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In case you’re wondering if I feel stupid every time I type “#15.1,” the answer is “yes.”

§ December 31st, 2012 § Filed under retailing § 9 Comments

So that “Death of Spider-Man” comic came out last week, and I don’t really have anything much to add to all the hoohar beyond what I wrote the last time something like this happened, so there you go. Also, I’ll link to this again because it’s never not true.

But, me being me, of course I’m still going to make another comment or two about this anyway. Alas, I was out of the media loop for a few days, so I had, and still have, no idea about what tone any of the real-world news outlets took with this latest space-filling fluff piece. I was told our local paper ran a story, the day after New Comics Day, so we did get a number of folks coming in looking for Amazing Spider-Man #700 following that …and, surprisingly, didn’t hear a whole lot of objection to the $7.99 cover price. At least, from the people actually buying the comic…a few folks who weren’t buying the comic did express a bit of sticker shock.

And there was some noise being made online, and pretty much nowhere else, about Avenging Spider-Man #15.1, out the same day and bridging the gap between #700 and the forthcoming Superior Spider-Man #1, regarding how nobody ordered enough and surely this was going to be a hot sellout. …Well, I ordered a very slight smidgen more than I normally do on this series (which started strong, but is fading fast), and I didn’t see a whole lot more interest in the comic than normal. Sold a couple extra copies, but I haven’t had anyone specifically asking for it. I even tried to point it out to people who were buying #700, and was generally met with “…eh.”

Perhaps we’ll see demand for #15.1 increase once Superior Spider-Man #1 is released, and it’s realized there’s a missing part of the story, there, but I don’t know. One, I suspect the majority of people buying #700 are primarily interested in the “death” event, and not that interested in following the ongoing Spider-Universe saga. Two, in the “making an ass out of U and ME…mostly ME” department, I was hoping interest, and sales, would be generated on Superior Spider-Man #1 by the mystery element…”WHO IS THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN?” and we’d have several months of clues and adventure and whatnot and then finally get the reveal in issue #12 where we find out it’s, I don’t know, Jack O’Lantern or Walter West or hey, maybe another clone or something. But anyway, I figured at least for the first issue there would be a lot of curiosity about this new Spider-Man, even if sales dropped off right away with #2. Since we know what the set-up is right off the bat, that mystery factor is gone. There is still that curiosity factor about how the story is going to play out, but that probably isn’t as strong a sales hook as the “WHO IS THIS GUY?” tack. I mean, c’mon, it worked for this comic!

I realize the argument can be made that basing a series around the mystery of the identity of the main character is too gimmicky, but seeing as how the whole thing is gimmicky, well…. Not that there’s anything wrong with a good gimmick, and it seems to have the people who are actually interested in reading the story talking about it, so I guess we’ll see what happens. Also, I’m wondering what they’re going to do a year or so from now when they bring back the original Spider-Man, and how they’ll retool Superior Spider-Man to keep that series around, too.

So that’s me not really having anything much to add to all the hoohar. Thank goodness I didn’t have a lot to say.

• • •

In other news…our best wishes go out to Peter David, who has had a stroke. I hope, as I’m sure all of you do as well, for Mr. David’s quick and full recovery.

Stargrave Saturday #1.

§ December 29th, 2012 § Filed under saturday § 10 Comments



Superboy #224 (February 1977) – reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 13
by Jim Shooter, Mike Grell and Bob Wiacek

Oh, look, it’s my childhood…

§ December 27th, 2012 § Filed under star wars § 6 Comments represented by the single greatest thing an eight-or-so-year-old Mike could have seen after having gone to the movies to see Star Wars for the fourth time:

“ALL NEW STORIES NOT SEEN IN THE MOVIE!” Three whole new comic books, in one package? For 99 cents? For new Star Wars adventures? Sweet jumpin’ Judas on a pogo stick, if I didn’t get my paws on those comics that very second, surely I would have dropped dead in that aisle right then and there.

And yes, I absolutely loved these comics…reading them and rereading them and just about committing them to memory. And I continued to follow the New Adventures of the Star Warsians, both in the three-packs and in regular monthly installments purchased from the newsstands* as opportunity allowed. I stuck with the series ’til about issue 25 or 26 or so, and I’m not entirely sure why I stopped buying them on a regular basis. I did return to the series off and on over the years, buying a few monthly issues in sequence or buying the occasional annual or special issue. It wasn’t until well after the series reached its 107th and final issue, and during those Star Wars doldrums when no new movies were coming out, and the whole thing seemed like it was good and finished, that I finally filled out my run of the series out of quarter boxes. Well, mostly filled, as I skipped the issues adapting the movies, as I owned those in treasury edition, paperback**, or Marvel Super Special*** form.

That eight-year-old I used to be, and is still rattling around in my head somewhere, is excited to hear about the return of Star Wars to Marvel Comics out of purely nostalgic reasons. The part of me that sells these things for a living is interested to see if this will pull the comic spin-offs out of their mostly moribund sales (though I suspect the impending Episode VII would have given the comics a kick in the pants, regardless of publisher…and the forthcoming Brian Wood series looks like it’ll be fun as well).

Anyway, one of those three-packs turned up in a collection at the shop recently, still sealed, reminding me of my absolutely sincere and overwhelming excitement all those years ago that such a thing even existed. It’s probably my enjoyment of those early comics that makes me brook no negativity about my favorite new-to-comics Star Wars character. Hey, maybe Marvel will bring him back!

* I remember spotting a new issue on the racks at a local bookstore/newsstand, and being so excited I grabbed it off the rack and dashed outside with it to ask my grandmother to buy it for me. …That I didn’t do a nickel up the river for shoplifting is something of a miracle…or that the bookseller didn’t mistake my youthful exuberance for criminal intent, at least. I did quickly return with my grandmother, who bought the comic. I suspect there was a comment or two about not leaving a store with unpaid-for merchandise even for a moment or by accident, but man, I was too busy reading my Star Wars comic to care.

** A childhood friend of mine made lots of fun about the fact that Yoda’s appearance in this specific edition of the comic was way off from his appearance in the movie. If only I’d known enough to be able to explain “lead times” and “artist only having access to production art, and not the final product,” I could have put that kid in his place.

*** This adaptation was released to newsstands about a week or two before the actual release of the film, much to Lucas’ chagrin. Of course I bought it right away and happily spoiled everything for myself…which didn’t curb my enjoyment of the movie one bit.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my readers.

§ December 25th, 2012 § Filed under Christmas, pal casie § 9 Comments


drawing by pal Casie

I hope that’s not covered in an actual reindeer skin.

§ December 24th, 2012 § Filed under Christmas, popeye § 6 Comments


from Spinach Greetings! (1960)

“This panther needs FOOD!!”

§ December 23rd, 2012 § Filed under Christmas § 7 Comments


from Pink Panther Vol. 2 #5 (March 1994)


§ December 21st, 2012 § Filed under freak out § 13 Comments






Lady Death #20 Lava Leopard variant (2012) – art by Michael DiPascale

It’s not often Nancy and Popeye are described as “high-falutin’.”

§ December 19th, 2012 § Filed under retailing, this week's comics § 8 Comments

So if you’re on your way to your local funnybook store, let me warn you, there’s about one million new releases out this week, or at least it felt that way as I was breaking down the shipment Tuesday afternoon/evening. I mean, not even counting Marvel’s apparently weekly new titles I was complaining about a few days ago, there was a whole lotta stuff. And on top of that, due to the vagaries of shipping caused by the holidays at the end of the year, we also received next week’s comics which we’re to hold ’til the on-sale date of the 26th, so I’ve got to keep those stored away for a week while ignoring the cynical part of my brain that tells me all these titles I’m holding aside are probably already in the hands of somebody somewhere scanning away and uploading them to your torrents and your napsters and whatever other crazy things you kids use what with your portable phones and hip-computers and such.

But enough cynicism…here are a few things this week that bring me joy and good tidings:

Nancy Likes Christmas: Complete Dailies 1946-1948 – pretty much the only thing that got me out of bed and into work Tuesday (aside from, you know, having to do my job in order to get paid) was the knowledge that this would be waiting for me inside one of the Diamond boxes. It’s a great book…a perfect book. In an ideal world, this is what you’d find in hotel rooms instead of Gideon Bibles. This is far better than what the world deserves…well, I deserve it, at any rate — I’m not sure about the rest of you. But you should get a copy anyway.

Classic Popeye #5, reprinting in its entirety the original #5 from 1949, including the two page prose story filler that nobody read back then and nobody’s going to read now. That’s okay…it’s cover to cover comics aside from that, and at $3.99 retail that’s a bargain for this swell and densely-packed comic.

…Look, it’s can’t all be high-falutin’ classic comic strip stuff. Sometimes I just want a goofy superhero comic filled with oddball ideas and fights, and Supreme works just fine. It’s hard to imagine Supreme having a life after Alan Moore’s run, with its deconstructive self-awareness, but Erik Larsen has simply pulled it back to straightforward Silver Age-y action. Well, maybe with a little self-aware poking at the genre, but it’s certainly more “let’s have fun” than Moore’s “let’s examine why this is fun while we’re having fun.” Um. Okay, something like that. Also, I wanted to note that I’m getting just the slightest “Howard the Duck” vibe off Squeak the Supremouse and his “trapped in a world he never made” predicament in the series, but if that’s just me, please ignore that I typed that.

“It’s learning, the way you always hoped it would be, with Sluggo.”

§ December 17th, 2012 § Filed under nancy, sluggo § 7 Comments

Just a short post to share with you a gift, sent to me by reader Eric – the Listen, Laugh & Learn record from 1982:

“It’s learning, the way you always hoped it would be, filled with songs and laughter.”

“It’s Nancy and Sluggo in their very first record album. They’re here to help your child explore new horizons in learning … with a few giggles along the way. Each story and song is designed to open up young minds to their endless possibilities as they Listen, Laugh & Learn with Nancy and Sluggo.”

Listen, Laugh & Learn • Video Brain • Figure It Out • Anything You Want • Perspecive • Listen, Laugh & Learn (reprise) • When the Levee Breaks”

Okay, maybe not that last one.

I have had a busy weekend, so I haven’t yet had time to give this “vinyl record album” a “spin” on my “record playing turntable” (kids, ask your grandparents what these things mean), so I have no idea if Sluggo was given the deep and rich baritone that he obviously should have. I’ll report when I can.

Also, I shudder to think at what lessons Sluggo has to impart, unleashing his terrible knowledge upon impressionable minds.

In which Mike kills all of California’s incoming tourism money from Vermont.

§ December 14th, 2012 § Filed under retailing § 8 Comments

So I just started working on the Diamond order this month, where I will be ordering a number of these items non-ironically, what ridiculous hoops I have to jump through to get the variant covers, which of these Image #1s will actually sell more than a couple of copies, and of course how many hundreds of Swamp Things I’ll need for our shelves.

The craziest thing this time around is that Justice League of America #1, with its 53 variant covers (American flag, all fifty states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia). Folks have been buzzing about this since it was announced, and by buzzing I mean “griping and / or mocking,” but now I have to decide how to order the darned thing. Sure, get a bunch for our state of California, obviously, and I’m already taking some special requests for specific states. I did joke on the Twitter that I wondered if I only ordered, say, the Wyoming cover, what the customers would think, other than “Mike’s lost his mind again,” which, frankly, they probably think anyway. But if it somehow turns out there’s one cover that ends up being the “hot” one for some dumb reason, like maybe they screwed up the flag on the cover somehow and now everyone wants it as a rare “error” collectible even though every copy of that specific cover will be exactly the same (and sort of happened before when they messed up Mexico’s flag on this Superman annual)…well, what I can do about that. “No, sorry, ma’am, the New Hampshire flag cover with the boat pointing in the wrong direction is sold out. No, I didn’t order enough. I’m sorry, I didn’t expect so much demand for the New Hampshire variant here in California. Yes, ma’am, I’m stupid.”

Anyway, personally I’m sort of tempted to get for myself the cover with the Virginia flag, since I lived there for a while as a child, and the flag is pretty cool, you’d have to admit. And I’d totally get the Louisiana flag cover if they replaced, like, Catwoman on the cover with Swamp Thing. But I think I’ll have to go with the California flag, clearly the most awesome state flag of them all, what with having a bear on it. Yeah, that’s right, I said it. Our flag rules. Eat it, Vermont!

Elsewhere in the order form I have to decide how badly Marvel pumping out their books on a biweekly or even weekly basis is going to hurt their sales with frustrated fans. This week we had Cable and the X-Force #1 and Avengers Arena #1, and the second issues for both will be next week. Avengers #1, out last week, will have a new issue next week. We’ve already had four issues of Iron Man since early November, and three issues of All New X-Men since mid-November, with #4 due next week. Plus there are the last issues of a couple of the previous Avengers series which sort of log-jammed in there over the previous few weeks. This isn’t so much “giving the fans more of what they want!” as just plain ol’ rack-crowding. I’ve griped about this before…I understand the seeming advantages of it (cannibalize sales from other publishers, more of your product on the shelves, don’t give readers a chance to decide if they want to keep following the title), but there are disadvantages as well (cannibalizing sales from yourself, discouraging new readers with the expense). Much in the same way restarting a title has its plus of being a good jumping on point, and the minus of…well, you know.

And then there’s Guardians of the Galaxy #0.1 (and don’t get me started on that issue number). This is the next Marvel property to get a film adaptation, but is there enough buzz around that movie yet to drive sales on this comic? I mean, the GotG stuff of late has sold…okay, but not like best-sellers or anything. These are pretty much the definition of B-listers, which isn’t a bad thing, of course, but trying to decide to order this as a typical second-string book like I probably should, or ordering it with an eye on interest generated by a movie, which I probably shouldn’t since the movie is still at least a year off…makes it a tad more complicated than it needs to be.

It’d be a lot simpler if they’d dump the rest of those Guardians and just do a straight-up Rocket Raccoon comic. You know that character is going to be the focus of all the movie advertising, and hell, who doesn’t love space raccoons with ray guns? Nobody, that’s who.

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