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It’s another month…well, almost…which means there’s another issue of Diamond Previews, chock-full of all kinds of wonderful and crazy items that I am legally required by Internet law to carry in our shop! Grab your own copy of Previews, the March 2013 edition, and follow along as I see what will be filling our shelves in a few months’ time!
p. 82-3 – The Green Team #1 and The Movement #1:
Remember, everyone…whichever one of these series gets canceled first, that means the other
side is the winner, and that’ll put the end to this political/economic debate forever.
p. 100 – Batman and Robin #20:
In light of recent events, I am hoping the Batman and Robin series will become a superheroic version of Weekend at Bernie’s. (CATWOMAN: “He’s not saying much.” BATMAN: “Um, he’s tired. Long night crime-fighting. Uh, GOTTA GO.”)
p. 103 – Batman The Dark Knight #20:
“It’s the penultimate chapter of the definitive Mad Hatter story….”
Somewhere, the ghost of Lewis Carroll sheds a single spectral tear.
p. 129 – Adventures of Superman #1:
Reminder: the Jeff Parker and Chris Samnee story from this issue will soon be available on its own for digital download, so be sure to buy it! Tell ’em Orson sent ya!
p. 134-135: Before Watchmen Deluxe Hardcovers:
In twenty-five years’ time, DC will announce their Before “Before Watchmen” project, and fandom will rage across the Ultranet about this betrayal, this brutal undermining of these beloved classics.
p. 154 – The Flash vs. TBA Action Figure 2-Pack:
Not sure what sort of rights hoops DC had to jump through in order to get Flash to fight one of Marvel’s most popular creators in action figure form, but here you go!
p. 226 – The Walking Dead Michonne Resin Statue:
That rotating base is quite thoughtful, allowing each person sitting around the dinner table at the fancy dress party to get a good look at this centerpiece from every angle.
p. 405 – “No Sweat” Punisher T-Shirt:
“And the award for ‘Most Ironically Named T-Shirt in Previews’ goes to….”
p. 408 – Doctor Who “Smaller on the Outside” T-Shirt:
People who aren’t familiar with Doctor Who are going to go through all kinds of mental gymnastics trying to figure out what exactly this shirt is saying about your penis.
p. 426 – Breaking Bad Walter White 6-Inch Action Figure:
Someday I will see a young kid playing with his action figures, and he’ll have his Punisher figure in one hand and his Walter White figure in the other, and he’ll be saying “STOP, CREEP” and he’ll reply to himself with “I AM THE ONE WHO KNOCKS” and it’ll be the finest, most glorious moment in my life.
p. 426 – Breaking Bad 8-Inch Plushies:
Oh my, those are so cute and cuddly and meth-hidable and huggable and sweet! Kids’ll love ’em!
p. 427 – Breaking Bad 6-Inch Bobblehead:
I don’t have a joke, I just wanted to type that to see what it looked like. Hmmm. HMMMMMM.
p. 430 – Lost in Space: 1/1-Scale Laser Pistol:
Man, that’s goofy-looking. Can you believe this ridiculous piece of…huh? What’s that? The Mass Effect 3: M-3 Predator Full-Scale Replica on page 435?
…I take it back, Lost in Space 1/1-Scale Laser Pistol. I like you just fine.
p. 434 – Seka 1:4-Scale Bookends:
“Seka’s natural beauty is captured by these two pre-painted, fully-licensed statues with removeable clothing.”
p. 434 – Star Trek (2009) Starfleet Academy Class Ring Replica:
This will go great with my Starfleet Academy Yearbook! (CUT TO: old issue of Starlog with my senior portrait pasted into a photo gallery previewing Star Trek: The Motion Picture)
p. 446 – Batman The Dark Knight Rises 400% Be@rbrick:
Why isn’t this one of the available skins in Batman: Arkham City?
p. 461 – Space Invaders 60cm Hopper:
Remember back in the old days, when people would dress to the nines when going to the movies, or going out to dinner, or riding around on their inflatable hopping balls?
THIS DUDE IS SO HAPPY. AND SNAPPILY-DRESSED.
p. 471 – The Walking Dead TV Board Game 2: The Best Defense:
I picture any Walking Dead board game as the inverse of The Game of Life, where you start the game with your little car full of blue and pink pegs representing your family, and over the course of the game you just remove the pegs one or two at the time. And then eventually you have to abandon the car and hole up in the green hills surrounding the spinning number dial thingie, and other pegs, painted rotting brown and black colors, corner you, moaning and biting while the shattered remnants of your family cower in fear until your eventual brutal deaths.
Or maybe it’s like Chutes and Ladders. That’s a fun game.
p. 474 – Clue The Big Bang Theory Collector’s Edition:
“Howard…” (laughter) “…did it in Penny’s apartment…” (louder laughter) “…with Dungeons & Dragons!” (raucous laughter, applause, credits roll)
Marvel Previews p. 72 – Marvel Galactus Sculpted Metal Bottle Opener:
Man, that sure is nice, but after the Silver Surfer bottle opener and the Thor’s Hammer bottle opener and the Captain America’s Shield bottle opener, your average fan with apparently plenty of bottles to open would need one of these like he needs a…um, what’s that expression again? It’s right on the tip of my tongue.
Marvel Previews p. 91 – Wolverine First Cuts TPB:
Reprints, among other things, issues #1 and #2 of the Chris Claremont/Frank Miller Wolverine mini-series from 1982. Enjoy that half of a story, kids!
So on Sunday, a lady brought by a pile of stuff to sell to the shop, and I went through the cards, the toys, the magazines, and came up basically empty…except for this:
The British hardcover Dukes of Hazzard annual…I had no idea them Duke boys had enough of a following in dear old Blighty to warrant a series of annuals, but there were apparently at least six of them. I hoped and prayed it was a comics annual, but alas, it was just short stories and puzzles and at least one article explaining CB radio jargon, all copiously illustrated with color photos of the cast:
There’s also an article at the beginning of the volume with sort of a FAQ, explaining what kind of car the General Lee is (“The General Lee is what is known in the USA as a ‘muscle car'”) and whether or not Hazzard County is a real place (well, there’s a town in Kentucky named Hazard that has some ties to the show).
Oh, and did I mention there’s a page of jokes? There’s a page of jokes:
There’s also a two page board game, with the unfortunate name of “The YeeHaa! Game,” page one of which may be seen below:
…in which players, when landing upon the “Yee-Haw!” square, must balance out the advantage of being able to interfere with another player’s progress in the game by bearing the indignity of having to shout out “YEE-HAW!” while doing so.* No, really, it’s in the rules:
Now we’ve had this book in our possession for all of about a day and I’ve already sold the thing via the Internet, so I’ll have to ship this sucker out when I’m back in the shop on Tuesday. I’ve gone from not knowing this even existed to already missing it within in a matter of hours.
Oh, I’d hold onto you like a limpet if I could, Dukes of Hazzard Annual.
* Maybe you can mix things up a bit by shouting out “Manara!” instead. …Or maybe not.
“Oh, you have such good taste in comics! You certainly picked a top notch book to read! May I say again how much I admire your discerning eye for such excellent reading material?”
Um…I don’t think that’s what the “complimentary copy” stamp on your cover is supposed to mean.
“Okay, fine. Enjoy your lousy free funnybook, cheapskate.”
So, that Superman picture on the wall there:
So did some enterprising entrepreneur, realizing that Ideal-Man was now the New Flavor of the Week, immediately go to press printing up those “SUPERMAN EARTH’S FORMER HERO” posters? I mean, I realize by even Silver Age standards, when people would turn on superheroes, or, hell, even each other, at the drop of a dime, this seems like a pretty harsh thing to do.
Or did Lois pull out one of her many, many Superman photos that she has stored away in albums on her bookcase, the one clearly marked with a rectangular white sign reading “BOOKCASE OF SUPERMAN PHOTO ALBUMS,” find a photo of Superman with sufficient blank space above his head, have it blown up at the local photo shop, and then neatly ink in the letters herself? And then, of course, tack it to the wall in full view of any friends she may have over, who, if they had any sense, would likely wonder what the hell was wrong with Lois, anyway. Luckily for Lois, from everything we’ve all seen in those comics, nobody she knows has a lick of sense, so her reputation is likely safe. (Of course, in this case, this is all part of some ulterior Get-Superman scheme, which frankly doesn’t make Lois seem any less sane.)
image from the Grand Comics Database, because I didn’t really think about this cover until I sold it to someone at the shop, and then no longer had a cover to scan. OH THE TRAGEDY
So after one day, it’s probably too soon to tell how Justice League of America #1 is selling, though unsurprisingly it’s the California and the American flag covers that are the most in demand at our shop. Mostly I seem to be getting the incredulous “wait, they really did 53 covers on this thing?” response from customers, and who can blame them, really?
I did sell one of those complete factory packs of all 53 variants to a customer, and the retail price on those packs is like a $60 savings over buying each cover individually. In fact, when I was figuring out our wholesale costs on these things, it turns out the per-unit cost difference between buying Justice League of America #1s individually and getting them as part of that complete pack is…52 cents. DC’s really carrying that “New 52” thing to the extreme.
Okay, it’s just a coincidence, based on our particular discount levels, but that was a good way to encourage retailers to carry all the covers by offering them at such a significant discount in that complete package. In fact, it was such a discount that I triple-checked the numbers to make sure I wasn’t making some kind of terrible mistake. (Yeah, yeah, “aside from ordering Justice League of America #1,” I know, wiseguys.)
Well, we’ll see if I have any specific requests or any odd trends of demand in the sale of this comic over the next week or so. Will everyone want that New Jersey variant? Will no one please buy the lonely, lonely Rhode Island variant? …I guess I’ll find out soon enough.
One of the things I’ve been sort of half-following over the years is what kind of language is becoming more acceptable in your more-or-less general audiences comic book. Having a character exclaim “Jesus Christ!” in your Green Lantern comic, as Kyle Rayner does in Green Lantern: New Guardians #17 (explicitly as an expression of shock, and not as someone using that as a proper name specifically to refer to Jesus as He pops up during a battle with, I don’t know, Goldface, though that would be pretty shocking in its own right) is probably not the sort of thing that would have flown under the purview of even the mostly-toothless Comics Code Authority as of a few years back. This isn’t the first example of this sort of religiously-themed exclamation I’ve noticed of late, and I don’t mention it out of some sense of prudery, but rather out of interest in what language is permissible and what companies believe their perceived audiences to be.
I think the first place I noticed language a little stronger beyond the usual “hells” and “damns” in your typical superhero book was during the Giffen/DeMatteis era Justice League, in which Guy Gardner says that he’s “pissed off.” (Clark Kent also dropped a “pissed off” in Action #838 back in 2006, which I’ve noted briefly on the site in the past, and I still don’t buy it as something he’d say.)
And of course, there’s this.
(Before you bring it up…I don’t consider the thing in All-Star Batman — you know what I’m talking about — to be part of the trend, as All-Star Batman was more of a special project than an example of a typical monthly superhero comic. God knows it wasn’t monthly.)
Speaking of hells and damns:
Well, this comic straight up gives you “fucking” on page one, a word you likely won’t be seeing in the ongoing DC Universe “New 52” Constantine series that will be attempting to fill that Hellblazer-shaped hole on the stands.
It’s been a good run, Hellblazer, and I’m sorry to see you go. I bought your first issue off the rack back in the late ’80s, and I stayed with you all the way to the end. I’m still not sure how I feel about the wrap-up to your Vertigo run…I may need to go back and reread your last year or so and see how it all holds together…but I think it holds true to the character we’ve all known and followed for all these years.
Okay, enough talking directly to the comic book. It’s somewhat satisfying to have a complete set of Hellblazer, terrifying as it is to realize I read each issue, month by month, for its entire run. And I really don’t mind the existence of the DC Universe Constantine series…I’ve been enjoying the character’s involvement in the surprisingly entertaining Justice League Dark, and the announcement of Jeff Lemire joining Constantine as writer has only increased my interest. And after 300 issues of the Vertigo run and all that entails, I don’t mind a different direction for a while. It seems unlikely we’ll get 300 issues of Constantine, but I suspect I’ll enjoy it while it exists.
Also this week, we had Classic Popeye #7:
I’m sorry for all the swearing in this post, Popeye. I know you swore in your comics, too, but at least you had the class to use &@$*%! unlike poor ol’ classless me.
So here’s a pic of me ‘n’ Euge AKA Adam Warrock from just before his performance at the store last night:
And here he is in the midst of performing:
A fun time was had by all, Euge put on a great show, the neighbors didn’t complain, the police didn’t show up, and we’re looking forward to having him back again next time he’s in the area. And a special thanks to customer Rich for the loaner of his PA system for the show.
Actually, speaking of the police showing up…I actually had to go to the store yesterday morning at about 5:30 AM because of yet another alarm notification. That meant zipping off to the shop and wondering during the entire drive there if Euge was going to have to perform in front of a giant piece of wood that would be in place of the plate glass window that was busted open by burglars. Thankfully, if annoyingly, something just happened to fall over in the back room and trip a motion detector, so there wasn’t a break-in.
It was a crummy way to start off the day, if admittedly not as crummy as it could have been, but the day certainly ended in fine form, with a great Adam Warrock show. If he happens to be performing in your area, try to make time and check him out. Even if you think you don’t care for the rapping…I think Euge will win you over with his charm and good humor.
Again, a big thanks to Euge for dropping by, and be sure to visit his site for free music and videos.
So the next trick here in ordering from Previews this month is DC’s “WTF Certified” books, which, as previously noted in my last End of Civilization, and as more accurately explained here, involves fold-out covers on each of their superhero books that reveal some kind of shocking event.
Will this bump up sales across the board? Maybe slightly…every time there’s some kind of event or gimmick like this, there are always a few customers who decide they need one of each. During the last “Zero Month” thing, I had a few folks picking up one of each, so it’s likely it’ll happen again. It’s not enough to drastically change sales on anything…it’s not suddenly going to make, say, Sword of Sorcery our #1 book, but it’s usually good for moving a few extra numbers on some of the titles.
The actual gimmick in this case is the “shocking” event revealed by the fold-out cover, and as a marketing tool goes…well, it’s not as if anyone has to buy the comic, take it home, and then discover the startling secret that waits within. People can just zip along the racks, peeking inside each comic and seeing what’s going on, which will probably annoy me come April when the books are out, but it’s not really the kind of thing where I feel comfortable saying “hey, stop looking at those covers,” because frankly that just sounds ridiculous. (Now, if they just park there and read the comics cover to cover, then the kickin’ boots come out, because that’s just not cool.)
The real problem is which “shocking event” is going to be the one that’s going to be the real game-changer for the title involved (or, rather, apparent game-changer, because you’ve read superhero comics before, you know how this works) and will get all the attention and rack up lots of extra sales. Or lots of theoretical extra sales, because there’s no way to predict which one will be the one and everyone will be caught by surprise and not have enough and will have to wait for the eventual second and third printings which won’t sell to expectations because the speculators who were driving the initial demand wanted the first printings to sell on the eBay even though technically the later printings will likely be more “scarce” than the first and thus seemingly should be more collectible and oh hey a run-on sentence how ’bout that.
That’s the Previews conundrum of the month. Well, that, and wondering if the fact that I’m not ordering any of the Hello Kitty KISS vinyl toys for the shop makes me a fascist censor oppressing both Gene Simmons and the creators of Hello Kitty. I’m sure those sharp legal minds and political analysts on comic book message boards will let me know.
Speaking of which, going back to that Superman comic…I like that one comic shop’s idea of donating its profits from the comic to the appropriate charities. (I also like their response to people criticizing their decision.) I think we may do the same…since, like I said, we will still get a very small handful of copies for folks who have it on preorder, that will be a nice way to balance things out. People who have to have the comic will get it, and the money goes to a good cause. Not a lot of money, because I’m still not going to put that issue on the shelf, but it’s better than nothing.
And in conclusion, this whole situation sucks, and I’m just trying to deal with it the best way I can, in a way I can live with. Those of you who have given me your support, including many of our customers, I appreciate it. Even the one fellow who wrote in and told me why he wasn’t going to read my site any more, because of my particular stance…he was polite about it, and, despite disagreeing with his viewpoint, I appreciated that as well, even if it’s too bad that I’m going to lose him as a reader. The drive-by sniping in the comments, I’m less thrilled with, but that tends to say more about the sniper than the snipee, and, well, That’s The Internet.
If nothing else, hopefully the message has been sent to DC why folks may object to having that certain writer on that specific character. Not that it seems to matter, but at least we said something.
In response to some inquiries I’ve had on the matter, and inspired by our friends over at Zeus Comics, after talking it over with the owner we have decided that we will not be stocking the print edition of that Orson Scott Card Superman comic at the shop (beyond the couple of copies for customers who have preexisting, ongoing comic savers for Superman items).
A few years ago I had the privilege of being part of pal Dorian‘s groom’s party, during that brief period of time marriages for gay couples were permitted in California. I stood up with him at the front of church, stood by as he and Peter read their vows, and it was as beautiful and fine a wedding as I’d ever been in. And those two guys are as devoted a couple as I’ve ever seen. They are my friends, and I am not going to support someone like Card, who is directly trying to take away marriage rights from my friends or anyone else.
I know, I know…we carried the Ender’s Game comics. We’ve carried other comics by creators with reprehensible positions (though mostly expressed via Internet hot air, rather than being on a board, like Card, to try to enforce those positions on people). But this particular Superman comic is the one where the line is being drawn, where a message is hopefully being sent that we don’t want to support someone who is on the wrong side of history, on the wrong side of progress, and, when you get right down to it, on the wrong side of basic human decency.
I don’t know if it will do any good. DC’s already released a statement backing Card, and I’m sure some beancounters over there are breathlessly anticipating big controversy-fueled sales. But they won’t get them from us.
Pal Dave pretty much sums it up.
Also, comments are off on this post. Apologies to my regular readers and commenters, whose welcome participation on my site I have always appreciated, but I’ve seen some of the troglodytes who’ve been leaving comments elsewhere on this topic…the kind of comments that try to argue “wanting to take away rights” and “wanting to gain and keep rights” are somehow morally equivalent…and I don’t need any drive-by jerks landing here to put in their two cents, or, rather, their nonsense.
A small reminder: I’m about to wind down the daily posting over at pogressiveruin.com, the Internet’s #1 source for watching a middle-aged man slowly drive himself crazy wallowing in some fad from a couple decades ago. I don’t know if we’ve learned anything, but one thing’s for sure: we certainly got to see a lot of large scans of pogs.
Anyway, I originally intended to go into that site with a finish line in mind, and that finish line was always meant to be six months after I started. I figure that’s probably enough. It’s not grinding to a complete halt…I’d like to keep the option open for featuring any more future oddball cap discoveries from this collection, so there will probably still be a new entry every now and again. But, as of February 15th, the daily posts there are done.
If you followed that site, I appreciate it! Also…why? Are you nuts?
In other news: it’s time for me to start going through Previews for actual business-related reasons instead of End of Civilization reasons, and put together the monthly comics order. So basically, take this post and multiply it by several thousand items. Not every comic requires that much hemming and / or hawing over the numbers, of course. I have sales histories for many titles, and I can easily base orders on those, noting any increases or decreases and adjusting accordingly
And then of course there are the comics that never change sales levels, ever, no matter what the publisher does, what gimmicks they try, etc. For example, sales on one particular long-running-through-a-variety-of-publishers property have been pretty much unchanged for some time now. Don’t go up, don’t go down, don’t do nothin’ but sell the same number of copies every month. But when a second series featuring this same property was solicited, I thought the variety of different covers, plus the fact that it’s a new first issue of this once very popular character, might encourage additional pick-ups. And, when the comic came out…hey, we sold more copies of a comic based on this specific property than we normally have of late! …Then I realized that one of our regular customers who usually bought the other series bought one copy each of most of the variants of this new #1, so while we technically did increase sales of individual copies, we didn’t increase the number of actual customers for it. So while it was a good thing for me to bump up orders like I did, it didn’t actually bump up readership, but that’s okay. Not everything works like I planned…and I did sell more comics, so I guess I shouldn’t complain.
History (well, really recent history, as the story in the previous paragraph wasn’t from that long ago) is sort of repeating itself this week, with the release of this new Ghostbusters comic from IDW. IDW’s previous Ghostbusters comics started off…okay, saleswise, but have slowed down a bit for us. I’m taking a bit of a chance on this new series, having bumped orders up a wee bit over what I normally sell on Ghostbusters, since I think the comic looks like fun, the covers stand out, and my plan was (which I in fact implemented last night as I was setting up the racks) to display each cover separately, rather than shoving them all together into a single shelf space, which should garner a little extra attention. I may just sell more of the first issue, and maybe we’ll be back to regular Ghostbusters sales levels with the second, but there would be no chance of increasing sales on #2 if I don’t have the #1s for people to try out right now.
Maybe it’s good money after bad, I don’t know, but it doesn’t hurt to give it a try. Ghostbusters is a known property that people generally like, and with a bit of sales strategy combined with a comic that looks a little more appealing than the previous GB attempts from IDW, maybe I’ll sell a few more copies. Worth a shot.
Now if they could somehow bring back the Slimer solo title, then IDW would be cookin’ with gas!
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