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.
§ May 10th, 2006§ Filed under pogsComments Off on Another look at Marvel Super Heroes POGs.
Well, a good chunk of them are just pictures of the characters, with their logos:
Then there are a handful of group shots:
Some group shots are “themed,” such as “Brusiers” (with Hulk, Venom, and the Thing), or “Fire ‘N Ice” (Human Torch and Iceman), or this one, featuring a skull motif:
This one brings up some vague memories of the Great POG Scare of the early ’90s, particularly that the “skull” POGs were considered more desirable, for some reason. Or maybe I’m confusing them with the “poison” POGs (not to be confused with these guys)…or maybe the skull POGs and the poison POGs were the same thing. I don’t remember. I don’t really want to remember.
At any rate, the themes get a little strained, like this one:
Because, you see, the Thing is rocky, and Ghost Rider…rolls, I guess, since he has a motorcycle. ROCK AND ROLL, DUDE.
And there are quite a few POGs that just have logos:
The sample pack we opened was primarily just logo POGs.
All those images above were taken from a promo poster we were sent a few days back, by the way. I’m half-tempted to put it up in the store just to see customer reactions: “No, not POGs! Not again! Nooooooooo-“(deep breath) “-ooooooooo!”
I think this attempted POG collectible revival may be about five-to-ten years too early for the typical 20-year “nostalgia gap” that most things like this seem to have. Assuming, of course, there will be nostalgic interest in these at any point in the future…most of my customers who had bought them as young’uns seem embarrassed by it now, and in my case, I’m embarrassed that I even sold them here at the shop.
Given that the superhero trading card market is fairly moribund (it primarily consists of people not buying new cards, but trying to sell their old Marvel sets to us and being surprised that they’re not worth much of anything now), I don’t think the tangentially-related superhero POG market is going to take off. Unless, of course, they sell it as a gaming item (since there is a game of sorts associated with POGs, mainly involving throwing things at other things) to the kids buying the Yu-Gi-Oh collectible card game and the like, but even the CCG market sorta looks like it’s slowing down.
POGs. Geez, of all the things I thought I’d never have to deal with again….
Okay, he also has some pog-related questions there, but I’m not quite ready to tackle those yet. However, PTOR has the honor of having the last question from that last Question Time post from all those months ago, and that question is THIS:
“How do you keep on top of Diamond / Previews constant ‘newly announced product’ and ‘just now added-on variants and reprints’ that are announced DAILY (with their own dedicated web pages on the Previews site)?
“I’m just a guy trying to keep up with the solicits of pretty much ONE CHARACTER (Doctor Strange, natch) and the constant newly announced stuff is hard to consistently track.
How do you do it for your entire store’s new inventory?”
It’s actually not as bad as it seems. Yes, there’s a constant stream of emails and announcements and whathaveyou, but when it comes to actually ordering all these different items, there’s generally only one or two places to go.
In the Diamond retailer website, you’ve got the Final Order Cutoffs page, where you can adjust your initial orders on comics and toys and other products from select vendors…generally Marvel, DC, IDW, Dark Horse, Image, Zenescope, and some others. Usually any newly announced variants or reprints from these companies will get listed here. This is the place where, if you noticed that your order of 100 copies of X-Squirrels isn’t selling very well on the rack, and you feel like your pending order of 75 copies of issue #2 is going to be way too much, when that issue shows up in the Final Order Cutoff listings you’ll have your chance to drop those numbers down to the far more reasonable 5 copies you should have ordered in the first place.
Then there’s the Previews Plus order page, where all the new products…not just comics, but pretty much everything Diamond carries…show up for your ordering pleasure. Sometimes there’s overlap with the Final Order Cutoff page, but if there is whatever numbers you may have placed will be shown here too. But generally this is the place where you put in your numbers for new product that didn’t show up in the monthly catalog.
Pretty much all new product that Diamond announces shows up in one place or the other. There are rare exceptions, such as the rush print job DC tried to do on the 2nd print of DC Universe Rebirth. We were told to contact our sales rep directly with orders, as, due to its rushed nature, it would not be in the Final Order Cutoff listings.
Occasionally there are special lists made available for other new products (like offers for some San Diego Comic Con exclusives), which are made obvious to anyone logging into Diamond’s site. Like, literally a banner across the top of the page telling you “HEY, PLACE YER ORDERS ALREADY, SHEESH.” Well, maybe not in those words exactly.
And then there are periodic liquidation sales and other special offers, which either show up in email or just when you go to Diamond’s site, but that’s for previously-available product and not quite as vital, but definitely welcome. You just kinda have to keep an eye out for those.
New product, though…the announcements come all the time, but there’s really only a couple of places to put in your orders, so it’s reasonably easy to keep up on that stuff.
And now that I’ve revealed all these secrets to you, PTOR…I’m afraid I’m going to have to kill you. Nothing personal. But that’s just how it goes in the world…of comics retail.
And new this week at your local funnybook store is the Bill & Ted’s Excellent Comic Book Archives, reprinting the Evan Dorkin comics from a couple o’decades back. If you look closely at the first couple of pages in the book, you’ll see a special thanks to yours truly and my former boss Ralph in there. We helped editor pal Ian obtain some necessary material for this collection, and he was kind enough to give us credit! Almost makes me feel bad for all the terrible things I’ve said about Ian in the past. …Almost.
Enough of that…now let us attend to the last batch of predictions!
• • •
Jeff R. rites
“Of these three, one will see an issue at least for sale in 2015, one will be solicited before the end of the year, and one will have no sign seen: Mage III, Frank Miller’s Xerxes comic, and a brand-new Miracleman comic from Gaiman. (which is to say not counting the one that’s already written and drawn but never published.)”
Just a tad early…this week the Previews comes out containing the solicits for the first new (or rather unpublished) Gaiman and Buckingham Miracleman story, with brand new installments to come!
“Of the 19 remaining First Wave New 52 titles, less that half will make it to the end of 2015 without a cancellation or relaunch and thus be on track to actually reach #52 sometime in 2016.”
Trying to go over the titles gave me a headache, but I think most of the original 2011 launch titles that made it to 2015 made it into 2016, though, again, you may have been a bit early, depending on whatever this alleged “REBIRTH” thing is DC is leading up to.
“For late in the year, well after the movie, Marvel will solicit an event that looks like the return of the Fantastic Four. When it comes out it will actually not just not bring them back but salt the earth, rendering the characters as toxic and unusable as they can possibly manage.”
Maaaaybe another thing that happened in 2016, depending on what you think of the ending of Secret Wars. I don’t believe anything’s been made unusable yet, but we’ll see what goes on in the future!
“The 8-page ‘Attack on Titans vs. Avengers’ storyline that debuted in Japan in Nov/2014 will be reprinted as a backup story in an Avengers comic. This will entice the original author to finish the story.”
Half a hit, since it popped up in the Free Comic Book Day giveaway from Marvel!
“Mike Sterling will franchise out his store to three new locations.”
…Followed shortly by my death.
“Ant-Man won’t do Guardians-sized box office but will bring in a surprising amount of cash for Marvel.”
As discussed previously…no one’s sneezing at Ant-Man half-billion dollar take.
• • •
Hollywood Hogan bars no holds with
“Avengers 2 is a box office disappointment (not a bomb, but does worse than the first one or GOTG) and Marvel proceeds to completely re-tool future movie plans.”
Age of Ultron did almost as well as the first, box office-wise, but hoo boy it wasn’t a good movie. Thankfully Ant-Man cleansed that palate.
“The Marvel comic universe will be rebooted ala the New 52. Major changes are the elimination of the Fantastic Four completely (they never existed in the new universe), Nick Fury having always been Samuel L. Jackson, and the X-Men being shuffled off to an alternate universe where they are the only superheroes. There will be no regular X-Men book published, but they will make cameos.”
That was the rumor, or at least one of them, and honestly I’m surprised they didn’t do this.
“DC’s September event will be a showcase for characters from cancelled titles and writers to go completely crazy. Expect things like Swamp Thing with an H-Dial, Hawk and Dove joining the Blackhawks, and Larfleeze stealing a Mother Box.”
Almost wish they had done this…what would they have to lose, right? But DC kinda/sorta did some different stuff with some new titles, though sadly some of it died off right quite. I mean, who was expecting both a Bat-Mite and a Bizarro series?
• • •
Jay the Ray has his say
“The multiverse will be introduced in an episode of The Flash, when Barry accidentally is trapped on Earth-2 with Jay Garrick. The twist will be that another Earth out there is the cinematic universe – leaving the door open for future crossovers.”
We did get the multiverse, but they haven’t done much with it aside from Earth One and Earth Two interaction. Getting some vague hints and rumors here and there (like with Supergirl), but nothing with the movie universe just yet. Boy, funny the DC went through all the trouble to get rid of the multiverse in their comics way back when, and here we are with the media adaptations bringing it all back.
“Agents of Shield will be cancelled, Agent Carter will be cancelled, ABC/Disney/Marvel will move Daredevil from Netflix to primetime TV to fill the gap, where it will also flop.”
Nope nope nope and nope. Thank goodness!
“Convergence will lead to the September DC event where ‘anything goes.’ Similar to what the All-Star line was supposed to be, it’ll be iconic versions of characters in their own universes, written by top talent.”
If only they did, Jay the Ray…if only they did.
• • •
Travis gets a little randy with
“To capitalize on interest in the upcoming movie, DC Comics will launch a mini-series entitled ‘Batman v Superman’ depicting the two heroes in a legal battle for custody of Gleek.”
Of course the big problem with this is the idea anyone would want Gleek.
“The trend towards ‘realism’ in adaptations of superhero properties will reach its nadir when a realistic take on ‘The Doom Patrol’ is announced, in which none of the characters will have superpowers/be a robot, there will be no villains, and all of the weirdness will be excised.”
Agreed, that would be terrible. Thankfully the trend seems to be toward embracing all the goofy stuff in comics. If there’s ever a Doom Patrol movie/TV show, there’s going to be a freakin’ Robotman in it, I guarantee!
“People will continue to love ‘The Walking Dead’ for some damn reason.”
Well, they got folks invested in the characters, and it’s probably the one continuing property left where you can have zombies and everyone doesn’t go “(sigh) zombies again?” The spin-off they attempted this year didn’t seem to get quite the same positive reaction, so maybe the main Walking Dead series has some special formula that allows it to continue where other zombie shows just sort of shamble along or crumble into nothingness.
“Valiant will start showing cracks from growing too big, too fast without the sales levels to justify it or the movie deals to float them.
“In other words, Valiant will be the new CrossGen. Marvel will get flooded with resumes by December, because DC isn’t in NYC anymore.”
So far, Valiant has shown some restraint…the occasional mini-series here and there, and that “limited variant chase comic” with a story that only appeared in that comic was a little annoying, but otherwise they haven’t gone too overboard. As for the résumé thing…I mean, I think I’ve heard stories about folks trying to switch over to Marvel just so can stay in the same industry and remain in the New York area, but I suspect Marvel’s overrun with résumés anyway, and any “loss of DC” bump would hardly be noticed. I’ll bet you the big résumé jump came when Disney bought ’em.
“Marvel WILL reboot its universe, but mostly for the sake of diversity. The characters who are seen now as ‘place holders’ will be the official new POC characters in the new Marvel Universe. More will be added in. (I’m guessing an Asian Henry Pym and a Latina Wasp.) The Avengers will be the United Nations of the Marvel U.”
As noted, we didn’t get the full reboot, just a bunch of new #1s. There is a little more diversity in the line-up, but not much more than was already there before the wave of relaunches, and in the cases of the Big Characters (like Spider-Man and Captain America) it’s pretty clear that the new versions of the characters will be there alongside the originals, rather than replacing them. All-New All-Different Avengers did turn out to be a team of a lot of the new characters, which seems to be doing okay so far!
“Ant-Man will do very well at the theaters, but since it won’t set any records, the press will declare it a bomb.”
It did do well…did about 500 million dollars more than I expected an Ant-Man film to do. And we’re not at the point where anyone’s declaring any Marvel movie a bomb yet…folks tend to save that kind of talk for DC movies.
• • •
Bret Sector parts out the predictions as follows
“ALL books published by Marvel and DC will tie-in to a larger over-arching group of titles: Avengers, Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Defenders, Batman, Superman, JLA, Green Lantern, and New Gods.”
Not quite yet…we’ll see where DC’s “Rebirth” thing (which supposedly is going to focus on retooling the line to jibe more with the media adaptations) is going.
“Vertigo will cease to exist.”
Hoo boy, if anything, it’s the opposite, to the point where my Vertigo customers are all “man, enough already.”
“Valiant will re-acquire their Gold Key characters.”
I know you can’t go home again, but it’d be nice to see Doctor Solar and X-O Manowar teaming up once more, right?
Prediction: In advance of his introduction to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel will announce a new Black Panther ongoing series. It will be written by David Walker, current writer of SHAFT from Dynamite Comics.
There is a new Black Panther series coming, but it’s by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze. And, you know, that ain’t bad.
• • •
Old pal Dan Latta slugs me with
“The Marvel reboot won’t be as rebooty as everyone thinks.”
“Star Wars VII will be better than the prequels, but not as good as Guardians of the Galaxy was”
I…uh…you know, I can’t really argue that.
“Pictures from Mike’s sordid past as the trumpet player for Saticoy-based 2Tone Ska band will emerge.”
I’ll have you know that our band Ska-mp Thing will hit it big someday!
“Mike Sterling will look to sell something else at his comic shop to attract more customers. It will almost definitely be pogs.”
This will almost certain never happen maybe.
“Around the same time, Ventura County will bear witness to a series of incidents involving a mysterious masked crimefighter who leaves tiny circles of holofoil and cardboard at crime scenes to announce his victories over evil.”
Nobody can prove anything. What are you implying?
“Months after his initial appearance, the masked man appears on TV to reveal himself as…The Night Slammer! California’s first and greatest pog-based superhero, whose exploits are chronicled in his own monthly comic that can only be purchased at Sterling Silver Comics! Business booms, and all the while no one notices how the Night Slammer and Mike Sterling have never been seen together in the same place at the same time.”
• • •
AND THAT’S THAT. Thanks for participating, everyone…and don’t forget to give me your comic book predictions for 2016! Plus, like I said before, I’ll still respond to some of your comments, and post some corrections, and so on. Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back soon!
Back after a brief hiatus, the End of Civilization returns to warn you what awaits in your local comic shop’s future! Forewarned is four-armed, after all, so crack open your copy of Diamond Previews March 2015 edition and follow along! Also, here’s hoping enough of you read the Dirk Gently novels to know what I’m talking about in my alleged joke for it:
p. 42 – Fight Club 2 #1:
“The Third Rule of Fight Club is that a Fight Club must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.”
“The Third Rule of Fight Club is just keep on talking about Fight Club and its rules, I mean what the hell at this point, right?”
“Um actually there are eight rules of Fight Club, your jokes are dumb”
p. 112 – Convergence: Swamp Thing #2:
So if you’re a big dope like me and just have to be a completist about certain characters, then you end up doing dumb things like buying both the main cover of Convergence: Swamp Thing #2 (the big pic there) and the Chip Kidd-designed “variant” cover (the little inset), even if you think the “variant” is, well, kinda so-so. I mean, maybe when all those variants are up on the rack they’ll give an impression of, well, some kind, but just on its own…I don’t know. I may have poked some slight fun at the design with an image on the Twitters recently:
p. 153 – The Flash Reverse-Flash Ring:
“Hey, I really like your Flash ring!”
“Actually, it’s the Reverse-Flash ring, worn by the Flash’s arch…enemy, um…from the future…uh, yeah, I really like my Flash ring, too.”
p. 155 – Wonder Woman The Art of War Wonder Woman by Robert Valley Statue:
Man, the Lady Apple Bonkers are hot:
ALTERNATE GAG: That statue’s legs are almost as long as the statue’s name.
p. 161 – Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency #1:
I’m kind of hoping there’s a plotline in the comic about how they have to go back in time to prevent Keven Smith from finishing Daredevil/Bullseye: The Target in order to save the universe.
p. 436 – The Art of the Pimp: One Man’s Search for Love, Sex and Money:
“Dennis Hof, proprietor of the world-famous Moonlite BunnyRanch brothel and the P.T. Barnum of prostitution, charts his path to fame and infamy, while dispensing homespun wisdom about sex, sales, money, and how to live as the country’s most recognizable pimp. In The Art of the Pimp, Dennis Hof offers a hilarious, insightful, behind-the-scenes look at life as the proprietor of The Moonlight BunnyRanch and recounts his chaotic life as the king of America’s sex industry.”
p. 482 – Firefly Jayne Cobb with Hat Legacy Collection Action Figure:
Actually, it’s about ethics in knit caps.
p. 490 – Batman 1966 Dynamic Duo Monolith:
Say, why don’t we have a giant statue for Batman and Robin? Maybe we can just hit Mount Rushmore and slap a cowl on George Washington and a mask on Jefferson…and, I don’t know, dye Roosevelt white and green and put a luchador mask on Lincoln. Just spitballin’ here.
While we think about that, please enjoy Batman’s visit to Rushmore:
p. 492 – Avengers Coulson’s Captain America Trading Card Set II:
So Coulson just had card sets in every pocket while he was runnin’ around doin’ stuff in the Avengers movie? Did he have Force Works pogs in his socks? A Nomad phone card in his wallet?
p. 556 – My Little Pony Rainbow Dash Hooded Throw:
Oh, hey, to go with your Doctor Who pony, your very own Lady Cassandra pony:
p. 558 – Roddenberry Trek Fish Car Emblem:
“What does God need with a bumper sticker?”
p. 559 – Star Wars Darth Vader Comfy Throw Fleece Blanket with Sleeves:
Man, even in the upcoming sequels they’ve found a way to undermine Vader’s villainy.
p. 560 – Zombie Window Buddies Decal Sets:
Sure to delight any nearsighted traffic cops that happen to be in your neighborhood!
Marvel Previews p. 131 – Miles Morales Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 2 – Revelations TPB:
“I’ve had a theory that in the near future DC and Marvel are going to go the way that ‘Love & Rockets’ has. The elimination of the single issue, 20+page comic (which have become nothing more than chapters of a novel, anyway) to a complete, TPB. It’s my belief that that’s why DC had gone to 52 different titles, so that when they make this transformation, they could offer comic shops a new TPB title every week. (one week a Batman TPB, the next a Green Lantern TPB, the next a Flash TPB, etc…) If the big two went this route how do you think this would effect comic book shops, basically turning them into comic book stores to book stores.”
That could be where we’re headed, but that would certainly result in the end of the direct market as we know (to which some folks would cheer, I’m sure). Comics retail is dependent on the weekly new releases, and the repeat business of regular clientele…plus there is a psychological divide between “buying the latest issue” and “getting the trade” that still exists in the marketplace. DC and Marvel are already playing around with pricier formats that are thicker than your standard comic, but are still periodical-y enough to not seem like trades. DC has that $9.99 format (most recently seen with the Batman ’66: The Lost Episode, and Marvel has been issuing thicker staplebound reprints in the $7.99 format (they’ve released some older Star-Lord comics like this over the last year or so). Perhaps slowly moving their monthlies over to these formats, thicker books with more content (almost by necessity anthologies) and higher price points while still keeping them at least semi-periodical may bridge the gap between increasingly-economically infeasible 20-page comics and occasional trades.
• • •
Michael Grabowski grabs for an answer to this:
“I hope this isn’t too personal, but with regard to those Swamp Thing slippers, or Swampy clothing in general, do you find yourself collecting such items in every size available?”
No, no…usually if it’s something I intend to wear, I’m happy with just getting the size I need. For something like my Swamp Thing slippers, while as much as I’d love to have them in my size, the example set I have is enough. (There is a lot of child-sized Swamp Thing clothing from the early ’90s that, um, I’m probably going to pass on, however. “I was just buying these off eBay for my collection, Your Honor.”)
• • •
Dan randomly asks
“Totally random, my girlfriend was debating about continuing to read Wonder Woman after Azzarello/Chiang.
She had the same reaction as you to the fact that Swamp Thing was in the book (ALMOST as instant buy) but she held off to think about it.
As someone who can’t resist Swamp Thing stories, do you think the issue was worth it to a fan of both WW and Swampy?”
If you’re a crazy person like me who needs every Swamp Thing appearance, then yes. As far as any kind of importance to Swamp Thing’s development as a character…well, it’s no big whoop. It’s interesting as it’s the first time Swampy’s popped up in a Wonder Woman comic, far as I can recall, so if that tickles your fancy, go for it. What’ve you got to lose, other than three bucks? As for Wonder Woman fans…well, it’s the beginning of a new direction for the character, so that’s usually a good time to pop in and see if you like where things are going. Granted, issue #36 is getting some grief in online reviews, but boy, it sure sold well for me at my shop. Your Mileage May Vary, as they say.
“Mike, someone already asked about back issues. My question is, where do you see back issues in 5-10 years? Will younger readers ever want full floppy paper sets of titles like Suicide Squad, Nova or Marvel Two-In One? Will the books be worthless (except for key issues)? Or will there always be some demand for old paper comics?”
You know, I feel like I’ve been doing this blog long enough to think that I’ve probably been asked the “where do you think the back issue market will be in five years” about five years ago. Or even ten years. My honest feeling is that there will always be a market for fairly-priced general back issues, and premium-priced high-demand back issues. The collectibles market for comics is still maintaining, so big-ticket items will continue to move, I think. And just from my years of experience, kids are fascinated by old comics, particularly from before they were born, like from the long-ago ancient times of the early 2000s. Whether they’ll want full runs of things…well, depends on the collector. I’ve got a kid right now looking for all the old Metal Men comics he can get his hands on. So, you know, it’s still theoretically possible. If there’s stuff that’s not selling for what Overstreet is listing it at, there’s always the ol’ bargain boxes…price that stuff down ’til it’s at the cost people are willing to pay.
Anyway, I don’t think the back issue market is going away anytime soon, as long as dealers are smart and careful about it.
“Hi, Mike! Congrats once again on the new store! Speaking of which, all my questions are new store related: 1) Did you feel a professional responsibility to discuss the idea of starting a new store with the owner of Ralph’s/Seth’s before you left to see how the idea would be received? 2) Doesn’t it pose a threat to their business that you might cannibalize some of their loyal customers? 3) Was there some sort of minimum driving distance required separating the two stores to make sure you weren’t invading each other’s turf? Thanks and continued success in your new venture!”
1. Oh, absolutely. I wasn’t going to stab these guys in the back…I’ve had a good working relationship with these guys for years, and, you know, they’re friends. I want to stay on their good sides! Ralph had known for years I’ve been wanting to open my own shop, and when an actual opportunity finally arose, I made sure to tell both Seth and Ralph of my plans.
2. I like to think I’m not posing that much of a threat…yes, a few customers came with me, which was not unexpected by any of us, and that was not an issue. I’m also getting a whole new clientele out in my area, so by and large, while there’s still a way to go, I’m creating a market out here, rather than eating away at the other shop’s customer base. Plus, we’re readily sending customers to each other, so we’re building a community instead of a warzone, which is nice.
3. I personally decided I wanted to be a good distance away from Seth’s/Ralph’s specifically so that I could avoid stepping on any toes. I’m about a half-hour away, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but if you lived out here, you’d see that it is most definitely a different area and a different community, and I believe our shops can easily coexist.
Thanks for the good wishes!
• • •
Alex wants to know
“Late to the party, but are you buying Miracleman in single issues as it is coming out, or is that just for chumps like me? I’m not crazy about what it costs, but I’m only buying a handful of titles these days, so I can take it. It’s a good series, and I’ve avoided spoilers for 20 years.
“I’m one of those who grew up hearing how awesome it was, but I dion’t really care to have it in a nice hardcover collection or anything. Upon reading this particular series, I wouldn’t really want someone to pass by my bookshelf, pull it down and flip through it… there’s a reason it’s coming in polybags, that’s for sure.”
Well, I’m something of a Miracleman enthusiast, so I’m getting the single issues even though I have all the originals, out of completeness’s sake. Plus, I get the new coloring and everything put together in order (as opposed to having to piece some stuff together myself). I still can’t bring myself to part with the originals, however, even though I have a store and I need to feed the back issue bins/display cases with stuff.
I’m still convinced Marvel’s only been polybagging Miracleman comics because…well, you know those murder mysteries where the killer has strong motives for killing person C, but also kills persons A, B and D whom he doesn’t know in order to keep the coppers from immediately suspecting him? Anyway, the all-birth issue of Miracleman, and probably the forthcoming all-super-violent issue, are person C in this scenario. There’s no reason for most issues of MM to be bagged, especially when compared to titles on the stands that aren’t bagged. I really do think they were only bagged so that the issue the birth issue wouldn’t stand out as requiring special attention from those folks who think comics are destroying children’s minds. Well, okay, they are, but you know what I mean.
• • •
Chris Gumprich richly proposes
“1. How many of these questions did you expect to be ‘Swamp Thing’ related?
2. Are you as disappointed as I was that they set an episode of Constantine in Louisiana and yet not one single mention of Houma?”
1. I expected a few. I can only blame myself.
2. I’m more disappointed that I haven’t had a chance to watch Constantine yet. Just no time! I promise, sometime before I die I will watch this series. So, you know, in the next few months.
Also last week I blew someone’s mind by telling him Constantine was a Swamp Thing spin-off character.
“How long until you are reduced to selling POGs out back to make ends meet, and how far are you willing to go to keep your shelves stocked with these hot-selling items your customers demand everyday?”
If the public demands POGs, I will sell them POGs. I’m not proud. I’m willing to go as far as Ventura to maintain my stock, because I know there’s plenty still at the old shop.
• • •
And my old friend D Latta wraps it up with
“Would you buy a bar of soap at a garage sale?”
Depends how it tastes.
And that is that, my friends! Thank you for your questions, and I hope my answers were, if not particularly illuminating, at least somewhat entertaining, or at the very least correctly spelled. I’ll try not to let multiple years pass before opening the floor like this again…and heck, if you have any questions you want me to answer in the future, just let me know. You know where to find me.
Hey, remember comics? Boy, I sure do. Those cute little booklets of pictures, folded and stapled, that we all so enjoyed. Those were the days, back when we had trees, and people who could read, and before the electromagnetic pulses destroyed all electronics. Ah, yes.
But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself! Civilization’s still here, but not for long, as perusing this month’s selection of goodies from Diamond Previews may show. Grab your copy of the April 2014 edition and follow along:
p. 101 – Superman #32:
“A NEW ERA for SUPERMAN begins….”
Oh, good, that’s like era number, what, four? five? in the last three years or so?
p. 149 – Superman Vs. Darkseid Statue (Second Edition):
“YOU WILL NEVER HAVE MY MAGICAL POOL OF ORANGE JELLO, KRYPTONIAN!”
p. 150 – DC Comics Super-Villains Harley Quinn Bust / DC Comics Cover Girls Katana Statue:
Oh, sure, the item that might sell has less than half the production run of the statue of the character no one’s ever been interested in, ever.
[THREE DAYS LATER: policeman gather around Mike’s body, slumped over at his computer desk. A spilled Diet Coke is at his feet.
“We’re not sure what happened here. The only clue we have is…this,” says one policeman, as he points at the katana handle sticking out of Mike’s back.]
p. 154 – Scribblenauts Unmasked Mini-Figures Blind Boxes Series 4:
Man, “blind box” packaging. There’s no way they’re going to suck me into buying blind-boxed stuff ever ag…
p. 182 – Star Slammers Re-Mastered! #4:
I can’t believe they got four comics outta space pogs.
p. 259 – Mountain Dewback T-Shirt:
Coming soon: Yodoo-Hoo, 7-Ugnaught, Black Sunkist, Pepsi Max Rebo, Jar Jar Barq’s, and the dreaded Dooku Pepper.
p. 264 – Fathom Annual #1:
To be followed next year by Fathom Annual #1, and then Fathom Annual #1 the year after that.
p. 323 – The Twilight Zone Vol. 1 TPB:
I know the creative team’s decision to tell multi-issue stories over the course of this series was bit of a controversial one, but my disappointment is that the series wasn’t like “Crisis of Infinite Twilight Zones!” The aliens finally decide to take direct action on Maple Street, only to be countered by Mr. Dingle, who retains his superhuman powers from the Martian and Venusian experimentation! Meanwhile, the gremlin, who landed just outside of town after falling from the plane, teams up with Anthony Fremont to exact revenge upon a world that fears and despises them! Will Robot Grandma step in to help save the world, even as the Kanamits wait in orbit to eat whoever survives?
…I probably need to get out more.
p. 353 – The Smurfs Volume 18: The Finance Smurf:
Bilderberg Smurf’s secret meetings are looked upon with suspicion by Conspiracy Smurf: “They’re up to something smurfy…very smurfy indeed,” he says during his Smurf-to-Smurf AM radio interview.
p. 367 – Doctor Who The Tenth Doctor #1 / Doctor Who The Eleventh Doctor #1:
…released on a just slightly more-than-monthly schedule, with, I’m sure, a Twelfth Doctor series in the offing. And then, eventually, Doctors One through Nine get their own 15-issues-a-year series, and then there’s the War Doctor series telling all those adventures from those missing years. And then the series with the Curator from Day of the Doctor, fighting art thieves and such. And then a series starring the companions…heck, a series for each companion. Sarah Jane, of course, and Ace because Ace is awesome, and K-9, probably Leela, and sure, Rose, why not. And a Brigadier series. And a series for Vastra, Jenny and Strax. And so on.
Will probably still only be about half of the number of Avengers titles that’ll be on the stands by the time they get all these out.
p. 431 – Dream Vader T-Shirt:
Oooh Dream Vader
I believe you can get me to the lightsaber fight
Oooh Dream Vader
I believe we can find the Jedi Knights
Fly me high through the starry skies
Maybe to Dantooine
Cross the highways of hyperspace
Help me to forget Tatooine
p. 434 – Adventure Time Duality Leggings:
Yet another piece of clothing to add to the official store uniform.
p. 480 – Doctor Who Stress Toys:
Oh, good, I’m going to need these squeezable stress toys…
p. 481 – Mr. Potato Head Doctor Who Figures:
…after looking at these nightmarish things. Sheesh.
p. 489 – Star Wars R2-D2 Egg Cup:
Knowledge of the reproductive cycle of the droid is not for the weakhearted.
p. 501 – Doctor Who Car Magnet 3-Packs:
Okay, items like these generally only make sense to other fans of the property when they’re out of context like this. But, c’mon, “Bad Wolf” barely made sense in context.
It’s Halloween, and you can forget all those ghosts and witches, those haunted houses and demonic possessions. You want to see something really scary? Then grab your copy of the November 2013 edition of Diamond Previews and follow along!
p. 63 – Never Ending #3 (of 3):
Wait…Never Ending is ending? I feel as if my trust have been breached. HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME, KNAVE, KIRKBRIDE AND LOVE?
p. 149 – DC Comics Super Villains Deathstorm Action Figure:
This will look nice next to my Tomorrow Woman figure on my “Characters I’ll Never See Again” shelf.
p. 289 – Li’l Ernie one-shot:
So, Dynamite Comics. You’ve found a way to get me to buy an Evil Ernie comic: 1. Make him cute. 2. Throw an Art Baltazar cover on it. 3. Have it written and drawn by Roger Langridge.
Well played, Dynamite Comics. Well played indeed.
p. 298 – Deflower the Boss:
Don’t you get any ideas, employees Aaron or Timmy!
p. 328 – Hello Kitty: Delicious:
Hello Kitty’s stint on Iron Chef was shockingly disruptive.
p. 368 – Batman Science: The Real World Science Behind Batman’s Gear:
Shame about the subtitle, because I was really hoping for “POW! Take that, creationists! BIFF! Down for the count, psychics! SMACK! You’re out cold, antivaxxers!”
p. 385 – Topps 2014 MLP Chipz:
“Get ready to kick off the 2014 Major League Baseball season with MLB Chipz. You can collect these chipz, trade with your friends, or use them to play games. There are a number of different types of chipz, featuring the stars from around the Majors, including Magnetic, Glow-in-the-Dark, and bat chipz. You will be able to find one team sticker and one game board in each pack.”
These are basically pogs, aren’t they. Please tell me they’re not pogs. Please. PLEASE.
[Mike huddles in a fetal position in the corner of his living room. He is crying. The camera slowly pulls back as the room fades to black.]
p. 389 – Deadpool Bold FX Snap Back Cap:
+1 for the Breaking Bad reference in the caption.
-1 for the creepy Steve Ditko-ish Dr. Strange interdimensional limbo-esque mouths being used in place of the Os.
p. 397 – Nightwing 52 Symbol Hoodie:
“Hey, why do you have a picture of fancy red briefs on your hoodie?”
p. 399 – Dr. Who “The Girl Who Waited” Junior’s Blue T-Shirt:
Totally going to be misinterpreted as some kind of statement of commitment to virginity ’til marriage, just you watch.
p. 402 – Doctor Who “Tardis” All-Over Print Navy Lounge Pants and My Little Pony “Multi-Character” Lounge Pants:
What, I don’t want ponies or sci-fi stuff on my pajama bottoms! That’ll make me look silly when I wear them to the store or the bank!
p. 406-7- Batman Classic TV Series Batman Bust:
Okay, I initially read the blurb as “6′ TALL!” and the idea of having a six-foot bust of Best Batman Adam West in my home was almost too much to bear.
p. 416 – ReAction Figures Alien Action Figures:
The proposed 1979 Alien action figure line finally comes to life. Store shelves that have waited so long, so very long, to be warmed by Dallas figures quiver with excitement.
p. 422 – Futurama Hedonismbot Vinyl Figure:
While I love Hedonismbot, I just don’t have the fifty bucks to frivolously spend on his vinyl representation. Truly I have violated the very spirit of Hedonismbot.
p. 429 – Dumb Ways to Die 4-Inch Rotocast Figurines:
The more merchandise based on Internet videos that’s produced, the greater the chance that I’ll finally get merchandise based on my favorite online cartoon.
p. 430 – Mr. Potato Head Homer Simpson Figure:
Ah, from the new Nightmare Fuel line of children’s toys, apparently. Well done, well done.
p. 438 – Lady Death La Muerta Statue:
“Whoa, what did they do to her face?”
“…She has a face?”
p. 438 – Conan the Brutal Statue:
This will provide a nice contrast to my “Conan the Remarkably Genteel” statue.
p. 442 – Juggernaut Mini-Bust:
“I’M THE JUGGERNAUT, BUST!”
…That was funnier in my head.
p. 443 – Battlestar Galactica Medal of Distinction 1/1-Scale Prop Replica:
“ANOVOS is humbled to release the 1:1-scale replica of Admiral William Adama’s Medal of Distinction featured in Battlestar Galactica’s third season episode, ‘Hero.'”
p. 483 – PEZ The Hobbit Movie Gift Set:
While people were mostly favorable to the Hobbit PEZ, they didn’t find it nearly as fresh or interesting as the Lord of the Rings PEZ.
p. 491 – G.G. Allin 1989 Throbblehead:
Let us hope that for maximum authenticity, each Throbblehead has been inserted into someone’s [REDACTED] prior to packaging and shipping.
p. 491 – Bouncing Souls The Guy Mascot Throbblehead:
SUPER-DEFORMED FRANK GORSHIN
p. 494 – Star Trek Pet Product Collection: Uniform Shirt and Spock Hoodie:
Surely this is the Trek reboot movie that we deserved.
p. 498 – The Walking Dead Rockmaster Electric Guitars:
SUNDAY 10 PM: THE WALKING DEAD – Rick finally defeats the walkers with the power of rock, exploding zombie heads with his awesome guitar riffs. WOOOOOOO [Series finale]
Marvel Previews – all those “MARVEL.NOW = ALL-NEW MARVEL NOW #! solicitations:
So we just restarted everything from #1s again, and now we’re kinda-sorta trying to do it again? What, did Aspen Comics buy Marvel when I wasn’t looking?
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.
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!