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My pal Mark Hale, cocreator of Fake AP Stylebook, is in need of some financial assistance to help him and his wife through some difficult times. If you can donate a few bucks to help them out, I am sure they would really appreciate it.
As I write this, they are pretty close to their original funding goal, but this drive is active another week still, so any extra donations above and beyond that goal would be swell.
So when Topps Comics released The X-Files
#1 in the mid-1990s, about a year or so after the TV show’s debut, the demand for the comic caught us a bit by surprise. We ordered what we thought was a good number, considering the industry was well into its market crash at this point, but this was one of those comics that caught folks by surprise by managing to bring non-comic readers into shops. We sold out in short order, and proceeded to field requests the rest of the week from people looking for copies of that first issue, while thinking the whole time “if only we knew” which you can never really know for certain, really.
The upshot of all this is that X-Files became a “hot” item in a business where “hot” items were a pretty significant factor in almost destroying said business just a year or two earlier. And you can see a good example of just how “hot” it was if you cast your peepers back to the scan above and the price sticker visible therein.
That issue was among the many, many comics that came with this collection, and was one of the books that survived the sorting process as I worked through the boxes, throwing some into the bargain boxes and keeping some aside for potential use in the regular stock, or on the eBay. I haven’t dealt much with the old Topps run of X-Files…people poke through its slot in the back issue boxes once in a while, but it’s not like I’ve had a lot of demand of the series lately, even with a new series being released from IDW. At any rate, I’ve not really thought about the prices on this series in some time, and spotting the #1 in this collection, I pulled it aside thinking it was, if no longer at the $55 price it had been marked, surely it was probably still worth something.
Well, nope, not really.
A quick search of the eBay shows lots of the first three, four or five issues (including the first printing of #1, like the one I have from that collection) usually only sell for about five to ten bucks. The #1 by itself sold for as cheaply as $2, and I found one that sold for nearly eight bucks, which is more the exception than the rule, it seems. (A “slabbed” copy of #1, signed the stars of the TV series, sold for about $400, so I guess there’s that.) There are copies currently listed in the $10 – $15 range, but unless someone’s desperate to get a copy, they’re probably not going anywhere fast.
And I didn’t go back to double-check, because I’ve looked at eBay enough today, but my impression was that there were many attempts to sell the serial-numbered second printings as some kind of special big-deal thing, but no one cares too much about those, either.
The “too long, didn’t read” version: some formerly-hot comics don’t sell for what they used to anymore, which I’m sure comes as a surprise to everyone. And yet, even with this knowledge, I still don’t want to just dump this comic in the bargain bin. The days of getting $55 for this comic are long gone, but I might be able to get $5, maybe, if I’m lucky.
• • •
In other news:
- The other day, when I mentioned how I thought a new Legion of Super-Heroes series would be best served by making the focus one character, with the rest of the cast as occasional supporting characters? Jer asked which one, and Casey in the comments suggested “Brainiac 5,” which actually was my suggestion, too, when I previously brought up the topic.
Still think that’s a good idea. The team book version of Legion is not one people seem to want anymore, or at least no one’s hit on a version of the Legion that really does anything for anybody. There’s going to be another Legion book sooner or later, and it can’t hurt to try something different…I mean, what, you might end up with another dead Legion book if the idea doesn’t pan out? Or maybe you might have something that has a little staying power? What’s to lose, really? Other than money, creative efforts, market value of a DC property which has been adversely affected by yet another cancellation, so on?
- Back to that collection: Wayne asks if we have to inventory all the toys that came with this collection. In this case…no, not really. Our perusal of the toys, an informal inventory, revealed a handful of figures sans accessories that we might be able to sell for a couple of bucks each. Haven’t really made the time or space to price these things up and put ‘em out for sale…they’re low cost, low priority items, which we got essentially for free, and we haven’t really dealt with them yet because there are always other things occupying our time at the shop. The investment in this collection, aside from employee costs in processing and space taken up by storing the boxes, is minimal.
Having looked more closely at the toys, we’ll probably keep a handful of the usable stuff and dump the rest, either in the trash or in an eBay auction titled “BIG BOX OF CRAP – cheap! L@@K H@T” just to get it all out of my hair. Even the box of little accessories probably isn’t worth the trouble or mess, and may go on the eBay too. Someday. When I have the time.
- Pal Dave is starting a new feature on his site: “I Had That!” Nostalgia ahoy from one of the best comic/pop culture bloggers out there.
I may or may not be in Low Content Mode this week, but I’m certainly in Low Content Mode today, hence:
- Congratulations and / or my sympathies to my blogging brother Tim on his ten year reign.
- Employee Aaron’s wife Kempo has drawn Judge Dredd. If this is how he appeared in that most recent movie, maybe it would have made money.
- Yes, I’ve seen the Onion article. And they’re wrong; those are the only two movies. Well, and The Spirit, too.
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:
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