Don’t really have the time or energy to write what I was going to write, so let’s examine Jughead’s crazy shirt instead.
Sorry, just wasn’t up to a big post today. In fact, after looking at Jughead’s shirt, I’m getting sleepy…very sleepy….
Sorry, just wasn’t up to a big post today. In fact, after looking at Jughead’s shirt, I’m getting sleepy…very sleepy….
Here’s a pic from another Tekno Comix promo item I posted a while back.
So last October I said that a year from then I’d probably look at the aftermarket on those special 3D covers DC released to much wailing and gnashing of teeth mostly due to their botched distribution. Okay, it hasn’t been a year yet, but, you know, close enough, and also I suspect once this year’s batch of DC’s 3D books get released I’ll have a whole new array of problems to complain about without having to worry about reflecting back on last year’s as well.
Anyway, I’m not going to go through every single 3D cover and its pricing because that’s crazy talk. My initial assertion was that the panic pricing and profiteering that resulted in books only out on the shelves for a few days getting priced at two, three, five times cover price would eventually settle down, with the 3D editions maybe going for five or ten bucks at most. Let’s pick out just a couple and do about 10 seconds of eBay research for each, starting with the one that was probably the biggest: Batman: The Dark Knight #23.4, introducing the Joker’s Daughter.
In fact, as I was Googling up the exact issue number, since I’m old and can’t remember exact details like that any more, one of the first results is a message board query asking why this particular comic was so rare, and if DC deliberately kept the print run on that low. Well, the answer is “yes,” actually, but not for the reason this person is likely thinking. Not to go into the full details again, but DC more or less set print runs based on each book’s sales history, and Dark Knight was not exactly a top-seller. It wasn’t limited in that DC was trying to create a “hot collectible” (an accusation that gets leveled at publishers quite frequently, even though they don’t directly benefit from aftermarket pricing) and what I think this particular message boarder was implying.
But, let’s look at pricing. The Joker’s Daughter issue was hard to find and in high demand (either because it was in short supply or because it introduced a Joker spinoff character, or even perhaps possibly both), and it was commanding some fairly dear prices right out of the gate. I recall seeing prices upward of $40, if not more. Now…well, my previous Googling also turned up an Amazon page for the comic, where prices start at about $37 and run all the way up to $85. This is for copies for sale, not sold, so some of those higher prices may just be wishful thinking. A look at eBay reveals copies having sold for anywhere from $10 to $30, with “pro-graded” copies sealed in those plastic containers selling for much more, with one copy selling for $66. [NM price in the most recent Overstreet Price Guide: $12]
To take another of the “hot” covers, let’s look at Detective Comics #23.2, with Harley Quinn. This was one that was generally selling in the $20 range, as I recall, though to look at eBay now, copies have gone for as little at $13, and topped out at $36 (with at least one slabbed copy going for $125). Most seem to be in the $20-ish range. [NM price in the most recent Overstreet Price Guide: $12]
At the opposite end of the scale, let’s go with the one 3D cover we were actually allocated more copies that what we were ordered: Justice League #23.1, featuring Darkseid. That goes for a whole $3 to $6, with the slabbed copies going for stupid money, as usual. Anyway Overstreet has this at $5.
One more: Batman #23.1, with the Joker (the one I wanted to order a billion of because it would sell forever but my nefarious plans were curtailed by DC’s printing problems) seems to go for about $10 to $15 on eBay…mostly closer to $10. Guide price: $5.
A quick glance at some other titles on eBay show some 3D covers, like Flash or Aquaman, selling for as little as $1, plus, you know, $5 shipping, so I guess you should probably factor that in. Plus, a general search shows that most of the other 3D covers seem to be around $1 to $5 or $6 as well. For the most part, there are plenty to be had at several mostly inexpensive price points. The expensive ones (aside from the copies in the plastic slab thingies) are the exception, not the rule.
Breezing through some of the price guide entries seems to show that, aside from the exceptions noted about, most of the 3D covers are listed at about $5 or so. That’s what we’ve been selling most of ours for over the last few months (though Joker, Joker’s Daughter and Harley do sell for a little more) and that seems to be a good price to keep the sales going.
Anyway, I guess I was mostly right back then, noting that price guides would reflect marginally higher prices on the 3D covers versus the issues around them (I mean, duh), and that I would be surprised that any of them were selling for over $10. I mean, that the Joker’s Daughter issue is still moving, in some cases, for around $30 is kind of a shock. Higher prices for the Harley and Joker issues aren’t that much of a surprise, since those characters are perennially popular.
In conclusion, sometimes hot market prices settle down to more reasonable numbers. I know, I’m as shocked as you are. And we’ll see in a few weeks if history repeats itself with DC’s next batch of 3D goodies. I’m guessing “no,” but we’ll find out soon enough.
Recently acquired a boatload of ’60s and ’70s Archies, including this, which may have my favorite Jughead cover of all time:
I got it! I got it! I found it!”
Hook (1991) was not much liked by critics at the time, as I recall, but I sure enjoyed the heck out of it then, and still love it now. I just rewatched it a couple of weeks back, in fact. That scene, that scene, when Peter finally realizes what his happy thought is, the one that will make him fly again…it gets me, every single time.
So long, Robin. Thank you for all the happy thoughts you gave to all of us.
So reader Chris asked in response to Wednesday’s post:
“I’ve found myself doing double takes recently a couple of times in local comics shops, not so much because I think that certain items shouldn’t be sold, but because I question how they are shelved/displayed in a way that seems to draw kids’ attention. Once was on Free Comic Book Day when a copy of a ‘Hentai Hotties’ anime DVD was on display right behind the artists doing sketches for kids. Ahem. The other was when I saw the Image ‘Sex’ title shelved on a low shelf (eye-level for 6-7 year olds, probably), adjacent to all the superhero shenanigans books, with no signage or indication that you might be veering into less family-friendly waters. Just seemed to be inviting trouble, somehow, or at least some unexpected conversations for an unwitting parent.
Which makes me wonder, Mike–how *do* you display the more adult-themed titles you sell? Am I being overly cautious in my concerns?”
A while back I did briefly discuss new comics racking, but I didn’t specifically address what we did with the more explicit, very adults-only titles.
For the adult-y titles like Image’s Sex, or Marvel and DC’s adult imprints Icon and Vertigo, I keep those on the top shelf, out of the reach of the yung’uns, with tags on the shelf stating “hey, this is the 18+ section.” In the indie books section (again, see this post for a brief description of our screwy but still operable set-up), where the subject matter generally skews a little higher, the more adult-ish titles will be racked alphabetically with the rest. If the content is a bit much to where I really wouldn’t want any younger patrons to be exposed to it (like, say, Tarot) we’ll bag up the comic with an “18+” sticker on the front cover. Not so sealed that an adult-type person couldn’t pop it open and briefly browse it for a purchasing decision (ideally), but sealed enough that we’ll notice if someone’s breaking the seal. And, hopefully, sealed enough so that any concerned citizens worried about this material can see we’re making some attempt at controlling access. (‘Course, if they’re really that concerned, just having anything naughty in the shop is enough to bring out the torches and pitchfolks, but that’s a discussion for another day.)
There are some instance where the covers on the comics are just a little much, and not something I’d particularly want on display to shock the sensibilities for the overly sensitive and the youthfully impressionable. I don’t use these very often, but occasionally I’ll need to bust out the “privacy bags” that Diamond has available, that black out most of the cover while keeping the logo visible, to protect the casual customer from the hideous filth and carnality presented for all to see:
“How different is [the birth of Miraclebaby] than the image of Prince Robot’s son being born in a recent issue of SAGA (other than being a human birth, instead of a gray-skinned, blue-fluid-filled royal robot birth, of course)…?”
Well, that’s probably the main difference…I haven’t seen the Saga sequence, so I don’t know if it was as anatomically explicit as the Miracleman scene, and having that extra…layer of separation, I guess, of being in a sci-fi setting with non-humans? That might have been enough. Plus, this wasn’t out of character for Saga as far as I know, whereas Miracleman up to that point had been a slightly more violent than average superhero comic with no distributor-disturbing gynecological details. And then there’s the fact that the threat of “LOOK AT WHAT YOUR KIDS ARE READING!” news stories doesn’t loom quite as large over the industry’s consciousness now as it did back then, so folks aren’t quite as uptight over content as they used to be.
Like I said in my last post, there’s still some worry out there, otherwise Marvel wouldn’t have started bagging Miracleman months ago in preparation for this issue.
Alan writes about the seeming lack of coverage over Marvel’s rerelease of Miracleman, which does seem a bit peculiar at least from the perspective of old fans of this material (like Alan and myself). In my head, I’m thinking “hey, this is Miracleman! It’s been out of print for ages! This is where all the ‘dark ‘n’ serious’ superhero comics you’re reading now come from! YOU SHOULD BE BUYING THIS!”
Part of the problem is the botched release of this material, coming out in dribs and drabs in an overpriced package stuffed with extra material most readers don’t care about, and in some cases (cough the classic Marvelman stories cough) openly resent. Yes, the hardcover collections are nice, but their sales aren’t a patch on the single issues. That may very well have turned off any folks who were likely to have discussed this series.
There’s also the fact that this project is maybe just a little too late…Alan Moore isn’t the red-hot comics star he once was (yes, his name’s not on the current comic anyway, but everyone who cares knows he wrote these), Miracleman is a forgotten obscurity, and a lot of people who were reading comics back when it was coming out are likely no longer buying comics. It’s a lot smaller marketplace now than in the ’80s and early ’90s, it should go without saying.
I suspect that as we approach the release of new Miracleman material, especially given that it’ll be written by Neil Gaiman, who arguably still has more cachet in the current industry than Moore, we’ll see increased discussion of this project. Or maybe when we get to the John Totleben-illustrated run that wraps up Moore’s tenure, which is gorgeous and I hope for good things with its reprinting, people’s minds will be sufficiently blown to ramp up interest.
Of course, it may be as simple as no one having much more to say “oh, hey, another Miracleman reprint is out,” which is a shame. Maybe once it’s complete, assuming it will be completed, we’ll see more new discussion about its overall impact on comics. Maybe I should be discussing it more, outside of retailing concerns. I am not unaware that I’m part of the problem. Outside of some facile, jokey commentary I don’t do a whole lot of comics reviewing or essaying in regards to content. I’m generally more focused on the business side of things, when I decide to peer more closely at something in my meanderings here. For a while there I was attempting semi-regular reviews of selected weekly releases, though I’ve fallen out of the habit. I should fall back in, I think, and include Miracleman in those overviews. It really is an excellent comic, and deserving of your attention, despite those formatting barriers seemingly designed to keep you away.
Quite a while ago I came across a couple of mid-1980s distributor memos to retailers in regards to the release of Miracleman #9, a comic that contained explicit scenes of childbirth. Given that today is the release of Marvel’s reprint of said comic, I thought I’d present them here, in slightly redacted form, to give you a bit of a historical perspective on this comic’s initial release. Some very telling details in here about the sort of things the industry was worried about at the time, and an interesting footnote in the then-raging debate about comics content-labeling and ratings systems:
In my particular case, I was still at the time just barely a minor, but “just barely” is still “not old enough,” given that the local funnybook store did indeed restrict sales of Miracleman #9 to adults. But, unlike as is implied in the first memo, my dad did come with me to buy comics, so I was able to purchase said issue. Actually, I had to come back with my dad, since I wasn’t allowed to buy it during my first visit that week. Imagine having to wait so long for a new issue of Miracleman to come out, particularly since the previous issue was a fill-in containing 1950s reprints, only to be told “sorry, kid, gotta be this tall to get on the ride.”
Not complaining, mind you. There was a feeling of “they’re coming to get us!” prevalent at the time, as the industry’s rising visibility from high-profile projects like Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns eventually increased the number of “do you know what your kids are reading?” exposés from people eager to blame problems on easy targets (cf. rock ‘n’ roll, video games, short skirts, fire, the wheel) and folks were just straight up afraid. A little precaution, such as the shop restricting sales on MM #9 to adults, wasn’t out of line. I still do so at the shop if necessary now that I’m the dude making the decisions, though to be honest it’s rarely a problem. Kids aren’t looking for Avatar books, by and large, so I’m not bagging and tagging them “ADULTS ONLY” and pasting them to the wall. (Though, frankly, most issues of Crossed make that birth issue of Miracleman look like Richie Rich.)
The Avatar comparison isn’t exactly analogous, of course. It’s not like all the previous issues of Crossed were all ages or rated Teen Plus or whatever and then suddenly here’s an issue with pages of close-ups of [REDACTED] being jammed into [REDACTED] while cascades of [REDACTED] pour out of [REDACTED]. It’s more like, I don’t know, here’s a new run of Spider-Man and then suddenly issue #10 is the all Topless Mary Jane issue. Or something. You know what I mean. But it’s funny, and certainly clichéd to point out, that the violence in the previous issues didn’t warrant all this fretting, but the non-violent birth scenes did. The contrast of that violence with this birth is the very point of the story:
In one of those odd-if-minor retailing coincidences, I had someone on Saturday asking about the Marvel Star Wars treasury editions from the 1970s, adapting the original film…and then an hour after that customer left, someone came in with a collection containing a couple of those treasuries. As 1970s treasury comics go, Star Wars seem to be the most common, at least given how often we’ve seen them at our shop (the Howard the Duck treasury being a close second).
Now, that first person was asking about the Star Wars treasuries because he had the copies he owned from his childhood framed and displayed on his son’s bedroom walls. Specifically, he was wondering if he was inadvertently sitting on a vast fortune of rare comics, slowly depreciating as sunlight cascading through the windows gradually turned the covers a pale blue. He did relate, in a rare case of someone not familiar with the hobby recognizing that there is such a thing as “condition,” that his copies were well-read and worn, so I assured him that, in all likelihood, his copies probably weren’t worth a whole lot. It’s my feeling that the Star Wars treasuries exist in such large numbers, most of which read to death by 1970s-era children (some of whom may have even used markers to color-correct the lightsabers…not naming names, but that child’s initials may have stood for “Mike Sterling”), that actual mint or near-mint copies will command premiums, but anything less than that is much, much cheaper.
I also shared with him my old story about, a couple of decades back, we had full cases of the Star Wars treasuries that we’d been stuck with, and we ended up blowing out copies for a quarter apiece. We were glad to get that much, since of course at that time Star Wars was dead, dead, dead and it was never coming back, not ever again. And, as I related that story, it occurred to me that surely we weren’t the only shops to have cases of unopened copies of these treasuries, and some may yet remain unopened still, stowed away in some dusty corners of rarely-visited storage units, awaiting the day they are uncovered and dumped onto the marketplace, unleashing an ÜberStraße Götterdämmerung of plummeting price guide values.
And then after that fellow left, the person with the comic collection for sale dropped by, where I obtained the first Star Wars treasury, along with the seemingly more rare (well, relatively speaking) third treasury, which was a collection of the first two, effectively putting the entire movie under one cover. I remember seeing this in the wild back when it was originally released, being excited that, hey, there was a new Star Wars treasury that was different than the ones I’d already had, read a million times, and perhaps colored in though I admit nothing. Once I discovered that is was simply reprinting the other comics, I was disappointed and passed on buying it (or, rather, didn’t try to talk my parents into buying it), and I’m guessing this was a common experience. Oh, I’m sure some people bought it to maintain a complete collection, or replace the previous books they’d read to pieces, or just straight up bought it without realizing it was something they already had. But if I had to guess, I’m sure the print run on #3 was far less than #1 or #2.
In this case, it didn’t really matter since both were beat to hell and we’re probably not selling them for much more than a couple of bucks each anyway. However, the third Star Wars treasury remains a rare enough sight that I can’t help but still remember that small bit of excitement seeing it when I was a kid and thinking it was brand new Star Wars material.
Speaking of Star Wars comics, I mentioned a while back I was going to discuss the new Marvel titles announced at Comic Con, and, well, now that I look, I don’t really have much to say. This article has a good overview of what’s coming, and it looks like at least one series is essentially replacing the current Brian Wood series at Dark Horse for the “between Episodes IV and V” period. I was expecting something a little more Episode VII-prologue-y, but maybe it’s still too soon for that.
Then again, since Han, Luke and Leia are appearing in the forthcoming movie, maybe in a way these comics featuring the Original Trilogy characters are lead-ins to Ep. VII in a way. I wonder if any elements in the forthcoming film will pop up in these books? You know, like Admiral Ackbar appeared in the Star Wars comic strip before Return of the Jedi? (“WHO IS THIS MYSTERIOUS CHARACTER? Find out next year…or, like, 25 years later in story time, in Star Wars Episode VII: Lobots on Parade!”)
This cover is by Andy Suriano, who notes next to his signature that the image is “After (Bernie) Wrightson” and that it’s “For Weezie!!” — AKA Louise Simonson, the writer of Super Secret Crisis Wars, and, oh, by the way, was also the model for the woman on the cover of that original House of Secrets #92.
Suriano might as well have added “Buy This, Mike Sterling” next to his signature as well. This also makes the second Powerpuff Girls-related Swamp Thing parody that I own (the first being the first issue of their IDW series).
In other ridiculous comic news…well, I wasn’t going to buy Injustice: Gods Among Us for the Xbox 360 at $59.99 or whatever the price point was, but I noticed that it recently was available in the Xbox store as a $7.99 download, so, you know, what the heck, I can probably get eight bucks of entertainment out of it. And to be frank, I liked it a lot more playing the full game than I did when I played the demo way back when. Getting the actual “story,” such as it is, and the cut scenes setting up the battles actually does help quite a bit in fleshing this game out into more than just a punch-em-up. Not much more, granted, but I’m having some fun with it. Plus, I’m trying to actually use the special fighting moves each character has, rather than my usual “push every button on the controller in a panic” strategy in dealing with games like these. I’m mostly successful.
This last Wednesday was the rare Mike-less Wednesday at the shop, as I ended up being stuck at home all day waiting for a locksmith to come and repair the lock on my front door…well, not all day, but by the time everything was done, there wasn’t any point in making the drive to work. Hopefully I won’t return on Thursday to find smoking ruins and “MIKE MUST DIE” painted in blood on one of the remaining walls, because I wasn’t thrilled the last time that happened. Alas, the lock problems were a special morning surprise, and not anything I planned for, so I had precious little work to do at home whilst I waited for the Friendly Neighborhood Locksmith to make his way to me. A little eBaying, a little store website maintenance (i.e. getting the store website back up because someone screwed up somewhere…not saying it was me, but…um, it was me)…
…and a little catching up on reading this week’s new comics over lunch. My fifteen minutes are almost up here, so let me just throw out the fact that I really enjoyed the Red Lanterns Annual. In fact, the Red Lanterns title in general is a lot of fun. I was skeptical as anyone on the Tumbling-Twitter-Journals about this when it was announced, that the world surely didn’t need a comic about the Red Lanterns, of all things, and who are, well, kinda gross when you get right down to it. But there’s always something interesting going on in the title, and this recent annual was stuffed with all kinds of crazy events and twists and turns, and personality conflicts mixed with the occasional grudging friendships are entertaining to read. I certainly like this comic more than the Green Lantern titles, which aren’t bad as such…just seem a bit staid compared to their more crimson-hued cousin.
Sinestro is good, too. Must be something about Green Lantern villains/antagonists that make for compelling reading. …Where’s my Myrwhydden series?