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.
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….
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!
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 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.”
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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.
“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!