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Another fifteen minute post.

§ July 29th, 2014 § Filed under retailing § 3 Comments

So I just threw a bunch of Avatar variant covers on the eBay, since I had a few sittin’ around the shop that hadn’t moved out just yet. The threshold to order these is actually pretty low, so it’s sometimes too easy to check those off on the order form. It can be a real guessing game on these variants, the Avatars in particular, in that I know there’s a chance I won’t sell them, but I can’t sell them if I don’t have them in the first place. They sell more often than not, but there are always leftovers. Especially now more than ever, since everybody’s cranking out variant covers as quickly as they’re able.

Some cases, it’s not so much a big deal. There’s that coming Deadpool variant with the 3D cover, in the style of DC’s event debacle from last year that, with any luck, will be less of a debacle this time around. Anyway, even as regular Deadpool sales seem to be dipping due to oversaturation (example: one of Deadpool’s every-three-weeks monthly issues, an issue of the weekly series, and Deadpool Vs. X-Force, all coming out last Wednesday), its variants still maintain strong demand, and that 3D cover will likely sell for crazy prices.

Oddly, more difficult is ordering DC’s latest variation (har) on variant covers, which unlike the usual method of operation in which the variants are tied to specific order plateaus (such as 1 for every 25 of the regular cover), DC’s recent “Bombshell” and “Batman 75th Anniversary” and the coming “Selfie” covers were orderable in any quantity. What makes this difficult is trying to predict if a) folks are going to buy both covers, or b) buy the variant instead of the regular cover (or vice versa), or c) buy just the variant because they’re collecting the variants on titles they don’t ordinarily buy, or…ugh. There’s no consistency across the board, as it turns out. Options A, B, and C all seem to apply, depending on which book it is, what the cover looks like, etc. Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman variants are easy sells regardless, but there’s a lot of looking at variant covers and comparing them to the regular covers and trying to decide what my customers were going to prefer months (or weeks, in the case of the Final Order Cutoffs adjustments I get to do after placing initial orders) from now. Sometimes comic ordering is an art, not a science, and alas I’m a bit sloppy with my paint sometimes. And my analogies, come to think of it.

And that’s fifteen minutes. Also, I’m doing this again which can get pretty dark. That’s a feature, not a bug.

Predating the Riddler’s first appearance in Batman comics by about eight years.

§ June 30th, 2014 § Filed under racial sensitivity, retailing § 4 Comments

So we’ve been receiving giant box after giant box from this one gentleman at the shop, each one filled to the brim with comic books, children’s books, toys, what-have-you, dating mostly from the late ’60s through the very early ’90s, with a few from earlier still. One unique element of this collection, very seemingly out of place amongst the ’70s Archie comics and miscellaneous Disney merchandise (including a – gulp! – $300 Donald Duck statue and an Uncle Scrooge “Gold Train” set that is probably even more expensive), was a pile of bagged ‘n’ boarded Silver Surfer #50s, approximately 100 in number, and you can see Employee Aaron with a small selection of them in a photo I posted on the store’s site.

Now, some of the items we didn’t really have any interest in or need for, mostly the children’s books, but this fellow who was selling them to us is in the process of moving and didn’t really want any of this stuff back. Thus, anything we didn’t end up buying, we ended up getting anyway. Alas, one of the reasons we didn’t want many of the children’s books was because, due to poor storage, the majority of them were water-damaged and / or moldy or otherwise just too damaged to be salvaged, and had to be discarded. As a former librarian, and as a lifelong lover of books, I hated disposing of them, but there was no helping it.

Some of the books were able to be saved, and I ended up taking home a bunch of them for myself…and in that pile was this little hardcover book (with dustjacket) from 1940:


About 40 pages or thereabouts, with little black and white illustrations and about three to four jokes per page, most of them about as good as this:


Yup, just full on making fun of overweight people, and making sure to explain the pun with a parenthetical aside just in case you didn’t get it.

Okay, it’s not all terrible. I really like this dumb joke, although you would probably get punched for telling it and rightfully so:


The book also gets all religious-y on you out of nowhere, while simultaneously denying the ineffable essence of our cetacean brethren:


And just to emphasize that inherent superiority of soulful humans, here’s a joke that utilizes stereotyping of Chinese people:


That’s one of two jokes in this book based around our Chinese friends, who are the only ethnicity singled out, surprisingly enough.

And, um, well:


Here’s a joke that probably got a whole lot funnier not much later:


The judges would also have accepted “Timothy Leary.”

The inner flap of the dustjacket features a short introduction to this volume, ending with

“This is a good size book to slip into your pocket and produce at a moment’s notice in order to confound your friends or superior adults who we guarantee will never be able to guess the answers.”

Well, yes, they’ll certainly be confounded:


There’s an extra helping of mental trauma in that joke, Little Billy! Enjoy your next meal!

Mostly I write these just to make up names for comic book series.

§ June 6th, 2014 § Filed under publishing, retailing § 6 Comments

So it sounds like, based on reports of order numbers, the forthcoming Rocket Raccoon series has achieved that perfect storm of movie tie-in combined with variant cover availability based on exceeding certain percentages of orders of previously-published strong-selling comics, resulting in what sounds like an enormous amount of copies about to flood the market in just a few months. Oh, those variants should sell out just fine, they usually do, assuming their prices aren’t hiked up to ridiculous heights. But the regular cover editions…well, you know how hard it is to find a copy of the regular cover for Superman Unchained #1? There you go.

Of course, it feels like those percentages we have to beat are creeping up ever so slowly, but that may just be my innate paranoia from being in this business for too long. To get those “Deadpool Dressed As Princess Leia” variants on Ultimate Slapstick #1, you have order numbers on the regular cover that either meet or exceed 125% of your orders on Man-Thing Team-Up #17, and of course that was the issue you ordered extra on because, go figure, Man-Thing was teaming up with Deadpool in that issue. So, you have to order lots of Ultimate Slapstick because if you don’t get those “Deadpool Dressed As Princess Leia” variants, the store in the next town over will, and people will go there to get their comics if they think you can’t get them, and you can’t have that.

And then, a couple of months down the road, the debut issue of This Will Be A New Marvel Movie Soon, We Hope #1 will pop up in the order forms, and to get the “Wolverine in Various States of Undress” variant cover, you’ll have to exceed 125% of your numbers on Ultimate Slapstick #1. And so on, and so on, until all the trees are gone and the Lorax departs the Earth in disgust.

Now, it’s not necessarily chained like that, with one book you need to inflate your orders on tied to a previous order-inflated book…I’ll need to go back and do some of that “research” I’ve heard so much about. However, every time I see that “exceed X%” instruction, I feel like I’m being taken for a ride. Of course, nobody’s forcing me to do it, but like I said, if I don’t, another shop will, and in the current comics marketplace, you don’t want to give your customers a reason to not come to your shop.

The only way to fight back is for no shops to order any of these types of variants, but that’s not likely to happen. Or maybe to wean the direct market off dependence on Marvel and DC [imagine hysterical laughter here].

I’m not entirely unsympathetic to the publishers. The whole variants scheme is to keep numbers up in a marketplace where retailers would prefer to keep their overhead low, by encouraging orders to maintain at certain levels. Sure, you could order just 20 copies of this, but there’s a special 1 in 25 variant cover you can probably sell for a premium, so why not just bump up the order just a bit, why don’t you? Thanks, you’re a pal!

Some of the smaller publishers, like Boom! and Dynamite, have order percentage incentives as well, but it’s more along the line of “we’ll give you an extra discount if your order on this issue of this series matches or exceeds 90% of the previous issue,” and that seems a little more reasonable to me. Or, in some cases, matching orders on a previous issue would result in returnability, which I’m pretty okay with, too. I’d love if the returnability option was a little more widespread with Big Two releases, but I suspect the discounts we enjoy with them would shrink by a considerable margin once those publishers start shouldering more of the burden of unsold stock. It’s more in the publishers’ interests for the retailer to warehouse their books, whether they sell or not.

In conclusion, I think that Rocket Raccoon comic actually sounds like it’ll be a fun read. I certainly hope everyone will want to read it. I mean, we pretty much need them to.

Not that Marvel’s been all that much better.

§ June 4th, 2014 § Filed under publishing, retailing § 13 Comments


So one thing that occurred to me recently, and may have been brought up somewhere on the Internet since DC launched its New 52 initiative three years ago and I missed since I can’t read the entire Internet, is how this “The New 52!” slug that’s slapped on all of DC’s covers is like one more barrier to new readers. It’s a very minor barrier, and one that’s easily explained if someone in the know is around to explain it, but it’s still one more bit of weird information, the meaning of which is not immediately obvious, one more thing that says “this is an indicator for people already in the club, and not for people such as you.” “52 what?” I’ve heard more than once.*

We’re probably stuck with that “The New 52″ logo for the time being, even as others have noticed that the majority of the original 52 titles DC launched in September 2011 have since been cancelled, or at least retooled and restarted. Abandoning the New 52 idea would be tantamount to an admission on DC’s part that the publishing initiative was a failure, and I don’t expect that to happen. More likely is that, assuming Warner Brothers would want to continue publishing comics and not just turn all those properties over to the toy companies and animation departments, there would be a new rebranding of DCs publishing line, and yet another overhaul of their books. It would allow them to save at least some face to some extent, by spinning it as not giving up on the New 52, but instead moving the DC Universe forward to…the Great 38! Or, you know, something like that.

Since DC is stuck with the New 52 concept, I would almost prefer that DC would fill out their line of non-Justice League/Batman/Superman/Green Lantern comics with mini-series. I mean, intentional mini-series, marketed as such, not just planned ongoings that get canned after eight months. There’s no shortage of characters and concepts in DC’s vaults that could stand to be aired out a bit…put ‘em in a series for six to twelve months, collect it into a paperback when it’s over, and now DC has something to show as a pitch for a new movie or TV pro…I mean, something they can sell in bookstores. And if it sells really well…what the hell, then make it a new ongoing series. I realize that’s more work, editorially, but if books are getting cancelled left and right anyway, might as well jump up right after falling down and declare “I meant to do that!” (And it would make my job a little easier, since problem I describe here is now comic-ordering status quo.)

Going back to what I was talking about at the beginning: a lot of what we, folks what read the funnybooks on a regular basis, take for granted is confusing to the uninformed. They are confused that there can be more than one ongoing series starring the same character, each with its own storylines and continuity, but they sometimes the series do tie in together, but not all the time. Batman and Detective are two entirely separate series, except when they’re not.

The very idea of issue numbers can be confusing. It’s such an obvious thing to me, and to you, that I don’t know how they can be confusing, but to someone not used to the vagaries of comics publishing, they are. That there are so many different series, several of them at least superficially no different from many others (“all these say ‘Avengers’ on them…they’re all the same, right?”), with so many numbering schemes, with so many restarts and reboots, it’s…well, it can look like bit of a mess.

The alternative is no issue numbers (at least on the cover…one could be present inside with the copyright information), and emphasizing the cover date, maybe. But that would create new problems, with people looking for, I don’t know, the April and May 2014 editions of Hawkeye, for example.

And then there’s the series within the series:


That’s Action Comics #32, but it’s also “Enemy of the State Chapter 1″ and it’s part of the “SUPERMAN: DOOMED” crossover event. But it’s not Chapter 1 of the SUPERMAN: DOOMED event, since we just wrapped up the “Infected” segment of DOOMED that ran through all the Superman books. It helps that DC put the additional visual cue of the border around the edges of the cover to clue people into the idea that all these comics with similar borders are related to each other. But that’s still a lot of information to throw at someone not used to comic book company design and marketing decisions.

I mean, I get it. In this marketplace everyone’s struggling to make their comics stand out, and making each issue part of some crossover event or special storyline is an attempt to make that comic seem like essential reading, like you’re missing out if you’re not grabbing the latest installment of this exciting adventure!

Of course, this assumes that new, uninitiated readers are taking in all this information being shoved into their eyesockets and trying to parse it. Sometimes it’s just enough Batman is on the cover, and that’s all the information they need.
 

* At least “Marvel NOW!” seems a little more obvious in meaning and intent, if not any less coated in flop-sweat.

3,000 copies of the Swamp Thing one-shot should be about enough.

§ May 25th, 2014 § Filed under retailing § 1 Comment

So on Friday I sat down and started crunching some numbers on how to order the coming Futures End 3D covers. As I’m sure you remember, the last time DC tried 3D covers, it turned out production time was longer than they expected and they couldn’t fill initial orders. This time around, however, retailers are being asked to send in orders well in advance of release to allow (hopefully) sufficient lead-time for DC to print enough copies.

Last time, sales were driven by demand created by news of short supply. People were more or less interested in the 3D covers as it was, but the news that retailers weren’t receiving full orders created a huge buying frenzy, much higher than anyone would have expected. It’s hard to say, had initial orders been filled in full and no short-supply sales frenzy had ensued, just how accurate my original estimates of sales would have been. I think I would have been close…numbers enough to cover pull lists and rack sales and then a reasonable number of extra copies to handle what I guessed would be the additional sales the fancy covers might have attracted. There was no way to predict that 1) DC would end up allocating orders, and 2) that panic buying would have resulted.

This time, my planning includes numbers enough to cover pull lists and rack sales and then a reasonable number of extra copies to handle what I guess may be the additional sales the fancy covers will attract. The comics won’t be here for four months, two more months than the usual gulf of time my precogniscent comic-ordering abilities normally have to span, and if I have trouble predicting an out of the ordinary comic-buying frenzy two months out, I don’t have a chance at four months.

Now, it’s not hard to guess on some titles. The 3D covers for Batman and Harley Quinn and Justice League and other top-tier titles will probably sell great, and will continue to sell for some time to come, assuming no panic-driven immediate sell-outs. Orders for other titles, like Trinity of Sin: Pandora, with readerships about half that of my grocery lists, can probably safely be ordered at significantly lower numbers. Again, assuming no panic-driven immediate sell-outs.

Perhaps you sense a recurring theme. “I should have enough, assuming something I can’t reasonably predict doesn’t happen.” I can order enough to cover regular sales. I can, in general, guesstimate orders on enough extras to cover additional sales driven by interest in the 3D covers. I can’t guess if there will be, say, a mass media driven frenzy from people who don’t normally buy comics coming into stores to grab what they can. Or, some other kind of interest spike that will come as a surprise.

Will this be Superman #75, the Death of Superman issue, where retailers’ orders of lots of copies were completely overwhelmed by an insane amount of consumer demand? Or will this be Adventures of Superman #500, the “sorta the beginning of the return of Superman,” which retailers ordered huge numbers on, anticipating an demand equal to that of Superman #75, and, well, go ask some retailers how many unopened cases of that book they still have. But not me, or I might throw an unopened case of, um, a certain unnamed book at you.

There are lots of outcomes here. Given the extra lead time to print these new 3D comics, every retailer should get what they order. But will too many retailers order well in excess of what they actually need, assuming a demand similar to what happened with the 3D covers last year, resulting in a flooded marketplace and depressed sales? Will retailers order too conservatively, with the possibility of perhaps supply only just meeting, or just barely not meeting demand, giving the impression of more shortages which will cause, like last year, a spike in demand for books simply because they’re “hard to get?”

And there is that unpredictable factor I mentioned several times already, that a huge demand will come out of nowhere, or at from outside the usual comics-buying market, outstripping anyone’s guesses or predictions, causing the 3D cover supply to dry up yet again.

My best guess right now is that, this year, everyone will order just a few too many, that there should be plenty to meet expected sales, and there probably won’t be an unpredicted excessive demand stripping our shelves of these books. But, as mentioned to me by Ralph…remember Ralph? co-owner of the store and owner of all the old comics Ralph…if everyone orders too much this year and gets stuck with copies, then if they do this again next year, everyone will cut orders, and there won’t be enough to go around, and I’ll have to go through this again but with any luck I’ll finally be in my dream job of deep sea fishing by then and won’t have to think about any of this.

Regarding this year’s crop, however, we’ll see how I did on my ordering in a few months. Hopefully at that point this site won’t turn into “Mike Sterling’s Progressive 3D Cover Marketplace” where I try to get you guys to buy a different Futures End book each day. On the plus side, that’ll get me back up to posting seven days a week.

• • •

Between my writing this post Friday night and finishing it Saturday night, there was of course that terrible shooting in Isla Vista. I attended UCSB in the late ’80s/early ’90s, and would regularly wander through I.V. between classes, have lunch, shop at the record and book stores, or just hang out. It was an interesting and crowded community, and to hear about this awful tragedy there was just sickening. My sympathies to everyone there, to the victims of the violence and to their family and friends.

Next time, it’ll just be a picture of me doing fingerguns.

§ April 24th, 2014 § Filed under retailing § 6 Comments

1. Thanks to everyone who helped support us in the wake of this really quite annoying act of vandalism…it means quite a lot to us. And our new window should be installed today!

2. I’m beginning to get inquiries for our Retailer Edition of Valiant’s Armor Hunters…it seems only about 45 retailers reached the order plateau to receive the personalized covers, and some folks are trying to get all of them. …After looking at the others, I suppose I should have put a wee bit more effort into ours, but it has Seth’s name and Ralph’s cool logo by pal Tom, along with the website address and the all-important “since 1980″ so I guess it’s okay. But it was literally like “hey, we need the art in a day or two” and I was all “(gulp) oh, yeah, art” and I had nuthin’. Next time, I’ll have something fancier ready to go!

3. So I finally got to the Steve Ditko “Killjoy” back-ups in my E-Man reading. Those comics may be the best thing I’ve read all year.

The Shattered Ponies of Sethergarde.

§ April 21st, 2014 § Filed under retailing § 5 Comments


So these were the windows in the left side of our storefront, prior to the events of Saturday evening/Sunday morning. Tristan, one of our customers, painted this silly mash-up illustration for us, quite possibly with the sole instruction of “make it as amazingly nerdy as possible,” and lo, he did succeed.

That window painting had been up there for a while, and granted, it was about time for a change, but “having someone smash out half of it” wasn’t really the impetus we were looking for.

For the most part, reaction was positive to it; most of our customers were amused, or bemused, by it, and there was even a mostly-positive Reddit thread about it, of all things. But there were those people who just plain objected to having My Little Ponies in the shop windows. One person even told us “sorry about the windows, but I’m glad that My Little Pony mural is gone,” and, well, that’s tact for you.

Here’s a very good reason for having My Little Pony characters in the window: it got a lot of attention, and attracted a lot of new customers. Parents coming in with their children who specifically cited that painting as the reason they stopped by. Folks who saw pics of the window online and wanted to come by and see the shop in person. That painting Got People Into The Store, and you know I think that’s important because I even capitalized the preposition.

And besides, it’s not like we’re any stranger to weird window paintings, like these examples by our pal Randy Martinez:


Anyway, right now we’ve got big ol’ wooden boards where our window used to be, and hopefully by Tuesday or Wednesday we’ll have our new and (gulp) expensive window in place, and then it’ll be time for a new mural! I thinking something everyone will be sure to love, something action-packed, like Sluggo and Swamp Thing arm-wrestling. That’ll bring in the crowds.

I also wanted to say thanks to the folks who generously responded to my request to pick up some goodies from our listings on eBay and Amazon, and even the few folks who called me up at the store (805-653-2732) to have me track down some items. Please feel free to continue to do so…every little bit helps! (I won’t be in Monday, hopefully, barring any more surprises, but I’ll be back in the shop on Tuesday.)

Again, thank you for the sympathetic response to this completely pointless inconvenience visited upon us. I’ll be back soon to talk about comics instead of just picking at this scab, I promise.

So much for a relaxing Easter.

§ April 20th, 2014 § Filed under idiots, retailing § 7 Comments

windowbust

Well, someone overnight decided to bust one of our big windows in the front of the store, which is going to set us back a pretty penny…on top of some recent big Diamond invoices and other large expenses, this is almost a bridge too far, here.

So now would be a good time to take a look at our eBay listings, our Amazon listings, or just straight up call me at 805-653-2732 after noon today and order something.

I’m not terribly happy at the moment.

Gang of street toughs closely stalking the Black Cat, or promo image for a new wave band?

§ April 9th, 2014 § Filed under collecting, retailing § 6 Comments

…or, possibly, both:


Anyway, that’s not what I originally planned this post to be about. This image was taken from Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man #90, cover-dated May 1984, and is notable primarily for being one of the first appearances of Spidey’s then-new black costume.

The subject came to mind when, on our store’s Facebook page, a customer questioned an assertion I made on our regular website that Amazing Spider-Man #252 was the black costume’s first appearance. “Isn’t it Secret Wars #8?” he wondered, and I explained that even though Spider-Man is shown first receiving the costume in SW #8, that is actually a good seven months or so after the costume made its debut in ASM.

However, even that’s apparently not cut ‘n’ dried, since in Overstreet it’s noted that ASM #252, the aforementioned Peter Parker #90, and Marvel Team-Up #141 are “tied” (Overstreet’s terminology) for the costume’s first appearance.

Today’s Marvel is more than happy to crank out four or five or six Avengers or X-Men titles the same week, but it was my memory that wasn’t Marvel’s habit way back when, when all these comics were hitting the stands. So it had me wondering, even though they’re all cover-dated May 1984, did they all come out the same week, or on succeeding weeks, and which one was first?

Alas, though our store was open then, those invoices/cycle sheets/what-have-yous were discarded long ago. A little Googling finds some discussion (like this example), based mostly on “I-was-there” memories, plus additional blurring of the costume’s history with the inclusion of prior promo pieces from Marvel’s news/interviews comic Marvel Age and elsewhere.

A mention of Amazing Heroes #39 as a possible “first appearance” of the costume (speaking of blurring the lines) reminded me of a feature of Amazing Heroes, the “Coming Distractions” section, which would list all the new releases for that month, including specific release dates. Thus, I pulled out #40, the issue with the relevant information, out of the Vast Mikester Comic Archives, and here is what it says:

Amazing Spider-Man – “ships 1/10, newsstand o/s 1/31″

Marvel Team-Up #141 – “ships 1/24, newsstand o/s 1/14″ [typo - supposed to be 2/14...see below]

Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #90 – “ships 1/24, newsstand o/s 2/14″

And, yes, of course there’s that typo in the Marvel Team-Up listing, confusing things. But it’s certainly a typo: every other comic with a ship date of 1/24 is listed as being on sale on newsstands February 14th. (Both December 24, 1983 and January 14, 1984 would have been Saturdays, whereas every other date listed is on a Tuesday. In addition, no other book with a December shipping date is noted, so the 1/24 date doesn’t seem to be a typo.)

According to the information provided by Marvel, Amazing Spider-Man #252 was at least planned to ship out at least two weeks before the other books, making this the first in-story appearance of the black costume. This is of course assuming things worked out the way they should have. Shipments could have been delayed, books might have been late, etc. etc., so it is within the realm of possibility that some of the books may have been released, at least in some locales, simultaneously.

And then there’s the fact comic shops in the direct sales market received their books weeks prior to newsstands. I wasn’t on the business side of the counter in those days, but my memory is that direct shipping of new books wasn’t quite the exact science it is today, he said half-sarcastically, so again, it’s possible that even if the books stuck to Marvel’s schedule, who knows what order they showed up in which comic book stores.

On top of that, there was the usual speculation/hoarding shenanigans that turn up whenever something in the comic market smells like it could be “hot,” so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if some people remember seeing Marvel Team-Up #141 before Amazing #252, since all the 252s were immediately scooped up, bagged, boarded, and thrown in boxes marked “DO NOT OPEN ‘TIL EBAY.” And even beyond that, the disparity between new arrivals in comic shops and new arrivals on newsstands could have meant people spotting the latter Spidey books at their comic shops before seeing #252 pop up at the local 7-11.

Anyway, I wish I knew back then I’d be writing this blog today, so that I’d have taken better notes. As it is, at the time I did buy Amazing Spider-Man #252, from a newsstand no less, because I was semi-collecting that series anyway. I don’t recall when those other Spider-Man comics in question came out in relation to 252, since I wasn’t reading those at the time and didn’t pay any attention.

I was also going to discuss whether or not Web of Spider-Man #18 should be considered the actual first appearance of Venom, but I think we’ve all had quite enough of this sort of talk today. (And if you say ASM #252 is his first appearance, I’m gonna pop you in the nose.)
 
 

image from Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man #90 (May 1984) by Al Milgrom and Jim Mooney

Oddly, not all that much demand for Deathlok.

§ February 24th, 2014 § Filed under collecting, retailing § 4 Comments

So I recently acquired a few of these Whitman comic book three-packs (still sealed!), and this particular one has something I’ve never seen before:


…two copies of the same comic! That’s Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids #25 (from June 1978) on the front there, there’s a copy of Woody Woodpecker #168 on the other, and, in the middle, another copy of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids #25, espied by me by carefully separating the comics while still inside the polybag. Well, I don’t know about you, but if I shilled out my 99 cents and got two of the same funnybook for my troubles, I would have been a tad miffed.

I don’t know how common an error this was, as at the time these were in stores, I wasn’t going around from toy store to department store carefully examining each three-pack and doing a little amateur quality control. It was more like “MOM! Can I have this pack of Star Wars comics?” and the depth of my examination was mostly restricted to “do I already own the outer two comics visible in this package?”

Anyway, none of the comics in any of these pre-packed bags are in particularly high demand…I mean, there’s some demand for cartoon comics like Fat Albert, but the packs themselves as is will sell more quickly for us as novelty items than waiting for collectors to request the specific issues therein.

Of course, that’s not always the case. There are a handful of issues from various series that were only distributed via the Whitman three-packs and not as a racked single issue, most famously (and expensively) Uncle Scrooge #179. A copy we had about — oh, ten years ago, maybe? — sold in the $300 range on eBay, and it was around a Very Good to Fine copy, if I remember correctly.

Speaking of collectability and also awkward transitions, I’ve started to have some inquiries into the first issue of Preacher, a comic that long ago stopped having any back issue demand since the primary way anyone wants this series now is via the trade paperback/hardcover editions. Which is fine, I sell plenty of Preacher books, which has more than made up for any dead Preacher backstock we’ve had sittin’ around, but now that people are getting wind of a television adaptation, I’d better dust off that section of the back issue bins for the brief period of time that they’ll be sought after again.

Plus, the return of Doomsday is resulting in multiple requests for Superman: The Man of Steel #17 (Doomsday’s first appearance) and #18 (the start of the “Death of Superman” story). I assume that’s what’s causing it, and not some spontaneous uprising of Doomsday nostalgia. Or maybe he’s in that Batman/Superman movie and I haven’t heard about it? I mean, everyone else is, so why not.

I’m also looking forward to the eventual revival of interest in Heroes comics and merchandise. I mean, all you folks loved Heroes, right?

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