Collectors edition Titans collectors comic for collectors.

§ November 29th, 2017 § Filed under advertising, collecting, dc comics, teen titans § 5 Comments

from DC Coming Attractions #81 (August 1983)

I sort of preferred Marvel using “Distinguished Competition” as a nickname for them.

§ November 27th, 2017 § Filed under collecting, marvel, retailing § 7 Comments

Occasionally the One Remaining Comic Book Distributor in the U.S. will run some deep discount sales on stock for retailers, and recently they unloaded a bunch of Marvel’s Omnibus editions and Marvel Masterworks volumes for prices ranging from “well, that’s a little less than normal wholesale” to “whoa nelly that’s cheaper than a cheap thing that’s cheap.” So natch, I loaded up on a few items for the shop and offered them at discounted prices, and everyone’s happy.

I’m especially happy, because a couple of the items offered were of particular interest to me, and at the ridiculously low sale price I picked them up for myself. One is the Howard the Duck omnibus, including the entire original series (including the couple of later issues released around the time of the movie), his previous appearances in Man-Thing comics, that one treasury edition, and something from Foom magazine that I haven’t looked to see what it is yet. I’d actually been on the lookout for discounting on the HtD book after getting my giant-sized Man-Thing omnibus on the cheap a while back.

Now, I have an ulterior motive for this…primarily, getting these reprints in a nicely-printed permanent edition frees up the actual comics from my collection, allowing me to put these out for sale in my shop. You’ll notice that post about the Man-Thing omnibus went up around the time I was beginning to open my store…well, suddenly, I had full runs of two Man-Thing series, a bunch of issues of Fear, some Giant-Size Man-Thing, and other odds and ends I was able to turn around for the most part. It more than covered the cost of the omnibus, and provided some sorely-needed store-opening cash besides.

Thus, theoretically, I should soon have a full run of Howard the Duck plus Asst. Materials for sale in the shop…though I 1) already have a number of those issues in the store right now, acquired from other collections, and 2) I kinda wish I kept those Man-Things now that they’re gone. Logically, I have all the stories, so I don’t really need them, but there was some small measure of sentimental value to them. Plus, omnibuses are a lot harder on the scanner if I need to grab any images out of those comics.

But hey, that’s life, so I’ll get those Howards into the shop regardless.

The other book I acquired for Low, Low Pricing from that recent sale was the Marvel Masterworks edition of Not Brand Echh. That’s another series I have all the issues for…in fact, this was the first series I completed a run for that had come out (almost) entirely before I was born. (Not sure about the last issue, with the May 1969 cover date…given cover date shenanigans, it may have actually come out just prior to or during my birth month of March ’69.)

Now it’s been a while since I’ve read my run of it, but getting a hardcover volume with the artwork printed on paper that isn’t slowly turning to dust has inspired me to dip into this zaniness again…as, you know, time permits, since I’m constantly behind on reading everything. And what I’ve read so far is very funny…very early Mad Magazine-ish in that every square inch is filled with a joke of some kind, and all the more remarkable that it was the very creators of the comics themselves doing the parodies. Yes, it’s the dreaded “Official Parody” that should be toothless and boring, but Not Brand Echh often reads like Stan and Jack and the rest of the gang blowing off some steam after toiling away at the Marvel Universe for so long.

My favorite panel so far into my rereading is this one…it’s specifically mocking the Fantastic Four storyline where Dr. Doom tricks Silver Surfer and steals his powers, but the way Stan ‘n’ Jack exaggerate Doom’s strategy of “pretending to be nice” is hilarious:


The more I look at this panel, the more I think there’s no way on God’s green Earth that anyone could have come up with a funnier book for Doom to be reading than “Butterflies I Have Loved.” I don’t know why that puts a stupid grin on my face every time I see it, but good gravy that one panel alone is funnier than entire issues of supposed humor books I’ve seen of late. Those Lee and Kirby kids, they’ve got some talent.

The actual title of the comic itself, Not Brand Echh, is charmingly dated as well, reminding us of a simpler time when products would be advertised in comparison to competing items, but the competitors would be described as “Brand X” or something similarly obfuscatory. You know, not like today, where commercials are basically “BURGER KING SUCKS, EAT AT ARBY’S” or something equally straight-forward. “Brand Echh,” of course, was Marvel’s nickname for their crosstown rivals DC Comics (putting a Mad-esque twist on “X” for the grosser-sounding “ECHH”), and when the title of the series was combined with the blurb just above it (“Who says a comic book has to be good??”) the cover of every issue was a slam at their competition. That’s…got my respect. I think the closest DC ever got to lobbing that ball back into Marvel’s court were some Marvel parodies in Inferior Five, though there were other minor gags/references in various DC titles here and there. (Wasn’t there a direct swipe at Spider-Man in Legion of Super-Heroes? Maybe someone can remind me.)

And now that I have this book, a run of Not Brand Echh should be making it into the “New Arrivals” back issue bins at the store as well. If, of course, I can convince myself to bring them in.

Thanksgiverlings.

§ November 23rd, 2017 § Filed under movie reviews § 6 Comments

Ah, one of the few days of the year where I can bend the bars, roll the toilet paper out the window, slide down the roll and have an escape from the shop. Yup, ain’t no Mike at the store today, so you all are just going to have to wait ’til Friday to pick up your extra copies of Frank Miller’s The Spirit Blu-rays for the holiday season. In the meantime, I plan to…hell, I don’t know, what does one do with this “free time” I’ve heard about in whispered legends? …I actually had a customer say to me on Wednesday “you are taking the day off, right? You’re always working!”

This looks like one of those lost weeks here on the blog…late start with a Tuesday post, and ain’t nobody checking in during the holiday weekend, so…yeah, let’s all meet up here again next week. I’ll bring the dip. …Me, I’m the dip, in case you were wondering.

However, let me comment on a couple of things before I send you off to argue with your relatives about the political matter of choice:

1. Saw the Justice League movie, which was just fine. Lots of action, sufficient humor, all the characters got their time (or times) to shine, and was just good old fashioned fun. Not a perfect movie…no movie is perfect, save Cabin Boy…but for folks who’ve been wanting a DC Universe live action movie that isn’t dark and dour, well, here you go! Yes, the villain is just a dude who wants to destroy things for its own sake, but served well as a plot device to spur our heroes into action. And yes, most of the film is about as deep as a sidewalk puddle…no attempts at the “big questions” or themes here, like in MoS or BvS…but that first Avengers movie was empty calories, too, and we all seemed okay with that.

Also, didn’t seem to notice Henry Cavill’s CGIed lip or a surfeit of midriff-baring Amazon warriors…you know, the things everyone was complaining about.

Anyway, the movie’s plenty entertaining, and just from my personal experience, still seems to be attracting audiences…we had to go to two theaters, on a Tuesday night even, to find a showing we could get into.

2. So I got my signed comp copies of Cryptid Cinema in the mail from Steve Bissette, and here’s what he put on my envelope:


WELL HA HA GUESS THIS ENVELOPE IS A PERMANENT PART OF THE COLLECTION, WHAT CAN I DO

See you guys next week, and thanks for reading.

Some neat stuff I found.

§ November 21st, 2017 § Filed under advertising, pal plugging, self-promotion, swamp thing § 1 Comment

Here’s yet another installment of “what did Mike find in the boxes of old promo stuff from his previous job this time,” featuring this poster advertising the Marvel graphic novel Death of Captain Marvel by Jim Starlin:


Unlike a lot of the posters I’ve been seeing, this one was totally displayed, with pieces of tape still affixed to the back, and even a couple of tape tears noticeable on the front from where another poster with tape on its back was placed on top of it. Even still, it’s a nice piece of retail history from the very early 1980s.

From a couple of years later is, not a promo poster, but an odd piece of photocopier humor that was passed around in the wake of the release of Frank Miller’s mini-series Ronin:


You see, the joke is the comic is called Ronin, so the picture on the original cover has been replaced with an image of Marvel’s Red Ronin fighting Godzilla, and…well, look, this is what we had before Photoshop and image sharing on your Tumblrs and whathaveyou. Just eighth-generation Xerox copies of Xerox copies of gags being passed around by hand for everyone to enjoy. From the few examples of these I remember seeing way back when, at least this one wasn’t, like, purposefully offensive, which was a rarity in itself.

• • •

Hey, my friend Cathy, who does lots of medically-themed comics (some of which you can sample right here) has started up a Patreon of her very own. I know everyone’s got a Patreon right now and times are tough all over, but if you’ve got a dollar to spare, I bet she’d appreciate it.

And speaking of Patreons, I know I fell behind on mine and its exclusive content a bit, but I have started on the next Swamp Thing-a-Thon installment (covering original series #8, The Lovecraftian One). That should be up soon. I apologize, but sometimes real life gets in the way of doing fun stuff. I’m sure some of you can relate.

Oh, and on the topic of Swamp Thing, I did get a copy of the Bernie Wrightson Artifact Edition from IDW, featuring tons of original art for Swamp Thing another other DC horror comics. I’ll probably post a more extensive review of it soon, but in the meantime, let me assure you that it is sufficiently fantastic. I told myself a long time ago the only Artifact Edition book I’d personally get would be one that featured Wrightson’s Swamp Thing work, and I chose wisely. Not to say the other volumes don’t look great (and they do!) but Wrightson’s originals are the ones I felt I’d appreciate the most, and I wasn’t wrong. This book is printed in almost literally tear-inducing detail…I was comparing the original art in the IDW volume to the original printed comics from the ’70s and…sheesh, wotta revelation. And yes, the werewolf splash and these two covers are in there, too. …So go buy one already! Or order one from me! I won’t stop you!

Let me just start off this post with something that would have blown the mind of teenaged me.

§ November 17th, 2017 § Filed under market crash, pal plugging, publishing § 6 Comments

First, the plug:


Steve Bissette (whom you may remember having drawn a certain swamp monster of some note) has published a new book, Cryptid Cinema, where he discusses a few of his favorite movie critters. Along the way of the production of this volume, Mr. Bissette asked for my assistance, particularly regarding some of the goofy Swamp Thing merchandise that was produced way back when. Well, specifically, he asked if he could quote some of my old blog posts on the topic, to which I of course said “sure!” So here we are, a big ol’ book by ME ME ME with some help from Steve Bissette that you can order just by clicking on this little box here:


Tell ’em Mike sent you! And when they say “who?” just turn around and run, run like the dickens.

And of course, a big, big thanks to Mr. Bissette for asking me to be involved!

• • •

Okay, now back to Progressive Ruin, which is already in progress:

Dan wonders in the comments to Monday’s post:

“I was never able to find out what exactly ‘Mando’ or ‘Baxter’ paper is besides ‘a kind of paper they printed comics on.’ Are they brand names? Named after inventors? What other uses do the have? Newsprint I get – it’s what they print newspapers on.”

I…don’t know. I just assumed they were names assigned to various kinds of paper stock by the manufacturers. Just doing a quick Googling I found a couple of references to “MANDO paper,” as in the “Minnesota and Ontario Paper Company. I didn’t find many specific references to this being the same mando paper stock as used in comics, outside a message board entry or two, but maybe someone who knows better can clear it up.

Baxter paper I’m not so sure about…there are some references to a couple of paper companies with “Baxter” in their name, including, confusingly enough, a fictional Leland Baxter Paper Company that supposedly constructed the Fantastic Four’s Baxter Building. I’m pretty sure that, like I said, it was just a name assigned by the manufacturer to its product, and again, if anyone has a more specific answer, please chime in!

EDIT: Thom H. notes in the comments that Baxter paper appears to have originated from the Great Northern Paper Company (which was one of the possible sources I turned up in my own search). Ben backs this up in the comments to my Monday post, and both fellas point to this weblog posting and comments for sourcing.

From Wednesday’s post, James G. asks

I got out of comics for a while, and was pulled back in by Transmetropolitan, which is a pretty awesome way to get back into the medium. So there is a bunch of stuff that you mention (Deathwatch 2000, X-Men #1) that I don’t even know what that means, or what it’s implications to the direct market, retail system, etc were. I don’t even know what a Deathmate is, unless it’s an ex-GF (buddum-chihhh, I’ll be here all week). Can you elaborate a little, or is there somewhere (other than googling that for me) that you could recommend?

James, I apologize. I’ve been doing this so long (I mean, selling comics, not just blogging about them, though that’s likely the case as well) that I just throw out references here and there and everywhere and assume that just because I know what I’m talking about, that everyone else will too. I do attempt explanations when I can, but some events just loom so large for me in my recollections of the Comics of Decades Past, I forget not everyone was there experiencing the same magical times that I was.

The big deal with X-Men #1 was that there were five variant covers for the issue (which you can see right here, with the newsstand edition included as well), with each cover released in subsequent weeks. The first four covers formed a larger image, and the fifth variant featured all four covers linked together in a wraparound foldout cover. This came out around the peak of the comic market boom, and orders on these comics were out of control. I think the combined total made this the highest ordered comic at least in the modern age, or maybe even since the Golden Age…trying to look this up to confirm just brought me to a bunch of comic book “investment” sites, which depressed me, but trust me…there’s a lot of copies of this.

Now, don’t get me wrong…the comic sold great. We sold a ton of them at the time. Hell, even I bought one. (Just one!) But we had a bunch left over as well, as at the time the store purchasing strategy was “this is the first issue of a new ongoing X-Men series, the first since the Silver Age, better have lots on hand for all that back issue demand!” I’ve joked that even since opening my own shop, I’ve acquired a small backlog of some of these first issues without even really trying to buy any, and by “joked” I mean “accurately described my specific experience.” They just kinda…show up, man. They do still sell even now, on occasion. Of course, even given the large amounts of copies that were printed, perhaps copies are not as easy to track down now, given that many stores at the time that may have had overstock are now gone, and that a significant percentage of people who bought it at the time either lost them or didn’t store them properly. This is something I discussed a while back, if you’re interested.

Deathmate was the greatly-anticipated crossover between the then new and hot publishers Image Comics and Valiant Comics. I actually did a write-up on this, oh, about 12 years ago, which is good because I could barely remember the “story” details now. Anyway everyone overordered it, it had problems with shipping delays, I think some people were put out that Spawn wasn’t involved (or only just barely) and it turned into a huge backroom burden because it didn’t sell anywhere close to expectations. As noted in that post I linked, I was happy to rid myself of these for the princely sum of one slim nickel each, and good riddance.

“Deathwatch 2000” (boy, comics were big on death then, you know, not like now) was the big crossover event from Continuity Comics. Continuity was the company run by legendary comics artist Neal Adams, with most of the titles seemingly drawn by him or at least drawn in his house style. They had bit of a following…in particular Armor, Samuree and Megalith seemed to be the most popular. Now, here’s where things get a bit fuzzy, as I don’t remember the specifics, but I seem to recall some kind of special “#0” issue that was part of the storyline but wasn’t, like, sold on the stands. Specifically, there were some hoops for readers to jump through in order to “qualify” for getting that issue…honestly, I just can’t recall what it was. I just remember we had too many of that comic. (And no, I’m not talking about the Valeria the She-Bat comics Continuity released as yet another hard-to-get premium comic, the details for which I also can’t recollect.) Hopefully, as I plow through those boxes of old promotional material from the previous place of employment, I’ll be able to glean some clues as to what specifically was going on.

Zoot Koomie zoots

I had completely forgotten about Continuity Comics. If you’re looking for content to write about, I’d be interested in a retrospective.

As you see just above, my memories of Continuity are pretty limited. I didn’t read any at the time (though I was tempted by Echo of Futurepast, their anthology comic). I’ll see if I can come up with anything more.

I was buying lots of Dark Horse, First, and Eclipse books at the time and still didn’t recognize most of their titles when I looked them up just now. How did they sell compared to the other small publishers?

Pretty well, actually. There were the Big Two (National Periodical and Timely Comics) and then there were the larger small-press companies (the three you mention, plus probably a couple of others), the not-quite-as-big-as-the-bigger-smaller-publishers (companies like maybe Fantagraphics and, yes, Continuity), and then the small-small publishers, who did their one or two titles every few months and that was that. Of course, that’s just talking about periodicals…once you factor in Fantagraphics’ book publishing, that boosts them up a bit. And plus, I’m just going on personal experience…maybe there were stores where, say, Jon Sable Freelance outsold X-Men. Hey, it could happen.

I sort of touch on this topic in this post, where I mention that it was kind of a different comics market back then, with people more willing to try books from indie publishers. Sales on what probably look like strange, offbeat books to current eyes likely sold better than you’d expect. Probably at numbers that Marvel and DC would love to have now.

Yes, this was before Turok Dinosaur Hunter #1 came out.

§ November 15th, 2017 § Filed under market crash § 5 Comments


Here’s an interesting artifact of the early ’90s comics market boom/bust…a letter from Voyager Communications (the publisher of Valiant Comics) encouraging retailers to lessen their dependence on the Big Two companies and be more open to upping orders on indies (like, oh, say, Valiant Comics). I like the list of then-current perceived problems in the direct market at the beginning of the letter. I vaguely remember the Marvel/DC retail chain thing. I don’t remember there being any distribution/”apportioning” problems with the Robin hologram covers…I just remember there were too many of them! And toys…man, toys are still a weird thing for comics shops to deal with, given that on some items it’s way too hard to compete with chain stores re: wholesale pricing and release dates.

The advice in this letter isn’t bad, by any means…a more diverse product line is usually a healthier option. And “consider trimming orders of titles that don’t sell for you” may seem like “no duh” advice, but trust me, that wasn’t happening as often as it should. Plus, by the time this letter got around (late 1991, I think, given the letter was with a Shadowman #1 promo), it may have been too little, too late for some shops. There were more excesses yet to come, with the Death (and Return) of Superman right around the corner, and I think X-Men #1 may have been happening about the time of this letter, and we still had Image Comics on its way, not to mention a certain title mentioned in the very subject line of this post. Money was being made, yes, at least for a time, but too much unsold stock was piling up as well, and when that crash hit, those high orders would kill you. (Wrote a bit about that a couple of months ago.)

I see also that Dark Horse Comics and Continuity Comics were cc-ed this particular memo, presumably to…I don’t know, get them to chime in or something. They had their own then-forthcoming attempts at seizing market share that may have helped spread some retailers thin…”Comics’ Greatest World,” one of too many new “universes” companies were trying to get off the ground, or Valeria the She-Bat, which required some hoop-jumping in order to get the early (and as it turned out, almost the only) issues of the series. And there were some kind of shenanigans with the “Deathwatch 2000” crossover that I barely recall now, but just remember it was a pain in the butt and it turned out nobody cared anyway.

And I won’t even mention Deathmate. Well, except right then.

Basically, there’s a lot of blame to share in the 1990s market crash. It ain’t just on Marvel and DC’s shoulders, and some bad choices by some retailers themselves didn’t help either.

Anyway, thank goodness weird publishing initiatives like that are all behind us now! Just smooth sailing ahead for the comics industry!

Suddenly nostalgic for the Miraweb format.

§ November 13th, 2017 § Filed under advertising, swamp thing § 4 Comments

As the ongoing deep dive into the ancient trove of promo material continues, I found this Swamp Thing flyer from 1987:


…featuring small reproductions of pages from Swamp Thing #60 (May 1987) by Alan Moore and John Totleben. Here’s a better look at the retailer-specific info here:


As you can see in the scan, the top edge of the flyer is pretty crunched, but I suppose it’s too late at this point to try to get another copy. And, just so you know, the $1.00 price tag that starts with issue #61 goes up to $1.25 with issue #67, so start saving your pennies now. Actually, I kinda miss that “New Format” era…a little more upscale than the standard 75-cent comics of the time, not quite as dear as the $1.50 “Baxter” books like New Teen Titans. It was a nice middle-of-the-road format with reasonably good print quality.

Feeling a little bemused at how quickly I can still separate out the varying printing formats and price points from back then. Of course, there’s a bit more homogeneity to price points now from the Big Two or Four or Whatever, and not so much hairsplitting over the types of paper used, or cover stock. At least, it seems we don’t talk about it as much.

Doing this post reminds me I still have a couple of questions left to answer in that old post where I asked you for those questions.

§ November 10th, 2017 § Filed under publishing § 6 Comments

Okay, going back to that post about Boris the Bear and variants an’ stuff….

Jim Kosmicki says

“well, there were the variant covers on Justice League and Firestorm where they tried a younger skewing trade dress, but never mind. Looking those up in the GCD, that experiment was about a year after this was published…so no, in my feeble memory, there was no other precedent.”

The covers he’s talking about are these…Justice League #3 (1987):

…and Firestorm #61 (also 1987):

As best as I can recall, these were just sent out to newsstands in scattered areas around the country. Our local area seemed to me hit with a lot of copies of Justice League, but I personally bought a copy of the Firestorm variant from a newsstand in Oxnard, so some did make it out here. But I recall having at the previous place of employment a sizable stack of the JL book that, frankly, didn’t show much sales movement…I suspect the higher prices in the price guide reflected the secondary market in areas where said variants didn’t get sent, while out in sunny Califor-nee nobody much cared. The Firestorm cover, however, I almost never saw come through the shop, so I assume 1) it wasn’t as widely distributed around here and 2) well, duh, just realized Justice League sold quite a bit better than Firestorm so of course there’d be more of the former.

• • •

Daniel T goes a little something…like this:

“Boris was released in November and Man of Steel I’m 90+% sure was out late June/early July. How many other two cover comics could there have been? I’d think Boris could have been the SECOND comic with a variant. So I have no idea what ‘other’ comics are being referred to unless the two versions of MoS #1 count as the ‘other’s.”

Yeah, that sounds right. I think it’s fair to say that perhaps Dark Horse was being a little…politic in not directly saying naming DC Comics and saying it was all their fault. There was also a parody of Man of Steel called Man of Rust that also had two variants, but that was out around the same time as that issue of Boris the Bear. I wonder how many of the early “variant covers” wave were just variations on Man of Steel?

“And the letter wasn’t really explaining the idea of 50/50 variants so much as the fact that every copy of Boris #4 was going to have both covers, just half of them reversed.”

Well, okay, maybe there weren’t doing that specifically…perhaps I was simplifying/extrapolating a tad. It was still a press release explaining “variants,” which I thought was amusing given that it’s kinda old hat now. It’d be like putting out a press release for announcing, I don’t know, “Majority of standard comic books will continue to use staples.”

• • •

Eric L presents, in response to my assertion that newsstand-edition comics were likely ordered in lower numbers at comic shops

“But at the time if you wanted the newsstand cover all you would have had to do was wait two weeks and pick it up at the local 7-11. At the time they were readily available. And I always liked the newsstand cover better anyway.”

That’s fair, but there were probably enough people going to comic shops who knew their comics would be out now and didn’t want to wait two weeks for the other edition to hit newsstands, assuming local newsstands would even get the book in question (and sometimes not all of them did). It just became easier to have one place to go to get all their comics, instead of touring the neighborhood hitting all the convenience stores to get the issues they needed. …Though between you and me, sometimes I have that nostalgic feeling about riding my bike from 7-Eleven to 7-Eleven, hunting and gathering the latest releases every Tuesday and Thursday.


Andrew wonders

“I’m thinking of Marvel, and how in either the lettercolumns or Bullpen Bulletins they had to reassure people that the cover differences between newsstand and direct market copies were only about the distribution method, and neither one was meant to be seen as rarer than the other or a variant of some kind. Maybe that’s what the flyer’s referring to.”

I don’t think the flyer’s referring specifically to that, given that they’re addressing the multiple cover images on Boris. However, though I haven’t had many inquiries about this in a long time (since it’s mostly not an issue anymore), I did used to get people asking me if it made any difference if there was a UPC code on the cover, or if there was a little picture of Spider-Man where the UPC code should be? Actually, I just remembered I talked about this very topic at length a year or so ago right here.

• • •

From the post about The Nam, Bryan recalls

“Re: The Nam’s sales and collectability, didn’t the series actually start off rather popular? I can remember the first issue being a on-the-wall-behind-the-cash-register-for-$10 book within months of its first publishing.”

Yes, actually, it took off right away and the first issue did acquire some premium pricing in short order. Weird for a non-superhero comic from the Big Two at the time…I remember rarely if ever having copies of that particular issue in stock at any given time. In later years, that issue and the ones with, um, the Punisher (sigh….) still retained some demand.

• • •

And from the Classics Illustrated rack post, Alvin inquires

“Speaking of First, any inside dope on their collapse? IIRC, the bottom dropped off for them well before the real market implosion.”

Not really anything too juicy, alas. They replaced long-running series that were probably experiencing dips in circulation with proposed ongoing series of mini-series, which I’m guessing they were counting on sales bumps from new #1s every few months. I don’t know how successful those minis were, but it was probably still a comedown from having several ongoing regular monthlies on the stands at the same time. I also think First was looking into, or just beginning to start, a chain of retail comic shops, and if I’m recalling that correctly, that may have eaten up some resources too. And I there was other stuff, I’m sure…I’ll have to go back through my Comics Journals from the period and see if there are any write-ups about what was goin’ on.

Had some great expectations for this item.

§ November 8th, 2017 § Filed under advertising § 5 Comments


This is a flyer sent out to comics retailers in the early 1990s advertising First Comics’s Classics Illustrated display rack. Not sure why my previous place of employment never got one…probably had enough shelves and racks and display units in a store already filled to the brim. Just didn’t have the room, I suspect.

However, at some point in the early 2000s, while perusing some of the downtown Ventura thrift shops, I found a store using one of these racks as a display for, I think, old hardcover novels. I asked the owner if she would be willing to sell the rack, but alas, she preferred to keep it to hold about $10 worth of used books.

Most of those downtown thrift shops have gone away now, and I don’t know what the owner of this now-defunct storefront did with this Classics Illustrated rack. Hopefully, once the time did come to close up the business, she eventually did sell it to someone who’d appreciate it, or that she took it home to, I don’t know, hold an array of magazines in the bathroom. I really hope she didn’t just toss it in a dumpster, to let it rot in some landfill.

Anyway, here’s a photo of one someone pulled off the eBay. The rack’s blue color was very striking. I wish I’d been able to talk that thrift store owner out of it.

“It is also worth your while to rack this issue as part of (or near) your ‘Acts of Vengeance’ display.”

§ November 6th, 2017 § Filed under marvel, retailing § 3 Comments

Still going through old boxes of comic book promotional material of decades past, and one item I found was a Marvel Comics retailer letter with suggestions on how shops could market a particular comic book to its customer base. The comic in question: The ‘Nam #41 (February 1990):


This of course is the issue of the ongoing mostly real world-ish Vietnam War comic that guest-starred Marvel super-heroes. Now, it’s not as egregious as it may sound…the premise is that a U.S. soldier in Vietnam imagines how conflict would go if Iron Man and pals were around, and, you know, a guy imagining what that would be like is at least within the realm of possibility. It’s not like, say, the Punisher showed up or anything. So the premise doesn’t really break the main conceit of the book, that it’s a dramatized “realistic” retelling of the war, from the points of view of the men on the ground.

Of course, in execution, it likely plays out differently. In context of “this is all in a fella’s imagination” it may be, but it’s still pictures of superheroes fighting in the Vietnam War in a comic that had eschewed that sort of imagery.

Anyway, whatever, that’s fine. If they needed the occasional story like this to goose sales a bit (and I’m assuming sales might have needed bit of a boost) so they could keep telling the superhero-free stories they wanted to tell…I mean, sure, knock yourselves out. But what I wanted to mention briefly were the sales tips in the above scan. I’d posted this pic initially on the Twitterers the other day, and as Bully, the Little Shelving Bull, pointed out, “Put it near What If? so nobody can find it!” appears to be one of the suggestions. Frankly, that sort of racking strategy would probably create more confusion for sales…”Hey, why is The ‘Nam in the Ws?”

The suggestion that bothers me the most, however, is the idea that retailers should tell customers “hey, that Sgt. Fury comic with Captain America is worth a lot now, wink wink, nudge nudge,” implying that surely this comic will be a highly sought-after expensive collectible in short order as well! (Recent sales on eBay: one copy at 99 cents.) If you’re trying to convince customers to buy a comic for its possible investment opportunity…well, I never ever ever do that. Partially because I want people to read and enjoy their comics, but mostly because I don’t want someone to buy three dozen copies of something on my investibility precognitive knowhow, only to have said items turn out to be a bust and suddenly the buyer’s back in my shop with, like, one of these.

Also, that Sgt. Fury comic is from the mid-1960s, and features an early Silver Age appearance of Captain America. Not quite the same as a boom-period comic with reworked Romita Sr. drawings, when it comes to demand.

• • •

I do plan on going back to that post about the Boris the Bear variants/flyer, so keep your comments there comin’, if comments you do have!

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