December 17th, 2011

Bill Nye

This Little Light Of Mine, I'm Gonna Let It Shine

My lamp that I use when drawing my comics uses three way bulbs, and one of the elements went out the other day.  The lamp says to use a maximum of 100 watts, but I use 150 (I tried 250's, and they melted the plastic knob for the on/off switch, so 150 it is).  So I mention that I'm going to get a new bulb.

"You can get a CFL that will put out more light with less wattage."

First thing I thought of, first thing I rejected.  The bulbs are too tall for the lamp shade.  Besides, I don't like CFL's.  They're a little too harsh and blue for my taste.  I prefer the warmer glow of an incandescent.

"Then you better stock up.  Incandescents are being phased out.  You'll have to buy CFL's, LED's, or nothing."

Once again, someone reads the headlines in the paper but not the articles.

Yes, the federal government passed a law phasing out 100 watt incandescents on Jan 1 of the coming year.  75 watters will be phased out next year, and the 60's and 40's go the year after that.

Sort of.

The law that was passed didn't say to get rid of incandescents.  Manufacturers can still make them, but they have to be at least 28% more efficient.  What do you know?  Manufacturers found a way to somehow improve on 125 year old technology!  (We science geeks sometimes refer to incandescents as "Light Emitting Resistors".)  They have done so with improving the filament inside the bulb.  The filament is a little more expensive, but it is more durable, too, and can potentially last three times as long as the old tungsten filaments, so it's kind of a wash.

The only wrinkle is if you have a light on a dimmer.  The packaging will say whether or not they will work in a dimmer circuit.  But other than that, you won't notice the difference.

Man.  People hype about the dumbest shit.
Kill It With Fire

Crossdressing To Bear

I know I'm probably going to get some shit from the Peanut Gallery over this, but I don't care.  Yes, it's another one of those, "Here's something small in the world, and Peter G sees it as proof of how fucked up the world is."

In this case, it concerns an upcoming television show.  Television exists to marginalize people and pit them against each other whether racially, sexually, or even just geographically.  Watch TV shows, and the people most consistently presented as losers that exist for the main characters to make fun of are poor people.  Saturday Night Live and MADtv seem to have real hate-on's for anyone who is not only that, but from the American South.

TV also makes fun of women.  Think about the most successful names in TV right now.  The Kardashians.  They are shown as pampered bitches who are just soooooooo much better than everyone else.  This kind of behavior, if it was exhibited by someone you know, would have you avoiding them at all costs.  All you have to do is look at the volume of negative criticism to see it.  The Real Housewives series?  Jersey Shore?  Women are presented as subhuman creatures.  They only exist for the amusement of men, either through sexual pleasure or as targets of derision.  Women are not depicted sympathetically.

January 3 will see the debut of a new TV show called, Work It.  A full page ad appeared, showing two guys, their backs to the viewer, dressed as women and standing at urinals.  The premise is that the two guys need jobs, but the place is only hiring women, so they go in drag to land the gigs.  Anyone else sensing a retread of Bosom Buddies here?

I just love the underlying theme here.  They would never make a show about a woman having to disguise herself as a man, but they have no problem presenting men like this.  Men don't get sexually humiliated like this.  Men don't have to wear things just to be judged as acceptable to society.  No one presents being a man as some sort of cruel social hell.  In other words, no man would ever have to go through this, so let's laugh about it, completely forgetting that they will never be beholden to those standards.

This just smells like a comedy whose value comes from laughing at how ridiculous it is that women have to go through this by two guys who can simply leave that world at the end of the work day.

How arrogant.

People want TV to reflect society.  Unfortunately, it already does.

Under Lock And Key

Let's take a look at comic book collecting.  Specifically, collecting comics in the expectation that you'll be able to flip them later for beauceaux bucks.

Now, full disclosure, just to keep myself from coming off as some holier-than-thou asshole.  There was a point in my life where I was bitten by the speculator bug.  Around the time of the Image launch, I bought titles I liked and also kept on the lookout for comic I could collect to flip later.  Trust me, I didn't keep Youngblood #1 for so long because Hank Kanalz wrote such a compelling story.  Everyone is at least a little intrigued at the prospect of their collections going up in value, no one is immune to that.  But I was specifically targeting books to make it go up.  I fell out after a while, when I not only realized how much money I was spending on books that I not only wasn't reading but still had to take care of, but I was finding these books at the same condition quality in the quarter boxes.  I learned an important truth -- it's not what something is worth, and it's not what something is worth to you, but what it's worth to the person you are hoping will buy it.  And if they just don't think that Superman #75 is worth the $200 Wizard said it was worth, you're stuck, buddy.

Now, like I said, there is always at least a little notion of the value of books.  It keeps things interesting, another yardstick to measure what you have.  I brag quite openly about the first prints of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that I have (yes, I verified that they weren't counterfeits).  Although good luck getting me to part with them.  I've had people offering me $200 for my #2 first print (value at the time?  $85) and I said no because I love the books and am keeping them.  I'm aware of the value, but I'm not holding on to them hoping to buy a yacht with them.

So when people like my cousin who only collects Silver Age comics because "They go up $100 in value every year", I just smile quietly.  And when he looks at all the indie comics I have and says my collection is worthless, I just shrug.  (He made sure to take a couple of cheap swipes at my complete run of Sound Waves, wondering why in the world I was collecting something so crude.  Oh, is HE ever in for a surprise.)

The conventional wisdom is the opposite of the lesson I learned all those years ago.  Supposedly, rarity dictates how collectible something is.  No, demand dictates collectibility.  When I was swapping video tapes years ago, I made sure to record shows to use as trade bait (got pretty good at it, too).  The stuff I was looking for and had for trade, no one wanted, and it made trading almost impossible.  But get your mitts on something they really want, and you can find aaaaaaaall kinds of cool stuff.

Which brings us to the Comic Guarantee Company, which slabs comic books and artificially jacks up the value.  The same book on eBay, one slabbed and one just in a bag and board so you can open it and read it, usually results in a price delta of $50, typically $100.  You have people that are bound and determined to make sure modern comics can be bragged about financially just like Silver and Golden Age comics, and they hit on this.  They are artificially creating rarity in comics.  Here's proof -- the death of Captain America goes for three figures.  There are hundreds of these slabbed.  If I get a copy of Sound Waves #1 slabbed, it will be rarer than the death of Cap, because there are only about thirty copies of Sound Waves #1 in circulation.  But I guarantee you the comic will not be valued at more than a few cents, even though the basic logic of the culture, that rarity dictates price, says it should be the other way around.

Boom! Studios is launching a new series, Valen The Outcast.  The first issue, they decided to do a special cheap publicity stunt alternate gimmick cover.  Joe Jusko drew it, a 1 to 200.  To get it, stores had to order 200 copies of the regular release ($1 cover price = about $133 going to Diamond to get it), and Boom! printed up 500 copies.

I want you to pay attention to that number:  500.

The copies of the bonus were slabbed by CGC, rated 9.8 (each one of them?  That is a remarkable coincidence), and readied for release.  Right, the comic shops were getting a comic that may well have had blank pages inside, they'd never know because they couldn't crack open the slab.  Like I said, they got a glorified baseball card.  Well, release came and went.  Only 25 comic shops actually ordered enough copies of the regular book to get the variant cover.  Boom! wound up burning the vast majority of the comics, hundreds of them.  (Note: they actually did it, they posted the video of them doing so to YouTube.)

Everybody still with me so far?  That's good!

Now, let's go to the CGC web site, where they track the books they have graded.  Do a search for the Joe Jusko variant cover, and you'll get this:


With reports that only 25 of them made it into the wild, what is this?  Bleeding Cool asked for a breakdown, and here's what Boom! said:

25 — original Diamond order
11 — this week’s Diamond reorder
15 — comps for staff
8 — copies for BOOM! archive
10 — overage in case of shipping damages, either from CGC to Diamond, or from Diamond breaking ones themselves
6 — creator comps
75 — TOTAL

75.  75 potentially out in the wild.  Not the full 500.  And definitely not the 226 CGC is saying.  Boom! says it's just a glitch on CGC's part and will be fixed next week.  Unless this is one of those little slips that reveals there is more going on and they are hoping no one looks too deeply.  Can you guess which one I'd put my money on?

What's the difference between a porn star and the comic book industry?  It's FUN being screwed by a porn star, and you know when it's happened to you.