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I did indeed
get a free comic. And so did the several hundred folks who passed through our doors on Saturday, most of whom didn’t get just one free comic, but many
free comics pulled from the several tables we had set up for funnybook distribution.
…is from much later in the day, when we’d taken down one of the tables once we were out of a handful of titles. But this should give you kind of an idea of what was goin’ on at our store for pretty much the entire day. And yes, that’s a shelf of pogs. There is no escape.
Here’s a shot from sort of behind the register “island” near the front of one side of our shop…that’s Employee Fredat the far right behind the register there:
And here’s the boss, Seth himself, posing with a box of Bongo comics, Employee Timmy lurking just over his shoulder:
Part-Time Employee Aaron and his lovely wife Kempo manned and womanned the Cash Only register we set up on the other side of the store, with only the occasional bout of violence:
And then there was this fella, Customer Brandon, who helped out a bit, too. I think he’s dressed up as someone from Speed Racer
or something, I’m pretty sure:
Special thanks to Pal Casie
, who dropped off a box of cakes and cookies, decorated in such a way that clearly indicated they were all meant for me and not for any other of those crummy employees:
Those were the only pics I managed to take; Employee Mark
took more photos but hasn’t yet sent them to me, but as soon as he does, I’ll toss ‘em up on the site. One of those photos includes me, so consider yourself warned.
Anyway, remember how in this post I mentioned I was going to de-emphasize the distribution of our free comics in age-appropriate bags…a bag of freebies for kids, one for teens, one for grown-ups. Well, I de-emphasized the heck out of it since I ultimately decided not to bag any of the comics at all. The goal was to keep some stock of freebies through most of the day by not giving everything to everybody. And I have to tell you, that morning, as I was unloading and stacking all the comics on all the tables I had a moment of panic. “Oh man, we’re never going to get rid of all of these, I shoulda bagged ‘em, oh we’re screwed,” which is a variation on my usual FCBD pre-opening panic that no one’s going to show up and that it’ll be a disaster.
Shouldn’t have worried. We were slammed from the second we opened our door at 10 AM, and the store was crammed full with people until mid-afternoon, when things slowed down to just merely insanely busy. Seth and Employee Mark even had to function as gatekeepers for a couple of hours, standing at the door and letting customers in only a few at time, and we still had a line stretching around the interior of the store, down one side, across the back wall, and forward by the tables as they head back towards the the register and the exit. As previously noted, the shots of the store above were later in the afternoon, when folks were just heading straight in from the door toward the tables, when the crowds were slightly more manageable.
Also as previously noted, we had a second register set up for cash only transactions, having learned my lesson from last time when we had register lines a mile long. As it turns out, not a whole lot of people carry cash nowadays, but enough did to help lessen line wait times at least a little.
Back to this year’s free comic distribution test (i.e. “Mike was too lazy to sort out the comics into bags this time”), there were two main results. First, yes, as I’d hoped, the comic stock lasted a bit longer this time around. In fact, for the first time in a few years, I still had a small assortment left over, enough to fill a small Diamond shipping box, which is quite the reduction from the many dozens of Diamond FCBD shipping boxes I originally received. That’s probably a combination of the non-bagging and of my increased orders this time around. That’s okay…we’ve left some out for anyone who couldn’t make it in on Saturday.
Second, it did increase customer wait time as everyone picked out the comics they wanted instead of just grabbing a pre-packed bag or three and running off. Nobody really seemed to mind, however, and the wait time wasn’t that long.
Another thing I did this year was take a bunch of those bargain-priced comics we still had hanging around (all those 50-cent Invincibles and $1.00 “Image Firsts” and 25-cent Vampirellas and such) and put those out for giveaways, too. And that giant stack of free Marvel Point Ones that Marvel overshipped to us a couple years back, and that one issue of Garfield that, ahem, I may have accidentally overordered by entering the wrong number on the order form and not noticing…all put out for giveaways, all gone.
AND I think I am finally, finally out of that Avatar Comics Robocop freebie from years ago. I thought I was done with it before, but more keep turning up. But I think I finally unloaded all our backstock of books from FCBDs past. …Well, it wasn’t more than two or three shipping boxes’ worth, so it wasn’t that much, but it still feels good to have found good homes for them.
We didn’t have any in-store signings or other planned special guests…there just wouldn’t have been room…but I did briefly greet pal Nat; got to see the bearded visage of Matt Digges and his non-bearded niece; reader Dave Z., who makes the trek from Bakersfield every year to get free comics that had been personally touched by my filthy, filthy hands; and hugged Gina, my former editor at Music Confidential magazine.
In addition to the goodies pal Casie brought us, Heather from the local library brought us a tray of cookies, thanking us for providing a bunch of this year’s FCBD books for them to distribute. And Employee Mark’s uncle Jay brought us his candied balls. …Before you ask, yes we did. How can you not.
End result: the busiest, most successful Free Comic Book Day yet…gave away more comics than ever before, and made more money than ever before. I’m not trying to be crass by mentioning the money thing, but it’s important to note that the expense of Free Comic Book Day…the cost of the comics, the employee wages, the trapeze artist, the stunt drivers…was more than covered.
I have been sent a few stories, in comments and via email, from people whose own FCBD experiences at their local shops were less than exemplary. I’m sorry to hear it, but I’ve also heard from folks who had wonderful times, so maybe things have been improving on that front. Like I’ve said many, many times before…it doesn’t take much to make Free Comic Book Day into an event, and boy, what an event we had this time around. Plus, I think I’ve convinced Seth into letting me spend even more money for Free Comic Book Day next year.
I should also note the efforts of Employee Robert the Friday night before, who did a lot of set-up rearranging part of the store to accommodate the free comic distribution. EFFORTS ARE NOTED.
And yes, I know that’s Goku…don’t send me emails.
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!
Sorry, gang…been a bit ill, so I’m totally in Low Content Mode right now. But here, have some link-a-doodles:
- The second issue of Olive Hopkins and the Ninth Kingom, by Kevin Church, Grace Allison and Josh Krach, is now available for purchase. Only $1.99…why, it’s so good, I’d even have bought it if it were a whole $2!
- Pal Ian, one of the founding members of the Associated Comics and Pop Culture Webloggers of Ventura County, CA and Outlying Enrions (which is, as always, ACAPCWOVCCAOE for short) has written a new funnybook for Boom! Studios: Freelancers #1 is now available for only a buck at your finer four color emporiums or even digitally, if you gotta be like that.
- So pals Chris Sims and Matt Wilson opened the latest episode of War Rocket Ajax speaking briefly about my completely ridiculous and misguided side project POGressive Ruin, thanks to some milkcaps I sent to Mr. Sims. I KNEW THE BRIBE WOULD WORK.
So the other night I saw that The Omen was on Netflix Watch Instantly, and I realized a couple of things. One, it had been years since I’ve seen it…in fact, I probably wasn’t any more than about 10 years old, and I probably only saw parts of it on whatever local pay-cable channel we had as a precursor to HBO at the time. Two, my memories of the movie were primarily of the Mad Magazine parody from issue #189 (March 1977):
Actually, that’s not the panel burned into my head, but the ones specifically concerned with the fate of David Warner’s character, which might be a bit much to hit you with without any warning, so I picked that panel above as being a little more representative of the parody as a whole.
I wonder how many more movies and TV shows with which I have passing familiarity mostly because of the Mad parodies, versus actually seeing the darned things. I keep meaning to get around to watching A Clockwork Orange, which, yeah, I know, I haven’t seen it yet, I’m a bad person, but I’ll tell you I still have images from the George Woodbridge-illustrated Mad parody stuck in my brain. And since it seems like I’ll never get around to actually watching Blade Runner, I should find its Mad parody and just settle for that.
Anyway, speaking of what happens to David Warner’s character, I thought I’d be a smart guy and post this to the Twitter the other night:
I thought I’d just remembered the images from the Mad
parody involving this scene, but apparently I remembered the joke, too, since I apparently just up and stole it. (Not the “pageboy haircut is adorable” part, but the “losing your head” part. Though David Warner is
adorable in this movie.)
Another thing I hadn’t remembered about the film is that Patrick Troughton, Doctor Who‘s Second Doctor, has a significant part:
…Which of course caused me to make Yet Another Obvious Twitter Joke™:
Yes, I think I’m hilarious
…And this has been another installment of “What Mike Does in His Spare Time.”
• • •
A couple of you had more questions from the other day
, re: Spawn and related merchandise:
“…Have you covered the ‘party Angela’ phenomenon?”
For those of you who aren’t familiar with this, I’m going to strip away your innocence forever: McFarlane Toys produced an action figure of Spawn supporting character Angela (the warrior angel character created by Neil Gaiman), but, alas, lacked the paint job beneath the figure’s loin-armor or whatever that is to give her warrior angel-appropriate undergarments. Thus, this figure, and, according to my brief-but-probably-getting-me-on-watch-lists Googling, other figures that have similarly gone commando are referred to as “party” figures. And in case you’re wondering, that term does seem more appalling the more you think about it. …I remember a brief hubbub about it at the time, but it seemed to die down once people realized they were getting overly excited about a toy not having paint-panties, and hopefully that nipped it in the bud. Well, except on eBay, where no bud is ever nipped.
Tim O’Neil asks
“What about modern sales of Spawn? Has the series picked up new readers since it entered its 20 year anniversary with all the variant covers and such?”
I haven’t seen any real boost in sales, no…I think we may have gained a new reader or two on the series, but otherwise sales have been very consistent as a low-to-mid range seller. During 2010, when only four issues were released, that may have…well, “put the nail in the coffin” is a bit strong. Maybe “pushed it down the stairs” is more like it.
• • •
COMING NEXT WEEK: Yes, I’ll probably talk about Swamp Thing
#0, don’t nag me. Also, more comic book talk! Maybe! And not so much about the pogs
- Pal Jim use big brain to talk smart about John Constantine, with an in-depth look at Hellblazer #1.
- Pal Andrew use big brain to talk smart about comic book crossover events, in the context of his latest choice for “Nobody’s Favorites.” You know, I remember liking the comic discussed at the time, but it has been nearly a quarter-century since it came out. After all, I read these comics and didn’t respond negatively to them back then.
- Amid use cartoony brain to post about William A. Emmons, “The Disney Animator Who Almost Was.” Mr. Emmons was only at Disney for a few months in the 1940s, but at the time wrote a bit about his experience in a letter to his sister, reproduced at that link. A fascinating inside look at the early days of Disney.
- Mike use small brain and post about comic pogs over on his other woefully misguided website. I know you folks like it when I post about Death of Superman on this site, so here you go.
- Pal Dorian use floppy brain to post Flop.
So I get an email from Joe, and Joe sez to me, he sez: “there’s a new Swamp Thing toy out” and I sez “okay, well, off I go then, as there’s a Major Toy Store Chain along the path from my home to my place of employment at the Ventura Comic and Cardfight Vanguard Shop and Video Deli and I shall make a stop during my journey to work, oh yes.”
And what is this toy, you dare ask? Well, there are these things called “Squinkies,” it seems, which are little squishy rubbery toys that are indeed very very tiny and perfectly sized for fitting one or four into each nostril, not that I’ve ever done that, nor have I taken pictures of it, but there is a line of DC Comics Squinkies, and you can see Joe’s pics of his own purchases right here.
The deal here is that each package of twelve “Squinkies” includes three that are “blind-packaged,” so you can’t see what they are. Swamp Thing is one of those “blind-packaged” ones, apparently to avoid riots at toy stores as people rushed in and mobbed the aisles trying to get their hands on the latest Swampy item. The blind-packaged Squinkies not randomly packed, and if you were to pick up the package marked “Series 2,” you too could have a wee elemental that looks a little something…like this:
Here’s the little guy next to somethin’ to give you a sense of scale:
The other two “blind” Squinkies in the Series 2 package are Kamandi and Sinestro, the latter of which actually looks a little like a bee from the back, or maybe a member of Stryper, what with the yellow and black costume he’s wearing.
I almost, almost bought Series 1, since there was a little squishy Darkseid in that package, but, you know, it’s already problematic as it is that I purchased the one set.
So anyway, if you’re a Swamp Thing collector and you need one of these, look for the package with a picture of Green Lantern on the backer card in the lower right hand corner…also, note that a couple of other Squinkies in the package are Batman and Aquaman, to help you identify that you’ve got the right set. And when you’re buying your Squinkies, tell ‘em Mike sent you…I mean, chances are pretty good they know a Mike, they’ll just assume you mean him.
So get this: Thursday morning, we had a gentlemen come to the store carrying a couple of filled bags, who told us he’d just been cleaning out his storage unit and came across some materials and was wondering if we were in the market for them? He then opened up the bags to reveal what he was trying to sell…
…you’re way ahead of me…
…and it was POGs. …We pointed him to the corner of the store where we were trying to contain the vast amounts of POGgish items of which I’d only barely scratched the surface in these last couple of posts. I told him I didn’t know what to do with all the POGs we already had. He suggested I give some away with each comic book purchase. I replied that I wanted to keep my customers. And we both laughed, though I think my laugh was tinged slightly with hysteria and despair.
Okay, okay, it’s not as bad as all that. Everyone at the shop, customers and employees alike, are fairly amused by all this so far, and we even had a brief POG demonstration yesterday evening, run by Employee Debra:
And yes, we will totally have POG tournaments at the shop, if people want to play ‘em. I mean, why not. Might as well dive fully in.
But enough about POGs, let’s talk about this other collection of stuff we got in…Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles merchandise from the early 1990s, like this big ol’ action figure carrying case:
“Holds 20 Figures,” it says, though none were inside. Instead, the figures were loose, scattered about the boxes in which this collection was stored. Figures like this terrifying Splinter figure, complete with faux fur:
…Or this poor bastard Turtle, who as part of his city camouflage, wore a manhole cover on his back:
I don’t know what’s going on here:
…except, well, what teenager doesn’t
have problems with acne?
I honestly have no idea (or just didn’t remember) what the deal was with this character:
…until a quick trip to the Turtles Wiki explained
she was a fifth
turtle mutated by the radioactive stuff that created the regular TMNT gang, who did not know of her existence.
Here’s a closer look…I didn’t know turtles had breasts:
Having this Turtle’s eyes on separate fingers freaks me out just a tad:
…and c’mon, he clearly just endorsed the glove for a paycheck:
…unless there’s a two-fingered / one-thumbed version he was able to personally try out and I don’t know about.
“Remember kids…crush the entire tissue in your fist and then just shove the exposed ends against your nose for best effect!”
I wonder if kids blew their noses on these printed tissues in such a way as to give the Turtles’ faces, I don’t know, beards:
That would take some fine nasal control, I’d imagine.
I took a picture of this just because it’s a big rubbery Frisbee-type thing:
And I took a picture of this suction cup-fastenable Turtle face because it’s shifty-eyed and terrible:
These TMNT binoculars worked about as well as any other toy binocular set I’ve ever had:
…in that it made things look, oh, about an inch or two closer than just plain looking at that thing.
Most of the weapons and other accessories were separated from the loose figures and stored in this plastic bowl:
Of note was this weapons sprue, which I’m featuring here partially because I thought it was a bit sad that these accessories were never detached and used as intended, but mostly because I like using the word “sprue.”
And then there’s this:
I guess if a turtle can have breasts, then why not
Finally, just to bring it all around:
All roads lead to POGs, I’m afraid.
Before you say anything…yes, this set of Undertaker caps are already marked for shipment to a certain Mr. Chris Sims:
I mean, honestly, just look
at it. It comes with a plastic coffin
in which to store your caps. This is a beautiful thing.
Anyway, I did indeed return to the shop on Tuesday to find that the boxes from our shocking Sunday shipment had all been opened up and the contents sorted out, and I spent a few minutes picking through the entrails of this long-defunct POG store to see what caught my eye. I’m pretty sure I saw holographic foil robot unicorn POGs, but I’m going to have to go back and confirm before I admit to it here. Also, there are bags upon bags of Christian-themed caps, because why not.
I did pull a set of these McDonald’s cap sheets to throw on the eBay:
…and I’m pretty sure the Grimace cap alone sells the set:
There were a lot of Peanuts
-related POGs as well, including a series of five sheets of POGs advertising the Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park to which the Peanuts franchise has been tied for many a year:
I don’t know which is more disturbing: this POG from the above sheet featuring Snoopy actually speaking:
…or, from another sheet in this series, an actual licensed studio-produced drawing of Linus and Snoopy fighting over a POG:
Opening up the shipping cartons also revealed lots of sealed boxes of packs of caps, such as this one:
I should keep track (NOTE: no, I probably shouldn’t) of all the ways different manufacturers referred to their products without using the actual trademarked term of POG. Most used variations on the word “milkcap,” or just “cap,” like “coolcaps” on the above box. There were also multiple terms for the thicker and heavier “slammers,” used to throw down upon the caps during the course of what we will call a “game” for the lack of a better term. I’m pretty sure “slammahs” never caught on, despite Big Deal’s noble attempts, and the official POG term was apparently “kini,” as on this World POG Federation Micro Tournament Game Pack from Milton Bradley:
And by the way, remember that video I mentioned at the end of yesterday’s post? Well, we did
have volume one of that series, as well as this tape from another series (well, if there was
a series of them):
If I remember the back of the package correctly, this 20-minute video promises music from “two different Southern California bands!” which really narrows things down a bit. I have no idea who the bands actually were, so I’m gonna pretend they were “Steve Garvey’s Hair” and “False Confession” just to amuse myself.
Speaking of that video from yesterday, longtime reader Old Bull Lee found Milk Cap Mania Vol. 2 online, uploaded by one of the people behind the project. Of note is that person’s brief text commentary about the genesis, and the death, of this series. (As I skimmed through the video, I did notice a few scenes filmed within a comic book store, and I had a nostalgic twinge upon seeing some of the promo posters on the wall. …Hello, ‘Breed poster, it’s been a while!)
So, yeah, I told you I’d be presenting more from this collection. If I gotta deal with it, so do you. Despite all my supposed despair and bemoaning of this fate, I think I’m distanced enough from the actual height of the fad and my retail part in it to look at these things for the cultural oddities that they are. To appreciate their absurdity, and to examine the exploitative Gold Rush that surrounded them.
In fact, there’s only one word to describe all these fascinating treasures…
So the boss had some friends who came into the possession of a storage unit full of material that once belonged to the distributor of a certain product. Those friends had no particular use for said product, and they said to the boss, they sez “here, you can have it all, and see if you can get anything for it.”
And thus, on a warm Sunday afternoon, the boss pulled the rental truck up in front of the shop, and this was the scene within:
And here we are, a little closer and at a slightly higher angle:
Yes. Oh, yes indeedy. So, we meet again, my old enemy:
Yes, that’s right, boxes and boxes and boxes of POGs and milkcaps and slammers and carrying tubes and oh sweet mother an entire CASE of Ultra Pro POG sleeves and uncut cap sheets and a generous handful of SLAMINATORS:
This fellow was apparently a distributor and / or manufacturer of cap products during the height of fad, in the early ’90s, and these rare jewels have apparently been resting in storage for nearly two decades since. I haven’t had much of a chance to actually go through the boxes, since mostly we were just hauling them out of the truck and making a giant POG box pyramid in a corner of the shop. However, one employee drew the short stick and he’s going to go through and sort everything out…and when I’m back on Tuesday, I’ll begin the process of getting these things on the eBay and finding homes for them.
Yes, this means I am back in the POG-selling business. …Don’t you judge me.
As we were hauling boxes into the shop, I was carrying a smallish box which caused some wag to call out “Hey, Mike, way to pitch in!” to which I replied “Here, you hold this box” which was filled with brass slammers and thus heavier than your mother:
And if you don’t know what “slammers” are, please don’t ask me to explain. Speaking of which, another customer, a young fellow of about twelve, asked us what POGs were as he’d never heard of them, and I envied him his youthful innocence.
By the way, SHAQ POGS:
And all of these caps were presided over by their true and rightful king:
Just to allay any concerns, I took this pic on top of one of our glass cases, so Pogman isn’t
directly sitting on top of our copies of Daredevil
#7 (1965), Marvel Tales Annual
#1 (1964), or X-Men
#8 (1964), as it may appear.
There was one of these as well, a videotape sealed in its original shrinkwrap, and thus presumably the “6 Collectible Wackers” are still included:
The back, since I know you’re curious:
Oh, there are no winners here.
Most terrifying part of this video?
Yeah, there was more than one in this series. Seriously, I am tempted beyond all belief to pop this open and watch it.
In an odd sort of way, I’m sort of excited, just for the sheer “OH MY GOD WHAT’S THIS” entertainment of it all, not to mention seeing what actually does sell and for how much. And believe you me, I’ll be taking full advantage of the “pogs” category on this site if I find any more treasures.
In the meantime…drop by the shop! Scale POG Mountain! See Mike just kinda stand there and shake his head in bemusement!
I knew when I saw this Metafilter post on POGs this morning, it was only a matter of time before I got mentioned. Thank you, Martin…I think.
Anyway, that encouraged me to go through and add the “POGs” tag to some of my previous posts to fill out the category a bit. I consider that part of my penance for having sold the damned things in the first place.
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