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So a couple of weeks ago my parents got themselves a pair of new iPhones, and as part of the deal they received a couple of free iPad Minis. They kept one, and gave the other to me.
Now I was trying to figure out what to do with it, exactly…I have another tablet, a Nook, which I used primarily for book readin’, as I generally used desktop computers for fooling around on the internet. But given my recent entry into store ownership (that store being Sterling Silver Comics, located in the heart of beautiful Camarillo, CA) and my increased work hours, I’ve been falling behind on my reading, be it comic books, actual physical novels or virtual novels on said Nook. Now, I did power up the Nook again just recently, to take advantage of the recent ebook settlement credit I had in the Barnes and Noble account to finally get that final Dexter novel, and I totally plan on reading it as soon as I finish these other two books I’m in the middle of (yes, two, I paused reading one to read the other). If it takes me this long to get around to reading something on my Nook (which I do enjoy, by the way), what am I going to do with yet another tablet?
Well, I think I may have found a possible use…the Comixology app.
GASP! What? A gentleman whose livelihood depends on the selling of physical media comic books, delving into the digital alternative of same? MONOCLE LOSS: IMMINENT.
Yeah, yeah, I know. Mostly I poked around some of the free offerings just to see what reading a digital comic on one of these newfangled contraptions was like. Of course, I tried it out with Swamp Thing #1 (1972), and enjoyed the guided reading, where it goes from panel(s) to panel(s), zooming in when necessary, as you swipe the screen from page to page. (I did notice Swamp Thing’s word balloon from this page was miscolored…don’t know if that was a deliberate artistic choice or a mistake.) Anyway, for an Old Person like myself who still prefers holding an actual comic book in my hand, I found the Comixology thing an interesting novelty. I know many people find it a convenience, and it’s certainly a cost-effective way for smaller publishers to get their material into the marketplace.
Now, while I would prefer comics on actual paper, the digital alternative does seem to solve a particular dilemma I have as an owner of an Actual Comic Book Store That Sells Actual Back Issues.
Recently, I acquired another collection of ’60s and ’70s comics, including a small stack of Metal Men. Metal Men is one of those series I’d always meant to collect…it was one of those series I’d planned on tackling after finishing my run of the original Doom Patrol, though after completing that run, I never got around to seeking out the other series. It’s not like I didn’t have opportunity, as my previous place of employment usually had a good selection of them. But it was financial constraints, not really wanting to get started on chasing down more comics, getting distracting by other shiny objects…there were a whole lot of reasons why I never got around to it.
And here we are, years later, at this point in my comic collecting, and I’m still not really looking to start yet another back issue hunt. Yes, I’m still filling holes in my ’70s Atlas/Seaboard comics, I need a couple more comics to round out my Inferior 5, and I’ll grab any fanzines that come within reach, but I’m now buying back issues to resell in the store, not to fill my own boxes at home. I need to show some restraint, as any old comic I decide to keep for myself is suddenly a comic that’s not going to make me any money. As much as I’d love to take all these recently-acquired Metal Men home and love them and pet them and squeeze them and call them George, I need them to make me some scratch. I don’t even particularly want to “borrow” them and take them home, since it might take me a while to get through them and I don’t want to take a chance on losing a sale. (And no, I don’t really have time to read comics at the store.)
Here’s where the digital comics thing comes in. If I were to buy them as digital comics, that’s not taking product out of my store that I could resell, and that reduces the time I’d spend searching for these. I don’t necessarily need to have all these Metal Men in the original physical format…I’d just like to read them, and digital versions would be good enough.
Of course, after thinking about all that, it turns out those original Metal Men are not available through this app, but I suppose it’s only a matter of time. If DC eventually does some softcover color editions, as opposed to the high-end DC Archives or that black and white Showcase book, I’d rather get those, but digital would be fine. But this particular strategy might come in handy for any other older comics I’d like to read but not take away from store stock…or even comics that I’m likely not to see anytime soon, like that New York World’s Fair book.
So this iPad Mini looks like an interesting way to supplement my comics reading…I certainly don’t want digital to replace my beloved physical comics, but I realize the day may come sooner than I’d want it. Just give me two or three decades to make a living off of selling actual items before you younglings push Old Man Mike out of the way to download Marvel’s newest line of monthly first issues.
Okay, he also has some pog-related questions there, but I’m not quite ready to tackle those yet. However, PTOR has the honor of having the last question from that last Question Time post from all those months ago, and that question is THIS:
“How do you keep on top of Diamond / Previews constant ‘newly announced product’ and ‘just now added-on variants and reprints’ that are announced DAILY (with their own dedicated web pages on the Previews site)?
“I’m just a guy trying to keep up with the solicits of pretty much ONE CHARACTER (Doctor Strange, natch) and the constant newly announced stuff is hard to consistently track.
How do you do it for your entire store’s new inventory?”
It’s actually not as bad as it seems. Yes, there’s a constant stream of emails and announcements and whathaveyou, but when it comes to actually ordering all these different items, there’s generally only one or two places to go.
In the Diamond retailer website, you’ve got the Final Order Cutoffs page, where you can adjust your initial orders on comics and toys and other products from select vendors…generally Marvel, DC, IDW, Dark Horse, Image, Zenescope, and some others. Usually any newly announced variants or reprints from these companies will get listed here. This is the place where, if you noticed that your order of 100 copies of X-Squirrels isn’t selling very well on the rack, and you feel like your pending order of 75 copies of issue #2 is going to be way too much, when that issue shows up in the Final Order Cutoff listings you’ll have your chance to drop those numbers down to the far more reasonable 5 copies you should have ordered in the first place.
Then there’s the Previews Plus order page, where all the new products…not just comics, but pretty much everything Diamond carries…show up for your ordering pleasure. Sometimes there’s overlap with the Final Order Cutoff page, but if there is whatever numbers you may have placed will be shown here too. But generally this is the place where you put in your numbers for new product that didn’t show up in the monthly catalog.
Pretty much all new product that Diamond announces shows up in one place or the other. There are rare exceptions, such as the rush print job DC tried to do on the 2nd print of DC Universe Rebirth. We were told to contact our sales rep directly with orders, as, due to its rushed nature, it would not be in the Final Order Cutoff listings.
Occasionally there are special lists made available for other new products (like offers for some San Diego Comic Con exclusives), which are made obvious to anyone logging into Diamond’s site. Like, literally a banner across the top of the page telling you “HEY, PLACE YER ORDERS ALREADY, SHEESH.” Well, maybe not in those words exactly.
And then there are periodic liquidation sales and other special offers, which either show up in email or just when you go to Diamond’s site, but that’s for previously-available product and not quite as vital, but definitely welcome. You just kinda have to keep an eye out for those.
New product, though…the announcements come all the time, but there’s really only a couple of places to put in your orders, so it’s reasonably easy to keep up on that stuff.
And now that I’ve revealed all these secrets to you, PTOR…I’m afraid I’m going to have to kill you. Nothing personal. But that’s just how it goes in the world…of comics retail.
So when I’m not answering your questions, foolin’ around on Twitter, or allowing comic creators to vent in my comments, I’m running a comic shop, and of late I’ve been worrying about sales on the whole DC Rebirth thing.
My initial thought was that, like Marvel’s multiple reboots/restarts on their titles, the number of sales I can expect to receive on yet another round of first issues was not necessarily going to be very much. This wasn’t going to be like the New 52 relaunch from five years ago, where it was a month full of new #1s in a newly-formed (and, frankly, not quite done cooking) continuity all thrown at us at once, and the sheer novelty of it translated to big sales, even for the titles that traditionally didn’t do very well. Of course, sales atrophied on the New 52 eventually, with Batman and Justice League still doing respectable numbers, but everything else mostly just slowly fading.
DC’s “Rebirth,” by contrast, was going to be spread out over several months, with most titles effectively getting two first issues (a “Rebirth” one-shot, to sort of reestablish the characters vis-à-vis where they left off prior to the start of the “Rebirth” event, and an actual #1 to kick off the new thread of adventures, presumably). Add to the fact that most people weren’t 100% clear on what “Rebirth” was actually going to be (most of my customers seemed to assume it was another full-on reboot)…well, I had a hard time figuring how this was going to sell.
To DC’s credit, they probably assumed everyone was going to feel that way, so the early issues are returnable, which eases the burden on poor ol’ retailers like me a bit. That doesn’t mean, of course, that I’m going to order a thousand of everything to make darned sure I have enough to go around…I still have a budget, I still have other comics to order, and I don’t really want to tie up that much money in product for, likely, months while I wait for the go-ahead to send ’em back. So I ordered about what I estimated what I thought I could sell, plus a little more for good measure, and hoped for the best.
And then the DC Universe: Rebirth came out a couple of weeks ago.
Now, on that book, the 80-page, bargain priced one shot that was kicking off the whole thing, I ordered a ton. I ordered numbers on that book specifically so that I’d have it around for the next couple of months, as all the new “Rebirth”-branded relaunched books came out and people asked “so what’s this all about, hah?” I could hand them a copy of the 80-pagers and tell them “all the answers you seek are in here, my son.”
It, of course, sold out by the weekend.
Now, a second printing and a third printing have been announced, with the 2nd print due in stores next week (and at the more reasonable-for-the-publisher price of $5.99). That part didn’t worry me…I figured another printing would be rushed out. What did worry me was how many of those I sold, and how quickly. The first wave of new Rebirth comics were coming next week, Mike of Last Week thought, and judging by demand for that one-shot, does that mean I’m going to have crazy demand for all the Rebirth comics? Maybe I ordered too low! Can I get reorders in on time? Am I panicking? IS THIS THE END OF MIKE?
I worried mostly for naught, because for the four Rebirth titles that launched this week, I appear to have ordered more or less correctly. I probably could have used more Batman, but that wasn’t entirely my fault, as a portion of the order arrived damaged, with replacements hopefully arriving next Wednesday (and more copies heading my way, thanks to an early reorder). But even still, I appear to have had enough to meet demand. This wasn’t a New 52-scale epic rush on the stands to grab handfuls of books, but what I sold was certainly far above what I’d been selling on these titles…even Batman, which had been a strong seller prior to this Rebirth hoohar. Now that I have an idea of how Rebirth will be received, that helps me judge orders for future weeks, and it’s certainly a load off my mind after worrying about how these were going to do.
One question I’ve been getting since last week’s DC Universe Rebirth one-shot came out was “where are the plot threads introduced in that book going to play out?” I think everyone was expecting “BATMAN VS. [REDACTED]” in his first issue, or that there would be some central “Rebirth” mini-series where that stuff would be addressed. From what I understand, we’ll be seeing elements from that one-shot in the DC books over the next couple of years, but if it doesn’t culminate in a series of “DC Character Versus [REDACTED] Character” one-shots, followed by a big DC Universe Rebirth: Omega giant-size special to wrap it all up, I’ll be terribly disappointed.
In regards to my previous post, pal Andrew had his own take on the decline of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and makes a cogent argument that it wasn’t necessarily Zero Hour what done the deed.
And hey, blogging brother Tim has also opened the floor to questions, so while you’re waiting for me to finish answering what you’ve asked me, why not pick Tim’s brain?
BIG SPOILERS FOLLOWING for DC Universe Rebirth #1 (like you don’t know ’em already) and…well, I don’t really spoil Captain America: Steve Rogers #1
So anyway, about this:
First, I’m not thrilled about full spoilers for this comic getting spread all over the place days before it’s even available for sale. Comics can be a hard enough sell already, without removing yet one more incentive for buying. “What shocking surprises await within? Well, read this website and find out…save yourself buying the comic.” Gee, thanks guys, not like I didn’t order a pile of these for my shelves.
There are a couple of things that keep this from being entirely disastrous, saleswise. It could be that said spoilers might encourage people to pick up the comic, in a “I gotta see this” kind of way. Not to mention, actually reading the comic is an entirely different experience from reading a list of plot points. And there’s the fact that it’s 80 pages of comics for $2.99, which is a swell deal, though I suppose the more critically-minded may be of the “the food was terrible, but such great portions!” opinion on the matter.
Plus, there’s the fact that, believe it or not (and as I’ve mentioned on my site before) some people going to comic shops aren’t plugged into every social network and comic website, and their engagement with comic news begins and ends with walking into the comic shop, looking at the rack and picking out their books, and walking out again. Oh, and reading them eventually, too, I guess.
Anyway, I enjoyed the comic, and hopefully my customers will, too. Oddly enough, it’s actually strangely touching at one point, when a character who’s returned from the pre-New 52 universe finally connects with one of the rebooted characters. It’s probably as emotionally affecting as it is because it’s not just that we’re seeing these two characters reuniting, but that the fictional universe we readers thought was washed away forever may have a chance at coming back. Yes, that’s a silly thing to get emotional over, but I’m not made of stone.
I know DC has tried to walk back, or at least refurbish, revamps/reboots before…Kingdom and “Hypertime” being the most notable line-wide attempt at doing so. That the New 52/Flashpoint reboot was so obviously a last-minute decision, with the cracks showing almost immediately, the overall story premise of “Rebirth” being a pushback against a timeline purposefully inflicted by unknown parties upon the DCU certainly brings all these shenanigans to an almost metatextual level. That these parties appear to be the characters from Watchmen, one of the sources of the “grim/realistic” superhero trend that “Rebirth” appears to be rebuffing…well, no danger of subtlety of theme here, I suppose.
And speaking of which…holy crap, they’re using the Watchmen characters in a DC Universe thing. And not in a dream sequence, either. My guess is the same as when “Before Watchmen” was unleashed onto an unsuspecting world — Watchmen TP sales are moribund, and this is a way of spurring interest in the book again. Or maybe someone figured, hey, what the hell, this will get everyone’s attention, and lo, they were right.
Yes, yes, I suppose I should be angry about the violation of the sanctity of a classic work, but I have to tell you, I laughed and laughed. Partially because I’m amused by the idea of, I don’t know, Batman vs. Rorschach or something, and partially because I love seeing everyone else’s reaction to it. Anyway, it’s everything I’ve ever wanted and I’m sure I’m a bad person for thinking so.
Seriously, though, this whole “New 52 was an attack on the DCU” thing is a weird but interesting way of dealing with continuity issues, and would be quite clever if it were the planned outcome of the New 52 way back when, and not just a way to directly address a rushed reboot that didn’t quite take. This Rebirth one-shot is still an entertaining read for the continuity-minded superhero fan, a snapshot of where the DCU is now, what brought us here, what problems need to be resolved, and the sheer hilarious gall of bringing Watchmen into it. That’s gotta be worth your $2.99.
And you guys had to go and try to spoil this story for everyone, too! CAN WE NOT HAVE NICE THINGS
“You probably covered this, but can you think of a time in early Mike’s comics retail career where something came up that completely junked how you thought comics should be ordered?”
I think I follow what you’re saying here, but let me give a couple of different answers to you.
One of the first lessons I learned from my old boss Ralph is “order with your head, not your heart.” And before anyone pipes up, that’s not a 100%, completely binary thing, by any means…yes, sometimes you order with your heart, because there are comics and characters and creators you like and want to support and of course you think investing your time and money in them is a good idea. I mean, we’re not machines, we all have our preferences and that informs our decisions. The trick is not to be stupid about it.
If you’re supporting a comic you like, which, oh, let’s say it’s Our Swamp Thing at War, and you’re ordering piles and piles of it, thinking “well, if I love it, surely all of my customers will love it, too!” Then, after a few months of not selling any, you’re still thinking “it’s gonna catch on, I just know it” — well, sooner or later your head is going to have to pull rank on your heart and cut those orders down to what you’re really selling versus what you think they should sell.
This is probably a “no-duh” kind of realization…I’m pretty sure I didn’t go into this thinking that it was all “la de dah, just get whatever” and throwing down whatever numbers you wanted on the order form. But I think I was surprised by the amount of number-crunching involved in actually ordering comics, with looking back at the sales histories of individual titles, at seasonal changes, at what creator or character’s presence in a particular issue might do its sales, etc. And sometimes this decision-making is crazily exact…I have, well, not agonized exactly, that’s too strong a word, but I’ve definitely waffled over the difference of a single unit on a comic for a longer period of time than I really should have. Like, maybe 20 copies feels like it’s too many, but dropping it down to 19 just doesn’t seem like that would be enough. No, I’m not exaggerating.
So maybe that’s the actual response in this first part of this answer: that I wasn’t aware at first of just how much work actually went into placing orders. I’m not sure what I pictured, but it was probably a lot more casual than the advanced calculus I’ve since ended up doing to figure out how many Marvel variant covers I can order.
The second part of my answer is more involved with the overall health of the marketplace. I am sure I’ve mentioned once or thrice over the years about the sudden seachange I experienced during the boom ‘n’ crash period of the early 1990s, when the latest Diamond Previews arrived, cover-featuring Dark Horse’s new superhero imprint “Comics’ Greatest World.” My memory is a little fuzzy on the details, but my recollection is that there were either multiple superhero universes launching in that same Previews, or that I realized just how many superhero universes were being thrust upon the stands. I do remember thinking “where are the customers to support all these new ‘universes’ going to come from?” and, perhaps on a more selfish level, “how are we going to have room on our shelves for all these different comics?” Now, as it turned out, the marketplace eventually took care of this problem for us, but that was still a bit of an alarming realization.
Now keep in mind the big comics boom was still in progress of becoming a crash around this period, so we had been more-or-less accustomed to (or perhaps spoiled by) the idea that there were plenty of folks in the marketplace ready to support nearly anything that was published. There was of course no shortage of clues that the market was sick…the prevalence of investors, the proliferation of gimmicks and enhanced covers…but for some reason, seeing that particular issue of Previews, with the promise of More of the Same Kind of Stuff Coming on Top of the Stuff That’s Already Here, was the literal final straw. The sorta vague feeling that things weren’t healthy, the one you could ignore because hey, look at all this money we’re making, now came into tighter focus. To try to bring it back to your original question, Brandon, is that this was the transition from “order lots because comics will always sell great forever” to “order what’s going to sell now, and be more picky about what you want left over for backstock.” Not the catchiest way of putting it, I suppose, but true just the same.
• • •
Oh, hey, over at Trouble with Comics, to make up for all of us hatin’ on Jack Kirby in our younger years, we pick out our favorite obscure Kirby works
MrJM jams this question right in here
“T for D: Comics retailing and social media, i.e. In what ways have social media affected comics retailing? In what ways should social media affect comics retailing?”
I remember early in the days of what we once called “The Comics Blogosphere” there was a particular indie title that all of us comics bloggers were enamored of, and we would talk up and plug all the time, and that went on for months and months and ultimately the publisher said “yeah, it was big on blogs but still didn’t sell worth a damn.”
Things are a little different now, in that social media is only a pulling-the-phone-out-of-the-bag-or-pocket away for people, so there is that portion of the customer base now that is more immediately informed (or misinformed, depending on what sites they’re looking at). That requires me keeping more on my toes regarding the latest developments in the industry, or at least knowing where to go to look up anything that turns out to be news to me.
As a retailer, social media does allow me new, direct venues to contact my customer base. At the previous place of employment, we would mail out newsletters through USPS to everyone in the customer database. Now, with Facebook and Twitter and an embedded blog on the store’s webpage and many, many other communication options, I can have more immediate and consistent contact with customers. I mean, sure, none of this is particularly news to anyone, but I do marvel at the slow creep of additional online ways to maintain these relationships. Email access and a website to advertise the shop/plug our wares really were game-changers, in that I had no idea how I managed to do anything without having those particular tools at my disposal. The other goodies, like your “Twitters” and your “Instagrams” and “Facebooks” and such have gone from interesting gimmicks to near-essential tools to connecting to your clientele.
Now, MrJM, your question is how social media specifically affected retailing, and how it should affect it. Well, what it does and what it should do is what I mentioned already – facilitate communication between the shop and the customer. More communication = more positive relationships = more awareness of wants and needs of the clientele = more business. I mean, ideally, anyway. You always hear about someone representing a business saying ridiculously awful things online, and the comics business ain’t no exception, but so long as you’re not a dummy about it, social media is great.
Yes, I put my nickel down on the idea that the internet is useful. I’m cutting edge that way.
Now, whether or not the situation I described at the beginning would have been different today, with the expanded role of online discourse in our industry…I don’t know. I’d like to think so, with more avenues of information available to increasing numbers of potential readers, but information overload is also a problem. Yes, it may be easier to push information about your new book in front of more eyes, but it’s easier for everyone else, too, and “extra exposure” can quickly become “lost in the shuffle.” So technology has made it easier to make things not as easy, and doesn’t that just figure.
- I’ve been putting off any kind of review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of a New Film Franchise, We Hope simply because at this point, what’s to add, really. I liked it fine: I thought it was a valid and interesting interpretation of these characters, though I do understand the larger context complaints about tone and accessibility to younger potential viewers. Just taken as a film on its own terms, outside the criticisms of “I didn’t want this movie, I wanted a different movie,” it’s no better or worse than most big-budget blockbuster films. It’s certainly better made than the mishmash of Age of Ultron, and at least seems to have a vision and a point of view. Maybe not the vision or point of view people necessarily wanted, but I think there was some depth to the proceedings that made it worthwhile viewing, at least to me.
Yes, sure, I’d love to have a bright, cheery Superman movie. At least we’re getting a bright, cheery Batman movie (in the form of Lego Batman, guest-starring Superman!). But at least I think we can all agree that Wonder Woman was pretty great. And Lex is a hoot.
Here’s a review by pal Ragnell that I pretty much agree with.
- Free Comic Book Day plans are still coming along, and if you missed my announcement about my special guest that day, well feast your peepers on this. I don’t really have a lot of prep to do, as I’m not doing the age-appropriate packaging like I used to do…just setting ’em up on tables for free perusal works fine, and stretches supply out a bit longer. I certainly don’t have the same worries I did about getting a turnout at my new shop that I did prior to last year’s FCBD, given how things worked out. If anything, I’m hoping for a larger turnout.
I am a little annoyed that the special FCBD retail shopping bags haven’t shipped out yet…you know, those white plastic bags with the logo on ’em. That was a good advertising tool, and if I don’t get them until a week or two prior to the event, a fat lot of good that’ll do me. I contacted my distributor, and even they don’t seem to know when they’re getting to me. In the meantime, I’m passing out the bookmarks and the flyers I did get, and I’ll have some specially-printed Sterling Silver Comics-specific flyers to give away as well.
Just so long as I don’t have the stoned guy cycling around my storefront chatting people up about Herman Hesse again. That’s a Free Comic Book Day repeat I’d rather avoid.
- Haven’t really done a market report of late, I realize, but did want to note that the newest Star Wars spinoff, Poe Dameron, has sold quite well. Star Wars comic sales are still very strong, though they have softened slightly, now that they’ve been around a while and the new movie’s come and gone. But, with Force Awakens now available on home video and with hype beginning to build on the forthcoming Rogue One, maybe interest will rise again. It sure did for Poe Dameron, as I said, which I’m sure probably caught some folks at Disney by surprise just how much interest there is in the character. The strong creative team (Charles Soule and Phil Noto) and the accompanying freebie buttons and lithographs didn’t hurt.
We’ll see how sales go on next week’s arrival of the long-delayed C-3PO one-shot.
So this week’s Question over at Trouble with Comics is about “enhanced” covers (versus the variant cover topic we covered last week), and what we thought about ’em, and whether there were any we liked, et cetera, et cetera. I threw an answer or two into my response, including one cover I discussed on this site, lo, a decade ago now so I supposed enough time had passed to revisit it.
Fellow Troublemaker Logan had this to say in his own response:
“With the possible exception of the poly-bagged Deadpool card, can any retailer still move their copies of X-Force #1 at even face value? Yet it still gets mentioned in conversations regarding how many copies were sold, how popular the book was, and so on. The only gimmick to it was that there were different trading cards bagged with each issue,* and I don’t recall there being a shortage on any particular card, Mike Sterling would have a better memory of that though.”
The asterisk there was to an editorial footnote reminding us of the “reverse image UPC boxes” which I’d somehow driven out of my mind, though apparently that was a big deal in regards to how “collectible” and “rare” any particular variant of X-Force #1 happened to be. And by “collectible” and “rare” I mean “just slightly more copies of X-Force #1 out there than, say, grains of sand.”
Now, as I do recall, the cards themselves were available in equal numbers. It’s been a couple of decades, but that’s my recollection. But as I noted in this post from a few years ago (where I note the then-decline of Deadpool’s recent popularity and the lack of any kind of promised Deadpool movie…boy, that’s almost “political pundit” levels of foretelling, there), those comics sold like crazy, and even sells once in a while to this day. Yes, even at more than face value. Why, one can get upwards of $3 to $5 bucks per copy, even! Not very often, no, but it does happen.
There is still no shortage of these in the direct market, especially at stores that were open at the time, and even in new stores like mine where they just kinda turn up whether you’re trying to buy ’em from collections or not. And I think it’s because of that proliferation that, even now, even after an actual Deadpool movie is in honest-to-God real-life movie theaters and viewed by presumably willing audiences, there is, like I noted in that old post, still negligible interest in the Deadpool appearances in those early X-Force comics. I mean, people still want those New Mutants #98s with his first appearance, sure (I even had one in my shop for about five minutes last week before it was claimed), but that Deadpool trading card edition of X-Force #1, or that story with Mr. ‘Pool in #2…nope, no one’s biting yet, movie or no.
Dental issues have kind of thrown me off this week (and why not take a look at my eBay listings, he said completely coincidentally), but I’m still putting together material for this site, and, shhhh, don’t tell anyone, but I may have an End of Civilization post again soon, at long, long last. But, in the meantime, life goes on, and your pal Mike has been processing a few beat-up long boxes of what was once back issue stock for a long-defunct comic book shop. And in these boxes, amongst the copies of Serenity comics with Scotch tape affixed directly to the covers, and forgotten late ’90s Image books that will never ever sell again even in the bargain bins, I found this:
Now, there was a time when Warlord comics were, if not necessarily “hot,” but definitely in demand. However, it was not anytime during or after the release of this comic, which in no way, at no point, should have been priced anywhere close to $24.00. The current Overstreet has it at $4 in near mint, and was likely listed in the guide at that price or even less whenever the pricetag was actually affixed to this issue. Oh, and it probably goes without saying that the comic wasn’t anywhere close to near mint, and I suspect that wasn’t from mishandling in storage, but rather wear that was present when it was slipped into its bag and board.
I don’t think it was a case of switched bags or anything, given that I also found a few issues of Blue Devil, each with the proper issue number inscribed on the tag like above, also priced at $24. This is almost DC-obsessed-with-the-number-52 level, what with all the $24 pricetags. Suffice to say, any given issue of Blue Devil generally isn’t worth $24 even if you stuffed a twenty dollar bill into the comic bag with it. And hey, I love Blue Devil, but c’mon.
I don’t know if this was an honest mistake from misreading the price guide (unlikely, given the multiple instances), or, as was suggested to me, just wishful thinking (“only takes one person to go for it!”) much like the $5000 price tags you’ll see on, say, an issue of Care Bears on eBay or Amazon or wherever.
But don’t worry…I’ll be repricing all these at much more reasonable levels. I might even go as low as only $12 apiece. No need to thank me.
“What do you think about the three-month rollout of new titles? I would guess that’s a better system than dumping all 32 new titles, with Rebirth special issues, on the market all at once like they did with the New52. Could that make the ordering a little easier? Or could June be like those Secret Wars months when people are missing their regular books? (Assuming, maybe erroneously, that everything DCU not ‘Rebirth’ is ending in May.)”
The thing about the New 52’s month-long onslaught of new first issues is that it felt like a Big Event, nearly unprecedented in the comics industry. DC didn’t even restart everything after Crisis on Infinite Earths, when it would have been totally justified. The excitement over this weeks-long parade of #1s just kind of fueled itself, and I think I remember mentioning at the time that, when we opened the doors each Wednesday for new comics day, people literally rushed to the funnybook wall to get their hands on the latest DC debuts. People I’d never seen before, people who told me “I heard about all these new first issues on the news and wanted to see what was goin’ on” – the immediacy of all these new comics appearing on the stands more or less at the same time got people in the doors.
Of course, keeping them coming back was the real trick, which, um, didn’t work out so well, as New 52 sales eventually dwindled down to pretty much where things were before. And then Marvel attempted their own rollout of new #1 relaunches, but spreading them out over several months, with some titles ending in the midst of others starting and not having a clearly specified line of “everything before this point is old, everything after this point is new” like DC did with the new Justice League #1…well, that didn’t quite build the same kind of buzz.
And in the meantime we’ve had more relaunches and new #1s from both Marvel and DC and it’s all just business as usual, so I don’t imagine we’re going to have anything close to the same sort of excitement with this new batch of DCs. Which isn’t what you’re asking, Adam, I realize, but it’s just something I’m pondering as I think about what I may do in regards to ordering. Yes, rolling ’em out over a few months instead of dumping them all at once is probably the better strategy this time ’round, especially since this is aimed at growing readership out of a market that already exists, rather than trying to attract new readers from outside the market via a big splashy “TONS OF NEW TITLES, JOIN IN ON THE FUN” New 52-esque carnival. I mean, yes, obviously DC would love to get those new readers into the marketplace, but the concern right now is having a solid base of reasonably-selling periodicals in the direct market as it exists, and hoping to attract new readers with other projects and their trade program and what have you.
I don’t think we’re going to have a Convergence (or Secret Wars) style dearth of sales, where folks just kinda skip over these side mini-series while they’re waiting for the regular titles to return. These are the “in-continuity” books, so Superman readers will likely continue getting Superman, etc., assuming people don’t use these as “jumping-off” points (which some readers invariably do). Now, I have no idea what the actual directions/content of these new line of DC books will entail, and whatever is actually in the books will naturally affect that transition of readers from the old series to the new ones.
I probably should look a little more closely at what the actual plans are, but it’s my understanding that 1) the old series end, and then 2) the one-shots and new series come out over the next couple of months. But during this time, DC will surely still be releasing their Vertigo books, they’ve got those relaunched Hanna-Barbera books, they’ve got Dark Knight III (speaking of comics bringing in non-traditional comic readers!) and their other minis, so they’ll still have plenty of books on the shelves for their customers.
So ultimately, Adam, ordering is still going to be a real bear, but I’m not expecting any wild fluctuations in sales numbers. Unless there’s some mind-blowing stuff going on in these new launches, it’ll probably just keep on keeping on, with a slight improvement in profit coming from DC paring down their line to titles that are more or less proven sellers (with one or two titles in the new line-up that just feel like they’re doomed from the start, but we’ll see).
In conclusion: there’s still no new Swamp Thing series listed, so phooey.
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