Okay, he also has some pog-related questions there, but I’m not quite ready to tackle those yet. However, PTOR has the honor of having the last question from that last Question Time post from all those months ago, and that question is THIS:
“How do you keep on top of Diamond / Previews constant ‘newly announced product’ and ‘just now added-on variants and reprints’ that are announced DAILY (with their own dedicated web pages on the Previews site)?
“I’m just a guy trying to keep up with the solicits of pretty much ONE CHARACTER (Doctor Strange, natch) and the constant newly announced stuff is hard to consistently track.
How do you do it for your entire store’s new inventory?”
It’s actually not as bad as it seems. Yes, there’s a constant stream of emails and announcements and whathaveyou, but when it comes to actually ordering all these different items, there’s generally only one or two places to go.
In the Diamond retailer website, you’ve got the Final Order Cutoffs page, where you can adjust your initial orders on comics and toys and other products from select vendors…generally Marvel, DC, IDW, Dark Horse, Image, Zenescope, and some others. Usually any newly announced variants or reprints from these companies will get listed here. This is the place where, if you noticed that your order of 100 copies of X-Squirrels isn’t selling very well on the rack, and you feel like your pending order of 75 copies of issue #2 is going to be way too much, when that issue shows up in the Final Order Cutoff listings you’ll have your chance to drop those numbers down to the far more reasonable 5 copies you should have ordered in the first place.
Then there’s the Previews Plus order page, where all the new products…not just comics, but pretty much everything Diamond carries…show up for your ordering pleasure. Sometimes there’s overlap with the Final Order Cutoff page, but if there is whatever numbers you may have placed will be shown here too. But generally this is the place where you put in your numbers for new product that didn’t show up in the monthly catalog.
Pretty much all new product that Diamond announces shows up in one place or the other. There are rare exceptions, such as the rush print job DC tried to do on the 2nd print of DC Universe Rebirth. We were told to contact our sales rep directly with orders, as, due to its rushed nature, it would not be in the Final Order Cutoff listings.
Occasionally there are special lists made available for other new products (like offers for some San Diego Comic Con exclusives), which are made obvious to anyone logging into Diamond’s site. Like, literally a banner across the top of the page telling you “HEY, PLACE YER ORDERS ALREADY, SHEESH.” Well, maybe not in those words exactly.
And then there are periodic liquidation sales and other special offers, which either show up in email or just when you go to Diamond’s site, but that’s for previously-available product and not quite as vital, but definitely welcome. You just kinda have to keep an eye out for those.
New product, though…the announcements come all the time, but there’s really only a couple of places to put in your orders, so it’s reasonably easy to keep up on that stuff.
And now that I’ve revealed all these secrets to you, PTOR…I’m afraid I’m going to have to kill you. Nothing personal. But that’s just how it goes in the world…of comics retail.
So I finally achieved another milestone with my shop…I’m in the retailer directory listings for the 46th edition of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide:
Yeah, that’s only a scan of part of the listing…buy the Overstreet Guide, out today in your local funnybook store, to see the rest!
There don’t seem to be quite as many shops in the directory as there were when I first entered the comics business, way back when…or even before that, buying my first copy of the guide and flipping through it endlessly, looking at all the ancient comic titles that were mysteries to me unless they happened to be one of the tiny black and white cover reproductions included on that page. And peering through the pages and pages of comic book stores, with cool and/or odd names, and seeing what different categories of products each one offered.
But now, there I am, my own store, listed in the newest price guide. Yeah, I know, Small Business Owner Mike is thinking “geez, it’s just buying an ad and sending in your info,” but Comic Book Fan Mike can’t help but think I’m now a part of a grand old tradition, corny as that sounds. And before you get on me, yes, I’ve been doing this long enough to know the debates over price guides, the impact (good and bad) on collecting, their feasibility vis-à-vis the modern online marketplace, why isn’t Yummy Fur in there yet, etc. etc.
Can’t help but still think it’s pretty neat to be listed, though. Wonder what Young Mikester would have thought, looking through the directories in that long ago guide, had he known one day his store would be in there?
He probably would have thought “WOO HOO! I’d get free comics, whenever I wanted them!” and I wouldn’t have had the heart to set him straight.
So just on a whim (mostly because I was reminded of the film the other day and that I hadn’t seen it) I rented 1988’s Elvira: Mistress of the Dark from Netflix, and…well, it was amusing enough, I suppose. Elvira’s always likeable (unless, I guess, if you’re Vampira) even when the material is a bit slight, and even though my brain is still refusing to process the ending musical/dance number, it’s overall a watchable, silly movie.
However, there are a couple of things I wanted to point out. First, in the bowling alley scene, we are introduced to the bad guy’s goons (one of whom is the late Jeff Conaway of Taxi and Babylon 5 fame). To demonstrate that at least one of said goons is a slow-witted dolt, he is of course given a comic book to read:
And it isn’t just any ol’ comic book…it’s Amazing Spider-Man #299, also from 1988, featuring Todd McFarlane’s second art job on the title, as well as featuring Venom’s first “on-screen” appearance in a panel or two:
That’s worth a small amount of money nowadays, so as the fella in the still above was manhandling the comic something fierce, Mr. Comic Shop Owner here was cringing a bit. And then Jeff Conaway ripped the comic out of that guy’s hands and tore it in half:
Well, I suppose it could have been worse. If they’d filmed this scene a few weeks later, it might have been Amazing Spider-Man #300 that the prop guy bought off the rack at the local 7-11 and we could have been watching a comic that now regularly sells for two or three hundred bucks being torn in half. In a looping GIF. Forever and ever. Pinned to the top of this site.
Second thing I noticed:
Sure were a lot of boob jokes in this film. Who would have guessed?
Only the fourth use of the word “cahoots” in the history of this site. Not counting this post’s title.
Usually, when I think of “the black and white boom” (as we have been over the last couple of posts), I tend to associate it with the more exploitative end of this publishing fad…the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles knock-offs, the parody books, the comics that might as well have just been blank inside given they were cranked out solely in the hopes some investor would snap up cases of them for Turtles-esque resale value. And there were the rumors of various forms of funny business in which some comics were supposedly “in short supply” but, oh, hey, this one place that totally isn’t in cahoots with that comic’s creators just happens to have a limited stock of copies for only $19.99 each! What a deal!
It’s easy to forget in the midst of all this, actual quality work was being put out and getting lost in the shuffle and swept away when the End Times came for all the black and whites, good or bad. One such book, mentioned by kiwijohn in the comments to the first post linked above, was Alien Fire:
…a comic I never got around to reading, but the covers always did grab my eye when I came across ’em at my previous place of employment. I bring it up specifically because one of the creators, Eric Vincent, popped up in the comments to express his lament at the series taking the hit when the b&w bust finally happened. Thanks for giving your perspective on the situation, Eric! (Co-creator Anthony Smith also stopped in.)
Internet pal C. Elam was good enough to point out that Border Worlds, another title cut short before its time, is due for a complete reprinting from Dover Books, including a brand-new 30-page conclusion! This is what I get for not keeping up to date on all of Don Simpson’s blogs. This is good news, and if it’s anything like the Puma Blues hardcover (another great black and white book from the period), this will be a tome definitely worth having. Can’t wait to see it.
The black and white boom was an interesting time, and I wish I was a little more involved in the retail end of things then to have more insight on the matter. I mean, I certainly read plenty of black and white books throughout the ’80s, and I sort of miss seeing those oddball titles populating the stands. In fact, I have a hard time thinking of too many black and white title periodical comics (as opposed to the mostly b&w manga titles) on the stands now…and when they are, it’s likely more for aesthetic purposes than a cost-saving measure. I’m pretty sure they could afford to put The Walking Dead out in color, for example. (I’m betting we’ll get color editions of The Walking Dead eventually, anyway, like the color reissues of Bone. Probably not from Scholastic, though.)
I keep saying “I’m going to try to dig up more black and white titles from the ’80s to recommend” and I keep not having the time to research (i.e. “dig through my own collection”). I still plan on doing it, so keep your eyes out for at least one more post on the matter. Or three or four. You know how I am.
So a few of you had some suggestions re: good comics from the black and white boom, including several that I own and of course couldn’t dredge up from my memory to include in the initial post.
kiwijohn mentioned a couple of titles that I enjoyed, like Border Worlds by Don Simpson:
…a serious science fiction adventure/mystery from the creator of Megaton Man, that, as kiwijohn noted, never got to complete its story. Now, it’s been a long time since I’ve read this…I still have ’em, in what remains of my personal comic collection, so when I have a moment I need to poke through them again. As I recall, the art was gorgeous in this series.
Another kiwijohn mentioned was Xenozoic Tales:
…probably remembered by a good chunk of the population as Cadillacs & Dinosaurs, a somewhat more commercial name for marketing purposes. Written and drawn by Mark Schultz, and boy, what drawing! The word “lush” was pretty much invented to describe Schultz’s art. There were a number of spin-off comics under the C&D title published by Topps Comics in the ’90s by other creators…can’t say how good those were, but the original Xenozoic Tales is the stuff.
Iestyn Pettigrew is aghast, aghast I say, that I didn’t mention The Trouble with Girls:
…and Iestyn is correct, I should have mentioned it, as it’s a hoot. It’s a parody of manly-man adventure novels/movies/etc. (by Will Jacobs, Gerard Jones and Tim Hamilton) in which our hero, Lester Girls, just wants a quiet evening in with a relaxing book but is constantly beset by spies, ninjas, terrorists, beautiful but deadly ladies, and all your other typical baddies that you’d find in your typical James Bonds or your Executioners or your Destroyers and so on. All very hilarious. Most of it was published by Malibu/Eternity, but it was briefly in color at Comico Comics, and there was a color mini-series at Marvel during one of its short revivals of the Epic Comics imprint. A side note: I think because of our proximity to the publisher, at my previous place of employment it seemed like copies of the first Trouble with Girls paperback collection were always showing up in collections. And not always just a single copy…I think I remember a dozen or more turning up at once in the same assortment. Go figure.
Matthew mentioned To Be Announced:
…a series that I actually did try to collect. You’d figure, only being seven issues long, it wouldn’t be that hard, but I am still missing a couple. The comic is primarily by Mike Bannon, who was one of the cast of regular characters in the old Cerebus letter columns and is probably the main reason I sought this comic out. Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve read the issues I do have, but I recall being amused by it and I’m sure someday I’ll get around to completing the set.
Hooper mentions Neil the Horse, which I talked about a while back, as well as Tales of the Beanworld:
…also noted by MrJM in the comments, and which I’ve also discussed many times in the past on this site. It did come out during the black and white boom, but I always forget that since the comic is just so unlike anything else on the stands. It’s hard to picture it as part of a “movement” (or “phase,” or “fad”) when it’s totally its own weird thing.
…and Van Horn, some of you may best know as one of the primary American creators of new Disney Duck comics in the ’80s and ’90s, along with Don Rosa. As an avid reader of the Duck comics during that period, I was very familiar with Van Horn’s work there…but I already knew his name from his children’s books, which I’d encountered during my librarian days. Nervous Rex was one of those comics I’d always meant to look into, as the old job had most, if not all, of them, but just never got around to it, sadly. They always looked like they were delightful.
Anyway, there are a few others mentioned in the comments and I’m going to see if I can add any more personal favorites to the list in my next post. And if you have any more suggestions, you know where to leave ’em!
Nearing the end of the Qs here for me to answer:
Bretsector went no other way with:
“From one Yummy Fur fan to another…any hidden gems from the B&W boom/bust of the 80’s? I’ve been going through my old long boxes and found old Aircel, Fish Police, TMNT clones, Cynicalman, Giant-Size Mini-Comics, Poison Elves, Underwater, Caliber Press, etc. and wondered if any other one else on the planet still had a soft spot for some of these floppies?”
Funny you mention Yummy Fur, as I just came across those in my collection the other day (the personal collection in my somewhat less-vast Mikester Comic Archives, not the collection at Sterling Silver Comics, located in maybe too sunny Camarillo, CA) and paused for a moment to reflect on how long it took me to finally complete the run (with the last issue I needed coming from Scott McCloud’s collection, believe it or not). Yummy Fur was a fine, oddball series, but one I started reading just a little too late, and didn’t start picking it up ’til about issue #10 or so. At the time, most of the back issues were readily available, at least around here, and there was an eventual trade collection, so I at least had the full Ed the Happy Clown story (but not the Bible story back-ups or the letters pages).
But that’s not what you’re asking about. I entered the comics retail world in the late ’80s, after the peak of the post Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-inspired black and white boom that began a few years earlier. I mean, I was buying comics, of course, but didn’t have the perspective of actually having to deal with stocking the things, or not stocking, as the case may be. Judging by later perusal of store backstock, former boss and then-provider of my funnybooks Ralph ordered fairly conservatively on the small press b&w titles. He did order them, because, y’know, you can’t sell ’em if you don’t have ’em, but he didn’t do anything like that one poor bastard I saw at a convention once, desperately trying to unload his longboxes full of Shadow of the Groundhog.
Okay, that’s still not you’re asking about. I was attracted to the small press stuff, having had an early fascination with do-it-yourself amateur publishing (both comics and prose), so I’d at least peruse the indies and see what caught my eye. One of my favorites from that period was…
…It’s Science with Dr. Radium by Scott Saavedra, published by Slave Labor Graphics starting in 1986 and running on and off, via minis and one-shots, ’til the early 2000s. Silly jokes, bad science, time travel, Elvis-worshipping alien invaders (called, of course, the Elvi) and fine cartooning by Mr. Saavedra. This was a good’un. (FULL DISCLOSURE: I’ve exchanged correspondence with Mr. Saavedra over the years, and he sent me this swell Swamp Thing drawing some time ago, and he’s even visited my new shop…but I assure you, my love for Dr. Radium was fully established long before any of that happened. Honest!)
Also recommended from the b&w boom period was PURT’NEAR ANYTHING BY MARK MARTIN:
An identifying characteristic of the b&w boom, in addition to the [adjective] [adjective] [adjective] [animal] rip-offs of the Turtles, was parodies of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Mark Martin’s various Gnatrat comics (Gnatrat: The Dark Gnat Returns, Happy Birthday Gnatrat, Darerat & Tadpole, and Gnatrat: The Movie) ran from 1986 ’til 1990, and unlike a lot of the parody comics, were written and drawn with some real wit and style, getting some out-loud laughs while managing to go some fairly dark places, too. They really didn’t look or feel like any other comic on the market, and Martin would go on to do some pretty amazing comics work after this.
Stig’s Inferno by Ty Templeton was another good’un:
…though, sadly, the series was ended before the story was completed. As you might infer from the title, it’s about a fella named Stig who ends up journeying through Hell (without his pants) and hilarity ensues. Wonderfully drawn, with busy panels and funny background gags and well worth seeking out. And you can seek it out here on Mr. Templeton’s official site, where issues are scanned for your reading pleasure.
The last one (for now, ’til I can think of more) may seem a bit out of place, and probably not that obscure, given that it’s one of the first two publications to come from Dark Horse Comics:
…yup, Boris the Bear (begun in 1986 by Mike Richardson, Randy Stradley and James Dean Smith), which I think kinda belongs here as the first issue is clearly a reaction to the influx of Turtles knockoffs and parodies flooding the marketplace at the time. And by “reaction” I mean “Boris straight up murders thinly-veiled characters from other black and white comics.” It’s all in fun, more or less, and clearly cathartic, though I wonder if I was actually in the retail end of things at the time, how much more cathartic it would have been. Anyway, Boris continued on through Dark Horse and other publishers, generally parodying (usually in a less violent manner than the first story!) a different aspect of the comics world in each issue. Of note is a gag in issue #2, where a Portland, OR street scene is covered with “Tom Peterson” signs, which I would not have understood if I didn’t have a good friend who was a Portland resident at the time (and still is!), and had already explained to me who Mr. Peterson was. (And also had sent me a “Moon over Portland” postcard with Peterson’s face in place of said Moon.)
These are just a few that immediately came to mind. I need to dig further through the collection and see if there’s anything a little more on the obscure side that I can feature. Like Ant Boy:
You said you liked Cynicalman, Bretsector? Here’s another comic by Cynicalman’s pappy, Matt Feazell. Well worth seeking out both issues!
from Comics on Parade #98 (July 1954)
Of course the first thing I thought of when I first heard about the then-forthcoming Flintstones revamp from DC Comics:
…was John Byrne’s “realistic” version of the family from Sensational She-Hulk #5 (1989), as seen here in this detail from the cover:
…and here’s a bit from inside that book:
Now, so far from DC’s Hanna-Barbera retoolings, we’ve had Future Quest (which everyone expected to be good), Scooby Apocalypse (which surprised people by being good as well), Wacky Raceland (bit of a misfire, but we’ll see how it goes), and now this, The Flintstones. I…I’m not quite sure what to make of it. My initial response to it I posted on Twitter, where I said it was “weird,” and I was asked “good weird or bad weird?” My reply was “weird weird.”
There’s stuff in here about Fred and Barney being veterans of “The Paleolithic Wars,” there’s Slate wanting to exploit Neanderthal workers, there’s the unpleasant fate of one of the characters shown in the modern day framing sequence…and that there even is a modern day framing sequence is a bit strange period. Tone shifts around quite a bit, from the expected dinosaur jokes to the poignant backstory for one of the cast. It’s definitely an interesting read…I didn’t know what to expect from writer Mark Russell on this, since I’d not read his work (though I understand Prez is good), but I’ve enjoyed Steve Pugh’s art in the past (on Grimjack and Hellblazer) and he did a fine job here, though trying to reconcile this version of the Flintstones cast with the permanently-embedded mental image we all have of the cartoons is quite the task.
Anyway, I’ll certainly be back for the second issue. It’s not often a comic catches me off guard like this, and that’s something I can very much appreciate. Don’t quite know if it’s good as such, but it has my attention.