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It only seems like 29 years and 12 months.

§ September 1st, 2018 § Filed under self-promotion, sterling silver comics § 3 Comments

I started working in comics retail in September of 1988, so this marks my 30th anniversary slinging the ol’ funnybooks. I wrote a little thingie marking the occasion over at my store’s website.

That red arrow is pointing at Pal Dorian’s old car.

§ September 26th, 2016 § Filed under free comic book day, retailing, self-promotion, sterling silver comics § 4 Comments

Oops, sorry, I really was planning to have a post on Friday, and then when I missed that, a post on Saturday…but I have an excuse, honest. I was out car-shopping, and then, eventually, car-buying, over the last week, and was coming in awfully late and very tired in the evenings. Turns out that, if you’re running a shop seven days a week, that doesn’t leave you with a whole lot of time to do other things, like, oh, say, getting a new vehicle to replace the old about-to-die one.

Yes, buying a new car wasn’t something I wanted to do, but rather had to do, as my old pickup, immortalized in this Google Earth image from long ago (pointed at by the blue arrow):


…was well north of 200,000 miles on the odometer, and a visit for a smog check resulted in the mechanic telling me “I can’t test this thing,” so that, and several other issues, resulted in the need for a new Mikemobile. And thus, the 1994 Mazda B2300 is dead, long live the 2016 Hyundai Tuscon. …Actually, I tried to buy used, but it turned out there was nary a difference in price between a used 2015 Tuscon and a new 2016 one, and frankly, instead of driving a car that already had 20,000 miles on it, I’d rather put those 20,000 miles on it myself (or approximately 1,200+ trips back and forth between my home and the store).

So anyway, I have a new car, with all kinds of crazy electronic gadgetry I have to learn, as my previous vehicle was essentially a collection of levers and pulleys and this new car is like a more advanced version of KITT from Knight Rider. But now Caveman Mike have new magic machine to bang club on, and Blogging Mike should be back on schedule with his website. Thank you for your patience.

Oh, and by the way, on a completely unrelated note, now might be a good time to, say, come shop at my store, or maybe buy something from my eBay listings, or even patronize my Patreon. Or just overnight me a shoebox full of twenties, that’d be okay, too.

• • •

Okay, how ’bout some comic book-type stuff? I kept meaning to do a little write-up about DC’s Batman Day event, in which DC tries to get the word out about this crazy dude what dresses like a bat and fights crime. Yeah, okay, it’s the comic industry’s version of advertising Coca-Cola, but there’s usually a freebie of some kind involved (this year, a reprint of the recent Batman #1 from the Rebirth event), and it does get folks into the shop. I did the same thing I did last year, and set up a table filled with Bat-books and boxes of back issues and offered discounts on all the stuff, and did some pretty good business. Certainly there were people out enjoying Batman Day decked out in their Bat-regalia…shirts and dresses and the like, and I barely had to advertise it at all for the event to be considered a success.

Now, this is all part of trying to create Free Comic Book Day-esque events throughout the year to generate business for comic shops, like the still-forthcoming this year Halloween-Fest and Local Comic Shop Day. That’s fine, I won’t say no to stuff like this that’ll boost sales, especially when they don’t really require a whole lot of effort. Advertise, have the goodies ready for the day, and be a happy and polite retailer that welcomes everyone that comes into your shop. Actually, that’s good advice year-round, though it sounds like some folks can’t even manage that minimal amount of effort, as related by pal Shane on his Twitter.

Speaking of stores, Diamond Comics has regular Best Business Practice awards, and this year I put my shop in for Best Free Comic Book Day 2016. Only Diamond accounts can vote, so I can’t push the Progressive Ruin Army to my bidding here, but I figure I was the only comic shop with Jaime Hernandez, Batman, and my dad in-store for FCBD this year, so surely I have a chance at claiming this honor. (And if Jaime, Batman and my dad did all show up at another store without my knowing…well, wouldn’t that have been something.)

Oh, and I did another Back Issue of the Week at the store site, too. These are fun to do! Maybe I should start a comic book blog.

And one more bit of Turok Dinosaur Hunter first issue follow-up from last week: read this account of the dreaded fate that befell approximately 5,000 copies of said comic, if you dare.

If my cunning scheme works, I’ll pull in a whole $2.25 on this comic.

§ September 16th, 2016 § Filed under self-promotion, sterling silver comics, turok § 3 Comments

So I decided to put more of my hard-earned blogging skills to use and start a new feature on my store’s website: Back Issue of the Week. Now, I don’t expect to be quite so verbose in future installments, but I certainly picked a comic with a lot of historical industry significance behind it that needed some ‘splaining. I tried really hard to not go too heavy on the “remember when the comics business was really dire?” aspects of it since, you know, it is a store webpage and I want people to be happy and want to buy comics. But on the other hand, a little history lesson about a bit of the comics industry that a significant percentage of my customer base isn’t even old enough to remember might not be unwelcome.

Plus, that particular comic is pretty neat-looking, and, believe it or not, still sells. They keep showing up in collections, I keep buying them, and they keep selling. Whether it’s the persistent Valiant back issue market that’s been kind of lurking in the background ever since Valiant Version One went away*, or it’s the fact that (as noted in my store post) people are snapping up gimmick-covered comics again as interesting novelties…whatever the reason, they’re still moving.

One question I still have about that issue of Turok, and one I brought up before on this site, years ago, is whether or not it was originally solicited as having a full chromium cover, instead of just the glued-on chromium card. I have a vague memory that this was the case, though when I last mentioned it someone dropped into the comments and basically said I was a dummy for even thinking it, of course it wasn’t originally solicited with a full chromium cover. I remain unconvinced, though the fact that if such a change was made at the last second, this issue would have been made returnable…unless the change was announced way ahead of time and we were given opportunity to alter our orders, and we didn’t. Anyway, I don’t have access to the 23+ year-old appropriate distributor materials from which I may glean this information, so What Can You Do?

Another question I had, and one I was very tempted to determine for myself: is there anything under that chromium sheet? Is it just a blank rectangle, like I suspect, or is the border image continued beneath, just unembossed? Will it be the same poisonous and/or explosive material we were told we’d find at the center of a golf ball? One of these days I’ll get a crummy, unsellable copy of this comic in and I’ll find out for myself.

Anyway, enough about me, here’s more about me: I once again contributed to the Trouble with Comics Question Time, this time addressing “Comic Numbering: Is It Good? Should It Be Replaced?? Let’s Find Out!” You won’t be surprised to discover that I just go on and on and on.
 
 

* I’m considering the Nintendo comics-era Valiant to be Version Zero.

Also I would count how many different Richie Rich titles there were, and be amazed.

§ July 20th, 2016 § Filed under sterling silver comics § 6 Comments

So I finally achieved another milestone with my shop…I’m in the retailer directory listings for the 46th edition of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide:

overstreetad
Yeah, that’s only a scan of part of the listing…buy the Overstreet Guide, out today in your local funnybook store, to see the rest!

There don’t seem to be quite as many shops in the directory as there were when I first entered the comics business, way back when…or even before that, buying my first copy of the guide and flipping through it endlessly, looking at all the ancient comic titles that were mysteries to me unless they happened to be one of the tiny black and white cover reproductions included on that page. And peering through the pages and pages of comic book stores, with cool and/or odd names, and seeing what different categories of products each one offered.

But now, there I am, my own store, listed in the newest price guide. Yeah, I know, Small Business Owner Mike is thinking “geez, it’s just buying an ad and sending in your info,” but Comic Book Fan Mike can’t help but think I’m now a part of a grand old tradition, corny as that sounds. And before you get on me, yes, I’ve been doing this long enough to know the debates over price guides, the impact (good and bad) on collecting, their feasibility vis-à-vis the modern online marketplace, why isn’t Yummy Fur in there yet, etc. etc.

Can’t help but still think it’s pretty neat to be listed, though. Wonder what Young Mikester would have thought, looking through the directories in that long ago guide, had he known one day his store would be in there?

He probably would have thought “WOO HOO! I’d get free comics, whenever I wanted them!” and I wouldn’t have had the heart to set him straight.

Today’s short post brought to you by Mike’s recovery Thursday night from dental work earlier in the day.

§ May 20th, 2016 § Filed under self-promotion, sterling silver comics Comments Off on Today’s short post brought to you by Mike’s recovery Thursday night from dental work earlier in the day.

Hey gang, I’ll be back on Monday with real posting, but meanwhile please enjoy my contribution to the latest Trouble with Comics Question Time, in which we discuss moments we really like from comics we don’t like all that much. My response is a comic I’ve discussed on this site before, but it’s been, like, a decade, so maybe it’ll all seem fresh and new.

Speaking of fresh and new, don’t forget that The Biggest Bang and Amelia Cole writer D.J. Kirkbride is going to be at my store this Saturday (said store being Sterling Silver Comics, located in Camarillo, CA). I expect you all to be there. …Yes, even you, the fellow from Rhode Island. They have planes for a reason, you know.

I’m more of a non-graphic, G-rated designer.

§ April 1st, 2016 § Filed under free comic book day, self-promotion, sterling silver comics § 3 Comments

So I posted my Free Comic Book Day announcement in various places (such as my store’s site) yesterday, and thought I’d post it here, too (click to super-size):

fcbdflyer1
Yup, Jaime’s going to have to put up with my shenanigans for a few hours that day, but hopefully enough of you fine folks will drop by to balance out my behavior. Also, that wasn’t the first version of the flyer I posted…I originally posted my initial attempt on Twitter with the comment “I’M NOT A GRAPHIC DESIGNER,” but fortunately Twitter pal Robb stepped in and said “…BUT I AM!” and knocked everything into the decent shape you see above.

Also, I’ve contributed once again to Question Time over there at Trouble with Comics, answering the query regarding my favorite three deaths. In comics, that is. I don’t suppose any of my answers will be any surprise, though I feel bad that I forgot about the one that made fellow Troublemaker Joe’s #3.

Those of you who had “belly-up by month 11,” you’re out of the pool.

§ November 5th, 2015 § Filed under pal plugging, sterling silver comics § 15 Comments

Perhaps you’ve seen me make brief mention of my comic book store Sterling Silver Comics on this site once or twice over the last several months. Well, today is the one year anniversary of having opened that shop to the public, and I wanted to thank all of you folks, whether you bought something from me or offered moral support, for your encouragement of this sort of behavior. Many folks who’ve known me for years have commented on just how much…happier I’ve seemed now that I’m piloting my own retail ship, and you know, I really do think I am much happier. I’m sure I’ve mentioned that before, but it bears repeating. At least, I like hearing it.

I’ve already talked about a lot of this back when I hit the one year anniversary of leaving the previous job, about the ups and downs of the first year, about the stress of starting up and the travails of keeping everything going. But here I am, at the first year anniversary, and if I could make it through the first year, I can make it through the second. And the third. And the tenth. And the…hundredth? I expect to see you all there for “Mike’s Brain-in-a-Jar Comics” at that anniversary.

Seriously though, thank you, my Internet pals and my real life pals who read this site and remain my pals anyway, for all of your support and kind words for this particular endeavor. It means a lot to me. I’ve been working the retail end of this business for twenty-seven years, and yet, in my own shop, it feels new and fresh again. That’s a good feeling.

• • •

In other news:

For Halloween, customer Mark popped by the shop in his great Batman costume:

bm-393x640

He’s entered himself in the Halloween ComicFest costume contest, and if you could pop over to Facebook and vote for him, I’d really appreciate it! Alternatively, you could go to the main site and search “sterling silver comics,” and his entry will show right up. Thanks!

I swear this wasn’t just an excuse to plug my eBay listings.

§ October 19th, 2015 § Filed under self-promotion, sterling silver comics § 4 Comments

One year ago today was my last day working for my previous place of employment, Ralph’s Comic Corner/Seth’s Games and Anime. Which of course means in a couple of weeks, it’ll be the one year anniversary of opening my shop, and it’s hard to believe that much time has flown by already.

Well, so far, so good, and I’m still reasonably certain I made the right choice opening up my own store. Around this time last year, I was in a fairly high-strung state, making sure all the right permits were filed, the proper licenses obtained, trying to get the inside of the store built while hoping my sign would get installed soon, placing my orders with Diamond and wondering if I had enough stock to keep customers coming back, and, and, and….

Of course, that’s all settled now, and everything’s working perfectly smoothly and I never have any problems ever, like all small businesses after nearly a year of being open. …Okay, maybe that’s not entirely true. There are ups and downs, like all businesses, but I think back to a year ago and I am glad right now that the store set-up juggling I had to do is mostly behind me, and all I have to worry about at this point is making enough money to survive, ha ha! But I’ve survived so far, and while some weeks are tighter than others, overall I’m doing okay, and look forward to doing even better in the years ahead. (And, hey, if you wanna chip in….)

Thanks to all of you for your help and words of encouragement over the past year, and for sticking with this site when content got a little sparse. Turns out running a store can tire you out, and “sleep” won out over “writing for the blog” more than a few nights. I don’t plan to stop either this site or my store anytime soon, so you’re stuck with both for the foreseeable future!

• • •

In other news, over there at the ol’ Trouble with Comics website, the Question of the Week was “what trade paperback collection would you like to see?” and I bet my contribution isn’t surprising in the slightest.

Kids, ask your parents what Bloom County is.

§ July 13th, 2015 § Filed under newspaper strips, pal plugging, sterling silver comics § 2 Comments

So as it turned out, I had a pretty good weekend overall, despite my worries about losing some of my regulars to the San Diego Con. I had a good flow of customers, did some brisk business on the eBays, even managed to get a headstart on the monthly Diamond order where I’ll be ordering enough of the B.P.R.D. neon signs that you’ll be able to see my store from space. And it was a warm weekend, so praise the deity or deities of your choice that I had access to air conditioning at my shop. Wonderful, wonderful air conditioning.

Anyway, comic news: there was a Batman V. Superman trailer folks couldn’t wait to hate (I don’t know, looked interesting to me…Wonder Woman’s in there, too), a Deadpool trailer (talked about here) that apparently provided at least some evidence that a Deadpool movie actually exists, the Archies are meeting the Ramones (will the Archies meet G.G. Allin next? “G.G.! What are you doing with Hot Dog?”), there’s more Multiversity coming from Grant Morrison (inexplicably not called “Multiversitoo”), and so on…

…but I think my favorite news, not from all that San Diego hoohar, is Berke Breathed returning to Bloom County! I’ve seen a mention here or there that it’s coming back as a webcomic, though I haven’t seen an official declaration of that anywhere. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places. Seems to make sense, though…given Breathed’s famous dislike of the shrinkage of strips on the funnypages, working on the web would give him all the room he wanted. Anything that gets more Opus and Steve Dallas and Milo in my life is okay by me. Again, as I demonstrated in this post here, I’m torn between “hooray, something I loved is coming back!” and “no sir, you can’t go home again,” and…yes, new Bloom County won’t suddenly put me back in high school or Reagan back in office or Boy George back on my radio (all situations I would have mixed feelings about…well, okay, I’m all for Boy George being back on the radio) but I am looking forward to seeing what new things Breathed can bring to the table with these old favorite characters.

This reminded me that we’ll soon be seeing Academia Waltz and Other Profound Transgressions, a hardcover in the style of the complete Bloom County/Outland/Opus volumes, reprinting of Breathed’s college strip and other pre-BC work. You can see the Academia Waltz strips here, and, uh, yeah, they’re definitely…um, primordial, but it’s still an interesting look at Breathed’s early development.

Completely unrelated to any of the above, I keep forgetting to mention that I helped Bully, the Little Stuffed Spacebull, with an entry in his 365 Days of Star Wars Comics feature. He even (unknowingly!) posted it on my girlfriend’s birthday! IT’S A BULL-INCIDENCE!

After.

§ May 4th, 2015 § Filed under free comic book day, sterling silver comics § 10 Comments


Turns out I was doing a lot of worrywarting about nothing, because my first Free Comic Book Day at my new shop turned out just fine. Sales goals I wanted to reach were reached and surpassed, lots of comics were given away, and lots of people came away from my shop very happy.

We stayed at the shop ’til about 11 PM the night before getting everything set up, so there wasn’t a whole lot of prep needed Saturday morning. I arrived at the shop about an hour before opening time, and there was already the beginnings of a line waiting outside, which I took as a good sign. As soon as I did open the doors, the store filled up fairly quickly, and the first picture on the page from yesterday’s post was taken just a couple of minutes after the day began. The first couple of hours were the busiest, with the store packed full of customers, though business generally remained steady throughout the day. The one time of the day there were no customers wasn’t until in the last hour we were open, and even then that only lasted for a couple of minutes before the next wave of folks hit.

So, I’d have to say, this was a very, very successful day. I have to admit, I had a few restless nights prior, worrying about how it was going to go, but it all worked out great.

As it turned out, my actual orders on the FCBD books were just about right. I probably could have ordered more of some titles, but for the most part the titles I thought would move more slowly and ordered less on did in fact move more slowly, and the ones I ordered tons of were grabbed by everybody, which was okay because, after all, I ordered tons of them. My big fear was that I would run out of everything and just have a stack of Secret Wars #0 at the end of the day — “Um, please help yourself to our one free comic” — but at the end I still had copies of about eight or nine titles on the tables, so latecomers still had a good selection of books to carry away. I do have leftovers, which is fine…those will work as in-store giveaways or donations to libraries, and stuff like Secret Wars #0 will still be in demand from customers for a while yet.

One thing I heard a lot during the day was several people telling me this was their first visit to the shop, so that was nice. I know a thing to do is to tour several shops in an area, seeing what each was offering for the big day, so folks who hadn’t been by before had extra incentive to stop in. Most of them seemed pretty pleased with my store, which was very satisfying. Plus, I heard from a handful of folks that this was their first time at a comic shop ever, so how ’bout that?

At one point pal Nat (who as I noted the other day, was there giving away copies of graphic novels he’d written, and whom you can see in the third photo) noted how it’s been said that comics shops had a dearth of women and children as clientele…and then gestured toward the customers who were in the store at that point. Customers who were almost entirely women and children.

Stopping by the shop was old pal Mathew Digges, late of Awesome Hospital, who dropped off a little bit of that comics-making fortune he’s acquired, as well as gifting me with a print copy of The Creep Crew which he’s doing with Dylan Todd and Pete Toms:


It’s pretty great. This is the kind of thing a Big Comics Publisher would pick up if they had any sense. You can (eventually) read more about it at TheCreepCrew.com.

Um, let’s see…anything else? I did have to chase off one shirtless burnout on a bicycle rambling on and on about Hermann Hesse, of all things, who was bothering customers out in front of my shop who were trying to go through the bargain boxes I had placed there. He rode off, bravely mouthing off at me once he was across the parking lot. Eh, whatever, dude…I own a comic book store, so I win.

Oh, and yes, for those of you wondering: the local high school was having its prom that same day, thus explaining where those nattily-dressed youngsters in the last photo came from.

I also had my worries about customer flow through the store, since this was a much smaller space than what I was used to, and I had to move fixtures around to make space for FCBD tables. However, people had no problem getting around, and while it was crowded, there didn’t seem to be too many traffic jams in the store. I occasionally had some long-ish lines at the register but that never appeared to interfere with in-store movement.

I do wish I had taken a little more care in noting the original positions of my fixtures, because now that I’ve moved them back, I don’t think they’re in quite the previous places they were. I mean, we’re talking maybe inches off, if even that, but that’s enough to distract me. And by “distract me,” I don’t mean “drive me completely crazy,” why would you even think that. That’s not true at all. AT ALL.

So anyway, Free Comic Book Day was a huge success for me. I think I’ll do it again next year, I guess.

Thanks to all the customers who dropped by, and thanks to my girlfriend Nora, my dad, pal Nat, and pal Dorian for helping out. I couldn’t have done it on my own. Well, maybe I could have, but then that would be a picture of me real-dead at the top of this post, instead of fake-dead.

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