I blow minds for a living. And sell comics. Mostly that second thing.

§ November 28th, 2014 § Filed under question time § 1 Comment

Just a few more questions to go, pals…hang in there!

• • •

Richard J. Marcej blabs

“I’ve had a theory that in the near future DC and Marvel are going to go the way that ‘Love & Rockets’ has. The elimination of the single issue, 20+page comic (which have become nothing more than chapters of a novel, anyway) to a complete, TPB. It’s my belief that that’s why DC had gone to 52 different titles, so that when they make this transformation, they could offer comic shops a new TPB title every week. (one week a Batman TPB, the next a Green Lantern TPB, the next a Flash TPB, etc…) If the big two went this route how do you think this would effect comic book shops, basically turning them into comic book stores to book stores.”

That could be where we’re headed, but that would certainly result in the end of the direct market as we know (to which some folks would cheer, I’m sure). Comics retail is dependent on the weekly new releases, and the repeat business of regular clientele…plus there is a psychological divide between “buying the latest issue” and “getting the trade” that still exists in the marketplace. DC and Marvel are already playing around with pricier formats that are thicker than your standard comic, but are still periodical-y enough to not seem like trades. DC has that $9.99 format (most recently seen with the Batman ’66: The Lost Episode, and Marvel has been issuing thicker staplebound reprints in the $7.99 format (they’ve released some older Star-Lord comics like this over the last year or so). Perhaps slowly moving their monthlies over to these formats, thicker books with more content (almost by necessity anthologies) and higher price points while still keeping them at least semi-periodical may bridge the gap between increasingly-economically infeasible 20-page comics and occasional trades.

• • •

Michael Grabowski grabs for an answer to this:

“I hope this isn’t too personal, but with regard to those Swamp Thing slippers, or Swampy clothing in general, do you find yourself collecting such items in every size available?”

No, no…usually if it’s something I intend to wear, I’m happy with just getting the size I need. For something like my Swamp Thing slippers, while as much as I’d love to have them in my size, the example set I have is enough. (There is a lot of child-sized Swamp Thing clothing from the early ’90s that, um, I’m probably going to pass on, however. “I was just buying these off eBay for my collection, Your Honor.”)

• • •

Dan randomly asks

“Totally random, my girlfriend was debating about continuing to read Wonder Woman after Azzarello/Chiang.
She had the same reaction as you to the fact that Swamp Thing was in the book (ALMOST as instant buy) but she held off to think about it.
As someone who can’t resist Swamp Thing stories, do you think the issue was worth it to a fan of both WW and Swampy?”

If you’re a crazy person like me who needs every Swamp Thing appearance, then yes. As far as any kind of importance to Swamp Thing’s development as a character…well, it’s no big whoop. It’s interesting as it’s the first time Swampy’s popped up in a Wonder Woman comic, far as I can recall, so if that tickles your fancy, go for it. What’ve you got to lose, other than three bucks? As for Wonder Woman fans…well, it’s the beginning of a new direction for the character, so that’s usually a good time to pop in and see if you like where things are going. Granted, issue #36 is getting some grief in online reviews, but boy, it sure sold well for me at my shop. Your Mileage May Vary, as they say.

• • •

Jerry Smith forges the following question:

“Mike, someone already asked about back issues. My question is, where do you see back issues in 5-10 years? Will younger readers ever want full floppy paper sets of titles like Suicide Squad, Nova or Marvel Two-In One? Will the books be worthless (except for key issues)? Or will there always be some demand for old paper comics?”

You know, I feel like I’ve been doing this blog long enough to think that I’ve probably been asked the “where do you think the back issue market will be in five years” about five years ago. Or even ten years. My honest feeling is that there will always be a market for fairly-priced general back issues, and premium-priced high-demand back issues. The collectibles market for comics is still maintaining, so big-ticket items will continue to move, I think. And just from my years of experience, kids are fascinated by old comics, particularly from before they were born, like from the long-ago ancient times of the early 2000s. Whether they’ll want full runs of things…well, depends on the collector. I’ve got a kid right now looking for all the old Metal Men comics he can get his hands on. So, you know, it’s still theoretically possible. If there’s stuff that’s not selling for what Overstreet is listing it at, there’s always the ol’ bargain boxes…price that stuff down ’til it’s at the cost people are willing to pay.

Anyway, I don’t think the back issue market is going away anytime soon, as long as dealers are smart and careful about it.

• • •

Roel Torres rolls out a few questions:

“Hi, Mike! Congrats once again on the new store! Speaking of which, all my questions are new store related: 1) Did you feel a professional responsibility to discuss the idea of starting a new store with the owner of Ralph’s/Seth’s before you left to see how the idea would be received? 2) Doesn’t it pose a threat to their business that you might cannibalize some of their loyal customers? 3) Was there some sort of minimum driving distance required separating the two stores to make sure you weren’t invading each other’s turf? Thanks and continued success in your new venture!”

1. Oh, absolutely. I wasn’t going to stab these guys in the back…I’ve had a good working relationship with these guys for years, and, you know, they’re friends. I want to stay on their good sides! Ralph had known for years I’ve been wanting to open my own shop, and when an actual opportunity finally arose, I made sure to tell both Seth and Ralph of my plans.

2. I like to think I’m not posing that much of a threat…yes, a few customers came with me, which was not unexpected by any of us, and that was not an issue. I’m also getting a whole new clientele out in my area, so by and large, while there’s still a way to go, I’m creating a market out here, rather than eating away at the other shop’s customer base. Plus, we’re readily sending customers to each other, so we’re building a community instead of a warzone, which is nice.

3. I personally decided I wanted to be a good distance away from Seth’s/Ralph’s specifically so that I could avoid stepping on any toes. I’m about a half-hour away, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but if you lived out here, you’d see that it is most definitely a different area and a different community, and I believe our shops can easily coexist.

Thanks for the good wishes!

• • •

Alex wants to know

“Late to the party, but are you buying Miracleman in single issues as it is coming out, or is that just for chumps like me? I’m not crazy about what it costs, but I’m only buying a handful of titles these days, so I can take it. It’s a good series, and I’ve avoided spoilers for 20 years.

“I’m one of those who grew up hearing how awesome it was, but I dion’t really care to have it in a nice hardcover collection or anything. Upon reading this particular series, I wouldn’t really want someone to pass by my bookshelf, pull it down and flip through it… there’s a reason it’s coming in polybags, that’s for sure.”

Well, I’m something of a Miracleman enthusiast, so I’m getting the single issues even though I have all the originals, out of completeness’s sake. Plus, I get the new coloring and everything put together in order (as opposed to having to piece some stuff together myself). I still can’t bring myself to part with the originals, however, even though I have a store and I need to feed the back issue bins/display cases with stuff.

I’m still convinced Marvel’s only been polybagging Miracleman comics because…well, you know those murder mysteries where the killer has strong motives for killing person C, but also kills persons A, B and D whom he doesn’t know in order to keep the coppers from immediately suspecting him? Anyway, the all-birth issue of Miracleman, and probably the forthcoming all-super-violent issue, are person C in this scenario. There’s no reason for most issues of MM to be bagged, especially when compared to titles on the stands that aren’t bagged. I really do think they were only bagged so that the issue the birth issue wouldn’t stand out as requiring special attention from those folks who think comics are destroying children’s minds. Well, okay, they are, but you know what I mean.

• • •

Chris Gumprich richly proposes

“1. How many of these questions did you expect to be ‘Swamp Thing’ related?
2. Are you as disappointed as I was that they set an episode of Constantine in Louisiana and yet not one single mention of Houma?”

1. I expected a few. I can only blame myself.

2. I’m more disappointed that I haven’t had a chance to watch Constantine yet. Just no time! I promise, sometime before I die I will watch this series. So, you know, in the next few months.

Also last week I blew someone’s mind by telling him Constantine was a Swamp Thing spin-off character.

• • •

Pogressiveruin‘s biggest fan Crowded House slams down this query:

“How long until you are reduced to selling POGs out back to make ends meet, and how far are you willing to go to keep your shelves stocked with these hot-selling items your customers demand everyday?”

If the public demands POGs, I will sell them POGs. I’m not proud. I’m willing to go as far as Ventura to maintain my stock, because I know there’s plenty still at the old shop.

• • •

And my old friend D Latta wraps it up with

“Would you buy a bar of soap at a garage sale?”

Depends how it tastes.

And that is that, my friends! Thank you for your questions, and I hope my answers were, if not particularly illuminating, at least somewhat entertaining, or at the very least correctly spelled. I’ll try not to let multiple years pass before opening the floor like this again…and heck, if you have any questions you want me to answer in the future, just let me know. You know where to find me.

Be thankful there’s only one more installment of this.

§ November 27th, 2014 § Filed under question time § 4 Comments

Before we get into this next back of questions and answers, let me direct you to Bully, the Little Freaked-Out Bull, as he makes his own attempt at the Freak Out post, as discussed Tuesday. WELL DONE, LITTLEST OF BULLS.

And now, for our more dreadful sacrifice, MORE ANSWERS:

• • •

philfromgermany has some germane questions:

“Question 1: Have you read Ostrander Suicide Squad by now?”

Not as a whole, no. I’ve read the first couple of issues, the Justice League crossover, and the one with Grant Morrison in it. Really need to get around to it someday.

“Question 2: You are the god-grand pooba of comics and get to put 5 books together, which writer/artist teams do you pick?”

Aside from the Swamp Thing team I picked out a couple of days ago…hmmm, let’s see…and you said “teams” so I’ll try to pair up creators rather than using single writer/artists:

Superman – written by Rick Veitch, illustrated by Jerry Ordway

DC/Marvel Crossover Spectacular Monthly – written by Mark Waid, illustrated by George Perez

Popeye – written by Gilbert Hernandez, illustrated by Dave Sim

Herbie – written by Bob Burden, illustrated by Art Adams

Archie’s Pal Jughead – written by Gail Simone, illustrated by Kevin O’Neill

• • •

Mike Welch wonders

“When, Korea?”

Well, for quite a while, actually.

(Referring to this, for you newcomers.)

• • •

JRC asks

“Alternate reality Mike: Instead of opening a comic shop, you’ve decided to open a comic company! What is your first month of series/one-shots/minis you publish?
Titles:
Artists:
Writers:
Inker/Colors:”

Man, you guys really want to know what comics I’d put together. Okay, just for simplicity’s sake, I’m sticking to a single artist instead of noting inks and colors as well, mostly to save some time here. And I’m guessing by opening a comic company, we’ll be wanting new comics (or at least bringing back some presumably public domain ones).

So:

Spunky the Monkey – monthly series by Don Rosa

Unicycle Tragedy – monthly romance comic by…well, it would be an anthology. ANYTHING AND ANYONE GOES

Giant Pirate Comics – monthly comic by Rick Veitch (what can I tell you…I like Rick Veitch) – either an oversized comic book featuring pirates, or a comic book about actual GIANT PIRATES, like 10 to 12 feet tall, terrorizing the high seas.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Comic by the original MST3K writers, with Joel/Mike and the ‘bots making fun of bad (almost certainly public domain) comics. Something like this almost happened, if I recall correctly.

Jupiter – monthly, if not weekly, by Jason Sandberg – hey, I want this comic back in a bad way.

• • •

John Boylan HAS TO KNOW:

“1. What is your most prized Swamp Thing item/collectible (sentimental or otherwise)?”

It’s hard to pick just one. There’s this Swamp Thing drawing gifted to me by Scott Saavedra early on in the life of this site, one of the very first goodies sent to me, out of his own free will, by a creator I greatly admire just because of this silly website I do here.

Of course, there’s Swamp Thing Chalk, both the actual thing and references to it.

And then there’s this, probably most prized if only because I thought it lost for so many years.

“2. Do you proudly display your love of Swampy at home? And is there photo documentation available?”

Some of it is up here and there…my Swamp Thing statues are in the dining room china cabinet, and most of the other goodies are in the toy room, mixed in with the girlfriend’s massive collection of Spider-Man stuff. Don’t really have a photo of any of it, but eventually I’m going to have at least the original Swamp Thing drawings displayed at the store, so I’ll take a photo of that when I do.

• • •

Tim O’Neil forces me to answer:

“You used to say that you still followed all the Star Wars EU stuff relating directly to the cast of the original trilogy. Now that they’re putting the Prequel era in the past and moving back to a focus on the original trilogy characters, are you going to need to reexamine that policy?

“Or are you all in ride-till-you-die with Luke, Leia, and Han?”

The first New Star Wars Expanded Universe book just popped up in this week’s Diamond Previews, so I gotta think about it. Honestly, not having a final wrap up volume to the original Expanded Universe, putting a cap on all those years of SWEU reading, was kind of a drag. I understand why they didn’t, but it was still disappointing not to have it, and it’s kind of soured me on investing too much time in future ancillary SW storytelling. You know, aside from the comics. And the TV shows. And maybe the occasional novel. We’ll see.

• • •

Mike L dares to query

“Pog Section up and running? ;)”

HOW DARE YOU SIR

…by which I mean “not quite yet.”

• • •

John Parker opens a can of worms with

“What’s the most stupid comic you have ever read?”

Well, that would either be this one or this one.

Okay, okay, that was the obvious joke, I guess. But really, comics usually don’t get more stupid than this.

• • •

Tomorrow: the exciting conclusion!

I think there are more copies of Brigade #1 now than were originally printed.

§ November 25th, 2014 § Filed under question time § 3 Comments

We now return to Mike’s Question-Answerin’ Time, which is already in progress:

• • •

ArghSims arghed

“So I know you got the idea from Miracleman, but can we blame you for memes like this?”

…And then he links to this, which is a sports-related gag image that is similar to posts in my “freak out” category. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence, I ACCEPT NO BLAME.

However, to be completely honest, my inspiration for those “freak out” posts comes more from the Zippy the Pinhead gag where Zippy will latch onto a particular phrase and repeat it. Some of my “freak outs” do that, where the same phrase is repeated, but just as often I’m quoting different parts of a lengthier quote. The zooming image, as I recall, seems more like something that naturally arose for visual variety to accompany my weird reemphasizing of whatever expression I, in my Zippy-like state, latched onto. I wasn’t specifically thinking of that page from the first Eclipse Comics Miracleman when I first did it, I don’t believe, but perhaps it was a subconscious influence.

I ended up combining the two eventually anyway.

And I suppose this is technically a “freak out” post, which predates my first actual one. IT’S FREAK OUT #0

• • •

John enjoins me with

“It may be too soon to ask, but do you prefer running your very own store, with all the perils that entails, or managing someone else’s?”

While managing someone else’s store does mean I can focus on ordering and selling the actual product, I have to say, even with the added responsibility of managing (or, rather, hyperventilating over) the taxes, I am enjoying being in my own shop. Especially now that the customer base and store sales are starting to grow to levels more than sufficient for survival, which takes a bit of a weight off my back. It’s a small store, with (for the time being) fewer product lines, with basically only me running the place…I am a lot more…relaxed, believe it or not, being on my own, even with every buck stopping with me.

• • •

Eric Houston has no problems asking me

“When a collection comes into the shop, what is one (fairly common) book you always buy and one you never buy?”

One comic that turned up a lot in collections at the other shop was that foil-embossed shiny cover version of 1993’s Robin #1 (the center one here). It’s not terribly expensive…it’s, what, four or five bucks, maybe, but they always sell, so I always bought ‘em when I saw ‘em.

That was actually an easy question to answer; the common books I never buy are a little harder to narrow down. There are lots of common books I never buy. 98% of Marvel Comics Presents. Any issue of Brigade ever. In fact, a lot of early Image Comics releases tend to get the ol’ “no thank you.” I think even now, being in a store that doesn’t quite have the backstock that I’d been used to over the last couple of decades, I’d probably still pass on them.

• • •

James jimmies me with a couple of Swampy questions:

“Excluding teams who were on the title together, who would be your creative dream team for Swamp Thing?”

Jim Woodring and Mike Mignola. …And don’t tell anyone, but I’d love to see what Rob Liefeld would do on the book.

“Also, how glad are you that Swamp Thing fans aren’t referred to using the same nickname generator as Star Trek fans? Unless of course you would like being known as a ‘Thingie.'”

I prefer “Tubers.”

• • •

rook017 checkmates me with:

“How important are back issues today for you, the dealer? Or is new stuff your bread and butter?”

Well, I’m still trying to get my footing with a new marketplace, but so far new comics and graphic novels are the primary movers. Back issues aren’t underrepresented, however, as there is always someone looking for older issues. I personally enjoy having lots of older comics around, but if they didn’t sell, I’d have to put my heart aside and use that back issue space for something more profitable. Fortunately I seem to have a market for them here, particularly with children, a lot of whom like having the opportunity to buy really, really old comics from 2005, in case you haven’t felt your bones creak today. Plus, back issues are a good alternative for people who like comics, but just don’t like anything new the publishers are putting out.

“2014 dollars vs. 1984 dollars… Do you make as good a living? I am not trying to get personal, but it seems like if a typical fan buys fewer different comics, does the higher price offset that for you, the dealer? Or how is making money now different than it was 30 years ago?”

Well, it’s hard to say. Prices on everything have increased, in every aspect of life, and as I’m older now, I have more expenses, so…yeah, it’s complicated. Do some people buy fewer comics because of higher prices? Sure. Some people still buy the same number of comics, too. Plus, the market is different now, at least when it came to the shops I worked in. We had more people coming in to buy comics…not just the hardcore fans, but casual readers who wanted to try out comics, the folks who wanted the indie books, the graphic novel fans, and so on. And stores seem to be a bit more diversified, too…maybe shops aren’t selling as many comics, but they sure as heck are selling piles of Pokemon or Magic the Gathering packs.

So…okay, I don’t have a good answer for you. I don’t think I’ve taken too much of a financial hit due to comic price inflation as you’d think, mostly through expanded customer bases and diversified product lines. And, personally, I think I’m doing better dinero-wise on my own than as a cog in someone else’s machine, though my planned meeting with my tax person this week may divest me of that particular delusion.

“And why have we not seen a Legion/Swamp Thing crossover? Do they seriously expect us to believe there are no swamps in the future or on other planets?”

If memory serves (and I thought I even talked about it on the site before, though I couldn’t find it) someone wrote in to the Legion of Super-Heroes letters page asking, since it was established in Alan Moore’s run that there was a chain of plant elementals that existed throughout history, where was the 30th century’s swamp critter? I think the letter got the “well, maybe that’ll happen in a future story!” which of course it didn’t. Anyway: Swamp Thing versus Pulsar Stargrave. I’d be okay with that.

• • •

More answer-time tomorrow, hopefully! Thanks for reading, pals.

I promise never to say “fave firstie” ever again.

§ November 24th, 2014 § Filed under question time § 7 Comments

So let’s get a couple of things out of the way before I start answering your questions from last week:

First, the local paper ran a story on my new comic shop, which has certainly driven some business my way. (Everything’s going swimmingly at the store so far, I’m glad to report!)

Second, blogging brother Tim is taking an in-depth look at tie-ins to Secret Wars II, and God bless him for it.

And third, speaking of Secret Wars, just look at this thing. Eleven hardcover books reprinting everything Secret Wars-related, shoved together into a big ol’ box. That is completely insane. Of course I’m going to carry it at my shop.

Okay, now…As for your Qs!

• • •

Dave Carter inquires:

Do you have any idea as to how you are going to order all of those DC Convergence comics?

Nope, haven’t the foggiest. For those of you who don’t know, DC is taking a few weeks to do what amounts to flashback comics, set in the continuity/ies that existed prior to the whole New 52 thing, while putting their current continuity/ies on hold for the duration. …Okay, I may have exaggerated slightly when I said “haven’t the foggiest,” as I do have some lightly-foggy notion that I’ll order numbers on these Convergence books somewhat close to whatever I’m ordering on the slightly-related current ongoing series. Or I’ll order based on my best guess as to what general interest in the titles will be. Or I’ll just take a wild stab and it and hope I don’t fail too badly. Actually, in my particular situation, what with a brand new store an’ all, the stakes are somewhat lower, since I’m not quite selling the numbers I did in my previous situation. I don’t risk much danger of being stuck with too-huge piles of books I thought would be popular but ended up not moving — (cough) Death of Wolverine follow-up minis (cough) — but we’ll see where my sale levels are at that point.

• • •

Thelonious_Nick wants to know:

Here’s a technical, comic shop kind of question. So my LCS gifts me a copy of Previews every month. But I notice some local comic shops have graphic novels or collections that don’t appear in Previews. For instance, I’ve been eyeing some R. Crumb collections at one shop, and thought I’d find the page in Previews so my regular LCS could order one for me–but they aren’t in there. But this started me wondering–do some comic shops order from sources other than Diamond?

Sure they do. I made an order direct from Top Shelf just prior to opening my shop, for example. And there was several other companies that offer graphic novels and other goodies that aren’t necessarily available through Diamond. But some items may have been available through Diamond at one time, and are no longer available…it’s possible the items you spotted had been sitting on the shelf for a while.

On a different note, was Tooth & Claw #1 the most gorgeous debut issue you’ve every seen, or what? What are some of your favorite first issues of all time?

It certainly was nice looking, from the brief look I’ve been able to get. I’ve been pretty busy recently, as you might imagine, but I have noticed that it’s sold fairly well for me.

As far as favorite first issues…I have a soft spot for the debut of the second Swamp Thing series from the early eighties, as I was really looking forward to its release. Another fave firstie was Don Rosa’s Comics and Stories #1. I’d been enjoying Rosa’s “Captain Kentucky” strips that The Comics Reader had been reprinting in the early 1980s, and getting a long-form adventure in a magazine format with his wonderfully-detailed art was a great gift. I must have read that thing dozens of times.

• • •

Sir A1! brings the sauce with:

Do you think you’ll need to diversify as in becoming a comic-RPG-cosplay-catch-all kind of place? Will comics-and-related suffice in today’s marketplace?

Well, so far in my 2 1/2 weeks of business, my shop, which currently carries only comics, graphic novels, and comics-related merchandise, has been doing quite well just with those product lines. So it’s at least theoretically possible to do so, given a sufficient customer base and a reasonably low-enough overhead. However, the eventual plan is to expand into those lines — like, an imminent expansion — once I got the comics-end of the business going. That was always the goal, to at least have some gaming/CCG material available in the shop. That’s not my particular field of interest, no, but I’m getting some inquiries from customers along those lines, and I have no objection to that material by any means. I just needed to focus on one product line first before tackling the next.

• • •

Vester plays it close to the vest with:

Image has been publishing good comics for a few years now, at a good price both in single issues and trades. But I never had the perspective from a comic book store owner. (I live outside US, so I don’t really have a way to know this things). Do single issues sell in a daily basis? I mean, do people actually come and ask for Image comics besides The Big Two? And do YOU think they are publishing good, quality books?

For a while there, it seemed like Image was experiencing what I called “The Walking Dead Effect,” in that people were rushing in to buy multiple copies of the first issues to various new Image series in the hopes that surely this comic will be the new hot title, selling for many times cover price within no time at all.

After too many occurrences of this not happening, these rush sales on Image #1s finally slowed down to normal: mostly mild interest, with the occasional series attracting more-than-average attention. You know, just like most comics from Marvel and DC. The titles folks mostly ask about are Saga, Black Science and of course Walking Dead. I do think by and large Image produces some good comics…sure, there are some comics they put out that I probably would have liked better if they had stayed trees, but that’s not a feeling I have unique to Image.

PD: Sorry for my english.

You did quite well…no worries!

• • •

Paul Di Filippo yanks my chain with:

Have you ever done Swamp Thing cosplay, at Halloween or any other time? If not, why not? Are you waiting for the contributions of a mechanical genius friend who can construct an animatronic Cranius to complement your outfit?

Sadly, I’m not much of a costume guy, despite repeated requests that I cover my face with some kind of mask. My interest in certain comic book characters rarely crosses over into a desire to dress like them…and that’s not a knock on people who do, because hey, however you want to enjoy your fandom, more power to you. It’s just not an urge I’ve ever felt…well, with maybe one exception.

However, next time Halloween rolls around, I’m going to pop into one of those seasonal Halloween shops and pick up a mechanical dismembered hand to begin work on my animatronic Cranius. YOU HAVE INSPIRED ME, PAUL DI FILIPPO

• • •

Rich Handley goes ape with:

Have you been watching Constantine? If so, what do you think of the cast and the writing? And how many times do you think the show’s writing team watches Supernatural before writing each script?

Constantine started as I was in the midst of prepping the creation of my store. I have the first episode downloaded from iTunes, but haven’t watched minute one of it. However, given recent news, it may be easier for me to catch up on it now.

I’ve never seen Supernatural either. I’m a terrible watcher of television.

• • •

ExistentialMan wonders:

Why didn’t you name the new shop Mike’s Magical Comics Fort? Have you caught anyone spooning on the floor of the graphic novel section lately? Can we get an updated drawing of a capybara by adult Mike?

1. Because if everyone knew of my magical powers, I’d never get a moment’s rest.

2. EM is referring to this, and everyone will be happy to know there’s nowhere to hide in my new shop, so no surreptitious spooning in my store!

3.

• • •

More answers tomorrow, maybe!

Whoops, meant to put up a post on Wednesday.

§ November 20th, 2014 § Filed under swamp thing, wonder woman § 7 Comments

Well, these things happen. Sorry, gang.

Let me remind you that I’m doing question time again, so toss your questions into that comments section (not the comments for this post, but that previous one I linked) and I’ll give you answers. Some of them possibly truthful! I’ll probably start taking a crack at them this coming Monday, so for God’s sake, clear your calendars.

In other news, this week saw the release of the greatest Wonder Woman comic of all time, in that it guest-starred Swamp Thing:


…or at least something that vaguely looked like Swamp Thing while still being called “Swamp Thing,” and I’ve bought worse things for worse reasons so, you know, don’t think you can shame me on this. Also, making thing worse, pictured there is the variant cover for the issue, with Swampy and Wondy posin’ pretty for the camera, and silly me, I thought that was the 1 in 25 variant. Nope, that’s the 1/100 variant, so only those elite retailers who bought 100 copies of the regular cover got a copy of this darned thing. Well, don’t look at me, since I just started a brand new shop, I ain’t ordering a hundred copies of anything yet.

And because it’s brand new, it’s currently going for stupid prices on the eBay, so I’ll have to wait a few weeks where, like most of its variant cover brethren and sisteren, the hotness eventually cools off and prices will be lowered to the “please for the love of all that’s holy take these off our hands” levels. Of course, with my luck, this will be the exception and will hold its collectible value, at which point I’ll have no choice but to sell my blood and the blood of a few “volunteers” in order to afford it.

Look, I own Swamp Thing slippers. I’ll stop at nothing to maintain the Swamp Thing collection.

So I haven’t done one of these in a while.

§ November 17th, 2014 § Filed under reader participation § 28 Comments

Ask me a question, preferably related to comics and the comics business, and I’ll do my best to answer it in a future post. If you give me a silly question, chances are about 50/50 I’ll give you a silly answer. If it’s too personal or if you’re obviously just trolling, I’ll ignore it…but otherwise, just throw ‘em into this comments section and I’ll get cracking on them later in the week. Thanks, pals!

Progressive Ruin presents…not really the End of Civilization.

§ November 14th, 2014 § Filed under End of Civilization § 2 Comments

Yeah, I’ll probably be back into the End of Civilization swing of things next month, but I didn’t want this month to go by without noting these goodies from the November Diamond Previews, like the Batman Retro 1966 TV Series Tied-Up Action Figures on page 445:


As a wise man once said…oh, wait, that was me…”this is a fetish for someone.”


Oookay, there, Boy Wonder, simmer down.

Then on page 514 is this parade of Doctor Who Sonic Screwdriver-esque items:


…which just goes to show you that there’s nobody who says “no” in the BBC’s licensing department. However, I suspect this is reassuring to folks who know their weird nephew is really into that TV show about the British guy and his magic flying box and there will never be a shortage of things to buy him for those various gift-giving occasions.

…Though those same folks may hesitate a bit at this Doctor Who wristband on page 515:


…which apparently commemorates that one time the TARDIS farted.

Ah, Progressive Ruin…come for the incessant plugging of the shop, stay for the classy jokes. Thanks, everyone, and good night! Tip your waitresses!

I only wish I had one gross of Howard the Duck #1, much less two.

§ November 12th, 2014 § Filed under zines § 5 Comments

So let me take a break from constantly yapping about my comic book store to show you a recent addition to my collection that I’m not selling in my shop:


Collectors Dream #4, from Spring 1978, featuring a great Don Rosa cover. Just picture my face in the place of that blank question-marked fellow in the center, torn between two funnybook seller extremes. (Click on the pic for the bigification of that image.)

Sadly, I was hoping the cover-blurbed article “Consumer’s Guide to Comic Dealers” would be like an illustrated version of this, with cartoony caricatures detailing varying degrees of the Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy, identifying characteristics listed beneath. Alas, but perhaps even more shockingly, it’s a tell-all column in which orders were placed with multiple mail-order comic houses and the results were lovingly reported. Haven’t had too much time to read through it too closely, but I’ll see if I can’t pick up some tips for my own mail order business. But first, I need to spend some time restocking my boxes of Esoteric Comics.

So far, so good.

§ November 10th, 2014 § Filed under sterling silver comics § 2 Comments

Well, I have to say, while I’m not being swamped (heh) with customers by any means, I am doing some business, and so far I’ve been exceeding my initial expectations for the shop. I’ve been seeing several old customers of mine, greeting some new ones, signing folks up for the comic saver program, and only occasionally having to lock the door and put up the “Back in a minute!” sign so that I may attend the Gentleman’s Library, because, you know, flying solo at the shop and all that.

But seriously, thanks to everyone who came by the shop, everyone who supported me online, and everyone who helped get the word out…it’s all greatly appreciated. And thanks to my dad, who’s been helping out and keeping me company at the shop over the last few days.

And a big thanks to BobH for this beautiful thing:

sscgorylayout
Excellent.

On an almost unrelated note, I see someone took one of my scans from the “Marvel 2093″ promo and colorized it. Looks kind of neat, I think.

I say it’s “almost unrelated” if only because now that I’m now at my new shop, I don’t have the easy access to 30+ years of promo material that I had back at the previous place of employment. So, I suppose don’t expect a whole lot more of that on my site in the near future, unless I still have a box of that stuff sitting around the house that I haven’t returned to Ralph yet. Or, heck, who knows what will show up in collections? People are already bringing me comics to sell, so I’m sure the occasional oddity will shop up now and again.

And on another somewhat related-maybe note, I should be back to what passes for a normal schedule on this site again, now that the pressure to get the store ready to open has eased up a bit…at the very least, barring emergencies, I shouldn’t be staying at the store ’til 5 in the morning any more. Could this mean…a slightly-belated End of Civilization post? I’ll see what I can do.

Again, thanks for your support, friends. It is much appreciated.

Day One.

§ November 6th, 2014 § Filed under sterling silver comics § 28 Comments

And lo, did my first day of business at Sterling Silver Comics come to pass, and things went fairly well. For what was basically a “soft” opening, without all that “BIG GRAND OPENING” hoohar that will likely come later in the month, I did have several customers throughout the day, with one or two dead times that more or less corresponded to the doldrums I would have at the old shop at about the same points in the day, so no big whoop. Overall, I did manage to meet some new folks, welcome some customers from my previous job, and make a little more money than I was expecting for my first day. Hooray, I’m marginally less in debt!

A big thanks to pal Nat, who was my store’s very first customer…well, walk-in customer into my physical store, as opposed to my eBay sales (which I also appreciate, if any of you eBayers are reading this right now). Thanks also to pal Cathy, who sent me a box of candy in celebration of the big day. And of course, thanks to everyone else who shopped with me on my opening day, and to all of you out there with your kind words of support. Maybe I can make a go at this after all.

Now, there is still plenty to be done at the shop…a few more fixtures need to be installed, I definitely need to price more comics, I would like more toys and games in the store…but these things will happen soon enough.

Here’s a quick look around the shop, starting with the thing I was looking forward to the most – GIGANTORACK:

gigantorack
36 feet of The-Monolith-from-2001-esque ebony shelving, custom-built to my specifications, crammed full of issues of Swamp Thing and other less-important comics. …Well, okay, for opening day, it was only 32 feet, as there were some minor technical difficulties preventing the last four feet from being installed, resulting in some clever t-shirt rack placement to disguise the shortage:

sscstorea
Anyway, as I write this, I am sitting in my store right now while the master craftsmen put the finishing touches on the new comics shelves, including that final four feet of four-color fun. Beginning today visitors to my shop should be able to witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational comic rack.

Now here’s a shot from one of the back corners of the store, from behind the register/work station counter…you can see the corner of my stack of Previews at the bottom, there:

sscstorec
You get another shot of GIGANTORACK, plus two custom-made wooden tables built for me by former boss Ralph of Ralph’s Comic Corner. These are smaller versions of the same tables Ralph built for his shop years ago, and these things are rock-solid monsters of shelving — well, little monsters, in my case — that bear up the weight of fully-loaded comic boxes quite well. Above GIGANTORACK you can see some of the framed comic covers that my girlfriend Nora printed out and framed for decoration. She did a great job. (Yes, the covers include Swamp Thing and Nancy & Sluggo comics. How could they not?)

Another shot from behind my register counter, facing toward the front window:

sscstored

Please note the organically-grown cruelty-free custom stand for my register (AKA “scrap wood left over from making those tables”), as well as my Stool of Power and a computer displaying a wallpaper image that should surprise nobody.

In this next pic from the front corner of my shop:

sscstoreb
…you see a couple of my merchandise/showcase fixtures, along with my spinner rack containing a plethora of all-ages comics. You also get a good shot of my bookshelves, and their spacing along that wall should allow for some expansion. One top of one of those shelves is a Superman The Animated Series bust that I bought several years ago for five bucks and have now finally found a use for.

Here’s a straight-on shot of three of my bookshelves:

sscstorex
…and I hope you enjoyed this brief look at my shop as it stands now. As I said before, it’s a work in progress, with lots more comics and fixtures and goodies to come. But most importantly, this is a much-needed change in my life, a new beginning in an industry that, despite everything, I still love and enjoy, and this has given me a new enthusiasm for this business that I’ve been sort of taking for granted for years. Here’s to fresh starts and moving forward, my friends!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
sscstorex
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
sscstorey1
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
sscstorey2
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
sscstorez

« Older Entries Newer Entries »