Darwyn Cooke (1962 – 2016).

§ May 14th, 2016 § Filed under obituary § 7 Comments

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When I went to my one (and so far only) Wizard World convention a few years ago, the only panel I sat in on was the DC Comics one. Dan DiDio was there, and James Robinson…and Darwyn Cooke. A couple of observations I noted from that original post:

“When Didio noted that they’re trying to create a ‘cohesive continuity,’ Cooke openly laughed at him. ‘These panels are a gas,’ says he.”

…and:

And there was some fun had at Cooke’s expense, regarding his affinity for older material. When current DCU plans were being discussed, Cooke piped in saying he had no idea what anyone was talking about. ‘We send you a box [of comp books],’ DiDio said — ‘Do you even open it?'”

Anyway, I thought he was pretty funny on that panel. His New Frontier is legendary, of course, and the Parker adaptations were finding him a brand new audience. And regardless of what you thought of the “Before Watchmen” project as a whole, you can’t deny that Cooke’s Minutemen series sure looked fantastic.

My condolences to Cooke’s family, friends, and fans. So long, Darwyn.

image from Solo #9 (2005)

Oh, and I forgot to mention the cost of the balloons. THE BALLOOOOOOONS.

§ May 13th, 2016 § Filed under free comic book day § 6 Comments

Reader James sent me this question via the emails:

“…My question is, what does FCBD cost a retailer to do? How much does it cost you (roughly, broadly) to pull it off? I’m sure you make up that cost in other sales (it sounds like you did great, so congrats), and I’m sure it’s different for every retailer, but what kind of expenses go into FCBD?”

Well, it mostly depends on how many of the FCBD comics you order. They average about 25 cents apiece, and I ordered several thousand comics, so you can work that out. On top of that, there’s the cost of advertising (like the ads I ran in the newspaper, coupon flyer, etc.), and the cost of paper ‘n’ ink printing out little flyers to give away in the shop, and the cost of the preprinted FCBD merchandise bags, the tchotchkes (like the FCBD keyrings) and so on. I don’t particularly want to get into exact numbers here, but it probably cost me an amount equivalent to one of my higher weekly Diamond invoices.

As I noted, I may have spent a little more than necessary as I overordered a bit on the FCBD books this year. I keep feeling defensive about the leftovers, because I still have a table sitting out with the freebies for the customers and it almost sorta looks like I didn’t give anything away. I did, plenty more than last year, but that remaining 10 or 15% is still a good chunk’a books. (Which are quickly thinning out anyway, so it looks like I’m not going to have too much leftover stock after all!) Next year’s orders will be normalized a bit, so those costs will be down slightly.

Now you don’t have to be a crazy person like me and order boatloads of FCBD comics. I like to make it an event, with sales and guests and such, but it’s probably possible to have a low-key FCBD event and not go so overboard on the book numbers, keeping your costs down and rewarding the regular customers with some free stuff. I remember hearing in the early days of FCBD about the shops that would just have a small box filled with the free books sitting on a table, with nothin’ going on to indicate that anything special was happening, which seems like it would be a little too low-key.

I like having the big FCBD event, which means spending more money, but I’ve been fortunate enough to have that investment repeatedly repay itself year after year, both at the previous place of employment and at my new shop. It was a risk that, so far, has always paid off and is not so much of a risk anymore. I know that may not be the same result for every shop, but thankfully that’s how it’s been for me. And I realize I keep talking about making money on the whole deal, simply because there are some folks out there how find it hard to believe that a comic shop can pull a profit on giving away free stuff. What’s best about Free Comic Book Day, however, is seeing the tons of kids pile into the store and happily coming away with a stack of comics they can’t wait to read. That’s the real profit, if you’ll excuse that brief moment of cheesiness.

• • •

Okay, now next Monday I’ll get back to your questions. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you then.

I’m too tired to think of a clever Free Comic Book Day-related title for this post.

§ May 11th, 2016 § Filed under free comic book day § 1 Comment

Here are a couple more shots from my Free Comic Book Day, taken by my dad…here’s pal Dorian at the right of the image supervising the shenanigans and goings-on in the shop:

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And here’s another pic of Sterling Silver Comics‘s Dark Avenger of the Night:

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I had a question or comment pop up in the comments that I wanted to address, such as pal Rob asking me:

“…What kind of impact do you think that Jaime Hernandez had on the turnout for the day?”

You know, it’s really hard to say. I know I had several people very excited about his appearance at the shop, so I’m sure it encouraged some good measure of traffic. But, as you saw yourself when you were there, it was very busy, particularly just as I opened, so it’s hard to say when dealing with this number of people how many were there for the free comics and the deals, how many were there just for Jaime, and so on. I did see a few people make a direct line right from the front door straight to Jaime, so those folks I can probably count in the “we’re here for the Love and Rockets guy” camp!

• • •

Roger commented

“I’ve done a few FCBD events over the years and no shop I’ve worked with has ever had any leftovers, whether they had a limit per customer or not. […] I think a limit per customer is exactly in the spirit of the event, personally.”

Earlier in this site’s life we had plenty of back-and-forth in the comments about “limits” or “no limits” on FCBD. I am very firmly in the “no limits” camp, as in “take one of each if you’d like” (so long as they’re age-appropriate, of course). (And even then I might let the “one of each” thing slide if they’re taking copies home for sick kids, or friends who couldn’t make it, or whatever…just as long as they’re not grabbing the entire stack of Suicide Squad #1.) However, I do understand stores that put limits on how many different comics people can take, whether it’s to stretch out stock because they could only afford to order so much, or, you know, whatever reason it might be. Every store is different, with varying needs and customer demands and so on, and what might be right for me may not be in the next retailer’s best interest.

In my case, my belief is that FCBD is for letting people get exposed to as many new comics as possible, so not limiting their choices is my preferred, and so far successful, strategy. If I had to have limits, what I would probably do is not include the Big Ones in the limit count…like, order tons of the Marvel and DC freebies which everyone will want, and don’t count those toward whatever limit you set.

I noted during my Twitter comments on FCBD that, even though I didn’t have a limit on the number of different FCBD comics you could take, most people didn’t take one of each of the 50 different titles that were available. Yes, of course some people did, but just as many people just took one or two comics, even after being reassured they could take more if they wanted. This has been my experience the entire 15 years I’ve been doing Free Comic Book Day. Even early on at my previous place of employment, where we prepared prepacked bags (divided by age-appropriateness) and people could get every FCBD book if they took each of the Kids, Teens, and Grown-Ups bags, not everyone did. A limit didn’t have to be enforced, because, well, it all evened out in the end, more or less.

As far as leftovers go…like I said Monday, at the old shop where I had the numbers down, we had barely any leftovers at the end of the day. And last year, the first FCBD at my new shop, by some miracle of guesstimation I ordered pretty close to exactly what I needed, leaving me with only a relative handful. This year, not knowing how much extra traffic I was going to get, I overordered by a pretty good amount, and even though I did give away a lot more comics this year, I still had maybe about 15% or so remaining. Which is okay…I’ve already reduced that by quite a bit by leaving a table out and continuing to give them away to people who didn’t make it that Saturday, and donating some to that school. And as I said, this will help me gauge my orders for next time.

• • •

Andrew wondered about my reaction to this FCBD article, in which retailers express their feelings, positive and negative, about the event. Well, like I said above, each retailer’s needs will be different, and FCBD can been a boon to some, a burden to others. All I can tell you is that I’m glad, at my previous position and at my own store, that I’ve been able to take extreme advantage of it to great personal benefit and profit.

Someone always asks what the long term results are from Free Comic Book Day. In the short term there are of course, if you’re able to manage it, the significant one day profits from the huge amount of increased business. But, as the person in that linked article noted, folks who come in just for the freebies aren’t going to turn into weekly customers. And that’s okay. It’s enough to remind your local community that, hey, your store exists, and comics exist, and that they’re their own thing and not necessarily just R&D for the movies you like. And maybe down the road if they find they do have a curiosity about comics, or if they need to buy a comic-related gift for someone, maybe they’ll remember that nice store that gave them some free comics that one time.

And if you have a good enough sale that day, you can clear out some old stock and make room for new stuff. …Sorry, as a retailer, I gotta think about that stuff, too.

It’s not really Free Comic Book Day until my dad shakes hands with Batman…

§ May 9th, 2016 § Filed under free comic book day § 16 Comments

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…And so it did come to pass, with pal Nat commenting upon the momentous occasion thusly:

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I did take a few more photos, but actually not that many more as we were enormously busy right as the doors opened and I was too tied up at the register to whip out the ol’ smart phone and commence with the snapping of photos. You can see a couple I did take right here at the official store site (that store being Sterling Silver Comics, in Camarillo, CA) along with a couple of photos contributed by my customers, including the one of our young friend Teddy at the very top of that post there. At the very least click over to see that picture…that is the happiest Free Comic Book Day kid I’ve ever seen.

I may have other photos coming from other sources, so as I get ’em I’ll post ’em.

You’ll also see in the photos there pics of our pal, Jaime Hernandez, artist of the Phantom Girl entry from DC’s Who’s Who as well as some comic about rockets or something. I was glad to see a steady stream of folks chatting with him and getting their comics signed, and speaking of which….

Now, I can only imagine that the influx of all the Free Comic Book Day books at the distributor, that all need counting out and packing, is akin to the arrival of a natural disaster. Especially since they still have to do the regular weekly packing and shipping of the new comics. It’s only natural that errors creep in, though in my particular case one of the errors that occurred was, of course, receiving less than half of my order of the Love and Rockets FCBD comic. Since it seemed like they might not have been able to come up with replacements, I called up the comic’s publisher, Fantagraphics, and was able to purchase copies directly from them…so good ol’ Fantagraphics saved the day! Phew!

I did a lot of pushing of my Free Comic Book Day this time around…nagging you all on the social media, Tweeterings and Facebookings, and I even ran a print ad in the entertainment section of the local countywide newspaper. Yes, actual ink on actual dead trees you could hold in your hands. Those things still exist, and there are people who still look at them, so hopefully that helped get the word out as well. There were a lot of new faces in my shop this time, I noticed, as well as a handful of folks from the old shop who finally made their way out to see me! You may also be glad to know that there were loads of kids, young boys and girls, getting themselves some of that ol’ time funnybooking.

You may recall that last year I had some worries/concerns about Free Comic Book Day, as 2015’s event would be the first one at my new store. I had no ability to gauge what local demand would be like, no past FCBDs to base my orders on. As it turned out that year, my orders were pretty spot on, if perhaps a bit low-ish, running out of a few titles maybe just a little too quickly, but still enough to have some giveaways remaining at the end of the day for stragglers to pick up. This year I ordered a bit heavier, so I had a wider range of giveaways still on the tables as the end of the day approached. If anything, I went maybe a little too heavy, but still, on Sunday I kept a table out for anyone who couldn’t make it Saturday and gave away even more comics, so the load’s been lightened a little. Prior to Saturday, someone from a local school called and asked if she could get any leftovers for giveaways at a school carnival…and she picked them up on Sunday, reducing the extras even further, so, you know, I’m doing okay with these.

And by the way, Jaime was good enough to sign an extra stack of the L&R freebies, so I’m still giving away autographed copies, while supplies last!

So anyway, my first year I may have been a tiny bit low on the orders, my second year I was a tad high, so my third year my orders should be spot on, right? Well, maybe, we’ll see, but I seem to recall going through this very same learning process at the previous place of employment, and I eventually started nailing the FCBD numbers there and I’m sure I will here, too, sooner or later.

Trafficwise I definitely noticed an increase, particularly at the beginning of the day when perhaps the store was a little too full of people, but that crowds scaled back to reasonable numbers soon enough. We had a good steady stream of customers all day, with only a handful of brief lulls before the store’s population would surge again. In terms of actual business, spurred on by storewide FCBD-only discounts on graphic novels and back issues and so on, I saw about a 30% increase over how I did last year, and last year’s results were way above and beyond what I was expecting, so I’m very happy with how things turned out this time around.

I saw I had a question or two about FCBD left on recent posts…I’ll try to get around to those soon. In the meantime, let me thank my dad, my girlfriend Nora, and pal Dorian for helping out on this very successful Free Comic Book Day. And speaking of pal Dorian, he once again in his own inimitable fashion reviewed all the offerings this year (at least, all the ones I could get…never did receive my Pink Panther order, darn it), and he swears this is the last time he’s letting me talk him into this. We’ll see.

Thanks of course to all my customers for making this event as swell as it was, and thanks to all of you for putting up with my blatant capitalism over the past few weeks. And thanks to Mark, who may or may not have had something to do with a certain Caped Crusader visiting my store.

One more FCBD in the books. Can’t wait to see what happens next year.

Today is Free Comic Book Day!

§ May 7th, 2016 § Filed under free comic book day § 2 Comments

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…So get yourself to a participating funnybook store (preferably mine) and get your mitts on some swell freebies!

REMINDERS: If you can, try to drop a few dollars to help your local retailer (preferably me) cover costs. But you’re under no obligation…it’s free comic day, after all!

However, if your local retailer makes you buy something in order to get free comics (definitely not me)…thaaaaaat’s not how it works.

Anyway, I didn’t spend a lot of time this year discussing Free Comic Book Day, but you can always peruse this category and see what I’ve said about it for the last decade or so.

Have fun, everyone, and we’ll meet back here in a day or two for the post-FCBD debriefing! GET YOUR BRIEFS READY

Remember when I used to post here every day? That was something.

§ May 5th, 2016 § Filed under free comic book day, pal plugging, self-promotion § 5 Comments

Turning out to be another Low Content Mode week at the ol’ site, due to other plans and Free Comic Book Day prep and so on. Sorry about that! One of those plans involved a family member buying me and the girlfriend tickets for Captain America: Civil War for a Thursday night viewing, so I’ll be rushing out of the shop and straight to that this evening. I’ve been hearing that it’s almost as good as Batman V Superman, but I guess I’ll see for myself soon enough.

I’ll probably get back to your questions starting next Monday, but in the meantime, remember to attend Free Comic Book Day this Saturday wherever you shop or bank, but try to come by my shop and meet ME ME ME and oh also Jaime “Love and Rockets” Hernandez, who’ll also be there, I guess. “Love and Rockets” is his actual middle name, by the way. I wouldn’t lie about that.

Also, I responded to the latest Question Time over at Trouble with Comics, re: my plans for convention season (do those plans involve excessive nudity? You’ll have to click that link to find out!). And pal Andrew is continuing his “Me and the Terrible ’90s” series, if you want to read good comics blogging, unlike what you’ve been finding on my site lately.

Anyway, happy Free Comic Book Day to everyone this weekend, and I’ll be back this Monday. Though I bet I’ll probably show up here before then plugging Free Comic Book Day again. Did I mention Free Comic Book Day? FREE COMIC BOOK DAY

Mike’s secret origin contained herein.

§ May 2nd, 2016 § Filed under question time § 8 Comments

More answers to your questions:

William opens the gate on

“What were your opinions on the Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe/Who’s Who series?”

I loved ’em. I liked the comic book versions more than the looseleaf/three-ring-binder versions, though the latter made more sense, being more forward-thinking in ease of updating by just swapping out old pages for new. Maybe I just liked the comics better because I didn’t have to sort out the pages and put them into binders in the proper order.

But yes, I enjoyed them quite a bit, particularly when I was younger and not as knowledgeable about all the characters from throughout the respective histories of the two publishers. I even appreciated the different approaches each company took, with Marvel’s encyclopedic entries being far more detailed, even down to exactly how many tons each character with super-strength could lift, whereas DC’s tended to be a little more loose with nailing down character stats and histories.

DC moved away from their “Who’s Who” series, sort of morphing them into the Secret Files special issues that focused on one franchise/character at a time, and I think some annuals had Who’s Who pages included, maybe? Marvel goes back to their “Marvel Universe” format once in a while, though the most recent-ish ones have been character/theme-focused one-shots. One even just came out about a month ago, focusing on Marvel’s post-Secret Wars status.

Nowadays, with reboots and rebirths and restarts and reruns, trying to do the same kind of encyclopedic maxi-series overview of all your characters is a chump’s game, with likely two or three line-wide relaunches occurring during the course of that run. I know that DC has had some mass-market hardcovers in recent years, with big pictures and light, mostly continuity-free descriptions of their characters, and Marvel has a series of volumes going into a little more detail with their own line of heroes and villains.

The best solution to keeping any kind of listing like this current would be putting it online, which Marvel and DC already kind of do, and of course Wikipedia does do. That would certainly allow the space necessary to explain, say, the differences with post-Flashpoint, New 52 versions of characters that you’d need to do in 6-point type on a printed page to get everything squeezed in there.

But it just wouldn’t be the same as getting your copy of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe and spending forever plowing through the walls of text inside. You certainly got your money’s worth. Plus, there were those great diagrams of vehicles and weaponry by Eliot R. Brown, which were fascinating to look at and almost made you believe, for just a moment, “well, yeah, that’s exactly how Doctor Octopus’s arms would work.”

By the way, in 1982/early ’83 I was trying to track down one of the early issues of Marvel Universe that might have still been on newsstand racks in the area, when I ran into a schoolmate of mine. After learning what I was up to, he said “hey, why not try Ralph’s Comic Corner up in Ventura, they probably have it.” I’d not known about the shop ’til that moment, and in a way that little encounter with a school buddy may have put me on course to being where I am now…trying to figure out how many copies of Aquaman: Rebirth #1 to order for my shop.

I’m sorry if I didn’t mention your favorite comic.

§ April 29th, 2016 § Filed under question time § 8 Comments

Steve hooks me in with

“Is there a comics publisher that you really like as a retailer? One that goes above and beyond to address retailer concerns, or goes out of its way to accommodate special requests, or one that just “gets” the retailing side of things? You always hear about the companies that go the extra distance for creators… is there one like that for retailers?”

At the previous job, one publisher that impressed me quite a bit was Zenescope, home of the Grimm Fairy Tales line of funnybooks. Plenty of emails and phone calls and outreach and backlist sales and doing whatever they can to help retailers stock the shelves with their books, which I appreciated. Now, at the new store, the Zenescope titles haven’t quite gained too much traction yet…they have some customers here, but I’m not yet at the point where I need that level of attention. Maybe soon!

Fantagraphics is another that comes to mind, particularly just recently when they came to my rescue on something that…well, let’s just say they saved my bacon. I’ll go into detail about what happened in a week or two (and explain just why I don’t want to do so right this moment) but I just wanted to make sure I mentioned Fantagraphics in this context of “swell comic book companies that help retailers.”

Boom! is another company that was willing to work with me when I was attempting to get my paws on, I believe, their Amory Wars hardcover, I think, that I couldn’t get through the usual channels. And…well, there are plenty more, sending emails and contacting us over Twitter and basically just making themselves available. Most smaller companies want to go out of their way to be helpful to retailers, to help them carry their product. It’s a small industry with not a lot of money to go around, and it’s very easy to get lost in the shuffle, and outreach is vital to keep their businesses afloat.

• • •

William fires away with

“Do those Dover reprints of comics from the 80s and 90s move at all for you?”

To be honest, I’ve not carried a lot of them, since I’m still a small-ish shop with a limited budget, and sometimes I have to pick and choose between something that’s new and something that’s reprinting an obscurish item from decades ago. Not that I don’t order archival projects, I do get plenty, but I’m not quite at the point where I can carry as much as I’d like. I did make sure to get The Bozz Chronicles, for example, and I talked about their edition of Puma Blues previously. And yes, the ones I’ve ordered do move for me, and I always keep an eye on their section in the ol’ Previews for any more goodies I’d want to carry. I can’t carry everything, but I at least try to carry some things.

• • •

Dan duns

“So, are there any good comic books?”

No.

…Well, okay, maybe there are a couple. I like the 1950s Popeye comic book reprints IDW is putting out. Daredevil is still really good, what with an actual lawyer writing it an’ all. Justice League 3001 is Giffen/DeMatteis redoing their League from a couple of decades back as a futuristic sci-fi superbook, and it’s pretty great and nearly unpredictable. Scooby-Doo Team-Up is a hoot. Love and Rockets continues to be good readin’. The Hellboy family of comics are solid, and the Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. series is a welcome and accessible addition to the franchise. I like all the Star Wars comics. There’s Saga, and there’s Bitch Planet, and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, and Kaijumax, and Heartthrob, and of course, Dark Knight III. There’s plenty of good stuff out there…just look around!

But of course in real life that Swamp Thing comic would be a bestseller.

§ April 27th, 2016 § Filed under market crash, question time, retailing § 5 Comments

Brandon submits

“You probably covered this, but can you think of a time in early Mike’s comics retail career where something came up that completely junked how you thought comics should be ordered?”

I think I follow what you’re saying here, but let me give a couple of different answers to you.

One of the first lessons I learned from my old boss Ralph is “order with your head, not your heart.” And before anyone pipes up, that’s not a 100%, completely binary thing, by any means…yes, sometimes you order with your heart, because there are comics and characters and creators you like and want to support and of course you think investing your time and money in them is a good idea. I mean, we’re not machines, we all have our preferences and that informs our decisions. The trick is not to be stupid about it.

If you’re supporting a comic you like, which, oh, let’s say it’s Our Swamp Thing at War, and you’re ordering piles and piles of it, thinking “well, if I love it, surely all of my customers will love it, too!” Then, after a few months of not selling any, you’re still thinking “it’s gonna catch on, I just know it” — well, sooner or later your head is going to have to pull rank on your heart and cut those orders down to what you’re really selling versus what you think they should sell.

This is probably a “no-duh” kind of realization…I’m pretty sure I didn’t go into this thinking that it was all “la de dah, just get whatever” and throwing down whatever numbers you wanted on the order form. But I think I was surprised by the amount of number-crunching involved in actually ordering comics, with looking back at the sales histories of individual titles, at seasonal changes, at what creator or character’s presence in a particular issue might do its sales, etc. And sometimes this decision-making is crazily exact…I have, well, not agonized exactly, that’s too strong a word, but I’ve definitely waffled over the difference of a single unit on a comic for a longer period of time than I really should have. Like, maybe 20 copies feels like it’s too many, but dropping it down to 19 just doesn’t seem like that would be enough. No, I’m not exaggerating.

So maybe that’s the actual response in this first part of this answer: that I wasn’t aware at first of just how much work actually went into placing orders. I’m not sure what I pictured, but it was probably a lot more casual than the advanced calculus I’ve since ended up doing to figure out how many Marvel variant covers I can order.

The second part of my answer is more involved with the overall health of the marketplace. I am sure I’ve mentioned once or thrice over the years about the sudden seachange I experienced during the boom ‘n’ crash period of the early 1990s, when the latest Diamond Previews arrived, cover-featuring Dark Horse’s new superhero imprint “Comics’ Greatest World.” My memory is a little fuzzy on the details, but my recollection is that there were either multiple superhero universes launching in that same Previews, or that I realized just how many superhero universes were being thrust upon the stands. I do remember thinking “where are the customers to support all these new ‘universes’ going to come from?” and, perhaps on a more selfish level, “how are we going to have room on our shelves for all these different comics?” Now, as it turned out, the marketplace eventually took care of this problem for us, but that was still a bit of an alarming realization.

Now keep in mind the big comics boom was still in progress of becoming a crash around this period, so we had been more-or-less accustomed to (or perhaps spoiled by) the idea that there were plenty of folks in the marketplace ready to support nearly anything that was published. There was of course no shortage of clues that the market was sick…the prevalence of investors, the proliferation of gimmicks and enhanced covers…but for some reason, seeing that particular issue of Previews, with the promise of More of the Same Kind of Stuff Coming on Top of the Stuff That’s Already Here, was the literal final straw. The sorta vague feeling that things weren’t healthy, the one you could ignore because hey, look at all this money we’re making, now came into tighter focus. To try to bring it back to your original question, Brandon, is that this was the transition from “order lots because comics will always sell great forever” to “order what’s going to sell now, and be more picky about what you want left over for backstock.” Not the catchiest way of putting it, I suppose, but true just the same.

• • •

Oh, hey, over at Trouble with Comics, to make up for all of us hatin’ on Jack Kirby in our younger years, we pick out our favorite obscure Kirby works.

I kind of want “Watchmen Babies” from The Simpsons to be canon, too.

§ April 25th, 2016 § Filed under question time § 9 Comments

More As to your Qs:

Rich monkeys around with

“I’ve recently been doing some Watchmen research for an upcoming book. Other than the original Alan Moore series, the Zack Snyder film, Before Watchmen, the three RPG books, the New Frontiersman website, the viral videos made to promote the film, the mock New Frontiersman and Metro newspaper promos, the three video games, and the two Who’s Who in DC issues, do you know of any other in-universe Watchmen lore? I’m trying to be as all-encompassing as possible. Thanks!”

Well, that seems pretty comprehensive to me. I looked at my Watchmen Heroclix set in case there was any in-universe flavor text-type stuff, and no dice there. There’s also this card-game thing that I don’t own, but maybe there’s some supporting text there, too, maybe? I’m not sure. (Frankly, I didn’t know there were three video games, so I’m not as up on this stuff as I’d thought.)

A while back I did a post about this ad for what seems to have been an unauthorized RPG game and/or story. Like I said there, no idea if this was ever released in any form…and it wasn’t an official thingie anyway, but might make an interesting aside in your project.

Another interesting aside may be this “crossover” in The Question #17, which, again, isn’t technically “in-universe” but weirdly neat nonetheless.

The only other official addition to the in-universe narrative were those promo posters, which offered brief glimpses into the lives of various characters from the series. They were just single shots, and it wasn’t so much narrative as “here’s what THIS character is like!” but they were pretty cool just the same. They’ve been reprinted in the deluxe editions of the graphic novel, so those aren’t particularly obscure but easy to overlook.

Of course, there was also this, which is totally official in my personal head-canon.

• • •

Paul polls me with

“In this vital election year, would you vote for a Lex Luthor-Pete Ross ticket?”

This year especially, I’d almost prefer the Lex ‘n’ Pete power pair. VOTE LUTHOR: MAKE AMERICA MANIACALLY VILLAINOUS AGAIN

• • •

Mike wonders

Do you think the super-hero genre can continue to evolve? We’ve gone from good vs. evil to soap-opera to deconstruction/ post-modernism to reconstruction and everywhere in-between. We’ve been through parody, stories without any traditional costumes or physical action, super-heroes as metaphors, distillation to the lowest common denominator, and tributes to every previous era. Has the idea well run dry?

Ooh, I never want to say the well has run dry on any creative endeavor. You never know what the future will bring, in terms of new ideas brought by new creators to apply to the superhero field. Yes, there will always be some percentage of titles just running in place, or just filling a space on a rack or maintaining a trademark, but I think there’s still a good chance of a fresh perspective on that old genre. What the next permutation will be exactly, I have no idea, but I’m sure folks working on superhero comics in the 1940s could never have predicted what would come decades later.

• • •

Dan battles me with

“The main thing Ive been collecting the last year or so is back issues of Warren mags; Eerie, Creepy, Vampi, etc. I would love to hear your take on these. Did you read these when they were on the newsstand, how often do back issues come into the store, and any other thoughts or comments. Thanks!”

I never personally collected many of these, no, though I may have read a few too many issues of 1984/1994 when I was far too young to have those in my possession. I did however read reprints of Berni(e) Wrightson’s work from those early Creepy/Eerie mags, especially in that Pacific/Eclipse-published Berni Wrightson: Master of the Macabre mini-series. Beyond that, I never really got into them, even though it seems like, given the talent involved, they would have been right up my alley. Probably just one of those “well, I can’t collect everything” kind of deals.

At the new store (that would be Sterling Silver Comics, located in Camarillo, CA) I actually haven’t had too many of the Warren comics mags come through, though I did acquire a huge pile of Famous Monsters of Filmland which sold out in short order. The previous place of employment, on the other hand, had many Warren mags passing through over the decades, but then that shop’s been around longer and has had more opportunity to have those items show up. Ask me again in about 30 years and we’ll see if I’ve seen more Warren magazines in that time!

I should note that, after processing tons of these mags for sale over the years at that old job, I have gained a strong love for their cover blurbs.

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