You are currently browsing the marvel category

I sort of preferred Marvel using “Distinguished Competition” as a nickname for them.

§ November 27th, 2017 § Filed under collecting, marvel, retailing § 7 Comments

Occasionally the One Remaining Comic Book Distributor in the U.S. will run some deep discount sales on stock for retailers, and recently they unloaded a bunch of Marvel’s Omnibus editions and Marvel Masterworks volumes for prices ranging from “well, that’s a little less than normal wholesale” to “whoa nelly that’s cheaper than a cheap thing that’s cheap.” So natch, I loaded up on a few items for the shop and offered them at discounted prices, and everyone’s happy.

I’m especially happy, because a couple of the items offered were of particular interest to me, and at the ridiculously low sale price I picked them up for myself. One is the Howard the Duck omnibus, including the entire original series (including the couple of later issues released around the time of the movie), his previous appearances in Man-Thing comics, that one treasury edition, and something from Foom magazine that I haven’t looked to see what it is yet. I’d actually been on the lookout for discounting on the HtD book after getting my giant-sized Man-Thing omnibus on the cheap a while back.

Now, I have an ulterior motive for this…primarily, getting these reprints in a nicely-printed permanent edition frees up the actual comics from my collection, allowing me to put these out for sale in my shop. You’ll notice that post about the Man-Thing omnibus went up around the time I was beginning to open my store…well, suddenly, I had full runs of two Man-Thing series, a bunch of issues of Fear, some Giant-Size Man-Thing, and other odds and ends I was able to turn around for the most part. It more than covered the cost of the omnibus, and provided some sorely-needed store-opening cash besides.

Thus, theoretically, I should soon have a full run of Howard the Duck plus Asst. Materials for sale in the shop…though I 1) already have a number of those issues in the store right now, acquired from other collections, and 2) I kinda wish I kept those Man-Things now that they’re gone. Logically, I have all the stories, so I don’t really need them, but there was some small measure of sentimental value to them. Plus, omnibuses are a lot harder on the scanner if I need to grab any images out of those comics.

But hey, that’s life, so I’ll get those Howards into the shop regardless.

The other book I acquired for Low, Low Pricing from that recent sale was the Marvel Masterworks edition of Not Brand Echh. That’s another series I have all the issues for…in fact, this was the first series I completed a run for that had come out (almost) entirely before I was born. (Not sure about the last issue, with the May 1969 cover date…given cover date shenanigans, it may have actually come out just prior to or during my birth month of March ’69.)

Now it’s been a while since I’ve read my run of it, but getting a hardcover volume with the artwork printed on paper that isn’t slowly turning to dust has inspired me to dip into this zaniness again…as, you know, time permits, since I’m constantly behind on reading everything. And what I’ve read so far is very funny…very early Mad Magazine-ish in that every square inch is filled with a joke of some kind, and all the more remarkable that it was the very creators of the comics themselves doing the parodies. Yes, it’s the dreaded “Official Parody” that should be toothless and boring, but Not Brand Echh often reads like Stan and Jack and the rest of the gang blowing off some steam after toiling away at the Marvel Universe for so long.

My favorite panel so far into my rereading is this one…it’s specifically mocking the Fantastic Four storyline where Dr. Doom tricks Silver Surfer and steals his powers, but the way Stan ‘n’ Jack exaggerate Doom’s strategy of “pretending to be nice” is hilarious:


The more I look at this panel, the more I think there’s no way on God’s green Earth that anyone could have come up with a funnier book for Doom to be reading than “Butterflies I Have Loved.” I don’t know why that puts a stupid grin on my face every time I see it, but good gravy that one panel alone is funnier than entire issues of supposed humor books I’ve seen of late. Those Lee and Kirby kids, they’ve got some talent.

The actual title of the comic itself, Not Brand Echh, is charmingly dated as well, reminding us of a simpler time when products would be advertised in comparison to competing items, but the competitors would be described as “Brand X” or something similarly obfuscatory. You know, not like today, where commercials are basically “BURGER KING SUCKS, EAT AT ARBY’S” or something equally straight-forward. “Brand Echh,” of course, was Marvel’s nickname for their crosstown rivals DC Comics (putting a Mad-esque twist on “X” for the grosser-sounding “ECHH”), and when the title of the series was combined with the blurb just above it (“Who says a comic book has to be good??”) the cover of every issue was a slam at their competition. That’s…got my respect. I think the closest DC ever got to lobbing that ball back into Marvel’s court were some Marvel parodies in Inferior Five, though there were other minor gags/references in various DC titles here and there. (Wasn’t there a direct swipe at Spider-Man in Legion of Super-Heroes? Maybe someone can remind me.)

And now that I have this book, a run of Not Brand Echh should be making it into the “New Arrivals” back issue bins at the store as well. If, of course, I can convince myself to bring them in.

“It is also worth your while to rack this issue as part of (or near) your ‘Acts of Vengeance’ display.”

§ November 6th, 2017 § Filed under marvel, retailing § 3 Comments

Still going through old boxes of comic book promotional material of decades past, and one item I found was a Marvel Comics retailer letter with suggestions on how shops could market a particular comic book to its customer base. The comic in question: The ‘Nam #41 (February 1990):


This of course is the issue of the ongoing mostly real world-ish Vietnam War comic that guest-starred Marvel super-heroes. Now, it’s not as egregious as it may sound…the premise is that a U.S. soldier in Vietnam imagines how conflict would go if Iron Man and pals were around, and, you know, a guy imagining what that would be like is at least within the realm of possibility. It’s not like, say, the Punisher showed up or anything. So the premise doesn’t really break the main conceit of the book, that it’s a dramatized “realistic” retelling of the war, from the points of view of the men on the ground.

Of course, in execution, it likely plays out differently. In context of “this is all in a fella’s imagination” it may be, but it’s still pictures of superheroes fighting in the Vietnam War in a comic that had eschewed that sort of imagery.

Anyway, whatever, that’s fine. If they needed the occasional story like this to goose sales a bit (and I’m assuming sales might have needed bit of a boost) so they could keep telling the superhero-free stories they wanted to tell…I mean, sure, knock yourselves out. But what I wanted to mention briefly were the sales tips in the above scan. I’d posted this pic initially on the Twitterers the other day, and as Bully, the Little Shelving Bull, pointed out, “Put it near What If? so nobody can find it!” appears to be one of the suggestions. Frankly, that sort of racking strategy would probably create more confusion for sales…”Hey, why is The ‘Nam in the Ws?”

The suggestion that bothers me the most, however, is the idea that retailers should tell customers “hey, that Sgt. Fury comic with Captain America is worth a lot now, wink wink, nudge nudge,” implying that surely this comic will be a highly sought-after expensive collectible in short order as well! (Recent sales on eBay: one copy at 99 cents.) If you’re trying to convince customers to buy a comic for its possible investment opportunity…well, I never ever ever do that. Partially because I want people to read and enjoy their comics, but mostly because I don’t want someone to buy three dozen copies of something on my investibility precognitive knowhow, only to have said items turn out to be a bust and suddenly the buyer’s back in my shop with, like, one of these.

Also, that Sgt. Fury comic is from the mid-1960s, and features an early Silver Age appearance of Captain America. Not quite the same as a boom-period comic with reworked Romita Sr. drawings, when it comes to demand.

• • •

I do plan on going back to that post about the Boris the Bear variants/flyer, so keep your comments there comin’, if comments you do have!

She ain’t wrong about the Phantom Stranger.

§ November 4th, 2016 § Filed under collecting, gaming, marvel, pal plugging § 5 Comments

So longtime internet pal PTOR reminded me that he did a pretty thorough job a few years back covering that Dr. Strange calendar I featured in Wednesday’s post. He’s an huge Dr. Strange fan — you know, one of those guys! — and I of course recommend that you check out his post about that great old calendar.

And what better day than today, opening day (more or less) for the new Doctor Strange movie, starring that one person and co-starring that other lady! Anyway, word is that it’s pretty good, if very Marvel-formulaic…I saw someone on Twitter (I forget who) say something along the lines of “don’t worry about any spoilers…at this point, what about these films will surprise you?” But if you enjoy Marvel movies, and I generally do, here’s another one to watch.

And with that stirring endorsement, let’s move on to some other topics:

  • Tomorrow, November 5th, will be the second anniversary of the opening of Sterling Silver Comics, my little comic shop that could, located in the heart of Camarillo, CA. I’m still here! I’m still selling comics! They haven’t run me out of town yet! Thanks to all you folks out there for your support, financial, emotional, and otherwise. I’m still growing the business, but things have been going fairly well so far. Not filthy rich yet, but I’m sure that’ll happen at some point in the next four to six months.
  • You may remember my discussion of a recently acquired iPad and my particular strategy vis-à-vis personal back issue collecting. Well, when I went to purchase the recent Boo! anthology (which I’m linking to again because in the first version of this post I stupidly left out the link), I also decided to grab the first issue of Kamandi, which has been a ridiculously giant hole in my Jack Kirby reading for far too long. They had the first couple of dozen issues up there for 99 cents a throw, and with the upcoming Kamandi Challenge being a must-buy (since I adored the previous DC Challenge), I figured it wouldn’t hurt to grab an issue every other week or so. It’s not like I wasn’t familiar with the concept, but “knowing about a Jack Kirby comic” and “having a Jack Kirby comic straight-up just punch you in the face” are two different things. It’s a fun read, as I’m sure most of you know already, and the suicidal despair felt by Kamandi, as he’d rather die and take everyone with him instead of living as a pet in a world of intelligent animals, was a much darker turn than I was expecting. That Kirby fella, he knows how to get your attention. Looks like I’ll be picking more up in the future…and trying very hard not just to buy them all at once.

  • And no, they don’t have the ’60s Metal Men up there yet. That I probably would buy all at once.
  • Another thing I downloaded just last evening was the new DC Legends game. Ah, what the heck, it was free, and I guess Swamp Thing is in it, so hell, why not. I mostly avoid mobile games because I have this terrible fear that I’ll inadvertently make in-app purchases and suddenly I’m in for $500 of, I don’t know, Swamp Thing tuber upgrades and extra power rings. That actually doesn’t appear to be an issue here, though after playing through the introductory screens I’m still not 100% certain what’s going on and what everything means, since I’m old. But some of the animations are pretty neat, and the “cut-scene” dialogue is amusing (“You only show up when we’re all screwed!” Zatanna says to the Phantom Stranger at one point), and it’s fun to touch the screen and watch things explode, in case you’re wondering where my brain is at right about now.

Seriously, I’m thinking about blowing up that Ernie Chan one and putting it up as a poster in the store.

§ November 2nd, 2016 § Filed under marvel § 3 Comments

So I found this diggin’ around through some boxes in the backroom, trying to track something else down:

drstrange1980cal
…the 1980 Occult World of Dr. Strange calendar. Marvel put out several calendars in this format, with a nice piece of full-color art for each month, while the days for each month are filled with art, photos, gags, creator birthdays, and other bits of trivia and silliness:

drstrange1980cala
These old Marvel calendars are great, and I spent a few minutes Tuesday morning whilst waiting for the UPS truck and the weekly funnybook delivery taking a few photos of some of this calendar’s details. For example, I think I laughed out loud at this particular entry from July 27th:

drstrangecalernie

Oh, Jim, someday you will:

drstrangecaljim

I don’t think I noticed the gag in this one ’til I scanned it and blew it up real big. That may be more an indictment of my eyesight than of the calendar’s print job:

drstrangecalditko

As a California native, I wholeheartedly agree with the bow-laden centaur:

drstrangecalroy

This, however, seemed unnecessarily mean-spirited:

drstrangecalauntmay
And just think, as old as they were then, they’re about 36 years older now! Have some respect for the elderly, Marvel, geez.

What if…Mike wasn’t dead tired as he was writing this?

§ September 18th, 2015 § Filed under marvel § 6 Comments

So I was just poking through some old issues of Marvel’s What If…? at the shop (hey, I’m the boss, I can waste a little time looking at comics if I want) and was reminded that the occasional issue would have something like this:

whatif41keith
…a short gag back-up, or an “Untold Tales of the Marvel Universe” story, or…well, more content than what was promised on the covers. I’m generally familiar with the main stories for most of the issues, just from having seen the covers over and over and over again at whatever store I happened to be working at the time. But the back-ups…unless it was an issue I’d actually purchased and read at the time, the supplementary material in What If…? are nearly always new to me.

For example, I remember finding out that there was a Man-Thing story in the first series of What If…? But, darned if I could find it, because as it turned out, this was the comic it was in:

whatif26cvr
…and not a Man-Thing to be seen on that cover, alas. Of course, eventually the Internet would spring into being and never again would I ever have any trouble tracking down that exact bit of information I need, and I’d finally put an end to my half-hearted seeking of this issue.

There are plenty more short and funny pieces located in those old What If…?s, with issue #34 (of both the ’70s and ’80s/’90s runs) basically being an issue filled with those same shorts. Don’t know if they had space to spare in these new What If…? comics that are Coming Soon to a Shop Never You for gags like this, but it’d be nice.

IRON MAN, NO!

§ June 18th, 2014 § Filed under marvel § 3 Comments


 
 

image from Iron Man #102 (September 1977) by Bill Mantlo, George Tuska, Mike Esposito & Pablo Marcos

And now, for no particular reason, here is a cover for an issue of the Punisher magazine they published in England.

§ October 30th, 2013 § Filed under marvel § 4 Comments


From 1989, reprinting in color issue #4 of the 1986 Punisher mini-series by Steven Grant, Mike Zeck and John Beatty. Also includes a black and white reprint of one of The ‘Nam comics by Doug Murray, Michael Golden and Armando Gil.

And here is the come-on for the next issue, from inside the front cover:


YES SIR, MR. CASTLE, SIR

Insert joke here about Stan Lee being some new guy they’re trying out on a start-up title rather than risking him on any established books.

§ March 18th, 2013 § Filed under marvel, retailing § 10 Comments

So I came across a copy of the Marvel Comics Previews promo catalog “for new publications scheduled to ship in 1992” –


…and I’d somehow totally blanked on the fact that the Marvel 2099 imprint was going to be called “Marvel 2093” at one point:


In the “marketing” section, it describes this particular marketing initiative thusly:

“These titles literally are ‘Marvel: the Next Generation’ and if you remember the popularity of other popular series with that designation you’ll be able to imagine how well these books will do.”

Well, sure, I loved Match Game: The Next Generation, AKA Match Game ’73, and sure enough, the 2099 line (as it would later be called, when cooler heads prevailed and decided “2099” was exactly six years’ worth of awesome better than that piddling “2093”) did indeed do very well. At least until the entire comics market tanked shortly thereafter, but, you know, whaddaya gonna do?

Anyway, back to the catalog: each title had its own entry, with a logo and a rough sketch of what the character may or may not look like when the comic was finally beaten into shape:


And just look at those creative teams!


Okay, to be fair, at least one writer was on board at print time:


The text pieces for all the books describe them in the most general of terms, usually along the lines of “like the modern day Marvel heroes, only more future-y,” without any specifics like character names, settings, how exactly the characters are going to be different, etc. Well, the entry for Doom 2093 pushes the “is this really the Doom from the present-day Marvel Universe?” angle, so that hook at least was present this early in the development process.

This catalog is an interesting look back at Marvel’s marketing strategies during comics’ last big sales hurrah, and I suspect, as I dig deeper through its pages, I’m going to wax nostalgic over those salad days when you could sell a comic such as Punisher 2093 like this:

“It will also be a natural must buy for all the fans who picked up the Punisher Armory title this year. People have always associated the Punisher with the latest in hi-tech ordnance and this series takes the association to the ultimate degree. Just remember the success of Terminator 2 or Die Hard to envision the vast potential for this series.”

Probably the first and last time the sales success of the amazing Punisher Armory was used as a marketing tool for another book.

Marvel, Zombies.

§ October 22nd, 2012 § Filed under marvel, television § 6 Comments

I’m currently reading Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, Sean Howe’s tell-all book about the history of the company and the personalities therein. Reading a handful of excerpts here ‘n’ there, such as this one over at The Comics Journal, finally got me to pick it up, and it’s been fascinating reading. I’m only up to about the early ’70s in the narrative, and boy howdy there’s a lotta drugs involved, but I am really looking forward to the material that covers what was going on with the company during my time as a funnybook salesman, starting with the big industry boom in the late 1980s.

That Comics Journal-ran excerpt covers a bit of that period, which is what probably finally convinced me to grab the book. I mean, there’s a quote from the editor of Secret Defenders describing the book as “that piece of shit,” which is both hilarious and, from a retailing standpoint, a wee bit annoying (as in “thanks for selling us a comic y’all really believed in,” even though I realize there may have been only so much even the editor could have done at that particular time in history). I’m kinda half-hoping the book would add to that title’s notoriety, and we’d have folks picking up back issues just out of curiosity just to see how bad it actually was for its own editor to say such things. No huge increase of back issue demand just yet! (Historically, this is the only issue of the series that anyone ever looks for…and I suspect demand will only increase as future Marvel flicks come along, presumably building on that character’s Avengers mid-credits cameo.)

Another comics-related-but-not-actually-comics thing I’ve been enjoying recently is season two of The Walking Dead, even though I’m not a reader of the comic it’s based on. Nothing against the comic, really, but I didn’t get into it early on, and suddenly there’s now seventeen trade paperbacks (or, alternatively, two huge omnibi) and I’m way behind, and I already read enough comics, and blah blah poor me life is hard. But the show is a lot of relatively-harrowing fun, and the zombies are suitably gross, and I like a lot of the actors. The show has yet to top the excellent series premiere, but the second season’s focus on the cast trying to make a home at the seemingly-safe farm, and its build-up to the apocalyptic season ending, made for some perfectly fine serialized horror storytelling.

Two other things about Walking Dead: 1. Every time I hear the main character’s name, I think of the cartoonist. 2. I wonder how soon after the TV show ends that the market will be flooded with all those different covers for the comic’s hundredth issue? I mean, those sold way above and beyond what the comic normally sells. (I remember discussing our ordering strategies on #100 as we were trying to decide our numbers…I argued for lots of copies of the $19.99 wraparound chromium cover variant as I figured that would do well for Internet sales. Everyone else thought I was crazy, but we ordered my recommended number anyway…only to have them sell completely out on the shelf in the shop within a couple of days of their release.)