The Progressive Ruin Questionnaire-Fest 2010 Part Two: Nothing to Fear.

§ February 16th, 2010 § Filed under question time § 7 Comments

You ask questions, I supply answers, more or less:

  • I’m going to jump ahead and answer this question from yesterday’s comment section, posed by stevews:

    “Is this whole Q&A thing just a way to fill up a few days worth of blog posts?”

    Well…yeah, it is, I suppose. It’s just that this was going to be a full week for me, and if I didn’t have to worry about what I was going to post for a few days, that’s one less thing I have to deal with. Plus, I like answering questions from you guys. I just hope you folks enjoy the answers.

    “Also: Why can’t I enjoy things anymore?”

    Have you worked in comics retail for 20+ years? That’s what did it to me.

  • Just Some Guy dares to ask

    “What comic books should I be investing in right now?”

    GRRAAAGGHH…er, I mean, “you should invest in comics that you enjoy reading, so that they’d always be worth something to you.”

    Also, you should invest in Resurrection #8, due out this week in your finer comic shops, and featuring the professional funnybook debut of Chris Sims, The Comics Writer That Walks Like A Man, along with co-conspirators Chad Bowers and Rusty Shackles! Guaranteed to be worth a thousand space credits in Earth: New Era, Year 100!

    “Okay, more seriously along those lines: do you get a lot of people who think they should be getting rich by selling their 1990’s investment collections to Ralph’s or has that gone away entirely?”

    Once in a while, I still get a phone call that goes like this:

    “Hi, I have a bunch of old comics I want to sell!”

    “Sure, what do you have?”

    “Oh, a bunch of really old and valuable ones!”

    “Can you read off some of the titles for me?”

    “Let’s see…WetworksBrigadeTeam Youngblood….they’re all number ones!”

    “I bet they are.”

    I then have to give them the unfortunate news that, well, not too long ago we sold 100,000 comics in bulk for a nickel each, and if one were to read off the titles included in that sale, it wouldn’t sound much different from what these folks had in their investi-collections. (And, as I’ve discussed before, it’s not as if any of these comics bought for investment purposes were ever kept in collectible condition anyway…they’re almost always beat to crap.)

    So, while it’s scaled back quite a bit, I still do see the occasional person with dollars signs in his eyes and Shadowhawk in his short boxes, and I have to brace myself as I give him the bad news. Ah, well.

  • Googum googums

    “If I’m buying books from the quarter boxes, am I wrecking comics? I got Batman: Unseen and almost all of the new Unknown Soldier for a dollar an issue; and enjoyed them both, but it can’t be helping out those books, creators, the comic shop, DC…can it?”

    Well, if the comic is actually in the shop, then the publisher, creators, and distributor already have (or will shortly have) their share of the loot. At that point, the only person left to make money on the comic is the retailer. Hopefully, most copies of the comic will sell at cover price, but if there are some left over, or if it’s a dog and there are a lot left over, then dumping it in the bargain boxes is a way to recoup some of that loss. In other words, if it won’t sell for $3, maybe it’ll sell for a dollar. That’s still losing money, but not as much money as if you’d kept it at $3 and never sold it at all.

    So, if you’re buying comics out of the bargain bin, don’t worry…you’re not killing comics. You’re filling one of the expected sales niches in comics retail, and you’re helping a retailer move overstock that he wants to get rid of, and still make back at least a little money in the process.

  • Jason iPonders

    “Let’s say that the iPad/electronic market explodes and Marvel & DC move to exclusive distributon of single issues electronically. Do you think your store could survive as a retailer of print collections of comics and back issues (and as a retailer of whatever indie singles still released)?”

    I think it’s possible, sure. I mean, there are still stores that sell records, after all. And since we’re one of the bigger stores, with a large selection of back issues, I could see our store shifting into one of the remaining “Old Stores with Archaic Entertainment Selling to a Very Niche Audience,” and yeah yeah we’re pretty much there already, I know.

    “Do you think this is a likely future (as in happening in the next 10 – 20 years)?”

    Hard to say…I mean, as more and more young people grow up used to the idea of reading everything on a screen, and more people like me who like their words and pictures printed on dead trees, dagnabbit (“he said on his blog”) die out, I can see the market eventually shifting to primarily to electronic publications. But the readers would have to be cheap almost to the point of disposability, and purt’near universal, I think, before that happens.

    But I’d like to think that there will always be an audience for printed books and magazines and such. At least, I hope so.

    (There is a related question that expands on this one that I will probably address tomorrow.)

  • Pal Andres would like to know

    “If a freak snowstorm would to hit Ventura and you were trapped in your store under 30 feet of snow with all your current employees who’d be the first to, you know, get turned into lunch?”

    Aaron. Timmy’s probably too stringy, and I’m not much into British food anyway.

  • Gordon reboots

    “First, do you feel the term ‘reboot’ gets bandied about too frequently in both comics and movies (and comic movies)? It seems as if the idea of ‘rebooting’ a movie franchise is akin to publishing a new # 1 issue.”

    Yeah, probably, though it seems to have slowed down a bit in comics in recent years. Which is good, since the solution to something not working was too often “let’s reboot it!” which was just as likely to give readers a jumping off point as a jumping on one.

    In movies and television, nothing succeeds like success, and if one rebooted franchise does well (like Batman, or James Bond, or Battlestar Galactica, or Star Trek), then the race is on to find the next one. Now, those particular examples there turned out okay, and I don’t mind seeing what some new folks can do with old properties, but sometimes people are trying a little too hard to find something to “reboot.” (Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer…are they still talking about trying to redo that?)

    So, to answer the question…no, I don’t mind all the reboot talk, so long as it results in something good and entertaining and not, say, Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes. (Okay, I didn’t hate that movie, but it was oh so unnecessary. How do you improve upon perfection?)

    “Also, where did I leave my library card?”

    Probably left it in the last book you returned where you were using it as a bookmark, ya mook. As a former librarian, I used to see that all the time.

  • Wayne Allen Sallee asks

    “Why do you think that there are no Robert Mitchum ties?”

    Really couldn’t tell you, but I did find this Roger Ebert column which opens with a discussion of a tie Mitchum is wearing.

  • William Gatevackes reasonably wonders

    “What’s your opinion on DC’s habit of making a bigger deal about anniversary issue numbers (i.e. changing Wonder Woman’s numbering in time for her 600th issue, having Helen Slater do a story for Supergirl’s 50th issue, etc) than the actual anniversary of the characters themselves (i.e. nothing really last year for Supergirl’s 50th or Batman’s 70th, nothing for Superman’s 70th the year before, and not much this year for DC’s 75th anniversary (at least not as much as Marvel did last year for their 70th))”

    You know, I have no idea. I’ve always liked the idea of anniversary issues (and in fact used to buy any of DC’s anniversary comics, regardless if it was a title I regularly followed), and am glad both companies still make big deals out of them. Now, Marvel fooling around with issue numbers seems to be more a marketing and sales thing…once the sales bump given to a title by having a new number one is over, switching the numbering back in time for a title to have a Special Issue that’s numbered at a multiple of 100 is just a way to bump sales up. DC doing it on Wonder Woman is…well, the same thing, I’m sure, but I think part of it might be that of DC’s Big Three Heroes, WW was the only character who didn’t have a title numbered in the hundreds. Bumping her back up to 600 was probably a way to reestablish her historic credentials with the company. Or it was just a sales gimmick. Who knows, really.

    As to why DC isn’t celebrating the actual year anniversaries of the characters…seems to me I remember reading something about DC holding off on an anniversary celebration for Superman until his 75th anniversary rolled around, rather than undermining it with a previous 70th anniversary bash. Maybe they’re doing the same for Batman. And skipping Supergirl entirely…again, I don’t know, aside from Supergirl not being quite the same level of draw as the other big name characters, maybe?

    Or there’s always the possibility that no one at DC wants their audience to think of their characters as “old.” Even though Grandpa Batman would be awesome.

  • Mike @ MHH mccarthies

    “Have you read the Fables novel ‘Peter and Max’? If so, what’d you think? If not, are you a communist?”

    Um…of course I have read it, comra…er, my friend. How could I not?

    Well, okay, actually, that’s a lie. I haven’t read it yet, because I’m terribly behind on my reading and I ended up not picking up the book because I don’t need yet another hardcover on the stack I’m trying to get through. But I do want to read it when I have the time. There’s a paperback version due out soon, so maybe I’ll try to get my mitts on that.

Thanks for everyone’s questions…more tomorrow!

• • •

One of my favorite cartoonists and commentators upon the funnybook world, Scott Saavedra, has a full length online episode of Java Town posted to his site, available totally for free! Also, on the same page he has another Free Digital Comic, featuring material from the original print edition of Java Town. Check it out, tell Scott “hi” for me!

7 Responses to “The Progressive Ruin Questionnaire-Fest 2010 Part Two: Nothing to Fear.”

  • stevews says:

    I do enjoy the Q&A, this has been my favorite series of posts in awhile.

  • Isn’t Buffy already a reboot of a movie? They should make the next incarnation a musical! Glee meets Twilight.

  • Cody says:

    Peter and Max was the very definition of disappointing and anti-climactic. A good 85% of the book is told in flashback mode. There’s a moment that Willingham builds up to, only to play it like Indiana Jones shooting that dude with the huge sword in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Only it’s obvious it’s not supposed to be funny this time. I love the Fables comic, but the novel was something I could’ve done without.

    It is a quick read though, so if you want to be able to add reading it to your list of accomplishment, it shouldn’t take too long.

  • Roger Green says:

    FWIW, I LOVED the anniversary issues when I was collected, and HATED the fact that Marvel messed with the numbering all the time.
    And I’m big-time bored with the term “reboot”.

  • De says:

    The only folks I’ve seen making a big deal out of DC’s 75th anniversary is Mattel. They’ve changed their action figure packaging to reflect this and are offering mini-buttons in each package:

    (scroll down to the bottom to see the packaging)

  • I asked my local comic book store about GRRAAAGGHH #1 but they had never heard of it.

  • Trinity Moses says:

    A remake of the movie BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER actually makes some sense.

    Because, you know, the original is actually a rather bad movie.