I can only presume that my mailman just sighs and shakes his head every time he has to put something in my mailbox.

§ March 21st, 2018 § Filed under marvel § 4 Comments

EDIT: Update at end of this post!

So here’s something I got in the mail the other day:

…what appears to be a genuine Marvel No-Prize (which is, for those of you who don’t know, the long-running “award” of sorts sent out by Marvel to the fans for various reasons, and is always comprised of an empty envelope). I’m pretty sure this wasn’t sent by Marvel, as that looks like my old friend (and former coworker) Rob’s writing on the front of the envelope there, so the full story of this particular item is yet in my future.

I once had what I thought was a surefire way of getting an actual from-Marvel No-Prize for myself a few decades back, in the 1980s, when it seemed like No-Prizes were just given out willy-nilly. Sometimes No-Prizes were given out for coming up with some clever explanation for what appeared to be an in-story mistake or some other kind of error. I found such an error in Marvel’s in-house “fanzine” Marvel Age, where an article was given the wrong page number on the table of contents. Turning to that page actually brought you to a picture of Doctor Doom, and I had some kind of elaborate and “funny” and possibly No-Prize-worthy idea that this was in fact a cunning ruse by ol’ Vic Von, to trick people into gazing upon his visage and falling under his thrall, instead of finding a sneak peek of Wolfpack or whatever that article was in the TOC.

Anyway, never mailed it in, so I lost my chance at my non-reward…but I guess getting this in the mail makes up for it. Thanks, anonymous benefactor who is probably Rob!

EDIT 3/23/18: Okay, it wasn’t Rob, but another friend who mocked up a No-Prize envelope and mailed it to me. That sneaky guy!

For the love of God, I hope they’re not eating the gum.

§ March 19th, 2018 § Filed under retailing, trading cards § 6 Comments

So I haven’t done a whole lot with trading cards at my store since opening up a tad over three years ago. I think I maybe a box of some Marvel set in 2015 that slowly, eventually sold out. It was a trend I noticed at the previous place of employment, too…the nonsport cards just weren’t doing all that great for us. I mean, sure, the game cards did fine, your Magic and your Pokemon and your Spellfire and your Galactic Empires, that’s a different story. But your “110 More Tiny Pictures of Wolverine” card sets, those just seem…passé of late.

I mean, nothing against them. I’d like them to sell, and new sets still come out once in a while, so they’re selling somewhere, but it’s not like how it was in ye olden dayes. (Okay, yeah, I know, comics themselves don’t sell like they used to, either.) But we’re a long way from when we’d get in multiple cases of whatever the newest Marvel Universe set was, and we’d just put a stack of full boxes of packs up by the register and watch the impulse buys happen and that stack disappear. In the ’80s and ’90s, it seemed like everybody bought cards. I even still have a few binders of sets I put together back then…the all-chromium set of Golden Age comic book covers is still a weird favorite of mine.

For the longest time, the nonsport cards…well, okay, let me stop being coy, specifically the Marvel cards…were like sports cards. Lots of people coming in and asking about them, but never because they wanted to buy any. It was almost exclusively “what are mine worth?” and “will you buy them?” Rarely did the words “Boy, I would sure like to purchase any available sets of Marvel Universe Series IV you may have!” echo throughout our showroom, which didn’t exactly encourage us to stock card sets in any kind of depth. And we did have card sets (again, still talking about the previous place of employment)…had a small glass case with a number of sets and chase cards prices out and displayed, but only rarely did they move.

Shortly after I opened my new shop, I had someone bring in a collection of still-sealed boxes of nonsport cards (Marvel and otherwise) that I did okay with selling online. Usually not for a lot of money, but they sold, so the demand was there…the boxes just had to be cheap. And recently, an old friend of mine began to liquidate some of his collection, and asked me to sell his card product: full boxes, autographed cards, and even some of those slabbed, graded single cards. It was from his collection that I obtained this box of Dune cards you may have seen me post about on the Twitters:

…which ended up selling for about $40, which…well, that ain’t nuthin’, but when first I saw that I figured “ah geez, a hundred bucks easy!” until I looked at the eBay card market and eh, that wasn’t going to happen. But still, that’s $40 we didn’t have before, and for a full box of relatively recent trading cards, that ain’t too bad, I guess. I sold a bunch of boxes of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? cards for about $15 each, which doesn’t seem like much, but eventually you’d just rather have the $15 a pop than multiple boxes sitting in a storage room somewhere.

Just the other day, my friend brought me another box of unopened card boxes, including this set which I don’t even remember:

I mean, I imagine I would have remembered at least the typo on the lid (“FANS-tastic,” indeed) but it’s possible that 1) it was a while ago, and there’s probably plenty of card product I just don’t remember, or 2) there was so much card product that we couldn’t order everything, so we passed on this one. As far as I can tell, there weren’t even fancy chase cards randomly packed in this series, which would have been especially odd in 1991, I think. Anyway, like most sets from the manufacturer Comic Images, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of “collectors’ market” online demand for sealed boxes.

However, the new few sets seem to do have demand, selling for…well, not quite original retail, or maybe thereabouts, but certainly not the $1.29 I’ve seen some other card boxes sell for (Desert Storm cards, anybody?).

I remember the Marvel Masterpieces cards being quite the hot ticket back in the day:

…as people were really taken with the look of these cards, and, as I recall, they were quite nice. Seeing the full, sealed box like this does twinge the ol’ nostalgia nerves, I have to admit.

The thing about the next two sets:

…is not just that the design and color of the boxes attracted attention, but the size. This goes for that Masterpieces box, too…these were wee little tiny boxes, palm-sized and basically just shouted to customers “Look how small and cute we are! C’mon, don’t mess with packs, just buy us by the full box!” I can’t help but think this really encouraged the impulse buys at the time…just made them psychologically easier and more appealing to justify purchasing, over the big ol’ unwieldy Comic Images boxes with the 48 fat packs and a not-zero amount of air.

And as it turns out, there’s still a pretty good aftermarket for these as well. Not that I’ve sold mine yet, but sales histories for the sets seem to show that there have been multiple sales at significantly better than close-out prices, so with any luck it’s just a matter of time.

None of this means, of course, that there’s any sort of potential improvement in the marketplace for new trading card sets that’ll sell to store walk-in traffic. Those are different circumstances, but still, maybe I’ll try out a new card set or two just to see how they do. The 1990s market is never coming back, but it shouldn’t hurt too much to poke at the edges of the 2018 market. so long as one pokes wisely.

49 (and change).

§ March 16th, 2018 § Filed under jack kirby, obituary, old, smallville, superman, television § 13 Comments

So one of the victims of my part-week blogging break was no birthday post. Yes, that’s right, your pal Mike just began his last year of his forties this past Tuesday…the warranty’s long expired, the creaking frame continues to bow, and the decay continues apace. I did mention the occasion on the Twitters, however, and received some very kind response there (as well as wishing birthday-and-blogging-brother Andrew a happy day).

The Bullest with the Mostest, Bully the Little Birthday Bull, worked up a bit of magic:

You can find the original image he used on this page of nightmare fuel. Oh, and by the way, now that I can make GIFs I may need to revisit that last pic.

Oh, and Tom Spurgeon over at Ye Olde Comics Reporter also noted the occasion, as he does every year. Thanks, Tom!

Another reason I kinda skipped out on the birthday post this time around is that I had my heart set on a particular panel, but could not find the thing, which has me wondering if I’m remembering the right comic, or if my age-addled brain has it confused with another comic, or if I didn’t just make up the whole thing out of thin air. Anyway, I’ll mention it here in case it rings a bell with any of you fine folks:

What I’m remembering is a panel from a Star Trek comic, maybe in the first DC series, or possibly the second run, where mention is made of Captain Kirk’s 49th birthday. However, and the reason this has stuck with me all this time (assuming I’m remembering it correctly at all) is that the “49th” in the comic had very obviously been relettered just prior to going to print, and almost certainly read “50th” originally. I mean, that was my presumption, in that they probably wouldn’t be making any kind of big deal out of a 49th birthday for story purposes. I remember guessing they were likely saving a 50th birthday story for some bigger event, or someone at the main Trek headquarters decided that they didn’t want Kirk to be that old, or some darned thing.

I hunted through my Trek comics for the scene, and couldn’t find it…I still have full runs of both series (didn’t give ’em up to my store!) plus all the specials and minis and whatnot, so if it actually exists, it’s in there somewhere. But, like I said, at this point I’m even sure it was in a Trek comic and involving Kirk. If you know, please share your knowledge!

• • •

So this week, DC released a freebie funnybook tying into the imminent Superman-prequel Krypton series appearing on the SyFy cable channel:

My immediate reaction to seeing that cover is “…Tom? Tom Welling?” but that’s likely because I watched all ten seasons of Smallville and I’m still recovering. But it didn’t help when I looked inside the comic at the “meet the characters” section and Superman’s grandfather is dressed like this:

…which all the world looks like the get-up Clark was wearing in the latter seasons of Smallville:

I mean, that has to be deliberate, right? Aside from all that…despite my initial skepticism regarding the show (“It’s about Superman’s grandpa?”) I’m actually intrigued, particularly now that I know about the time travel element and the inclusion of DC’s classic space hero Adam Strange. I may be one of those “wait to binge it on streaming” guys, since I’m way behind on everything as it is, but I’ll at least try to catch the first episode. …There better be at least one Thought-Beast on the show, that’s all I’m saying.

This tweet from Twitter pal Joe sort of got me thinking about that Smallville-esque comparison, though Joe’s point of contention/admiration was more for the “Fight Like El” tagline, which is admittedly both amazing and appalling. And if you’re wondering, yes, the entry for the Zod family character has a reference to kneeling, because that’s just a Zod thing now and you better be used to it. (“Fight Like El” reminded me of these somewhat confrontational DC bookmarks from a while back.)

Oh, that World of Krypton comic, by the way, is a reprint of the first issue of the mini-series of the same name from the mid-ish 1980s by John Byrne and Hellboy creator Mike Mignola. If you’ve never read it, it’s not bad…and if you like it, the entire series has been very conveniently reprinted in a World of Krypton trade paperback released just a week or two ago (along with other Krypton-based stories).

• • •

Oh, and there’s going to be a live-action New Gods movie…you know, no big deal. That of course means…LIVE ACTION SLEEZ:

Well, okay, maybe not. But the director of A Wrinkle in Time, Ava DuVernay, is signed on to direct, and given what I’ve seen of the visuals for that film (which I haven’t had a chance to see yet, despite really, really wanting to) gives me a good feeling about her take on Kirby’s Fourth World. Also, to quote my hopes for this film from Twitter, only with the stupid typo in the original corrected:

“I want this New Gods movie to be the Kirby-est thing that’s ever Kirbied. I want to SEE the quotation marks around assorted words in actors’ dialogue.”

I mean…right? Yes, yes, I know Thor: Ragnarok was very Kirby-ish, but New Gods was straight out of Kirby’s head, no Stan Lee required. I want everyone in their original costumes (yes, even…especially…Black Racer), I want dialogue quoted from the comics, I want that opening bit preserved in its entirety (“THERE CAME A TIME WHEN THE OLD GODS DIED!”), everything. I don’t care if movie audiences are ready for it. Let the studio paraphrase Jack himself on the movie posters: “DON’T ASK, JUST WATCH IT!”

Alas, it comes too late for the Don Rickles cameo:

…though it was suggested having one of his old movies/TV appearances on a television screen might be a good reference for those in the know.

But…c’mon, a New Gods movie. I can’t wait.

• • •

Mark Evanier reports that comics writer Michael Fleisher passed away last month at the age of 75. He was probably most famous for his Spectre and his Jonah Hex (and, ’round these here parts, the amazing Hex), but this is what I’ll remember him for the most:

I wrote a bit about that book a couple of years back…man, I spent I don’t know how many hours perusing that tome. And there it still sits on my bookshelf today, nearly forty years after I first acquired it. Thanks, Michael, for all that entertaining information you provided a young me, just beginning to learn about Superman’s history.

The State of the Site.

§ March 12th, 2018 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin § 7 Comments

Okay, just to allay any fears (or, on the other hand, dash any hopes), given the semi-ominous title of this post, I’m not going anywhere. I just wanted to go over a few things.

First, and most importantly, regarding my my Patreon: yeah, that didn’t work out the way I was hoping. No, not you folks who contributed, I appreciate that like you wouldn’t believe. I mean specifically the idea to do a biweekly Swamp Thing comic review post…that was the weak part of this particular plan since, as it turns out, ha ha, that takes a lot of time. Time, I quickly discovered, I really did not have. I was trying to find a balance between my usual blog voice here and something, well, not formal as such, but “look, people are paying a buck to see these things, I need to get it together a little more than I tend to do.” I’m still trying to figure out an approach to these that doesn’t eat up every extra moment I have but still satisfies everyone’s Swampy cravings.

In the meantime…those Patreon contributions are helping me out quite a bit, in the original intention of me setting up the thing in the first place to subsidize my time spent on the site a little bit should anyone decide to chip in. Thank you to everyone who’s done so…my Early-Release-to-Patreon-Supporters Swamp Thing postings were my attempt at giving folks a little bit of an extra incentive to contribute, but clearly I need to rework my plans so that I can actually present an incentive I can continue to do.

Believe it or not, my other idea was a podcast, because sure, those take hardly any time at all to do, right? Blogging sister Tegan was doing a short form Star Wars podcast for her Patreon that I quite liked, and inspired me to think about my own. Part of the problem is that I’m not a very good extemporaneous speaker, which would require creating some kind of script (or even an outline) prior to recording, and I can already see that creating the very same time crunch the Swamp Thing posts were, even for the very short recordings I was planning. Well, at some point I would like to make some kind of audio file to inflict upon your ears, so we’ll see what I can do there.

As for the actual site here: yes, my decreasing amount of comic book computer fun time does impact this site as well. Like I said at the beginning, I’m not going anywhere. My intent is to continue posting every Monday/Wednesday/Friday and the occasional Saturday when I remember to do a “Sluggo Saturday” or “_____ Saturday” post. (Good Lord, I haven’t done one of the latter since 2013!) There may be (and have been!) weeks were I only posted Tuesday and Thursday. We’re a long way away from those halcyon days of me posting every single day like a crazy person, but this reduced schedule leaves me more time to take care of other responsibilities, AND really does give me more opportunities to create a little more lengthy, in-depth posts that won’t necessarily get lost in the day-to-day nonstop onslaught of More! Content! being posted here every day. But I apologize in advance for my shorter, Low Content Mode weeks…sometimes it just can’t be helped.

Speaking of which, one of my longterm plans for this site is to finally get all the posts on this site tagged and (eep) titled, to make it easier to find particular subjects here. In the early Blogger days of this site, you didn’t need subject lines, really…a post link was generated with, I think, the time and date of the posting, so you could just click on that to get to the exact post. Well, when I switched over to WordPress, that was no longer the case, and the actual subject line was the post’s direct link. So, there are a bunch of posts on this site still without titles, especially very early on, and I am slowly going through and trying to fix those. What’s slowing me up is I’m also trying simultaneously to fix dead links in old posts, which can be a lot of links, sometimes. I think my new strategy here is to get those content tags and post titles taken care of first, and fix links in the bodies of the posts later.

One of the things I miss about the old version of the site is having direct links to several posts of note in the sidebar. Replacing that with a sidebar function where you can search by tags is okay, and something I’ll do soon, but I still have specific posts that I’d like to not be forgotten, or removed from discourse (whatever discourse blogs may still influence today, what with your InstaSnaps and your Toomblurs). Perhaps a separate page on this site you can look at, with a list of “Hey, Read These Posts of Mine, Why Don’cha?” That seems like something that’s doable, eventually.

The one feature I do want to make sure continues unabated is The End of Civilization, which I promised myself, after the suspension of the feature while opening my store, and especially after starting my Patreon, I wouldn’t skip out on again. And, well, I missed it one month, but otherwise I’ve kept doing them, and will continue to do them as long as I keep getting Diamond Previews catalogs. People still seem to like them, and I still enjoy doing them.

Another type of post I haven’t done here in a while is my occasional overview of some of the weekly comics. Not that I haven’t wanted to, or haven’t had the blogging time to do a little something on the subject, but lately I’ve been behind on my reading. Part of the problem is that the actual tag I have for this topic specifically says “this week’s comics,” so I feel sort of obligated to review that week’s comics during the week they actually came out. Yes, I know that’s dumb, and easily fixed by changing the tag to “comic reviews” or something. I mean, it’s my site, I can do what I want, but that’s a weird little psychological barrier nonetheless. (Says the guy who just straight up reviews Jimmy Olsen comics from 1968, like, whenever.)

And of course I will absolutely continue the reader participation posts, such as taking your questions or asking for predictions. I have been very fortunate to have some great comment sections on this site, particularly in an internet era where reader comments are generally feared and despised. You folks have always had good and interesting things to say, and I am very grateful. Yes, there’s the occasional…problem, but that is definitely the exception. I know I usually don’t tend to post in the comments section themselves, but if it’s something I feel the need to respond to, you may have noticed I’m not shy about doing so in the main blog (like this recent example). So again, thanks to all of you for your continued readership and involvement.

Oh, and I’m sure this kind of post will come back eventually too.

So this has been pretty much the “blogging about blogging is a sin”-est post I’ve ever posted. Some of that was for you, to let you know where things stand as far as my ability to keep the blog going, and some of it was for me, to work out in my own head what parts of this site are important at least to me. I hope to keep things going here for a good, long time, and I certainly would like all of you to stick around. I know this kind of “blogging” is kind of a passé thing now, but I like writing, this format still works for me, and I hope it still works for you. I mean, if I have to go all “PROGRESSIVE RUIN – THE INSTAGRAM,” I guess I’ll have to, but I’m happy right here.

Talk to you all again soon.

I’m pretty sure some of the sentences I typed here make sense.

§ March 9th, 2018 § Filed under publishing § 7 Comments

So I’ve been trying to think of a solution to the issue-numbering albatross that’s been hanging around the comic industry’s neck for so long, and surprise, I don’t know any easy fixes that don’t involve everyone who publishes/buys/is otherwise attached to comics just, you know, not worrying about issue numbers. Honestly, I really think the best best, and one that was working at least up until Marvel said “ha ha, never mind, here are more #1s” was just keeping that issue number where it was, based on the number of previous issues published. People were buying Doctor Strange #387 or whatever…like I said, sales were beginning to creep up as consumer confidence rose in the titles they were following having some established (and potentially future) consistency. I mean, over at DC, Action and Detective seem to be doing fine with their issue numbers in the hundreds.

Some points were made in the comments to my last post on the topic. Both Brian and Daniel T bring up what Dark Horse does with their Hellboy-universe books, having an overall series number inside the book, while having, if necessary, “chapter” numbers on the fronts of the book. I went into annoying detail on this very topic almost exactly five years ago discussing this very thing.

I mean…maybe that could work for superhero books, maybe, but that would require a huge change in mindsets regarding how readers approach the titles they follow. We’re too used to there being a regular monthly Batman book, for example…while, with a regular monthly title, switches in storylines and creative teams would in effect make an ongoing feel like a bunch of “mini-series” that just happen to be tied together with a shared numbering system. Actually making them literally different mini-series, with new #1s on the cover of each first chapter, even with a secondary overall numbering inside that ties them all together. The Hellboy/BPRD comics can pull this off, as the comics have a mostly consistent aesthetic/tone with a relatively small circle of creative teams. It’s the nature of superhero comics to change in style pretty significantly with new stories and creators, so a “mini-series” by J. Master Artist might sell a lot better than the follow up “mini” by Hacky McHackerton, causing a distinct change in order numbers and sales figures that might be smoothed out by a more obvious shared-numbering system and a sense that it’s all “of a piece.”

My personal preference would just be picking a numbering system, sticking to it, and don’t kill a series and crank out a new #1 just because, I don’t know, the Beast changed the color of his trunks or something. First issues used to be special, a big event…”here’s a brand new series starring the character YOU demanded!” I’d like to see them that way again. Not to say we still don’t get occasional excitement over some new first issues…the recent batch of new launches from DC is getting a small amount of interest, which is a change from that lack of response that “DC-You” thing got. Anyway, the ultimate solution to all this is likely going to be the transition away from monthlies to trades/graphic novels. Which, of course, will still be numbered so here we go again, but possibly would be more conducive to an environment where the specific order of release is less important than the individual reading experience of each volume.

So let’s meet back here in a decade or two and see how it all shakes out.

• • •

In other news…I love — well, cringe sympathetically at, more accurately — stories about shops that have been stuck with way too many copies of something, particularly from the years of excess during the 1990s. You may recall this tale of the tragic fate of 14 long boxes full of Valiant’s Turok #1. Well, here’s a brief remembrance of the Superman Wedding Special which leaves me thankful that we only had as many left over as we did.

Had a long Tuesday…

§ March 7th, 2018 § Filed under pal plugging § 1 Comment

…so while I intend to going back and discuss your responses to The Big Renumbering Hoohar, all I have for you in the meantime is this recommendation that you keep your peepers open for The Dragon Slayer: Folktales from Latin America by talented human being Jaime Hernandez:

100% all-ages friendly, and available at a comic shop near you, hopefully!

Progressive Ruin presents…the End of Civilization.

§ March 5th, 2018 § Filed under End of Civilization § 12 Comments

Because you demanded it! Well, because one of you demanded it! Okay, fine, because no one explicitly said “no, stop, don’t do this,” here is the new installment of the End of Civilization, presented by Progressive Ruin and Lucky Strike! “LSMFT!” Pull out your copy of the latest Diamond Previews (the February 2018 edition), smoke ’em if you got ’em, and follow along:

p. 136 – Final Crisis The 10th Anniversary Omnibus HC:

Oh, it’s been ten whole years since our “Final Crisis,” eh? …Then how do you explain THIS?

p. 214 – Son of Hitler HC:


“Get out of here, Hate-Monger! You’re not my real dad!”

p. 219 – The Beef #4:

Look, issue #1 of The Beef has been on my new comics rack for a few days now, and not one person has come in to ask “Where’s The Beef?” I’m very disappointed.
p. 285 – The Tremendous Trump: She-Trump #1:

Just the other day I overheard some young folks observing the Trump comics I had on my shelf and wondering “are these pro-Trump or are they making fun of Trump” and I honestly have no idea.
p. 331 – Lady Death Naughtier Limited Edition Artbook HC:

Hey, kids…ass!
p. 456 – The Comic Book Story of Baseball GN:

Probably not explained inside: people coming in to comic shops to sell their baseball cards, and persisting even after it’s been made quite clear that no, the shop doesn’t deal in baseball cards, and no, we don’t want to buy them, and no, we don’t know who is, since it looks like everyone’s trying to sell off their cards and not actually buy any new ones and perhaps I’ve let my personal feelings slip into this item description.
p. 496 – Batman Deluxe Cowl & Illustrated Book Kit:

“This kit includes a 6-inch tall Batman cowl with illumination feature at the lenses.”

[high-pitched raspy voice] “I’M TINY BATMAN.” [eyelights rapidly blink on and off]

PENGUIN: “Yeah, I’m not feelin’ too terrified right now.”
p. 496 – Justice League The 100 Greatest Moments HC:

In honor of the recent passing of David Odgen Stiers, let future editions of this book include his appearance as the first live action version of the Martian Manhunter in the 1997 Justice League pilot:

Yes, really.
p. 501 – 100 Things Star Wars Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die SC:

I’d say “learn how to become a Force Ghost” should be somewhere near the top of that list.
p. 501 – Star Wars Block: Over 100 Words Every Fan Should Know HC:

“Okay…here we go:
1. Ugnaught
2. Jar-Jar
3. Prequel
4. Lasersword
5. Blue
6. Milk
7. Evacuate?
8. Bloodstripe
9. Gonk…”

tempus fugit

“…93. Bad
95. Feeling
96. About
97. This
98. Power
99. Converter
And 100. Yippee.”
p. 502 – A History of Video Games in 64 Objects HC:

One of those objects had better be the Magic Dot from the Atari 2600 Adventure or there’s gonna be trouble.
p. 502 – I Am Gandhi: A Graphic Biography:

Let’s hope this is successful so that the sequel can get a comics adaptation as well:

p. 506 – Star Wars Insider #181:

Keepin’ that naked Jawa cover under wraps ’til the absolute last minute, eh, guys? Let’s be honest, that yellow banner is only barely covering his modesty.
p. 542 – Ghostbusters Egon Spengler Proton Pack Legacy Series Replica:

For only $2999.99, you can be the envy of people who wished they could just blow $2999.99 on something like this.
p. 572 – Justice League Batman Bearbrick:

“That’s it, I shall become a bat…! No, wait, not scary enough…what other animal can I mix in there to make myself even more terrifying?”
p. 572 – Peanuts Sally Bearbrick:

p. 493 – Deadpool Monopoly:

“Heck, go ahead, pass GO! Pass whatever you want! There are no rules here! I’m wacky!”
Marvel Previews p. 28 – Amazing Spider-Man #800:

“The biggest Peter Parker/Norman Osborn story of all time unfolds over one 80-page story, a scope unmatched in comics!”



Hate-Monger images “borrowed” from here.

No, he’s just carrying the elephant.

§ March 2nd, 2018 § Filed under video games § 6 Comments

Well, I was busy working on something else Thursday evening and didn’t get a chance to write up a proper blog post…but, you know, I probably gave you enough to read this week. So, here, please enjoy this full-page illustration from the inexplicably-in-my-collection Pac-Man: An Activity Book from 1982:

You’re welcome!

The All-New Progressive Ruin #1! (Six months later) The All-New, All-Different Progressive Ruin #1!

§ February 28th, 2018 § Filed under death of superman, market crash, publishing, retailing § 7 Comments

JohnJ Week continues, as he’s left another comment to which I wanted to respond:

“And you only get a month’s rest before you have to decide how many copies of Amazing Spider-Man #800, supposedly a big 80-pages for a whopping $9.99.

“My biggest screw-up ordering comics when I had my store was over the Superman-Lois wedding special. I thought it would sell in the kind of numbers the death of Superman could have sold in if I’d known that was going to be a big news item. But they tried too hard to coordinate it with the wedding on ‘The Adventure of Lois and Clark’ on tv, which really killed off interest in the comic.”

Now for me, Amazing Spider-Man #800 isn’t quite as difficult to order as you might think. Marvel’s past $9.99 books (almost entirely special issues in the Deadpool series) I’ve ordered reasonably okay on, as I’ve got some solid sales history for Deadpool to refer to. Oddly enough, the only $9.99 issue of Deadpool I sort of blew it on was #25 [EDIT 3/11/18: actually, it’s $5.99…still blew that order, though], where I got just a few too many for inexplicable reasons and thus I’ve just kept it on the shelf, selling a copy every once in a while.

Amazing Spider-Man sales of late have been slowly increasing, probably because of the impending 800th issue, partially because of the plotlines, and partially because Marvel sales have been slowly climbing for me just kind of across the board on many of their main books. Of course, that’ll come to an end when Marvel begins their next round of relaunches, killing that momentum, but hey, maybe I’m just being cynical and this eighth or ninth time really will be the charm.

Anyway, getting back on track…even though the increased demand for Amazing Spider-Man has caught a lot of folks off guard recently, after kind of bottoming-out for a while there, I think I may have kind of a handle on orders for it now and can make a realistic guess as to how #800 will do for me. And, historically, and even still today, “anniversary” issues of Amazing tend to sell well even as back issues, so if I still have a few left over on the shelves after the initial sales window is complete, I’m not going to be too worried.

Now, the next part of JohnJ’s comment had me wondering how our own sales on the Superman wedding issues were, back at my previous place of employment. I do remember, after being caught short on 1992’s Superman #75, the black-bagged “Death of Superman” issue, we ordered much higher numbers for 1993’s white-bagged Adventures of Superman #500…and so did everyone else in the country. We sold plenty of that #500, but still were left with a boatload of them in stock. So don’t feel bad, JohnJ…that was our own “b-b-but Superman #75!” foul-up!

By the time 1996 and the Superman Wedding Special came around, we were still trying to recover from the comics crash, and the excesses of the late ’80s/early ’90s were mostly behind us. But our comic sales weren’t doing too badly, and there was still the occasional rush from the general public into shops whenever any particular comic hit the real world news (though, as you noted, that’s not an occurrence you can ever predict or readily depend upon). As I’ve been typing this, I’ve been trying to envision the Superman backstock boxes in the old storage room, and if I recall correctly, we did have some remaining copies of the Wedding Specials (both the white-covered Direct Edition and the John Byrne-covered Newsstand Edition, though more of the former). It wasn’t a lot, and I seem to recall selling quite a few of them on the stands, and continuing to sell them over the subsequent years (at the very least, I do remember having to fish ’em out of the back room every once in a while).

I can remember that, I just can’t recall what our initial orders were…it was a pretty good number, I think, but not so high that we were stuck with an enormous number of leftovers. And I can’t even recall if there was the aforementioned rush of folks who heard about it on the Evening News or wherever. If only I’d known I was going to be starting my comics retailing blog a mere seven years later, I would have kept better notes. Ah well, I’ll be talking to my old boss Ralph soon, so I’ll ask him and see if he remembers.

As for the Lois and Clark TV show fouling things up a bit…yeah, I do distinctly remember when the plan was to separate Lois and Clark in the comics for a bit to forestall the impending nuptials even further, complete with solicitations for future issues to that effect. Then, when the wedding was announced for the TV show, that tail wagged the dog sufficiently to cut short that separation storyline in the comics and fast-track the four-color version of the super-couple down the aisle. You can read more about that in this column by my comic article-writin’ pal Brian. …Thanks, JohnJ, for your blogging-inspirational commenting!

Now let me go back to something I said earlier in this post, regarding the Marvel “Fresh Start” publishing initiative. Perhaps I came across a little…agitated by the whole thing. I thought the recent Marvel Legacy deal was a good idea…trying to wean themselves off the constant relaunches and new #1s, focus on the lengthy histories and runs on these titles, give readers some confidence that they can follow a story without thinking it’s just going to up and restart with a new first issue. And as I said, I was seeing some improvement on many Marvel books…even Doctor Strange and Punisher were slowly climbing in sales. Will those gradual increases carry over into any new relaunched titles featuring the same characters? I sure hope so, but I don’t know.

I think what set me off was the announcement of the “new ongoing” Immortal Hulk, launching with its first issue in a few months. That made me snark a bit on the world’s primary snarking service, Twitters Dots Coms, because honestly, is there going to be an Immortal Hulk issue number, say, 35 on the stands three-something years from now? Or by “ongoing” do they mean like the old “maxiseries,” which would run a fixed 12 issues, in, out, and done? Don’t get me wrong…I’m a longtime Hulk comics fan, and Immortal Hulk sounds fine and I look forward to reading it. But…any reason why this couldn’t have just been done under the title Incredible Hulk? Does relaunching a long-running title with a new first issue still have any kind of extra selling power? Does any kind of sales boost that results stick around for any period of time? Is there a long term advantage to doing that versus just building an audience on an established title without breaking momentum with forced cancellations and restarts?

I’ve said before, I want comics to sell well. I mean, more than just because that’s how I make my living. I want comics to sell well because I like comics. And I want other people to like comics. But every single time there’s a series of relaunches like this, it really does make things difficult. It can confuse and irritate customers, and as has been said so often, jumping-on points are also jumping-off points.

It’s…a weird thing to be concerned about, I realize. It doesn’t really matter what the number is on the front of the comic so long as you’re enjoying what’s inside. Like I said above, I’ve read Hulk comics for a long time, and I’ve read them through, what, a half-dozen restarts and renumberings? But part of comic collecting is the “collecting” part, and it’s hard to escape the issue numbering mindset. These constant renumberings do have an impact, and having a big new “#1 First Issue Collector’s Item!” on the front cover isn’t quite the sales ploy it used to be.

Also, only one cover features Beppo the Super-Monkey.

§ February 26th, 2018 § Filed under retailing, superman § 9 Comments

So when we all last met here, JohnJ asked

“Sometime would you give us some insight as to how you order something like Action Comics #1000 with 8 covers for 8 decades. Primarily by pre-orders or do you favor some artists over others? I am going to order an Allred cover since I collect his stuff anyway but my temptation to buy a Steranko cover was only beaten down by some common sense. I don’t need two copies!”

In case you missed it, the impending Action Comics #1000 is indeed having multiple covers (most of which you can see here), all equally orderable, thank goodness, because I could just imagine having to do it up Marvel style and matching order amounts on previously-published comics just to open up availability of the variants and blah blah blah look, I’ve already got a headache, don’t get me started.

Anyway…yeah, that’s the trick, ain’t it? Most of the covers are pretty nice, I think, but I haven’t had too many people putting their nickel down on any single one so far, with the possible exception of Mike Allred’s “1960s” cover:

…which, okay, I admit it, that’s the one I want, too. The initial orders on this comic are due in this week, so I’ve got some working numbers already entered in (heavier on the main Jim Lee cover, plus an assortment of the rest). More of a problem is whether or not this being the debut of Brian Michael Bendis’s writing on Superman is going to be any kind of big deal…could sell really well, and don’t want to be caught short. Or nobody could care, and don’t want to be stuck with stock. I know how Superman comics generally sell normally, but I don’t know if this forthcoming Bendis run is going to shake sales up one way or the other. Plus, there’s the little matter of the comic running $7.99 American per copy, so it could turn out to be quite the expensive soaking if the comic doesn’t move.

Now, I still have a few weeks after putting in this initial order to adjust my numbers prior to the comic’s release, so I have time yet to continue gauging my customers’ needs. I have had plenty of people with comic savers asking me to just add #1000 to their pulls, without specifying which cover, though my bad in not asking them if they had a preference, I guess. Better start checking with them! (Related: I’ve also many of these same people asking for the accompanying hardcover history of Superman, which is not usually something that happens with $29.99 books.)

I’ve also had a few requests to pull every cover from some of my pull list people, so that helps me plan out my orders a bit, certainly. I did have at least one person ask if this promotional image was going to be one of the covers:

…and, you know, why not? That would probably be neat-looking as a full-sized front cover, instead of the tiny insert that it’s going to be on all the covers.

So, JohnJ, as of right now, it’s mostly just guesswork and assumptions and plain ol’ “that cover looks better than that other cover, better order more of those.” However, I’m pretty sure that Allred cover is going to be the most popular of the variants. I mean, do any of the others feature the Luthor/Brainiac team? …CASE CLOSED.

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