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So it’s been a while since I last bought an X-Men book, and I had absolutely no intention of picking up Amazing X-Men
until I actually held it in my hand. I’ve liked writer Jason Aaron’s work in the past, I enjoy Ed McGuinness’s art, and I have enough fond memories of the classic Dave Cockrum Nightcrawler mini
, which the cover and parts of the story somewhat invoke, to decide to take it home. It’s a light enough adventure, with minimal wallowing in current X-continuity that even a dabbler like me can dive into the setting with only the slightest exposition. And then there’s the bonus oddball theological aspects that always crop up when you have superheroes bouncing in and out of the afterlife, which can be embarrassingly campy when handled poorly
, but goofy and fun when handled right, like here. Well, they’ve got me for five issues, anyway, which is how long this initial arc is apparently going to last. We’ll see what happens when the inevitable crossover tie-ins begin to invade, but I am going to continue hoping this remains a fun Nightcrawler book, the other X-Men just supporting characters, becoming a solo title in all but name only. I’m not going to bet on it, but it’s nice to think about.
In other news:
- How Did This Get Made is an entertaining podcast where the comedian hosts of the show spend an hour shouting at each other about a different terrible movie every couple of weeks, and it’s always hilarious. This week the film of choice is Daredevil, and some of you may be interested to note that comics writer Ed Brubaker (whom you may recall wrote the Daredevil series for a while) joins in on the fun, bringing his funnybook knowledge to the proceedings.
- Hey. Hey, you. Awesome Hospital is back with an all-new two-part adventure. Go check it out.
So I should probably note that I wasn’t ill, or in dire straits (or even in Dire Straits) over the last week, given some of the concern I’ve received of late over my brief hiatus. I appreciate the comments, the emails, and folks popping by the store seeing how I was doing, but I assure you, everything’s fine. There was some house stuff, some troublesome appliances, and plenty of general “life getting in the way” type things that simply kept me from devoting time to the worrisome endeavor that is my website. It is nice to know that people do care, and I thank you kind people for your attention.
One event that occurred over the weekend was a small comic convention being held at a local library. We sent Employee Timmy over with some kid-friendly books and merchandise for Seth’s dealer table:
…which was right next to the Ralph’s Comic Corner table (not pictured) run by Ralph and his wife. In terms of actual immediate profit, it wasn’t the most…financially successful thing we’ve ever done, but we weren’t really expecting it to be. We made some money, but in terms of advertising it was quite
successful, plugging our respective shops (well, basically the same shop…Ralph’s handles the old comics, Seth’s handles everything else) to plenty of new faces, and hopefully we’ll see them pass through our doors.
In addition, Sergio Aragones was the guest-speaker at the con, and alas I wasn’t able to be there in the evening for that event, but both at the shop and during my brief presence at the library I certainly heard from several people who were excited to see him. Pal Casie did report the next day that the talk was quite successful and attracted a good crowd, which is very good to hear.
Anyway, not bad for a first try at a library-con here, and we look forward to doing it again. Plus, when I showed up in the evening to help Timmy break down the table and take everything back to the shop, I got some heavy librarian-nostalgia vibes while transporting boxes through the back rooms. I almost felt like shelving some books. Instead I went back to the store and…um, shelved some books there. Or, rather, Timmy did. I supervised.
Another event this past weekend was the Halloween ComicFest, which is the industry’s attempt at creating a second Free Comic Book Day later in the year. Now we didn’t have anything really approaching the craziness of our last FCBD event, and I’m not sure the idea of “Halloween ComicFest” has really caught on yet with the general public (due to the lack of that all-important word “FREE” in the name), but we had plenty of people show up throughout the day and get themselves some free Halloween-ish comics, as well as availing themselves of our in-store weekend sales. So, you know, that was fine. I did a little pushing of it this year prior to the event, but I think next year I’ll try to find the time to go all out with costume contests and such to make it more of a thing. We are offering discounts to people who show up at the shop in costume, so at least there’s that! (I mean, real costumes, not just showing up in your regular clothes and saying “I’m dressed as a movie extra!” or anything like that.)
• • •
In other news:
- Pal Cully (whom you might have seen in my comments here on occasion) has started a Facebook page devoted to some of his favorite comic book covers: The Golden Age of Awesome, featuring images both incredible and impolite, with Cully’s brief commentary. Fun stuff…always a blast to look at some crazy old comics.
- Speaking of crazy old comics, those of you who remember this post of mine may like to know that the latest issue of IDW’s Haunted Horror, #7, reprints the story from which I took those panels. It is an awful, awful story, and by “awful” I mean “absolutely fantastic.”
So it turns out I was wrong, so very wrong, when I suggested that the story on the cover of Amazing Adventures #4 (the Ziff-Davis one from 1951, not one of the three that Marvel Comics did) could no way be matched by whatever story was within:
No, the story is just as crazypants as the cover promises:
Two aliens decide to use love robots to conquer the Earth, but their plans go awry when…well, you can probably guess. You can read it for yourself here
, starting on page 3. Special thanks to reader Paul, who has kindly declined
my offer of quatloos (as my mouth was writing space-checks that my United Federation of Planets Bank couldn’t cash), but I will happily direct you to his website
, to the Inferior 4 Livejournal
where he regularly contributes items of interest, or to Amazon
where you can track down many of his fine works, in print or digital formats.
In other news…man, after that story, do you really want other news? How ’bout this, since Employee Timmy sent this link to me via the Twitter: Dynamite and Dark Horse teaming up for a three-part crossover between Grendel and the Shadow, written and drawn by Matt Wagner. Holy crow. I find this…acceptable. Very acceptable indeed.
…well, I found them:
Well, actually, employee Timmy found them, and after he Instagrammed a pic of them to his Pinterest via Myspace, I bade him to bring those to me or suffer the horrible consequences. And thus, here they are, with a swamp-ish creature on the tag and the hope these marbles aren’t symbolically representing the creature’s eggs or anything. So anyway, if you happen to see me and have your marbles on you, I’ll happily knuckle down and play for keepsies with my boulder and my cats-eyes, though I suppose that would mean opening the baggie and, you know, God forbid.
In other news: Bully, the Stuffed Bull Who Is Too Little to Know about Such Things, has taken this post of mine and made it into something terrible and beautiful.
So following up on my brief grumbling about DC Comics and their handing of the 3D covers for Villains Month….
To recap briefly: DC Comics is replacing their regular superhero series for the month of September with what is essentially 52 supervillain “one-shots” as part of their line-wide “Forever Evil” crossover event, though they are all branded and numbered as part of particular series. For example, what would have been one issue of Action Comics for that month is now Action Comics #23.1 through #23.4, four weekly issues of Action each featuring a different villain. And on top of that, DC is using advanced lenticular imagery to give each cover a 3D effect.
In ordering these special issues, I had to take into effect the following considerations:
1. I needed enough copies to cover in-store sales, both for customer pull boxes and for sales off the rack (based on sales histories for each title over previous months).
2. I needed to gauge how many extra copies I’d need to cover extra interest caused by being a crossover tie-in.
3. I also had to estimate interest based on the specific villain being featured in each issue. (A Joker comic will sell forever…a Count Vertigo comic I’d probably have to staple dollar bills to the cover to get people to take it home.)
4. And then, of course, I had to use the immense precognitive powers all comic retailers must develop to foresee how many extra copies I’m going to sell because AWESOME 3D COVERS, DUDE!
After too many weeks of agonizing over these things (particular over Justice League: Dial E, tying together one of DC’s highest selling titles with one of their lowest, and wondering how stuck I’m going to be with copies), I finally settled on numbers I could live with for each title. I had enough to cover regular monthly sales, I believed I had enough to handle any additional interest each individual title might bring in, and I thought I had enough of a buffer to accommodate folks attracted by the 3D novelty.
And then this happened. DC wasn’t able to produce enough copies of the 3D versions of these titles to meet demand, resulting in allocation of retailer orders and the announcement of alternative editions of these comics with regular 2D covers.
In my case, it’s not as bad as it could have been, but Good Lord it ain’t good. Out of 52 titles, my orders on eight remain unchanged. On eleven books (including some particularly significant ones, like some Justice League titles), my orders were cut in half. Even more than half, in a couple of cases. Some orders were only dropped by about 1/3, but that’s enough of a cut to be problematic. In a number of cases, I only lost a few copies, sometimes as little as two. And, oddly enough, in the case of at least one title, I was allocated more than I ordered (which has me wondering if DC way overestimated the popularity of that one issue when originally setting their print runs).
For a couple of the drastically reduced titles, I am going to be stuck with not enough of the 3D covers to even cover pull lists, though discussion with some customers has shown that they’re sympathetic to the situation we find ourselves in, that it’s not our fault and they’re okay with receiving 2D covers if necessary.
Plus, there’s another potential hiccup, even with the titles for which I’m receiving my full orders (or close to full orders). The news regarding the allocation of the 3D covers has been widely disseminated, which means it’s widely known (or at least perceived that) these books are in short supply, which will jump up demand beyond that which I anticipated. As I noted, I based my orders on particular factors, but not one of them was “DC won’t be able to print enough of them, ensuring I don’t get even the numbers I ordered.” I was doing my level best to estimate sales levels on previous histories, demand for specific characters, and general interest in the 3D effect. Now that we’ll likely have “speculation” and “other stores trying to buy copies for their shelves” and “I hear these are rare, we better buy ‘em” goosing sales, rack copies are going to dry up immediately, even with one-per-customer limits that we’re almost certainly going to have to impose. Even on that one Joker issue, for which I am getting my full order, but will now surely blow off the shelves.
Ordering the 2D cover alternatives to make up the 3D cover shortages was bit of a bear as well, though, as I said, some of my customers are cool with having 2D replacements. But now, I have to reconsider what my potential racks sales are going to be, as my estimates were at least partially based on the 3D covers attracting attention. Point 4 is now no longer a consideration in my numbered list above, which would have been the dealmaker in at least a few of the more borderline titles being offered. No offense to the World’s Biggest Count Vertigo Fan, who is very likely reading my website right now and is about to shoot off an angry email to me, but a Count Vertigo comic with a cool 3D cover might have sold to someone with no prior interest in Count Vertigo out of the novelty of it all. A plain ol’ Count Vertigo cover may not have grabbed that same customer.
Of course, Harley Quinn and Joker and Lobo and the like will sell comics regardless of how many dimensions their covers have…I plan on getting plenty of the 2D versions of those titles. Regardless, this whole hoohar DC caused by their overreach and inability to provide the product they promised is going to make a very nervous September for us, as I hope the orders I did my best to estimate will actually reflect reality. Otherwise, you may see me in front of the shop, rattling a tin can and asking for spare change.
Sigh. I hear if you look closely, you can actually see the grey hair shooting out of my scalp.
• • •
In other more amusing news: where I lead, Grant Morrison follows! Big news over the last couple of days, as Morrison revealed his interpretation
of the end of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s Batman: The Killing Joke
. Basically, Morrison thinks at the end of the story, based on particular storytelling clues, Batman kills the Joker.
Why yes, that is an interesting interpretation, and old news to longtime readers of this site, who may remember I came to the same conclusion nearly a decade ago. …Of course, I’m sure I wasn’t the first, and in the end it’s just an interpretation of the ending, and not necessarily reflective of any direct intention of the authors. Not that I got anywhere near the blowback on this at the time that Morrison’s receiving now, since Morrison seems to attract his share of folks getting the vapors whenever he says anything. But anyway, I was a bit bemused by this turn of events, and my thanks to folks on the Twitterers who did their best to point out my original post.
• • •
One last item: Bully
, the Bull Who Walks Like A Little Stuffed Bull, was responsible for my corner box image
last week, in case you wanted to know what that was all about.
I talked before about how I’m not really looking for any more old comics for my collection, outside of an issue of Dog Boy or two, or ’60s and ’70s fanzines. I mean, sure, if something cool comes along I might snap it up for myself, but by and large there’s not a whole lot of specific back issues I’m actively looking for. This comic I acquired a few months back, for example, was the big one, a comic I’d spent years trying to find.
But there is this one comic that I’d been half-interested in buying, one featuring the debut of a character that’s appeared on and off over the decades, that I’d never seen in the shop in all the time I’ve worked here. I’ve always liked its quite striking cover, however, since I first saw it in a long-ago issue of Amazing Heroes, and decided then I’d buy a copy should I ever get the opportunity.
And then, this weekend, there it was in a collection (the same collection where I found the comic with this page, in fact):
#79, December 1968, featuring the debut of Dolphin as written and illustrated by her creator, J. Scott Pike
Now I suppose I could have gone online and bought a copy from someone, but it’s not something I was absolutely going crazy from not owning…I just figured that sooner or later, a copy would come by the shop, and hopefully it would be in halfway decent shape (i.e. Dolphin didn’t have a mustache drawn on her). As it turns out, it was far more “later” than “sooner,” but, hey, good enough. And now I own a copy of this comic, and the cover looks just as great in real life as it did in that magazine article and on comic cover gallery websites.
Also in the comic is a reprint of the first appearance of Aqualad, and a one-page text piece explaining the idea of fanzines as well as promoting a couple…which is certainly an added bonus for me, given my appreciation for ‘zines.
In conclusion: just what I needed, another comic…but it is always nice to finally find that one elusive item you’ve been searching for, the long itch that finally gets scratched.
• • •
In other news:
- So close personal friend Chris Sims has created a new comic with some pals of his, in that digital format that’s all the rage with the young people these days. It’s Subatomic Party Girls, costing you only a mere 99 cents. If you don’t want to make such a large investment sight unseen, then check out the promo Tumblr.
- Pal Andrew’s latest Nobody’s Favorites entry is about a character that first encountered as a young Mikester, and hadn’t quite yet grasped the whole multiverse thing that was the required backstory for this characters’s raison d’être.
- Pal Dave talks about magically appearing bras, and offers an intriguing alternative. May be slightly not safe for work, unless you work at Bras A’Plenty at the mall.
- Bully, the Little Scientific Bull, brings you SCIENCE!
So there were a couple of questions/comments/whatevers for my last post regarding Free Comic Book Day, and I thought I’d address them here, since I was apparently too lazy to actually respond in the comments section:
• • •
- Snark Shark sez that my new strategy of de-emphasizing pre-bagged distribution of the FCBD books would “save [me] all that needless bagging!” Honestly, I wouldn’t say it was “needless,” as such…there is a measure of convenience to the customer, yes, but there is also the unfortunate fact that…well, how should I put this? You know how cable companies resist the idea of à la carte subscriptions, picking and choosing what channels you’d want and pay for? To steal the explanation from Wikipedia, “when channels are bundled into large subscription tiers, less popular niche channels are more likely to survive because their cost is borne by both viewers and non-viewers, alike.” In other words, if given the opportunity to pick and choose, subscribers would probably overwhelmingly support the Wrestling Bikini Girls Channel, or the Paranormal Horseshit Passed Off As Something Worthwhile Channel, while less popular channels like the Something Actually Educational Channel would wither away and die.
So what I’m saying is that by slapping together bags of the freebie books, I’m distributing certain comics to people who, possibly, may not have picked the book up on their own. And half the battle to get folks to even look at certain comics is won just by getting them to take the darned thing home with them. Thus, it’s not completely needless…but it is a lot of work, and it does get rid of a lot of comics maybe a little too quickly. I’m interested to see how our new emphasis on “build yer own FCBD bag” distribution will go.
- Casey notes “Mike, it seems you get quite a kick out of this FCBD business,” and, yeah, I do. It’s a lot of work, a lot of money up front, and a lot of frustration hearing about other retailers totally fouling it up…but the actual day of the event is a blast, always very busy and it’s a lot of fun chatting about comics with excited people all day. Plus, I get to write obsessively long blog posts about the behind-the-scenes planning, and you folks know I always enjoy writing obsessively long blog posts!
- The amazingly-named ScienceGiant asks “if you did have to make a purchase what would be your age appropriate recommendation for an 8 year old? (Daughter, if relevant).”
Well, that can be tough, because you never know what kids will want. I think it was on the Twitter where I noted that a while back I had a couple of young girls, probably 8 to 10, come into the shop and buy a bunch of Hulk comics…this was before the Avengers movie, if you wondering. So, you never know.
If your local shop has ‘em, Amelia Rules is a good one to try, or that perennial favorite Bone. Also, Ptor mentions a comment or two later that Owly is a good’un, too. If she’s looking for superhero-y stuff (or if that’s all that’s available locally), point her at the (unfortunately now cancelled) Superman Family Adventures, or back issues of Teen Titans Go. The rereleased Smurfs books are a lot of fun, too. Be sure to tell her those are better than the movie.
This actually came up on Sunday, when I had a dad looking for comics for his 7-year-old daughter, who wanted Wonder Woman. There aren’t any current Wonder Woman comics that any parent would be comfortable giving his or her child, so I had to dig back into the back issue bins to find some issues of Adventures in the DC Universe, and some 1980s pre-Crisis Wonder Woman. I would have pulled out some of the Justice League comics based on the animated series, too, had it come to that.
Or you can have her just look at the new comic rack and see what catches her eye. Kids being kids, she’ll probably gravitate to the absolute last thing you’d want her reading, but some trial and error will narrow things down to something she’d like.
- Snark Shark returns with “what would be appropriate for an obnoxious 40 year old?” and boy, the jokes just log-jammed in my head, there. Everything from “a swift kick in the pants” to “[WRITER'S NAME REDACTED] has a new comic out this Wednesday!” to “just spin around a few times in the middle of the shop with your eyes closed and your arm pointing out, and see what you’re pointing at when you stop.”
- The previously mentioned Ptor explained “I’m just a customer helping out a fellow while I shop and look for a nice place to pee on your floor (which seems to be a thing).” And yes it was, once, long ago, when a child probably old enough to know better decided to answer the call of nature right on the floor in front of the new comics…this was a couple of shops ago, so there is no Memorial Urine Stain in the current storefront at which anyone may pay homage.
But anyway, the topic came up on Twitter the other night, as it does, and pal Carla up there at Metro Entertainment topped my story with her tale of woe of an encounter with a young lad in the process of twining the turkey and meeting the press. Frankly, I’ll take pee any day, he said expecting that sentence in no way to be taken out of context.
In other news…Bully, the Bull That Is Simultaneously Stuffed and Little, did another one of his fantastic Ten of a Kind posts, focusing on those classic Go-Go Checks covers
…and I helped a wee bit! Go for the covers, stay for the always-swell commentary!
Another swell drawing by pal Casie, who is, perhaps, speculating on the next revamp of the Batman movie franchise featuring those two lovable scamps
. (To see other pics by Casie featured on this site, just click the newly-created “pal casie
” tag! Or follow her on the Twitters
to see ‘em as she draws ‘em!)
In other news:
- There’s a new trailer for Man of Steel out, and it certainly looks promising, but we’ll see. It’s apparently sparked some debate about revisiting Superman’s origin yet again, but 1) from the trailers it looks like Supes’ origin, both the Smallville and Kryptonian elements, will be thematically important to the film as a whole and not just something to plow through to get to the action, and 2) it’s the first film in a potential franchise, not just for Superman but seemingly for DC heroes as a whole, so a little world-building from scratch is likely needed. Oh, and 3) it probably doesn’t hurt to remind folks who aren’t immersed in the mythology what the Superman story is all about.
I seem to recall arguing before on this site, years ago, that you really didn’t need to retell Superman’s origin since everyone pretty much knew it, and getting plenty of arguments in the comments section against that position. Clearly it depends on the kind of story you’re trying to tell, in what context, and in the case of Man of Steel, where it’s the (hopeful) start of a new series, and it’s been a while since the last film (itself an odd cousin of the Christopher Reeve cycle of films), and the origin appears to be important to the overall plot, retelling that origin seems necessary. So, okay, I may have been wrong about the origin thing, in that post way back when. I’m allowed to be wrong about once or twice a decade.
I also just joked on Twitter that they should go the super-decompressed route in retelling Superman’s origin, and devote the entire first movie to a science drama about Jor-El investigating Krypton-quakes, which just goes to show there’s no debate to which I can’t contribute nothing of any real use.
- Pal Dorian is back to reviewin’ Doctor Who, as is pal Dave, and they’re both smart guys with intelligent things to say about a show I’m watching, and if you’re watching that show too, maybe check them out.
- Hey, you guys remember Ken Lowery, right? The guy I allowed to help me with writing Write More Good by, you know, fetching me coffee and stuff? Well, that boy’s got himself one of those fancypants Kickstarters to help him and his pal Robert Wilson IV fund a new one-shot comic. I contributed to the cause, and maybe some of you can help my pal out, too.
- Speaking of helping, I was more than happy to assist pal Andrew with his latest installment of Nobody’s Favorites, even if all I did was shove a comic into an envelope and let the gentle hands of the post office bear it aloft to Woburn.
- Bully, the Little Stuffed Bull Who Has Been Rebooted into a Stuffed Little Bull, gives those “WTF Certified” covers from DC Comics the ol’ what-for and shows everyone what “WTF” really means.
- And lastly, on a more serious note…my best wishes to the people of Boston.
So here’s a pic of me ‘n’ Euge AKA Adam Warrock from just before his performance at the store last night:
And here he is in the midst of performing:
A fun time was had by all, Euge put on a great show, the neighbors didn’t complain, the police didn’t show up, and we’re looking forward to having him back again next time he’s in the area. And a special thanks to customer Rich for the loaner of his PA system for the show.
Actually, speaking of the police showing up…I actually had to go to the store yesterday morning at about 5:30 AM because of yet another alarm notification. That meant zipping off to the shop and wondering during the entire drive there if Euge was going to have to perform in front of a giant piece of wood that would be in place of the plate glass window that was busted open by burglars. Thankfully, if annoyingly, something just happened to fall over in the back room and trip a motion detector, so there wasn’t a break-in.
It was a crummy way to start off the day, if admittedly not as crummy as it could have been, but the day certainly ended in fine form, with a great Adam Warrock show. If he happens to be performing in your area, try to make time and check him out. Even if you think you don’t care for the rapping…I think Euge will win you over with his charm and good humor.
Again, a big thanks to Euge for dropping by, and be sure to visit his site for free music and videos.
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