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Collected Editions dropped this in the comments to Wednesday’s post:
“The new JLA clearly seems to me a miniseries posing as an ongoing, unless it’s a case of ‘we suspect Bryan Hitch won’t write and draw this series forever but we haven’t quite worked out when he’ll stop yet’ kind of thing. You mentioned Superman Unchained as one example, which at least ended when it ended; Batman: The Dark Knight was another one of these, meant as a David Finch vehicle, which unfortunately DC wouldn’t kill long after it had died and so it lumbered around eating brains for a while after the fact. I’d as soon that kind of thing not happen again.
As a retailer, do you find that there is some benefit in this miniseries fakery, in that customers are more likely to buy something they think is an ongoing series than a miniseries? I’d think DC could put Bryan Hitch’s name on a Justice League miniseries, let it be known that the story is generally in-continuity-ish, and get the same effect as releasing it as a series (and maybe save themselves some bad blood with customers), but maybe I’m wrong and that wouldn’t sell as well.”
I think there is some level of consumer decision-making based on…necessity, maybe? Like a JLA mini-series, even if marketed as being heavily tied to continuity, wouldn’t “count” as much as an ongoing series, and thus wouldn’t attract as many readers? Or would it go the other way, with readers more inclined to pick up a mini-series, because they know there’s an eventual end to it and they’re not committing to another indefinitely-lengthed ongoing. I don’t know.
It’s especially hard to gauge orders nowadays, with series stopping and restarting at the drop of a hat. I think the Big Two companies are teaching the customer base that everything is more or less a mini-series, and it’s getting harder to determine which series may be likely to gain reader support or which series will get the response of “eh, why bother, it’s not going to be around very long anyway.” How many of the new series launching after Secret Wars are going to be around more than a year before being retooled again, for example? How many of the new ongoings DC is currently in the midst of launching are going to be around next summer? (Not a criticism of those titles in the slightest…just the realities of a difficult market.)
The days of ordering heavily on the early issues for years-long back issue demand on a potentially long-running series is over. It used to be that we would order assuming a certain measure of back issue sales over a certain period of time, and that’s no longer the case. Once a series is done, and replaced with a new series, if it’s replaced at all, the back issue sales for that series will drop down to nearly nothin’. We can’t order assuming long time health of a series and its building an audience. We have to order based on “who will buy it RIGHT NOW.” Sure, maybe a few extra for those folks who may miss a month here and there, but deep-stocking a comic because you think it’ll still be around five years from now and people will still want those issues…probably not going to happen.
…This is perhaps going a little far afield from what you asked, Collected Editions, so let me try to pull it back together. This new Justice League of America series is tied to DC’s current push of new comics that aren’t explicitly tied to In-Continuity World Building, that are more focused on doing their own things via the creators’ individual visions. You still have the other Justice League title if you want your DC Universe tie-ins, but this new book isn’t explicitly referencing outside continuity beyond featuring the current versions of the JLA members. It’s a cool looking book, with a Big Name and a specific hook (“massive widescreen action”) and it’s a first issue of a Justice League title, so I ordered a little more than I would have of, say, some random issue of a Green Lantern ongoing. But I went into it thinking:
1. The purpose of the book is to feature this creator.
2. My assumption is that book will continue to be written and drawn by this creator for about a year.
3. Once the creator is off the book, it’s either canceled or assigned a new team who doesn’t attract the same attention as the original artist.
4. People looking for the early issues will peter off about six months from now, as a hardcover or paperback edition approaches, so order extras accordingly.
Now the comic has been on the shelf for a whole two days, so I don’t know what the actual sales on this will be for me…so far, it’s doing well, but I can’t tell if I’m going to sell through most of the copies, or if I’m going to get stuck with some. I’ll find out as the month progresses, and I’ll figure out how to order on future issues. I do have folks asking me if it’s an ongoing series, and my honest reply is “as far as I know, yes,” since my assumption in #2 above is just my retailer sense tingling. But in this particular case, I don’t think it makes any difference, at least on the customer’s part, if it’s a mini or not. They don’t need to worry about rack sales or back issue sales or any of that stuff I have to lose my luxurious blond mane of hair over. They just have to worry about “will this comic give me my money’s worth” (in this case, $5.99 — yikes) and it looks like, for a lot of my customers, the answer is “yes.” It doesn’t have to be around forever, with an unchanged creative team, to be enjoyed right at this very moment.
Anyway, that’s a convoluted answer to your simple question, C.E. — well, at least, I assume an answer is in there somewhere!
A couple of questions popped up in the comments to my last post:
“Here’s something I’ve long wondered: Why are so many variant covers so much more awesome than the regular covers for that issue? If the company really wants to sell more comics, shouldn’t they make the variant cover into the actual cover, and make the boring one the variant?”
I’ve wondered about that myself once or twice over the course of this here weblog — on one occasion wondering why some Star Trek comic decided to use the amazing Gorn photo cover for the limited variant instead of slapping that sucker on the regular edition and selling a ton of copies. The answer is almost certainly aimed at enticing retailers into ordering more copies, which for some publishers may be a safer bet than hoping enough readers will be attracted by the better cover. A retailer orders a certain number of a book, sees a cool-looking variant cover that s/he could get for the shop if orders were raised just a smidgen to a particular sales plateau, and bumps orders up accordingly.
Same goes for those comics that have five, six, a dozen different covers, that are all equally available for order by retailers. They’re not necessarily there in the hopes that customers will buy one of each cover (though that does happen, of course). They’re there to get higher initial order numbers from retailers. Instead of ordering 10 copies of one available cover of Mistress Bikini-Armor #1, a retailer might instead order two each of all six variants for Mistress Bikini-Armor #1, just to make sure there’s enough available of each variant to meet theoretical demand. It’s not much of a bump, probably, but in this marketplace every little bit helps.
“So how did Convergence and its various tie-ins sell, now that it’s all over? How do you think it will compare with Secret Wars?”
Overall, it did…okay, I think. Some tie-ins did especially well (like the Shazam! one) and some just didn’t do anything for me (many of the Justice League-related titles sold far less than expected). The actual Convergence series itself actually sold very well, surprisingly for a weekly series. In the end, maybe a shorter main series and fewer tie-ins while not putting everything else on hold may have been preferable, but I didn’t seem to experience any kind of decline in revenue while the event proceeded (despite some sky-is-falling scaremongering by certain online gossips).
Compared to Secret Wars, Convergence seemed to lack some measure of cohesion and direction, beyond “here are a bunch of cities from parallel Earths crammed together on one planet, and they have to fight each other to see who survives.” The upshot of the series is that it…undoes Crisis on Infinite Earths which had already been undone, I think, or otherwise just ignored, and, well…maybe if the series had been a more focused 4-part mini instead of a bloated repeating-the-points 9-parter, we might have been better off. In addition, I think Marvel managed to push Secret Wars as something Marvel fans had to read, explicitly tied to the Marvel Universe’s overall continuity, whereas Convergence never really felt like more than “here’s something you might want to read for a couple of months, we hope.” However, I do appreciate that the creators of the series managed to trick DC fans into reading what was essentially a Warlord comic for an issue.
Speaking of Shazam, as I was just a couple of paragraphs back (go ahead, check, I’ll wait) here’s one thing I had noted on the Twitterers the other day:
I’d love to see more only slightly-tangentially related to the wider DC Universe Captain Marvel adventures like in Convergence
(and both series showed how the Shazam Family can play nice with other superhero milieus without losing the ol’ Shazam charm), instead of seeing the Big Red Cheese squeezed into the grittier ‘n’ darker comics where he never quite fits in. I know the temptation is to contrast Cap’s innocence with the “real world” of the regular DCU (like in this week’s Justice League
, where Cap is distraught at having seen a dead body for the first time…hey, kids, comics!) but it would be nice to have him star in, and be the hero of, his own series, instead of the odd-man-out that he almost always is everywhere else.
I suspect once the always-forthcoming Shazam movie finally does come, and if it’s successful, it’ll establish which tone the comics will follow. Probably more “New 52″ and less “C.C. Beck,” if I were to hazard a guess.
And yeah, I keep calling him “Cap” or “Captain Marvel,” the name he retains in the retro-style Convergence and Multiversity comics, but as since been discarded in favor of being called “Shazam!” for ease-of-licensing-and-market-exploitation-that-doesn’t-conflict-with-Marvel-Comics purposes. I mean, I can understand why DC would want that change, and it looks like they wrote around the old Marvel Family issue of characters who can’t say their own names without switching back to normal humans. But “Shazam” as a name just by itself seems nonsensical…”hey man, why are you called ‘Shazam’?” “Well, it’s the magic word I use to turn into a superhero! The ‘S’ is for ‘Solomon,’ the ‘H’ is for Herc…hey, where are you going?” Personally, I would have gone with “Captain Shazam,” so at least you could still call the character “Cap” or “The Captain” and retain some connection to the Captain Marvel of old. That wouldn’t be any more ridiculous a name than, say, “Batman.” But nobody asked me. Nobody ever asks me. (sigh)
• • •
In completely unrelated news, I was convinced to read the new Airboy
#1 from Image that came out this week, in which creators James Robinson and Greg Hinkle tell a story of themselves trying to come up with an angle on an Airboy reboot. SPOILERS AHEAD:
Horrible things are done over the course of the story, with drink, drugs, sex, and more drugs, while the creators, Robinson especially, uncomfortably assess their comic-creating careers. It’s probably the last thing you’d expect in an Airboy comic, and probably some 80-year-old somewhere is really pissed off that this was done in a comic named after his favorite comic book character, but it really is a compelling read. And, if you’ve read ahead to solicitations for future issues, you already know that by the end of the comic, somehow Airboy himself appears to Robinson and Hinkle, disgusted by their debauchery.
And what that reminded me of was this comic:
…Airboy and Mr. Monster
comic where an apparent apparition of Airboy appears to help a comic creator through a time of trouble. In this case, it’s the fictional Everett Coleman, whose failed career and torment by some of the evil characters he’s drawn over the years eventually leads to other
characters he’s drawn coming his assistance…including Airboy. Now, Airboy is just one of an army of characters who pop up in this book, making the implied team-up of the characters in the title only just technically correct. It’s still amusing that Airboy, of all characters, has now been used twice in these mildly similar fashions.
And here comes another month of people seeing the variant covers and thinking one thing and requiring me to explain “no, no, it’s just a variant…the cover image doesn’t reflect the contents.” So, sorry, kids, no Superman versus Joker, no Joker wearing Green Lantern’s ring, no Joker pierced with Green Arrow’s arrows, etc. etc. Also, despite the actual story in this comic taking place after the events in Superman
#41, despite Superman
#41 being referenced in a footnote in this story, you didn’t
#41 since it’s not coming out ’til the 24th of this month. Just for your information. …The comic does
do a very good job of making you curious about just what did…er, will
happen in Superman
#41, however. It’s a weird mix of the story being very outside the typical Superman formula, but feeling like it builds on the Superman we know, rather than the “let’s do Superman, but different!” throwing-at-the-wall-to-see-what-sticks that characterized most of Superman’s New 52 existence.
We’re getting three
Star Wars comics this week…the regular series, Darth Vader
, and Princess Leia
. That’s a bit much, almost Avengers
-esque in its scheduling, but I do have an awful lot of customers who are interested in just
the Star Wars books, so getting all three at once won’t be that much of a burden. I don’t know if I’ve said it on my site already, but the timing and success of the Star Wars books vis-a-vis the opening of my own shop was very fortuitous: the release of the new titles driving new customers into shops, causing them to seek out and find my store, was a strong financial influx just when my young store needed it. In fact, at one point I had double-reordered the first Darth Vader
by accident, to which I reacted with “I’m never
going to sell all of these.” Of course, they sold out and now I wish I’d triple
I don’t have a dog in the Secret Wars
race, and while I appreciate the strong sales on this series and most of its tie-ins, but I don’t have any particular interest in it (but I’m still getting this
). Which is fine…nobody can be a fan of every
thing, and I’m certainly not against it by any means. Between this and Convergence
, though, that did leave me trying to figure out order numbers on a bunch of oddball titles at about the same time I’m still trying to suss out the buying habits of my new customer base, and believe you me, my friends, that took all of my comic book retailer super-powers to tackle that particular task. But I’m mostly
managing, with a couple of hiccups (who knew people would want that Ultimate End
comic, after years of Ultimate comics just not selling). But anyway, I did buy that Future Imperfect
tie-in, because it’s Peter David revisiting that old mini-series of his
that I enjoyed so much. I guess the Maestro (the evil future Hulk, for those of you who don’t know) has also popped up in David’s recent Spider-Man 2099
run, so I guess I’ll have to look into those, too.
When I initially opened my shop, I was primarily feeding the back issue bins with comics from my own collection…sure, there was the odd long box or two I picked up along the way, but a lot of the books were collected by my own hands, picked up once a week at ye olde comick shoppe (later ye olde place of employmente). I was, and still am, by and large, okay with parting with most of the stuff…I’ve read and enjoyed it all — well, enjoyed most of it, anyway — and I don’t mind it going to new homes for new folks to enjoy. And some stuff (like, say, Preacher) I can always get in reprint form.
I’ve noted before that not everything went into the shop. Obviously I kept my Swamp Thing comics…I mean, duh. My Don Rosa Disney comics I didn’t have otherwise reprinted. My Groo the Wanderers. My Cerebus. That full run of Yummy Fur I finally finished and am selling over my dead body. And so on.
But there are a few things that I put on the tables at the shop that I kind of regretted, and as I’ve acquired more collections and filled up more of the store with a wider selection of back issues (and not just “whatever Mike was reading when he was in high school”), I’ve felt like I can take back some books I planned on sacrificing to the greater good and return them to the personal collection. Not that I’ve done it very often…the odd book here and there, DC’s Who’s Who, that’s about it. Not anything that was really selling at the shop anyway.
…Like, as I said above, Dr. Fate.
I doubt there will ever be an extensive reprinting of these particular comics, unless DC decides to counterprogram Marvel’s Doctor Strange movie with a Dr. Fate film and merchandise appropriately, and I will go to the hat store, spend an hour picking out a hat, buy said hat, take the hat home, gently remove the hat from its packaging, cook the hat for about an hour and a half at 350 degrees, take the hat out, let the hat sit for about fifteen minutes, garnish the hat lightly, and then eat the hat if that should actually happen. Anyway, I really enjoy this particular run of the book, from the ’80s into the ’90s, starting with this three-issue reprint series:
…which includes a Golden Age Fate story, plus a kick-ass story where Fate fights a mummy, as drawn by Walt Simonson:
The remaining two issues reprint the Dr. Fate back-ups from The Flash
…which features Keith Giffen’s art to better effect on the nice white Baxter paper than it did in its original newsprint presentation, which had lots of color holds and heavy inks and other visual hoohar that kind of got lost in translation initially.
A little bit later was this all-new mini-series establishing a new status quo for the good Doctor, again illustrated by Giffen, who’s joined by J.M. DeMatteis:
With DeMatteis along, things get a little more spiritual and mystical (even for a character already mired in magic, that’s quite the trick), and occasionally a bit abstract:
…which makes complete sense in context, I promise.
DeMatteis continues to bring his more introspective perspective to the character in the follow-up ongoing series, primarily illustrated by one of my favorite artists, Shawn McManus:
That’s not a typical cover for the series…usually it’s line-drawn images, but I always liked that weird cover so there it is, representing the ongoing series on this here website.
With issue #25 William Messner-Loebs, Vince Giarrano and Peter Gross come on board, and…if memory serves, it’s not quite as bonkers the preceding 24 issues, but it’s still not bad. Can probably stand to reread the series and refresh my recollections of it, but if only I had a full run of…oh, wait, I do! I can’t believe my good fortune.
…Of course, this will be the week someone charges into my shop, waving a fistful of hundred dollar bills in his hand, demanding that he be able to buy full runs of the above Doctor Fate series right this instant.
So here’s another comic forgotten by time: the green-hued second printing of Supreme #41, the beginning of Alan Moore’s run on the series:
Here is the first printing’s cover (well, one
of them) for comparison:
It had totally slipped my mind that this even existed (the second printing, that is, not the series itself) until I came across it while processing a collection. There aren’t scans of it on the main comic database
sites, I haven’t seen any listings for it on the eBay, and it’s not mentioned in the Overstreet price guide. I do sort of remember it now, as Moore’s involvement with the character did result in a bit of an increase of demand, necessitating a reprint of his debut issue. We probably could have used reprints of the next couple of issues, too…though maybe there were, and nobody remembers those, either.
I don’t really have much to say about this, other than wanting to rescue this particular cover variation from obscurity. I do have one specific memory about Alan Moore’s Supreme, in that not long after it started I had a customer complain at length that Supreme had been his favorite Image comic book, and now that it had gone “all weird” (i.e. from typical early Image “gritty/edgy” superhero to Silver Age Superman pastiche) he didn’t like it any more. I don’t know, I thought it was an improvement, but different strokes an’ all that.
Supreme #41 (August 1996) – cover art by Jerry Ordway
- Ordering for DC’s Convergence event is a problem, in that I’m being asked to place numbers on what will essentially be a few dozen out-of-continuity short-run mini-series that will either 1) attract a lot of fans interested in new stories featuring pre-New 52 versions (or approximations thereof) of their favorite characters, or 2) will be skipped entirely by folks more interested in following current continuity rather than flashing back to what’s gone before. (Or, of course, 3) used as jumping-off points for readers looking for good stopping points.)
The solution, of course, is to order in conservative excess. I’ll put my smallest giant to work on it right away.
- Marvel’s Star Wars franchise kicked off to huge success, as I’m sure everyone noticed, as that first Star Wars #1 blew off comic shop shelves and into second and third printings. The success of that initial first issue was early enough for retailers to adjust orders on the then-forthcoming Darth Vader #1 accordingly, so as a result there are plenty of those to be had everywhere, most likely. But I’m already seeing the sales normalizing on these…that Star Wars #1 sold largely on its “historical” value as the first Marvel Star Wars comic in a couple of decades. There’s already a large drop-off on the second issue, and Darth #1 didn’t see the same sort of rack sales either. Plus, I’ve already sensed some resistance to the forthcoming Princess Leia series, whether it’s because “a third series?” or just disinterest in the character.
Now, I’m not saying any of these post-Star Wars #1 releases are tanking…they’re all selling great, just not at the levels of that initial release, but there are always dropoffs after debuts. So long as they don’t sink down to the levels of Dark Horse’s run in its latter years, which shouldn’t happen if they can avoid oversaturation of the market. But then, it’s Marvel…they’re the House of Oversaturation.
- The announcement from Oni Press that they’ll be publishing an Invader Zim series, based on the cartoon by the Johnny the Homicidal Maniac creator Jhonen Vasquez, is welcome, but to my mind about a decade too late. Back when I could still get, rack and sell JTHM comics on a continual basis (as well as similar titles like Lenore), one of the things I was regularly asked for was an Invader Zim comic, based on the then still-running (or at least still existing in recent memory) television series.
Now, years later, long after the demand (and reliable availability) for those comics has dwindled, and requests for Invader Zim comics have died away, now comes the Zim comic. I feel like this will be aimed at nostalgic adults like a number of other decade-old cartoon properties on the comic shelves, but after a brief discussion (read: rant) on the Twitter about this, some of my few remaining Twitter friends informed me that they still see kids wearing Zim shirts and that perhaps there’s access to the cartoons via various streaming services, so maybe kids are still aware of the property.
I mean, I hope so. I want an Invader Zim comic to do well. I want every comic to do well. I like making money. Just…well, just wish the timing was better.
I am reminded of my long-ago times in comics retail, back when I was a young Mikester and my hair was naturally this color instead of being chemically enhanced, when we had customers clamoring for Simpsons comics. Every day, “where are the Simpsons comics?” “where are the Simpsons comics?” This when on for like a year or so, and then the demands dried up.
And then a Simpsons comic was announced. “Oh, great,” I thought. “Where were you a year ago? It’s too late now…nobody’s looking for Simpsons comics anymore.”
Turns out I may have been incorrect about that. Maybe I’ll be incorrect about the timeliness of the Invader Zim comic, too.
This is one of the last back issues I got for myself from the old job before departing my employment there:
…I’d forgotten that I even had it, until I came across it while reorganizing some comics at home. I tried glancing through it right now, and boy, I think I’ll need to wait ’til I’m more awake than I am because I just can’t just process the information this comic is throwing at me. I mean, I can barely run the gauntlet that is this book’s cover, there’s so much going on there. The stories do give the appearance of trying really
hard to achieve that crazy anything-goes wackiness that all you late 1960s nutty teens were into.
The best, or at least most tolerable, of the bunch is probably the Bikini Luv story:
…drawn by Jim Aparo, of all people, sorta/kinda circling around a vague Wally Wood-esque style.
Since opening my shop, aside from the few new comics I pick up every week, I’ve kept precious little for myself from any collections that have entered the store. In fact, it has primarily gone in the other direction, the vast Mikester Comic Archives having been about 1/2 to 2/3rds sacrificed to the store’s back issue bins. But there have been one or two things that have made it back to my house, such as finally putting this in the ol’ swamp monster collection. And there was this comic (speaking of 1960s comics trying awfully hard to be funny) which nicely filled a hole in a run.
But I’ve been good. I need to make money, and I can’t make money if I keep everything for myself, so I’ve been behaving. I did mention to a customer that I kept that Supernatural Thrillers, and he said “that collecting urge never really goes away, does it?”
No…no, not really.
…or “no content mode,” as this site sort of took a vacation after last Wednesday, due to my recovering from a chest cold only to go full bore into a nasty headcold I’m still recovering from. And, as it turns out, when you own your own business and you’re the only employee, you don’t get a day off to shake off the sniffles. Ah, well, “as a wise man once said” an’ all that.
To follow up on my last post, all those Groots that once danced their little hearts out in my shop are now scattered to the four winds. I knew Groot was fairly beloved in my area, judging by the mostly positive reaction to that giant cardboard standee of Groot in my window, but it was still pretty shocking how quickly the Dancing Groot toy hightailed it out of here. And despite my initial trepidation, the demo-ing of Dancing Groots did not drive me crazy, possibly due to the brevity of their presence, but several customers would push the demo button and immediately apologize to me, figuring I was sick of listening to that clip of “I Want You Back.” Honestly, it didn’t bother me, though I was quick to remind folks that pushing the button again didn’t stop the clip, but rather, extended the play.
Also, the melodious strains of the Jackson 5 have been haunting me in my dreams, but perhaps that is an unrelated issue. Not unrelated, however, is this amusing image contributed by reader Brian, combining our favorite ambulatory plantlife that isn’t Swamp Thing with one of our favorite Lois Lane covers.
Another little adventure I undertook this weekend was making a quick trip to Los Angeles to the studio of famed artist Coop to acquire a largish collection of comics he was looking to get out of his way. I probably could have just stayed there all day, looking at all the neat things he had tucked away in all corners of his workspace. And Coop himself is a swell guy…I recommend Coop to all my friends and family. Here is some photo evidence of the gentleman artist tolerating my proximity.
Speaking of artists and their endeavors, there’s another Kickstarter I’d like to promote…it’s already met its funding goal, but you may still be interested in getting a copy of Death Saves, a comics anthology about characters in role-playing games and how they met their respective demises. I’m specifically recommending it due to a story written by blogging-and-birthday-brother Andrew Weiss and illustrated by longtime ProgRuin pal Matthew Digges. So contribute already!
Remember the last Kickstarter I recommended to you guys? It just wrapped up, making over three times its goal! I’m pretty sure that was all thanks to me, so let’s try to do the same for Death Saves, too!
So I put it in my Twitter feed, I put on my store’s website, I put it on the store’s Facebook page, so what the heck, let’s put it here, too:
My first response upon cracking open the case of these Dancing Groots was “oh no, they have ‘try me’ buttons” which means I can expect to hear these every single day for what little remains of the rest of my life. And then the thought occurred to me “I wonder what it would sound like if I pressed all of the buttons at more or less the same time,” quickly followed by the idea that I should take a video of it and share it in all the places listed previously. And thus, there it is…the Camarillo Local Groots Choir, performing just for you
In other news, there’s buzz about for the new Fantastic Four trailer, mostly because we’ve been hearing terrible things about changes made to the concept that strayed perhaps too far from its comic book origins, and this is our first look at what the filmmakers were actually doing. And…well, it at least seems like it will look nice. Some have noted that the trailer seems a mite too serious for something that’s called the “Fantastic Four,” but the more somber tone does differentiate itself from the previous FF movies. Plus, it now looks like a highbrow sci-fi movie rather than just another superhero film, which I find a bit more interesting, and perhaps more in line with the actual origins of the comics. Well, okay, maybe not the “highbrow” part, but you know what I mean.
As for the reported changes in the FF’s origin….I don’t know, I think so long as we end up with something approximating the characters and relationships we know from the comics, it almost doesn’t matter how they start out. It’s almost enough that the receive their abilities from scientific misadventure, which is close enough. (And most people going to see the movie won’t notice or care that the origin’s been fiddled with.) At any rate, the trailer did its job: it’s piqued my interest in a film I was somewhat indifferent/mildly negative about. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to someday have an actual Doctor Doom in a Fantastic Four film who was Reed’s college roommate who blew up his own face in a failed experiment and later got armor from monks, but there’s always the next reboot in, like, four or five years from now.
So folks have asked how I feel about the two big events forthcoming from DC and Marvel — DC’s Convergence, in which they replace all of the regular series with two-part semi-out of continuity mini-series for two months, and Marvel’s Secret Wars, apparently leading into a line-wide reboot of of their titles — and my somewhat sarcastic and wearied response was “picked a great time to open a store.”
Wearied because my initial reactions were “how am I going to order these” and “will my comic saver customers want all these Convergence tie-ins even with the characters they normally follow” and “oh boy, more first issue Marvels” and so on and so forth. Like I also said on the Twitterings, while Fan Mike is intrigued and wants to see what happens, Retailer Mike is dreading having to decide on numbers for these things.
Now, particularly in the case of the Convergence event, it’s late enough in the process that we have information on what actual titles are going to be released but early enough that I can still get feedback from my customer base on what titles they’d actually be most interested in. Specifically, I can directly ask my pull list customers which titles they’d want for sure. I’ve already had a few check in with their Convergence lists, so with any luck I’ll have the comic saver situation under control. I’d like to make the assumption that because they get, say, Flash in their pulls, they’ll want the Flash-related Convergence tie-ins…but they may not, because they’re outside the continuity of the regular series. And rack sales will be quite the trick to figure out, too.
Despite my initial response regarding the timing of these events vis-à-vis the opening of my shop, I’m actually in a pretty good position. I’m just starting out at a new, smaller store, so I don’t have the large customer base that I did (at least, not yet!). Ordering mistakes are thus at a reduced scale…if I order a comic thinking it will sell to a significant portion of my customer base, but it turns out to only appeal to a couple of folks…well, at my previous place of employment, that could have been an expensive bust of dozens of unsold comics, because I would have had to order more to anticipate what might have been demand from our many customers. But, since I’m at the smaller shop, my financial loss would theoretically have been less. It would still suck, but just not as badly, being stiffed with only a relative handful of copies I’ve ordered for the shelf versus how ever many I might have ordered for the other store.
Also, I’m paying very close attention to my order numbers and sales, and keeping tabs on what’s increasing, what’s descreasing, what my customers care about and what they don’t. Not that I didn’t do that at the old job, but we had years of sales histories to go on, and a fair amount of stability/predictability. In my new position I have to not only go by my weeks of sales histories, but also keep an eye on new customer growth and attendant product demands. I think I have a pretty good handle on what numbers I’ll need on these Convergence books, so I’m not really anticipating the scenario of taking a huge hit on any misordered books. I’m sure I’ll not get the numbers exactly…even with planning ahead, I may pull some of these books on spec for comic saver customers who don’t want them and they’ll be returned to the shelf, but I’m reasonably certain I’m not going to take a bath on these. Maybe a quick rinse.
Marvel’s reboot is still a little ways off, so I have more time to agonize over it. Likely it’ll lead into a wall of new first issues, and I think by this time we’re all old hands at dealing with new Marvel #1s. Once we get a little closer to the main event, I’ll have a better idea how many new Avengers-related titles I’ll be dealing with.
Anyway, Fan Mike needs to make sure he orders one of each cover for the Swamp Thing Convergence tie-in, and Retailer Mike better get his money for ’em.
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