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A tree grows in Ventura.

§ June 22nd, 2006 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on A tree grows in Ventura.

Occasionally, when we get in restocks of some of the more popular trade paperbacks at the store, I’ll take a quick peek at what printing the book is at. No real reason, aside from idle curiosity.

This Wednesday we received a large restock of Superman books (which I thought the store had better have, since I hear tell that there’s a new talkie with Supes coming soon), and in that order were The Death of Superman and its follow-up, World Without A Superman.

The Death of Superman is on its thirteenth printing. That’s no surprise…it was an enormous seller right out of the gate, during the ’90s comics boom, and it’s been a steady seller ever since.

The copies of World Without A Superman we received? Still first printings. The book is thirteen years old, and I’m still able to get first printings (assuming that’s not some kind of misprint) as new items from our distributor.

I know WWAS is hardly the seller DOS is, but I’ve moved my fair share of copies of the book over the years, and surely we’re not the only ones selling the book. So either it’s not selling nearly as well as I thought it had been, or DC, buoyed by the success of the DOS trade, vastly overprinted WWAS…almost certainly a combination of both.

Just thought that was interesting. Yeah, I know, I’m the only one.

Dear Marvel: Why is the Uncanny X-Men Annual numbered #1? Did the previous couple dozen annuals not count? Did the Uncanny X-Men monthly series restart from #1, too, requiring a renumbering of the associated annuals, and I didn’t notice? And why did you release the annual on the same day as the new issue of the monthly series? That annoys me, for some reason.

And cancel New Excalibur already. I mean, honestly…who asked for this?

Love, Mike

Giant-Size Hulk #1 – On one hand, I’m glad that Marvel finally reprinted the Hulk: The End one shot from a few years ago. On the other hand…crap, I already own half this book, but I’m still buying it to get the new stories. Which isn’t as bad as it sounds, really…the new stories are pretty good, with a couple nice self-referential gags — what? In a Peter David story? Surely you jest — in the Hulk/Champions clash, noting the “sliding time scale” of Marvel continuity. And the second story includes a gag reference to events in that Mystery of Edwin Drood of the comics industry, Ultimate Hulk Vs. Wolverine. Plus, it’s nice to be able to read The End in a format that allows you to lay the book out flat on the table, instead of the squarebound “prestige format” which you have to hold open while you read. That last sentence may be the laziest thing I have ever written.

Couple new Boom! Studios books:

Stardust Kid #4 – Picking up where the Image series left off, J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Ploog continue their lushly-illustrated fantasy series, which remains one of the most beautiful-looking comics on the shelves. No one does fantasy setting quite like Ploog, and having his work on the shelves again is quite welcome. DeMatteis’ strength is evoking the emotional depths of characters, and there’s one page in the book, in which two of the characters have a heartfelt discussion, that suprised me at just how effective it was. It’s a full-page splash, with the conversation restricted to a baker’s dozen of captions, and I don’t think it would have been improved by expanding it to a more traditional ten or twelve comic panels filled with word balloons. So, yeah, both these guys really are at the peak of their form here.

X Isle #1 – This is Boom!’s latest entry in the “people thrust into mysterious, unexplained happenings” cultural zeitgeist that’s generated TV shows like Lost and Invasion…this time, it’s mysterious animals washing up on beaches, driving researchers to seek their source.

Now, when I was a kid, I was fascinated by stories about UFOs, ghosts, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and so on…and one of my favorite books was a big hardcover book (still in the Mikester Library) about supposed seamonsters. As an adult, I’m quite a bit more skeptical about this sort of thing (as in “if these things do exist, I haven’t seen any convincing proof yet” — and please, dear reader, don’t take that as a challenge and fill my comments section with links to “evidence”), but seeing the panels in this comic, with the crowd standing around the beached carcass, and the image of the unusual animal found in that carcass’ stomach, reminded me of that same sense of mystery and wonder I once had looking at the grainy photos and old woodcuttings in that seamonsters book. So the comic got my nostalgia sense tingling right from the get-go.

Which doesn’t tell you much about the comic, I realize…Andrew Cosby and Michael A. Nelson do a good job gathering the charcters together and giving them individual voices, while keeping the plot barrelling along and moving our heroes to the source of the mystery. Greg Scott’s art is well done and appropriately moody, but it seems a bit…stretched, as if the art were slightly reformatted to fit the proportions of the page. Everyone seems to be a tad on the skinny side. Yeah, I know, that’s an odd criticism…I’m unfamiliar with the artist’s work, and maybe that’s just his style. If so, don’t mind me. But go get yourself a copy and check it out…it’s a fun read.

For most of our new comics day, the city disallowed all parking on our block while workers jackhammered and ground and dug and just generally made lots of noise. I was thinking we were going to have no business whatsoever, but thankfully our customers’ need for comics outweighed their need for convenient parking and we had one of our busiest Wednesdays in quite a while.

The end result of all that work in front of the store? We now have a tree in front of our shop. A pencil-thin, Charlie Brown Christmas tree-style tree, but a tree nonetheless. Not the tree that was dedicated to my memory, but I’m going to pretend it is, and none of you can stop me.

Want to see a nice rack?

§ June 21st, 2006 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on Want to see a nice rack?

So I’ve been wanting to get myself a comic book spinner rack for home use for quite some time now. Yeah, I know, I’ve got spinner racks at the shop, but they’re being used. And Diamond Distribution occasionally offers new ones for sale, but they’re a couple hundred bucks a pop, and that’s a bit much to spend on something that’s just basically satisfying a random whim of mine.

However, I was able to purchase a surplus rack from a comic shop that just recently changed hands. The new owner decided he had one rack too many, I let him know I was in the market for a spinner rack…and twenty bucks later, this beauty was all mine:

Each side of the rack is topped with these metal signs, showing the new Justice League line-up:

I wasted no time filling the pockets with some quality reading:

More news you can barely use.

§ June 20th, 2006 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on More news you can barely use.

From The Comic Reader #28 (1964):

“SUPERMAN. Look for several parallel world stories in the Superman line. Which ones, I don’t know, since they will all have surprise endings.”

“HAWKMAN. It is reported that Murphy Anderson has done a great job on the Shadow Thief. The title of #5 is ‘Steal, Shadow, Steal.'”

“BATMAN. […] The Nov. DETECTIVE features ‘Hunters of the Elephants’ Graveyard’. When an ‘elephant goddess’ appears to Batman, it may give you the shudders; but the new Batman won’t let you down. […] The cover story of the Nov. Superman will actually show Batman’s eyes through the holes in his mask!”

“THE ATOM #16 features the Mighty Mite against a villain who knows beforehand that he’ll beat our hero! It’s a book-lengther.”

“Popeye is still the king. According to Variety, Popeye is the king of the Cartoons.”

“The following item was written in code, and broken with the Superman code. ‘Coming soon! Three issues of SHOWCASE devoted to the Legion of Super-heroes!'”

For more modern DC Comics news, here are the new solicitations. Not much to say, other than ooh, I like this cover; this Krypto comic looks absolutely fantastic; and while I love the Armored Lex Luthor, this just looks goofy.

Too many.

§ June 19th, 2006 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on Too many.


So you may remember my discussion from a few days ago regarding a large collection of books that was essentially dumped on us. A small portion of the books we could actually use, but the rest?


Well, I’m not sure what we’re going to do with these excess books…aside from my taking pictures of the books en masse for my own amusement. A number of the books I may be able to sell off on the eBay…one at a time may take a while, and even lots containing, say, 20 copies of the same book may be difficult to move. Of course, there are always donations to various charities, which may be the final fate for some of these books, at least.


There may have been another option, as we’re still in the process of selling tens of thousands of comics in bulk to an international buyer, and perhaps we may have been able to unload some of these books on him. However, that buyer’s condition of purchase is that the books be in new shape (Very Fine or better). About 90% of the books in this collection I’m discussing are in average shape (VG) at best.


Which brings up another point. This collection is comprised mostly of multiple copies of first issues, early issues of some series, anniversary issues and annuals, and so forth. The person who assembled this collection was obviously interested in “playing the market” with these books, investing for future resale. However, no attempt was made at keeping these books in sellable condition. They were stored in unwieldy cardboard boxes, with flaps that didn’t even seal off the boxes when closed, and many books have dust damage, mold spotting, crunches and creases from being piled improperly in the boxes, and so forth. Most of these books are today only a few dollars even in mint condition, and easy to find in that shape. In the conditions the these books are in, the only way they’ll sell is for pennies on the dollar.


So basically, all this effort assembling this collection, purchasing dozens of copies of each of these comics, was for nothing. The books were gathered, and left to rot.

And the thing is, even if the books had been kept in perfect, pristine mint condition, they’d still be hard to sell. Yes, Krull #1 may list in the price guide for a few dollars in mint condition, but you’d still have to find a buyer…which may not be easy since they’re virtually no demand for it. And even if you do find a buyer — a store, or a private collector — it’s unlikely you’ll be able to sell all 83 copies to that same person. Any profit you may have realized selling your mint copies of Krull would be eaten up by the time searching for potential buyers, who are few and far between.

Of all the books from this collection, the ones I might be able to sell in fairly short order are the copies of The Life of Pope John Paul II. A distant second would be the Smurfs comics, which will sell eventually, but I certainly don’t want or need to store 74 copies. I might be able to sell a dozen or so over the next year…having more copies than that gets into “diminishing returns” territory, as I now how to worry about storing the darn things for the foreseeable future.


I’m really not meaning to single out this particular collection for abuse. I’ve seen several collections along the same lines…people buying for investment who 1) invariably choose the wrong comics to buy in multiples, and 2) don’t take care of them anyway, so the books end up being even less desirable. It just seems so…wasteful, I guess.

However, the comics appear to be our problem, now, so it looks like I’ll have to go to extreme measures to move these books out. I wonder what our customers would think if they came to the store one New Comics Day and saw this on the rack:



§ June 18th, 2006 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on THE RETURN OF KID CHRIS.

Yes, that’s right, former employee and star of stage and screen Kid Chris made a return engagement at our shop, filling in for Employee Nathan who’s currently out of town doing jail time visiting friends.

About that pic…I’d been joking at the store about doing a parody of this cover since we received those little plastic Green Lantern rings to coincide with the release of Green Lantern Corps #1 last week. Well, I finally found the time and the willing model to do so, so there you go. Frankly, however, I don’t think Kid Chris can do a menacing look. He’s more of a convivial evil.

Kid Chris and I did discuss potential endings for Marvel’s Civil War series, and cooked up the following possibilities:

1. The series ends when the previously thought dead Hawkeye returns, admonishing the heroes for turning against each other in this time of crisis. “Hey, man, what’s with all the bad vibes? Mellow out, dudes.”

2. It turns out the Marvel Universe is still in the House of M parallel reality created by the Scarlet Witch, and all the lost lives, revealed identities, etc. from over the course of the series will be reset once she’s defeated/subdued/whatever.

3. Reed Richards arrests everybody, claims that they’re all guilty, and announces “I’m gonna go home and sleep with my wife.” (Little Clue humor there for you.)

§ June 18th, 2006 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on

Kid Chris popped by the store on Saturday and gifted me with this fine item…a pinback button, made by the Kid his own self, featuring the ray gun from Eightball #23. Fantastic.

Something I was thinking about…given the large amount of news coverage that Marvel’s “surprise revelation” has been receiving lately, we’ve had surprisingly few non-comic fans (or “civilians,” or “mundanes,” or “new customers”) coming in for the comic in question. (And, come to think of it, I haven’t had many inquiries regarding the lesbian Batwoman either.)

I’m not saying Civil War #2 isn’t selling…it’s selling quite well, actually. The only extra sales the publicity seems to be generating is from folks what already buy the funnybooks on a regular basis.

Used to be a time when a comic could have the barest mention in a real world news source, and our phone would ring off the hook for the next day or two from people asking about it. When Rob Liefeld appeared on a late-night talk show to plug the debut of Youngblood #1, the next day we had a line of people stretching down the block, anxiously waiting their chance to snap up this piece of comics history.

Of course, most of those instances were from the period of Batman movie fervor/speculator market/high public awareness of comics, as contrasted with today, where we’re more or less back to “oh, comic books, they still make those?”

Don’t have a point to this, really, beyond “things ain’t like they were back in the old days.” Plus, I wanted to remind some of you that believe it or not, folks once wanted the Youngblood in a bad way.

Things I shouldn’t have to say to the customer running a role playing game at the game store next door:

“I don’t care if there are dogs present in your game setting, your loud barking is disturbing my customers. Please keep it down.”

And yes, I got a dirty look from the person for my trouble, since apparently I’m the jerk.

Hey, a 3-D Superman screensaver, for free! Superman flies through the Metropolis cityscape while your choice of Superman theme songs plays in the background. Available for Windows and Mac.

Here’s an similar screensaver featuring Spider-Man from the same site.

§ June 17th, 2006 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on

Single Series #1 (1938)

The above was acquired in a collection earlier this week, along with several other Captain and the Kids/Katzenjammer Kids comics. But that’s the oldest one in the bunch, the first issue of the series that would eventually become Comics on Parade.

You can read more about the Katzenjammer Kids comic strip at this comprehensive website.

And the strip is still running.

EDIT: Find more Captain and the Kids at Barnacle Press.

A brief follow-up.

§ June 16th, 2006 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on A brief follow-up.

Okay, maybe in retrospect I shouldn’t have gone with the “packing a book for a customer” story in the last post. It amused me at the time, since I could just see a disaster waiting to happen to that book in transit, but I guess it’s a “you had to be there” moment.

But I did want to give an example of the kind of customer service that we try to provide, to counterbalance the tales I usually relate here of our smart-aleckiness, or of things at the shop going awry, or of “customers” mistreating us…not to mention just trying to counter the usual stereotype of the slovenly comic store clerk more interested in sitting on his butt, eating and watching television and/or reading the new X-Men than helping his own clientele.*

I don’t toot the store’s horn an awful lot on this site, but hey, our store has been in business for 26 years…we must be doing something right. Not saying we’re perfect…there are plenty of things that could use some improvement, but at least we’re trying.

And contrary to what this anonymous commenter implied, we don’t help just the “cute” people. If that were true, I never would have helped Employees Nathan and Aaron back when they were customers. (bada-bing!)

In happier news…my favorite comic news source, the Unsinkable Tom Spurgeon, points us to this article with details about DC Comics’ forthcoming Snakes on a Plane comic book. Fantastic. I’m assuming it’s an adaptation, and not, say, a prequel (“Who are these snakes? Where do they come from? What dark compulsions drive them?”).

Please let there be photo covers on these. Please.

* Says the guy who spent his break on new comics day setting up a couple photographs for his website.

Random bits.

§ June 16th, 2006 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on Random bits.

For my most recent column for Comic Book Galaxy, I discussed people who came to our store with the apparent purpose of making us miserable.

Well, I found this commentary on my article, and nicely expounds on the issues I brought forth. Go, read.

MATT DRUDGE IN “CAN’T SPELL ‘SPIDER-MAN'” SHOCKER. (“spoiler,” if it still can be considered as such, in image)

At the store, a couple days ago:

Employee Aaron: “Where should I file the Family Guy comics?”

Me: “Well, you could put them with the Simpsons books.”

Aaron: “Oh damn….!”

File under “horn, tooting of one’s own:” So on Thursday, we had a young woman looking for a copy of a particular DC Comics trade paperback. Alas, we’d run through all our copies, and our reorder had not yet arrived. I did have a copy of the large slipcased hardcover “Absolute” edition of the very same book, which the woman liked even better than the plain ol’ softcover.

She bought it, and mentioned that, while the book was great, it was going to cost a lot to ship to her fiance, for whom it was a gift.

Well, where does he live, I ask, and which she replies with the name of one of the southern states.

Can’t you ship that book by media mail? It should be pretty cheap that way, I suggest. She didn’t understand what exactly I meant by that, which is okay…it seems like I live at the post office, what with all the mail order our store does, so I’m not going to be too hard on her for not knowing as much about the different mailing services as I do.

Since I happened to be in the middle of packing up mail order for the store, I whipped out one of the priority mail flat rate boxes, telling her it would only cost $8.10 to ship the book in one of these. Here, take it, I’ve got plenty of them, I tell her.

Wow, thanks, sez she, and asks where the post office is. I give her directions, at which point she says she’s just going to seal the book into the box and take it to the post office right away.

Whoa, I exclaim, hold on there, that box is quite a bit larger than the book, so the book’s just going to rattle around in there…do you want some packing material?

Before she can answer, I just say, here, give me the box and the book, at which point I proceed to pack the book up for her, sealing up the box and making it ready for the tender mercies of the postal service.

So there you go…Mike giving the customers the full service treatment. Ooh, yeah. That’s the kind of quality customer relations I deliver.

Yes, I just told a story about packing a book into a box. Every day is a new adventure.

Inspired by the greatness that is Composite Superman, here is a very rough sketch of Composite Swamp Thing (half Swampy, half Man-Thing), which I doodled out right quick at work yesterday:

I think there are some possibilities here…one of which is “art lessons.”

And now…

§ June 15th, 2006 § Filed under retailing, this week's comics § 1 Comment

…sixty-nine copies of Marvel’s Time Bandits adaptation:

We recently found ourselves in possession of a collection that consisted of lots of multiple copies of various titles from the early ’80s, primarily extra-sized comics, anniversary issues, and annuals. We paid well for the stuff we could use, and everything else (sloppily packed into old and decaying cardboard boxes) ended up getting dumped on us.

But that’s okay…as a result, you may be getting more pictures like the above in the near future. In fact, on Wednesday, on new comics day, instead of doing actual work, there I was, carefully spreading out Time Bandits comics on the floor, then balancing on top of the aluminum ladder that I dragged out of the back of the store in order to get the right angle for my shot.

The things I do for this site.

Hey, look, I have an article over on….”Awesome Super-Powers (And Why You Don’t Want Them).” (EDIT 9/9/12: Link dead. Just as well…it wasn’t that good.) Go read, you.

I can’t take credit for the swell job done on the graphic element of that article, but those Cracked guys sure dressed up my textual drivel right purty.

Speaking of new comics day (as I was, up there, somewhere), we received our case of Spawn Series 29, the one supposedly containing the Man of Miracles figure (based on Marvelman/Miracleman, ownership of which is…contested, to say the least). I say “supposedly” because our case didn’t have one. Comments I’ve seen here and there have stated that this figure is the short-pack of the case…if so, ours was so short-packed we didn’t even get one.

We also received the figures based on Michael Turner’s artwork from the nigh-unreadable Superman/Batman “Return of Supergirl” storyline. Oh, Sweet Mother McCrea, these figures are even more appalling in person. Supergirl is frightful, and Corrupted Supergirl, even more so.

While Googling up some info on the Man of Miracles figure, I came across a reference to the character on this Wikipedia disambiguation page:

“A thinly-veiled rip-off of Miracleman, ‘created’ by Todd McFarlane for the comic book Spawn.”

That instance of opining has been removed from the current version of the page. As noted in the page history file:

“(Removal of POV (even if I agree with it!) from disambig.)”

Well, I thought it was amusing, anyway.

I’m not going to talk about this today, but how long do I have to wait before I discuss the “surprise” twist from the end of this week’s release of Civil War #2, without having to surround it with SPOILER WARNINGS? Is it safe to assume that anyone online with any interest in the story already knows it? (Here’s the reveal if you hadn’t heard.)

You know what? Forget it. I am going to discuss it. so current SPOILERS in effect, kids.

So the big reveal at the end (the same reveal that ended up in this week’s Thunderbolts, so everybody found out about it last week when they read that comic in the Marvel preview pack) is almost certainly going to get reversed in short order. A friend of mine, whose first initial is Dorian, has noted that Marvel’s current talking point is that this character’s current relationship status quo is a bad idea, and shouldn’t have been done…probably to get folks ready for something to happen to that status quo during the course of Civil War. Probably not death or divorce, as the Marvel folks seem to be against that.

Well, my guess is that whenever they reverse the reveal from Civil War #2 (maybe Dr. Strange casting a spell, or time travel, or however they do it), the hero in question will ask that his relationship be undone, retconned, “made never was,” to protect his loved ones from any harm being caused by their proximity to him. Particularly if said loved ones undergo some kind of traumatic experience as a result of the reveal. And vee-ola, we’re back to square one.

That’s just my guess, anyway. Could be completely off.

I did like the reaction of the hero’s boss to his reveal, though. Very funny.

Super F*ckers “#277” by James Kochalka is out this week…more charming, wistful, violent, silly, and remarkably potty-mouthed superhero funnies. It’s probably my favorite superhero book of the week. It may be five bucks for 24 pages, but it’s so densely-packed that you certainly get more than your money’s worth. (Unlike, say, my experience with last week’s Wonder Woman #1, which felt like I got from one cover to the other in no time at all). Kochalka says a few words about Super F*ckers (and other topics) in Alan David Doane’s Five Questions interview.

I don’t have much new to say about it, but I always like to note when the new volumes of Little Lulu arrive. This one is Volume 10, All Dressed Up, and John Stanley and Irving Tripp’s work is about as close to “perfect” as comics can get. Classic, funny, and ageless material.

For reading all this, you get a picture of twenty-eight copies of The Life of Pope John Paul II:

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