At some point shortly after its release, I was at a comic convention in the Los Angeles area where I spotted a dealer selling…some comic or ‘nother, I don’t recall which one, but he was trying to move copies of said comic by having them packaged with a free bonus comic. Somehow I managed to notice that one of the comics was packaged with a copy of Trypto the Acid Dog! #1, and (as I recall) the price wasn’t too far off the mark from what Trypto‘s cover price was, and that’s how I got my hands on this here comic book, my friends. Can’t remember for the life of me what the other comic was, since I gave it away or who knows what, but here’s hoping it wasn’t something stupidly expensive today. (“Pffft, Amazing Spider-Man #129…who cares?”)
Anyhoo, Trypto the Acid Dog! is about a pet who gains powers from exposure to illegally-dumped chemicals, and uses said powers to avenge his family’s deaths at the hands of evil industrialists. Sounds a bit heavy-handed, and…well, maybe just a little (the evil company is called “Toxicem,” whose owner rants about the interference of “those bleeding-heart environmentalist scumbags”) but that’s a feature, not a bug, and the whole comic is a weirdly-funny, weirdly-sad, almost Golden Age-ish tale of the Little Guy getting his vengeance against The Big Guys. Worth checking out if you can find it.
I was reminded of this comic the other day when a customer asked us for it, and I once again confused “what Mike has in his personal collection” with “what the store has available for sale”* and said “oh, sure, we’ve got those” before finding out “no, I don’ts gots those.”
Trypto’s made a couple of other appearances as well, as noted on Mr. Mumy’s own site. I have the A1 anthology mentioned there, but I think I forgot the multi-issue appearance in Dark Horse Presents, and, as usual, now that I know about that hole in the collection, I’ve got to fill it. It’s an oddball little comic, and I hope that, as mentioned on Mr. Mumy’s page, that more Trypto adventures will someday see print.
EDIT 3/11: It’s been pointed out to me that pal Nat has a complete Trypto collection available for sale over at About Comics!
This Batman/Superman annual, written by Greg Pak, is very good, however, with some interestingly appealing art from Jae Lee, Kenneth Rocafort and Philip Tan…in particular, I was discussing with a customer of mine the other day about how Lee seems to be leaps and bounds beyond what he was doing back in the ’90s, when it was all jagged edges and silhouettes.
And for a six buck comic, you do get a fairly dense reading experience…plenty of dialogue and action and several panels per page, but never feeling cramped for space. Batman/Superman is one of the better Superman-related books, at a time when the Superman books across the board seem to be improving, and this annual is a solid, if pricy, example of the “New 52″ Superman revamp actually working.
This issue especially I can’t sell to kids, given the remarkably upsetting circumstances Archie finds himself in, and that subtext I’d mentioned before basically becoming straight up “text.”
Still very well done, however, and especially affecting given the characters starring in it. And Harvey? The jalopy makes an appearance.
The real test will be the new Sinestro title debuting soon. Comic fans like Sinestro…heck, I like Sinestro, but we’ll see if they’ll like him as the star of yet another monthly Green Lantern franchise book instead of just appearing in already existing series.
And it was! This probably remains my favorite work by Jim Valentino (then, only “Valentino”)…fun, goofy comics about the one guy without powers on a planet filled with superheroes and villains. I recognized the subjects of the parodies on each cover, even if I didn’t specifically know a whole lot about all of them at the time. A couple of friends of mine were also reading the series, and we had a good time talking about some of the gags in the book (such as the ongoing, issue-after-issue roll-call of the Legion of Super-Heroes parody, and the highly*-entertaining-to-a-bunch-of-teenagers Man-Man, with his Ganja-Breath.
Normally, I don’t try to buy collections of comics I already own, though looking at the shelves I can see that despite repeatedly claiming so, I’ve done it more than a few times. It’s hard to resist a nice-looking trade paperback sometimes, especially if the better paper and clearer reproduction improves on the original. The original series was in full color, wrapping up in a 3-D annual, and, well, I don’t have anything really against 3-D as such, but I tend to prefer my comics in two dimensions, and not read through a pair of cardboard glasses with colored lenses. The trade is in black and white, and I think the content suffers a bit as such…the color of the original series was part of its charm, I think. However, the tradeoff is that I can now more easily read the story from the 3-D annual without trying to figure out where I put my 3-D glasses this time, instead of just keeping them in the bag with the comic like a reasonable person.
I wasn’t really seeking a collection of this series or anything. It just so happened that, at some point in the early ’90s, we were putting together a wholesale purchase from Slave Labor Graphics at the shop, and I happened to see this book in the catalog. “Huh, I’d never seen that collection before, that’ll be neat to have” I thought, and added it to the order on a whim. And here it is, still on my shelves, a couple of decades later. Almost right away there were some issues with the book, with the first few pages beginning to come loose from the spine, which bummed me out a bit. Otherwise, it’s still a nice package…
…which has been totally supplanted by The Complete normalman, released by Image Comics in 2007 and including all the normalman-related material published after the first book’s release (like the normalman 20th Anniversary Special). Doesn’t seem to have Max the Magnificent however, which features not only Max, who’s popped up in normalman, but also an appearance from Captain Everything, so you normalman completists will still need this.
Anyway, that newer collection is pretty tempting, and still available from Diamond. That’ll be neat to have.
Nine years. Nine years of near-naked Japanese girly statues. Nine years of crazy prop replicas. Nine years of Monopoly jokes. Nine years of Marvel’s publishing shenanigans. Why, it only feels like I’ve been doing this for about 108 months.
And apparently I haven’t learned my lesson, because I’m doing it for another month. Get your March 2014 edition of Diamond Previews and follow along, as I hypocritically make fun of things I’m probably ordering for the store, and, in at least one case, myself:
p. 48 – Star Wars Rebel Heist #2 (of 4):
Nice cover, though.
p. 89 – Marvel Classic Character X-Men 94 #3 – Cyclops:
p. 96 – Superman: Doomed #1:
2014: Occasionally a customer will glance at this cover. “Huh, I thought Superman was dead. They’re still making his comics?”
p. 161 – DC Comics Icons Superman 1:6 Scale Statue:
“I’m…uh, I’m oiling my costume, Mom!”
“(sigh) I don’t know about that boy.”
p. 227 – The Walking Dead #127:
“In the aftermath of ‘ALL OUT WAR’ we discover…A NEW BEGINNING.”
Well, off to the next community of survivors who aren’t all that they seem!
p. 271 – Carpool T-Shirt:
p. 275 – Sonic Super-Sized Digest #7:
p. 315 – Iznogoud Volume 9: The Grand Vizier Iznogoud GN:
Mike, about a month ago, helping a customer look for humorous European graphic novels: “Here’s Iznogoud…oh, ‘Iznogoud!’ ‘Is No Good!’ 25 years later, I’m still stupid!”
p. 415 – The Quotable Doctor Who Wise Words Across Space and Time HC:
p. 417 – Planet of the Apes Miniature Book Kit with Sound:
Here’s hoping the eventual The Shining Elevator Scene Kit comes with a pouch of fake blood.
p. 442 – Spider Pog T-Shirt:
p. 457 – Sin City Monopoly:
p. 459 – Darth Vader Tinned Mints:
“Why, Lord Vader, may I compliment you on how fresh your breath smells today!”
“ARE YOU SAYING MY BREATH DOES NOT NORMALLY SMELL FRESH?”
“N-n-no, Lord Vader, I, uh, I’m just….GACK! (choke!)”
“FEEL THE POWER OF THE DARK SIDE. AND ALSO THESE TASTY, FRESHENING MINTS.”
p. 459 – Space Dog Tin Toy:
p. 498 – DC Hero Swamp Thing Sofubi:
The downside of Swamp Thing comics currently being published: “$119 for a Japanese import Swamp Thing toy! SON OF A BITCH”
p. 503 – The Beatles Yellow Submarine Titans Mini Figures:
“We are all
Tiny plastic things
Tiny plastic things
Tiny plastic things”
p. 527 – The Walking Dead Daryl Crossbow Mug:
Now, if at some point Rick looks at the screen and declares “we ARE the walking dead,” put that on a mug.
So I recently acquired a few of these Whitman comic book three-packs (still sealed!), and this particular one has something I’ve never seen before:
I don’t know how common an error this was, as at the time these were in stores, I wasn’t going around from toy store to department store carefully examining each three-pack and doing a little amateur quality control. It was more like “MOM! Can I have this pack of Star Wars comics?” and the depth of my examination was mostly restricted to “do I already own the outer two comics visible in this package?”
Anyway, none of the comics in any of these pre-packed bags are in particularly high demand…I mean, there’s some demand for cartoon comics like Fat Albert, but the packs themselves as is will sell more quickly for us as novelty items than waiting for collectors to request the specific issues therein.
Of course, that’s not always the case. There are a handful of issues from various series that were only distributed via the Whitman three-packs and not as a racked single issue, most famously (and expensively) Uncle Scrooge #179. A copy we had about — oh, ten years ago, maybe? — sold in the $300 range on eBay, and it was around a Very Good to Fine copy, if I remember correctly.
Speaking of collectability and also awkward transitions, I’ve started to have some inquiries into the first issue of Preacher, a comic that long ago stopped having any back issue demand since the primary way anyone wants this series now is via the trade paperback/hardcover editions. Which is fine, I sell plenty of Preacher books, which has more than made up for any dead Preacher backstock we’ve had sittin’ around, but now that people are getting wind of a television adaptation, I’d better dust off that section of the back issue bins for the brief period of time that they’ll be sought after again.
Plus, the return of Doomsday is resulting in multiple requests for Superman: The Man of Steel #17 (Doomsday’s first appearance) and #18 (the start of the “Death of Superman” story). I assume that’s what’s causing it, and not some spontaneous uprising of Doomsday nostalgia. Or maybe he’s in that Batman/Superman movie and I haven’t heard about it? I mean, everyone else is, so why not.
I’m also looking forward to the eventual revival of interest in Heroes comics and merchandise. I mean, all you folks loved Heroes, right?
So at the shop the other day, we were briefly talking about Action Comics Weekly, that late ’80s run of Action from issue #601 through #642 where it was an anthology title featuring DC characters both famous and not-so-much. Mostly, we were discussing the fact that, as far I can remember, almost none of the material from these comics has been reprinted. We’ve had the Nightwing: Old Friends, New Enemies trade paperback reprinting the two serials from this series, but that’s about it.
Some of the material is past its sell date: that Captain Marvel serial spinning off from the Shazam! The New Beginning mini will probably never be seen again, unless someone actually decides to make a trade of that mini which includes the serial as “bonus material.” And, you know, never say never.
But there’s a lot of Green Lantern material in those issues, stories written by Christopher Priest (as “James Owsley”) and Peter David, and at least one storyline drawn by legendary GL artist Gil Kane. DC hasn’t been shy about dipping into their GL comics backlog to reprint for their trade paperback line, so it’s a little surprising that these stories haven’t made it into some book or another.
With the character popping up occasionally on the TV show Arrow, now might be a good time for that Black Canary ACW series to see print again.
Speaking of Arrow, I’ve had requests for solo Speedy comics lately, which are purt’near impossible to come by. There was that Speedy team-up with Nightwing that’s reprinted in the trade paperback mentioned at the beginning of this post, but there’s another solo Speedy serial in this series as well. (Say that five times fast.)
There are a handful of Phantom Stranger stories, including at least one drawn by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. Okay, it’s not likely a reprint of these is particularly viable, even with a Phantom Stranger series currently on the racks, but I like the Phantom Stranger so let me dream my little dream here. (Same with all that Deadman material in ACW.)
And then there’s the “Sunday Pages” segment in each issue…the two-page centerspread starring Superman and drawn by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson. That’s about 80 pages or so of unreprinted Swanderson artwork hiding in this run of weekly comics, not reprinted on nice paper with one full strip per page to avoid losing artwork in the gutter of a trade paperback.
A lot of this work would fit nicely (with room left over for related reprints) into those DC Comics Presents mini-trades, the 100-page prestige format comics priced at $7.99. They’d mostly vanished of late, though that Harley Quinn volume just came out a week or so ago.
I’m sure there are many marketing and editorial reasons why Action Comics Weekly‘s content has remained mostly untouched for republication. And I know DC has plenty of worthwhile material that also hasn’t been reprinted yet, so why should I think ACW is so special? (Again, I’m working on my memory that most of it hasn’t been reprinted…if I’m wrong, let me know!) It just seems odd that in the 25 years since its release, the majority of this material remains languishing, forgotten and ignored, in back issue bins. Like all anthologies, it contained its share of duds, but there was plenty of good, enjoyable work in those comics by solid creative teams.
Plus, there’s probably still at least some potential audience for ACW’s Wild Dog serial.
“Mike, how do Conan comics sell at your shop? That might be a weird thing to wonder about but I’ve been re-purchasing old Marvel Conan’s I used to own, as well as getting the new Dark Horse stuff. I like a lot of it, and I liked the recent ‘…and the People of the Dark Circle’ Conan miniseries a lot. Seems like Conan will be one of the more popular franchises Dark Horse has the rights to, once Star Wars is out of their hands. Do Conan comics sell well?”
Conan has always done fairly well at our shop, even during that weird period in the ’90s after Marvel ended their long-running Conan the Barbarian series and had like a dozen Conan minis and short-run series. They weren’t top sellers by any means, but they were solid sellers off the racks.
The Dark Horse Conan comics have also been regular, if not spectacular, sellers, with a dependable sales record that hasn’t seemed to fluctuate much over the years. That sounds like I’m damning with faint praise, but believe you me, in the current comics market I’ll take “consistent low-to-mid-range seller” over “spiraling into nothingness” (cough) iron man (cough).
As for taking over as Dark Horse’s Premiere Franchise after Star Wars is in the grips of Marvel/Disney’s tender mercies, well…maybe. I’m not certain. Star Wars has had its success at Dark Horse mostly because, despite the large number of SW books, not every fan felt obligated to buy every series. The franchise was wide enough to include a variety of titles with different settings and characters and timelines and so on, appealing to different levels of SW commitment. The people who are buying the current Darth Vader mini aren’t necessarily the same people who are buying the Legacy series set a century or so later after Return of the Jedi. Even the folks that have “ALL STAR WARS” on their comic saver lists at our shop usually have a list of exceptions after that notation.
Conan, on the other hand, doesn’t quite have that wide a range of readership that I’ve noticed. Whereas you can publish a bunch of SW books at once and not burn out their followers, since they’re not going to buy every series anyway, pretty much every Conan series will be bought and read by the same people. Conan doesn’t appear to have the same range of settings and characters that the SW comics do…I mean, by definition, they all star Conan. Sometimes Young-ish Barbarian Conan, sometimes older King Conan, maybe other Conans I don’t know about. But the readership mostly overlaps on all the Conan titles…you put out one Conan a month, they all buy it. Two Conans, they’ll buy both. Three Conans, they’ll probably buy all three.
And that’s probably pushing the limit right there. If you keep pulling more and more money out of the fans’ pockets every month by basically making them dish out to keep up with their franchise of choice, they’re either just going to cut back to just the main “flagship” title or just give up altogether out of frustration and economic necessity (Cf. The Avengers). There is a ceiling on Conan franchise expansion that is much lower than on the Star Wars franchise, so unless there’s suddenly an upswing in Conan popularity in culture at large (and there have been a handful of mostly failed attempts at it over the last few years), that ceiling isn’t going up any time soon.
This is all based on our local market conditions, of course, Maybe Conan is the biggest thing ever in, I don’t know, Fairfax, VA, and their incredibly high demand for Conan product is balancing out our mostly moribund demand.
Of course, new comic sales aren’t the extent of it. I do good business in Dark Horse’s trade paperbacks, primarily the books that reprint Marvel’s old material (the Chronicles of Conan volumes, and those big ol’ Savage Sword phone books reprinting the magazines). The actual original Marvel comics do well, too…not just the early Barry Windsor-Smith issues, which are sought out not just by Conan fans but by “Bronze Age” comic collectors seeking “keys,” but the later ’70s/early ’80s runs as well. Savage Sword of Conan mags move regularly, even the Conan Sagas reprinting old SSoC sell. This isn’t so much from new readers to Conan (though there are some!) but from older nostalgic fans buying up old Conans to enjoy again (or read for the first time, if they missed an issue or three back in the old days).
There doesn’t seem to be much overlap between the two audiences…the Venn diagram of “folks what are buying the new Dark Horse stuff” and “folks buying the Marvel stuff, via either back issues or reprints” would be a slim area connecting the two circles (and would include Señor Editor, whose question kicked off all this yakkity-yakking of mine). But at least there is still a market for our barbarian friend, even after all these years.