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And don’t get me started on “Copper Age.”

§ October 13th, 2017 § Filed under advertising, batman, publishing, retailing § 5 Comments


Found this in the boxes o’old promo stuff…an ad slick for the videotape release of 1989’s Batman, since we were talking about that very thing a few days back. (The reverse side of the page is a larger, greytoned version of the ad.) If I remember correctly, when I put a reserve on a copy at our local video shoppe, I paid $19.99…saved a whole $4.99 like the bargain hunter that I am! I believe I still have my copy of the video around here somewhere, in case I feel like having a Pan ‘n’ Scan Party in the entertainment den.

Anyway, let me take care of a little business right now, so y’all can go on and enjoy your weekend:

  • Alas, looks like the End of Civilization for this month will in fact be postponed ’til next time. Sorry, my free time was less free these last few weeks, so it’s the blogging what pays the price when that happens. This is also what put a crimp in my Patreon plans this month…Swamp Thing #8 is the next issue to be covered, and it will be covered, I promise. Just gotta clear the schedule.
  • From the comments section for my October 9th post, rag notes

    “[Seventh Generation] sounds somewhat similar to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twilight_of_the_Superheroes

    Yeah, that was brought up to me on the Twitters as well. For those who don’t know, that’s an Alan Moore proposal for a company-wide event at DC Comics, in which shenanigans are afoot in a dark future for Earth’s superheroes, and part of the plot involves characters coming back to the past (our present of 1987 or so) to prevent whatever was going to cause said dark future. Or you can just read the Wiki link there. That’s not an uncommon trope (like I mentioned, it’s happening in the Justice League comic right now), but funny that it popped up twice in two different DC event books, neither of which ended up happening. Maybe the descendants of Dan DiDio traveled back from the 23rd century to prevent those series from getting published. And if so, why couldn’t they save Frank Miller’s All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder?

  • Jmurphy quite reasonably wonders

    “Mike, there was an omnibus of some kind released on the 4th. Will we be hearing about it here?”

    Yes, yes indeedy. The Swamp Thing Bronze Age Omnibus (and part of my brain still rejects the “Bronze Age” label as a dumb marketing term to help make those old issues of Human Fly seem sellable) is in my hands and ready for my perusal. But, related to those “free time” problems mentioned previously, I still haven’t even removed the shrinkwrap. But there it is, staring at me from atop the pile of comics from the last few weeks that I also haven’t read. However, rest assured, Jmurphy, that the Omnibus is on my Omni-genda.

  • From the comments for October 11th, Zoot Koomie zoots

    “I’m curious about the New Universe cancellation story. How was the implosion of that imprint covered at the time? Was information about the behind-the-scenes turmoil leaking out or was it just hype about line reconfiguration around the Pitt crossover?”

    It was just a short article about how four titles in the New Universe line were cancelled due to poor sales, and would be replaced by as-yet-undetermined new series. The replacement of the editor for the imprint was also noted, from which one may infer behind the scenes troubles, but nothing was explicitly detailed. As far as more general coverage elsewhere in the Comics ‘Zine-a-verse…I don’t remember. I’ll have to look through the Amazing Heroes and Comics Journal collections to see what at least the general tone there was. …Actually, I can probably already guess.

  • DanielT cashes in with

    “Any particular reason your eBay prices are all $ xx.97?”

    Well, as you know, if you price something at $9.99 instead of $10, the $9.99 price point looks like it’s a whole dollar cheaper, right? Well, that $xx.97 price is me undercutting everyone listing things at $xx.99, like the crafty capitalist storeowner that I am, as opposed to those sons-of-bitches undercutting me with their $xx.96 prices, the jerks. How dare they!

  • William Burns fires me up with

    “They have comics in Japan? What ever happened with that?”

    Japan? Never heard of it.

  • The JRC store called, and they said

    “I always like CSN, especially the semi-regular oversized season preview issues that covered the coming quarter/or six months.

    “I was surprised, shocked really, to get a copy a few months back when I happened into a previously unexplored shop.

    “It is little more than reprinted press releases, but there’s still something neat about holding a newsprint style paper in hand.”

    I wonder just how widespread the distribution is on Comic Shop News. I know some stores don’t carry it, which seems weird to me given its low cost and its usefulness to customers, which I’d mentioned in that post. But they must be doing okay…I did a little searching on the Diamond website, and it looks like the per-bundle cost has only gone up a dollar in the last few years, which seems reasonable enough. I know the number of copies per bundle dropped a little bit at some point, but that was prior to the oldest entry I could find in Diamond’s database. I’ll take that to mean that orders on CSN are holding relatively steady. Or they’re charging more for ads to subsidize the price, one of those.

    I’m glad they’re still around. Yeah, it’s a lot of press releases, but as mentioned that’s how many customers get their comics news, so that’s okay. It’s not like there are any other print mags or ‘zines covering the current market, or at least nothing with the reach of CSN. It’s hard to beat “free at the store’s front counter” for distribution.

    And there’s more than just press releases. You get those great Fred Hembeck covers on the special issues, there’s the occasional “Red K” awards issue that pokes fun at recent comics industry hoohar, there are interviews, and of course there is the surreal experience of the Spider-Man newspaper strips that are reprinted therein. How can anyone do without those?

Okay, pals…thanks for sticking with me. Back with More Stuff™ in short order.

Greater than a hecto-villain, but nowhere close to a yotta-villain.

§ October 9th, 2017 § Filed under dc comics, publishing, swamp thing § 5 Comments

So I was digging through a few boxes of old comics promo materials when I found this, a 16 page black and white book of DC’s publishing plans for 1989-1990 that was given to retailers:


I only scanned half of the “cover” there, but you can see they were pushing the Batman movie pretty hard, as you might imagine. No, no, don’t worry, I’m not doing another round of Bat-talk just yet (though I did find a couple of relevant Bat-items that I may showcase here in the near future), but there are couple of interesting items of note inside.

First ,there’s this blurb for the sadly never-finished Swamp Thing: Deja Vu mini-series that would have reunited Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson:


Wrightson only drew a handful of pages before deciding the project wasn’t for him, and Wein’s attempt to get another artist to complete the book was met with the reaction of “not interested unless Wrightson was doing it” from the powers-that-were. (I believe I read about that particular bit of business in the Swampmen, which is where you can see some of the pages Wrightson did draw for the project.)

And then there was this story on the last page of the booklet:


Games being the Marv Wolfman/George Perez “final hurrah” as a team on the Teen Titans, which didn’t come out in 1990 as planned…and in fact didn’t actually show up until 2011, over twenty years later! Wolfman writes about what happened here.

But what I wanted to talk about was this:


…a big crossover event series planned for this publishing period, which I couldn’t recall ever having heard of. At first glance, I thought maybe it was a working title for some other event, but reading the synopsis, it didn’t sound like any crossover thingie DC had published. (Though, funnily enough, it reminds me a bit of the “children of the Justice League” storyline currently running in, er, Justice League.)

Did a little Googling, and there’s not much on the series to be found, as you might imagine. Turns out, according to Roger Stern, mentioned in the article as one of the writers involved, it never really got too far past “hey, here’s an idea.”

CLICK TO EXPAND MIGHTILY

And this excerpt from American Comic Book Chronicles that turned up on Google Books ties us back yet again to the Bat-Burton film:


And yes, I got screenshots as well as links there, as there’s nothing like sorting out dead links in decade-old blog posts to make one appreciate the mercurial state of the World Wide Web.

Anyway, what I find of interest in this article is how much is promised regarding this series, given that, as Stern says, it didn’t really get that far along in the creative process. A “new mega-villain” is probably a given for a big event like this, and “new characters,” I guess, so that’s a gimme. The format of the series, with increasing page-counts for each subsequent pair of issues, is…a little weird, and I don’t recall that specific idea being implemented any time later. I mean, sure, last issues of crossover comics can be double-sized or whatever, but that’s not exactly the same as what’s being described.

Now I realize what the world probably doesn’t need is yet another superhero crossover event on the books, but I am intrigued enough by this premise, and by the proposed writing team of Stern and John Ostrander utilizing DC’s major characters, and by the new characters that would have come out of it that I wouldn’t have minded seeing it. But it feels just a little weird, to find out now there’s a missing event series, a comics ghost flickering in and out of existence behind all the Batmania.

Yes, I know zombies in The Walking Dead don’t actually say “braaaaiinnns.”

§ September 8th, 2017 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, pal plugging, publishing, swamp thing § 1 Comment


So customer Ryan came by the store on Thursday with the above gift for me…a full page pencil drawing of Swamp Thing that he drew. He said “I began to realize that you kind of like Swamp Thing, so I thought I’d do this for you!” That was very nice of him. I actually have a bunch of art in frames ready to hang up, I just haven’t found time to do so yet…I do have this piece by pal Matt on display, but I’ve got several others that need to go up. Someone remind me to do so.

Also, I may need to redact part of my post from Wednesday, in which it turns out the extra story pages only present in the variant’s variant (sigh…) are in fact preview pages from the next issue, so readers won’t miss out on any material. It was just a little something extra to give me a headache for the lucky fan who was able to get their mitts on it. Anyway, glad I moved my copies already. I’m not sure how I’m going to edit that post, but I’ll put an explanation at the top so they’ll know to take my rantings with a grain of braaaaiinnns. Thankfully nobody reads blogs anymore, so I didn’t get many complaints.

In Patreon news…I will have a new installment in the Swamp Thing-a-Thon up soon. I’m just retooling the format a bit, oh, and also trying to find time to write it, which hasn’t been easy of late. I didn’t give up, I’m just a wee bit behind. I’m attempting to make the process a little less time-consuming, so that a biweekly schedule won’t become an enormous burden. I’ll let you know when the new one is up.

And in news that’s not all me me me me me me, Bully, the Little Funnybook-Pricing Bull, and his pal John are selling comics to support good causes! Plenty of photo evidence at the link! If you’re in the area, why not drop by and pick up some great comics at low, low, low prices…and that’s no Bull(y)!

Which isn’t to say I didn’t put ’em on eBay…look, I’ve got bills to pay.

§ September 6th, 2017 § Filed under publishing, retailing § 1 Comment

(EDIT: I spend a lot of time in this post complaining about something that isn’t a thing…turns out the extra pages are from the following issue due in a month’s time, so wherever I complain about that here, just ignore it. Thought about just deleting the whole post, but let it stand as a warning against other publishers thinking about making new story material difficult to find for the fans, and as a warning against jumping the gun on writing complain-y blogs.)

So a few months back I placed my orders for the current issue of The Walking Dead, due out in your local funnybook venue this week. And then, a few weeks back, said issue of The Walking Dead turned up on the Final Order Cutoffs, where retailers get a last chance to fiddle with their order numbers before print runs are committed. At that time, as happens on occasion, additional items not offered in the original catalog are put up for order…in this case, a variant cover by Lorenzo de Felici was added that was “free to order” (as in “I can order as much as I’d like,” as opposed to “order 10 of the regular cover, get 1 variant!”). I placed my numbers and that was that. (As an aside, I got so used to ordering two covers for each Walking Dead a while back that just ordering one cover throws me off!)

Tuesday, I received my weekly Diamond shipment which included these two Walking Dead variants, broke everything down, sorted ’em, counted ’em, pulled them for comic savers, etc. At that point, I get a call from another comic shop owner, someone I’ve known for decades, who wanted to give me a heads up that there’s a rare variant of this new issue of Walking Dead. At first I thought he meant the de Felici variant just on its own…I’m sure some retailers may have missed ordering it when it came up on the Final Order Cutoffs (or wherever else it may have appeared…there’s more than one place for these things to be added after the fact), but I didn’t think that was enough to make it rare.

My friend explained further, that the variant itself had a variant, that a minor visual cue on the variant’s cover indicated interior variations…specifically, the letters pages and other editorial content were replaced by an additional seven pages of story not in the other versions of this comic, either the regular cover or, um, the regular variant cover, shall we say.

I know this is being compared to comics like that Team Titans #1, which had multiple variations of its contents, each featuring a different short story in addition to the main feature which was the same in all versions. But that had sufficient warning…people knew DC was going to pull that stunt ahead of time, so it wasn’t a surprise to find different/additional content in each issue, and if you wanted all versions, they weren’t hard to get. Or even Thump’n Guts by Kevin Eastman and Simon Bisley was mentioned to me, which had multiple variations on content, but even that was marketed as a part of the gimmick for the book.

But doing this to Walking Dead feels like it’s a little more frustrating. Yes, I’m sure the pages will turn up in the trade paperbacks, but the folks reading the monthlies don’t necessarily get the trades as well. Making part of the story an exclusive “chase” variant is different from just doing rare covers…basically it’s telling fans who have been following that particular franchise “hey, we’re hiding some of the story from you!” …Maybe it’s not as bad as all that, and I’m sure there are…illicit methods of finding those pages, but I’d rather not encourage that behavior.

My hope is that those extra pages turn up in a later issue, so people who don’t want to buy the trades ,and don’t want to go on a scavenger hunt to piece together the entire story, can read ’em. I know I’d be put out a bit if a comic I really liked suddenly decided to sneak extra pages past me so that only a lucky few got to see them. …Are they in the digital version? Maybe someone can let me know.

Anyway, here’s hoping they don’t do that again. I know they probably meant well and wanted to do something different and have fun and make people excited, etc. etc. But this can easily turn into an aggravation, and nobody wants that.

I looked through my Amazing Heroes Preview Specials for way too long trying to find that book’s original title.

§ August 18th, 2017 § Filed under pal plugging, publishing, self-promotion § 1 Comment

A couple of reactions to Wednesday’s post:

Eric L asks

“OK, but was Radioactive Adolescent Black Belt Hamsters any good? The title sounds like a blatant rip off, but it seems to have lasted a while so maybe it had something going for it?”

The fact that the title “Adolescent Radioactive Black-Belt Hamsters” was so on the nose was pretty much part of the joke, and folks kept putting out books with more tortured variations of that title format. Even Marvel was going to get in on the act, with a one-shot titled Grown-up [or Adult] Thermonuclear Samurai Elephants, but it took so long to come out that the fad had passed, and it was renamed Power Pachyderms prior to its eventual unleashing.

But Hamsters was the first out of the gate in the “‘borrowing the Turtles’ sauce” race, and…well, as these things go, it wasn’t bad. I only had one copy of the comic in the store for me to flip through and remind myself of the actual contents:

…and of course it was the 3D special, which was a small bit of a challenge to my aging eyes. But, you know, it was amusing enough, and professionally done…it did its job as a funnybook. Also as I recall, other issues featured work by Ty Templeton and Sam Keith, so there were some interesting art jobs on the series that you probably wouldn’t have expected. Yes, it will always be remembered as “The First Knock-off of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” and it deserves some credit (or, more likely, blame) for leading the way for the [blank] [blank] [blank] [animal, maybe] titles that would follow, but as black and white boom comics go, it’s certainly nowhere near the bottom.

Dave Carter says

“The comic I remember most from the B&W boom was Mark Martin’s Gnatrat. I recall quite enjoying it at the time (though may tastes may have been less discerning in those days…)”

Trust your memories at least on Gnatrat and related titles, Dave…as I mentioned in this post about The Boom, Mark Martin’s comics were Quality Products by a talented cartoonist, definitely top echelon of the period. They are Batman/Daredevil/Frank Miller parodies, but they hold up. There was a complete Gnatrat trade paperback a few years back…out of print, but used copies are cheap on Amazon at that link.

• • •

In other news:

  • The next installment in the Swamp Thing-a-Thon at my Patreon should be up over the weekend, or Monday at the latest. Only one dollar gets you a extra giant wall of text from me twice a month!
  • Alan David Doane notes a recent David Letterman interview where the talk show host reflects on frequent guest (and comics legend) Harvey Pekar. I remember watching all of these as they aired all those years ago…usually funny but so uncomfortable. I think it was in that final appearance that Dave got pissed at Harvey and referred to American Splendor as “this Mickey Mouse thing.” I suppose I could go look this up on YouTube, but that’ll probably just make me agitated.
  • Bully, the Little Bull Stuffed with SPF 300,000 sunscreen, looks directly at the Sun-Eaterwithout protective lenses! Bully, NO! Always be safe when observing solar events!

Blogging about that particular comic in the year 2017.

§ August 3rd, 2017 § Filed under pal plugging, publishing, self-promotion § 1 Comment

First, my pals Matt and Chris took listener questions for the latest episode of the War Rocket Ajax podcast, and you can literally hear joy die in their voices when they get to mine (at about the 53:50 mark). Don’t worry, fellas, some day you’ll come around to my way of thinking!

Second, if you follow me on the Twittererers, you may have seen this thread a while back where I talk about a fella who used to be in the magazine distribution business who came by to see if I’d be interested in buying comics. He didn’t have any on hand at the time, but from the sounds of things his particular heyday was about the late ’80s/early ’90s period of the comics boom. Of particular note, he mentioned receiving a notice from a publisher to not distribute some bundles of a particular comic that had been delivered to him, and to have them destroyed. Well, he said he kept a couple of bundles intact “just in case,” though he couldn’t recall that actual title in question.

And just yesterday, the gentleman came back in with a sampling of the comics that were in his possession. Plenty of those Jim Lee X-Men #1s, one of the bagged X-Force #1s (though the bag had been slit at one end and the trading card removed), and a copy of the recalled comic of which he still had hundreds of copies. And that comic was:


…the Saved by the Bell Special from 1992.

To start with, this is assuming the gentleman’s account is correct, and that this is the comic the publisher asked to be pulped. I only saw the one (very beat up) copy (the scan above was stolen from the Grand Comics Database). He said he had plenty more of this very comic, and for the sake of argument I will take him at his word.

Next, my initial assumption was that there was a publishing date discrepancy…the comic the gentleman had contained a March 1992 publishing date in its indicia, whereas the GCD listing linked above had it dated at March 1993. Maybe there was a licensing issue, thought I, and Harvey wasn’t actually allowed to send out that comic for whatever reason…a problem cleared up a year later when they reissued it. However, the Comic Book Database gives the comic a 1992 date as well, so maybe there’s a typo at GCD? I don’t know.

Also the Holiday Special is a nearly direct reprint of the first Saved by the Bell comic from 1992, so I thought maybe that was just the previous edition’s indicia…except this indicia very clearly stated it was for the “Saved by the Bell Special.”

Ultimately I can’t find any reason for this to have been pulped, other than the sheer fact it was a Saved by the Bell comic. The gentleman said he definitely got a letter from the responsible party instructing him to shred these things, but unless he tracks that letter down (and he may yet…he says he thinks he still has it) I have no idea why this issue was allegedly held back. I don’t recall anything from the time, since that definitely falls within my early years of working comics retail, and I can’t find anything on the Recalled Comics site, so…who knows? It’s a Mystery for the Ages, one to pass down to your children, your grandchildren, your great-grandchildren, all the way ’til the end of time. Or I find more information, one of the two.

And third, the next installment of the Swamp Thing-a-Thon should be up over at my Patreon page soon…if not by Friday, then on Monday. Thanks for your patience!

In which Mike just rambles on, making baseless and crazy assumptions.

§ June 30th, 2017 § Filed under publishing, supergirl § 4 Comments

Just following up on a couple of comments from my most recent post:

Andrew responds with

“I want to read those comics NOW (well maybe not the Fox and Crow, since my pocket money is finite).”

Fox and the Crow is actually pretty good, though I understand not having the scratch to throw down on everything. The particular issue being plugged in that ad is issue #95, which was the first appearance of “Stanley and His Monster.” Now, the lead stories were based on what I assume is a now-obscure series of animated shorts…at least, nobody seems to be trying to market or “reboot” the characters at the moment, so I’m pretty sure they’re mostly forgotten. But the comic lasted a good long time, with new Fox and the Crow stories illustrated by Not That Jim Davis, squeezing out endless variations on the Crow pulling some kind of scam on the Fox.

But, with the introduction of Stanley and His Monster in the mid-1960s, at a time when lighthearted monster-based entertainment was really taking a foothold, Mssrs. Fox & Crow began to lose their starring position in their own comic. Eventually, with issue #109 of the series, Fox and the Crow were discarded entirely as the title of the book changed to Stanley and His Monster. The previous stars likely seemed too old-fashioned, particularly in a comics marketplace that was focusing more on weird concepts and wacky “modern” humor, where Stanley and friend seemed to fit right in. Too little, too late, however, and the series ended with #112, though S.A.H.M. would be revived years later in a Phil Foglio mini-series and as supporting characters in a Green Arrow storyline, of all things.

Fox and the Crow, however, have mostly vanished, though it looks like they’ve made cameo appearances, or where at least mentioned in dialogue, here and there. I think technically they were licensed characters, so I don’t even know if DC has the rights to them now. I keep thinking about all the licensed books DC published over the years, and how it would be great to have a collection of, say, The Adventures of Bob Hope, despite the fact that the potential audience for such a thing ain’t exactly expanding of late. I’d love to have a Fox and the Crow collection, but given it took years of consumer demand to get even one reprint book of old Sugar & Spike comics out the door, I suspect the forgotten obscurities, especially ones that would cost extra licensing fees, will continue to languish.

But honestly, DC had two chances to get a Stanley and His Monster trade out to an audience that may have been interested by the characters’ revivals. Ah, well.

Andrew also adds

“It looks like those issues of B&B before Batman took over have been passed over for reprints.”

Well, if this series went to a volume 2, they would have reprinted this Supergirl/Wonder Woman team-up. Alas, ’twas not to be.

• • •

Wes Wescovich writes

“I think this may be the first time that Supergirl logo was used on a cover?”

I’m not 100% sure, but I think you may be right. My first instinct was that the logo showed up on one of the 80 Page Giants, and it sure did…a few months later. I don’t see the logo on previous issues of Action, where Supergirl primarily appeared, so it could very well be that the logo made its cover debut on that very issue of Brave and the Bold. If someone knows otherwise, hopefully they’ll let me know.

Once thing I noticed while looking at the Action covers on the Grand Comics Database is there’s about a three year gap between Supergirl’s introduction in #252 and her “going public” to the people of DC Comics Earth in #285. In the meantime she was “Superman’s secret weapon,” privately training and keeping the existence of Supergirl a secret. Three years probably seemed like an eternity to keep a plotline like this going in the late 1950s/early 1960s, though it’s not like this was the grand scheme planned from the get-go. I’m sure it was more like “okay, this is how Supergirl fits into the Superman family of books” at the start, and eventually “hoo boy, this ‘Supergirl’s a Secret’ thing is a drag, let’s put an end to that.” But I’m just imagining a bunch of kids who read the Supergirl stories at the start, grew out of reading comics a few months later, and went the rest of their lives thinking that Supergirl went on continuing her superheroic deeds in hiding from the general public. You know, watching the new Supergirl TV show and thinking “this is all wrong! She’s superhero-ing out in the open!”

I do wonder if anyone at the time made it all the way from Supergirl’s first appearance to her eventual introduction to the world. I’m sure someone did, even with the huge turnover readership likely had at the time. Like I said, three years was a long time in comics then, even if now it can be a not-unheard-of gap between issues in high-profile series. Or, more commonly nowadays, that’s not too far from how long it takes for some event stuff to pay off (like the whole Watchmen in the DCU thingie). Funny how we went from long-running titles with a high turnover in readership to a huge turnover in restarted/rebooted titles trying to get the attention of folks who’ve been reading comics forever. …Well, maybe not so funny.

Maybe Dr. Manhattan can work on the Marvel Universe next.

§ May 15th, 2017 § Filed under free comic book day, publishing, watchmen § 1 Comment

Well, all I can figure is that Free Comic Book day took a lot out of me, as I didn’t really have the energy during the past week to generate that award-winning [NOTE: not actually award-winning] Progressive Ruin content the entire comics industry depends on [NOTE: nobody depends on it]. But I’m well-rested [NOTE: mostly] and in fighting trim [NOTE: nothing about Mike is trim] so let’s see what trouble we can stir up today:

I had a couple of comments in response to my FCBD post-mortem I wanted to address. First, Dave Carter of Earth points out, in response to customers (and me) wanting a Sonic the Hedgehog freebie this year:

“Archie appears to have lost the Sonic license, or at least they aren’t publishing any Sonic comics any more.”

Well, by cracky, that appears to be the case, doesn’t it? I guess I hadn’t really noticed…when you’re slogging through 500 pages of Diamond Previews, it’s easy to overlook the fact that maybe something that should be there isn’t. And, a quick check at the distributor’s website shows nada forthcoming from Archie Comics involving any sort of spiny mammal content. I did a quick buzz about the Internets and saw a lot of discussion on the topic, so I guess I’m just not looking in the right spots to have had this particular bit of information at my fingertips. It’d be a shame if the Sonic comic book franchise did vanish from the stands…especially since Archie still has that prime grocery store placement.

Dean wonders

“Mike, as a retailer, what’s your opinion of Marvel’s HYDRA FCBD promotion?”

Hoo boy. The Secret Empire event comic is the wagon Marvel is hitching all its chickens to for the next several months, so of course Marvel is going to want one of their FCBD comics to be a plug for it, like their Civil War 2 freebie was last year. Now, by and large, a lot were given away, and a handful of conversations I overheard seem to be at least intrigued by the concept — “whoa, Captain America is a bad guy!?” It’s yet another “how does our hero get out of this one?” story, designed to unfold over the next several months and keep readers in suspense. No one really thinks Cap is going to stay a bad guy, and that everything will be fixed. How it will be fixed is naturally the hook for the event.

But.

I suspect a number of people are coming into this fresh, and haven’t encountered the online brouhaha and the somewhat controversial “Hydra makeover” promotion and the whole “so is Hydra the same thing as Nazis or what?” debate. Without all that baggage, this one-shot could have been fine as a come-on for Marvel’s big event. A bit overwrought, maybe, but what superhero crossover event isn’t, really. However, that baggage does exist and there’s a tone-deafness in the responses to the online anger regarding this series, its promotion, its timing, and the defense of it by those involved. Basically, it’s turned into a huge mess and a public relations issue for Marvel, to the point where they had to put out a press release to tell fans “look, Cap’s gonna be fine, we promise.”

That’s a lotta typing around Dean’s question, so let me see if I can narrow it down a bit. For folks coming into the “Secret Empire” event fresh, the FCBD giveaway may be have been an intriguing introduction to the event. For folks who are more aware of the historical context and of the current reaction to said event, the FCBD book was probably just digging that hole a little deeper.

Personally, I feel like this is a bit like the Spider-Man Clone Saga from the ’90s. If they told the story, were in and out and done in, like, six months, it would have been fine. But dragging it out like this, particularly in the face of increasing consumer rejection, isn’t doing the company any favors. The Clone Saga almost killed the Spider-Man franchise, leading to a more-or-less still ongoing series of relaunches and reboots. Not that Marvel’s been shy about relaunching/rebooting any of their titles lately, but I suspect Cap may need some serious refurbishing after this to get readership back.

On the other hand, Secret Empire sales in the shop have been ticking upward in the last week or so, so what do I know.

• • •

In happier news:

…I hope this never, ever stops.

Of reprints and Patreons.

§ April 26th, 2017 § Filed under dc comics, legion of super-heroes, publishing, self-promotion § 6 Comments

So a while back on the Twitterers I complained that a joke I had planned for an End of Civilization post was undone by the fact the publisher actually didn’t mess up something I thought they had messed up. I’ve been meaning to get around to telling the one or two of you who might remember that and still care just what I was talking about. And what I was talking about was the Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes hardcover volume one, as solicited in the March 2017 Diamond Previews:


That’s the image they’re using to solicit the collection, but obviously not the actual, final cover since that’s a pic of the Legion treasury edition the book will be including.

Anyway, my assumption is that there were going to be some issues skipped between the last of the DC Archives reprintings of the Legion of Super-Heroes and this volume, which picks up in the 1970s. However, to my surprise, this new book picks up exactly where the Archive editions left off, so for those of us depending on DC’s reprint program to gather up all those classic Legion stories in chronological order, like I know I was, that’s good news. Of course, this new format won’t have as many stories per volume, but also it won’t be $75 like that Archives generally were near the end there, so at least there’s that.

Like I mentioned, the treasury edition, featuring the wedding of Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad (hey, stop snickering, this is a big deal) is in this book, and I was greatly anticipating its appearance in the never-forthcoming Legion Archives Volume 14. At some point, around, I don’t know, 2008, I even passed up on a copy of the treasury because I figured I would eventually get that story in the archive series. Well, took a little longer than expected, but it’s finally on its way. Hopefully. Assuming it isn’t cancelled or postponed.

Now if we can get DC to pick up reprinting Sugar and Spike where that last archive edition left off….

• • •

And now, for a brief commercial message…as mentioned just the other day, plans are continuing apace for the Swamp Thing-a-Thon, my attempt at reviewing every Swamp Thing comic, that will be an exclusive, at least for a time, for Patreon supporters. I finally updated my Patreon page to include that reward tier in the sidebar.

Since I have the reward tier set at the lowest level (I mean, I don’t think you can contribute less than a dollar a month, can you?), anyone who supports my Patreon at any level will get access to the Swamp Thing-a-Thon posts. If you’re already a supporter, you’ll get access. If you click the “Become a Patreon” button and donate that generous $150 a month I know you want to, you’ll get access. You don’t have to click on that $1 Reward button to get access, that just makes it easier for you to chip in. If you’re contributing at all, you’re in.

Like I’ve said…the content there will make it over to this site eventually, but not for a while. If you can provide support, that’s great, but if you can’t or don’t want to, that’s perfectly okay too, and you’ll get to see that stuff anyway, if you don’t mind waiting a bit.

Thanks to you folks out there who still read this “comics” “blog” after all this time. I appreciate all the support and readership you’ve given me for so many years.

“Star Wars demoted to bimonthly” is hard to imagine now, too.

§ April 17th, 2017 § Filed under captain america, pal plugging, publishing, question time, retailing § 6 Comments

Back to your questions:

Argh!Sims arghed:

“Since you and GregA were discussing it on the Twitters and all … Did you find any more info about the proposed cancellation of Captain America back in the ’80s? That was at least a minor deal back then, and I seem to remember it was going to end around 300, with Cap being aged and having his ‘final’ victory over the Red Skull”

Yup…Twitter pal Greg posted a scan of a news item from an old Amazing Heroes (#69 from 1985, to be exact). I hope he doesn’t mind me borrowing said scan to present it here, since I’m too lazy to scan it myself:


My memory at the time is that is was kind of a minor deal, as you say. Mostly surprise that Marvel would even think about ending one of their…well, maybe not a flagship title, as such, but certainly a long-running title with one of their most famous, if not top-selling, characters. You know, back in the day when every ongoing series didn’t get relaunched every 18 months.

And yes, I did spend some time going through subsequent issues of Amazing Heroes trying to find any kind of follow-up on this announcement, as well as going through the Amazing Heroes Preview Specials that would preview the next few months’ worth of content for individual titles. Alas, I couldn’t track down what I was looking for, which was confirmation of my vague-ish memory of someone at Marvel basically saying “hey, we realized that we couldn’t cancel Captain America, of all titles — that would be be crazy!” I said in the Twitter thread that followed that my belief was that said cancellation might have been forestalled by licensing deals that might have been dependent on Marvel continuing to publish and support the character, but that’s just a mostly uninformed assumption on my part.

Anyway, I am relatively certain that it was said somewhere, in some news story or interview, that the cancellation of that particular title was reconsidered because of the nature of the character and its importance to Marvel. And, if I recall correctly, I think it was also said by someone that the title wasn’t actually in danger of cancellation, and that its inclusion on the list above was a mistake. Now, I owned and have read a lot of comic ‘zines over the decades, so I don’t know where exactly I saw all this…or even if I did, since I should probably accept that possibility. If anyone has more specific information, feel free to let me konw.

• • •

Old pal Brandon wants to know

“Have you ever been witness to a major collapse of shelves or avalanche of comics?

I have seen some pretty precarious shelves in the backs of comics shops before and it was always a concern of mine going into the back room of your old place of employment (though admittedly that was purely anxiety driven).”

Well, true enough, the shelving in the back of my old place of employment was very end-of-Raiders of the Lost Ark-ish, with shelving stretching up to the ceiling, filled with countless comic boxes. It was all quite sturdy and secure, however, and in the three different locations that store had while I worked there, I don’t believe there ever was a major collapse or shelf failure.

Now, that one time someone busted in through the ceiling to steal some…uh, Witchblade and Spawn comics, I thought maybe some of our bookshelves out front were knocked over, but from the look of things it was just a huge mess made by broken ceiling tiles and insulation.

The only time I can remember any sort of in-store shelving collapse was a hook busting loose that connected a shelf to its supporting unit and a bunch of books falling off. No life-threatening epic disaster stories to tell, thankfully. But here’s something to tide you over:

• • •

In completely unrelated news…pal Andrew could use a little assistance, if you’re able.

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