So basically I just went ahead and did Marvel’s job for them, trying to at least try to get new readers to give this Miracleman release a shot, by offering the ridiculously-priced $5.99 debut issue at a significant discount at our shop. We’re not going to sell future issues if we can’t get people to at least pick up this first one, so it’s in our interest to get customers looking at this book any way we can. I’ve written before about how a six-freaking-dollar first issue is a hurdle too high for casual readers who might have a slight interest in this 25-year-old comic book story they’d heard about, starring a character they don’t know. As it was, even with the discounting, it’s been a bit of an uphill battle to move copies.
It’s only been a day or so since it’s come out, so I suppose it’s really too soon to judge for sure, but sales out of the gate have been…okay, not great, with some purchases of the book only coming after extended discussions attempting to explain the history and significance of the comics. And emphasizing the discounted price!
…And, of course, mentioning the writers. “The Original Writer” sobriquet that replaces Alan Moore’s credit in the advertising and the solicitation information does appear in the book, on the inside front cover, despite my initial impression it wasn’t there at all, that Marvel just eschewed creator credits altogether. But nope, there it is, white on black, right there next to “ARTIST: GARRY LEACH.” Yeah, it looks dumb, but what can you do. I suppose “WRITER: A.M.” or “MR. M.” or “JILL DE RAY” were out of the question.
Anyway, I had to handsell the books using Alan Moore’s name on my own, since Marvel wasn’t permitted to identify him properly, though most folks at the shop already seemed to realize that Moore was involved with this particular project. Not so well known, apparently, was the fact that Neil Gaiman stories would eventually appear in the series, culminating in never-before-published new installments by Gaiman and artist Mark Buckingham. That particular tidbit appeared to tip over a number of people to the side of forking over a few dollars to try out this oddball comic.
I’ve also been hearing here and there that some digital editions of this comic feature some mild editing: a fairly innocuous bare bottom is covered up, Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking-style. All I can tell you is that when the “birth” story comes around, those digital funnybook sellers are going to have to blank out whole panels on several pages. Good luck with that! (The print comic, at least this first issue, is not similarly censored. The butts run free!)
As to the comic itself: the remastering of the original pages was done quite nicely, I have to admit. The coloring is very bright and clear, certainly better than the somewhat murky reproduction in the Eclipse Comics editions. (The glossy white pages help!) The new lettering is well done, too, and I haven’t noticed any egregious typos just yet, which frequently has been a problem in other reprint projects requiring relettering. I hope the quality in that particular area stays high, because nothing really takes me out of the reading experience like a misused “it’s.”
There’s an enormous amount of padding, filling out the book from what should have been a more reasonable $3.99 32-page experience to a $5.99 64-pager containing material that you may or may not have any interest in, and could have easily been spaced out as back-ups in subsequent issues. All the first issue really needed was that history of Marvelman textpiece, and, okay, maybe the pullquotes from that interview with MM creator Mick Anglo, only squeezed down to a couple of pages.
The black and white reprints of three “classic” MM stories from the 1950s are excessive, given that we already have the redialogued “Invaders from the Future” story from about the same time period serving as the contrasting prologue for Moore ‘n’ Leach’s Miracleman story. The original MM stories presented here are…well, rough going for modern readers, to put it kindly, and eating up pages with these adventures isn’t exactly adding to the book’s perceived value. There are some good — well, at least good-ish — classic MM stories, but boy, these three aren’t it.
Future issues appear to contain more Miracleman content and less other stuff, and at the slightly cheaper but still not-great price of $4.99, so hopefully the price/content ratio will be more favorable to sales. Assuming, of course, enough people give the first issue a try.
Again, to repeat a point I’ve made on this site, I want this project to be a success. Not just out of the selfish desire to finally read the conclusion to this story I’ve been anticipating for decades — well, okay, mostly that — but because it is a great comic and one of the recent seemingly-lost treasures of the industry. It’s a comic series that deserves to be available and in print, even if the eventual collected editions are in the hands of the ever-mercurial Marvel graphic novel department. At the very least we’ll get a new run of trades reprinting Miracleman that, once they fall out of print, may go for slightly less on eBay versus the sometimes-crazypants prices the Eclipse volumes command. But perhaps I’m being cynical.
Slightly related: Employee Aaron brought in a V for Vendetta action figure, still in the package, that he said he purchased at our shop years ago. I absolutely cannot, for the life of me, remember selling these figures. I may learn a lesson from that, should I mistakenly think about it too closely.