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August 31, 2011

Would less books = more sales?

Read the comments on the Paul O'Brien' Marvel Sales analysis articles and you'll see calls for Marvel to reduce the glut and trim back their line, on the grounds that it would help sales. I'm trying to work out if that counterintuitive idea makes sense.

First, let's get out of the way the fact that i would love this idea. It isn't really feasible to buy every Marvel Universe book right now. It's not necessarily a money issue, but i honestly don't think i'd have time to read them all. Or space to store them. But the biggest issue is the "good stuff to crap" ratio. Right now, there are so many books coming out that a large number are bound to not be to my liking. So there's a lot i don't get. At the same time, i feel like i am missing out by not reading the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the X-Men, etc. If there were only, say, two dozen books coming out a month, i personally would love it, and i'd probably be getting them all just so i could keep up on what all the MU characters were doing, even if i didn't love a quarter of the books.

By contrast, the last time i compiled a list of what i was getting (it was a while ago; it became too much trouble to maintain), it was about 40 books (not counting one shots but counting mini-series on the grounds that they've been replaced by new mini-series). In the July Sales chart, i count 67 Marvel Universe books, plus 21 non-continuity books (Ultimates, Max, Marvel Adventures, licensed and other random stuff).

So clearly i would like them to drop down to 24 books. It would save me money! But to force some commitment on my part, let's increase it. Just to pick a higher number at random, let's use 52. And hold it there. No one-shots, no minis, etc.

So, being a nerd, i plotted out the sales numbers in Excel.

Those top 3 points are special events - The start of the Spider-Island crossover (and i think the bigger factor in sales was a retailer incentive that included custom covers with a picture of the retailers' store), the Captain America relaunch, and Fear Itself. Jumping down from there, about 30,000 sales lower, you have a Daredevil relaunch, an X-Men event, and the top selling "normal" Marvel books, which are the Bendis Avengers titles.

So, let's make some assumptions. Let's assume that the #1 selling book on this chart, at 135,568, is artificially inflated due to retailers wanting a book with their picture on it. Let's assume the #2 selling book, at 96,926, represents all of the current comic book fans that have interest in Marvel books but don't buy even the regular top sellers. So there's some 30,000 readers out there that like Marvel books in theory but aren't buying most books.

The assumption is that we could get some or all of those people to start buying every book if we cut the line.

Right now, if you add up the sales on all Marvel books, you get 2,356,385. So, at 52 books, the break even-point is to sell each book at 45,350 or so. Which means all 52 books would have to sell as well (on average) as what's currently at position #27 on the sales chart. Marvel's current 52nd book (different than the book at position #52 on the chart, since that also includes non-Marvel books, so this is position #105 on the chart) sells at 20,390.

The assumption is that sales come from that 30,000 gap between position #2 and #6 on the chart. And it's possibly supplemented by people moving to read some of the new 52 who are now buying lower selling Marvel books that would get cancelled. I don't see this move bringing in many new-to-comics readers. It might bring in some lapsed comics readers, but not a significant number. This is really about maximizing the sales to the current Marvel fanbase.

Of course, the break-even point doesn't reflect the savings for the 36 books we're no longer producing. But on the other side, it's worth noting that a lot of the lower selling books, like the Marvel Adventures line and the licensed books, actually sell better outside of the direct market or in trade format. And there are many other moving parts as well (Creator pay, cover price, etc.).

But just pretending that my numbers work... 52 books. Let's assume $3.50 a book. That's about $200 a month. Since most comics readers nowadays are 30+ something working people, it's not entirely impossible, but it's not likely. Reduce the number of books further (let's say to 24), and now each book needs to sell at the Captain America relaunch numbers - 100,000. That is pretty much every available Marvel fan buying every book.

So based on my half-assed analysis, i'd say at best you are looking at a very risky gambit. Definitely not a no-brainer.

What am i missing?

For fun, here's the Marvel Checklist from the good old days when it would have been feasible to buy every book. Unless you were, like me, 9 years old, in which case you could only afford the books that i checked off.

By fnord12 | August 31, 2011, 4:30 PM | Comics| Link

Panda Porn

Pandas are so useless.

But so adorable.

By min | August 31, 2011, 1:34 PM | Cute Things| Link

August 29, 2011

Marvel Sales

They've been running late so here's both June and July.

By fnord12 | August 29, 2011, 2:09 PM | Comics | Comments (2) | Link

Irene from the Front

Stole this from my cousin who got it from a friend of a friend. It's the hurricane as it's approaching North Carolina.

Irene approaching NC
(Click to embiggen)

By min | August 29, 2011, 11:08 AM | My stupid life| Link

August 28, 2011

Flood Pictures Part II

Mikkim emailed these to me.

The entrance ramps to and from Route 18

River Rd flooded at Route 18 entrance ramp

River Rd flooded at Route 18 exit entrance ramps

And the Raritan River with a shot of the bridge i'm supposed to drive over to get to work tomorrow morning.

Raritan River flooded Landing Lane Bridge

By min | August 28, 2011, 7:58 PM | My stupid life| Link

Flood Pictures

Here's some pictures from Easton Ave, right near our house.

Irene Flood Easton Ave Near Stop N Shop

Irene Flood Easton Ave Near Wendys

Irene Flood Easton Ave Near IHOP

And here's some from Rt 18.

Irene Flood Rt 18 Cook Campus Ramp

Irene Flood Rt 18 New Brunswick

All pictures stolen from random people's yfrog and twitter pages. Click the image to go to their page.

By fnord12 | August 28, 2011, 5:57 PM | My stupid life| Link

An important announcement

Star Wars MPC Contest

I just like seeing Luke driving around in that little car.

By fnord12 | August 28, 2011, 5:55 PM | Comics & Star Wars| Link

I think Arnim Zola has been messing with them

Mego Elastic Hulk & Spider-Man

By fnord12 | August 28, 2011, 5:53 PM | Comics| Link

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Avengers #16 - Is this better? Very light on the talking heads, and a randomish but Fear Itself related story? Anyway, i liked it even though it was clearly designed to not move any plot forward. You know why i liked it? The Red Skull's Exiles. Except for one very major complaint. It should be a requirement that when using the Exiles, and Cadavus, Monarch of the Murder Chair, the phrase "Murder Chair" be used very prominently. Because nothing is more awesome than a Murder Chair.

Avengers Academy #18 - Well, i was concerned that the Academy kids would beat the godified Absorbing Man and Titania too easily, and clearly that didn't happen. I guess i felt like there was too much running around and nothing really happening. A "decompression" complaint i guess; you'd think i'd be used to that by now. My hopes were kinda raised when they reached the conclusion that "If everyone's worried that we're going to grow up to become super-villains, maybe we should start acting like super-villains." I thought that would be a turning point in the story, but actually not so much. Still, this was well written, and i enjoyed seeing *tic* Bug's people at the end.

Captain America #2 - Who would have thought Brubaker would have been such a continuity miner. This Jimmy Jupiter character is going to have me picking up some very strange back issues, apparently. And at the end, we get the Ameridroid, who between this book and Stern's Corps book is getting way more play than i'm sure anyone could have ever imagined. All that and some nice writing and art, too.

Captain America Corps #3 - Hey, what can i tell you? It's Roger Stern playing with continuity and doing some great characterization. The silliness of the premise seems less important with every issue. And i think the art is improving as well.

Hulk #39 - From the cover, i see that my favorite new character Omegex has picked up a second tagline to go with "The World Destroyer". He's now "The Walking Apocalypse" as well. I approve. I'm glad i stuck with this book. For whatever reason i didn't like the Zero/One stuff and the Planet Hulk Redux plotline, but i'm definitely enjoying it again.

Thunderbolts #162 - Great book. Satana is just awesome. Mr. Hyde is awesome. Giant-Sized Man-Thing is awesome. Centurious is pretty cool. The "evil" Thunderbolts plot is going to be interesting.

New Mutants #30 - I enjoyed the Mephisto conversation; i thought that was done really well. And i liked that big weird shark man that ate Dani.

Captain America & Bucky #621 - Continues to be good... waiting to see what comes of it. And from a timeline project perspective, i'm waiting to see when Bucky's narration takes place.

By fnord12 | August 28, 2011, 1:40 PM | Comics | Comments (2) | Link

August 27, 2011

Peak Oil Reminder

Just a reminder for myself to read this Kevin Drum post when i have time.

By fnord12 | August 27, 2011, 11:13 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Day of the Locusts

Well, of the mantises, anyway. Fnord discovered this visitor on our fridge while we were making dinner.

We uninvited it.

By min | August 27, 2011, 6:12 PM | My stupid life| Link

Hurricane Preparedness

Fnord and i prepped for Hurricane Irene by

making a pie and

buying a car.

We're ready for anything.

By min | August 27, 2011, 5:57 PM | My stupid life| Link

August 26, 2011


Assistant Editors Month! Secret Wars! The Casket of Ancient Winters saga!

My timeline for one of the best years in Marvel's history is finished so if you've been longing to read tons of reviews of old comic books, now's your chance.

By fnord12 | August 26, 2011, 6:03 PM | Comics| Link

August 24, 2011

Batman is Spider-Man

Now those packages in Chinatown that group Marvel and DC figures make so much more sense.

Batman begins as Spiderman when he finds a basement under his villa, allowing him to stroke all criminal activates including Doctor Jackstraw, the abnormal drug trafficker

Some guy i "know" on facebook posted this. Someone apparently found this in a Chinese dollar store (a Chinese dollar store??).

By min | August 24, 2011, 3:23 PM | Comics| Link

August 23, 2011

We all experienced an earthquake today, but only one of us became... Vibro

Iron Man #186 by O'Neil/McDonnell.  Origin of Vibro pt 1

Iron Man #186 by O'Neil/McDonnell. Origin of Vibro pt 2

Iron Man #186 by O'Neil/McDonnell. Origin of Vibro pt 3

Iron Man #186 by O'Neil/McDonnell.  Vibro.

By fnord12 | August 23, 2011, 7:03 PM | Comics | Comments (4) | Link

Astronauts vs Cosmonauts

Who came up with the better name for space traveler: the US or the Soviets?

If you try to be objective and forget the fact that "Astronaut" is more of a household word, they're both pretty cool names. But i think Cosmonaut gets the edge.

Also, an honorable mention to the Chinese name, which translates to "sailing personnel in the universe", which is awesome.

By fnord12 | August 23, 2011, 10:44 AM | Good Words| Link


And now, the most awesome toys i never had... the Micronauts. (Most pictures from The Interchangeable World of the Micronauts).


Galactic Defender

Baron Karza

Baron Karza Centaur







Time Traveler

Actually, i did have a couple of them, including some of the above. But that just made me aware of the fact that there was this whole line of awesome toys out there that i didn't have. What a deprived childhood i lived through, with only hordes of Star Wars, He-Man, Secret Wars, GI Joe and god knows what other figures i had to play with.

By fnord12 | August 23, 2011, 10:33 AM | My stupid life| Link



The Huguenots... were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

By fnord12 | August 23, 2011, 10:26 AM | Good Words| Link

The Fantastic Four are Imaginauts

Mini-Marvels Imaginauts

By fnord12 | August 23, 2011, 10:24 AM | Comics| Link

August 19, 2011

The Captain Beefheart connection

Ok, officially put me down as someone who would vote for Jon Huntsman for President if he ever made it out of the Republican primary. It's not because of his politics, although he did criticize Obama's stimulus package as being too small, and he just tweeted this:

To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.

It's because of his awesome taste in music.

After a tweet suggesting the "call me crazy" line had attracted "lots of new followers," Huntsman wrote, "I wonder if a tweet where I admit how much I like Captain Beefheart will make the followers skyrocket even more!" He then linked to a youtube video of "The Cap and his Magic Band playing their oh-so-conventional sound to a bunch of hip crowd members on a beach."

By fnord12 | August 19, 2011, 4:02 PM | Liberal Outrage & Music| Link

Slow news day or attack of the mutants?

When i sign into my Yahoo mail, i have it set to show me World news headlines so i don't have to look at US politics any more than i already obsessively do. Normally it's... world news.

Today's a bit different:

Good day to stay home.

By fnord12 | August 19, 2011, 9:56 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (1) | Link

August 18, 2011

No shoes and dresses for the Democrats

There's this whole ridiculous political metaphor that's been out there for years that Democrats are the mommy party and Republicans are the daddy party.

So is Digby onto something here or over-analyzing?

By fnord12 | August 18, 2011, 8:52 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Someone needs to play Bioshock

"A bunch of Libertarians living in the middle of the ocean on a rig constructed without building codes?... Where do I donate?"

By fnord12 | August 18, 2011, 8:49 AM | Liberal Outrage & Ummm... Other? & Video Games| Link

August 17, 2011

By Jove, She's Right!

"I shall hollow you out and fill you with custard," she said, brandishing a scalpel. "And you will feel oh so much better, for who could be unhappy with custard? And if you are very well behaved, you shall have strawberries besides."

By min | August 17, 2011, 4:06 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link

I Will Pay You to Stop Using Our Products

So sad. Link

Fashion retailer Abercrombie & Fitch is reversing the normal rules of product endorsement by offering a "substantial" sum to Michael Sorrentino - AKA The Situation from MTV's Jersey Shore - not to wear its clothes.
An A&F spokesman said: "We are deeply concerned that Mr Sorrentino's association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image. We have therefore offered a substantial payment to Michael 'The Situation' Sorrentino and the producers of MTV's Jersey Shore to have the character wear an alternate brand. We have also extended this offer to other members of the cast, and are urgently waiting a response."

Considering how much the Jersey Shore cast spend on clothes, Abercrombie & Fitch is giving up a decent profit besides paying them off to not ruin their brand by wearing their clothes.

Why do good things always happen to stupid people? Why can't i get offered lots and lots of money to do nothing but be a fool?

By min | August 17, 2011, 12:32 PM | TeeVee | Comments (2) | Link

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

New Avengers #15 - So Squirrel Girl's a real badass, huh? I enjoyed this. Her squirrel swarm is hilarious. But Bendis does a good job of making her a real, non-joke character, as well. Relatively speaking. Fun stuff. But let's get serious here for a second. If Wolverine, without claws, without relying on his healing factor, can beat Iron Fist in hand-to-hand combat, i guess we'd better kick Fist off the team. Because Iron Fist is supposed to be the best hand-to-hand fighter this side of Shang Chi, and Wolverine's fighting style is supposed to be "plow through and take the hits and let the healing factor deal with it". So if the best martial artist can't handle Wolverine, he's just not adding anything to the group.

Alpha Flight #3 - This series is clearly designed for those of us who loved the original Byrne run. And that's me! My only complaint continues to be Marrina. I guess i kind of liked the new character, whoever she is, this issue. Which is better than earlier, when i thought she was bratty and annoying. But when the Unity scientists say, "Marrina has consistently been rated Alpha Flight's most anti-social and rebellious member", i worry that they're never going to actually try and explain to me what happened here. But that aside, i liked this. The team's quibbling, Shaman's new corny sense of humor, the whole government conspiracy plot... good stuff.

New Mutants #29 - Nowadays, i always have trouble telling Magma and Magik apart. "Blond girl." If i see Magik first, then it's "Oh yeah, she's the one with the bangs". But if i see Magma first, i'm in trouble, especially when it's a new artist. Luckily, there's the recap page. Oh wait.

New Mutants #29 recap

Anyway, this was good. I think i like the new artist's Warlock. And i of course like Doug and Warlock, although i'm a bit worried that Doug has become both Exposition Boy and Do Whatever the Plot Requires Boy.

By fnord12 | August 17, 2011, 11:16 AM | Comics| Link

August 16, 2011

It's TypeR195's Dream Come True

Using bikes to generate power. Love this image. Look how excited the floaty head guy is!

To solve the electric power crisis, on Tuesday August 23rd Tokyoites will madly peddle bicycle generators to light up Tokyo Tower!

Btw, i wouldn't bother clicking on the link for the translated article. It comes out in the usual gibberish Babelfish users will be familiar with. Here's a sample:

Future, as part of the power and leverage to the exercise bike equipped with facilities such as sports clubs, will consider and use as emergency power.
Watanuki is a professor in the estimates, when human power for 8 hours at 20 to 100 watts with a bicycle generator that allows storage to 9.6 kilowatts of power per day to account for 60 percent occupancy rate.

By min | August 16, 2011, 1:14 PM | Science| Link

August 15, 2011


NYTimes: White House Debates Fight on Economy.

In one corner...

Mr. Obama's senior adviser, David Plouffe, and his chief of staff, William M. Daley, want him to maintain a pragmatic strategy of appealing to independent voters by advocating ideas that can pass Congress, even if they may not have much economic impact. These include free trade agreements and improved patent protections for inventors.

Free trade agreements that ship more jobs overseas. Brilliant! And sure, a lack of patent protection is what's holding back the economy. (By the way, does anyone besides Dean Baker see the inherent contradiction between advocating for "free trade" and "intellectual property rights" at the same time?)

In the other corner...

But others, including Gene Sperling, Mr. Obama's chief economic adviser, say public anger over the debt ceiling debate has weakened Republicans and created an opening for bigger ideas like tax incentives for businesses that hire more workers, according to Congressional Democrats who share that view.

As Calculated Risk says:

Tax incentives are the "bigger idea"? It sounds like the debate is between doing nothing and doing very little.

Troubling as the above "ideas" are, the following is worse:

Administration officials, frustrated by the intransigence of House Republicans, have increasingly concluded that the best thing Mr. Obama can do for the economy may be winning a second term, with a mandate to advance his ideas on deficit reduction, entitlement changes, housing policy and other issues.

Yes, Obama hopes to win a second term so that he has a mandate for pushing Republican goals like deficit reduction and cutting Medicare and Social Security without Republican interference. Does anyone want to do anything about unemployment? Not even after the election?!?

Finally, just to twist the knife, there's this.

Republicans contend that the Obama administration has mismanaged the nation's recovery from the 2008 financial crisis. Mr. Obama's political advisers are struggling to define a response, aware that their prospects may rest on persuading voters that the results of the first term matter less than the contrast between their vision for the next four years and the alternative economic ideas offered by Republicans.

So far, most signs point to a continuation of the nonconfrontational approach -- better to do something than nothing -- that has defined this administration. Mr. Obama and his aides are skeptical that voters will reward bold proposals if those ideas do not pass Congress. It is their judgment that moderate voters want tangible results rather than speeches.

"If you're talking about a stunt, I don't think a stunt is what the American people are looking for," the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, told reporters on Wednesday. They're looking for leadership, and they're looking for a focus on economic growth and job creation."

It's not a stunt to advocate policies that will actually work, or to blame Republicans for obstruction. Telling me you're pushing for deficit reduction, trade agreements, and patent protection because it will create jobs, and hoping the economy recovers on its own in the meantime... that's a stunt.

I think we are down to hoping that Rick Perry's calls for divine intervention start working once he is in the White House.

By fnord12 | August 15, 2011, 10:26 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

August 14, 2011

The Question of the Week will never be "What is an acceptable Adverse Impact ratio?"

Here's a neat little story from the lettercol in Thor #352:

Recently, THOR chronicler Walt Simonson and his equally-awesome wife Louise were visiting relatives in Maryland during the dog days of August and happened to stop in at a small ice cream shop named Steve's. On the wall of that august establishment was a blackboard. And above the board written in large letters, the following was inscribed - "Question of the week -- answer it and win a free Ice Cream cone!" Always looking for some new way of saving money (short of not actually spending it), Walt glanced over the question -- and felt the hand of Fate lightly touch him on the shoulder. When he walked up to the counter to claim his free cone, the girl behind it looked at him and turned to a friend. "He's wearing a Thor T-Shirt!" she said. And as luck would have it, he was, indeed. For the Question of the Month [sic] read -- "What is the name of the magic hammer that gives Thor his powers?" Some days, you don't have to work for a living!

By fnord12 | August 14, 2011, 7:51 PM | Comics | Comments (3) | Link

Whatever is going on in this ad is wrong

Or at least doesn't belong in a comic where kids can see it.

Turbo Touch 360

By fnord12 | August 14, 2011, 12:48 AM | Comics & Video Games| Link

August 12, 2011

Panda Porn

By min | August 12, 2011, 1:52 PM | Cute Things| Link

August 11, 2011

Maybe instead of elections, we should have arena battles

George W. Bush's extraordinary physical condition, and how it helped him win the war on terror.

By fnord12 | August 11, 2011, 12:40 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link

TV is the new comic books

This article on why 200,000 people cancelled their TV service is interesting. Seems it's more due to the poor economy than everyone switching to Netflix and Hulu, but those services are a factor.

I just thought this was interesting:

Cable providers are increasingly seeking ways to get more money out of their existing subscriber base. As a result, we've seen steady increases in average revenue per user (ARPU) as users sign up for more HD, more premium channels, more DVR set-top boxes throughout the home. That's the reason Comcast's ARPU stands at about $140, when basic cable service starts at about $39 based on some introductory offers.

On the other side, operators are increasingly shying away from customers who might not want to pay for the premium cable package, multiple DVRs and other bells and whistles. DirecTV and Dish Network both run credit scores of potential subscribers to weed out those who might turn out to be flakes and cancel after an introductory deal is over. The goal -- to get customers signed up for as many value-added services as possible -- is not just about driving up revenues, but about making those services sticky and increasing customer lock-in.

Not a direct comparison, but it reminded me of how, when faced with declining mass market sales, comic companies retreated to the direct market and focus now on getting more money out of their existing customer base through things like variant covers, non-essential mini-series, and line-wide event crossovers, rather than trying to expand that customer base.

Actually, it's also similar to what i've read concert ticket services are doing with VIP tickets and other value-adds in the face of declining ticket sales. I don't know if these trends are showing a haves/have-nots division or if it's just some industries dealing with shifting trends. But the direct market ploy made comics a niche market; seems unlikely that the same thing would happen with cable, but we'll see.

By fnord12 | August 11, 2011, 12:12 PM | TeeVee| Link

Shooter vs. Buscema

Everyone knows i'm a fan of the Jim Shooter era of Marvel comics. But he definitely had a reputation as a control freak.

I just recently read an interview book with Sal Buscema. What you have to understand about Sal (yeah, i'm on a first name basis with him) is that while he wasn't a superstar, he was the workhorse of Marvel's artist stable. He did several books a month, did fill-ins for other artists that were late, and took all assignments they gave him without complaint. I think he was a good artist, too, and one thing's for sure: he was great at the storytelling aspect of his job. Action flowed from panel to panel and you could always "read" his art and understand what was going on without any dialogue or narration to explain things.

So combine all of that and it's pretty shocking to see him refuse a high profile assignment:

Q: I read in Back Issue magazine where you and [Shooter] had a difference of opinion on the wedding of Spider-Man.

A: As a matter of fact, we did. I got along well with Jim... Anyway, I had heard these horror stories about Secret Wars. Mike Zeck was a very good artist; I liked his work. And I found out almost third-hand, so it may be wrong, that Mike almost had a nervous breakdown because of what Jim had put him through. That got me a little bit leery.

But that wasn't the big problem. When I got the script from Jim, he had all kinds of parameters he had painted for me, all sorts of restrictions. "Don't do this. I want the panels done this way. I want them laid out this way." Essentially, the next step would have been for him to hold my hand and push the pencil around on the paper. I had read the note that came along with the script and thought, "I can't work this way. I just cannot give it my best."

And that's essentially what I wrote in a letter to Jim... I told him that under the circumstances, what he was asking was more than I could give him. That I could not do my best work working under these circumstances. That he was just giving me too many parameters, and sort of painting me into a corner or putting me in a box, and I just could not work that way. I asked him to please understand, because I'd been used to working for so many years in this manner, and all of a sudden he was asking me [to] do something diametrically opposed to the way I'd been working. "I can't do my best work for you. Thank you for the opportunity." I thought it was a very pleasant and tactful letter. I said, "I'm sure you can find somebody else who can give you what you want, and thereby do a much better job than I would be able to do for you under the circumstances."

It was a few days later that I got a letter back from Jim that just ripped me up one side and down the other. He told me they were paying me the big bucks to do what I was told. The letter was longer than that, and it was abusive. I didn't appreciate it one bit, because the letter I had sent to him was very tactful and very, very friendly. I certainly didn't get that in return, and that's the way it ended. As far as I was concerned the case was closed. It was over with. I didn't appreciate the letter, but there was nothing I could do about it.

Q: From what I understand, he was going into such detail that he was telling you what the houses were supposed to look like, what the people were supposed to be wearing - that level of minutiae.

A: He even went into panel layout. He said, "For instance, if Spider-Man is shooting his web at somebody, I don't want to see him shooting the web in one panel and the web hitting the guy in the next panel. I want that to be happening in one panel." I'm thinking, "If the circumstances call for it, if the design of the book calls for it, you can't work that way." How are you supposed to work at your creative best when somebody is damn near hanging over your shoulder telling you how to draw everything that you're supposed to draw. I can't work that way. I'm not sure anybody could. And I wasn't about to get a nervous breakdown the way Mike Zeck did, so I decided - and I hated to do it, believe me, because I knew I was giving up a lot of money - to write that letter.

The book follows up with a shot showing that Sal could show the initiation & conclusion of an action all happening in one panel (Spidey shoots his webs and they hit the bad guys at the same time), which is a common trick and something Buscema obviously didn't need to be told about (although this particular panel comes from a book that was published well after the incident in question.).

Spider-Man Unlimited #11

Now, there's no doubt that Jim Shooter is going to be extra fussy about a high profile book like Secret Wars or the Spidey/Mary Jane wedding issue. And I wonder how much of Sal's concerns were based on rumors about Mick Zeck's experience; maybe otherwise he would have let the micro-managing roll off his shoulders. But still, it's pretty clear that when you rattle a guy like Sal Buscema, you're doing something wrong.

By fnord12 | August 11, 2011, 8:55 AM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

Getting nasty

Most of our spam commentators are very complimentary (see our sidebar), but i guess they realized that they're still getting deleted and they're getting cranky about it.

The next time I learn a weblog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as a lot as this one. I imply, I do know it was my choice to learn, but I truly thought youd have one thing fascinating to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you can repair should you werent too busy looking for attention.

I think it's perfectly valid criticism and i do apologize for my behavior.

By fnord12 | August 11, 2011, 8:46 AM | My stupid life| Link

August 10, 2011

Affordably priced!?!

G.I. Joe Movie: By way of comparison, this was advertised in a comic with a 60 cent cover price.

What they're advertising here is the original 5 part pilot mini-series. $39.95?? Adjusted for inflation, that's $82.73! No amount of free posters is going to make up for that. I'm pretty sure every kid couldn't own a copy.

No wonder we live in a world dominated by the forces of Cobra.

By fnord12 | August 10, 2011, 8:57 PM | Comics & TeeVee | Comments (5) | Link

Here i go again

Robert Reich was Clinton's Secretary of Labor. I guess he still has contacts at the White House, and he says:

Americans are deeply confused about why the economy is so bad - and their President isn't telling them. In fact, the White House apparently has decided to join with Republicans and blame it on the long-term budget deficit.
I'm told White House political operatives are against a bold jobs plan. They believe the only jobs plan that could get through Congress would be so watered down as to have almost no impact by Election Day. They also worry the public wouldn't understand how more government spending in the near term can be consistent with long-term deficit reduction. And they fear Republicans would use any such initiative to further bash Obama as a big spender.

So rather than fight for a bold jobs plan, the White House has apparently decided it's politically wiser to continue fighting about the deficit. The idea is to keep the public focused on the deficit drama - to convince them their current economic woes have something to do with it, decry Washington's paralysis over fixing it, and then claim victory over whatever outcome emerges from the process recently negotiated to fix it. They hope all this will distract the public's attention from the President's failure to do anything about continuing high unemployment and economic anemia.

This mainly ensures that the public will continue to not understand "how more government spending in the near term can be consistent with long-term deficit reduction".

I don't see that it's difficult to explain. If we must put it in terms of household budget metaphors, everyone understands that while taking out a mortgage to buy a house, or taking out a student loan, creates debt in the short term, it is a good investment in the long term. I think most people understand that hiring an accountant can save you money, even though you have to pay the accountant. And i suspect people understand that when a business makes an investment in their infrastructure - buying software that automates a manual payroll process, for example - the company is doing so because they expect a return on their investment that is greater than the money they are paying for the software.

What's even better about being the Federal government is that you're an immortal entity with guaranteed income growth. You don't have to save up for retirement when you hit 65. And barring catastrophe, the GDP will always increase, meaning the dollar you borrow today is worth less than the dollar you will earn tomorrow.

And best of all, right now, borrowing money is very cheap. Interest rates are very, very low. It's like if i told you that you could buy a house at .5% APR.

Investing in our economy now gets it growing again, which means more revenue faster for the future, reducing our debt.

Finally, the biggest source of our long term debt problems is growing medical costs. Both private and public medical costs are growing at an alarming rate. But public costs are growing more slowly. So if we spend money now in ways that reduce costs in the future (kind of like automating that payroll system), we're killing two birds with one stone.

I don't know why the President can't say these things. He's a better communicator than me or Paul Krugman, and he's got the resources of the White House behind him. Democrats are always a superstitious cowardly lot, even though their timid approach always bites them in the ass. Even if taking this approach was "risky" to my re-election goals (i don't think it is), if i were President i wouldn't see the value of being re-elected if it meant that i got to sit through another four years of paralyzed gridlock and debating the issues on the Republicans' terms. But more and more, i don't think it's an issue of Obama being timid. I think he's a moderate conservative and he's achieving exactly what he wants.

By fnord12 | August 10, 2011, 9:22 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

August 8, 2011

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Avengers Academy #17 - Look, i remember when the Wasp and Ant-Man had to face off against Absorbing Man and Titania during the Siege of Avengers Mansion storyline. And that was an un-Godified Absorbing Man and Titania. If the Academy kids manage to defeat those two next issue, it's time to start handing out diplomas. I don't love the idea that Absorbing Man's hate for Henry Pym is so great that it overrides his deity imprint. Thor, i could buy. But just cause Pym beat him recently, that doesn't seem to be enough. Although, i guess to be fair, we all hate Pym. I did think this was a good issue. Great art by Chen, and good character moments.

Herc #6 - Other than the power-ups for Hercules' new villain-buddies, which was cool but i hope (and assume) was not permanent, this went pretty much the way you'd expect it to after last issue. Last issue had all sorts of cool ideas and a lot of build-up, but the problem with conclusions is they often are a little bit of a letdown. Not saying i didn't enjoy this, just not as much as last issue. Although the silly/ridiculous "Brooklyn's my town!" was a high point.

Hulk #38 - Um, hi! My name is Omegex the World Destroyer? I'm hovering over your planet and i'm going to, um, destroy it! I was kind of thinking the Red Hulk might want to try and stop me, so i've been politely hovering up here for oh, 3 or 4 months. Is it... can i... next issue? You promise? Ok, it's just... there's a guy with a website who's irrationally very found of me based on not much more than my name and my vague resemblance to some Kirby robots, and i really wouldn't want to disappoint him.

As for this issue, i'll just say this: I've been defending those Avengers talking heads issues on the grounds that it's a fine way to tread water during Fear Itself. But if you had told me the alternative was an all-MODOK issue, well, i mean, that would have been a different story. Also, if MODOK likes Zero/One, that's good enough for me.

Thunderbolts #161 - Fear Itself is the first big Marvel crossover in a while that i've deliberately avoided. And i was worried at first that i'd made the wrong decision. As bad as i thought it would be (and it sounds like i was right), i thought i'd feel like i was missing out on important stuff. But, Buckywintercap dying aside, it turns out i'm enjoying the series more by not actually reading it. I get the basic gist of the story, and i only have to read the parts by creators that i like. It's a revelation!

By fnord12 | August 8, 2011, 9:41 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

Continuity geeks in perpetuum

A commenter on my Marvel Timeline website called my attention to this letter in Amazing Spider-Man #72 (May 69 cover date).

Marvel continuity letter

Actually it looks closer to a Marvel Chronology Project listing than mine, but the point is we're here! We're nerds! Get used to it!

By fnord12 | August 8, 2011, 11:04 AM | Comics| Link

Ironic or stupid?

Bond rating agency S&P downgrades the safety rating on the US's bonds. The stock market responds... by selling stocks and buying bonds:

Prices for U.S. government debt rose because Treasurys are still seen as one of the world's few safe havens. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.48 percent from 2.57 percent late Friday. It fell as low as 2.46 percent earlier Monday. A bond's yield drops when its price rises.

By fnord12 | August 8, 2011, 10:23 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

August 5, 2011

Bang Bang

By min | August 5, 2011, 2:55 PM | Music| Link


In direct contrast to the ball-hugging Ex-Girlfriend jeans Levi's came out with last winter, three brothers from Newark, NJ bring you the jeans that were meant to sag.

Our patented concept consists of high quality jeans that sag naturally. Our boxers are attached to the waistband of our jeans by snaps. The underwear are detachable and removable. The three rows of snaps are designed so consumers can sag their SAGZ JEANS at different levels without having to constantly pull up their pants, resulting in more time to be active, express themselves and show their SWAG.

According to the website, one of the brothers noticed people were having trouble being active because they kept having to pull their pants up.

"They're holding their pants up not being able to play sports, basically being unhealthy because of the attire they were wearing" Mark Davenport said.

Yes, that's right; it was their pants falling down that kept them from being healthy. I suppose it never did occur to any of these active sports lovers that they could mebbe put some pants on that fit and worry about being stylish when they were done being healthy.

By min | August 5, 2011, 2:00 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link

I Think His Talents Are Being Wasted

This Swede tried to build a nuclear reactor in his kitchen out of curiosity.

"I was just curious to see if it was possible, it is just a hobby," said Handl, currently unemployed but previously a worker in a ventilation systems factory.

He documented his efforts on a blog and his Facebook page.

He got as far as mixing some ingredients on a cooker -- americum, radium, beryllium and 96 percent sulphuric acid.

"The boiling explosion was about 3 or 4 months ago and the police came two weeks ago," he said.

After the incident, which he tagged "The Meltdown" on his blog, he said he "cleaned up the mess on the cooker and then I bought some more radium and continued the experiment."

I'm impressed by people whose hobby is gluing bits of paper to other bits of paper. This guy's on a whole other level.

The article doesn't say how successful his attempts were, but if he was in any way along the right lines, i think they should find him a job where they can put that brain to work.

Also, who the hell is selling radium to citizens on the internet? They should be arresting that guy.

By min | August 5, 2011, 1:45 PM | Science | Comments (1) | Link

Peak oil not so bad?

Since i love to link to the Peak Oil doomsdayers, here's an alternative view for balance.

By fnord12 | August 5, 2011, 12:23 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Are Those Feet or Canoes?

My mother always did say my sister's size 7 feet were extraordinarily large. Now she's practically average.

...[A]verage female shoe size has increased to a size six over the last 10 years, and demand for size nines has triggered an 80 percent increase in stocks at the department store, Debenhams reports.

The change is attributed to women's feet becoming broader rather than longer - experts believe this may be due to an increase in average body weight.


"High fashion shoes such as stilettos in larger sizes have to be made much stronger with sturdier load bearing points, able to cope with greater levels of stress and wear."

Reminds me of the plot to Kinky Boots (which, just between you and me, wasn't all that great of a movie).

By min | August 5, 2011, 11:51 AM | Ummm... Other?| Link

Hearts and Tracheas for Everybody!

Last month, a cancer patient received a successful transplant of a trachea grown from his own stem cells.

This month, another guy got a plastic heart.

A 40-year-old father who was dying from heart failure is set to leave hospital after receiving an artificial heart.
His new plastic heart is powered by a portable driver in a backpack, which he said had "revolutionised" his life.

It is thought to be the first time a UK patient has been able to go home with an entirely artificial heart.

Next it'll be full-grown replacement limbs. Take that Doc Connors!

And nanobots. I would make an awesome cyborg.

By min | August 5, 2011, 9:48 AM | Science| Link

Is Maxwell Smart Running the Agency?


In its German-language report, Focus magazine quotes an unnamed intelligence official as saying the highly detailed plans had disappeared.

They purportedly show extremely sensitive aspects of the building's construction, such as the alarm system, anti-terror installations, emergency exits, cable routes and sewers.

German espionage is either very, very sad, or it's a clever ruse to throw off the enemy by appearing to be totally incompetent.

By min | August 5, 2011, 9:21 AM | Ummm... Other?| Link

Putin's Got Some Balls


The Russian prime minister told ministers to cough up "at least a month's wages" each to fund a statue of Pyotr Stolypin, who was himself prime minister of the country from 1906 to 1911.

Stolypin launched important agrarian reforms but brooked no dissent and introduced a faster process for prosecuting opponents of Tsar Nicholas II. As a result, the hangman's noose became known as "Stolypin's necktie".


He suggested the current leadership had to demonstrate its own sacrifice in promoting Stolypin's desire to "put Russia on a healthy path".

He said MPs should also contribute to the memorial, which will be erected outside the White House, the Russian government building, to coincide with events celebrating the 150th anniversary of Stolypin's birth in April.

Ministers appeared to raise no objection to being told how to spend their cash.

Ofc they raised no objection. They don't want to end up getting a radioactive isotope cocktail.

It must be interesting being Putin, always entirely convinced of your own fantastic-ness. If he starts talking about being like unto a god, i suggest someone take him out quick.

By min | August 5, 2011, 9:01 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Something Unlikely to Occur in the US

The land of the free, as it were.

Inspired by the "indignant" protest movement that camped out in Madrid's Puerta del Sol square in May, residents in the multicultural neighbourhood of Lavapiés have reacted to recent attempts to detain immigrants by jeering and chanting at police.

Police have twice had to call for reinforcements in riot gear so that arresting officers can leave safely.

About 200 protesters gathered after an immigrant texted to say that police were asking African residents for identity documents. In another incident a crowd formed to drive police out after they arrested a Senegalese immigrant in the metro. Police said they had been chasing a drug trafficker on one occasion and, on the other, had been called to arrest a man who failed to pay for his metro ticket.

But neighbours say police frequently hassle immigrants for no reason at all. "This is a reaction to the police's habit of illegally rounding up immigrants and checking people's papers on grounds of race," said Olmo Calvo, a photographer at Diagonal, a leftwing bi-monthly newspaper based in Lavapiés.


Here, the people would

  1. Jeer at the immigrants, telling them to "go home" or calling them "terrorists",

  2. Stand around to watch the show, making sure to film it on their phones for later posting on YouTube, or

  3. Get out of the immediate vicinity as quickly as possible, making sure they have no eye contact with anyone

Even some of your "reasonable" friends might give you statistics on how "profiling" is effective, so as wrong as this might be, they're not entirely against the tactic. And your mother will tell you that "now is not the time to make a fuss".

Jan Brewer should become BFFs with Spain's interior ministry since neither seem to want Latin Americans in their cities.

By min | August 5, 2011, 8:33 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

August 4, 2011

Mike Sterling is funny

He says:

Hey gang! I've come to a bipartisan agreement, with myself, to raise the entertainment ceiling and bring you a bunch of swell items from the latest Diamond Previews...

His End of Civilization posts are always entertaining, so go read, but i wanted to call out his intro.

Update: Kinda wish Marvel made those aprons. I'd be a much better cook if i had the self-confidence an Arnim Zola physique could bestow upon me.

By fnord12 | August 4, 2011, 9:12 AM | Comics| Link

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