Mike pays the price for Tuesday’s lazy post, Part One.

§ June 17th, 2009 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on Mike pays the price for Tuesday’s lazy post, Part One.

I put the call out for questions, and lo, you did respond. Thanks, gang! Let’s see how many of these I can get through today:

  • John Parker inquires

    “The shop I sold 1,000 comics to told me they would accept anything except Master of Kung Fu. This was mid-90s. 15 years later, are those Shang-Chi classics reviled in shops like yours?”

    It’s very possible this shop you were selling your books to just happened to have an overstock of Master of Kung-Fu, or at least a local lack of demand…they may not have reviled them so much as just not needed them.

    As for us…we aren’t actively buying Master of Kung-Fu at the moment, though we may pick up an issue or two here and there if we’re low enough in our stock on it, and we can get it cheap enough. There’s not a lot of demand for it right now, though with our back issue rep, we do get the occasional person hitting us up for it.

    Now, long ago, in those pre-“Mike entering comics retail” days, when the sun shone a little more brightly and there was still joy and hope in the world, the store owner, Ralph (whom some of you ask about later on in the comments) would sometimes meet some resistance in selling Master of Kung-Fu. “Nah, I don’t want to read some kung-fu book!” the customer would say disdainfully. “But it’s really good!” Ralph would reply. “Here, take this one for free and try it out!” And the customer would take it…and a few days later would return to the store to get more Master of Kung-Fu back issues. And Ralph was able to do that a handful of times to turn people onto a book that he personally really enjoyed.

    So, no, we don’t revile it. We quite like it, actually.

  • So Anonymous asked

    “Cap #600?”

    …which isn’t really an entire question, as such, but I get his/her/its meaning. And Joe Littrel asked the related question

    “Did you actually get anyone fresh off the street looking for Cap #600 yesterday? (The only questions I got about it were ‘net savvy regulars.) Did you have it delivered early?”

    I’m not in the shop on Mondays, but early in the afternoon I did put in a call to Employee Aaron to see what was going on. It went like this:

    Aaron: “Ralph’s Comic Corner, can I help you?”

    Me (excitedly): “Yeah, do you have Captain America #600? I just heard about it on the news and I have to have it!”

    Aaron: “Uh, no, we won’t have it ’til Wednesd….”

    Me: “Aaron, it’s me, Mike.”

    Aaron: “Oh! (laughs) Actually, you’re the first call we’ve had for Cap #600.”

    So I don’t know if we got any calls after that, but I’m thinking probably not too many. We didn’t get it early, as related in the above conversation, and it looks like that wasn’t a problem. Marvel did seem to get some news coverage for Captain America’s return, but “returns” don’t seem to be nearly as interesting to the general public as “deaths” (see also Adventures of Superman #500) and I’m not anticipating demand from them. Maybe some heightened interest from people already reading comics, sure.

  • Roger Green wants to know

    “What will the direct market comic look like in five years? Will there BE a direct market comic book market in five years?”

    If the direct market is still around (and I think it will be…none of the predictions of its death have come true yet…though I suppose it only has to be true once), I expect there will be an even heavier emphasis on books and collections, and fewer, but thicker, periodicals. Stores with extensive back issue selections like ours will be even fewer and farther between than they are already, as the industry continues to shift to stores that carry this month’s books, trade paperbacks, and that’s pretty much it. Oh, and POGs, since the nostalgia for those should be in full swing by then.

    “With Geppi reportedly on the financial ropes, how much schadenfreude are you experiencing, if any?”

    Well, if that’s the case, I certainly hope the best for him. In this economy, in this industry in particular, you don’t like seeing anyone in it experiencing any kind of financial instability. “There but for the grace of God” and all that.

  • Rich Handley wonders

    “Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near…um, comics?”

    They keep trying to make nests out of our unsold copies of Master of Kung-Fu.

  • Larry E asks

    “After Capt. America and Batman return from the dead, what will be the next BIG EVENT for Marvel & DC? Do you think that either company will ever realize that the more BIG EVENTS they produce, the less BIG they seem?”

    Well, the next Big Thing at DC is the Blackest Night event, which I’m looking forward to, and I’m not sure what Marvel’s is at the moment…seems like everything they publish has some “DARK WAR OF ZOMBIES” banner across the top of the cover, tying that book into something or ‘nother. But while it’s true that Special Events like these may seem less special the more they put out…and as someone on the retailing front lines, I hear the groans from the customer base as they see yet another crossover event announced…the fact is that they do still sell, and as long as they keep selling, Marvel and DC will keep doing them.

  • Smart guy CW asks

    “If the universe is expanding, as most scientists believe, what is it expanding into? In other words, what’s outside of the universe?”

    Probably a Starbucks.

    But if you want as close as to a real answer as you’re likely to get…well, this one seems likely.

  • Dogwelder asks

    “I can haz cheezburger?”

    Well, sure, don’t let me stop you.

  • Dwayne “The Canoe Guy” wants to know

    “1) Will we ever see a page containing all of your glorious headers?”

    The intention is, yes, I want to make an archive page of all the wonderful logo banners you folks have made for me, and have even started on one, but it’s been difficult to find the time. I’ve also been planning on a major overhaul of the site for well over a year now, switching over to another blog publishing platform, but that depends on finding the free time to do that as well. I may have to arrange for another Low Content Mode week or two so I can focus on these projects.

    2)”‘The Death of Sluggo and the Rise of Dark Nancy.’ Can you pick writer/artist team so that this book could several trillion copies across the universe? Barack Obama, nor any of his family, can appear in the series.”

    Oh, man. The first name to jump into my head was “Jim Starlin” and now I can’t shake it. That would be the very definition of “awesome.” Would also be the very definition of “only Mike, and maybe his pal Cully, would buy it.”

  • Thelonious_Nick asks

    “Which major character has had the best run over the entire run of his/her comics? Let’s stick to the iconic characters who’ve been around decades. Besides Swamp Thing, I mean.

    “In other words, if you were to select one comic at random from a character’s total collection of appearances, who is likeliest to provide a good read?”

    Huh. That’s a good question. Who would it be? I’m stalling for time while writing a blog post, how sad it that?

    I think in terms of consistency in quality and entertainment value…the Silver Age Flash, by and large, tended to offer solid comic-booking at pretty much any point during its run. Yes, even during the trial storyline at the end, there. Lots of Done-in-One stories, almost always nicely drawn, plenty of colorful characters, plenty of bizarre things always goin’ on…it’s hard to find a non-entertaining issue of The Flash.

  • Sean Hollenhors asks the forbidden question

    “Do you have a favorite John Byrne related comic project?”

    And Old Bull Lee seconds with

    “I would also like to know if you like any Byrne stuff.”

    Okay, this site had been a no-Byrne zone for a while for reasons I don’t particularly feel like getting into again. I didn’t like doing it, since I do think he was (and still is) a talented artist, his online persona rubbed me the wrong way and I felt I was better off not engaging him or his material on my site, for fear of adding an unwelcome level of negativity to what is supposed to be a fun distraction for me.

    But let’s lift the ban for now and see if I can answer the question. Probably the obvious answer is his run on Fantastic Four…I like the characters anyway, and Byrne’s run on the book is probably, after Stan and Jack’s, the definitive version of the team.

    I also loved his Alpha Flight, the team book that wasn’t a team book, for its sheer peculiarity.

    And of course, Next Men, probably Byrne’s ultimate superhero book, and one I would like to see return someday.

  • Jeff Wood queries

    “Is there a way to donate comics (to a library or school) that would result in a decent tax deduction?”

    I suppose so…I’m not a tax expert, by any means, but I’m reasonably certain that as long as you can provide sufficient documentation, you can get at least some deduction from the donation. I don’t have any more of a suggestion than that, but perhaps a reader of this site can pipe in with advice that won’t result in you getting audited!

  • Matt M. sez

    “How did you get to be so suave?”

    I got to be so suave by knowing what the ladies like. And what the ladies like is…Sandman and Strangers in Paradise trades, amirite?

    “What’s cooler: Tarot Pogs or an Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter commerative Pog holder?”

    Oh Matt.

    Now I’m picturing Tarot POGs featuring scenes from the comics and OH GOD MY BRAIN. GET OUT OF THERE, YOUR POG IS HAUNTED! (link not safe for work, or sanity)

  • The previously-mentioned Old Bull Lee also wants to know

    “And what do you think of the Nancy Collins run on Swamp Thing?”

    I quite liked it, actually. After the rather poor showing of the “Quest for the Elementals” storyline which wrapped up previous writer Doug Wheeler’s run, it was a good return to form to solid, if not groundbreaking, Swamp Thing horror comics.

  • Matthew Allison dares to ask

    “Better Swamp Thing artist – Bissette, Wrightson, or Veitch?”

    You bastard. I love all three of them.

    The cheating answer is “they were all the best artist for their particular stories,” but I’m going to give the edge to Wrightson. He set the standard for everyone else to follow.

    “Better ROM:SPACE KNIGHT artist – Sal Buscema or Steve Ditko?”

    I liked them both on the book, actually…but I think I’ll give the nod to Sal, since I love the expressiveness of his characters.

  • Harvey Jerkwater has to know

    “How much has your shop’s customer base grown or dwindled in the last, let’s say, five years? Is there much turnover in customers?”

    I think it’s remained fairly consistent…we’ve lost a few local customers, gained a few customers, and our mail order business has increased somewhat. There’s some turnover, but there are also customers we’ve had for years, and a few for decades. I don’t have a definitive answer for this, unfortunately. Compared to, say, the early ’90s, the customer base has certainly dropped. But in the last five years, as the market continues its slow two steps forward/one step back recovery, it’s too hard to judge.

    “Who would play Herbie Popnecker in the movie?”

    What’s Mason Reese doing?

  • Gordon interjects

    “If Swamp Thing took on Batman and Robin (as portrayed in Frank Miller’s ALL STAR BATMAN & ROBIN THE BOY WONDER), who’d win?”

    The reader, of course. And by “the reader,” I mean “me, the one guy who’d want to read this.”

  • Flotzenburger asks

    “Why are you so cool?”

    Because I’m never very far from an oscillating fan.

  • MrJM wonders

    “As a comics retailer, what one thing would you tell us that we — as buyers/readers — don’t know about comics?”

    I’ve been thinking about this for a while, now, staring at the screen…I think one thing may be that printing comics on cheaper paper, a common suggestion from readers, won’t result in less expensive comics. At best, slight decreases in stock quality might help keep prices where they’re at…and even that’s not working, since prices are going up anyway. And publishers probably don’t want to drop down to ’70s style pulp paper…reducing the perceived value of their periodicals by reducing the paper quality TOO much is something they’d certainly like to avoid.

    On a retail level, the other thing I want people to know is that we folks behind the counter actually do work…we don’t get to read comics all day!

  • Thwacko says

    “What comic, series, or events sold or sell more than any nosepicker on the internet would have you believe?”

    At least at our shop, All Star Batman and Robin tends to be our best-selling book of the month, whenever the planets align and a new issue is released.

    Also, the first issue of Final Crisis outsold Secret Invasion #1 at our store. I had people outright tell me I was lying when I said that.

    “Will we see Final Crisis and all associated spinoffs end in our lifetime?”

    Don’t die in the next six months, and you will!

  • Nik wants answers:

    “What is your least favorite comic book that sells well?”

    That’s a hard question to answer, because it’s not that I dislike books so much as I’m indifferent to them. For example, I don’t care for the Avengers line of books…they don’t seem like terribly interesting superhero comics to me. But they do sell well, so somebody likes them and that’s just fine.

    I don’t hate them…they’re just not for me.

    “And what comic do you try to turn people on to most often that doesn’t include Swamp Thing?”

    Probably the Fables comics. I’ve had the most success turning people onto that series (including at least one celebrity, who’s since said another store got him into it…grrrrr!). It’s a simple concept, it’s accessible, it’s mostly in trade paperback, and it’s a good read.

  • Nate needs to find out

    “Is Mxyzptlk pronounced Mixelplick or Mix-yez-pittle-lick?”

    The latter. Though most of the cartoons see to use the former. But if it’s the Golden Age version of the character, it’s Mix-yez-tipple-ick.

  • And for the last question for today, pal JP chimes in with

    “Laziest blogger. EVER.”

    Yeah, I know. I just had nothing for yesterday’s post, and I was sitting there at the computer Monday evening struggling to keep my eyes open (much like the people who are trying to read all this). But the “ask me question” posts result in a lot of blogging “work” for the next day or two, so it all balances out!

Okay, that’s it for today. More answers tomorrow. Can you stand the suspense?

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