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.
• • •
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.
• • •
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.
• • •
‘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.