I think there are more copies of Brigade #1 now than were originally printed.

§ November 25th, 2014 § Filed under question time § 1 Comment

We now return to Mike’s Question-Answerin’ Time, which is already in progress:

• • •

ArghSims arghed

“So I know you got the idea from Miracleman, but can we blame you for memes like this?”

…And then he links to this, which is a sports-related gag image that is similar to posts in my “freak out” category. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence, I ACCEPT NO BLAME.

However, to be completely honest, my inspiration for those “freak out” posts comes more from the Zippy the Pinhead gag where Zippy will latch onto a particular phrase and repeat it. Some of my “freak outs” do that, where the same phrase is repeated, but just as often I’m quoting different parts of a lengthier quote. The zooming image, as I recall, seems more like something that naturally arose for visual variety to accompany my weird reemphasizing of whatever expression I, in my Zippy-like state, latched onto. I wasn’t specifically thinking of that page from the first Eclipse Comics Miracleman when I first did it, I don’t believe, but perhaps it was a subconscious influence.

I ended up combining the two eventually anyway.

And I suppose this is technically a “freak out” post, which predates my first actual one. IT’S FREAK OUT #0

• • •

John enjoins me with

“It may be too soon to ask, but do you prefer running your very own store, with all the perils that entails, or managing someone else’s?”

While managing someone else’s store does mean I can focus on ordering and selling the actual product, I have to say, even with the added responsibility of managing (or, rather, hyperventilating over) the taxes, I am enjoying being in my own shop. Especially now that the customer base and store sales are starting to grow to levels more than sufficient for survival, which takes a bit of a weight off my back. It’s a small store, with (for the time being) fewer product lines, with basically only me running the place…I am a lot more…relaxed, believe it or not, being on my own, even with every buck stopping with me.

• • •

Eric Houston has no problems asking me

“When a collection comes into the shop, what is one (fairly common) book you always buy and one you never buy?”

One comic that turned up a lot in collections at the other shop was that foil-embossed shiny cover version of 1993’s Robin #1 (the center one here). It’s not terribly expensive…it’s, what, four or five bucks, maybe, but they always sell, so I always bought ‘em when I saw ‘em.

That was actually an easy question to answer; the common books I never buy are a little harder to narrow down. There are lots of common books I never buy. 98% of Marvel Comics Presents. Any issue of Brigade ever. In fact, a lot of early Image Comics releases tend to get the ol’ “no thank you.” I think even now, being in a store that doesn’t quite have the backstock that I’d been used to over the last couple of decades, I’d probably still pass on them.

• • •

James jimmies me with a couple of Swampy questions:

“Excluding teams who were on the title together, who would be your creative dream team for Swamp Thing?”

Jim Woodring and Mike Mignola. …And don’t tell anyone, but I’d love to see what Rob Liefeld would do on the book.

“Also, how glad are you that Swamp Thing fans aren’t referred to using the same nickname generator as Star Trek fans? Unless of course you would like being known as a ‘Thingie.'”

I prefer “Tubers.”

• • •

rook017 checkmates me with:

“How important are back issues today for you, the dealer? Or is new stuff your bread and butter?”

Well, I’m still trying to get my footing with a new marketplace, but so far new comics and graphic novels are the primary movers. Back issues aren’t underrepresented, however, as there is always someone looking for older issues. I personally enjoy having lots of older comics around, but if they didn’t sell, I’d have to put my heart aside and use that back issue space for something more profitable. Fortunately I seem to have a market for them here, particularly with children, a lot of whom like having the opportunity to buy really, really old comics from 2005, in case you haven’t felt your bones creak today. Plus, back issues are a good alternative for people who like comics, but just don’t like anything new the publishers are putting out.

“2014 dollars vs. 1984 dollars… Do you make as good a living? I am not trying to get personal, but it seems like if a typical fan buys fewer different comics, does the higher price offset that for you, the dealer? Or how is making money now different than it was 30 years ago?”

Well, it’s hard to say. Prices on everything have increased, in every aspect of life, and as I’m older now, I have more expenses, so…yeah, it’s complicated. Do some people buy fewer comics because of higher prices? Sure. Some people still buy the same number of comics, too. Plus, the market is different now, at least when it came to the shops I worked in. We had more people coming in to buy comics…not just the hardcore fans, but casual readers who wanted to try out comics, the folks who wanted the indie books, the graphic novel fans, and so on. And stores seem to be a bit more diversified, too…maybe shops aren’t selling as many comics, but they sure as heck are selling piles of Pokemon or Magic the Gathering packs.

So…okay, I don’t have a good answer for you. I don’t think I’ve taken too much of a financial hit due to comic price inflation as you’d think, mostly through expanded customer bases and diversified product lines. And, personally, I think I’m doing better dinero-wise on my own than as a cog in someone else’s machine, though my planned meeting with my tax person this week may divest me of that particular delusion.

“And why have we not seen a Legion/Swamp Thing crossover? Do they seriously expect us to believe there are no swamps in the future or on other planets?”

If memory serves (and I thought I even talked about it on the site before, though I couldn’t find it) someone wrote in to the Legion of Super-Heroes letters page asking, since it was established in Alan Moore’s run that there was a chain of plant elementals that existed throughout history, where was the 30th century’s swamp critter? I think the letter got the “well, maybe that’ll happen in a future story!” which of course it didn’t. Anyway: Swamp Thing versus Pulsar Stargrave. I’d be okay with that.

• • •

More answer-time tomorrow, hopefully! Thanks for reading, pals.

I promise never to say “fave firstie” ever again.

§ November 24th, 2014 § Filed under question time § 7 Comments

So let’s get a couple of things out of the way before I start answering your questions from last week:

First, the local paper ran a story on my new comic shop, which has certainly driven some business my way. (Everything’s going swimmingly at the store so far, I’m glad to report!)

Second, blogging brother Tim is taking an in-depth look at tie-ins to Secret Wars II, and God bless him for it.

And third, speaking of Secret Wars, just look at this thing. Eleven hardcover books reprinting everything Secret Wars-related, shoved together into a big ol’ box. That is completely insane. Of course I’m going to carry it at my shop.

Okay, now…As for your Qs!

• • •

Dave Carter inquires:

Do you have any idea as to how you are going to order all of those DC Convergence comics?

Nope, haven’t the foggiest. For those of you who don’t know, DC is taking a few weeks to do what amounts to flashback comics, set in the continuity/ies that existed prior to the whole New 52 thing, while putting their current continuity/ies on hold for the duration. …Okay, I may have exaggerated slightly when I said “haven’t the foggiest,” as I do have some lightly-foggy notion that I’ll order numbers on these Convergence books somewhat close to whatever I’m ordering on the slightly-related current ongoing series. Or I’ll order based on my best guess as to what general interest in the titles will be. Or I’ll just take a wild stab and it and hope I don’t fail too badly. Actually, in my particular situation, what with a brand new store an’ all, the stakes are somewhat lower, since I’m not quite selling the numbers I did in my previous situation. I don’t risk much danger of being stuck with too-huge piles of books I thought would be popular but ended up not moving — (cough) Death of Wolverine follow-up minis (cough) — but we’ll see where my sale levels are at that point.

• • •

Thelonious_Nick wants to know:

Here’s a technical, comic shop kind of question. So my LCS gifts me a copy of Previews every month. But I notice some local comic shops have graphic novels or collections that don’t appear in Previews. For instance, I’ve been eyeing some R. Crumb collections at one shop, and thought I’d find the page in Previews so my regular LCS could order one for me–but they aren’t in there. But this started me wondering–do some comic shops order from sources other than Diamond?

Sure they do. I made an order direct from Top Shelf just prior to opening my shop, for example. And there was several other companies that offer graphic novels and other goodies that aren’t necessarily available through Diamond. But some items may have been available through Diamond at one time, and are no longer available…it’s possible the items you spotted had been sitting on the shelf for a while.

On a different note, was Tooth & Claw #1 the most gorgeous debut issue you’ve every seen, or what? What are some of your favorite first issues of all time?

It certainly was nice looking, from the brief look I’ve been able to get. I’ve been pretty busy recently, as you might imagine, but I have noticed that it’s sold fairly well for me.

As far as favorite first issues…I have a soft spot for the debut of the second Swamp Thing series from the early eighties, as I was really looking forward to its release. Another fave firstie was Don Rosa’s Comics and Stories #1. I’d been enjoying Rosa’s “Captain Kentucky” strips that The Comics Reader had been reprinting in the early 1980s, and getting a long-form adventure in a magazine format with his wonderfully-detailed art was a great gift. I must have read that thing dozens of times.

• • •

Sir A1! brings the sauce with:

Do you think you’ll need to diversify as in becoming a comic-RPG-cosplay-catch-all kind of place? Will comics-and-related suffice in today’s marketplace?

Well, so far in my 2 1/2 weeks of business, my shop, which currently carries only comics, graphic novels, and comics-related merchandise, has been doing quite well just with those product lines. So it’s at least theoretically possible to do so, given a sufficient customer base and a reasonably low-enough overhead. However, the eventual plan is to expand into those lines — like, an imminent expansion — once I got the comics-end of the business going. That was always the goal, to at least have some gaming/CCG material available in the shop. That’s not my particular field of interest, no, but I’m getting some inquiries from customers along those lines, and I have no objection to that material by any means. I just needed to focus on one product line first before tackling the next.

• • •

Vester plays it close to the vest with:

Image has been publishing good comics for a few years now, at a good price both in single issues and trades. But I never had the perspective from a comic book store owner. (I live outside US, so I don’t really have a way to know this things). Do single issues sell in a daily basis? I mean, do people actually come and ask for Image comics besides The Big Two? And do YOU think they are publishing good, quality books?

For a while there, it seemed like Image was experiencing what I called “The Walking Dead Effect,” in that people were rushing in to buy multiple copies of the first issues to various new Image series in the hopes that surely this comic will be the new hot title, selling for many times cover price within no time at all.

After too many occurrences of this not happening, these rush sales on Image #1s finally slowed down to normal: mostly mild interest, with the occasional series attracting more-than-average attention. You know, just like most comics from Marvel and DC. The titles folks mostly ask about are Saga, Black Science and of course Walking Dead. I do think by and large Image produces some good comics…sure, there are some comics they put out that I probably would have liked better if they had stayed trees, but that’s not a feeling I have unique to Image.

PD: Sorry for my english.

You did quite well…no worries!

• • •

Paul Di Filippo yanks my chain with:

Have you ever done Swamp Thing cosplay, at Halloween or any other time? If not, why not? Are you waiting for the contributions of a mechanical genius friend who can construct an animatronic Cranius to complement your outfit?

Sadly, I’m not much of a costume guy, despite repeated requests that I cover my face with some kind of mask. My interest in certain comic book characters rarely crosses over into a desire to dress like them…and that’s not a knock on people who do, because hey, however you want to enjoy your fandom, more power to you. It’s just not an urge I’ve ever felt…well, with maybe one exception.

However, next time Halloween rolls around, I’m going to pop into one of those seasonal Halloween shops and pick up a mechanical dismembered hand to begin work on my animatronic Cranius. YOU HAVE INSPIRED ME, PAUL DI FILIPPO

• • •

Rich Handley goes ape with:

Have you been watching Constantine? If so, what do you think of the cast and the writing? And how many times do you think the show’s writing team watches Supernatural before writing each script?

Constantine started as I was in the midst of prepping the creation of my store. I have the first episode downloaded from iTunes, but haven’t watched minute one of it. However, given recent news, it may be easier for me to catch up on it now.

I’ve never seen Supernatural either. I’m a terrible watcher of television.

• • •

ExistentialMan wonders:

Why didn’t you name the new shop Mike’s Magical Comics Fort? Have you caught anyone spooning on the floor of the graphic novel section lately? Can we get an updated drawing of a capybara by adult Mike?

1. Because if everyone knew of my magical powers, I’d never get a moment’s rest.

2. EM is referring to this, and everyone will be happy to know there’s nowhere to hide in my new shop, so no surreptitious spooning in my store!


• • •

More answers tomorrow, maybe!

Whoops, meant to put up a post on Wednesday.

§ November 20th, 2014 § Filed under swamp thing, wonder woman § 7 Comments

Well, these things happen. Sorry, gang.

Let me remind you that I’m doing question time again, so toss your questions into that comments section (not the comments for this post, but that previous one I linked) and I’ll give you answers. Some of them possibly truthful! I’ll probably start taking a crack at them this coming Monday, so for God’s sake, clear your calendars.

In other news, this week saw the release of the greatest Wonder Woman comic of all time, in that it guest-starred Swamp Thing:

…or at least something that vaguely looked like Swamp Thing while still being called “Swamp Thing,” and I’ve bought worse things for worse reasons so, you know, don’t think you can shame me on this. Also, making thing worse, pictured there is the variant cover for the issue, with Swampy and Wondy posin’ pretty for the camera, and silly me, I thought that was the 1 in 25 variant. Nope, that’s the 1/100 variant, so only those elite retailers who bought 100 copies of the regular cover got a copy of this darned thing. Well, don’t look at me, since I just started a brand new shop, I ain’t ordering a hundred copies of anything yet.

And because it’s brand new, it’s currently going for stupid prices on the eBay, so I’ll have to wait a few weeks where, like most of its variant cover brethren and sisteren, the hotness eventually cools off and prices will be lowered to the “please for the love of all that’s holy take these off our hands” levels. Of course, with my luck, this will be the exception and will hold its collectible value, at which point I’ll have no choice but to sell my blood and the blood of a few “volunteers” in order to afford it.

Look, I own Swamp Thing slippers. I’ll stop at nothing to maintain the Swamp Thing collection.

So I haven’t done one of these in a while.

§ November 17th, 2014 § Filed under reader participation § 27 Comments

Ask me a question, preferably related to comics and the comics business, and I’ll do my best to answer it in a future post. If you give me a silly question, chances are about 50/50 I’ll give you a silly answer. If it’s too personal or if you’re obviously just trolling, I’ll ignore it…but otherwise, just throw ‘em into this comments section and I’ll get cracking on them later in the week. Thanks, pals!

Progressive Ruin presents…not really the End of Civilization.

§ November 14th, 2014 § Filed under End of Civilization § 2 Comments

Yeah, I’ll probably be back into the End of Civilization swing of things next month, but I didn’t want this month to go by without noting these goodies from the November Diamond Previews, like the Batman Retro 1966 TV Series Tied-Up Action Figures on page 445:

As a wise man once said…oh, wait, that was me…”this is a fetish for someone.”

Oookay, there, Boy Wonder, simmer down.

Then on page 514 is this parade of Doctor Who Sonic Screwdriver-esque items:

…which just goes to show you that there’s nobody who says “no” in the BBC’s licensing department. However, I suspect this is reassuring to folks who know their weird nephew is really into that TV show about the British guy and his magic flying box and there will never be a shortage of things to buy him for those various gift-giving occasions.

…Though those same folks may hesitate a bit at this Doctor Who wristband on page 515:

…which apparently commemorates that one time the TARDIS farted.

Ah, Progressive Ruin…come for the incessant plugging of the shop, stay for the classy jokes. Thanks, everyone, and good night! Tip your waitresses!

I only wish I had one gross of Howard the Duck #1, much less two.

§ November 12th, 2014 § Filed under zines § 5 Comments

So let me take a break from constantly yapping about my comic book store to show you a recent addition to my collection that I’m not selling in my shop:

Collectors Dream #4, from Spring 1978, featuring a great Don Rosa cover. Just picture my face in the place of that blank question-marked fellow in the center, torn between two funnybook seller extremes. (Click on the pic for the bigification of that image.)

Sadly, I was hoping the cover-blurbed article “Consumer’s Guide to Comic Dealers” would be like an illustrated version of this, with cartoony caricatures detailing varying degrees of the Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy, identifying characteristics listed beneath. Alas, but perhaps even more shockingly, it’s a tell-all column in which orders were placed with multiple mail-order comic houses and the results were lovingly reported. Haven’t had too much time to read through it too closely, but I’ll see if I can’t pick up some tips for my own mail order business. But first, I need to spend some time restocking my boxes of Esoteric Comics.

So far, so good.

§ November 10th, 2014 § Filed under sterling silver comics § 2 Comments

Well, I have to say, while I’m not being swamped (heh) with customers by any means, I am doing some business, and so far I’ve been exceeding my initial expectations for the shop. I’ve been seeing several old customers of mine, greeting some new ones, signing folks up for the comic saver program, and only occasionally having to lock the door and put up the “Back in a minute!” sign so that I may attend the Gentleman’s Library, because, you know, flying solo at the shop and all that.

But seriously, thanks to everyone who came by the shop, everyone who supported me online, and everyone who helped get the word out…it’s all greatly appreciated. And thanks to my dad, who’s been helping out and keeping me company at the shop over the last few days.

And a big thanks to BobH for this beautiful thing:


On an almost unrelated note, I see someone took one of my scans from the “Marvel 2093″ promo and colorized it. Looks kind of neat, I think.

I say it’s “almost unrelated” if only because now that I’m now at my new shop, I don’t have the easy access to 30+ years of promo material that I had back at the previous place of employment. So, I suppose don’t expect a whole lot more of that on my site in the near future, unless I still have a box of that stuff sitting around the house that I haven’t returned to Ralph yet. Or, heck, who knows what will show up in collections? People are already bringing me comics to sell, so I’m sure the occasional oddity will shop up now and again.

And on another somewhat related-maybe note, I should be back to what passes for a normal schedule on this site again, now that the pressure to get the store ready to open has eased up a bit…at the very least, barring emergencies, I shouldn’t be staying at the store ’til 5 in the morning any more. Could this mean…a slightly-belated End of Civilization post? I’ll see what I can do.

Again, thanks for your support, friends. It is much appreciated.

Day One.

§ November 6th, 2014 § Filed under sterling silver comics § 28 Comments

And lo, did my first day of business at Sterling Silver Comics come to pass, and things went fairly well. For what was basically a “soft” opening, without all that “BIG GRAND OPENING” hoohar that will likely come later in the month, I did have several customers throughout the day, with one or two dead times that more or less corresponded to the doldrums I would have at the old shop at about the same points in the day, so no big whoop. Overall, I did manage to meet some new folks, welcome some customers from my previous job, and make a little more money than I was expecting for my first day. Hooray, I’m marginally less in debt!

A big thanks to pal Nat, who was my store’s very first customer…well, walk-in customer into my physical store, as opposed to my eBay sales (which I also appreciate, if any of you eBayers are reading this right now). Thanks also to pal Cathy, who sent me a box of candy in celebration of the big day. And of course, thanks to everyone else who shopped with me on my opening day, and to all of you out there with your kind words of support. Maybe I can make a go at this after all.

Now, there is still plenty to be done at the shop…a few more fixtures need to be installed, I definitely need to price more comics, I would like more toys and games in the store…but these things will happen soon enough.

Here’s a quick look around the shop, starting with the thing I was looking forward to the most – GIGANTORACK:

36 feet of The-Monolith-from-2001-esque ebony shelving, custom-built to my specifications, crammed full of issues of Swamp Thing and other less-important comics. …Well, okay, for opening day, it was only 32 feet, as there were some minor technical difficulties preventing the last four feet from being installed, resulting in some clever t-shirt rack placement to disguise the shortage:

Anyway, as I write this, I am sitting in my store right now while the master craftsmen put the finishing touches on the new comics shelves, including that final four feet of four-color fun. Beginning today visitors to my shop should be able to witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational comic rack.

Now here’s a shot from one of the back corners of the store, from behind the register/work station counter…you can see the corner of my stack of Previews at the bottom, there:

You get another shot of GIGANTORACK, plus two custom-made wooden tables built for me by former boss Ralph of Ralph’s Comic Corner. These are smaller versions of the same tables Ralph built for his shop years ago, and these things are rock-solid monsters of shelving — well, little monsters, in my case — that bear up the weight of fully-loaded comic boxes quite well. Above GIGANTORACK you can see some of the framed comic covers that my girlfriend Nora printed out and framed for decoration. She did a great job. (Yes, the covers include Swamp Thing and Nancy & Sluggo comics. How could they not?)

Another shot from behind my register counter, facing toward the front window:


Please note the organically-grown cruelty-free custom stand for my register (AKA “scrap wood left over from making those tables”), as well as my Stool of Power and a computer displaying a wallpaper image that should surprise nobody.

In this next pic from the front corner of my shop:

…you see a couple of my merchandise/showcase fixtures, along with my spinner rack containing a plethora of all-ages comics. You also get a good shot of my bookshelves, and their spacing along that wall should allow for some expansion. One top of one of those shelves is a Superman The Animated Series bust that I bought several years ago for five bucks and have now finally found a use for.

Here’s a straight-on shot of three of my bookshelves:

…and I hope you enjoyed this brief look at my shop as it stands now. As I said before, it’s a work in progress, with lots more comics and fixtures and goodies to come. But most importantly, this is a much-needed change in my life, a new beginning in an industry that, despite everything, I still love and enjoy, and this has given me a new enthusiasm for this business that I’ve been sort of taking for granted for years. Here’s to fresh starts and moving forward, my friends!


So it’s about 4:30 AM as I write this…

§ November 5th, 2014 § Filed under sterling silver comics § 7 Comments

…having just come home from the shop after spending long hours prepping it for opening at 11 AM today. Thus, should you happen to stop by to purchase something, just gently tuck the bills into my pocket and try not to wake me.

Anyway, let’s see how this goes!

Sterling Silver Comics is opening this Wednesday, November 5th, at 11 AM.

§ November 3rd, 2014 § Filed under sterling silver comics § 9 Comments

That is all.

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