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Your regular reminder that I have to sell these things for a living.

§ April 20th, 2018 § Filed under nancy, pal plugging, retailing, superman § No Comments

To follow up on my last post, I appear to have ordered just about the right number of Action #1000s, at least to cover the initial rush of sales. The main cover, the one by Jim Lee, was the first…well, second, after the “blank” variant…to sell out, and I had several more requests for it after it was gone. Luckily, that cover (and the blank one) were still available for reorder, so I have more coming in. The other variants, I did have a request or two for them after they were gone, but by and large people just bought one (or, um, two or three) of whatever variants were left. And, right now, I have one copy left of the 2000s variant as I head into Friday. Ah well, I’ll have more early next week, and I expect this will be a consistent seller for at least a little while. But if I hear “do you have any Action #1000s left?” all weekend, I may have to reassess my “ordered about right” assumption.

Now the question I have is “will any of this translate to sales for when Brian Michael Bendis takes over the Super-books,” assuming people like the little taste o’Bendis they got in #1000. I have to place orders for his weekly Man of Steel mini-series right quick, and I’m not entirely sure what they’re going to be just yet. Not like this slew of new Marvel #1s in the same order form, where I’m about 90% certain that we’ll see a small bump in sales on those first issues, then we’ll be right back where we were before. Except maybe Thor, which has a $5.99 price point on that first issue, so Dedicated Fans Only Please, Sorry New Readers Who Might Have Picked It Up. Sheesh.

Anyway, can you tell I spent a chunk of my Thursday working on the monthly orders? Yessiree, I certainly was.

Oh, right, back to Action #1000. Pal Matt pointed out a strange anomaly in the Bendis story from that issue, where the villain of the piece refers to Supergirl as Superman’s “cousinsister.” I noticed that when I was reading, and my initial two thoughts were “maybe that’s supposed to represent some quirk in whatever translation device the alien is using to speak to Superman” (except I don’t see any other examples of that in the dialogue) and “maybe there’s something going on in the Supergirl comic I’m not reading that justifies this strange combined relationship term.” Or, as Matt suggests, just an editing error, but it seems weird that something this blatant would be missed. I mean, it wouldn’t even get past the spellchecker, you’d think. Or it could very well be foreshadowing for some kind of revelation down the road. Whatever, it’s strange and it stood out and maybe there’s an explanation coming, I don’t know. Maybe somewhere Bendis is laughing at us…”how cute, they think that was a mistake!” he chortles.

While we wait for our answer to that, in the meantime why not read the beginning of a new series of articles by one of the best writers I know, pal Andrew, as he starts his look, in his own inimitable fashion, at the Charlton Super-Heroes. This is gonna be good, pals, so get in on the ground floor, Mike said cliché-ishly.

And in other news, a couple of folks dropped a link in my comments section to this article on people arguing over the new Nancy strips I mentioned. Basically, it’s about people who realize current Nancy is very good, versus people who are wrong. That has been the way of the world for decades, I’m afraid.

And to be honest, I’m not 100% sure of “1,006.”

§ April 18th, 2018 § Filed under dc comics, nancy, retailing, superman, swamp thing § 8 Comments

Yes, it’s Action Comics #1000 week, marking the 1,006th issue of that series, including issues #0 and #1,000,000 from the pre-New 52 series, the second New 52 #0, those four lenticular issues #23.1-23.4, and am I forgetting something else? Yeah, probably, but here we are, a Superman comic with #1,000 on the cover, which ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at. I’ve taken a copy home (as promised, the version with Mike Allred’s 1960s tribute cover) and I’ve read it…it’s a nice anthology book, with little space wasted. And yes, the red trunks are back, in every tale in this issue, though their return is never really explained. It is commented upon in the Bendis story, using a variation of a joke I made here and I’m sure was made by everyone else on the planet as well. I hope they never explain it, any more than “eh, I just felt like puttin’ ’em back on. LEMME HAVE MY SPACE PANTS.”

Now, beyond the content, I’m just worried about how it’s going to sell. I won’t go into it all again (that first link above has more detail, if you’re interested) but I ordered what I think should be plenty. I filled the large number of preorders I had, and now, assuming the normal level of extra interest this would attract amongst my regular customer base, I should have enough, unless everyone decides that they have to have the same specific variant cover and shun the other nine covers…then I might have a problem. Or if there’s a news story extolling readers/viewers “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GO OUT AND BUY THIS COMIC,” in which case I’m totally not prepared. Well, we’ll see. Hopefully reorders will be available if necessary, because a $7.99 price point is a bit too high a price point to be taking a lot of ordering risks.

• • •

Oh, hey, I guess Steven Spielberg is finally going to be making a Blackhawk movie. Pretty sure he first made some noise about this in…the early 1980s, I think? And while I said on the Twitters that I’m hoping for some War Wheel action, I think you’ll all agree with me that what we really want from a Blackhawk film is WEIRD MUMMY INSECTS:


I mean, do you want Just Another World War II movie, or do you want that? Or this? You’re reading this site, I think I can guess your answer. Or your other answer.

• • •

So a while back I was told a new creator took over the Nancy comic strip, and when I looked then it didn’t do anything for me…but it’s starting to grow on me. I think it’s improving, actually, and this nicely Bushmiller-esque strip from the other day has been making the rounds. Granted, there’s something unnatural about Nancy and Sluggo referencing the internet, but then most of Nancy and Sluggo’s world is nightmarishly unnatural, so, you know, what else is new?

• • •

Oh, almost forgot to mention…Swamp Thing will be appeared in Scooby-Doo Team-Up #40 this July:


My Swamp Thing love is so strong, the actual editor of the comic made sure I heard the news back in January. I am genuinely excited about this.

Things to Do in Southern California When Your Power is Out.

§ April 9th, 2018 § Filed under fantastic four, retailing § 4 Comments

Yup, came to work Sunday morning only to discover there was no power coming into my business. Now, for me, that’s not as big of a deal as it could be, since I can still sell comics and make change out of the register and such, so long as things are reasonably visible inside the building and, you know, they could pay cash and not by credit card. Several of my neighbors, what have to prepare food for their clientele, were not so lucky…particularly the Chinese restaurant just next door that was expecting a party of about 50 people. Oof.

Anyway, stuck it out as long as I could, but alas, the shadows encroached too far and it was time to depart. And looking at the parking lot when I left, I was one of the last holdouts. Ah, well, power should be reinstated by 11 PM this evening (as I type this, it’s about 5 PM), so we’ll see what happens.

• • •

So it was announced that the Fantastic Four comic book is coming back, and whether absence has made the heart grow Fantastic-er and people will go for it this time. I would certainly hope so…I would like to read a Fantastic Four comic again, and I’ve had a little feedback from customers along these lines as well. The current Marvel Two-in-One series, featuring the FF’s Thing and Human Torch (and also will continue alongside the new Fantastic Four series), has been doing quite well, particularly for a recent Marvel series launch, which tells me there’s at least some demand for half of the FF, at any rate.

A couple of years back, I wrote a bit about a feasibility of a new FF comic, and about the line one must straddle between “doing new things with the FF which make them feel NOT like the FF” and “oh there’s Dr. Doom and Galactus again.” It’s a weird running-in-place that, to some extent, all mainstream superhero comic have to do…”the illusion of change,” as has been said, and when they do BIG changes, like marrying Spider-Man and Mary Jane, or giving Superman a son, it’s an even bigger to-do to get things changed back, a constant stuffing of worms into their cans.

Not that the Fantastic Four really did go through any kind of big change like this…it felt more like they just kinda wore out their welcome, that nothing was really grabbing folks, so it was time to shuffle them off the board for a while. Now why them specifically and not, say, the Avengers, which could also have used a little time off (aside from the whole movie thing), given that many of Marvel’s longstanding properties could use a bit of rebuffing. One clever way of doing so was “retiring” characters without necessarily retiring them, such as having new people take over as the title character (as in the recent Thor comics) to rebuild interest in a property that had sort of felt a little moribund.

They couldn’t do this with the Fantastic Four, really…the FF is specifically Those Four People, and occasional rejiggerings of said Four usually just serve to remind people, oh, hey, why isn’t, oh, Mr. Fantastic around? (The one possible exception to this was, outside the deliberately-gimmicky “New Fantastic Four” with Ghost Ride an’ such, was She-Hulk’s inclusion on the team.) My idea in that old post I linked was what would have basically been a Thing solo series, with the rest of the FF as back-up characters…maintaining the team dynamic, but making one character the focus and giving at least what would feel like a different perspective on the group. This is sort of what we got in the new Marvel Two-in-One series, with the Thing and Human Torch supposedly seeking the other lost half of their family…it’s a new take on the FF that doesn’t have the “Fantastic Four” logo on the cover and thus doesn’t feel burdened with the expectations that title brings.

That’s a long way of saying “the creative team on this new Fantastic Four have their work cut out for them.” I want it to be good, and I have no reason to think it won’t be. Now will it do well, that’s harder to say. The comics market is still a bit unstable, and new titles, even with long-established characters, are struggling to survive. I’d like to think a comic starring the Fantastic Four, as quote-unquote “Marvel’s First Family,” would be above such economic concerns, that they would always have a starring role with the publisher, but sad to say the world doesn’t work like that. I really do hope for the best here…I’d love a good Fantastic Four book on the stands again. We’ll just have to see how everything shakes out.

And yeah, I know, it’ll have a big ol’ “#1!” on the cover. What should the actual issue number be now? It’s #646, I think…unless they want to add all the Future Foundation comics to the total and get it closer to #700 before going to #1. I mean, at this point, why not?

Yes, “buck” is supposed to be singular.

§ March 28th, 2018 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, retailing § 7 Comments

Hey, I keep forgetting to mention that Mike over at Zombie Cat Bacon is doing a rundown of comics blogs linked at a couple of the weblog update sites (such as the immortal Comics Weblog Update-a-Tron 3000) and seeing who’s active, who’s not, who’s moved on to other formats, who’s transcended this world of pain, who’s naughty, who’s nice, and so on. That link up there goes to the most recent post, but the previous installments are mostly on the main page and the next page back.

It’s interesting, if a little…I don’t know, melancholy I guess, since a lot of the folks I thought of as “my fellow comics bloggers” have, probably wisely, found other things to do, leaving me and a few others as the last standing members of the old folks…er, old guard still doing whatever it is we think we’re doing. Meanwhile, you young folks with your Tumblrs and your Mastodons and your Snapgrams will forge ahead with your New and Now comics commentary while I’m still posting about how comics aren’t like how they were back when I was a kid, while trying to open up my Geritol with my weak, gnarled hands.

Of course comic blogging is all going to end with Johanna and I fighting each other with broadswords on a desert plateau somewhere, while Neilalien looks sadly down upon us from whatever multidimensional plane to which he’d long since ascended.

• • •

Here, let me write a little about comics so it’s not just blogging about blogging again:

One of the recent comics retail phenomenons is of course the recent increase in demand for issues leading up to The Big Anniversary Issues, Action Comics #1000 and Amazing Spider-Man #800. To a small extent, some of the sales increase, at least in the case of Marvel’s books, may be attributable to the gradual rise in purchases due to the recent, and already about to be rescinded, “Marvel Legacy” initiative, as I wrote about here. In the case of Spidey’s book, however, the primary reason seems to be a combination of whatever is going on the Green (or, rather, Red) Goblin, a new evolution of a classic Marvel villain, plus the fact that Amazing Spider-Man sales had been kinda eh lately which means a “scarcity” of copies in comparison to the number of people trying to get their hands on them. They’re Hot, They’re Rare, People Snap Lots of Copies off Shelves, They’re Even Rarer and Hotter Now. You know the cycle.

Action Comics I’ve certainly noticed a small bump in sales as we approach #1000, but not quite the same “hotness” since I’ve had pretty good luck getting reorders on recent issues. A nice side effect is that the lenticular covers for the “Oz Effect” storyline, which, er, I may have had a few extras for and thus left on the rack, are selling again.

Now the trick of course, as has been noted, is trying to figure out how these titles are going to sell after hitting the big double and/or triple zero milestone…made especially trickier as we’ve got some changes in status quos coming to both (yet another relaunch for one, Big Name Writer for the other). As I’m pretty sure I’ve already discussed somewhere already (oh, wait, it was here), the relaunched Spider-Man I’m going to have a lot easier time figuring numbers on (the assumption being that ASM sales will likely shrink back to where they were before), while for Bendis coming onto Superman, I’m going to have to extend all my sales-estimating powers. I think it’ll do well at least at first, but how well, for how long? That’s what they pay me the big buck to figure out, so let’s hope I can.

For the love of God, I hope they’re not eating the gum.

§ March 19th, 2018 § Filed under retailing, trading cards § 6 Comments

So I haven’t done a whole lot with trading cards at my store since opening up a tad over three years ago. I think I maybe a box of some Marvel set in 2015 that slowly, eventually sold out. It was a trend I noticed at the previous place of employment, too…the nonsport cards just weren’t doing all that great for us. I mean, sure, the game cards did fine, your Magic and your Pokemon and your Spellfire and your Galactic Empires, that’s a different story. But your “110 More Tiny Pictures of Wolverine” card sets, those just seem…passé of late.

I mean, nothing against them. I’d like them to sell, and new sets still come out once in a while, so they’re selling somewhere, but it’s not like how it was in ye olden dayes. (Okay, yeah, I know, comics themselves don’t sell like they used to, either.) But we’re a long way from when we’d get in multiple cases of whatever the newest Marvel Universe set was, and we’d just put a stack of full boxes of packs up by the register and watch the impulse buys happen and that stack disappear. In the ’80s and ’90s, it seemed like everybody bought cards. I even still have a few binders of sets I put together back then…the all-chromium set of Golden Age comic book covers is still a weird favorite of mine.

For the longest time, the nonsport cards…well, okay, let me stop being coy, specifically the Marvel cards…were like sports cards. Lots of people coming in and asking about them, but never because they wanted to buy any. It was almost exclusively “what are mine worth?” and “will you buy them?” Rarely did the words “Boy, I would sure like to purchase any available sets of Marvel Universe Series IV you may have!” echo throughout our showroom, which didn’t exactly encourage us to stock card sets in any kind of depth. And we did have card sets (again, still talking about the previous place of employment)…had a small glass case with a number of sets and chase cards prices out and displayed, but only rarely did they move.

Shortly after I opened my new shop, I had someone bring in a collection of still-sealed boxes of nonsport cards (Marvel and otherwise) that I did okay with selling online. Usually not for a lot of money, but they sold, so the demand was there…the boxes just had to be cheap. And recently, an old friend of mine began to liquidate some of his collection, and asked me to sell his card product: full boxes, autographed cards, and even some of those slabbed, graded single cards. It was from his collection that I obtained this box of Dune cards you may have seen me post about on the Twitters:


…which ended up selling for about $40, which…well, that ain’t nuthin’, but when first I saw that I figured “ah geez, a hundred bucks easy!” until I looked at the eBay card market and eh, that wasn’t going to happen. But still, that’s $40 we didn’t have before, and for a full box of relatively recent trading cards, that ain’t too bad, I guess. I sold a bunch of boxes of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? cards for about $15 each, which doesn’t seem like much, but eventually you’d just rather have the $15 a pop than multiple boxes sitting in a storage room somewhere.

Just the other day, my friend brought me another box of unopened card boxes, including this set which I don’t even remember:


I mean, I imagine I would have remembered at least the typo on the lid (“FANS-tastic,” indeed) but it’s possible that 1) it was a while ago, and there’s probably plenty of card product I just don’t remember, or 2) there was so much card product that we couldn’t order everything, so we passed on this one. As far as I can tell, there weren’t even fancy chase cards randomly packed in this series, which would have been especially odd in 1991, I think. Anyway, like most sets from the manufacturer Comic Images, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of “collectors’ market” online demand for sealed boxes.

However, the new few sets seem to do have demand, selling for…well, not quite original retail, or maybe thereabouts, but certainly not the $1.29 I’ve seen some other card boxes sell for (Desert Storm cards, anybody?).

I remember the Marvel Masterpieces cards being quite the hot ticket back in the day:


…as people were really taken with the look of these cards, and, as I recall, they were quite nice. Seeing the full, sealed box like this does twinge the ol’ nostalgia nerves, I have to admit.

The thing about the next two sets:


…is not just that the design and color of the boxes attracted attention, but the size. This goes for that Masterpieces box, too…these were wee little tiny boxes, palm-sized and basically just shouted to customers “Look how small and cute we are! C’mon, don’t mess with packs, just buy us by the full box!” I can’t help but think this really encouraged the impulse buys at the time…just made them psychologically easier and more appealing to justify purchasing, over the big ol’ unwieldy Comic Images boxes with the 48 fat packs and a not-zero amount of air.

And as it turns out, there’s still a pretty good aftermarket for these as well. Not that I’ve sold mine yet, but sales histories for the sets seem to show that there have been multiple sales at significantly better than close-out prices, so with any luck it’s just a matter of time.

None of this means, of course, that there’s any sort of potential improvement in the marketplace for new trading card sets that’ll sell to store walk-in traffic. Those are different circumstances, but still, maybe I’ll try out a new card set or two just to see how they do. The 1990s market is never coming back, but it shouldn’t hurt too much to poke at the edges of the 2018 market. so long as one pokes wisely.

The All-New Progressive Ruin #1! (Six months later) The All-New, All-Different Progressive Ruin #1!

§ February 28th, 2018 § Filed under death of superman, market crash, publishing, retailing § 7 Comments

JohnJ Week continues, as he’s left another comment to which I wanted to respond:

“And you only get a month’s rest before you have to decide how many copies of Amazing Spider-Man #800, supposedly a big 80-pages for a whopping $9.99.

“My biggest screw-up ordering comics when I had my store was over the Superman-Lois wedding special. I thought it would sell in the kind of numbers the death of Superman could have sold in if I’d known that was going to be a big news item. But they tried too hard to coordinate it with the wedding on ‘The Adventure of Lois and Clark’ on tv, which really killed off interest in the comic.”

Now for me, Amazing Spider-Man #800 isn’t quite as difficult to order as you might think. Marvel’s past $9.99 books (almost entirely special issues in the Deadpool series) I’ve ordered reasonably okay on, as I’ve got some solid sales history for Deadpool to refer to. Oddly enough, the only $9.99 issue of Deadpool I sort of blew it on was #25 [EDIT 3/11/18: actually, it’s $5.99…still blew that order, though], where I got just a few too many for inexplicable reasons and thus I’ve just kept it on the shelf, selling a copy every once in a while.

Amazing Spider-Man sales of late have been slowly increasing, probably because of the impending 800th issue, partially because of the plotlines, and partially because Marvel sales have been slowly climbing for me just kind of across the board on many of their main books. Of course, that’ll come to an end when Marvel begins their next round of relaunches, killing that momentum, but hey, maybe I’m just being cynical and this eighth or ninth time really will be the charm.

Anyway, getting back on track…even though the increased demand for Amazing Spider-Man has caught a lot of folks off guard recently, after kind of bottoming-out for a while there, I think I may have kind of a handle on orders for it now and can make a realistic guess as to how #800 will do for me. And, historically, and even still today, “anniversary” issues of Amazing tend to sell well even as back issues, so if I still have a few left over on the shelves after the initial sales window is complete, I’m not going to be too worried.

Now, the next part of JohnJ’s comment had me wondering how our own sales on the Superman wedding issues were, back at my previous place of employment. I do remember, after being caught short on 1992’s Superman #75, the black-bagged “Death of Superman” issue, we ordered much higher numbers for 1993’s white-bagged Adventures of Superman #500…and so did everyone else in the country. We sold plenty of that #500, but still were left with a boatload of them in stock. So don’t feel bad, JohnJ…that was our own “b-b-but Superman #75!” foul-up!

By the time 1996 and the Superman Wedding Special came around, we were still trying to recover from the comics crash, and the excesses of the late ’80s/early ’90s were mostly behind us. But our comic sales weren’t doing too badly, and there was still the occasional rush from the general public into shops whenever any particular comic hit the real world news (though, as you noted, that’s not an occurrence you can ever predict or readily depend upon). As I’ve been typing this, I’ve been trying to envision the Superman backstock boxes in the old storage room, and if I recall correctly, we did have some remaining copies of the Wedding Specials (both the white-covered Direct Edition and the John Byrne-covered Newsstand Edition, though more of the former). It wasn’t a lot, and I seem to recall selling quite a few of them on the stands, and continuing to sell them over the subsequent years (at the very least, I do remember having to fish ’em out of the back room every once in a while).

I can remember that, I just can’t recall what our initial orders were…it was a pretty good number, I think, but not so high that we were stuck with an enormous number of leftovers. And I can’t even recall if there was the aforementioned rush of folks who heard about it on the Evening News or wherever. If only I’d known I was going to be starting my comics retailing blog a mere seven years later, I would have kept better notes. Ah well, I’ll be talking to my old boss Ralph soon, so I’ll ask him and see if he remembers.

As for the Lois and Clark TV show fouling things up a bit…yeah, I do distinctly remember when the plan was to separate Lois and Clark in the comics for a bit to forestall the impending nuptials even further, complete with solicitations for future issues to that effect. Then, when the wedding was announced for the TV show, that tail wagged the dog sufficiently to cut short that separation storyline in the comics and fast-track the four-color version of the super-couple down the aisle. You can read more about that in this column by my comic article-writin’ pal Brian. …Thanks, JohnJ, for your blogging-inspirational commenting!

Now let me go back to something I said earlier in this post, regarding the Marvel “Fresh Start” publishing initiative. Perhaps I came across a little…agitated by the whole thing. I thought the recent Marvel Legacy deal was a good idea…trying to wean themselves off the constant relaunches and new #1s, focus on the lengthy histories and runs on these titles, give readers some confidence that they can follow a story without thinking it’s just going to up and restart with a new first issue. And as I said, I was seeing some improvement on many Marvel books…even Doctor Strange and Punisher were slowly climbing in sales. Will those gradual increases carry over into any new relaunched titles featuring the same characters? I sure hope so, but I don’t know.

I think what set me off was the announcement of the “new ongoing” Immortal Hulk, launching with its first issue in a few months. That made me snark a bit on the world’s primary snarking service, Twitters Dots Coms, because honestly, is there going to be an Immortal Hulk issue number, say, 35 on the stands three-something years from now? Or by “ongoing” do they mean like the old “maxiseries,” which would run a fixed 12 issues, in, out, and done? Don’t get me wrong…I’m a longtime Hulk comics fan, and Immortal Hulk sounds fine and I look forward to reading it. But…any reason why this couldn’t have just been done under the title Incredible Hulk? Does relaunching a long-running title with a new first issue still have any kind of extra selling power? Does any kind of sales boost that results stick around for any period of time? Is there a long term advantage to doing that versus just building an audience on an established title without breaking momentum with forced cancellations and restarts?

I’ve said before, I want comics to sell well. I mean, more than just because that’s how I make my living. I want comics to sell well because I like comics. And I want other people to like comics. But every single time there’s a series of relaunches like this, it really does make things difficult. It can confuse and irritate customers, and as has been said so often, jumping-on points are also jumping-off points.

It’s…a weird thing to be concerned about, I realize. It doesn’t really matter what the number is on the front of the comic so long as you’re enjoying what’s inside. Like I said above, I’ve read Hulk comics for a long time, and I’ve read them through, what, a half-dozen restarts and renumberings? But part of comic collecting is the “collecting” part, and it’s hard to escape the issue numbering mindset. These constant renumberings do have an impact, and having a big new “#1 First Issue Collector’s Item!” on the front cover isn’t quite the sales ploy it used to be.

Also, only one cover features Beppo the Super-Monkey.

§ February 26th, 2018 § Filed under retailing, superman § 9 Comments

So when we all last met here, JohnJ asked

“Sometime would you give us some insight as to how you order something like Action Comics #1000 with 8 covers for 8 decades. Primarily by pre-orders or do you favor some artists over others? I am going to order an Allred cover since I collect his stuff anyway but my temptation to buy a Steranko cover was only beaten down by some common sense. I don’t need two copies!”

In case you missed it, the impending Action Comics #1000 is indeed having multiple covers (most of which you can see here), all equally orderable, thank goodness, because I could just imagine having to do it up Marvel style and matching order amounts on previously-published comics just to open up availability of the variants and blah blah blah look, I’ve already got a headache, don’t get me started.

Anyway…yeah, that’s the trick, ain’t it? Most of the covers are pretty nice, I think, but I haven’t had too many people putting their nickel down on any single one so far, with the possible exception of Mike Allred’s “1960s” cover:


…which, okay, I admit it, that’s the one I want, too. The initial orders on this comic are due in this week, so I’ve got some working numbers already entered in (heavier on the main Jim Lee cover, plus an assortment of the rest). More of a problem is whether or not this being the debut of Brian Michael Bendis’s writing on Superman is going to be any kind of big deal…could sell really well, and don’t want to be caught short. Or nobody could care, and don’t want to be stuck with stock. I know how Superman comics generally sell normally, but I don’t know if this forthcoming Bendis run is going to shake sales up one way or the other. Plus, there’s the little matter of the comic running $7.99 American per copy, so it could turn out to be quite the expensive soaking if the comic doesn’t move.

Now, I still have a few weeks after putting in this initial order to adjust my numbers prior to the comic’s release, so I have time yet to continue gauging my customers’ needs. I have had plenty of people with comic savers asking me to just add #1000 to their pulls, without specifying which cover, though my bad in not asking them if they had a preference, I guess. Better start checking with them! (Related: I’ve also many of these same people asking for the accompanying hardcover history of Superman, which is not usually something that happens with $29.99 books.)

I’ve also had a few requests to pull every cover from some of my pull list people, so that helps me plan out my orders a bit, certainly. I did have at least one person ask if this promotional image was going to be one of the covers:


…and, you know, why not? That would probably be neat-looking as a full-sized front cover, instead of the tiny insert that it’s going to be on all the covers.

So, JohnJ, as of right now, it’s mostly just guesswork and assumptions and plain ol’ “that cover looks better than that other cover, better order more of those.” However, I’m pretty sure that Allred cover is going to be the most popular of the variants. I mean, do any of the others feature the Luthor/Brainiac team? …CASE CLOSED.

By which I mean “who wouldn’t want ME to make more money?”

§ January 3rd, 2018 § Filed under retailing § 3 Comments

So there’s been a lot of talk of late (particularly on Twitter) about comic shops struggling, about how folks with pull lists at their shops should drop in before the end of the year and pick up their stuff (especially if it’s been a while), and about how some shops are getting stiffed on pulls that aren’t picked up.

Now, to the first part, on a personal level, my shop is doing fine. Sure, I’d like to make more money, but who wouldn’t? However, I’m paying bills, I’m paying myself, I’m socking a little away, so I think I’m good. And I haven’t nailed down all the numbers yet, but I’m pretty sure business has increased for me over this past year. It was hard going, particularly given certain publishing “events” and relaunches and whathaveyous didn’t take off as everyone was hoping, but overall, I watched my order numbers and expenses and I think I did okay. Plus, I’m a new store and am hopefully still in the “upswing” part of the sales curve. Nowhere to go but up! …Unless it goes down, of course, but not so far!

What makes it rough is the latter part of the first paragraph here, and that’s the comic pulls. Like I said, there have been a number of Twitter reminders to people to go get their comic savers, which I dutifully retweeted because I’d like that to happen at my shop, too, but this one in particular sorta set me off. No particular reason why that one got me going, but I did a little mini-Twitter rant in response and support of that person’s tweet.

It’s nothing I haven’t said here before, I’m pretty sure. Basically, “pick up your pulls, or keep in contact to let them know you’ll pick up your pulls, or let them know if can’t get your pulls and you need to stop.” …Pithy and catchy, right? Really, all it takes is a call or an email, particularly if I’m calling/emailing you and trying to get you to come in for your stash.

As I noted in my Tweeterings, I had a couple of recent comic saver accounts that I had to cut off. One person I managed to reach a couple of times, got promises that he’d be in to pick up his stuff, and then…nothin’. Another person I could only get the answering machine, and never got a single call back from any messages I left. I wasn’t mean about it, just giving friendly reminders at first, and then the friendly “if you need to cut down your pull or stop entirely, just drop me a line, no problem!” But still, nothing.

These were two regulars, by the way…folks that had been with me since just about the time I opened my shop. Dutifully came in on a regular basis until they didn’t, which is why I maybe let their pulls go a little longer than I should have. (I’ve had a few other pulls that went south right quick over the last few years, but I caught on early enough on most of those that it wasn’t much of a problem.) In these two cases I’m talking about, a lot of the comics involved were Star Wars titles, which thankfully I still have a pretty good market for, so mostly I can reabsorb the stock on these without much difficulty. But, of course, there’s always the stuff in the pulls that have now missed their sales opportunity window, so that’s lost income for me.

Now, I don’t know what occurred in these customers’ lives. I know crap happens, and suddenly your income is cut in half or lost entirely, or you’re going through (shall we say) domestic changes, or there’s some emergency, or something. And as I said in my Twitter thread, calling your local comic dude is probably very low priority if you’re dealing with some serious crud. But at the same time…I’m not asking for much. If I’m contacting you repeatedly (not nagging, but, like, a phone call once every couple of weeks or so) at the very least spend 30 seconds on the phone or the email program of your choice and talk to me. I’ve got my own life (and business) to lead, and don’t want to put a dent in my income, and also don’t want to screw you over if you genuinely are eventually coming in for your books.

So anyway, be nice to your local comic book person, especially if it’s me. You need to cut the list down, or cut it entirely, or put it on hold so you can catch up, or need to make arrangements to pick it up a bit a time…I swear, I will work with you! Just don’t vanish and leave me pulling books for you each week that you’ll never buy and then I’ll never be able to sell.

• • •

Your reminder that I’m still taking your comic industry predictions for 2018 right in this post here, so post ’em if you got ’em! (Remember to follow the rules I have in the main body of my post, please!) I’m going to start going over your 2017 predictions next week, so let that be a warning to you all.

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!

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