A conversation I had with a good customer of ours over the weekend:

CUSTOMER: "Hey Mike...how do you like this All-Star Batman and Robin comic? I've seen on the internet that people don't seem to like it."

ME: "All those people are wrong. The comic's absolutely fantastic."

And as some of you longtime readers will remember, I wasn't lying to make a sale (something I never do anyway)...I genuinely enjoy this comic. HISTORY WILL VINDICATE ME.

(I'm also so tired of hearing about that "I'm the gosh-danged Batman" panel. IT'S EXPLAINED ON THE VERY NEXT PAGE. AAAAARGH!)

Anyway, that was a good customer. If you want to hear about a few bad ones, I talk about them in my new "Behind the Counter" column for Comic Book Galaxy.

This doesn't really have anything to do with anything, but I was Googling up some info for something I was working on, and found myself on the old Journalista weblog. I ended up rereading a few of the entries there, which made me really miss that site. Man, Dirk Deppey did some good work there. Plus, he plugged my site here a handful of times, helping it blossom from the tiny seed into the obnoxious weed-infested shrubbery that it is today. So now you know who you can thank/blame for my still doing the daily weblogging thing after 2 1/2 years.

2 1/2 years of doing this every day. There must be something wrong with me.

As Mr. Spurgeon would say, "Not Comics:" the trailer for The Wicker Man remake is out. It looks like they took the original, brilliant film, flipped the lid up, poured in a whole boxload of stupid, closed the lid, shook it a bit, and are about to put it into theatres.

Employee Nathan: "So are all comic book writers heavy-set guys with beards?"

Me: "Yes. It was either write comics or program computers."

Oh, relax, I was joking...some are scary bald guys. And I hear tell that there are (gasp) wimmen who do comics...I'm pretty sure that's just a rumor, though.

Anyway, for some reason that started a discussion of Doom Patrol #45 (July 1991), featuring a story entitled "The Beard Hunter" by Grant Morrison (look, another bald guy), Vince Giarrano, and Malcolm Jones III.

The Beard Hunter is a Punisher parody who, as is probably obvious, kills people with beards. He's hired by a high-ranking official of The Bearded Gentlemen's Club of Metropolis, despite the club's mission being at odds with the Beard Hunter's own goals. However, this official believes B.H. has the necessary skills to kill Niles Caulder, the leader of the Doom Patrol, and bring back his beard, as punishment for Caulder's refusal to sell his beard to the organization.

Yes, it's all completely nuts, but there's a specific panel I wanted to point out:

That panel has stuck in my mind all these years (particularly the evident futility of his attempts at criticizing Caulder), and of late, it's morphed into a weblogging gag between me and Dorian. Any slight against us, our sites, or even other folks could be met with "I'm going to write a poem about this on my blog," said in our best Comic Book Guy voices.

Yeah, I know.

Batman with Unix commands animated gif. "#!BASH"

Monday, June 05, 2006

"Jest as cute, an' jest as lovable!" 

Li'l Abner looks on as Unwashable Jones interacts with some Shmoos (or "Shmoon"):

This was the strip from the side of the box for the recently-released Dark Horse vinyl Shmoo figure. Al Capp was a profoundly strange person, wasn't he?

Denis Kitchen tells you all about Shmoos, with a nice pic of lots of Shmoo merchandise.

Mr. Kitchen also has a Shmoo button for sale.

The official L'il Abner site has a Shmoo profile as well, with a couple disturbing pictures. (Are there any non-disturbing pictures of the Shmoo?)

Episode guides for The New Shmoo cartoon from the Fred and Barney Meet the Shmoo TV show.

From this page comes this animation cel from the Fred and Barney Meet the Shmoo bumpers:

The Shmoo was also a trainee cop paired with Fred and Barney on Bedrock Cops. Yes, Bedrock Cops. Kids will watch damn near anything.

Shmoo salt & pepper shakers.

This page has a pic of a couple Shmoo clocks, if you scroll down a tad. And EVERYTHING'S ANIMATED.


The Visible Shmoo. (I always pictured the Shmoo as being gel-filled, rather than having a skeletal structure.)

A photo gallery from the MoCCA "Shmoo Schmooze" -- a launch party for the book The Short Life and Happy Times of the Shmoo. (Get the book cheap from Bud Plant.)

It's not on the interweb, near as I can tell, but issue #147 of The Comics Journal (from Dec. '91) had an essay by Martin Williams called "The Hidden World of 'Li'l Abner," which discussed the hidden (and not-so-hidden) sexual content of Al Capp's strips...including the phallic imagery of the Shmoos.

Al Capp's Shmoo #1.

"'The Shmoo Sings' Vintage Children's Record" - it's an auction on the eBay, so I'm saving the pic here for posterity:

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Blogging about blogging is a sin. 

So it only took Tom Spurgeon doing 78 of his "Five for Friday" columns for me to finally get off my duff and contribute an entry to one of them...I'm in the latest one, "Name Your Favorite Sound Effects." Yes, I manage to squeeze in a Swamp Thing sound effect, in case you were wondering.

Er, sorry about yesterday's post...pal Sean, Employee Nathan, and I were goofing on the Smurf life cycle topic a while back, and I'd forgotten about it until last Thursday, when pal Corey and I got into an unrelated Smurf debate ("Smurfolution versus Intelligent Smurfing"). So, anyway, I thought I'd share that with you.

Man, Smurfs come up an awful lot in conversation at the store. Nearly as often as Robocop does.

I am inordinately proud of introducing the phrase "Smurf-blown corpse" to the internet, however.

Pal Dorian may be one of my best friends 'n' all, but he's gonna pay for this, oh yes.

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