Let me just start off this post with something that would have blown the mind of teenaged me.

§ November 17th, 2017 § Filed under market crash, pal plugging, publishing § 6 Comments

First, the plug:


Steve Bissette (whom you may remember having drawn a certain swamp monster of some note) has published a new book, Cryptid Cinema, where he discusses a few of his favorite movie critters. Along the way of the production of this volume, Mr. Bissette asked for my assistance, particularly regarding some of the goofy Swamp Thing merchandise that was produced way back when. Well, specifically, he asked if he could quote some of my old blog posts on the topic, to which I of course said “sure!” So here we are, a big ol’ book by ME ME ME with some help from Steve Bissette that you can order just by clicking on this little box here:


Tell ’em Mike sent you! And when they say “who?” just turn around and run, run like the dickens.

And of course, a big, big thanks to Mr. Bissette for asking me to be involved!

• • •

Okay, now back to Progressive Ruin, which is already in progress:

Dan wonders in the comments to Monday’s post:

“I was never able to find out what exactly ‘Mando’ or ‘Baxter’ paper is besides ‘a kind of paper they printed comics on.’ Are they brand names? Named after inventors? What other uses do the have? Newsprint I get – it’s what they print newspapers on.”

I…don’t know. I just assumed they were names assigned to various kinds of paper stock by the manufacturers. Just doing a quick Googling I found a couple of references to “MANDO paper,” as in the “Minnesota and Ontario Paper Company. I didn’t find many specific references to this being the same mando paper stock as used in comics, outside a message board entry or two, but maybe someone who knows better can clear it up.

Baxter paper I’m not so sure about…there are some references to a couple of paper companies with “Baxter” in their name, including, confusingly enough, a fictional Leland Baxter Paper Company that supposedly constructed the Fantastic Four’s Baxter Building. I’m pretty sure that, like I said, it was just a name assigned by the manufacturer to its product, and again, if anyone has a more specific answer, please chime in!

EDIT: Thom H. notes in the comments that Baxter paper appears to have originated from the Great Northern Paper Company (which was one of the possible sources I turned up in my own search). Ben backs this up in the comments to my Monday post, and both fellas point to this weblog posting and comments for sourcing.

From Wednesday’s post, James G. asks

I got out of comics for a while, and was pulled back in by Transmetropolitan, which is a pretty awesome way to get back into the medium. So there is a bunch of stuff that you mention (Deathwatch 2000, X-Men #1) that I don’t even know what that means, or what it’s implications to the direct market, retail system, etc were. I don’t even know what a Deathmate is, unless it’s an ex-GF (buddum-chihhh, I’ll be here all week). Can you elaborate a little, or is there somewhere (other than googling that for me) that you could recommend?

James, I apologize. I’ve been doing this so long (I mean, selling comics, not just blogging about them, though that’s likely the case as well) that I just throw out references here and there and everywhere and assume that just because I know what I’m talking about, that everyone else will too. I do attempt explanations when I can, but some events just loom so large for me in my recollections of the Comics of Decades Past, I forgot not everyone was there experiencing the same magical times that I was.

The big deal with X-Men #1 was that there were five variant covers for the issue (which you can see right here, with the newsstand edition included as well), with each cover released in subsequent weeks. The first four covers formed a larger image, and the fifth variant featured all four covers linked together in a wraparound foldout cover. This came out around the peak of the comic market boom, and orders on these comics were out of control. I think the combined total made this the highest ordered comic at least in the modern age, or maybe even since the Golden Age…trying to look this up to confirm just brought me to a bunch of comic book “investment” sites, which depressed me, but trust me…there’s a lot of copies of this.

Now, don’t get me wrong…the comic sold great. We sold a ton of them at the time. Hell, even I bought one. (Just one!) But we had a bunch left over as well, as at the time the store purchasing strategy was “this is the first issue of a new ongoing X-Men series, the first since the Silver Age, better have lots on hand for all that back issue demand!” I’ve joked that even since opening my own shop, I’ve acquired a small backlog of some of these first issues without even really try to buy any, and by “joked” I mean “accurately described my specific experience.” They just kinda…show up, man. They do still sell even now, on occasion. Of course, even given the large amounts of copies that were printed, perhaps copies are not as easy to track down now, given that many stores at the time that may have had overstock are now gone, and that a significant percentage of people who bought it at the time either lost them or didn’t store them properly. This is something I discussed a while back, if you’re interested.

Deathmate was the greatly-anticipated crossover between the then new and hot publishers Image Comics and Valiant Comics. I actually did a write-up on this, oh, about 12 years ago, which is good because I could barely remember the “story” details now. Anyway everyone overordered it, it had problems with shipping delays, I think some people were put out that Spawn wasn’t involved (or only just barely) and it turned into a huge backroom burden because it didn’t sell anywhere close to expectations. As noted in that post I linked, I was happy to rid myself of these for the princely sum of one slim nickel each, and good riddance.

“Deathwatch 2000” (boy, comics were big on death then, you know, not like now) was the big crossover event from Continuity Comics. Continuity was the company run by legendary comics artist Neal Adams, with most of the titles seemingly drawn by him or at least drawn in his house style. They had bit of a following…in particular Armor, Samuree and Megalith seemed to be the most popular. Now, here’s where things get a bit fuzzy, as I don’t remember the specifics, but I seem to recall some kind of special “#0” issue that was part of the storyline but wasn’t, like, sold on the stands. Specifically, there were some hoops for readers to jump through in order to “qualify” for getting that issue…honestly, I just can’t recall what it was. I just remember we had too many of that comic. (And no, I’m not talking about the Valeria the She-Bat comics Continuity released as yet another hard-to-get premium comic, the details for which I also can’t recollect.) Hopefully, as I plow through those boxes of old promotional material from the previous place of employment, I’ll be able to glean some clues as to what specifically was going on.

Zoot Koomie zoots

I had completely forgotten about Continuity Comics. If you’re looking for content to write about, I’d be interested in a retrospective.

As you see just above, my memories of Continuity are pretty limited. I didn’t read any at the time (though I was tempted by Echo of Futurepast, their anthology comic). I’ll see if I can come up with anything more.

I was buying lots of Dark Horse, First, and Eclipse books at the time and still didn’t recognize most of their titles when I looked them up just now. How did they sell compared to the other small publishers?

Pretty well, actually. There were the Big Two (National Periodical and Timely Comics) and then there were the larger small-press companies (the three you mention, plus probably a couple of others), the not-quite-as-big-as-the-bigger-smaller-publishers (companies like maybe Fantagraphics and, yes, Continuity), and then the small-small publishers, who did their one or two titles every few months and that was that. Of course, that’s just talking about periodicals…once you factor in Fantagraphics’ book publishing, that boosts them up a bit. And plus, I’m just going on personal experience…maybe there were stores where, say, Jon Sable Freelance outsold X-Men. Hey, it could happen.

I sort of touch on this topic in this post, where I mention that it was kind of a different comics market back then, with people more willing to try books from indie publishers. Sales on what probably look like strange, offbeat books to current eyes likely sold better than you’d expect. Probably at numbers that Marvel and DC would love to have now.

Yes, this was before Turok Dinosaur Hunter #1 came out.

§ November 15th, 2017 § Filed under market crash § 4 Comments


Here’s an interesting artifact of the early ’90s comics market boom/bust…a letter from Voyager Communications (the publisher of Valiant Comics) encouraging retailers to lessen their dependence on the Big Two companies and be more open to upping orders on indies (like, oh, say, Valiant Comics). I like the list of then-current perceived problems in the direct market at the beginning of the letter. I vaguely remember the Marvel/DC retail chain thing. I don’t remember there being any distribution/”apportioning” problems with the Robin hologram covers…I just remember there were too many of them! And toys…man, toys are still a weird thing for comics shops to deal with, given that on some items it’s way too hard to compete with chain stores re: wholesale pricing and release dates.

The advice in this letter isn’t bad, by any means…a more diverse product line is usually a healthier option. And “consider trimming orders of titles that don’t sell for you” may seem like “no duh” advice, but trust me, that wasn’t happening as often as it should. Plus, by the time this letter got around (late 1991, I think, given the letter was with a Shadowman #1 promo), it may have been too little, too late for some shops. There were more excesses yet to come, with the Death (and Return) of Superman right around the corner, and I think X-Men #1 may have been happening about the time of this letter, and we still had Image Comics on its way, not to mention a certain title mentioned in the very subject line of this post. Money was being made, yes, at least for a time, but too much unsold stock was piling up as well, and when that crash hit, those high orders would kill you. (Wrote a bit about that a couple of months ago.)

I see also that Dark Horse Comics and Continuity Comics were cc-ed this particular memo, presumably to…I don’t know, get them to chime in or something. They had their own then-forthcoming attempts at seizing market share that may have helped spread some retailers thin…”Comics’ Greatest World,” one of too many new “universes” companies were trying to get off the ground, or Valeria the She-Bat, which required some hoop-jumping in order to get the early (and as it turned out, almost the only) issues of the series. And there were some kind of shenanigans with the “Deathwatch 2000” crossover that I barely recall now, but just remember it was a pain in the butt and it turned out nobody cared anyway.

And I won’t even mention Deathmate. Well, except right then.

Basically, there’s a lot of blame to share in the 1990s market crash. It ain’t just on Marvel and DC’s shoulders, and some bad choices by some retailers themselves didn’t help either.

Anyway, thank goodness weird publishing initiatives like that are all behind us now! Just smooth sailing ahead for the comics industry!

Suddenly nostalgic for the Miraweb format.

§ November 13th, 2017 § Filed under advertising, swamp thing § 4 Comments

As the ongoing deep dive into the ancient trove of promo material continues, I found this Swamp Thing flyer from 1987:


…featuring small reproductions of pages from Swamp Thing #60 (May 1987) by Alan Moore and John Totleben. Here’s a better look at the retailer-specific info here:


As you can see in the scan, the top edge of the flyer is pretty crunched, but I suppose it’s too late at this point to try to get another copy. And, just so you know, the $1.00 price tag that starts with issue #61 goes up to $1.25 with issue #67, so start saving your pennies now. Actually, I kinda miss that “New Format” era…a little more upscale than the standard 75-cent comics of the time, not quite as dear as the $1.50 “Baxter” books like New Teen Titans. It was a nice middle-of-the-road format with reasonably good print quality.

Feeling a little bemused at how quickly I can still separate out the varying printing formats and price points from back then. Of course, there’s a bit more homogeneity to price points now from the Big Two or Four or Whatever, and not so much hairsplitting over the types of paper used, or cover stock. At least, it seems we don’t talk about it as much.

Doing this post reminds me I still have a couple of questions left to answer in that old post where I asked you for those questions.

§ November 10th, 2017 § Filed under publishing § 5 Comments

Okay, going back to that post about Boris the Bear and variants an’ stuff….

Jim Kosmicki says

“well, there were the variant covers on Justice League and Firestorm where they tried a younger skewing trade dress, but never mind. Looking those up in the GCD, that experiment was about a year after this was published…so no, in my feeble memory, there was no other precedent.”

The covers he’s talking about are these…Justice League #3 (1987):

…and Firestorm #61 (also 1987):

As best as I can recall, these were just sent out to newsstands in scattered areas around the country. Our local area seemed to me hit with a lot of copies of Justice League, but I personally bought a copy of the Firestorm variant from a newsstand in Oxnard, so some did make it out here. But I recall having at the previous place of employment a sizable stack of the JL book that, frankly, didn’t show much sales movement…I suspect the higher prices in the price guide reflected the secondary market in areas where said variants didn’t get sent, while out in sunny Califor-nee nobody much cared. The Firestorm cover, however, I almost never saw come through the shop, so I assume 1) it wasn’t as widely distributed around here and 2) well, duh, just realized Justice League sold quite a bit better than Firestorm so of course there’d be more of the former.

• • •

Daniel T goes a little something…like this:

“Boris was released in November and Man of Steel I’m 90+% sure was out late June/early July. How many other two cover comics could there have been? I’d think Boris could have been the SECOND comic with a variant. So I have no idea what ‘other’ comics are being referred to unless the two versions of MoS #1 count as the ‘other’s.”

Yeah, that sounds right. I think it’s fair to say that perhaps Dark Horse was being a little…politic in not directly saying naming DC Comics and saying it was all their fault. There was also a parody of Man of Steel called Man of Rust that also had two variants, but that was out around the same time as that issue of Boris the Bear. I wonder how many of the early “variant covers” wave were just variations on Man of Steel?

“And the letter wasn’t really explaining the idea of 50/50 variants so much as the fact that every copy of Boris #4 was going to have both covers, just half of them reversed.”

Well, okay, maybe there weren’t doing that specifically…perhaps I was simplifying/extrapolating a tad. It was still a press release explaining “variants,” which I thought was amusing given that it’s kinda old hat now. It’d be like putting out a press release for announcing, I don’t know, “Majority of standard comic books will continue to use staples.”

• • •

Eric L presents, in response to my assertion that newsstand-edition comics were likely ordered in lower numbers at comic shops

“But at the time if you wanted the newsstand cover all you would have had to do was wait two weeks and pick it up at the local 7-11. At the time they were readily available. And I always liked the newsstand cover better anyway.”

That’s fair, but there were probably enough people going to comic shops who knew their comics would be out now and didn’t want to wait two weeks for the other edition to hit newsstands, assuming local newsstands would even get the book in question (and sometimes not all of them did). It just became easier to have one place to go to get all their comics, instead of touring the neighborhood hitting all the convenience stores to get the issues they needed. …Though between you and me, sometimes I have that nostalgic feeling about riding my bike from 7-Eleven to 7-Eleven, hunting and gathering the latest releases every Tuesday and Thursday.


Andrew wonders

“I’m thinking of Marvel, and how in either the lettercolumns or Bullpen Bulletins they had to reassure people that the cover differences between newsstand and direct market copies were only about the distribution method, and neither one was meant to be seen as rarer than the other or a variant of some kind. Maybe that’s what the flyer’s referring to.”

I don’t think the flyer’s referring specifically to that, given that they’re addressing the multiple cover images on Boris. However, though I haven’t had many inquiries about this in a long time (since it’s mostly not an issue anymore), I did used to get people asking me if it made any difference if there was a UPC code on the cover, or if there was a little picture of Spider-Man where the UPC code should be? Actually, I just remembered I talked about this very topic at length a year or so ago right here.

• • •

From the post about The Nam, Bryan recalls

“Re: The Nam’s sales and collectability, didn’t the series actually start off rather popular? I can remember the first issue being a on-the-wall-behind-the-cash-register-for-$10 book within months of its first publishing.”

Yes, actually, it took off right away and the first issue did acquire some premium pricing in short order. Weird for a non-superhero comic from the Big Two at the time…I remember rarely if ever having copies of that particular issue in stock at any given time. In later years, that issue and the ones with, um, the Punisher (sigh….) still retained some demand.

• • •

And from the Classics Illustrated rack post, Alvin inquires

“Speaking of First, any inside dope on their collapse? IIRC, the bottom dropped off for them well before the real market implosion.”

Not really anything too juicy, alas. They replaced long-running series that were probably experiencing dips in circulation with proposed ongoing series of mini-series, which I’m guessing they were counting on sales bumps from new #1s every few months. I don’t know how successful those minis were, but it was probably still a comedown from having several ongoing regular monthlies on the stands at the same time. I also think First was looking into, or just beginning to start, a chain of retail comic shops, and if I’m recalling that correctly, that may have eaten up some resources too. And I there was other stuff, I’m sure…I’ll have to go back through my Comics Journals from the period and see if there are any write-ups about what was goin’ on.

Had some great expectations for this item.

§ November 8th, 2017 § Filed under advertising § 5 Comments


This is a flyer sent out to comics retailers in the early 1990s advertising First Comics’s Classics Illustrated display rack. Not sure why my previous place of employment never got one…probably had enough shelves and racks and display units in a store already filled to the brim. Just didn’t have the room, I suspect.

However, at some point in the early 2000s, while perusing some of the downtown Ventura thrift shops, I found a store using one of these racks as a display for, I think, old hardcover novels. I asked the owner if she would be willing to sell the rack, but alas, she preferred to keep it to hold about $10 worth of used books.

Most of those downtown thrift shops have gone away now, and I don’t know what the owner of this now-defunct storefront did with this Classics Illustrated rack. Hopefully, once the time did come to close up the business, she eventually did sell it to someone who’d appreciate it, or that she took it home to, I don’t know, hold an array of magazines in the bathroom. I really hope she didn’t just toss it in a dumpster, to let it rot in some landfill.

Anyway, here’s a photo of one someone pulled off the eBay. The rack’s blue color was very striking. I wish I’d been able to talk that thrift store owner out of it.

“It is also worth your while to rack this issue as part of (or near) your ‘Acts of Vengeance’ display.”

§ November 6th, 2017 § Filed under marvel, retailing § 3 Comments

Still going through old boxes of comic book promotional material of decades past, and one item I found was a Marvel Comics retailer letter with suggestions on how shops could market a particular comic book to its customer base. The comic in question: The ‘Nam #41 (February 1990):


This of course is the issue of the ongoing mostly real world-ish Vietnam War comic that guest-starred Marvel super-heroes. Now, it’s not as egregious as it may sound…the premise is that a U.S. soldier in Vietnam imagines how conflict would go if Iron Man and pals were around, and, you know, a guy imagining what that would be like is at least within the realm of possibility. It’s not like, say, the Punisher showed up or anything. So the premise doesn’t really break the main conceit of the book, that it’s a dramatized “realistic” retelling of the war, from the points of view of the men on the ground.

Of course, in execution, it likely plays out differently. In context of “this is all in a fella’s imagination” it may be, but it’s still pictures of superheroes fighting in the Vietnam War in a comic that had eschewed that sort of imagery.

Anyway, whatever, that’s fine. If they needed the occasional story like this to goose sales a bit (and I’m assuming sales might have needed bit of a boost) so they could keep telling the superhero-free stories they wanted to tell…I mean, sure, knock yourselves out. But what I wanted to mention briefly were the sales tips in the above scan. I’d posted this pic initially on the Twitterers the other day, and as Bully, the Little Shelving Bull, pointed out, “Put it near What If? so nobody can find it!” appears to be one of the suggestions. Frankly, that sort of racking strategy would probably create more confusion for sales…”Hey, why is The ‘Nam in the Ws?”

The suggestion that bothers me the most, however, is the idea that retailers should tell customers “hey, that Sgt. Fury comic with Captain America is worth a lot now, wink wink, nudge nudge,” implying that surely this comic will be a highly sought-after expensive collectible in short order as well! (Recent sales on eBay: one copy at 99 cents.) If you’re trying to convince customers to buy a comic for its possible investment opportunity…well, I never ever ever do that. Partially because I want people to read and enjoy their comics, but mostly because I don’t want someone to buy three dozen copies of something on my investibility precognitive knowhow, only to have said items turn out to be a bust and suddenly the buyer’s back in my shop with, like, one of these.

Also, that Sgt. Fury comic is from the mid-1960s, and features an early Silver Age appearance of Captain America. Not quite the same as a boom-period comic with reworked Romita Sr. drawings, when it comes to demand.

• • •

I do plan on going back to that post about the Boris the Bear variants/flyer, so keep your comments there comin’, if comments you do have!

Believe it or not, I still occasionally have to explain the very idea of variant covers to customers that have been buying comics for years.

§ November 3rd, 2017 § Filed under publishing § 9 Comments

So the latest find in my recent adventures in digging through boxes of ancient comic book promo material was this 1986 letter to retailers from Dark Horse Comics:


…which amuses me mostly because of the effort extended in explaining the idea of “50/50 variant covers,” a once novel concept in which most retailers today are well-versed at best, entirely sickened by at worst. Anyway, here are both the covers of Boris the Bear in color, and if you haven’t yet, check them out…these are fun comics that are more than just parodies of then-current comic trends.

One thing I’m wondering about is where they say they’re “sensitive to the problems created recently by other ‘two cover’ comics.” The only comic from that period that immediately comes to mind, probably because it’s the very comic being riffed on by those Boris the Beat covers, is Man of Steel #1. I don’t recall there being any particular issues with the dual covers on that comic, but then again, this was a couple of years before I started working in comics retail, so maybe I missed something. Far as I know they were equally available in comic shops, but maybe there was some kind of “order 1 of this one for every 2 of the other” deal goin’ on there, which admittedly would seem a bit out of place in the mid-1980s (but not so much in 21st century Marvel solicits).

Wikipedia’s entry on variant comics specifically notes that Man of Steel #1 was the first comic marketed with two different covers, so maybe some confusion reigned at the time, with customers wondering which cover is the “real” cover. Or maybe retailers, new to the whole variant-ordering thing, ordered less of the “newsstand” cover versus the “direct sales” cover, causing a self-created shortage of the newsstand cover in the direct market.

I’m not 100% certain, so if you can remind me of any other variant cover shenanigans of the time that might be the ones referred to in this letter, please let me know. Also, if you can think of simultaneously-released variants prior to Man of Steel, because I feel like there must have been something. Either that, or variant covers have been so much a part of our lives it’s hard to imagine they had a beginning. Just an endless parade of variants, infinite holograms and chromium enhancements and foil logos, looping through time from the beginning to the end and back again.

Progressive Ruin presents…the End of Civilization.

§ October 31st, 2017 § Filed under End of Civilization § 14 Comments

It’s Halloween, the spoooookiest time of the year, and what better day than today to look through Diamond Previews and see what terrors will be heading our way in…well, January, more or less. THE SECOND SPOOOOOOKIEST MONTH. Anyhoo, pull out your November 2017 editions of the catalog and follow along, IF YOU DARE…just be aware that 1) yes, I know that’s a picture of a book for the audio CD listing, and 2) yes, that’s the ol’ ProgRuin watermark on an old scan I reused. Enjoy the nostalgia that elicits for the older, better days of this site whilst you cringe in horror:

p. 63 – Berserk Official Guidebook TP:


Finally, we’ll get the full story behind Evil Otto, why our hero is running through that maze, who’s responsible for all those robots, why the walls are even electrified…all that stuff.
 
 
p. 79 – Doomsday Clock #3:


Guys, I’m just going to assume that cover, with Batman reading Rorschach’s journal, implies a team-up between the Dark Knight and Watchmen‘s Red Knight, Seymour.
 
 
p. 141 – DC Gallery The Joker Cane Prop:


Joker carries a Jay Leno cane? Well, sure, I guess.
 
 
p. 156 – Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters #1:


If this comic doesn’t contain a scene of kids contemplating the pros and cons of cutting open Stretch Armstrong to see what’s inside, then they just don’t want my toy-nostalgia money.
 
 
p. 162 – Star Trek Boldly Go #16 Funko Cover:


And he’s still the handsomest bastard in Starfleet. How does Kirk do it?
 
 
p. 191 – Ice Cream Man #1:


The Van Halen song comes alive as Diamond Dave takes up his new job as…wait, what? It’s not? I’m also using the “deliberately misunderstanding the premise of a comic” gag too often? Oh well, that’s life, that’s what all the people say.
 
 
p. 271 – The Tremendous Trump Remastered Edition:


Was going to make a “Now Even Oranger!” joke, but the actual solicitation beat me to the orange reference. Ah, well. By the way, I keep selling out of each Trump comic like this I order, in case you’re wondering.
 
 
p. 293 – Kong on the Planet of the Apes #2:


Crisis of Infinite Apes, where Mighty Joe Young and Detective Chimp team up to investigate the Lost City of Zinj from Congo, while Tracy from The Ghost Busters tries to talk Donkey Kong into giving up his pastime of tormenting plumbers/carpenters. …I mean, I presume this is where this is all leading.
 
 
p. 300 – Judas #2:


I had a gag about the exact cover price of this comic, but, um, maybe I’d better keep it to myself.
 
 
p. 326 – Battlestar Galactica Vs. Battlestar Galactica #1:


Crossing over the original ’70s Galactica with the 2000s reboot? There’s hope for my Land of the Lost Vs. Land of the Lost Vs. Land of the Lost Vs. Land of the Lost script yet!
 
 
p. 389 – Judge Dredd The Daily Dredds Vol. 1981 – 1986 HC:


Oh, I’ve read some of these! Man oh man, does Judge Dredd hate Mondays, but he sure loves lasagna.
 
 
p. 395 – The Epic of Gilgamesh GN:


And after reading this, don’t forget the exciting sequel!


 
 
p. 395 – Please Destroy the Internet GN:


Okay, but all I ask is that you maybe leave the bits where I make money. And keep this site up, too.
 
 
p. 409 – Babylon Berlin HC:


I’m having trouble seeing how this prequel series eventually connects up with Babylon 5.
 
 
p. 457 – Spider-Man Forever Young Audio CD:


Ol’ Webhead sings Rod Stewart’s greatest hits!
 
 
p. 457 – Aquaman Is Fair Picture Book:


Yeah, he’s fair, I guess…I mean, he’s okay, not great.
 
 
p. 457 – Batman Is Trustworthy Picture Book:


“Trust me, kid, you’ll be great as Robin! I’ve had a 3 outta 4 success rate! Or 2 outta 4, depends who you ask.”
 
 
p. 457 – The Flash Is Caring Picture Book:


“Let’s go, pal! Nah, you don’t a seatbelt on that chair…seatbelts are for chickens!”
 
 
p. 457 – Green Lantern Is Responsible Picture Book:


Oh, sure, ask the people of the planet Xanshi just how responsible he is.
 
 
p. 457 – Superman Is A Good Citizen Picture Book:


“Okay, this is the last of the trees! Now let’s put down all that concrete and metal and make everything look like Krypton!”
 
 
p. 458 – Wonder Woman Is Respectful Picture Book:


Yeah, okay, all these heroes are kind and great and all that, but I think they’re really missing a bet by not having a picture book just titled “DARKSEID IS.” Get that nihilism ingrained in those kids early!
 
 
p. 457 – Sweet Dreams, Supergirl HC:


Yes, the book is about a young lady dreaming about Supergirl, but just what is Supergirl herself dreaming ab–


OH HA HA NOTHING TO SEE HERE
 
 
p. 461 – Superman You Choose Stories Metropolis Mayhem SC:


Unless one of the endings involves the Bravado Beast, I’m going to have to say this is but a faint shadow of the greatness of this book.
 
 
p. 514 – Marvel The Punisher Logo Bookends:


At last, something to hold up my bound copies of Cat Fancy magazine.
 
 
p. 565 – Sherlock 221B Street Entrance 1/6-Scale Diorama:


What if this was the only “action figure” you had? All the other kids had Star Wars and G.I. Joe figures, and you had…a door. “I SLAM MY DOOR ON COBRA COMMANDER’S HAND!” “Hey, great job…way to go, door!” …Yeah, I think a kid could cope. ‘Course, at a list price of $250, that kid better not be slammin’ that door on nuthin’.
 
 
p. 608 – Monopoly Team Fortress 2 Edition:


Do not pass — um, the fortress? — do not…collect…oh hell, I don’t know. I’m pretty sure one of the sure signs of aging is “not immediately recognizing properties used in themed Monopoly sets.” Did they ever do a Berzerk-themed Monopoly set? I can do Berzerk jokes.

Hiya, pals!

§ October 30th, 2017 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, self-promotion § 1 Comment

I didn’t want to skip another Monday, but I don’t really have anything ready to go for today, so let me just cover a couple of things:

1. The new End of Civilization post will be up on Tuesday, just in time for Halloween. Not that it’s specifically Halloween-themed or anything, beyond its typically scary content. Sorry for skipping last month, but this month’s installment should be, you know, okay, I guess.

2. No, I haven’t forgotten the Swamp Thing-a-Thon over on my Patreon. I’ve been otherwise occupied the last few weeks, with health issues and other distractions, but I should good to go from here on out. I may be down to one entry a month rather than the planned two, but we’ll see what happens. Thanks for all your patience.

3. Googum wonders in response to my previous post:

“Returns, or ‘returns’? Didn’t they used to have to mail back part of the cover for credit, but not always?”

Yes, in general newsstands returned either just the logo, or perhaps the whole cover, in order to receive credit on unsold copies. Even in the direct market, in which I “make” my “living,” where comics are generally sold on a non-returnable basis (advantage: higher profit margins for retailers; disadvantage: enjoy eating those unsold copies) sometimes comics are returnable. Reasons vary: either a special publisher promotion (“try this comic out, and your order is returnable!”), or the comic is distributed not as originally solicited, or it’s hideously late, or, you know, whatever. Every week we get a list of what’s returnable, and it’s indicated on the sheet if we should just send back the stripped covers (usually the case, particularly with periodicals) or send back the whole thing (not terribly often, and usually for books and such).

Also in those comments: Ben has a few words about how direct-sales-only books were offered up in England, and Dave explains why even just a reprint book could be so unprofitable. Oh, and read Thom H.‘s and Dallas‘s comments, too, so they don’t feel left out.

• • •

Okay, be back with the End of Civilization tomorrow…if the actual End of Civilization doesn’t beat me to it.

Oh, did I say “briefly?”

§ October 27th, 2017 § Filed under dc comics, publishing, teen titans § 6 Comments

So earlier in the year I spent some time talking about DC’s “hardcover/softcover” publishing program for New Teen Titans, Legion of Super-Heroes, etc. (posts 1 and a 2 and a 3). Thus, if you still need an explanation of what it’s all about, please refer to those posts, because I’m gettin’ back into it briefly for today’s entry.

Before I get to my main point, let me present this to you. Despite being reprints of the direct-sales only New Teen Titans title, the newsstand editions didn’t reuse the previously-published covers, but instead had brand new covers commissioned for each issue, which you can see over at the Grand Comics Database. Some of those covers were pretty sharp, and then there was this weird-ass thing Brian Bolland unleashed upon your unsuspecting 7-11s and Stop ‘n’ Go shops:


Imagine being the fella cutting open bundles of the latest periodicals to fill the racks and seeing that staring back at you. “THE KIDS THESE DAYS, WHAT ARE THEY INTO?” you’d clearly be thinking to yourself. I mean, that’s an amazing drawing, and one you won’t soon forget, but hey, it’s Comics Code-approved, so I guess the kids are safe. Oh, Brian Bolland, you’ve done it again!

Anyway, what I really asked you all here for is to talk about the last issue of Tales of the Teen Titans, #91 from 1988:


…with its Justice League #1-inspired cover acknowledged by artists Michael Collins and Romeo Tanghal. What’s particularly interesting is the frankness of the editorial page inside, explaining that while they wanted to keep all Titans fans caught up with their adventures, the sad fact was that this reprint series just wasn’t selling enough to keep it going. The newsstand customers for this comic are then implored to seek out the direct-sales “hardcover” version of New Teen Titans at comic shops or other venues, or to use the subscription ad in the inside back cover to start getting that series in the mail.

And here’s where my question about this comes in. At the end of the book is a back-up story of sorts, with Nightwing and Changeling giving a brief synopsis of the “missing year” between the main story reprinted in this issue, and the events in the current issue of New Teen Titans, so any readers making the jump from newsstand edition to direct sales edition wouldn’t be lost. The story ends with this panel:


…but the ad he’s pointing to on the inside back cover is this:


…which features only Action Comics Weekly, Power of the Atom and The Wanderers. What I was wondering…was there a separate coupon just for New Teen Titans bound into the comic at this point (seems unlikely), or…if you’ll look back at that scan above of issue #91, you’ll see there’s no UPC code. Thus, this was a copy sold through comic shops…despite being published specifically for newsstands, copies were also available through the direct market for those completists or the thrifty, as previously discussed. To finish my thought, what I was wondering was if there were maybe different subscription ads inside the back covers of copies that went to newsstands versus those that went to comic shops. Alas, I don’t have a copy of the newsstand edition on hand, but it definitely exists.

I honestly don’t know the answer. The previous place of employment no longer has copies, else I’d check there, but maybe one of you can check the copy in your collection and let me know. For your effort, you’ll win the prestigious “Hey, That’s My Name in a Progressive Ruin Post!” award, with a cash value of exactly nuthin’.

My initial thought was that they would have changed the subscription ad for comic shops so that they weren’t explicitly telling readers to send money directly to DC instead of spending money at the place where you presumably purchased that copy of #91. But, then again…that’s still a subscription ad, including (I think) the direct-sales only Wanderers. Anyway, I don’t know, but if you know, please let me know. You know? I realize this isn’t the most vital information in the world, but I am curious. And hey, if you’re a Titans completist, maybe now you’re aware there’s kinda sorta a new story in the back of that last issue you need to have.

Speaking of curiosity, I was wondering just what the sales numbers on this comic were near the end there, and luckily for me, I found the yearly Statement of Ownership in the first issue I looked at (#88):


…and if I’m reading the statement correctly, this sales on this series would put it solidly in the top 25 today. Times have certainly changed. And hoo boy, that’s a lotta returns.

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