§ June 19th, 2009 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on Day Three: QUESTIONS ANSWERED, PROBLEMS RESOLVED.

Here we go, the last few questions from my comments a couple of days ago. Maybe, just maybe, we might all learn a little something.

  • Anonymous challenges me with

    “Explain the miscolored Swamp Thing stealth appearances back in Planetary #7 and in the Ambush Bug: Year None mini, with the necessary pics.”

    Well, I’m gonna have to do it without pics, because I’m starting this late Thursday evening and would like to go to bed at a decent hour. The “miscoloring” of Swamp Thing in Planetary was simply because the issue featuring several take-offs of Vertigo characters, and if the Swamp Thing analogue was miscolored, it was just an attempt at least slightly different visually.

    In Ambush Bug, I suspect Swamp Thing was miscolored to further distance this character’s portrayal from his usual Vertigo appearances, since Swamp Thing is editorially forbidden (or, at least, not permitted overtly) to appear in the regular DC Universe…or whatever passed for it in Ambush Bug.

    “Was there a ST cameo in Guy Gardner: Collateral Damage? If so, prove it!”

    Whoa, ease up there, cowboy. We’re all friends here. Yes, there’s a cameo in issue #2 of this Howard Chaykin prestige-format mini-series, and here it is:

    In the first issue of the series, there’s a VERY tiny image of a framed photo on a wall that may show Swamp Thing, but it’s pretty vague.

  • Googum pipes in with

    “Am I too late?”

    Nope! You got in just under the wire!

    “Hey, does your store sell action figures, and if so, what are the current big movers?”

    We do carry action figures, but the market has become very oversaturated and we’ve scaled it back quite a bit. We’ve quit ordering McFarlane figures altogether, as we got tired of ordering a case of Spawn figures, selling the female figure immediately, and then getting stuck with a bunch of unsellable dust-collectors.

    We’ll order the DC Direct figures, the Marvel Select figures, and the occasional Star Trek figure, and every once in a while we’ll pick up some oddball figure that we may think will grab some attention, but the days of heavy action figure stocking is pretty much done for now. As such, nothing really sticks out as big movers. The last figure to sell noticeably well was the Rorschach figure from the Watchmen movie set. And prior to that we were selling several copies of the Marvel Zombies: Hulk figure, oddly enough.

  • Thorn wants to know

    “Hey Mike – What do you think about the news that May saw a nearly 20% drop in comic sales compared to last year? What’s that all about? And do you predict that comic sales will continue to be down?”

    There was a story about “the May comics crash” that theorized the causes being a lack of Big Crossover Events, no outstanding #1s, lateness of popular books, rising cover prices, and everybody being broke. And that probably covers it. I know May wasn’t the greatest month for us, but things seem to be bouncing back in June, so let’s hope for the best.

    As for the future…I want to say things will improve, but you never know. It’s going to be an ongoing process of adjustment/fine line-walking among the retailers/consumers/publishers re: pricing and formats.

  • R-Lex wraps up the initial question-fest with this:

    “Not sure if it’s too late to get in on this, but would be interested to know if you have any thoughts on the upcoming Giffen Doom Patrol series.”

    Well, I do love the Doom Patrol, and I enjoy Giffen’s superhero writing, and the preview pages look good to me, so it’ll definitely be a must-buy. Plus there’s that Metal Men back-up by Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire, so I really can’t wait to read it. It sounds great.

    Whether it’ll stick around longer than the last couple of incarnations of Doom Patrol, I don’t know. But it should be a lot of fun while it’s around.

Okay, let’s do a little mop-up on some comments from the last couple of days, and we’ll wrap up this latest session of “Help Mike Generate Content” “Ask Mike Some Questions.” From Wednesday:

  • Tim O’Neil asks

    “On another subject: the Cap #600 nonstarter was predicted by all and sundry, but do you think there was any significance to the fact that, as opposed to past Marvel news stories, the news of Cap’s return also happened to fall on an extremely busy newsday? In other words, stuff like Cap’s death and the Obama issue of Spider-Man enjoyed good press because not a lot else was going on that particular day, but Cap just happened to return on the day that Iran exploded, North Korea threatened to destroy the world, and the Obama administration began the roll-outs for the its two biggest domestic policy initiatives to date. *If* – and obviously this is a big *if* – there was any chance of the story gaining wide traction, did the news climate essentially quash said traction before it could get started?”

    Well, certainly real world events got in the way of some silly funnybook news…but there’s always so much time and space to fill in the news media outlets, that even on a day when all this happened, there’s still room for a puff piece on a comic book character. That night I heard the Cap story repeated, along with Iran/North Korea/etc., during the five minute newsbreak played every half hour on the radio. So the story was out there.

    But people don’t care. Now, by “people” I mean the folks who don’t go into comic shops unless they hear about something on TV or read it in the paper…the ones who showed up for the Spider-Obama comic and for the death of Cap. So far I have yet to hear a peep from any of these people about the return of Captain America. Not one phone call, not one walk-in from any non-regulars looking for it. (The excuse of “well, Reborn isn’t out yet” doesn’t fly, because these same people don’t pay attention to any mentioned release dates.) It’s very possible it’s simply because “life” doesn’t sell like “death” — or doesn’t seem like it would have the same “investment potential” of having the Last Captain America Story Ever.

    And there’s the fact that the people who only go to comic shops for media-advertised events have already picked up the Death of Cap, and finding out their “collectible” has been undermined by the character’s return, are disinclined to be sucked in again.

    At any rate, this is why stores can’t base orders on potential (or even promised) media coverage. Just showing your product to lots of people doesn’t mean lots of people are going to want it.

    On the other hand, our regulars (i.e. the already converted) have been expressing some heightened interest in the whole return of Cap thing, so the comics should sell okay to our regular clientele.

  • Philip notes

    “I was reading an old(er) DC comic (’70s?) and found an editorial sort of apologizing for prices going up to 60-cents and to make it up to the readers they were going to include lots of back-up features in their books. There seems to be a bit of that happening now with DCs $3.99 titles, but man oh man four bucks is a dear price to pay for a comic so I am being extremely selective anymore with what I buy, and the temptation to “wait for the trade” is growing.”

    I do like DC’s $3.99 format, introduced with the “Countdown to” titles last year. A lead and a back-up for an extra-sized comic isn’t a bad deal for that price. And the titles in this format have, so far, been pretty good (like Booster Gold with Blue Beetle) or should be good (the aforementioned Doom Patrol, Detective Comics with Batwoman and the Question).

    However, it’s only a matter of time before the back-ups go away, the extra pages vanish, but the $3.99 price remains on the cover.

And finally, at long last, from Thursday’s comments:

  • David Z. goes above and beyond the call of duty finding this, a reggae/ska-ish version of “Also Spracht Zarathustra” that I was crudely joking about in yesterday’s post. …It’s good!
  • GQ notes about my pic from yesterday


    You’ve got big hands, ain’thca?”

    My fists and large and strong, from years of experience smashing down HIGH PRICES. And strangling people who tell me oh, yeah, sure, I have a Superman #1 at home, it’s in perfect condition!

  • WH says

    “Been meaning to say this for quite some time: You look like your humor, you know that?”

    I’ve no idea how to even take that. I’m assuming he means I look dull and witless.

  • Andrew Davison returns with

    “Just because you found some kindly gentlemen to pose next to you, doesn’t prove that it’s the mysterious Ralph. The real Ralph is obviously going to look more like Ditko’s Crime Master.”

    He’s FOUND ME OUT. Andrew has even somehow ferreted out the original, unretouched image:

    “BTW, do they still sell those 60’s Hulk t-shirts? What about the Spidey one?”

    They reissued these a few years back, but I think they’re out of print again. But we may still have the Hulk one in stock! I’ll check when I get back to the shop.

    “BTW, you need to restock several shelves behind you.”

    We took the pic on Wednesday, and all the new books were on our large New Arrivals rack. The empty spaces you’re seeing are the spaces we’ve made on the regular shelves for the new books, when we move them over on Thursday.

    There’s a reason for all this, honest.

  • Sarah wraps it all up with

    “Awesome ‘curse youuuuuuuuu, Richaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaards!’ pose you have going there, Mike.”

    That’s pretty much how I look all day. I am megalomaniacally angry at everything. “YOU DARE BEND COMICS IN FRONT OF MIKE? I SHALL CRUSH YOU FOR THIS EFFRONTERY! NONE MAY DEFY MIKE.”

    “I still think Ralph is fictional, though.”

    So do several of our customers, oddly enough. Or they think I’m Ralph. Or his son.

    It’s when they think Employee Aaron is my son that I get a tad annoyed. Somehow this is Aaron’s fault. He’s so fired.

Okay, that’s enough for this round of questions and answers with yours truly. Thank you everyone for participating, and I hope I was able to satisfy your curiosity. And of course, as always, thanks to all of you for reading, and putting up with some of my quirks. I understand I may have a few.

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