Okay, more like a dozen Batman series.

§ February 11th, 2016 § Filed under retailing, self-promotion § 4 Comments

So Chris in the comments to Monday’s post noted that he often wondered why superhero movies didn’t lead to higher sales on the related comics. His answers — price and availability — are part of the problem, clearly. The other answer, essentially spinning off the idea of availability, and one I’ve noted on this site before, is that it’s practically a lifestyle choice. Going to a comic book store on a regular basis to follow the serialized adventures of superheroes is a commitment, as opposed to seeing a superhero movie every few months or a TV show beamed directly into your every week, which is good enough for most people.

The other problem is, as Chris also mentions, is that the stories themselves often don’t tend to welcome new readers. I think it goes even beyond that…if someone sees an Avengers movie and comes to a store looking for an Avengers comic, there’s at least three or four to choose from. Or Batman. Or Spider-Man (which, for bonus confusion, has a side series numbered 1.1, 1.2, etc.). It can be hard to pick which one is the one to follow. At least in most cases, if someone comes in and says “I want a Batman comic” there’s usually a comic that’s just straight-up called “Batman” that I can hand them. And to Marvel’s credit, while their flagship Amazing Spider-Man title is doing some different stuff with the character, there’s a side-series, Spidey, which is a more recognizable version of old Web-Head that’s not tied into any post-Secret Wars, pre-Civil War 2 hoohar for the uninitiated to worry about.

Now, it’s not as bad as all that. I still do reasonably good business (and repeat business!) in folks young and not-so-young just popping in and trying out comics that look interesting. Plus, of course, there are always the trade paperback collections for anyone seeking out longer reads. This is generally despite the comics themselves, with confusion numberings and constant reboots making it difficult for titles to get traction and for new readers to catch on and catch up.

Anyway, as usual, there are no answers here. It’s a weird business, but generally a rewarding one for readers who decide to put the effort into it and figure out just how to keep up with the mostly-bonkers publishing end of things.

Be sure to go back and read the comments to Monday’s post…some good discussion there.

• • •

The latest Question of the Week over at Trouble with Comics is regarding favorite romances in comics, and while I considered the Brain and Monsieur Mallah, I went with the response that will surprise none of you.

And four bedroom houses only used to cost twenty bucks.

§ February 8th, 2016 § Filed under pal plugging, publishing, retailing § 15 Comments

So the other day a lad and his grandmother came to the shop to look around, and everything was going well until the grandmother took a close look at the new comics rack and exclaimed “comics cost $3.99!?” It was a bit of sticker shock for her, as that was quite a bit higher than the new comic prices she remembered from her youth.

I mentioned this on the Twitters, and as the discussion continued from my initial post there, I realized there were two different issues that were perhaps being conflated. The first issue, and the one of greatest interest to those of us who regularly consume this particular artform, is that of perceived value. “Did I get my $3.99’s worth out of this comic?” “Did I just blow through this $3.99 comic filled with splash pages and no dialogue in two minutes?” “Did I just spend 20 minutes slowly absorbing the intricacies of dialogue and appreciating the beautifully-rendered art?” All questions we’re familiar with, I’m sure. And it is an important concern, that everyone from the reader to the publisher to the retailer needs to worry about: is the product worth it?

There’s no simple answer, of course. Maybe you don’t like the all-splash page comic with no dialogue, but maybe someone else loves the art in that comic and is thrilled to have huge images and no text to get in the way. Maybe I like dialogue-heavy comics that take me a while to read, and maybe someone else thinks if they wanted to read a prose novel, they’d have bought one. Everyone decides for him-or-herself if the price they’re paying for a comic is worth the value they get from it.

Anyway, we’re all comics people, we know all that. But the other issue I was thinking about, based on that grandmother’s response to seeing the price, was the very fact that the price itself is a barrier to new readers, independent of whether or not the contents could deliver on the cost of admission.

This isn’t a very deep topic, admittedly. “High price drives away customers” – no dur-hay, right? But it reminded me of when I wrote about DC’s “The New 52!” slug that they had on their covers for the last few years. For those “in the know,” it told us “hey, this is part of DC’s newly-rebooted continuity!” For anyone else who hasn’t read comics, it told them “you have no idea what this means, so clearly this isn’t for you.” Even though the New 52 initiative is no longer marketed as such (ending when it did just as reader Ray predicted), the phrase still exists on back issues and on the trade paperbacks and I still hear “hey, what does this mean” from folks new to the industry all the time.

Basically, it’s something on the cover that warns people not already reading comics “this is not for you.” And maybe the higher price points on the regular monthly series (currently averaging $3.99, with Marvel slowly getting us used to $4.99) are yet another warning. Okay, maybe it’s mostly a warning to people who remember when comics were ten or fifteen or thirty-five cents and have somehow wandered back into a comic shop only to discover 1) wait, they’re still making Howard the Duck? and 2) it’s $4.99 a throw? And I don’t think four bucks is too bad a price point for what you’re getting…that’s like a pack of Magic: The Gathering cards (I think…it’s been a while since I’ve had to sell any), or…fancy coffee, I guess? But it’s not “toss the guy a coin and not think about it” pricing…it’s not a significant amount of money, but it’s not nothing, either. And that’s just one more barrier to someone new to comics trying to decide if he or she really wants to take the plunge.

Again, this is hardly a new observation, but it brought me to think once again about what the breaking point is going to be. I’m sure those of us who were around a couple of decades back buying comics for, what, $1.25 or $1.50 each, would have laughed in your face if told we’d be buying essentially the same comics for $3.99. But here we are. And so far any comics that have been $4.99 or higher have had higher page counts or nicer production or some other aspect that improved the perceived value of the item. But then, so did $3.99 comics at one point. And so did $1.99 comics.

My thought was that eventually periodical comics would have to evolve into thick anthology magazines, front-loaded with ads to keep costs down, but attracting advertisers is a problem now for comics, too. So who knows where it goes from here…moving to a trade paperback-only model? Everyone moves to digital comics? Your pal Mike shutters his store and has to find a real job? I don’t know…it’s a thing I have to worry about, and it’s a situation that’s coming whether anyone likes it or not.

Boy, that’s cheery stuff, right? Anyway, this isn’t a “comics industry is doomed” thing, since people have been saying for decades that the business’s death is “five years away.” I’m just curious about what’s coming next, and hopefully whatever’s coming will appeal to new customers rather than try to block them out.

• • •

I wanted to post a brief note regarding pal Dave’s decision to end his blog, at least for the time being. He’s one of my favorite writers…smart, funny, and very insightful, with plenty of interesting things to say on a wide variety of topics which as I type it sounds like a remarkably generic thing to say about someone, but it’s really true in his case. I’ve never been much of a gamer, but his posts on the various games he’s played were just as fun to read as his occasional comics or movie post, which fell more within my specific wheelhouse.

I’m sorry he’s taking down his virtual shingle, but I’m glad he shared as much with us as he did. Plus, I still get to bother him on Twitter, at least until he blocks or mutes me. Thanks for all the good work, Dave, and hopefully we’ll see more from you in the future.

Well, I tried to watch the 1984 Supergirl movie for the first time…

§ February 4th, 2016 § Filed under movie reviews, pal plugging, publishing § 10 Comments

…but I just couldn’t do it. I got, I don’t know, about 40 minutes or so in, over a couple of attempts on consecutive nights, and decided it just wasn’t worth the effort. It did have 1) Helen Slater as a charming Supergirl despite everything, 2) Peter Cook being as Peter Cook-ish as the movie would allow, and 3) Matt Frewer in a brief role as a street creep, but that just wasn’t enough, I’m afraid. There is a fine line between the filmmakers allowing the viewer to fill in narrative gaps and filmmakers just not giving half a darn, and I’m afraid Supergirl veered more closely to the latter. It’s the kind of thing that brought us “Phantom Zone Villain Levitation-Ray Finger” and “Restore-Great-Wall-of-China-Vision” in the Superman films, the “who cares/it’s good enough” method of storytelling that tells anyone even vaguely familiar with the source material that they, and said source material, don’t matter enough to be treated with even the slightest respect.

I tried to be more charitable…even the venerated Superman: The Movie isn’t without its flaws, but even trying to view Supergirl as a near-dreamlike fairy tale, which one suspects was at least partially the intent, it’s just not very well done. Or it’s just that what passed for cutting-edge superhero movie-making in the mid-1980s just hasn’t aged well into the early 21st century. Or maybe I just plain wasn’t in the mood for it. Whatever the reason, it was more than I could bear, so back in the ol’ Netflix envelope it goes. Sorry, #1 Fan of the 1984 Supergirl Movie That I’m Sure I’ll Be Hearing from Soon.

• • •

In other news: I’ve been trying to come up with a follow-up to my last post, in particular the response from blogging brother Tim, but I’ve been having a hard time of it. It’s a complicated issue, regarding how best to return an old series to the stands after years of absence, and there’s no good answer. You can just ignore what came before and start afresh (like Valiant), you can reissue everything previously published prior to starting new material, either in individual issues (Miracleman) or in book collections (Beanworld).

Or, in the case of the Badger, which, as I’d said before, is pretty continuity-light, just bring him back in new adventures and reintroduce old characters/situations as needed. Old fans will be satisfied, and new fans won’t feel like they’re out of their depth with missed backstory.

I don’t know…it’s tough, and anyone, from new creators to long-established ones, trying to claim a little space on retailers’ shelves among the multiple Batman and Deadpool comics has my sympathies and understanding. It’s a small, tough marketplace and you’ve got your work cut out for you.

• • •

In other, other news, pal Andrew will be featuring Shrinking Violet from the Legion of Super-Heroes all this month. Why, you may ask? Why not, I reply.

Just badgering you about this for a minute.

§ February 1st, 2016 § Filed under retailing, self-promotion § 8 Comments

So a few weeks back, Johanna wrote a bit about the forthcoming return of the Badger, a character whose prime period was in the 1980s when it was initially published by Capital and then continued by First Comics.

The point of her post was…well, it’s right there in the title: “You Are Not Owed Pre-Orders Because You’ve Been Around Before.” And that’s true, unfortunately. I’d love to order tons of a new Badger series. I enjoyed the original series, picked up all the revivals (which were of…uneven quality, shall we say), and this new series looks like it should be okay, based on the preview that was presented in Comic Shop News a while back. But, frankly, I can’t order a lot, because I don’t know if it’s going to sell that well.

That said, I did order the new Badger series. I ordered enough to have copies on the shelf. Already that probably puts me ahead of a lot of shops that ordered it for their pull lists only, if they ordered it at all. I like the Badger well enough, and have enough fond memories of the comics, to order just a little bit with my heart over my head. I’m reminded a bit of when IDW brought back Grimjack, another character that had been off the stands for quite some time. I loved that old Grimjack comic, but realized that the audience that had followed it back then may no longer still participating in the direct market. I ordered reasonable-if-lowish numbers on that series, and it sold at about what I expected…partially to old fans, but some to new readers, too, and it probably helped that they didn’t pick up where they left off. Instead, they went with a very back-to-basics, no-complicated-backstory Grimjack, which was great for both new readers and longtime fans.

It is almost inherent to the nature of the Badger comics that there is no complicated backstory that one needs to know before jumping into a new adventure with the character. That’s part of its appeal, that elements come and go as needed with minimal explanation. Which brings me to another point…Johanna commented that the Wikipedia description of the character made it sound like a string of clichés, and to someone unfamiliar with the Badger, like presumably a good chunk of folks in today’s comics market, that surely doesn’t do him any favors. A dry description doesn’t accurately represent the actual tone of the book, as I tried to explain in Johanna’s comments. There was an overwhelming sense of…well, just plain weirdness, an off-kilter sense of humor at work in the comic that I could only describe in comparison to writer Mike Baron’s other major series, Nexus. It was wacky when it wanted to be, dead serious when it needed to be, with quirky dialogue and clear storytelling. It was more than the sum of the parts listed in that Wiki entry.

Part of the problem in later Badger revivals (and, in fact, later issues of the original run itself) is that something of that tone was lost, and attempts to recapture it never really quite succeeded, in my opinion. I mean, some of the latter-day Badger comics weren’t bad, but there was a you-can’t-go-home-again thing goin’ on, too.

Now, in that Comic Shop News preview I mentioned, the interview with Baron makes it sound like he’s really up and ready to go with new Badger comics, and it’s very possible it’ll be a return to form for that character. I certainly do hope so. As such, I ordered on this forthcoming Badger series as I did on that IDW Grimjack, suspecting the majority of sales will be to folks who remember Badger from before, with a few sales from new readers giving it a try. It does help that there have been Badger series within relatively recent memory, so it’s not coming to the comic racks completely cold, but, like Johanna noted, it’s still just one title among hundreds of monthly titles.

At the very least, I’d like it to do well for entirely selfish reasons: I want more Badger comics. Especially if they’re good. And I’m hoping this one is.

• • •

In other news: the latest Trouble with Comics Question of the Week is up, and it’s regarding our favorite use of sports in comics. Why not click on that link and see what my response was?

Your 2015 Predictions, Epilogue: The Jean Genie.

§ January 29th, 2016 § Filed under predictions § 4 Comments

Hold on there, we’re almost done, as I’m going to cover some responses to the comments for the 2015 predictions posts.

From Part One, I had a couple folks mention, in response to Tony‘s “someone will be offended” prediction, the troubles surrounding this comics editor that certainly, and rightly, did cause great offense. As I was Googling about to remind myself of what had happened over the past year, this situation definitely popped up, but I ended up going with the Batgirl variant cover controversy as my sample of a situation that stirred up some unpleasantness. I didn’t really put much more thought into it than deciding to go with the thing that was about a piece of art rather than an actual person, which…well, I can’t say it was to keep things “lighter,” as there were clearly negative circumstances surrounding that Batgirl picture, but I should have at least noted the business with that editor.

Longtime reader Wayne wants to know if Titans Hunt is doing well at my shop. It’s doing…okay. Of the Convergence spin-offs, it doesn’t have quite the traction of Lois and Clark, but it does seem to appeal to folks who like the Titans, but don’t follow the New 52 version. Which, I guess, is the exact purpose of the comic.

Interstate Shogun commented on the fact that the new Star Wars may have been a bit similar to previous installments, and, well, yeah. Like I said in my pseudo-review…the situations were familiar, but how the characters dealt with them and pursued their own motivations weren’t, so that helped I think. I mean, it’s Star Wars…we’re going to get the lightsaber fights and Something Big the Bad Guys Own Will Blow Up, as that’s just part of the package. However, I don’t want to see one grain of sand or one snowflake in the next couple of films.

Sorry, got nuthin’ to say about the comments to Part Two. You’re on your own, David Alexander McDonald!

From Part Three, JD and Matt Jeske both reminded me that Ragman did appear in New 52 continuity, in Batwoman, which I’d actually read and forgot about because I’m old and the gears are beginning to slip.

Several folks also report that the first gen iPads seem to work okay with Comixology, with the occasional glitch.

My comments about the supposed “Paul Rudd Jinx” was answered by DavidG, who tells me that Ant-Man was the first 100 million dollar-plus hit that starred Mr. Rudd. Well, how ’bout less a “jinx” and more “his first breakthrough blockbuster!” That sounds a little more positive!

Also in that third post I noted I wasn’t sure about DC’s digital line going down to $0.99, but in my research for something else I came across a whole bunch of DC digital releases at that price point. Whether that was special event pricing or the regular deal, I’m not sure. I’m too analog to comprehend all this digital stuff.

In the comments to Part Four, Touch-and-go Bullethead mentions that there was apparently some in-house memo about possible Marvel media adaptations, and Squirrel Girl was put on the “TV” list. Not that it was a done deal, but more of a list of potential translations, which may have been interpreted by the more-excitable as “definitely happened.” Well, not yet, though I bet a Squirrel Girl TV show would be fun.

And in the comments to Part Five, The Mean Geek wonders why I thought Age of Ultron was so bad, and fellow Troublemaker Alan David Doane mentions that it’s grown on him now that he’s been able to watch it at home. Maybe once I catch up on all these other things I’m watching, and after I’ve seen Frank Miller’s The Spirit again, I’ll give Age of Ultron another go. My main problems with the film was that it seems very…disjointed to me, and that a lot of the novelty of seeing all these characters together was gone, and there wasn’t really anything there to replace it. It didn’t engage me at all, I had no interest in the story, the villain didn’t do anything for me, and it just felt like a mess. The first film was about as deep as a puddle of water, but it was a fast-paced machine designed to get you from one action sequence to the next, with some amusing moments and basically kept you interested throughout. I just didn’t get that from the second film. But maybe I was just having a bad night at the moving pictures, and I’ll give it another shot to see how it goes the second time.

Your 2015 Predictions, Part Five: Suffragette City.

§ January 27th, 2016 § Filed under predictions § 5 Comments

Huzzah! It’s part five of going over your 2015 comics industry predictions, and if you missed the previous installments, here are parts one and two, three, and four. You’re welcome!

Plus, give me your predictions for 2016…THIS I COMMAND.

Before I get started…be sure to check out my contribution to the latest Question of the Week over at Trouble with Comics, this time covering the favorite debut appearance of a character or super-team.

And new this week at your local funnybook store is the Bill & Ted’s Excellent Comic Book Archives, reprinting the Evan Dorkin comics from a couple o’decades back. If you look closely at the first couple of pages in the book, you’ll see a special thanks to yours truly and my former boss Ralph in there. We helped editor pal Ian obtain some necessary material for this collection, and he was kind enough to give us credit! Almost makes me feel bad for all the terrible things I’ve said about Ian in the past. …Almost.

Enough of that…now let us attend to the last batch of predictions!

• • •

Jeff R. rites

“Of these three, one will see an issue at least for sale in 2015, one will be solicited before the end of the year, and one will have no sign seen: Mage III, Frank Miller’s Xerxes comic, and a brand-new Miracleman comic from Gaiman. (which is to say not counting the one that’s already written and drawn but never published.)”

Just a tad early…this week the Previews comes out containing the solicits for the first new (or rather unpublished) Gaiman and Buckingham Miracleman story, with brand new installments to come!

“Of the 19 remaining First Wave New 52 titles, less that half will make it to the end of 2015 without a cancellation or relaunch and thus be on track to actually reach #52 sometime in 2016.”

Trying to go over the titles gave me a headache, but I think most of the original 2011 launch titles that made it to 2015 made it into 2016, though, again, you may have been a bit early, depending on whatever this alleged “REBIRTH” thing is DC is leading up to.

“For late in the year, well after the movie, Marvel will solicit an event that looks like the return of the Fantastic Four. When it comes out it will actually not just not bring them back but salt the earth, rendering the characters as toxic and unusable as they can possibly manage.”

Maaaaybe another thing that happened in 2016, depending on what you think of the ending of Secret Wars. I don’t believe anything’s been made unusable yet, but we’ll see what goes on in the future!

• • •

Michael Jones has a jones for the following

“The 8-page ‘Attack on Titans vs. Avengers’ storyline that debuted in Japan in Nov/2014 will be reprinted as a backup story in an Avengers comic. This will entice the original author to finish the story.”

Half a hit, since it popped up in the Free Comic Book Day giveaway from Marvel!

“Mike Sterling will franchise out his store to three new locations.”

…Followed shortly by my death.

“Ant-Man won’t do Guardians-sized box office but will bring in a surprising amount of cash for Marvel.”

As discussed previously…no one’s sneezing at Ant-Man half-billion dollar take.

• • •

Hollywood Hogan bars no holds with

“Avengers 2 is a box office disappointment (not a bomb, but does worse than the first one or GOTG) and Marvel proceeds to completely re-tool future movie plans.”

Age of Ultron did almost as well as the first, box office-wise, but hoo boy it wasn’t a good movie. Thankfully Ant-Man cleansed that palate.

“The Marvel comic universe will be rebooted ala the New 52. Major changes are the elimination of the Fantastic Four completely (they never existed in the new universe), Nick Fury having always been Samuel L. Jackson, and the X-Men being shuffled off to an alternate universe where they are the only superheroes. There will be no regular X-Men book published, but they will make cameos.”

That was the rumor, or at least one of them, and honestly I’m surprised they didn’t do this.

“DC’s September event will be a showcase for characters from cancelled titles and writers to go completely crazy. Expect things like Swamp Thing with an H-Dial, Hawk and Dove joining the Blackhawks, and Larfleeze stealing a Mother Box.”

Almost wish they had done this…what would they have to lose, right? But DC kinda/sorta did some different stuff with some new titles, though sadly some of it died off right quite. I mean, who was expecting both a Bat-Mite and a Bizarro series?

• • •

Jay the Ray has his say

“The multiverse will be introduced in an episode of The Flash, when Barry accidentally is trapped on Earth-2 with Jay Garrick. The twist will be that another Earth out there is the cinematic universe – leaving the door open for future crossovers.”

We did get the multiverse, but they haven’t done much with it aside from Earth One and Earth Two interaction. Getting some vague hints and rumors here and there (like with Supergirl), but nothing with the movie universe just yet. Boy, funny the DC went through all the trouble to get rid of the multiverse in their comics way back when, and here we are with the media adaptations bringing it all back.

“Agents of Shield will be cancelled, Agent Carter will be cancelled, ABC/Disney/Marvel will move Daredevil from Netflix to primetime TV to fill the gap, where it will also flop.”

Nope nope nope and nope. Thank goodness!

“Convergence will lead to the September DC event where ‘anything goes.’ Similar to what the All-Star line was supposed to be, it’ll be iconic versions of characters in their own universes, written by top talent.”

If only they did, Jay the Ray…if only they did.

• • •

Travis gets a little randy with

“To capitalize on interest in the upcoming movie, DC Comics will launch a mini-series entitled ‘Batman v Superman’ depicting the two heroes in a legal battle for custody of Gleek.”

Of course the big problem with this is the idea anyone would want Gleek.

“The trend towards ‘realism’ in adaptations of superhero properties will reach its nadir when a realistic take on ‘The Doom Patrol’ is announced, in which none of the characters will have superpowers/be a robot, there will be no villains, and all of the weirdness will be excised.”

Agreed, that would be terrible. Thankfully the trend seems to be toward embracing all the goofy stuff in comics. If there’s ever a Doom Patrol movie/TV show, there’s going to be a freakin’ Robotman in it, I guarantee!

“People will continue to love ‘The Walking Dead’ for some damn reason.”

Well, they got folks invested in the characters, and it’s probably the one continuing property left where you can have zombies and everyone doesn’t go “(sigh) zombies again?” The spin-off they attempted this year didn’t seem to get quite the same positive reaction, so maybe the main Walking Dead series has some special formula that allows it to continue where other zombie shows just sort of shamble along or crumble into nothingness.

• • •

Hey, who let this Augie De Blieck character in here?

“Valiant will start showing cracks from growing too big, too fast without the sales levels to justify it or the movie deals to float them.

“In other words, Valiant will be the new CrossGen. Marvel will get flooded with resumes by December, because DC isn’t in NYC anymore.”

So far, Valiant has shown some restraint…the occasional mini-series here and there, and that “limited variant chase comic” with a story that only appeared in that comic was a little annoying, but otherwise they haven’t gone too overboard. As for the résumé thing…I mean, I think I’ve heard stories about folks trying to switch over to Marvel just so can stay in the same industry and remain in the New York area, but I suspect Marvel’s overrun with résumés anyway, and any “loss of DC” bump would hardly be noticed. I’ll bet you the big résumé jump came when Disney bought ’em.

“Marvel WILL reboot its universe, but mostly for the sake of diversity. The characters who are seen now as ‘place holders’ will be the official new POC characters in the new Marvel Universe. More will be added in. (I’m guessing an Asian Henry Pym and a Latina Wasp.) The Avengers will be the United Nations of the Marvel U.”

As noted, we didn’t get the full reboot, just a bunch of new #1s. There is a little more diversity in the line-up, but not much more than was already there before the wave of relaunches, and in the cases of the Big Characters (like Spider-Man and Captain America) it’s pretty clear that the new versions of the characters will be there alongside the originals, rather than replacing them. All-New All-Different Avengers did turn out to be a team of a lot of the new characters, which seems to be doing okay so far!

“Ant-Man will do very well at the theaters, but since it won’t set any records, the press will declare it a bomb.”

It did do well…did about 500 million dollars more than I expected an Ant-Man film to do. And we’re not at the point where anyone’s declaring any Marvel movie a bomb yet…folks tend to save that kind of talk for DC movies.

• • •

Bret Sector parts out the predictions as follows

“ALL books published by Marvel and DC will tie-in to a larger over-arching group of titles: Avengers, Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Defenders, Batman, Superman, JLA, Green Lantern, and New Gods.”

Not quite yet…we’ll see where DC’s “Rebirth” thing (which supposedly is going to focus on retooling the line to jibe more with the media adaptations) is going.

“Vertigo will cease to exist.”

Hoo boy, if anything, it’s the opposite, to the point where my Vertigo customers are all “man, enough already.”

“Valiant will re-acquire their Gold Key characters.”

I know you can’t go home again, but it’d be nice to see Doctor Solar and X-O Manowar teaming up once more, right?

• • •

Jay Potts pans me with

Prediction: In advance of his introduction to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel will announce a new Black Panther ongoing series. It will be written by David Walker, current writer of SHAFT from Dynamite Comics.

There is a new Black Panther series coming, but it’s by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze. And, you know, that ain’t bad.

• • •

Old pal Dan Latta slugs me with

“The Marvel reboot won’t be as rebooty as everyone thinks.”


“Star Wars VII will be better than the prequels, but not as good as Guardians of the Galaxy was”

I…uh…you know, I can’t really argue that.

“Pictures from Mike’s sordid past as the trumpet player for Saticoy-based 2Tone Ska band will emerge.”

I’ll have you know that our band Ska-mp Thing will hit it big someday!

• • •

And finally, Pogressiveruin.com‘s biggest fan Crowded House predicts

“Mike Sterling will look to sell something else at his comic shop to attract more customers. It will almost definitely be pogs.”

This will almost certain never happen maybe.

“Around the same time, Ventura County will bear witness to a series of incidents involving a mysterious masked crimefighter who leaves tiny circles of holofoil and cardboard at crime scenes to announce his victories over evil.”

Nobody can prove anything. What are you implying?

“Months after his initial appearance, the masked man appears on TV to reveal himself as…The Night Slammer! California’s first and greatest pog-based superhero, whose exploits are chronicled in his own monthly comic that can only be purchased at Sterling Silver Comics! Business booms, and all the while no one notices how the Night Slammer and Mike Sterling have never been seen together in the same place at the same time.”

okay, maybe

• • •

AND THAT’S THAT. Thanks for participating, everyone…and don’t forget to give me your comic book predictions for 2016! Plus, like I said before, I’ll still respond to some of your comments, and post some corrections, and so on. Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back soon!

Your 2015 Predictions, Part Four: Ziggy Stardust.

§ January 25th, 2016 § Filed under predictions § 3 Comments

Here is installment número cuatro of going over your 2015 comics industry predictions, and you can look fondly back at previous parts one and two and three.

Don’t forget to give me your predictions for 2016 as well!

A further note before I start in on this batch…I do plan on going back and addressing some of your comments on these posts once I’m done going through the predictions. I’m not ignoring you, I’m just trying to take things one step at a time!

That’s that, so here’s this:

• • •

Tim B. chim chim cher-ees

“The Fantastic Four Movie will make $1 more than it cost, Fox will triumphantly announce it’s the first part of a trilogy, as well as a slew of spin off films which are pretty much them trolling Ike Perlmutter. H.E.R.B.I.E. goes bananas is the only title I can think of.”

Ooh, I’m pretty sure the word “triumphantly” is in no way attached to anything regarding the FF film.

“Marvel cancels The Fantastic Four and launches Phantatsic Phore, a comic featuring Inhuman FF analogs that gets fast-tracked into movie development with the film called ‘4’, Perlmutter believing that there’s no way anyone can trademark or copyright a single number.”

Well, actually, the Fantastic Four comic has been…put into hibernation for the time being, so there’s that.

“In Age of Ultron characters keep on talking about how Tony Stark invented an indestructible metal called Adamantium all by himself. After the destruction of Ultron the film ends with Stark declaring that there’s enough Adamantium left to make a skeleton whilst looking at the camera archly. Post credit scene is said skeleton giving the finger to a passing fox.”

Alas, did not happen. That kind of blatant shade-throwing between film companies in the actual films would be a little amusing but almost certain burning any kind of bridges and preventing the eventual Spider-Man and the Avengers Guest-Starring Wolverine dream movie we’re all hoping for.

• • •

David Alexander McDonald had a farm-full of predictions:

“DC. Dan DiDio will remain with the company, but Geoff Johns will depart after the move to California is complete, seduced away by the film industry. A new Dan DiDio-penned title will come out towards the end of the year and surprise everybody by selling like Justin Bieber records. Constantine is canceled, finally, and Gotham picked up, though retooled. Arrow and Flash continue to do well, and a third CW/DC show joins them. Supergirl debuts on CBS to middling ratings…but does sometimes fly. Convergence flops, the New 52 overall struggles to stay afloat, but thanks to Convergence gets a stay of execution due to Justice League #52 being pushed outward. DC will continue to expand digital titles and try to get traction with the OGNs, but fail. DCE will quietly remove several films from the roster, one of which will be Wonder Woman.”

GOOD LORD, MAN. I said three predictions! Three! Well, let’s see: DiDio and Johns are still there. | No new DiDio comic. | Constantine (the TV show) cancelled, Gotham‘s still with us, and mostly the same, but slightly nuttier. | Legends of Tomorrow, debuting last Thursday on the CW! | Supergirl‘s ratings are fluctuating a bit but are more or less steady. | Convergence sold okay to stores, but perhaps not so much to readers, and the New 52 branding is gone, but the continuity remains…for now. | Digital titles are hanging in there, and they’re continuing OGNs with the “Earth One” imprint, which is doing just fine. | All those movies are still there. In fact, they probably added a couple. Who can tell?

“Marvel. Ike Perlmutter will finally piss off the right Disney honcho and be quietly ‘retired.”’He’ll spend his sunset years swimming in pools of dollar bills. Business at Marvel Comics will mostly return to normal, fans will still bitch about Dan Slott, yet still buy the books. After convincing everybody that they’re not doing a Crisis-style reboot, Marvel will do a Crisis-style reboot. Readers will roll their eyes, expecting another Heroes Reborn. Avengers: Age Of Ultron will do great business, but it won’t catch up to the first film. Ant-Man won’t bomb, but it won’t be spectacular either — Hulk-level business, possibly, maybe as well as the first Thor. Commentary will ensue about the death of the superhero film and how the Marvel mojo has finally worn off. Sensible people will point out the truth…it will be ignored. Agents Of SHIELD will be renewed by the skin of its teeth again, and Agent Carter will get more episodes. Daredevil gets raves and viewers, but also a lot of snarking about how it’s just like the Daredevil in that Hulk TV movie because black costume FAIIILLLL and once again the facts will not impinge. Squirrel Girl gets her own TV show, possibly featuring Howard The Duck. Her comic does unfortunate numbers, sadly. Fox’s Fantastic Four dies sad and lonely.”

Ike’s apparently not as involved in the film process now, I guess? This stuff just makes my eyes cross. | Marvel didn’t really do the full Crisis-reboot as much as lay a bunch of #1s on us again. | The first Avengers film outdid the second one by about $100 million in worldwide box office, but given that their respective takes were $1.5 billion and $1.4 billion, I don’t think anyone cares. | Ant-Man actually outdid the first Thor movie by about $70 million. I don’t think anyone’s pushing “The Death of Super-Hero Movies” at the moment. | Agents of SHIELD sounds like it’s doing okay, and Agent Carter certainly did continue. | Folks liked Daredevil, and I think putting all the episodes out at once probably kept everyone from complaining that it took so long to get to his real costume, since apparently everyone buzzed through all 13 episodes that first weekend. | No Squirrel Girl show…yet. Her comic’s still doing okay, despite Marvel’s best efforts at killing sales by restarting it almost immediately after its debut. | Dead on re: FF.

“Mike Sterling succeeds beyond his wildest expectations. In December 2015 Michael Uslan pays the store a visit and signs Mike up to executive produce a brand new big-budget Swamp Thing movie from the script he’s been working on for twenty years. The resulting income allows him to finally buy that Adrienne Barbeau RealDoll he’s been wanting for the past decade.”


• • •

Scott Rowland rows the boat ashore, hallelujah, with

“DC’s Convergence event will lead to an ‘Earth-2’ like book taking place in the pre-New 52 DCU, confusing everyone.”

Wellllll…we got a couple sorta pre-New 52 continuity titles taking place in New 52 continuity after Convergence, and people seem to be okay with them. So there’s that!

“Marvel will reach an agreement of some kind with Fox regarding the movie rights to some of the characters, after considering how much potential revenue was lost because the Batman TV show was held up in rights issues for so long. An Avengers vs X-Men movie will be the first project announced, and the post credit teasers of the Marvel movies that come out will be about the assembling of the X-Men as anti-mutant hysteria increases.”

Marvel and Sony did manage to strike a deal, since somehow the combined nearly-$4 billion box office take of the Spider-Man films was apparently disappointing, I guess. Fox is probably still perfectly happy with the performance of their X-Men movies, so I don’t expect a deal just yet. …My guess is when the current X-Men casts go away, and they’re trying to launch a new cast of our favorite mutants, maybe then we might see some talks about studio crossovers.

“Sterling Silver Comics will be nominated for the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailing award (or whatever it’s actually called), but will be disqualified because on a surprise inspection, the judges will discover the life-size Swamp Thing Statue that has been put towards the back of the store is actually a functioning compost heap not a statue at all. Sterling Silver Comics will then win a Champion of the Environment award from the Sierra Club.”

Also all true. …It’s been a weird year at Sterling Silver Comics, what can I tell you.

• • •

John shambles in with

“An Alec Holland book will be developed to take the place of Swamp Thing’s series”

They developed another Swamp Thing series, instead. Oh, those guys.

“Constantine (tv) will be picked up for future seasons resulting in Swamp Thing being brought back into the homes of millions of Americans.”

Don’t depress me, John.

“2015 Comic Book Day: folks will travel far and wide to Sterling Comics to give free comics to Mike rather than the other way around.”

That would have been startling. Though, I have had several donations over the past year, so you weren’t too far off!

• • •

Rome wolfs down the following

“comic prediction: All the crazy Thor, Iron Man, & Cap identity switches will be returned to the old status quo in the pages of comics before the release of the next Avengers Movie.”

Well, not before Age of Ultron, but surely before the next one, due in 2018. Cap’s already on his way back with a new series this year, sometime.

“1 U.S. prediction: I predict that none of the current front running presidential candidates (Namely Hilary Clinton and Jeb Bush) will actually still be in the running by the end of calendar year 2015.”

Hilary’s still in the running, and Jeb…technically is, too, I suppose.

“1 space prediction: After Pluto finally gets a close up, scientists discover that for some reason it is indeed a proper planet, and we go back to having 9 planets in the solar system again.”

Not in 2015, and not Pluto, but….

• • •

Robert in New Orleans tosses the following beads at me

“Superman will start wearing red underwear over his blue tights again.”

Not quite yet, but maybe they’ll do more of that in the Lois and Clark series.

“Big two single issue comic prices will go up (on average). I’ve already noticed a tendency for Marvel to price “key issues” like the #1s & finales of events at $4.99.”

Things are slowly inching upward, aren’t they? There are certainly more $3.99 books at DC.

“A bizarro version comic shop will open up directly across the street from Sterling Silver Comics called Gold Standard Comics. It will exclusively stock nineties-boom back issues sealed in yellowing mylar bags sealed with scotch tape.”

You know, there is an open spot in the mall across the street. “MIKE’S BLAZIN’ 93 COMICS” here we come!

• • •

Xanadude shines his neon lights for me with

“After the conclusion of Supreme: Blue Rose, Rob Liefeld will decide to continue the series as writer/artist. An ashcan or 1/2 issue will come out in time for convention season and then we will hear nothing more about the project.”

Surprisingly, Supreme was left alone after that series finished, far as I can tell. …I need to reread Blue Rose again…that was a good’un.

“Bluewater will publish a bio comic of Backdoor Teenage Mom Farrah Abraham.”

Had to Google who this person was, because I had no idea, and now I wish I hadn’t. But I’ll be damned if that Bluewater comic isn’t a thing.

“Two of the Multiversity titles will have spinoff miniseries, while two others will be announced as on goings with high profile creators, but will not go to press due to corporate politics at DC.”

Nothing yet, but I think Morrison was saying something about a tie-in graphic novel, maybe, but that’s probably still a ways off.

• • •

Rob S. takes us out with

“The Power Company will have at least a cameo in Convergence.”

I didn’t read every Convergence comic, but Googling brings up nothing and my usual other resources don’t mention anything, so I’m saying “no” until someone corrects me.

“Marvel will keep its Star Wars comics off of its Marvel Unlimited app, launching a separate app for that.”

Star Wars is definitely there with the rest of the Marvel titles.

“Roger Landridge will return to Popeye, to do a special or miniseries.”

Unfortunately, no. Which is too bad.

• • •

Okay, I will try to wrap things up next time, so keep watching the skies!

Your 2015 Predictions, Part Three: Changes.

§ January 22nd, 2016 § Filed under predictions § 8 Comments

Here we are…part 3 of 53 consecutive posts examining your 2015 comics industry predictions…you can find parts one and two…um, right where I just linked them, actually.

And, of course, give me your predictions for 2016 so you can experience all this fun next year, too!

And awaaaaay we go:

• • •

Dave Carter presents yet another list of comics predictions:

“We will get a LEGO Batman comic from DC, likely as a digital-first offering.”

I haven’t seen any straight-up Lego Batman comics offered through Diamond or digitally just yet, but I suspect it’s just a matter of time with a Lego Batman movie heading our way in 2017. I mean, I don’t keep track of every digital comic, so I don’t think there’s been one yet, unless there was some kind of exclusive download with a Lego set or game or something I missed.

“The Fantastic Four movie will not stink, but will nevertheless underperform at the box office.”

Sir, you were half-correct!

“We will get a Complete Matt Howarth’s Bugtown reprint project. (Hey, I can dream, can’t I?)”

That would be pretty neat, but not in the cards yet, it seems. There is a Bugtown ebook, so maybe that’s how we’ll eventually get a complete collection.

• • •

Michael Grabowski seizes me with

“One of DC’s special cover months will be actor-in-costume photos augmented with artistic elements. Some of the images and actors will be from films or television shows currently in production.”

Pretty close…Marvel had their cosplay variants just a few months ago. They didn’t have any added “special effects” like you were suggesting, but we’ll probably see something like that soon. (I mean, it’s been done before.)

“IDW publishes Moore/Bissette/Totleben Swamp Thing Artists Edition, with the promising subtitle Volume 1.”

Alas, not yet. Believe me, I’ll let you know when it happens.

“Comixology stops supporting ios 5.1, stops working on 1st gen iPads, and then the next day offers all Fantagraphics Books at half-off. (More of a dreaded personal nightmare than a prediction, I suppose.)”

Okay, Googling didn’t tell me anything, and I can’t find anything on the Comixology site that tells me one way or another, and I 1) don’t have an iPad, and 2) don’t use that service, so I have no idea if this is true or not. I did see some complaints about something or ‘nother not working, but every computing machine or app or what-have-you gets those. Thus, I am asking you if this was a Thing That Happened because I have no idea. I did have a pal report he’s had no problem with his iPad 1, so that’s my one point of data I have for this.

• • •

demoncat_4 uses up one of his remaining 5 lives with

“dc will finaly decide the new 52 did not work and do a crisis and bring back the old dc universe.”

Well, no one’s admitting that the New 52 isn’t working, but they did drop the logo from the covers, and Convergence kinda sorta brought back various versions of old continuity.

“marvel will anounce that neil will begin picking up where he left off on miracleman.”

I’m pretty sure that was a given from the get-go, but we should be seeing those new stories sometime this year!

“dc will launch both a suicide squad tv show and new comic with swamp thing as a member.”

No to both, aside from the Squad kinda/sorta being on Arrow, but we are getting a Suicide Squad movie this year, and I have no idea what’s up with that del Toro movie starring Swamp Thing and some other less important characters. Not holding my breath.

“dc will finaly let see print the legendary rick veitch story where swamp thing meets jesus. in a new trade of his swamp thing work.”

DC skipped right over it, the jerks.

“ragman will finaly get another shot of being a dc big gun in his own mini.”

I don’t know if Ragman even popped up post-New 52? Has he? Did I miss him?

“the constantine tv series managing to survive will have john cross paths with swamp thing.”

Unfortunately, the show was a goner, but we did get one last hurrah on Arrow. Hey, Arrow’s green like Swampy…that’s close!

• • •

James, who’s appeared in this round of predictions previously, the big sneak, has a BONUS PREDICTION:

“Wolverine will come back to life. However he will promptly die from a heart attack when he finds out Marvel is publishing Uncanny Inhumans.”

Boy, not just Uncanny Inhumans but All-New Inhumans and a theoretically-monthly Karnak series. That’d be enough to put the old Canucklehead into shock three times over! But he’s still dead, so I guess that works out.

• • •

Philippe Leblanc barbs me with

“DC Comics moves to Burbank California proves disastrous. Their ‘Convergence’ event undersell (except for Swamp Thing and Harley Quinn, maybe Jean-Paul Valley’s Batman). The move was incredibly more costly than they thought and Time Warner isn’t interested in bailing them out. A massive Kickstarter/Patreon/Indiegogo is launched to save DC Comics and help them buy furniture, office supply and pay their moving bills.”

Looks like they made the move okay, and the main Convergence sold…okay, and some of the tie-ins didn’t do horribly, but I think everyone would have been happier with the regular series instead. This sales chart shows that the Harley, Justice League, and Batman books did the best (or at least were ordered by retailers in the highest numbers, whether or not they actually sold to customers), while Swamp Thing shows up at about #85. …DC may have taken a financial hit on this, but they’re not out in the streets selling pencils out of cups just yet.

“Marvel continues to publish off beat superhero titles to critical acclaim with very low sales. Bizarre titles like Man-Thing, Aunt May Fantastic Adventures and Lockjaw and friends begins outselling the big Marvel event titles like Secret Wars and everyone is surprised.”

People do like their offbeat titles…while I’d kill for an Aunt May book, stuff like Howard the Duck and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl are holding their own, despite Marvel’s best efforts to strangle them in their cribs with their immediate relaunchings. Sales aren’t a patch on Secret Wars, natch, but I’d be shocked if they were.

“The concept of ‘The Big two,’ which normally referred to Marvel and DC becomes outdated. We now refer to ‘The Big Five’ as: Drawn & Quarterly, Fantagraphics, Image, IDW and Dark Horse. They dominate the sales chart in 2015.”

Not yet, not yet. Maybe someday.

“Bonus Round: Marvel publishes only Avengers titles, Everyone and everything is an Avengers. Including their furniture catalog: Furniture Avengers”

I have to say, I do like my Moondragon futon.

• • •

Tim O’Neil hurts me with

“Rather than predicting that one of the many comic book movies released this year will flop and bring the whole edifice down with it (everyone’s favorite prediction for fifteen years running!), I will say that they will all continue to do good-to-great business, and the whole thing will keep rolling into the future as planned.”

OOOH, bad timing, Tim! 2015 was in fact the year the superhero movie completely died. No more after that ill-fated Forbush Man flick, I’m afraid.

“Charles Soule will take me up on my challenge and write Quasar, somewhere or other.”

What’s up with that, Charles? What are you…chicken?

• • •

Mike Nielsen drops himself with

“We will get at least 1 new Showcase Presents volume in 2015.”

Well, we got Blue Beetle and Unknown Soldier, and a new Batman volume is due this month, sometime.

“It will not be Showcase Presents Tomahawk or Showcase Presents Rex the Wonder Dog.”

You are correct sir.

“I will buy said Showcase Presents, but not as happily as I would Tomahawk or Rex the Wonder Dog”

My Mike Nielsen Happiness Meter is on the fritz, so you’ll have to tell me yourself!

• • •

DavidG foresees

“Ant Man will be a hit, finally ending the Paul Rudd jinx.”

I wasn’t aware there was a jinx, but Ant Man was certainly a hit. And he’ll be in the new Captain America movie, too, so I guess that’s a jinx-ender? We’ll see how that flm goes.

“DC will release yet another unsatisfactory movie that will look crappy next to Marvel.”

I don’t think we had a DC theatrical release in 2015, unless there was an Ambush Bug movie nobody told me about. There were some direct-to-DVD animated movies…I thought Gods and Monsters was pretty good.

“I will not buy a monthly comic book as they are pretty much unreadable.”

I don’t know…did you? It’s okay if you bought one…I won’t tell anybody!

• • •

Darius Smith forges ahead w…wait, I’ve already used that joke

“MARVELs will cost $5/copy!”

Not for lack of trying. Marvel’s still Holding the Line at $3.99, by and large, though there’s a few $4.99s in the mix!

“DC will focus on 99-cent digital copies”

I don’t think they’ve quite cut the cost down that low…digital comics are a bit outside by purview, but I think they’re still at the standard pricing, not including special sales.

“SPAWN 250 will outsell SPAWN 1”

They almost had more covers for #250 than there were copies of #1, but I think Spawn #1’s million copies or whatever are still the tops.

• • •

Pedro de Pacas smokes up the following

“Howard the Duck will get a new ongoing series, which will last 11 issues.”

I don’t think there have been 11 issues total between the two(!) series we’ve had so far. But it seems to be doing okay saleswise.

“Agents of SHIELD will be renewed for a third season, which will be its last.”

No news on a fourth season yet, but I think it’ll probably continue. We’ll find out!

“The Flash TV series will continue to be super awesome. DC’s movies will continue to suck.”

The Flash is definitely awesome! DC’s movies…well, if you thought Man of Steel sucked, I guess it continues to suck through 2015. …I don’t know, I liked it.

“After the Fantastic Four movie bombs, Fox will outsourcing the franchise to Marvel Studios and allow use of their characters in crossover films.”

I think everyone wants this except Fox, which is a shame. Look forward to more bad FF movies in the next decade or so.

“Wolverine will return to the living, after being revealed to be stuck in a cocoon at the bottom of Jamaica Bay.”

I see what you did there. [CHEVY CHASE VOICE] Wolverine is still dead. [/CHEVY CHASE VOICE]

• • •

That’s enough for now…more coming…in the future! That I can predict with certainty.

Your 2015 Predictions, Part Two: John, I’m Only Dancing.

§ January 20th, 2016 § Filed under predictions § 2 Comments

AND SO IT CONTINUES: welcome to the next installment after the last one of “Mike Tries Your Patience Whilst Covering Your 2015 Comic Industry Predictions” that should only go on or another week or three, so hang in there, baby. And while you’re just hanging there, feel free to leave me your predictions for 2016 so I can plan my next January accordingly.

Before I get into it, though, let me mention that this week’s Question over at Trouble with Comics is “what’s your favorite introduction to a trade paperback/graphic novel?” and with the help of blogging brother Tim O’Neil (since, alas, I no longer have my copy of this particular book) I contributed an answer. So, please go read and hopefully enjoy.

Okay, NOW to the predictions!

• • •

ExistentialMan brings into existence:

“Image will capture 10% of the comics unit or dollar share for at least six months* in 2015. I’m going to keep making this prediction until it comes true.

*None of these will be months in which Marvel releases a new Star Wars title.”

Well, according to Diamond, Image’s market share for 2015 was, on average, just under 10% in retail costs, and just over in units sold. Month by month: Image was over 10% in units sold for ten months out of 2015, and over 10% in dollar share for four months. I didn’t check, but I’m sure some of those months were New Star Wars Title months, since it seems like there was a new Star Wars comic every couple of weeks.

“Mike will discover a couple spooning on the floor of the graphic novel section of Sterling Silver Comics. Even though he tries hard not to run ‘that’ kind of business.”

Referring of course to this incident at the previous place of employment…thankfully, there’s no place for customers to hide in this new shop. Unless they’re in the rafters, of course.

“Arrow and Flash get renewed for new seasons. Constantine gets the axe. Marvel’s Netflix shows are successful. Bendis’ Powers show bombs. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter both get renewed. Guillermo Del Toro and Peter Jackson team-up for a five-picture Swamp-Thing deal.”

Well, yes to all of that, I think, except the Swamp Thing stuff which exists only in my head, and the Powers show, which…well, they’re still makin’ ’em, so I guess it’s not dead yet. This article calls it “PlayStation Network’s most-watched series premiere on the platform” and, well, there you go.

• • •

Chris Gumprich cashes in with

“Some long-forgotten independent comic will be turned into a TV series that will debut with huge expectations only to flop and be forgotten. (My vote is for either ‘MAZE Agency’ or ‘Detectives Inc’)”

I’m trying to think if any old indie book popped up on TV lately. I know Dreadstar was announced, but that’s probably a while off, yet. And I keep thinking of this, but that’s a few decades old. Mostly it’s just Marvel and DC stuff, but maybe I missed something.

“DC will reboot 75% of the New 52 line, reverting back to a bizarre mix of pre-Crisis and post-Zero Hour. The other 25% of the line will remain in the New 52 Universe, now strangely depopulated.”

There were certain some soft-rebooting shenanigans, but the New 52 is still holding firm. However, there were some Convergence spin-offs that are kinda/sorta pre-New 52 titles (like Lois and Clark) so there’s that!

“After the massive success of ‘Chip Zdarsky’s HOWARD THE DUCK,’ Marvel Studios will rush a feature film into production. (Whether or not it is released will be for a future new year’s prediction.)”

Had a friend in the biz once tell me, in response to my question if he thought there’d ever be a Howard the Duck movie or TV show or Adult Swim cartoon or anything, that there’s probably no studio executive anywhere who’d want to be known as the guy who said “yes” to doing a new Howard the Duck anything. I mean, yes, Howard popped up in Guardians of the Galaxy as a gag, but it’s going to a long time before he stars in a new media adaptation of any sort.

• • •

James jimmies up

“The end of Snyder and Capullo on Batman will be announced. (contract is up on #50…around next April with Convergence and September ‘event’) I hope I’m wrong, but I just have a feeling on this one.”

Well, Capullo is off the book after 51, it looks like, but Snyder is sticking around. Supposedly Capullo’s taking a break, and will be back, but we’ll see!

“Speaking of hope, the revamped Green Lantern family of titles will feature a Blue Lantern book.”

That would have been interesting, but I feel like the Blue Lanterns are better as supporting characters than starring in their own title. However, I felt that about the Red Lanterns and their titles was surprisingly good, so don’t listen to me.

“The Black Beetle Necrologue will finally be released, and it will prove to be well worth the wait.”

I had to Google that up, because I’d completely forgotten what that was. From my searching around, it’s been mentioned that apparently Francesco Francavilla’s commitment to Afterlife with Archie derailed the series for the time being, plus all the cover art demand he’s experienced. Well, all’s been quiet on the Afterlife with Archie front, so maybe the Black Beetle’s seen some progress.

• • •

Andrew ventures in with

“The first TV DC Multiverse is established when Justin Hartley’s Green Arrow crosses universes to appear on ‘The Flash.'”

I was really hoping the Smallville version of Superman would turn up on The Flash, for no good reason I could properly articulate. (And no, you’d never directly see him in costume, continuing that weird trend.) The “parallel universe” thing really opens Flash up for this kind of crossover…and with people at CBS suddenly seeming slightly more open to a Supergirl crossover, maybe that’s how they’ll do it.

“Three of the four Star Wars comics will be canceled. Two will be said to have been mini-series from the beginning, no fooling.”

Well, one was a mini (the Princess Leia series), and each mini is replaced by a new mini, in succession, which is a pretty good way to handle it, I think. The other three are still going strong, though I am surprised every time when a new Kanan shows up.

“The Fantastic Four movie bombs so hard that Fox ends up throwing the rights back to Disney. Spiteful ‘Let’s see you do anything better’ optional. Hulk vs. Thing movie goes on to earn all the money.”

The FF movie did tank like a large tanky thing filled with tanks, but I’m surprised Fox didn’t at least partner up with the Marvel Studios to retool the characters for a new film (like what’s happened with Spider-Man). However, I’m just going to have to hope beyond hope that, someday, these aged eyes will be Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew go thingo a hulko with ol’ Jade Jaws on the digitally-projected silver screen.

• • •

googum googummed

“Marvel/Disney will continue pulling support from X-Men and Fantastic Four, unless they can extort come to better terms with Fox. They may even leave Wolverine dead for the time being; in the meantime it’ll be Avengers, Avengers, Avengers.”

Marvel seems to be downplaying their deemphasizing the character lines whose movie rights are held by other studios…at the very least, the X-books are carrying on, and I’m betting this is a prelude to Wolverine’s return. The last of a Fantastic Four book has been addressed by Marvel as letting the property rest for a while before trying again to market it. And, based on how it’s sold over the last few years, that’s not a bad idea.

“Both Squirrel Girl and that pre-52 DC thing will give fans exactly what they say they want, yet not sell as well as the crossovers fans say they hate.”

Squirrel Girl sells not too badly, but it’s not a HUGE hit. It’s an okay hit! Some of the the throwback Convergence minis did so-so, but it was mostly “this is interrupting my regular series” more than “at last! The types of comics I’ve wanted all this time!”

“The second issue drop on Star Wars is going to be brutal. Can’t think of a way to put a positive spin on that one.”

Star Wars is still going strong, only seeing some slight diminishing in sales over the last couple of months now that an actual movie is out there.

• • •

Adam ribs me with

“Fantagraphics will announce a collection of some other property that I will have to buy and which will continue the annihilation of my wallet that started with their Peanuts collection. Since Fantagraphics has already done Krazy Kat and Pogo, my money is on pre-Popeye Thimble Theater.”

I don’t think they announced another classic strip reprint series this year, did they? I’d love to have old Thimble Theater strips collected, but I’m not holding my breath.

“Backdoor pilot for another DC show, this time on Flash. Given the show’s focus on time travel, I’ll say Booster Gold.”

Legends of Tomorrow, debuting this Thursday on the CW!

“Fans will insist the DC will reboot the New 52 back to pre-Flashpoint status. DC will not do so.”

Well, as mentioned several times in this overview, there was some of that in Convergence, and a little bit even stuck around in a couple spin-off titles. But line-wide? Nope, not yet.

• • •

Bobber cycles in with

“Tom Welling and Erica Durance will star in a new CW series, Metropolis. All DC movie projects cancelled.”

This didn’t happen, but sadly, I’d probably watch that.

“Having run out of ‘metal’ names, the new 52 era will be renamed the ‘Sewage Age.'”

Can’t help but think you don’t care for the New 52, my friend. Anyway, I think we’re still in the Modern Age of Comics, though I’m still pulling for the ’90s to be called the “Chromium Age.”

“Dogs and cats, living in sin.”

• • •

Jerry Smith forges

“Avengers II will turn out to be the biggest movie of all time.”

$1.4 billion – not the biggest of all time, but still, not a bad haul.

“Ant Man will not”

Correct, but as noted last time, it made half a billion dollars, which is nothing to sneeze at.

“Marvel will push their Spider-Man and X-titles up to $4.99 per book and increase the page count. DC will do the same with the Batman books. This will work in the short term, but fail miserably when both companies try to do this with the rest of their line in 2016.”

Marvel has had an awful lot of $4.99 monthlies of late…mostly debut issues and special issues, sure, but Howard the Duck has been $4.99 for three issues which is kind of a pisser. Suppose it’s only a matter or time before it’s across the board.

“More comic book shows will appear on television, including Supergirl, Teen Titans, Starman and the Creeper. None of these heroes will have a costume or fly.”

Hey, we got Supergirl, and she’s definitely flying. I think we’re probably past the point of being coy with costumes and powers on superhero TV shows, now that we’ve broken the “telepathic super-genius gorilla” barrier.

“Marvel will give up on relaunches (kind of) and declare all titles as ‘seasons,’ running from January to December. They may or may not number the books, but everything will be relaunched every year from now on. Aw, who am I kidding? Could Marvel resist putting a new #1 on every book every January? The ‘season’ books will be numbered 1-12 (or more) every year.”

The “season” idea isn’t a bad one, I guess, since that’s in effect what Marvel is doing anyway. I think it was Bully, the Little Twittering Bull, who in a Twitter discussion on this very topic mentioned the…European(?) method of year followed by issue number: 2016-1, 2016-2, etc. I kind of like that, and it sort of allows you to put something on a brief hiatus without just outright canceling it and creating some kind of artificial “break” between series. “That old series is dead and forgotten…here’s our new first issue!” versus “we left off at 2014-7, and we’re picking it up again at 2016-1.” Anyway, I like it, and maybe it would help sell back issues.

• • •

That’s it for today…come back soon as I forge ahead by looking back at your looking ahead!

Your 2015 Predictions, Part One: Space Oddity.

§ January 18th, 2016 § Filed under predictions § 7 Comments

AND SO IT BEGINS: my probably months-long attempt at going over your comic industry predictions for 2015 that you left on my site about a year ago. Let’s get started…and don’t forget to leave me your predictions for 2016 so we can do it all again next year!

• • •

Jack Feerick puts the fear into me with:

“Scott McCloud’s THE SCULPTOR will be shortlisted for the National Book Award”

Not that I can tell (if I’m wrong, let me know), but it did top the Publishers Weekly Graphic Novel Critics Poll. I liked it, too, and surely that’s better than some national award.

“Raina Telgemeier will be awarded a MacArthur Genius grant”

Alas, not this year, but I congratulate her on her overwhelming popularity and success…I certainly can’t keep her books in stock!

“Somewhat more pessimistically: The marvel movie bubble will develop some leaks. ANT-MAN will underperform at the box office, leading to a shake-up in the slate of upcoming films. BLACK PANTHER will be made as a miniseries for Netflix, with a drastically lower budget, while the INHUMANS and CAPTAIN MARVEL movies will be scrubbed entirely. (I would be delighted to be proved wrong about this.)”

Your parenthetical aside has been granted! Ant-Man‘s worldwide box office take of $520 million may seem short compared to all these billion dollar movies we keep seeing, but a half-billion bucks is still a half-billion bucks.

• • •

William Burns sets things on fire with

“Ms. Marvel goes to 4 dollars, and I start following it in trade.”

Sadly, it went to only a $3.99 cover price, so you’re a penny off! (Okay, okay, I know what you meant.) However, I have no idea if you started following the series in trade paperbacks, as my satellite cover of your home is on the fritz…er, I mean, because you’ll have to let me know yourself! Yeah, that’s it!

“Sandman: Overture will not finish by the end of 2015.”

It did finally finish last year. In fact, I had a brief discussion with one of my customers about just how long it did take. I could have sworn it was just over a year, but #1 came out in October 2013, and the last issue came out in September 2015, so it was just shy of two years. Yikes.

“Sterling Silver Comics is a major success!”

Well, my store is still open, after a year, two months and some change…so I’m calling that a hit!

• • •

Tony Isabella strikes like lightning with

“Someone will be offended by something that happens at a convention or is posted online.”

Oh, now, when does this ever happen? …Okay, I actually did a quick Googling to remind myself of any online hoohar that may have broken out over the last year, and found a few things. I’m just going to pick this planned Batgirl variant cover as our example. And yeah, folks were plenty offended, particularly since the victimized-Batgirl cover was in huge contrast to the actual tone of the book. I seem to recall someone posting an altered version of that image, where Batgirl’s terrified expression was changed to one of anger and determination, which could have been a possible fix to the problem, but, yeah, maybe it was best maybe to pass on that particular image this time.

“Roughly 50% of the time the something really will be offensive.”

Ooh, I hate to judge if something is actually offensive, because what may offend one person may not offend another, and who am I to say if someone else should or should not be offended by something? And I mean about things like “Batgirl cover art,” and not real world stuff like “violent abuse” or “pet mistreatment” or “Donald Trump” or anything else most people can agree is terrible. Do I think maybe sometimes people overreact to things? Sure. Am I going to solve anything by jumping in and saying “hey, you’re overreacting to that!” Nope, not in the slightest. Anyway, this is the sort of thing that could be hashed out by…

“There will be much volatile discussion of the someone and/or the something online.”

…and of course there is always extended discussion about this sort of stuff, and in a good, rational world, we could calmly debate the fine points of the topic du jour and each side can have its eyes opened to the positions of the other sides and perhaps we can come to a compromise, or we can agree to disagree, or reach some other peaceful conclusion. Sadly, today’s Internet is still mostly at the “let’s get all our pals to pile on and scream at folks and call people we don’t like rude names and maybe post personal information about them online” stage of debating skills, so it may be a while before we attain that idyllic state.

• • •

Steven Rowe rows his boat ashore with

“the direct market will continue to slowly shrink”

Well, I was all set to do some number crunching here, using sales charts from all over the place, but it looks like this site already did the heavy lifting. Looks like the direct market did grow over 2015…not a whole lot, but a little growth is better than a lot of shrinkage. …I could phrase that differently, but I’m not doing to. I’ll just let it dangle there.

“more retailers will start taking last week’s stock and setting up in flea markets or ‘antique’ malls in areas without comic shops”

Not really any industry stats for that, but it’s probably not an unheard-of strategy. Though I suspect more retailers are just throwing them online for cheap rather than going through the trouble of setting up an extra physical location somewhere.

“Some company will renumber a comic, and its sales will go down, not up.”

Renumbering a series midstream, for no particular reason, is usually a good way to kill sales momentum. Sometimes things will bump up just a tad for the initial couple of issues, but soon it’ll be back down again. Just picking one renumbered title as an example: Spider-Gwen. #5 of the previous series, according to that site I linked to previously, had estimated sales of about 67,700 copies. Issue #2 of the current Spider-Gwen series is at 62,200. Now that might just be the trend of attrition on this particular series…if they never restarted the series, that #2 would have been #7 and may have dropped down to 62,200 copies anyway.

But, yes, your prediction was correct in at least one instance. I’m sure every other renumbered title saw its sales just shoot through the roof.

• • •

Old pal Kurt Onstad bounces in with

“Sterling Silver Comics opens its first satellite store in Eugene, Oregon. (Don’t worry, I’m pretty sure I know someone willing to manage it for you…)”

Pffft, Oregon!? Like I’d put my fine establishment in just any state…!

• • •

Jer pushes the definition of “limit of three predictions” with

“Marvel’s Secret Wars event this summer will turn out to be weird and unsatisfying.”

Sadly, this prediction kinda breaks in the middle with the “this summer” thing, but with Secret Wars finally wrapping up this month, folks seem to be…okay with it, I guess. It sold well throughout the run, and my customers seemed to enjoy it. The lateness of the book kinda screwed with the timing of all the relaunches, but most folks appeared more bemused by the post-Secret Wars continuity books not actually being post-the-conclusion-of-the-actual-Secret-Wars-series.

“DC’s Convergence event this spring will turn out to be weird and unsatisfying.”

Yup. Though some of the individual mini-series were pretty good (like that Shazam! one), but the main series itself was kind of a dog, with an overcomplicated premise that didn’t seem to go anywhere.

“DC will try to soft-reboot their universe again after moving their offices out west. But they’ll screw it up.”

It was more of a “here are a bunch of new series” thing, and a lot of them didn’t really do well or last long, but at least they were trying something. The series that explicitly spun out of Convergence (like Titans Hunt and Lois and Clark) are doing okay.

“Marvel will continue giving head-fakes about a Crisis-style reboot of their titles, but they’ll go for something softer in the end that will let them clean up a few messes that have been made without making a giant reboot mess like DC manages to do every decade or so.”

It certainly wasn’t a line-wide reboot or anything, and I don’t know about cleaning up any messes, but it doesn’t look like they’re making too many new ones. I’m sure the messes will come, however.

“Ant-man will be the movie that finally allows people to say that having the Marvel Studios name on a movie doesn’t guarantee a hit as it underperforms the expectations people have for it (though it will end up doing reasonably well for a freaking Ant-man movie). Everyone will start talking about how the superhero bubble has burst and how Hollywood needs to find something new. (But you can go ahead and put down that my 2016 predictions will include Captain America 3 breaking some kind of records and having everyone talking about how superhero movies are awesome again, because that’s how movie reporting tends to go.)”

I don’t know that Ant-Man could perform under expectations, given that, as you say, it’s Ant-Man. Like I said above, it made a half-billion dollars, and it’s got a sequel coming, so I don’t think anyone’s unhappy. …Someone’s always saying the superhero bubble has burst. I say it a lot. I thought for sure the Avengers sequel put the knife in its back, but then Ant-Man ended up being really good, so I’m probably going to stop trying to second-guess this crazy industry.

“The CW will introduce a character into Arrow/Flash as a backdoor pilot for another spinoff series. Not sure what it will be, but I’d be surprised if they weren’t brainstorming a third spinoff for the CW at this point. (It should be Wonder Woman, but it won’t be.)”

Legends of Tomorrow, debuting this Thursday on the CW!

• • •

Brian doubles up with

“Following the end of his AVENGERS runs and the conclusion of the SUPERIOR arc, Jonathan Hickman takes over as the writer of IRON MAN and actually manages to portray Tony Stark as a real futurist (as well as surprising folks in the twists taken as writer in his first real solo Marvel book)…”

As well all know, Iron Man relaunched with Brian Michael Bendis as the new writer, and reaction to the book itself has been mostly positive. The overordering of the first issue was a potential marketplace problem, but I’ve kept my orders on the book at reasonable levels, and it seems to be doing okay.

“After CONVERGENCE, DC Comics rebrands their ‘New 52’ books into two competing lines: one set published out of NYC follows the old continuity while another published out of LA follows the new continuity. ‘East Side’ versus ‘West Side’ leads to much fantasy violence in annual crossovers – the Teen Titans are the first to have caps put into their asses…”

I’m going to put this under “predictions I’m glad didn’t come to pass,” because if you thought I had a hard time explaining continuity issues to folks now….

“GOTHAM is quickly shown to be happening in a parallel universe to the Batman we’re used to, when young Bruce Wayne is killed, Oswald Cobblepot become the Joker, Renee Montoya grows a broomhandle mustache, and Jim Gordon becomes a bat…”

TV continuity is always going to be a little off from whatever passes for continuity in the comic books, but points to you for the “Jim Gordon becomes a bat” guess. Wrong medium, but close enough! I do recall a popular theory was that the Cobblepot character was going to become the Joker. That actor would certainly make a good one!

• • •

Erik weirdly asks

“The Tumblr-verse will explode in outrage over an offensive storyline in a Marvel or DC book. Six weeks later we will have forgotten all about whatever it is we were so worked up about.”

Yeah, probably. A little Googling brought up some Tumblr anger over various comic issues over the past year, some of which I’d forgotten about, which shouldn’t diminish these particular irritations. Like I said in response to Tony’s predictions above, it’s not for me to say what other people should be artistically-offended by. But, it’s the nature of the Internet news cycles that today’s outrage gets shoved right into the memory hole by whatever new annoyance that comes down the pike.

• • •

Signal Watch ticks off the following:

“In the wake of the move to LA and the routine failure of New 52 titles not featuring Superman and/or Batman, ‘Convergence’ will conclude with the launch of a multiverse of DCU’s for readers to pick from. DC’s continuing success with the DC Originals licensed products will drive a secondary DCU that’s more all-ages than the New 52 content, and we will see a return of red shorts Superman a gold-tiara’d Wonder Woman who is more likely to use the lasso than swords.”

I’d enjoy having a regular, continuity-lite, kid-friendly series of superhero comics from DC, but I suppose the publishing arm would rather have a consistent presentation of their trademarks via their New 52 relaunch rather than admit defeat and reinstate previous versions of their characters. I’d be surprised if this didn’t happen sooner rather than later.

“Somehow, DC will still make a mess of this. Probably by decapitating the Wonder Twins in the first issue.”

I’d hate to see that happen to Zan and Jayna. Maybe to Marvin.

• • •

Interstate Shogun crosses the line with

“the new Star Wars movie will suck even more than Episode 1. It’ll make 2 billion at the box office, though. Marvel’s Star Wars comics will also pretty much suck too.”

I think we were all pleasantly surprised that the new Star Wars flick turned out to be pretty good. Can’t believe R2-D2 is now the new Emperor…I never saw that twist coming. You’re dead on about it making 2 billion in the box office…I think it’s just about there even as I type this. Marvel’s comics have been quite good as well, in my opinion.

“my Sandman Overture prediction. I correctly predicted last year that the series would not end in 2014 and the odds are about even that it could run on into 2016, culminating in a gold plated Absolute Edition with hand tooled leather pages by JH Williams and an original haiku personally inscribed by Gaiman himself.”

As noted above, it did finish in 2015! And I have no doubt there will be some super high-end collected version…DC ain’t shy about repackaging their Sandman books.

“The Ant Man movie will sink the Marvel movie franchises.”

Boy, you guys had it in for this Ant-Man movie. Clearly none of you counted on the sheer power of the Garrett Morris cameo.

• • •

Okay, enough prediction fun-time for today. Back soon with more!

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