And I was doing so well, too.

§ October 9th, 2015 § Filed under question time § No Comments

Looks like I’ll be wrapping up the latest Question Time next week, so if you want to throw an extra question or three onto the pile, feel free.

Thanks for reading and participating, everyone, and I’ll see you on Monday!

As to your Qs Part Four: Things Are Tough All Over

§ October 8th, 2015 § Filed under question time § 3 Comments

I asked for questions, you gave ’em to me, and here are your answers (And here are the previous answers: 1 2 3.)

• • •

Bully, the Little Commenting Bull, horns in with

“Whither comics?”

Oh, young bull, “whither comics?” do you ask? Why, one might as well ask “whither the sun that shines” or “whither the waves that pound the beaches night and day” to question such a fundamental part of human existence. They, like comics, are inextricably intertwined with our lives, our hopes and our dreams. Comics express our innermost hearts and can release us from our daily pressures…we must always have comics, now and forevermore, pushing us ever forward into our unknowable future, providing the emotional and intellectual support they always have as we strive ever upward, embracing our desires and our foibles as we improve ourselves, improve the human experience, and reach out above us to touch the face of God.

tl;dr version: eh, comics are okay, I guess.

• • •

Hooper slam-dunks me with

“What current comic series provides that same thrill/enthusiasm you had when you first discovered comics? I’ve lost that loving feeling…”

It’s true, one can get a bit jaded after reading so many comics for so long. Becoming too aware of the industry of the whole may strip a little bit of the magic away as well, as comics go from those great things you can’t wait to get unbundled and shelved at the local Stop ‘N’ Go, to “man, the guy who wrote this issue was a dick to me on Twitter, I don’t want to read this.”

But if I had to pick current comics that stir up that old fanboy excitement, the ones that make me forget I have to sell these for a living and just enjoy them for the pure sake of enjoying them: Groo, and Astro City, and Love and Rockets, and Hellboy, and IDW’s Popeye reprints, and Concrete if we ever get another one, and I’m sure I’m forgetting something. But those are ones that still feel “special” to me, that make me remember why I got into comics in the first place.

• • •

Robert in New Orleans hits me with this big easy question:

“I don’t see you comment on the newer Image comics titles much (last 4-5 years). Do you have any favorites or are they not really your cup of tea?”

I really haven’t had much to say about them, honestly. I’m glad they exist, some of them certainly sell well, some of them certainly sit on the shelf and look at you forlornly, but I don’t have anything specific to comment upon. I’m enjoying Nameless, and I need to get cracking on Plutona and Descender, both of which look fantastic, and my mom likes Bitch Planet, so, you know, there’s that.

• • •

Bret Sector could only go this way with

“Were Convergence and Secret Wars jumping on or jumping off points for your customers?”

Well, of the two, Convergence was more of the jumping off point, kinda sorta, in that they ended a bunch of series that were doing okay for me prior to Convergence, and then launched a bunch of series after Convergence that by and large didn’t sell worth beans. So, it wasn’t that people jumped off so much as they were pushed. Most of the pre-Convergence series that continued afterward have remained more or less at the same level they were at.

Secret Wars…it’s harder to say. We’re just now, as of this week, getting relaunches of some of the pre-SW titles, and it remains to be seen how those will go. If Iron Man sells at all, I’ll consider that people jumping on. …In fact, the very post I was working on before I set aside and deciding to have you guys send in questions was examining if replacing all the regular Marvel books with Secret Wars tie-ins was a net gain for the summer or a net loss. Turned out to be more complicated than I thought…the Hulk related tie-ins sure as heck sold better than any regular Hulk comic of late, while Korvac Saga‘s sales didn’t really make up for not having three or four Avengers titles on the stand for months.

So, I don’t know yet. We’ll see how these post (well, sorta post) SW relaunches go.

• • •

MrJM tweets

“Are Twitter pals REAL pals?”

In this brave new Internet age…sure, close enough. Only real pals could stand my constant tweeting about Frank Miller’s The Spirit all the time.

• • •

Eric L LOLs at me with

“Have the new Star Wars comics brought in any new readers or are they just selling to the regular comics buying crowd?”

I’ve noted in the past that the opening of my store at about the same time a bunch of new readers were looking for a comic shop so they could get the new Star Wars comics was very, very good timing. Yes, I believe the Star Wars comics actually did bring in new readers, and I do in fact have several people on the comic saver lists who only get Star Wars. So, thank you Disney, Lucasfilm, and Bad Robot, for giving my store a boost when it needed it!

• • •

FrenchGuy dit

“Is there any top-selling comic at your store that you just can’t get into ?”

There’s plenty of stuff that sells that doesn’t do anything for me, which is fine. I can’t like and read every comic that passes through my door. Secret Wars is probably Marvel’s top book right now at my shop, and I’ll flip through it and it’s very much the “reading someone else’s mail” effect. I’m glad it’s doing well and that my customers like it, but it’s Not for Me and that’s okay!

• • •

Wayne Allen Sallee sallies forth with

“What non-event title surprised you the most in your store as selling consistently good, and which title does the opposite? Not as a comic store owner who may make or lose money by having extra copies left on the shelves. You. Mike Sterling. Which books surprised you as one of us humans you take money from on a daily basis.”

Low kind of surprises me with how well it sells. It’s not a title that gets a lot of buzz like, say, Saga, but boy do I have a lot of customers for it at the shop.

As far as a low-selling book…I kind of expected We Are Robin to be doing better than it did. I have a couple of pull-list customers for it, and I just recently started selling a copy off the shelf…in fact, a lot of recent Batman family books I expected to do better, but since Batman wasn’t actually in them, oh well.

• • •

Old Internet pal Eddie Mitchell geeks out with

“I am resisting the urge to ask you who would win in a fight between the Oompah Loompahs and Herbie the Fat Fury….”


“…because I do have a serious question. What word/words of wisdom/advice do you have for people who are either non-comics people or people who have been out of comics for decades who have a huge batch of comics they are looking to sell?”

Well, you can haul ’em all over to the local funnybook vendor and, if they buy comics, ask ’em if they want yours. Otherwise, you may have to eBay or Amazon or Craiglist them. If they’re ’90s comics or later, you may need to sell them in bulk. Earlier than that, you may have some goodies that’ll be worth separating out, but that will take some time for research and such. Worse comes to worse, you can always donate them, to a library or a hospital or something like that. But if you do try to sell them at a store, remember my comic selling etiquette from a post or two back.

• • •

Let’s wrap this all up tomorrow, hopefully!

As to your Qs Part Three: Nice Dreams.

§ October 7th, 2015 § Filed under question time § 2 Comments

I asked for questions, you gave ’em to me, and here are your answers (And here are the previous answers: 1 2.)

• • •

Allan Hoffman wrenches me with

“Are you able to get an employee to abuse, I mean help you out?”

followed by ScienceGiant, who concocted an extra-sized question with

“Ever going to hire a Mikester protege, who will one day follow his mentor’s footsteps and leave to start his own store? Or are you steering kids clear of an ailing business?”

The plan is to hire someone else eventually, though I’m not quite in the position nor the mood to do so just yet. The business is doing well, with the occasional bump in the road here and there, but that isn’t unusual for a small business still in its first year…particularly a comic business. But, someday, I will hire some poor soul I will underpay and overwork and eventually lead into some modern day version of A Christmas Carol where I am visited by the ghosts of Comics Past, Present, and Future (all portrayed by Steve Ditko, oddly enough).

As to teaching a young padawan to follow in my footsteps, to move on to open up his own shop…well, that would serve me right, I guess. I don’t think this is an ailing business as such, but it is a business that will likely undergo some serious changes in order to survive. I wouldn’t necessarily discourage anyone away from the retail end of the business, but I’d definitely make sure they knew what they were up against.

• • •

ScienceGiant had a second question…HOW DARE YOU SIR though I suppose it’s a follow-up to a previous post of mine so I’ll allow it:

“No, seriously, why Batman Day? All your points were valid. But We could apply to same mercy moving logic and ask why doesn’t DC appeal to our better angels and sponsor Superman’s Miracle Monday? Or Wonder Woman Wednesday for that matter?”

It’s like “why does Coca Cola advertise?” In this case the Batman Day coincided with the launch of the second season of Gotham which was the likely reason for it this year. But why Batman, specifically? Possibly because Batman has traditionally been one of the most popular superheroes with the general public, and the most likely character around whom excitement would be easiest to generate excitement for a specific Day. Also, there’s no shortage of Batman products to sell in connection with the event…Superman has a lot, too, but not as many books with the sales power of Dark Knight Returns or The Killing Joke.

• • •

Alex asks

“Does it warm your heart or give you a pleasantly startling jolt to, say, pick up your comic pile and read the latest Astro City and/or Hellboy comic and realize it’s been right around 20 years and neither has fundamentally changed?”

Consistency is nice. I do like picking up a comic and knowing that 1) it’s the same group of people working on the book, and 2) they’re continuing to build their fictional world, and 3) they can build toward certain future goals that won’t be disrupted by a sudden shift in the creative/editorial staff. So, yes, I do indeed think it’s swell.

• • •

Roel Torres rolls up with

“We’ve seen some changes in the status quo. Jane Foster is Thor. Sam Wilson is Captain America. Amadeus Cho is the Hulk. James Gordon is Batman. Which current superhero could benefit the most from a new creative direction?”

I would have said “Iron Man,” because that character’s four-color life has totally be supplanted by his cinematic adaptation and boy, nothing’s been working out for that character’s comics. But, a brand new direction and series is in stores today, so let’s see how that goes.

…Boy, it’s hard to come up with something. Seems like nearly every character is goin’ through something right now, and it would seem odd to suggest a character like the Flash, which 1) just got back from a decades-long status quo upheaval, and 2) is doin’ just dandy right now, thanks. I don’t know…I’d say, Fantastic Four, maybe, since the last few series have struggled a bit, and whenever they bring the title back from the limbo Marvel’s put it in, something drastic needs to be done to keep it viable and attractive to readers. What exactly, I don’t know. Maybe more H.E.R.B.I.E.

• • •

CP Bahnanahs appeals to me with

“As a kid back in the 80s I’d often buy promotional posters off of my local comics shop when they were done with them. (The one announcing Camelot 3000 #12 finally coming out is a personal favorite.)
1. Was I a sucker?
2. Does that still go on? When I worked at a B&N people would frequently ask for our standees and other displays. Wondering if you get that too.”

Nope, no suckerishness here…lots of people like promo posters and items. I think I’ve even unloads one of those Camelot 3000 posters on the eBays a while back. I even had a fella ask me for the Batman Day poster I had up a week or two ago, so yes, people still ask for promo items. An aside: I’ve only ever asked for two promo items from other stores in the past…one was at a music store, where I asked for a poster they had on display for the Portland ska/rock band the Crazy 8s (got it when they were done with it) and for a Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie poster from a video store (no dice).

Some old promo posters go for a lot of scratch, in fact. At my previous place of employment, Ralph had stacks of certain old promo posters: two by John Byrne (a Man of Steel promo, and one for Legends) that regularly went for good money; and two Watchmen posters (Rorschach and the Comedian), that did likewise. But there was the occasional promo poster I’d come across that I’d just keep for myself.

And like that Camelot 3000 poster you mention, there was a little Dark Knight Returns poster…actually, more a cardstock sign…announcing that yes, #4 was finally here. I think there may have been one for Ronin #6, too. And Marvel should have done one for the back half of Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk, come to think of it.

• • •

Tom W suggests

“What length, creatively rather than commercially, constitutes a graphic novel rather than something that in prose would be a short story? 320 pages, ie Watchmen length? 1,800 pages, ie Preacher/Sandman length? 6,000 pages, ie Cerebus length?

Sorry, not as lighthearted as the other questions. But I’ve been wondering.”

Hey, that’s fine. I’ll accept questions of all types! I’m not sure there’s an exact line you can draw that isn’t splitting hairs, which is a weird way to phrase that, but you get what I mean. Preacher, Sandman and Cerebus are series of graphic novels, so clearly they’re out of the “short story” category. Watchmen is a single volume (comprised of an originally-serialized story, of course) that contains a lengthy, complex story with multiple threads, so that is certainly a novel in comics form. The Killing Joke, by contrast, is a 48 page “prestige format” comic since upgraded into an oversized hardcover, which contains an essentially…well, not “simple” story, but a much less complex text than, say, Watchmen. The Killing Joke would probably be the definition of “graphic short story.”

However, “graphic short story” seems to be used a lot for actual really short stories, like for anthologies or such. I think at the moment, if it’s a standalone comic and it’s packaged in a format that’s a little more upscale than a standard comic book, “graphic novel” is what it’s going to be called, regardless of page count. I realize what you mean, but it’s awfully hard to define, like I said. It’s probably more a case of “I know it when I see it,” or “it depends.”

Though that sort of vagueness opens things up a bit. Is this a graphic novel? Or this, if only they had stiff covers and no ads?

• • •

DavidG gives me

“Do you think doing this blog helps get people to come to your store? Especially the new one?”

It has! I have had people come to the shop (both shops!) specifically because of reading my dumb blog here, for which I am very grateful. I hope, if anything, doing this site demonstrates for anyone who reads it that I’ve put at least a little thought into this hobby and industry and that maybe I might be someone who can help them with their funnybook interests. Also, they may learn that I’m a person who still uses the word “funnybook.”

• • •

Jeff R. relates

“As someone who has literally only come into a comic book store six times in the past couple years, to buy Sandman Overture, how many people like me have your stores seen?”

Quite a few, actually. Some people just pop in once in a blue moon to see if their particular favorite have popped up. Love and Rockets fans tend to be like that, and I’ve had more than a few people who show up just to buy anything Sergio Aragones has put out in the last few months. So, yes, there are people who aren’t part of the Be There Every Wednesday party, and that’s okay!

• • •

Pal Dorian finds beautiful meanings in beautiful things with

“Mike, where is love?”

It is pictured below:


You’re welcome.

• • •

Enough answers for now…more tomorrow!

As to your Qs Part Two: Mike’s Next Movie.

§ October 6th, 2015 § Filed under question time § No Comments

We’re back with a second installment of answering your questions (first installment yesterday) so let’s see how far we get. And, as a reminder, I participated in this week’s Trouble with Comics Question Time, asking us what the most recent graphic novel or comic we purchased was, and why. And yes, I did get in a plug for my store, thanks for asking.

Anyway, off to the races! And also, I apologize in advance.

• • •

Mike Loughlin laughingly asks

“If Swamp Thing and Sluggo formed a band, what would they call it and kind of music would they play?”

They would play zydecoi, a cross between zydeco music and Oi! punk bands.

• • •

William Gatevackes opens the floodgates with

“What one thing were you most unprepared for when you opened your store?”

I think I was most unprepared for who tired it would make me. I mean, I’m fine at the shop, and I’m always doing something there, but once I get home it all catches up to me. Especially right now, since I’m working seven days a week. …But I’m not complaining! It’s worth it to have a store of my own!

• • •

pell yells

“What happens after Korea?”

Of course pell is referring to the most famous of all comic panels, the dreaded “THEN KOREA” image y’all saw here first:

…and the only answer I can come up with is

I’m very sorry.

• • •

Paul Di Filippo writes

“You are given a green light and unlimited budget to create a new SWAMP THING film.

1) Who is your cast?

2) Do you adapt a storyline from the books–if so, which one?–or do you create an original script untethered to past plotlines?”

I’d been dreading answering this question since Paul first plopped it into the comments, because, aside from my dead-on absolutely incontrovertibly correct casting of Curtis Armstrong as Wolverine, I am terrible at these kind of armchair casting direction shenanigans. Unless I’m seeing them in a movie right at this very moment, I have virtually no recollection of which currently active actor is which and would be appropriate for what role. If someone else would suggest a name, I’d go “oh yeah!” or “who’s that again,” but I’m really bad coming up with them on my own. So please, forgive my vagueness on one or two of them.

Alec Holland would just have be someone with a big mop of ’70s blonde hair, which is how I’ll always picture him. Almost doesn’t matter who it is, so long as he looks sufficiently science-y. …Wait, who was the robot in Prometheus? (google fugit) Ah, Michael Fassbender. Sure, I bet he wouldn’t mind playing a bit part in a monster movie.

Swamp Thing would probably be a big ol’ digital effect, so we’d need a voice actor…one of my Twitter pals suggested Ron Perlman, which would be nice if he didn’t mind doing yet another comic book monster hero. Or maybe my Holland suggestion of Fassbender, doing his deep, gravelly monster voice of which I have no idea if he has or not.

Abby Arcane…I don’t know. I’ve been Googling up images of actors and actresses to answer this question, and I saw Emma Watson, and I thought “well, put her in the white w/black stripes wig, and Abby is from another country, and as we all know anyone from another country has a British accent, so maybe she’d work.” And…you know, I like Emma Watson, so why not.

Now, Arcane…in the comics, Arcane is an old man, wielding an unholy mix of science and wizardry, and is later a deformed monstrosity after his creations, the Un-Men, try to reassemble his body after falling to his supposed death. So…you know, Christopher Walken just popped into my head, and now I can’t dislodge it.

Matt Cable, I had no idea…doing a little Googling brought up a picture of Luke Evans, who has that tough guy don’t-mess-with-me look that Cable should have. This is me picking someone almost at random, so take this with a grain of salt.

As for the plot…well, I’d stick with “man turns to monster, Arcane wants to control him” without getting into the crazy “plant elemental” stuff right away. I’d probably have Arcane use more of the weird mystical stuff he used into the comics, just to differentiate the new film from the ’80s movie. Kinda loosely adapt the original ten issues, with Swampy encountering other monsters over the course of the film, which Arcane behind the scenes manipulating these meetings for some nefarious ultimate purpose (after seemingly getting killed earlier in the film, and then popping up at the end as the deformed monstrous Arcane).

And of course Cranius would be in the film as himself.

• • •

Steve Cameron pictures me answering this question:

“Have you checked out any of the new Alan Moore Avatar books (Crossed +100, Providence, and even Neonomicon from a couple years back)? If yes, whaddidya think, if no, wtf?”

I read Neonomicon and am currently reading Providence, both Moore riffs on Lovecraftian horror, which I enjoy. Neonomicon‘s set up I liked more than the payoff, which started off as “here are some creepy happenings” and ending with “scary monster sexual assault” which…I don’t know. Didn’t care for it. Providence seems to be a little more subtle in its effect, and am enjoying it thus far. The Crossed franchise I’ve avoided, as it seems to be an exercise in “what can we do that’s more disgusting and horrifying than in the last issue,” and while I get the appeal of that, it’s Not for Me so I’ve passed. I understand Moore’s Crossed work isn’t quite like that, but I didn’t follow it. Sorry!

• • •

Andrew draws me in with

“If you could write the etiquette book for selling/trading comics to a store, what would you describe as your ideal interaction between you and a potential seller? Barring of course a scenario that starts with, ‘I have all these Swamp Thing comics I want to give you.'”

Well, call first, make sure I have time to look at your books, or even if I have room in the budget for pay for them at the moment.

Make sure they’re at least reasonably clean…if they’re caked with dust or ash or cobwebs, hit ’em with a broom a couple of times. If they’re covered with any kind of animal leavings, um, just keep ’em. I’m not going to need them, thanks.

But aside from that…I guess don’t lean over me while I’m trying to price ’em up, don’t wait ’til I’m done tallying everything to tell me “well, I don’t want to sell these” and yank a stack of comics back, and don’t get mad because I don’t give you full retail mint price on your coverless, waterlogged Superboy annual.

The ideal interaction is 1) you bring in the comics, 2) I look through them, 3) I make you an offer, 4) you say “yay” or “nay.” I don’t mind explaining what I’m doing while I’m pricing up the books, but I do mind someone explaining my job to me while I’m doing it, that I should be offering top dollar for these mint 1950s comics (which are actually GVG 1980s Silverhawks or whatever).

Most of the time, things work fine. Once in a while, I get someone pushy or with unrealistic expectations and I try to work with them, but sometimes there’s just nothing you can do.

• • •

The King of the Moon commands

“How do you keep your whites so white?”

• • •

Bookieparlor places his bet on

“Any chance we get to see a Yummy Fur movie in 2016?”

That we haven’t seen some kind of mainstream Yummy Fur film (or cartoon!) adaptation so far is kind of surprising. You’d figure someone out there would be dying to commit “I’m not a penis, I’m the President of the United States!” to celluloid, but alas, where are the brave filmmakers of today?

• • •

Erik declassifies the following information:

“All time favorite comic artist?”

Most people would expect me to say “Bernie Wrightson, cocreator of Swamp Thing” but I actually answered this question just recently for another site, so go take a look at my surprise answer!

• • •

Okay, enough question answerin’ for today…more tomorrow, hopefully!

As to your Qs Part One: Up in Smoke.

§ October 5th, 2015 § Filed under question time § 4 Comments

I asked for questions, you gave ’em to me, so let’s get going!

bkmunn is sequentially first with

“Do you have any Halloween costume recommendations?”

Now, I love Halloween. I love the decorations, the costumes, the weird candy, all that stuff. That said, I almost never dress up for Halloween because…well, I don’t know. Usually I’m working on Halloween and I don’t want a costume interfering with what I’m doing, I guess? Or I just never plan ahead for a costume, or suddenly it’s Halloween and oops, too late to dress up, or I never have a good idea for one. I’ve seen plenty of costumes I’ve been jealous of, like former employee Rob dressing as one of the Ramones, which was perfect. Or customer Marlon, who years ago as a high schooler dressed as Icon, and had he was tall and muscular and the costume was perfect and he just nailed it.

If I were to recommend a superhero costume, I’d say the Badger. It’s relatively simple, he’s usually wearing proper pants so it’s not too embarrassing, and you get to explain to people the entire night who you’re supposed to be. I even briefly considered a Badger Halloween costume for myself at one point before coming to my senses and realizing that whatever the exact opposite of spandex is, that’s what my body is more suited for.

Or, you know, just go as a ghost. One year as a kid I went as a ghost wearing a baseball cap and said I was the ghost of Babe Ruth. …Hey, I thought it was funny.

• • •

Smicha1 challenges me with

“What are the qualities of a great kids comic(for simplicity’s sake, let’s say ages 7-12)? What are some past and present examples you would use as really solid books appropriate for the younger ones?”

I’d say clear storytelling and ideally done-in-one stories. Continued stories aren’t necessarily a problem, but I’d rather give a kid something with an ending rather than a “come back next month for part 27!”

There are plenty of good kids comics on the shelves now, like the Adventure Time series, or the recently relaunched Disney titles, or the Smurfs volumes, or Lumberjanes, or even The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl which I know is beloved by children at my shop. Raina Telgemeier’s books, like Smile, are also popular with the young’uns…maybe more towards the “12” end of the spectrum than the “7.” Also popular: the Minions comic, which is good for pre-literate kids given the emphasis on physical humor over dialogue.

From the past: DC has lots of options, from all their Cartoon Network comics to the multiple Batman: The Animated Series tie-ins to Supergirl in the Eighth Grade. Old Disney comics are good, too, but I’d avoid older Archies as they tend to be a harder sell to kids. In selling to libraries, I was often told “no Archies” as their patrons had no interest in them.

That’s only barely scratching the surface, and I think I should tackle this with a full-length post rather than just tossing off a brief answer here. Let me expand on this in a future entry.

• • •

Sanctum Sanctorum Comix summons up

“What’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?”

“Peace, Love and Understanding walk into a bar….”

“Oh, and how much would you love a serious horror book of Marvel’s magic side (Man-thing, Doctor Strange, Son of Satan, Ghost Rider, et al)?”

I’d think that would probably be okay. An actual full-on horror comic seems unlikely, as the focus seems to be on fitting everything into the superhero milieu, but what I wouldn’t give for a ’70s-style black and white anthology magazine featuring all my old Marvel monster-y favorites. I’d also like it written by Steve Gerber and drawn by Mike Ploog, but, well, you know, getting at least one of those folks is extremely unlikely.

I think something in the style of DC’s current Constantine series would work. Not so extreme that you’d have to put “DANGER! DANGER!” labels all over it, or publish it under another imprint, but definitely on the creepy side of things.

• • •

Dave Carter has yet another comics question with

“What calculations go into your decisions on how to order DC’s open-to-order variant covers for your store, and will there be any change in how your order December’s polybagged variants?”

The open to order variants aren’t too hard. A quick description: these variants from DC Comics are generally the “themed” variants you see every month, like the “Green Lantern Anniversary” variants or the “Monster” variants. Retailers can order as many of these as they’d like, and are not tied to order plateaus (like being able to buy 1 for every 25 regular cover you order). In general, I don’t tend to order a lot, as most of my customers prefer the “real” non-variant cover. And I say “real” because often that’s how it’s asked for. “Do you have this issue?” “Sure, here’s the Beach Party Batman variant.” “Um, don’t you have the real cover?” Like that.

There are exceptions. I have a few customers who collect both the regular and the variant of each issue, and I have at least one customer who wants all the Looney Tunes variants coming in a month or two. And sometimes the covers look really neat and I’ll order and extra or three. And then there’s stuff that will sell regardless, like the Harley Quinn variants.

Now, these polybagged variants…apparently how this works is there are multiple variant covers distributed in different ratios for a particular title, but the variants are sealed in an opaque polybag and you don’t know which variant you’re getting ’til you open the seal and seriously what the **** is this ****. I have no idea how I’m going to order on these yet, though I’m going to have to decide pretty soon. I suspect I won’t be ordering a whole lot more than I do of the other variants.

• • •

Corey gets to the core of things with

“On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you that DC didn’t bring back those stupid 3D covers this past September?”

Well, sort of happy. The actual ordering process of those are a pain in the butt, as you have to order extra months ahead of time to allow for the production of the covers. But on the other hand, they are neat-looking and certainly attract attention, but on the other other hand I’m still working on figuring out the local market and may not have been quite ready to commit to ordering these things. So, hey, maybe next year.

• • •

Sean beans me with

“What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned about the funny book business since you took on the additional mantle of store owner?”

That’s a good question. I really don’t know. It’s not like there was some hidden store-owner-only secret revealed to me once I got my own Diamond customer number. I think maybe the one thing I learned is that having the buck stop with you increases the stress and pressure quite a bit more (not that this particular job is that stressful and pressuring, but it’s still running a small business), and that I’m finding myself a lot more wiped out when I get home than I used to be.

• • •

swamp mark bogs me down with

“what does the word ‘trolling’ mean exactly and why is it a bad thing? personally I’ve always loved trolls and wish Tolkien had written a book about their culture. or is it a fishing term?”

It is sort of a fishing term, actually, in that by “trolling” on the Internet, you’re trying to bait someone into reacting to you in a way that you’ll find amusing, much in the same way a fishing boat “trolls” a line or net behind it trying to catch fish. That, um, amuse them, I guess. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing…you can troll folks to make a point or just push a gag, but sometimes folks can troll you just to waste your time and / or eat up your energy, and that’s no fun for anyone. Well, except the troll.

• • •

G23 shoots me with

“Now that you’re a comic book store owner instead of a manager, what one new task occupies your time the most now that you didn’t have to do when you were a manager?”

Easy. Dealing with the finances, taxes, and so on. Occasionally at the old job I’d but together a bank deposit, but mostly the owner(s) took care of that. Like I said above, the buck starts with me, but literally this time.

• • •

David Oakes ain’t nuts for asking

“Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would change?”

Major in business instead of majoring in English.

• • •

Thelonious_Nick chips me with

“Weird industry type of question. It seems like there a ton of new comic companies lately, each with their own lines of comics. Are we approaching (or have we passed) oversaturation? Is this another bubble? And if a shakeout comes, will we be back to just Marvel and DC and a few minnows, or will the industry look different, like maybe Image or IDW will become a third big player?”

That’s hard to say. I don’t know if it’s oversaturation or just everyone throwing what they’ve got at the wall and seeing what sticks. Even Marvel and DC are doing that right now. I can’t say it’s a bubble, because with rare exceptions most things aren’t selling huge numbers, so it’s not like a rapid expansion of a healthy marketplace filled with large amounts of high-selling books. It’s a bunch of low-to-middlin’ selling books all trying to fill some niche or ‘nother and jockeying for position. I think if anything, we’re in the shakeout period now, as everyone’s looking to see what will survive.

In the end it will still be Marvel and DC and then everyone else. Because if either Marvel or DC go, well…there goes the neighborhood.

• • •

Rob S. steals the end of today’s show with

“If there were a new Swamp Thing movie in the works, who would you like to see direct it?”

Me. Or if they wanted someone with, oh, I don’t know, filmmaking talent and skill, Guillermo del Toro. I know, I know, he’s the go-to guy, since he was attached to that alleged “Dark DC Universe” movie that would have had Swampy in it, supposedly. But in Hellboy 2, Hellboy and his hell-pals fight that giant plant monster, and it was weird and beautiful at the same time, and I thought as I was watching it “what could this guy [del Toro] do with America’s favorite muck-encrusted mockery of a man?” Then I realized del Toro will probably never make a movie about pal Ian, so I also thought “okay, what about America’s second-favorite muck-encrusted mockery,” and I’ve associated del Toro with “an interesting Swamp Thing movie I might like” ever since.

• • •

More answers in the next day or so!

I want to A your Qs.

§ October 2nd, 2015 § Filed under question time § 50 Comments

Well, I just spent a lot of time writing a post that, ultimately, I decided I should let sit on the stove a bit more before I serve it up, which leaves me with nuthin’ for today. Thus I’m going to depend on you folks for content, and it’s been about a year since I did this last, so…QUESTION TIME!

Once again I open the floor to your questions, which you can place in the comments section to this very post here. JUST ONE QUESTION PER PERSON, PLEASE: I don’t have the blogging time like I used to, and I’d like to finish answering everyone’s questions before the end of the year. I’ll try to answer every serious question seriously, but if you give a silly question or you’re just trying to troll me for some reason, well, there’s no telling what I might do. I’M A BAD BLOGGER ON THE EDGE. I reserve the right to not answer a particular question if it’s too personal or may cause more trouble than it’s worth.

Anyway, please leave your questions in the comments. I know the trend right now is away from allowing commenting from users, but by and large my readers have always had good and interesting things to say, and I have always been grateful for it. I like getting comments, and I read them all, and I would like to encourage especially you folks who’ve been reading my site and have yet to chime in. If you have a question, please, feel free to speak up. I’d love to hear from you.

And by “they” he means “Mike Sterling.”

§ September 30th, 2015 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, self-promotion § 1 Comment

So the latest Trouble with Comics question time entry is a little different, in that it’s a roundtable discussion with the TwC contributors on the topic of “comics blogging: what was up with that?” Okay, Alan was a little more eloquent with how he put that particular query, but we all chimed in with our thoughts, and though I wish I’d contributed a little more, I’m in the mix nonetheless. So go on over and relive those long-ago, nigh-mythical days when comic blogs existed.

Swamp Thing Day may not go over so well since I won’t give up any of my Swamp Things.

§ September 28th, 2015 § Filed under retailing § 4 Comments

bdcomicSo Batman Day fell this year on its traditional date of September 26th, just like last year when it fell on the traditional date of July 23rd, and…boy, I was trying to remember what we did for 2014’s Batman Day, and I couldn’t remember a single thing ’til I looked at that DC press release. And okay, yeah, now I remember the Detective Comics #27 reprint giveaway (featuring Bill Finger’s first cover credit on that particular story, I believe) and the Bat-masks and such. I don’t think we made much of a big deal around it at the time…just gave away masks and the comic to folks who popped by and that was that.

I have to admit, I didn’t think too much about this year’s Batman Day. I mean, I ordered the free comic (pictured to the right), and I took advantage of Diamond’s special deals on stocking lots of graphic novels, but…I didn’t really plan too far ahead on this event beyond a general idea of making a small Bat-display in the shop and putting the free comics on the counter next to the register. I didn’t even get around to putting the Batman Day poster up right away, because…well, I have no really good reason. I just kept getting distracted by other stuff, I guess. I finally put it up a week or so ago, and I guess I really should have started earlier because it immediately got customers to ask me “just what is this Batman Day business, anyhow?”

Of course, the go-to gag explanation is “DC’s trying to introduce folks to this new Batman character” — a variation of which appeared on my store’s website — and…well, it’s not much more than just basic promotion, and a way for DC to move some graphic novels and such. If they can make this a regular day during the year, and not just moving the date around to tie into other Batman events, like, say, the launch of a Bat-related show’s second season, maybe it can build up to something. And maybe create “days” for other characters, too. “Come Celebrate Vibe Day at Your Local Shop!” “…I beg your pardon?”

Given the number of folks that were asking me about Batman Day, I decided I’d better do something a little more than just putting up a shelf of Batbooks and hoping for the best. Now, I didn’t do a whole lot…aside from spending a few days plugging it in the shop and on my site and Facebook, I didn’t get a lot of promotion out for it. I set up a big table inside the store, with all my Batman graphic novels at discounted pricing, four boxes of Batman-related comic books I was selling for a dollar each (got my hands on a bunch relatively inexpensively, so I wasn’t losing money, believe it for not), gave away the free comics at the counter, and that was that.

And I did okay. Even with the last minute effort, with Batman Day (rightly or wrongly…mostly wrongly) low on the list of priorities, I was still able to put together something that made a lot of customers happy and brought some income into the store. As I said on the Twitters, it was no Free Comic Book Day, but it still got people in the door, looking for that free Bat-comic and finding some good Bat-deals in the process. And though, in discussion with a little stuffed bull friend of mine, I had said that Batman Day wasn’t really A Thing yet, so I wasn’t expecting huge crowds of people. But I did get some people, and a lot of them even dressed for the occasion in their Batman t-shirts, so, you know, maybe it’s becoming A Thing after all!

I did get one phone call from a person asking if they had to dress as Batman to get the free comic. This close to saying “Yes, yes you do” just to see what would happen. …BUT I DIDN’T, I was a good comic shop owner. This time.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, but when next year’s Batman Day rolls around (in, like, April or November or something) remind me to plan things out a little earlier. And yeah, I know I’m basically dancing to the tune of a large conglomerate…but it is customer outreach, and it does bring people into the store. While the character probably doesn’t need promotion as such, the comics medium can use all the help it can get, and this is the sort of thing, like Free Comic Book Day, that reminds folks that, oh, yeah, comic books exist. And every little reminder like that helps.

The Jimmy Olsen Fan Club is a story for another day.

§ September 25th, 2015 § Filed under superman § 4 Comments

So anyway, there’s Jimmy Olsen with two members of the Jimmy Olsen Fan Club at their campsite out in the woods, about to sit down and have breakfast, when suddenly Brainiac strikes! One thing leads to another, with Brainiac wreaking havoc with his Enlarging Ray, and ultimately Brainiac is defeated, and Jimmy’s got hold of said Enlarging Ray. Meanwhile, Superman is at the bottom of a steep hill, his life endangered by a giant piece of Kryptonite! (Which used to be a small piece of Kryptonite, until Brainiac enlarged it, and, well, there you go.)

Jimmy is stuck about how to help Superman, because he and his pals can’t climb down the hill due to being bitten on the legs by giant fireants (the Enlarging Ray, again), until inspiration strikes!

After the guys rescue Superman (by enlarging a giant lead tackle between Superman and the Kryptonite, thus depleting the Enlarging Gun of all its juice, so too bad, Bottle City of Kandor), Supes asks “what the hell were those giant tire-things you rode down in?” if I may paraphrase slightly. Jimmy thus ends the story with a blatant bit of product placement that beats out Superman: The Movie by about a decade:

I did a little Googling research, and all I can turn up was that Superman was licensed to Kellogg’s in the 1950s for Frosted Flakes, and that DC didn’t team up to produce comics with General Mills (makers of Cheerios) ’til 2011. Granted, “licensed characters on cereal boxes in the 1960s” is not my particular field of expertise, so I could very well be missing something, but it looks like Cheerios was just used as the punchline for this particular story, no deals attached…unless there’s some kind of backroom deal we didn’t know about, or DC Editorial was fishing for some free boxes of cereal. “Thanks for featuring our product…have this truckload of Cheerios on us!”

If someone has any additional background on just what was going on here, or if it simply was “we’ve got a funny gag involving Cheerios,” let me in on it please!

from Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #116 (December 1968) by Otto Binder, E. Nelson Bridwell and Pete Constanza

So let’s go ahead and add this to the collection.

§ September 23rd, 2015 § Filed under giant-size man-thing § 5 Comments

From Season 2 of the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon comes the latest Marvel-produced in-joke reference to, well, this:

This program is rated “TV-Y7,” in case you were wondering.

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