More crash talk.

§ September 13th, 2005 § Filed under market crash, turok Comments Off on More crash talk.

So my insanely rambling post yesterday regarding the comic market crash, a couple commenters noted that Superman #75, the infamous “Death of Superman” issue, and Turok #1, the infamous “didn’t sell like we were all expecting it to” issue, may have come out on the same day. That is very possible…I don’t have my invoices handy to confirm, but it wouldn’t be the only time one enormously red-hot comic’s sales affected the sales of yet another allegedly-hot funnybook released at the same time. The first Aliens Vs. Predator comic, which seemed to have a lot of customers anticipating its release, came out at the same time as another “hot” comic (I believe it was Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man #1) and it just sat there, warming the shelf, looking at me with its sad, puppy-dog eyes, asking “why doesn’t anybody wwwove me?” Of course, I seem to remember that green logo on an orange background cover not standing out at all on the comics rack.

Honestly, I don’t know why that would be…why buying one “hot” comic would preclude buying another. I think in the two cases above it may be just due to the huge amount of real-world press one book got, over the limited fan-press coverage the other received…but who knows.

Commenters suggested some other books that may have contributed to the comics market crash…one in particular is Deathmate, which I’m surprised I forgot about. Well, maybe I was just trying to forget about it, since, yeah, it was another one of those books that seemed like it was going to sell like gangbusters, and ended up becoming bargain box fodder. It was a limited series, with the issues indicated by cover color rather than issue number, teaming up the Valiant Comics universe with the Image Comics universe. The two hottest comic companies, teaming up for a mini-series? How could this not sell well?

Well, first, people were disappointed that McFarlane’s Spawn wasn’t involved, Second, as noted in the link, the Image-produced half of the series was enormously late (I believe that Rob Liefeld’s Deathmate Red was the most infamously delayed), killing any momentum the series may have had. Third, it wasn’t any damned good, though I realize that’s hardly a detriment to many a popular comic book series. For a very brief period of time, back when people still cared about Image’s Gen 13, people were looking for their appearance in Deathmate Black, but that demand dried up right quick.

Another popular choice was X-Men #1, which had five different covers, the first four forming one large image, and the fifth cover combining all four of the previous covers. The variants were released one a week for five weeks…it did sell enormously well, but many retailers ordered far too many, and it remains one of the most common comics of recent memory. If I remember correctly, we actually ordered pretty well on these and didn’t get stuck with too many left over.

Commenter Jim notes that Pitt #1 was a contender. I know that some stores had far too many of this particular issue, but we actually did okay with it…we ordered a case of the things, and they blew out the door. Lots of multiple copy sales as well, though (and I think some of you are beginning to recognize that this is a common story from this period) investors started to see that a lot of the new comics they were buying were in no small supply, and thus had no “collectible” value.

Commenter Michael brings up the Spider-Man Clone Saga, which I always saw as mostly a Spider-Man killer rather than a comics market killer, though driving people away from the Spider-Man books surely wasn’t good for the health of the industry as a whole (or, at least, for Marvel). As generally reviled as the Clone Saga was, what people tend to forget is that at first, the clone storyline sold enormously well. It was just when Marvel took a storyline that should have lasted six months, tops, and stretched it out for a couple years that the damage was done. And that damage stuck, crippling the Spider-books until Marvel finally shored up sales with the “stunt-casting” of J. Michael Straczynski as the Amazing Spider-Man writer. There’s some small bit of irony in the fact that today’s kids are fascinated with the Clone Saga issues, and snap ’em up like crazy. They also like the 300 different series starring Venom. Go figure.

Commenter Thorpe mentions Triumphant Comics, which I was actually talking to Kid Chris about on Sunday (though I think I kept referring to them as Chromium Comics, for some reason…they might as well have been). Each comic individually serial-numbered…as Mad Magazine used to say on their serial-numbered mags, “collect them all, kids!” I haven’t actually cracked open a cover on one of these things in years, but I seem to recall that they were uniformly terrible, and that they didn’t sell at all on the racks.

RobB brings up Wizard, which certainly encouraged the speculator mentality that drove the comics boom ‘n’ bust. I think my favorite part of the mag was when they’d list all the new #1 issues coming out for a certain month, with a notation that “first issues can sometimes go up in price” (or words to that effect). I think it was Gary Groth in an issue of The Comics Journal that described Wizard as a magazine that “tells you the price of everything, and the value of nothing,” which I thought was a nice turn of phrase, there. (EDIT: I’ve since been informed that Groth was apparently paraphrasing Oscar Wilde. I probably should have known that. Ah, well.)

In other news:

You know, the earlier Valiant superhero comics were actually pretty good…the first ten issues of Solar still hold up, and Barry Windsor-Smith’s run on Archer & Armstong is quirky fun. And, as far as company-wide crossovers go, Unity was fairly entertaining. You can read more about this company at the mindbogglingly-comprehensive Valiant Comics site.

Oh for pete’s sake, if you’re gonna cut ‘n’ paste a whole section of one of my posts, at least link back to my site! I mean, link back to my site in a way other than directly hotlinking my images. (At least the guy said he found it, rather than claiming he wrote it himself like some people have done.)

Comments are closed.