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So we have a few of these still sittin’ around the shop…pop-out mini cardboard stand-ups of assorted media properties:
…including both “live action” and
animated versions of dinosaurs from Jurassic Park
(though technically the live action versions were
animated, but you get the idea).
Anyway, I had bit of a long Sunday, so I’m sorta Low-Content-Mode-ing it today with these close-up scans of some choice pop-up standees. Please enjoy, and I’ll be back tomorrow.
By the way, when is Tim Burton ever going to get around to that Planet of the Apes sequel? I keep waiting for a follow-up to that exciting cliffhanger ending!
From a sci-fi collectibles catalog, circa 1987:
1. I wonder if there’s any overlap between the Starfleet Cook Book
and this item
2. Here’s a common Starfleet code: “The captain is in the ready room, preparing his mission report” = “Kirk’s makin’ time with another alien gal…better hold his calls.”
3. I suspect the Klingon Joke Book goes a little bit like this:
“Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?
A: TO DIE HONORABLY IN GLORIOUS BATTLE!”
“Knock Knock.” “Who’s there?” “A MIGHTY KLINGON WARRIOR WHO HAS COME TO EVISCERATE YOU WITH HIS BAT’LETH”
…So you can see why it was banned.
from Nancy #161 (December 1958) – yes, there’s a typo in Nancy’s word balloon
“There’s one thing in life you should learn, is to listen to your father and mother.
And I don’t think they’d approve of your association with Shame.”
“You’re right Batman. I should have known better.
But after all, I’m only seven years old.”
“You’re never too young to learn the difference between Good and Evil.”
“Let’s go, Robin…we’ve set another youth on the road to a brighter tomorrow!”
And so it came to pass that we did sell out of our new Fantastic Four issue, not to passers-by driven into our establishment by a fancy press release and the promise of earth-shattering change, but mostly to regular customers, most of whom were already readers of the book and just wanted the latest installment, uninterested they were in the publicity shenanigans that surrounded it.
And poor ol’ Employee Aaron, who did his darnedest to avoid spoilers, staying away from the internet, averting his eyes from the news, only to to take a phone call at the shop Wednesday morning whereupon he heard this:
“Hey, do you have that Fantastic Four comic where [name of FF member who allegedly kicked the bucket] dies?”
Oh, Aaron, you and your youthful dreams of a spoiler-free zone! Not in the hard-hitting, take-no-prisoners world of comics retail, my friend!
We did receive another phone call or two inquiring about the issue’s availability, but otherwise…no huge deluge of demand. Just another busy New Comics Day, selling plenty of funnybooks. Also, a photo was taken of me wearing deely boppers, and who knows when and where that’ll turn up, Andres.
In yesterday’s comments, reader Alex asked
“Is there ever an effort at the store to capture more of the potential audience during stuff like this, by say, pulling up a box of dollar bin FF issues, or ordering a few extra reprints of steady selling, intro friendly trades?”
No, if only because past experience has shown that, in general, non-comic-readers who just come in on that one day for the item they saw about on the news will not buy anything else. In this particular case, we didn’t see any new faces this time around anyway, so it would have been a moot point.
A caveat: past experience has also shown that on the very rare occasion a media-driven customer actually returns to the shop after that Hot Item: Day One sales date, sometimes that means they’re slightly more open to the idea of comics as Entertainment Option rather than Means of Putting My Children Through College, Someday. It doesn’t happen very often, but often enough that it’s worth the effort to put on the top hats, polish up the monocles, and be on our best behavior, in the hopes that any of these new faces will remember that nice shop with all the funnybooks and maybe, just maybe, return to us when the need arises.
So, ultimately, at the very least hyped media events and Free Comic Book Days and tie-in movies remind people out there in the real world that comic books and comic shops still exist, and sometimes that’s enough.
So the new Fantastic Four is the way-overhyped “death” issue, in which it looks bad for the character in question, sure, but not necessarily a cut ‘n’ dried demise by any means. I’m not going to get into spoilers, for those of you who’ve managed to miss the media blitz about the event which happily revealed the comic’s alleged starring corpse, but anyone reading the story can see it for the “all the other characters think this character is dead, but we’ll eventually catch up to that character and see what he/she’s been up to in the months during the apparent deceased-ness” situation that it is.
Not blaming the creative team of the book, I should note, which has been turning out a solid adventure serial. Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting are presenting complex, interesting, intelligent and still fun superhero stories. This “death” was clearly just a plot twist in an ongoing saga that got blown out of proportion to a general audience of non-comic-readers who are becoming increasingly wary of these stunts. (Let me link again to this post of mine about this sort of promotion.) Unfortunately, I can’t really blame Marvel for this promotional stunt, as it’s hard to get widespread mainstream attention on comics that isn’t “somebody dies, no really!” or “soon to be a movie!” or “this comic has a swear in it, WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN” or, as pal Dorian noted to me, “found strewn about the killer’s apartment….” It’s a shame you usually can’t get this amount of attention simply by saying “this is a good comic people might enjoy,” but the saying isn’t “if it reads, it leads,” after all. You need a gimmick, and “SOMEBODY DIES!” is the one that gets the real world attention. Conversely, “SOMEBODY COMES BACK!” never works as well in grabbing the public, as every return of a dead character since that white-bagged Adventures of Superman #500 has shown.
It’s interesting to see that even the mainstream news media stories are now including the implied “what, again?” eyeroll regarding this kind of marketing stunt (such as in this spoiler-filled article), which may further undermine the influx of magpies clutching at the shiny investment potential of yet another temporary death. Especially since the last few have been reversed relatively quickly, turning hypothetical fortunes into just so much polybagged paper.
Ultimately, I expect we’ll sell out of this new FF…we didn’t go overboard on ordering it, and it comes sealed in a familiar-looking if fairly pixelated black bag which will certainly grab attention. But if we do get some new folks in looking for the comic, it’ll once again be a one-shot media-fueled bump, bringing a few bucks into the comics marketplace, but won’t be built upon, won’t be sustained, and will only return when the next “death” comes along, assuming there are still some people left who’ll continue to buy into the hype. The returns diminish each and every time.
Well, I’m certainly Mr. Downer-Pants. Here, let a little stuffed bull treat the topic at hand in the best way anyone can…with big laffs!
So I was given this 1978 Superman puzzle the other day:
This “Superman O-So-Long 3 Foot Jigsaw Puzzle” features a portion of a story by Gerry Conway, Curt Swan and Jack Abel that was originally presented in Superman Family
#187 (Jan/Feb 1978). I didn’t have access to this particular issue, either at the shop or in the Vast Mikester Comic Archives, but I did have part one of the story in #186, which featured the Earth-2 Superman. That it seemed to be the Earth-2 version featured in the puzzle surprised me just a little, although, aside from the altered “S” shield you can see in the excerpt below, there are no parallel-Earth shenanigans readily evident:
…And as it turns out, it wasn’t strictly speaking the Earth-2 Superman as such. According to this brief synopsis
, this Krogg dude is too much for any one Superman to handle, so using a “transmatter machine” the two Supermen are merged into one “Super-Superman.” At which point, Super-Superman straight-up kills Krogg and calls it a day. Basically, Super-Superman notices some kind of energy build-up in Krogg, and helps it along by adding to the energy with his heat vision, until, well, you saw what happened up there.
Anyway, my only real exposure to this story is via this hip new jigsaw puzzle format in which all the kids are reading their comics nowadays, so I don’t know if there’s a reference to Krogg being some kind of “artificial lifeform” or “android” or something in the full version. Otherwise…yeah, Superman’s plan was to raise Krogg’s critical mass until he went kablooie. No indication he was about to kablooie on his own, like “hmmm, he’s about to explode, so my heat vision will speed the process!” It’s totally “hey, he’s got too much energy inside him, I’ll just add to it ’til he pops!” …Maybe they changed it for the puzzle, but reading that synopsis, it doesn’t seem like it.
I wonder if there’s a database somewhere of all the times Superman just kills people. That seems like something appropriately obsessive for a comics fan to do.
…Why are you all looking at me?
• • •
In other news:
- Thanks for your responses to my Comics Code Authority post from the other day…they’ve made for some interesting reading. I don’t know that I have any kind of follow-up or meta-analysis or anything, but I liked hearing from you folks anyway. By the way, check out this article, which claims the CCA has essentially been out of business for a while now.
- Swamp Thing and Man-Thing: best pals! (Thanks to Reader Rob for the link!)
- Calling the New Guardians “Nobody’s Favorites” would seem almost redundant…but I kind of have a soft spot for them anyway. I have a fondness for Englehart’s ’80s DC work, including Green Lantern, Millennium and, yes, New Guardians. So damned silly and earnest, but still evoke that nostalgic twinge.
…feeling a bit out of it, so no real post today.
I will note that my prediction about Wizard Magazine ceasing publication and moving online has apparently come to pass, which already gives me a better record than most “psychics.”
I’ll be back tomorrow, hopefully.
Not to kick a code when it’s down, but just out of curiosity…has anyone reading this experienced any kind of real-world impact of the Comics Code Authority? I don’t mean the behind the scenes stuff, where maybe the publisher altered some art at the CCA’s request, or they objected to some content and the publisher just put out the book anyway, sans approval stamp. I’m sure that happened all the time.
What I’m talking about is people running shops or newsstands who explicitly said that they would not carry comics without the Comics Code stamp on the front cover. Or parents who specifically looked for the stamp on the cover before allowing their children to read it. That sort of thing.
As I can recall, I’ve only run into it once in my century or two of comics retail, where a parent told her child to just look at the comics with the stamp on the front. However, I don’t think that counts, since I’m pretty sure we told her about the CCA stamp. She was getting pretty antsy about her kid’s interest in funnybooks and we reassured her that so long as the code was on the front cover, there probably wasn’t anything objectionable inside…so relax and enjoy!
Anyway, if any of you folks have any stories like that, I’d be interested, particularly if it’s from the last, oh, decade or so. But if some of you out there have…experienced more of life, and have got any tales of CCA woe from the ’50s or ’60s, I’d be curious about that, too. Please drop ’em in the comments if you’ve got ’em. It doesn’t even have to be anything drawn out and complicated…even if it’s just “my mom wouldn’t let me read non-code books,” that would be fine. I’m just kind of curious what sort of actual impact the CCA had in the marketplace, especially in recent years.
In the meantime, let’s congratulate DC and Archie on finally reclaiming that extra square quarter-inch of cover space!
THE SLUGGO CODE AUTHORITY
from The Best of Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy (1988)
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