Just get out your copy of the October 2014 Diamond Previews and look at this thing. JUST LOOK AT IT:
p. 455 – Buffy the Vampire Slayer Mr. Pointy 12-Inch Plush:
So the very first End of Civilization post was a Buffy stake replica made from real wood and kept in a fancy box, and now here we are, with this soft fabric carrot-y looking thing, which, to be fair, seems to be a fairly accurate representation of the item from the TV show. This is how far we’ve come in that nearly ten-year span.
TEN YEARS FROM NOW: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Stake Costume – dress like your favorite Buffy prop based on designs meticulously recreated from carefully selected stills from the show!”
TEN YEARS AFTER THAT: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Talking Stake! One press of a button is all it takes to hear ‘You’ve been Buffied!’ and ‘WILLOW POWERS ACTIVATE’ and ‘What accent is that exactly, Spike?’ and lots more of your favorite Buffy catchphrases!”
AND TEN YEARS AFTER THAT: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Hard Light Hologram Stake – actually it’s just a clear plastic thing with some fiber optic lights inside, but IT’S THE FUTURE! HARD LIGHT HOLOGRAM sounds FUTURE-Y!”
AND YET ANOTHER TEN YEARS AFTER THAT: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Pill-Holding Stake Replica – all you Buffy fans have to keep close tabs on your meds, especially at your age, so let this stake do the work for you! Secure compartments marked with each day of the week ensure you take your Monday pills on Monday!”
AND THEN TEN MORE YEARS: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Replica Stake Funeral Urn” — and let’s just stop right there.
“How come there’s nothing but Swamp Thing on the new comics rack?” “They make other kinds of comics?”
The store plans continue apace….my dad volunteered to take down a drywall partition that needed to go, and that was very kind of him. I’ve started to remove the carpet, and oh, yeah, the building finally has power! I can see what I’m doing! The air conditioning works! The cyclotron’s acceleration of particles is satisfactory!
And then there’s the other side of the business, where I have to plan out my orders for the shop. Now, just ordering stock to fill shelves and racks so that there’s something there in the store when I open, that’s fine. That’ll be the perennials, the items that always sell, your Walking Deads and your Scott Pilgrims and such, plus the previous month or two’s new funnybook releases that, sure, other stores will have had as new items when they came out, but should be on the shelf and available anyway since not everyone is Johnny on the spot when it comes to New Comics Wednesday and I should probably put a period in this sentence at some point.
It’s the stuff that I’m going to want on the shelves once the store is open for business and I supposedly want to, you know, make some money rather than watch it sprout wings and fly away for such trivialities as “water service” and “a phone line.” When people come into the shop looking for new books, I want to make sure I have those new books to sell. At the same time, I don’t want to overspend and overorder and get stuck with lots of product at a time I especially can’t afford to do so.
There are a couple of things that help. One, I already seem to be lining up a number of comic saver customers for my shop before I even have a proper floor put in, so that gives me an idea of at least a certain minimum of copies I’ll need to have.
Two, there’s my decades of comics retail experience, which will give me, if not the exact numbers I’ll need to order, at least the relative numbers. I know about how well, say, Batman sells, and I know Supergirl sells about a third of that, and Infinity Man and the Forever People sells…well, let’s not talk about that. But you get the idea. It still leaves a little guesswork as to what exact numbers to order, but it’s a start. And if I’m off…well, I’m off. I can always reorder, and hopefully folks will understand that I’m starting afresh and am still in the process of determining what the local market wants.
All I can do is the best I can, and see how it plays out. At the very least I want every customer who walks in to be happy they made the trip…and the first step for that is to make sure I have a floor for them to walk on, so I better get cracking on that.
…just to thank all of you for your well-wishing and support and eBay purchases and what have you in response to my announcement on Monday. This was a pretty big decision to make, even after thinking about it and planning it out for so long, and it helps ease my trepidation receiving such encouragement from my family, my friends, and all of you guys ‘n’ gals.
Again, thank you, and hopefully when next I write something here I’ll have more news about how things are progressing. Like, oh, I don’t know, maybe finally getting the power turned on. C’MON, EDISON.
So in about a month, I will be leaving the employ of Seth’s Games and Anime/Ralph’s Comic Corner. And shortly thereafter, in late October or early November, barring any unforeseen circumstances, I will be opening my own store: Sterling Silver Comics.
I’m not leaving out of acrimony or any other negative issues…it’s simply long past time that I start doing my own thing, and after a very, very long time of planning and searching, a place finally opened up in a location I really like, and I jumped on it.
I’ve already done a lot of work in preparation, but there is a lot of work to be done still. I still sort of feel like I’m not entirely, well, ready to do this, but if I waited ’til I was 100% ready, I’d probably never do it.
In the near future, I’ll have more details about the business, like, you know, exact location and contact info and such, but in the meantime, here’s the barebones “coming soon” page on the website, with links to my equally barebones Twitter account and my somewhat barebones eBay listings (but only because I’ve sold a bunch of stuff in the last couple of days and haven’t had a chance to replenish).
Anyway, for those of you who still tolerate reading my site, I should warn you that, for the next month or so, posting on this site will be very light while I focus on getting my new store up and running. I won’t disappear…you can always find me on the Twitters, and I’m sure I’ll post occasional updates here on how things are going. Don’t expect an End of Civilization post, though, or at least much of one, either this month or the next. I like doing ‘em, but making sure I’ll be able to make a living must take precedence, otherwise my civilization will come to an end.
I’m remarkably nervous and excited; this could be a great new direction in my life, or it could be an expensive way of finally getting me out of comics retail. Hoping more for the former than the latter, obviously, because I don’t want to pass my dotage wandering from neighbor’s house to neighbor’s house asking to borrow a cup of food. But I’d like to think after two and half decades in the comics industry, I know a little something and that I can use that knowledge to build a successful and profitable business.
Well, we’ll see. Wish me luck, pals…I can certainly use it.
I’m going to miss the old shop, and my regulars, and my coworkers, but this needs to be done.
Oddly enough, even after paying for the business license and clearing the zoning and buying fixtures and all that stuff, it all still seemed somewhat abstract to me until I sat down to write this post.
It almost feels real now.
“I would think 2 copies of Infinity Man and the Forever People would have covered your demand and left you with a spare stock copy.”
…and then Jer says
“Did you have high hopes for Forever People based on the bust-out sales success of OMAC? Or was it Didio’s run on Phantom Stranger that convinced you to go big?”
Har har, you cut-ups. But no, you’re probably not wrong…based on how sales of the regular Infinity Man issues have been, erring on the side of “barely ordered” would likely have worked out okay. But as I ordered the 3D cover version, I had no idea how it was going to sell…to use the examples cited by Jer, OMAC actually did reasonably well for us, though apparently not everywhere since it was one of the New 52’s early casualties. And Phantom Stranger…okay, to be honest, I didn’t make the connection between DiDio’s involvement in its early issues with his involvement with Infinity Man, since I was going more by the properties than the creative teams in my ordering strategies.
Now, with Phantom Stranger, the sales on the regular series were pretty much in the toilet. I mean, I liked it, but I also liked Frank Miller’s Spirit movie and I think we all know how that worked out. But I ended up selling about eight times as many of the Futures End 3D cover than I did of the last issue of the regular series. I mean, relatively speaking that was one of the titles I ordered the least numbers on for this Futures End hoohar, but octupling my sales is nothing to sneeze at, either.
When it comes to Infinity Man…well, I didn’t order a lot of the first issue, but I ordered based on my hope that some of the local OMAC sales would follow through to this new series. They didn’t, at least not entirely, and I ended up having to cut orders right quick. But when I ordered the Futures End tie-in way back when, I suppose my thinking was “okay, the series probably isn’t going to be a gangbuster, but people may pick it up because of the novelty cover, and what if there’s a rush on the covers again? WHAT IF?” and I ended up picking a number to order and hoping for the best.
It’s not as bad as all that…I didn’t order a lot of them, and it’s in the lower range of numbers I’ve ordered on the Futures End books. But it’s not moving quite as quickly as its 3D brethren, though I’ll see exactly how well or not well it’s been going when I go over stock numbers in the next week or so. Without having an exact count on hand, my feeling is that it sold more than the regular series has so far, but not enough to be in any danger of selling out anytime soon.
“I’m pretty shocked because they’re selling terribly at my store here in AZ. It’s a very heavy superhero crowd, but they have plenty from last week and it looks like they’ll have plenty from this week. Can I claim DC Fatigue based on two anecdotal examples?!?!?”
…and then Corey says
“Yeah, they’re not exactly flying off the stands at the shop I work at. I think the Death of Wolverine series has stolen DC’s thunder, because people are going nuts for that instead.”
I am curious about how orders and related sales on the Futures End event are overall. If fairly moribund sales are the case generally, then the next time DC does this (if they do it again) everyone will under-order and we may have a repeat of the panicked buying from the first year. Or nobody will care. I am throwing my money down on one of those two extremes…don’t tell me I can’t make the hard choices. I do believe that these will be okay sellers in the long run, even if they don’t fly off the shelves right this very moment. They are neat looking covers, and sometimes that’s enough to get people to yank them out of the back issue bins weeks or months down the road.
Corey’s reference to Death of Wolverine reminds me that I let myself get suckered into buying enough of the regular cover in order to match the sales plateaus required for the Skottie Young and Deadpool variants (more on that sort of thing here). However, in this case, it paid off…I sold those 1/100 and 1/75 variants for pretty good money, which helped pay for all the regular covers I thought I was getting stuck with…but the regular covers are selling really well, too, so I’m not going to be stuck with as many as I thought. Or, perhaps, any at all, ultimately. If anything, I’m wishing now I ordered more of #2, which is also flying off the shelf. Of course, everybody is sort of half-mocking the gimmick of the character’s supposed “death,” and yeah, we all know he’s coming back in another big ol’ event series down the road, but that’s not getting in the way of people being excited about the “Death of Wolverine” story itself. And, you know, that’s great. It’s been a while since people have been excited about Wolverine, based on how the fourteen recent different monthly series have been selling, so it’s nice to have a reminder of the days when Wolvie could appear in a comic, and by God, that comic sold.
So far it looks like I’ve done…reasonably well on the ordering of this year’s batch of DC’s lenticular covers. The first week releases have not sold entirely through yet, though a few titles did sell out (and are surprisingly available for reorder, which tells me that plenty of copies were printed). And, the titles for which I do still have leftover copies, the leftovers are within reason and will likely sell through eventually, even if it’ll be out of the back issue bins. In short, I don’t feel like I was stuck with too much overstock, and I don’t feel like too many people missed out due to quick sellouts.
In even shorter, getting the numbers I actually ordered resulted in successful sales and happy customers.
Of my worries from the beginning of this post, the actual answer appears to be “everyone ordered enough, or at least there’s plenty still available to order” and thus no shortage-caused rush like last time. The novelty of the covers themselves still holds its appeal, and I do have several customers asking for one of each. Frankly, I don’t think the covers this year are quite as eye-grabbing as last year’s, as reducing the main image to a smallish box surrounded by a frame isn’t as impressive, but they don’t look bad by any means.
Plus, it didn’t seem to matter that the one-shots are nominally tied to DC’s New 52 Futures End weekly series, which is just sort of dragging along saleswise, at least in these parts. In fact, it seems like the tie-in is mostly name only…and thematically too, I guess, since the weekly and these one-shots take place five years in the future. The one-shots seem mostly standalone, at least the ones I’ve read. Swamp Thing was pretty good, but of course I’d say that, and Batgirl allowed Gail Simone her coda to her run on the series. I hear tell Grayson was pretty good as well, though I haven’t looked at that one yet.
It’s too early to say how the second week’s run of one-shots are doing, though so far, so good. They’re not “sell the second the doors open on Wednesday” so much as “will sell steadily over the next couple of weeks or so.” I expect them all to sell within my expectations…
…except, um, Infinity Man and the Forever People. Someone invent a time machine and go back and tell the Mike of four months ago to knock that order down a dozen or two.
“So,” said Pal Cully to me the other day, “did you know that the Man-Thing Omnibus is now available for $40 on Amazon?”
“WHA—!?” sez I. “Why, that’s quite a bit less than the $125 retail price marked upon said book!”
And lo, shortly thereafter, this was in my swampy little hands:
And yes, as discussed previously, Marvel Two-in-One #1 is missing, despite the later issue #43 being included, and Daredevil #114, another very early Man-Thing appearance that would fit right into the chronology of stories here, is also AWOL.
Despite those omissions, which any true Man-Thing fan should have anyway, this is one good-looking volume, and, as hoped, the printing in this book does vastly improve the readability of these stories. I don’t mean the stories are suddenly better, but rather it’s physically easier to read, with the paper nice and bright and the occasional text piece, and the occasional white lettering on a black background text piece, are now far more legible.
There’s the other side of this, where, as I noted in my look at the Don Newton Batman book, actually seeing the artwork on white paper is something I’ll have to get accustomed to after reading them for decades on brown paper that’s getting browner.
Anyway, if I had a choice I’d have preferred the omnibus with the Frank Brunner cover, but at $40, I’m not complaining. And because I always have to know, here’s what’s under the dustjacket:
In addition to the stories, there are reproductions of trade paperback covers and such, as so:
…And there’s at least one table of contents illo from Monsters Unleased that sort of distractingly blacks out said table of contents:
…but, you know, whatever.
In case you’re wondering, the back-ups from the Giant-Size issues, including the Howard the Duck shorts, are not reprinted. Starring Man-Thing Only in this book, friends.
So I’m going to throw one of these things, here..yeah, it says like $100 or so, but if you click on it, you should see other offers in the $40 range. I mean, you know, if you feel like clickin’ an’ all:
Buy enough of these, maybe we’ll get that second volume collecting all the other Man-Thing stories. I mean, I just need one copy for me, Marvel doesn’t really need to print a whole lot of them.
So what we have here is a Capacitance Electronic Disc, a thing I had to look up on Wikipedia via the Googlings since, while I remember seeing these in action at a neighbor’s house when I was but a young Mikester, I couldn’t for the life of you tell what it was called. Although, to be fair, it says “Capacitance Electronic Disc” right there on the packaging, so I guess I’m the dummy.
Anyway, it’s basically a big record with much finer grooves that you’d find on your typical a;Grumph LP, protected inside a big plastic container to keep your filthy, filthy fingers off the delicate disc within. You’d shove this contraption into a player, where the disc would emerge from its sleeve and a needle…yes, an actual needle…would play on the record and magically transform those bumps and grooves into moving images. I think the Devil is involved somehow, particularly since you’d have to flip the whole thing over to the other side at the hour mark.
Here’s what the contents of the package look like when some smart guy decides to circumvent the delicate locking mechanism that normally keeps the disc safe:
A big thanks to customer/Twitter pal Jason for donating this to my