I was listening to a handful of my George Carlin recordings on Monday as I was working around the house, and I noticed something in one of the CDs that I had forgotten about. The CD booklet and tray card for his 1999 release You Are All Diseased feature video stills of Carlin, with various quotes from folks like G.K. Chesterson and Nietzsche superimposed over them. And one quote, the one on the tray card, the one that you see through the clear plastic of the case when you pull up the CD, is this one:
I have no idea if the quote was chosen by the label’s art director and run by Carlin for inclusion, or if Carlin himself was a Reid Fleming fan…I hope Carlin was a Reid Fleming fan, because, honestly, if any comic book was tailor-made for Carlin, it was that one.
In other news:
- Marvel is putting out a royal ass-load of comics this week, including every major Avengers title they publish, both Uncanny X-Men and X-Men, both their First Class titles, a good number of their mainline superhero titles (Daredevil, Captain America, Fantastic Four)…about thirty something in total.
Our Man in Canada, Chris Butcher, wonders if Marvel is trying to push everyone else off the stands, particularly DC (whose second installment of their major event title Final Crisis is due for release this week). This concern regarding Marvel’s market-flooding has popped up in the past, once or twice. I have here Comics Journal #86 (Nov ’83), with the article “The Comics Glut of 1983.” Where it says “Comics” in that title, read “Marvel” because they’re almost exclusively speaking about what Marvel had been doing to the direct market. There are complaints from other publishers regarding what they see as Marvel’s attempts to control the retailer and distributor dollar, particularly with the several high-end, Baxter paper reprints they were producing at the time. The article features a quote from then-Captial Comics editor Rich Bruning, who says:
“Marvel, in particular, has decided if they dump enough material every week, the average comic buyer would spend all their money on them, and forego the ‘competition.’”
Like Dirk says, the current round of Marvel’s overloading of their shipping weeks may simply be poor planning…how often have I complained about Marvel putting every Avengers title out in the same week, or every Wolverine title? But the large number of variant cover reprints they are pumping out, whether or not they’re necessary…that only furthers the impression that Marvel is simply pushing books out the door to take away rack space from everyone else. For example…was there really a need for a third printing of Secret Invasion? I didn’t think a second printing was really required.
‘Course, Marvel can run its business any way it likes. It’s in business to make money, and if one of their strategies is to crank out so many books that they dominate retail resources to the detriment of other companies…hey, that’s competition for you. But in an industry as relatively tiny and fragile as the periodical comics business, where your primary method of getting your product into the hands of consumers are little independently-owned niche shops with limited cash flow…well, hopefully there will be some rethinking of the “get every book we publish out this week” strategy. If it’s even a strategy.
So, just sayin’ that the perception that Marvel is purposefully flooding the market with mostly unnecessary product to crowd out other books is nothing new, whether they’re doing it purposefully or not. If you think that’s what they’re doing, best way to stop that is to, as they say, vote with your dollars. We passed up a couple of Marvel’s recent reprints because they were so entirely unneeded we had a hard time justifying buying even a handful for the shelf. (I can use that money to order more reprints of, say, Fell, which is a constant seller.) And as time, and “second printing variants,” go on, we find that even the folks that seek out the variant covers are beginning to pass on the reprints.
In conclusion: sometimes it sucks to be a retailer. But you probably knew that.
- Related: in the previous issue of the Comics Journal, #85, Gary Groth discusses Marvel’s exploitation of the marketplace and how it was even making the distributors testy. He notes that one distributor, in his order advisory column, starts off his paragraph about Marvel’s Generic Comic #1 with the sentence “We are really tired of Marvel pulling this crap on us.” Hard to imagine Diamond Comics doing something like that now.
- I saw this New York Times article about the San Diego Con via Johanna, and it sorta confirms what I half-suspected about San Diego’s attitude towards the convention…that it’s more endured than appreciated. I’m sure not everyone feels that way, but given the mayor’s comment (for which he apologized later), I suspect the feeling is more widespread than people would like to admit.
- Okay, just so I’m not Mr. Depressing-Pants, here are some fun HeroesCon 2008 reports from the mighty and powerful crimefighting team of Chris “The Hammer” Sims and Dr. “The Anvil” K. They did…things…there. Horrible things. Unspeakable. So enjoy!