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Some neat stuff I found.

§ November 21st, 2017 § Filed under advertising, pal plugging, self-promotion, swamp thing § 1 Comment

Here’s yet another installment of “what did Mike find in the boxes of old promo stuff from his previous job this time,” featuring this poster advertising the Marvel graphic novel Death of Captain Marvel by Jim Starlin:


Unlike a lot of the posters I’ve been seeing, this one was totally displayed, with pieces of tape still affixed to the back, and even a couple of tape tears noticeable on the front from where another poster with tape on its back was placed on top of it. Even still, it’s a nice piece of retail history from the very early 1980s.

From a couple of years later is, not a promo poster, but an odd piece of photocopier humor that was passed around in the wake of the release of Frank Miller’s mini-series Ronin:


You see, the joke is the comic is called Ronin, so the picture on the original cover has been replaced with an image of Marvel’s Red Ronin fighting Godzilla, and…well, look, this is what we had before Photoshop and image sharing on your Tumblrs and whathaveyou. Just eighth-generation Xerox copies of Xerox copies of gags being passed around by hand for everyone to enjoy. From the few examples of these I remember seeing way back when, at least this one wasn’t, like, purposefully offensive, which was a rarity in itself.

• • •

Hey, my friend Cathy, who does lots of medically-themed comics (some of which you can sample right here) has started up a Patreon of her very own. I know everyone’s got a Patreon right now and times are tough all over, but if you’ve got a dollar to spare, I bet she’d appreciate it.

And speaking of Patreons, I know I fell behind on mine and its exclusive content a bit, but I have started on the next Swamp Thing-a-Thon installment (covering original series #8, The Lovecraftian One). That should be up soon. I apologize, but sometimes real life gets in the way of doing fun stuff. I’m sure some of you can relate.

Oh, and on the topic of Swamp Thing, I did get a copy of the Bernie Wrightson Artifact Edition from IDW, featuring tons of original art for Swamp Thing another other DC horror comics. I’ll probably post a more extensive review of it soon, but in the meantime, let me assure you that it is sufficiently fantastic. I told myself a long time ago the only Artifact Edition book I’d personally get would be one that featured Wrightson’s Swamp Thing work, and I chose wisely. Not to say the other volumes don’t look great (and they do!) but Wrightson’s originals are the ones I felt I’d appreciate the most, and I wasn’t wrong. This book is printed in almost literally tear-inducing detail…I was comparing the original art in the IDW volume to the original printed comics from the ’70s and…sheesh, wotta revelation. And yes, the werewolf splash and these two covers are in there, too. …So go buy one already! Or order one from me! I won’t stop you!

Hiya, pals!

§ October 30th, 2017 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, self-promotion § 1 Comment

I didn’t want to skip another Monday, but I don’t really have anything ready to go for today, so let me just cover a couple of things:

1. The new End of Civilization post will be up on Tuesday, just in time for Halloween. Not that it’s specifically Halloween-themed or anything, beyond its typically scary content. Sorry for skipping last month, but this month’s installment should be, you know, okay, I guess.

2. No, I haven’t forgotten the Swamp Thing-a-Thon over on my Patreon. I’ve been otherwise occupied the last few weeks, with health issues and other distractions, but I should good to go from here on out. I may be down to one entry a month rather than the planned two, but we’ll see what happens. Thanks for all your patience.

3. Googum wonders in response to my previous post:

“Returns, or ‘returns’? Didn’t they used to have to mail back part of the cover for credit, but not always?”

Yes, in general newsstands returned either just the logo, or perhaps the whole cover, in order to receive credit on unsold copies. Even in the direct market, in which I “make” my “living,” where comics are generally sold on a non-returnable basis (advantage: higher profit margins for retailers; disadvantage: enjoy eating those unsold copies) sometimes comics are returnable. Reasons vary: either a special publisher promotion (“try this comic out, and your order is returnable!”), or the comic is distributed not as originally solicited, or it’s hideously late, or, you know, whatever. Every week we get a list of what’s returnable, and it’s indicated on the sheet if we should just send back the stripped covers (usually the case, particularly with periodicals) or send back the whole thing (not terribly often, and usually for books and such).

Also in those comments: Ben has a few words about how direct-sales-only books were offered up in England, and Dave explains why even just a reprint book could be so unprofitable. Oh, and read Thom H.‘s and Dallas‘s comments, too, so they don’t feel left out.

• • •

Okay, be back with the End of Civilization tomorrow…if the actual End of Civilization doesn’t beat me to it.

Yes, as in “Star Wars Porgs.”

§ September 18th, 2017 § Filed under batman, blogging about blogging is a sin, low content mode, self-promotion § 3 Comments

I am pretty dog-tired as I write this…in fact, I believe I am as tired as, at the barest minimum, four dogs, so I’m going to just check in briefly for today’s Porg-essive Rue-Ann installment. I do intend on going back and discussing some of your responses to my Batman ’89 memories, and seeing if any more bits of info re: Mike of Comics Retailing Past have joggled loose in what we may refer to as “my brain,” for the lack of a better term.

However, after checking with him to make sure he wasn’t going to expand this information into a full-blown post on Armagideon-Time, I wanted to link to pal Andrew’s Bat-Burton era memories, such this tale of the Bat-worm turning on public perception of the Caped Crusader, or this one which almost defies explanation.

There’s a few more steps take down this particular memory lane, I’m sure, so I’ll get back to it mid-week. Add your own First Tim Burton Batman Movie Remembrances in the comments, if you’d like!

Also, I finally updated the Swamp Thing-a-Thon over on my Patreon with a discussion of Swamp Thing #7 (1973), the One with Batman in It. Taking a slightly less verbose, less recapp-y approach, and it’s still going to take some retooling, but I’ll get a hang of this whole “talking about Swamp Thing” business eventually. Just a dollar gets you in to see the magic!

I honestly have nothing against the Syphons comic book.

§ August 21st, 2017 § Filed under retailing, self-promotion § 8 Comments

So the other day on Twitter I was reminiscing about the influx of comic book price guide periodicals that flooded…well, wait, hold on, let me back up.

A few days ago a customer told me in passing that he’d heard Wizard was coming back. For those of you who don’t recall, Wizard was a monthly comic news/interview magazine that featured a price guide in the back, with occasional investment recommendations, lists of new first issues, and that sort of thing. It ceased publication a number of years ago, but the Wizard brand still appears on conventions, and I regularly get folks in the shop asking me if the latest issue of Wizard is out. (Technically, the answer to this is “yes,” I suppose.)

A little bit of Googling later, I found this article saying that Wizard is being relaunched as a digital “service,” with a quarterly magazine and a daily video thingamajigger. No word here on whether a price guide is part of the quarterly release, which, judging by my retail experience selling the magazine for its entire existence, was the magazine’s primary attraction. Okay, I exaggerate, but really, not by much. I’ve heard more than once “Wizard‘s gone!? Then how do you price your comics?” But the magazine’s appearance and content skewed young-ish, appealing to the teen crowd of comic readers that were then heavily populating the marketplace during the industry’s boom years. Features on “hot” comics and creators, pack-in freebies like trading cards (also “hot” for a time), offers for special “limited edition” comics…there was a lot of material to attract fans of a certain type, and there was nothing else quite like it on the market…at least until Hero Illustrated showed up.

Anyway, to get back where I started, this got me to thinking about the many other price guides that suddenly turned up during the last time lots of people remembered that comic books existed as items they could purchase. I’ve already mentioned Hero Illustrated, which was basically the same thing as Wizard, with articles that perhaps aimed at a very slightly older reader, but still had that big ol’ price guide section in the back. As I recall, the major difference from Wizard was that Hero sometimes offered “ashcan editions” (i.e. digest sized previews of comics) as pack-ins, along with the usual trading cards, etc.

Going a slightly different route was the magazine pictured above, Comics Values Monthly, the title of which you can almost read, there. I actually have two issues of this magazine in the Semi-Vast Comic Archives…that one there, which I bought for perhaps obvious reasons (“Wha–!? A Syphons preview!?”), and the other one being a special issue about the Death of Superman, of course. This was a less fancy publication than Wizard and Hero: black and white interiors, few articles, focus is on the “price” part of the mag. There’s the occasional goodie (this issue had a folded bound-in poster of its cover), oh, and just flipping through it, there’s an interview with Garth Ennis, which wasn’t as important to cover-blurb as Syphons, I guess. This mag also had an annual price guide softcover.

There were other monthly (or semi-monthly) price guide magazines. Overstreet had their own Wizard-esque price-guide-with-some-articles slick covered mag Overstreet Fan. (Amusingly enough, Wizard started their own annual price guide book, competing with Oversteet’s annual guide. That only lasted a couple of years, as I recall.) I don’t really remember a lot about the quality of the articles, but I do know they sent us a pretty cool clock (with the “Fan” logo across its face) that, as far as I know, is still working and displayed on the wall at my previous place of employment.

The long-running Comic Buyers’ Guide had a regular (quarterly?) price guide sometimes sealed in a polybag along with their tabloid editions. When it shifted from a weekly to a monthly, it had a price guide in the back of every issue, I believe.

And there were others, probably many short-lived mags. I seem to remember one or two that tried to be all-purpose price guides (like the appropriately-named Combo magazine) with prices for comics, toys, cards, Fabergé eggs, collectable shoes, what have you. I’m trying to remember if Beckett, the primary publisher of sports card price guides, ever did a comics price guide during this magical period of the 1990s. If not, they missed a bet, because man oh man did I ever have lots of people asking for our “comic book Becketts” at the time. (That’s how I knew a bunch of people bailed out of the card market to seek their fortune in funnybooks.)

In practical use, we tended to stick with the Overstreet annual guide for general pricing, with reference to Wizard for any month-to-month trends that an annual guide might miss. Once other price guides proliferated, we’d occasionally use those for reference as well, but not nearly as frequently as the Overstreet annual/Wizard monthly power pair.

Nowadays, it’s mostly Overstreet I use, plus just general awareness of local market conditions. I’ll pop in on the eBay to see if anything unusual happens to stand out, though given how things are organized there, it’s easier to just look up specific issues rather than just browse and hope you see relevant data. And I know there are online price guides services…I haven’t signed up for any of those, but one I looked at had a page of “CURRENT HOT ISSUES!” that didn’t hold any surprises for me this time, but might be a handy reference for knowing which titles people are going to wanting multiple copies of.

Don’t know that I really have a point to this beyond “hey, remember when there were too many price guides?” There was another thing on Twitter that I brought up, regarding the discrepancies in prices we’d often find between price guides, which was surely just a matter of differences in surveyed retailers and their own pricing trends. However, I remember my comic shop cohorts and I speculating that perhaps some guides pushed certain prices a little higher than they should have been, in order to attract more buyers. “Hey, Comics Cash Weekly lists the comics I own at higher prices than The Old Price Guide Grandpas UseComics Cash Weekly, you’ve got my money!” …However, clearly this would require a level of sleaziness that could never occur in the comics industry. But I do wonder if anyone actually did decide on which guide to buy based on that criteria? I mean, people have done weirder things for less reason.

As for Wizard‘s new venture…all I know about it is what I read in that article, but I honestly don’t know if “quarterly” is often enough when most big comics news/entertainment sites are updated multiple times daily. Yeah, I know they have the daily video thing, and we keep getting told video is the way everything is going, but…maybe I’m just an olds, but I’d prefer to read information online at my own pace rather than have someone talk at me. I mean, you read all this, right? …Hello?

• • •

Speaking of too much to read, installment #7 of the Swamp Thing-a-Thon is up at my Patreon page, covering Swamp Thing #6 from 1973. Only one dollar a month gets you into my exclusive club, where we’re all talking about you, right now…if only you were there to defend yourself!

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

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

A couple of reactions to Wednesday’s post:

Eric L asks

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

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

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

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

Dave Carter says

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

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

• • •

In other news:

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

Apparently Twitter was celebrating some Cat Day or ‘nother recently…

§ August 11th, 2017 § Filed under pal plugging, retailing, scans, self-promotion, the thing § 2 Comments

…being one of the at least three Cat Days recognized by God and man. Alas, I missed the August event, but I’m ready for the ones in October and February with this little ol’ panel right here:


Yeah, that’s right, cats are doin’ it for themselves, standin’ on their little cat feet, and not taking any guff from the fella with the syringe. He totally had it coming. Anyway: Cat Day, everyone, Cat Day!

In other news:

  • I mentioned the new Mister Miracle #1 on Wednesday, and it was quite the hit apparently. My initial order on this was a little on the low side, since New Gods material that’s not by Kirby can be bit of a hard sell…but after having several customers ask about it and getting some additions to the pull lists, well, I was convinced to go a little higher. Not high enough, it seems, as they’re gone now, but I would have been out a lot more quickly otherwise. Oh, and Diamond seems to be out of stock on ’em as well, so look forward to that second printing announcement Any Day Now…if it hasn’t happened already. I don’t know, I was busy today.

    Now it remains to be seen if the right lessons are learned, two of which are of course 1) more Tom King/Mitch Gerads comics, and 2) more good Fourth World comics. The wrong lesson is 3) “better crank out more Fourth World comics as fast as possible by anyone we can get, it’s hot hot hot right now!” but let’s see what happens.

    I did have one person come in to grab the comics because, as this customer declared, “Mister Miracle is my favorite character!” I’m really curious about what her reaction was to the actual comic, since it’s quite a different take than what we’ve seen before. Depends how she liked Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers version, I guess.

    Fellow blogging machine Ryan has a few words to say about this here new Scott Free funnybook, so go see what he’s got to say.

  • NOT COMICS: pal Andrew talks about his brief obsession with slot car racing, one that I also shared for a short time in my long-ago youth. As I recall, the gimmick with the set I had was that the cars could change lanes, which I thought was pretty slick. The neighbor kid across the street and I whiled away some precious days goofin’ around with these things. …I’ve got no big reveal or life lesson here, just thought you should know I wasted my life doing stuff other than reading comics.
  • Don’t tell Bully, the Little Stuffed Bull Too Young to Know about Such Things, but that Amalgam-ated character’s name could have been truncated into much, much worse form. I mean, that had to be on purpose, right? …Anyway, I apologize in advance. (Oh, and I just looked at the comments there, and I guess Twitter pal Evan beat me to the same shameful conclusion.)
  • Hey, have I reminded you lately about my store‘s Instagram page? I set it up quite a while ago, but I’m trying to use it more frequently now…usually posting pics of goodies around the store and new acquisitions, with the occasional pic of Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew. Please, follow me there if you are so inclined!

 
 

image from Unexpected #197 (April 1980) by George Kashdan & Ruben Yandoc

This is the title for this post.

§ August 4th, 2017 § Filed under advertising, self-promotion § 3 Comments

They said it couldn’t be done…they said it shouldn’t be done, but I dood it! Part the Sixth of the Swamp Thing-a-Thon over on my Patreon is up, covering issue #5 of the original Swamp Thing series. For the entry fee of only one measly, paltry, barely-noticeable dollar per month, you can see a whole lot more typing by me, America’s Only Comics Blogger. Be the envy of your friends and the bane of your enemies…put yourself on the path to righteousness…grow tall and strong and healthy…by joining today!

In the meantime, whatever you do, don’t think about this:

Blogging about that particular comic in the year 2017.

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

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

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

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


…the Saved by the Bell Special from 1992.

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

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

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

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

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

The new Swamp Thing-a-Thon post is up…

§ July 21st, 2017 § Filed under self-promotion Comments Off on The new Swamp Thing-a-Thon post is up…

…and you can read it here over at ye olde Patreon page, if you are contributing a dollar or more per month to the “Keep Mike in Hot Pockets and Diet Cokes” fund.

Anyway, I meant to have Additional Progressive Ruin Content™ on the site today, but there were some extensive Thursday night household chores that had to be done, so no blogging for me. (Or rather, blogging at 1:09 AM, like I am right now.) Rest assured, I thought about comics the entire time I was working. (“Oh, Dark Knight Strikes Again, you really are the best!”)

So, you can look forward to more stuff next week, or you can drop a buck and read this really long post about Swamp Thing #4 many, many moons before I put it up here. Either way, have a great weekend, unless you’re at the San Diego Comic Con, in which case I hate you.

New Swamp Thing-a-Thon post up…

§ July 7th, 2017 § Filed under self-promotion Comments Off on New Swamp Thing-a-Thon post up…

…over on my Patreon, discussing issue #3 of the 1970s Swamp Thing series. See how many times I can type the words “Patchwork Man!” Only a buck to get in and see these posts good ‘n’ early!

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