The Progressive Ruin Questionnaire-Fest 2010 Part Three: Good for Your Soul.

§ February 17th, 2010 § Filed under Uncategorized § 10 Comments

You have-a the questions, I have-a the answers:

  • caman agus sliotar wants to know

    “Why won’t Mr. Ellis put out Fell in a timely manner?”

    I’m probably not the best person to ask that. I wish it would come out a little more often, as I do have customers asking for new installments, and it does make for a good impulse buy at only $1.99 a pop. (I did notice that the first issue is no longer available for reorder, so unless they bring it back into print, the day of selling runs of the series may be over.)

    “Does every arc get put out in hard and eventually soft cover trades or do only some get this treatment? If it’s not every book how do you think they decide what gets hard cover? Obviously ‘blockbuster events’ types are a given but what about the rest?”

    It sure seems like everything gets put out in trades, doesn’t it? I’m trying to think of something recent from Marvel or DC that either hasn’t ended up in a collected edition or isn’t destined for eventual collection. Not a whole lot, is there?

    As to why some get hardcovers and others don’t…just someone in editorial deciding which titles would be more likely to attract that hardcover-buying crowd, is all. The more popular the item, the more likely the hardcover release I suspect is the rule of thumb, though I’m sure someone will pop into the comments to set me straight. As for the less seemingly-popular items that get reprinted, it may be a matter of going to a hardcover edition to add to the perceived value of a higher pricepoint to counteract the expected lower sales…or, heck, instead of speculating, let me just say the reasoning is “money” and leave it at that.

    “Why does a shop owner I sometimes frequent get mildly angry at the idea of me giving, oh, say some plastic colored promo rings, to my 6 year old son?”

    Because some shop owners need to catch a clue, I think, or at least work on socializing themselves enough to be around other human beings. Man, kids love those rings…why would you not want to let them have some?

  • Brad adds to the iPad discussion from yesterday:

    “What happens to the ‘average’ comic store (most of whom already diversify to some extent into rpgs, heroclix, ccg’s and the like) if the DM shrinks, even by a nominal extent? How much of an overall market change do you think the status quo can handle without yet another retail-implosion? And most importantly, are there advantages to the DM that could be created by better access to digitally distributed comics work?”

    That’s hard to say without it actually happening. When the market crashed in the ’90s, we were able to stay afloat on sales from our game store and, God help us, POGs (though we still did okay, if not great, in comic sales, thanks to back issues and a loyal clientele for new books). If the market crashed again, due to a shift from physical items to digital (let’s say), maybe we could adapt (as discussed in yesterday’s post) but I can see a lot of stores going away, print comic sales going down as they lose their outlets, and so on until there’s no one left but guys like us selling runs of Dazzler to hipsters and the elderly.

    If done properly, however that may be, there is a possibility that collected print editions of digital-only comics could support the direct market, but we likely won’t know for sure until The Big Change happens…if it does.

  • Pal Sean asks

    “OK Mike, I got one. Do you sometimes think of just how different your life is since starting this site? Is it strange?”

    Well, in a way, it’s not that much different, since in one form or another I’ve been talking about comics in online arenas for about twenty years now. But I’ve never really had an audience quite this size before. But on the other hand, I wouldn’t be part of a book deal if it weren’t for the people I “met” because of this site, I wouldn’t be interacting with a bunch of interesting people (bloggers, commentators, comic creators, and the like) from all across the world, and I wouldn’t be basically synonymous with “Swamp Thing” and/or “Sluggo” with all those folks.

    “And I have one for your lovely girlfriend: when the hell are you and Mike getting hitched?”

    I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear the question.

  • Scott Rowland asks lots of stuff:

    “What’s your dream reprint project from DC? Marvel? Dark Horse? Image? Anybody else?”

    DC: Sugar & Spike, Scribbly, or pretty much any Sheldon Mayer production.

    Marvel: A full-color reprint of the ’70s Man-Thing comics (including the Savage Tales debut and the stories from Fear).

    Dark Horse: Not a whole lot from Dark Horse that isn’t available in one form or another. Maybe they can pick up one the titles in “Others,” below.

    Image: A good reprinting of Matt Wagner’s first Mage series, without the futzing around with color effects and the typo-ridden relettering. (Though I have the excellent Starblaze reprints, so I’ve got mine, suckers!)

    Others: I’d like to see a collection of all the ’70s Atlas Comics, just so I can stop hunting the damned things down myself. And I’d like to have the original Metamorphosis Odyssey serial from Epic Illustrated under one cover…it’s been collected before, but not very well (it was all in black and white, and had some production issues as I recall). I’d also like to see more reprinting of some of the off-brand horror comics of the 1950s.

    “Do you think the current spate of event storylines with multiple tie-ins offered is training even long-term collectors to wait for the trades?”

    Probably not quite as much as you’d think…most long-term fans, at least the ones I deal with, would rather have the individual issues than the collections. I think to a certain extent we’re still dealing with a divided market, which some people are getting the stories in trades, and the others in serial format. I’m not saying there isn’t any overlap…of course there is, but I don’t think one is really replacing the other just yet.

    “Who would win: Herbie Popnecker or Sugar Plumm?”

    You know, I was going to say “Herbie” because Herbie always wins, but man, Sugar is the immovable object to Herbie’s unstoppable force. But I think Herbie is too much of a good guy to put a fight against a baby girl, anyway.

    “Why the heck is there not a Sugar and Spike collected edition?”

    Because DC hates money. Surely that’s the only reason.

    “How do you think retailers can compete with something like Amazon when it comes to TPBs?”

    That’s a tough question. It really comes down to some customers wanting to see something in person before buying it, and not wanting to wait for the mail to bring it. Plus, there are always those saintlike folks who want to support their local businesses. We can’t compete on prices, but we can compete on being friendly faces in a nice store. Well, mostly friendly faces, anyway…that’s why I have employees Timmy and Aaron.

    “What’s the current count on HOS 92 reprints you own? (I’m too lazy to look back through the site). Is there any other story you have that approaches that number? (Me, I think I have about 9 or so copies of the Spider-Man origin).”

    As of this post, I have twelve versions of the first Swamp Thing story from House of Secrets #92. Still, not nearly enough.

  • Nate queries

    “Do you worry about the future of your career in direct sales? Do you think there will be enough fanboys that need to hold a piece of paper to keep direct sales going?”

    As I’ve said, we’re probably big enough with enough diversification in stock to survive a market shift created by digital delivery. And I think the “all-digital” revolution for comics is still quite a ways off, iPad or no iPad, so I don’t think it’s an immediate job-killer for me, at any rate. It would probably take an additional generation or three of kids accustomed to reading material solely in digital form before the print market drops below sustainable levels.

    But I think there will always prefer printed matter to digital displays. Maybe not a lot of them, maybe about as common as people who collect wax cylinders today, but they’ll exist. And I’ll still sell ’em funnybooks!

  • Matthew Allison asks the worst thing ever:

    “How much is The Legend of The Dark Night #1 worth if it’s the yellow cover?”

    If you hide a dollar in its pages, it’ll be worth a dollar.

    “How much will it be worth ten years from now?”

    It’ll be worth one Jovian Space-Credit.

    “How much more is it worth if it’s signed by Billy Gibbons from The ZZ Tops?”

    Man, I love the ZZ Tops. They’re my favorite Motown group. Clearly any comic signed by one of its members would be worth exactly One Trazillion Dollars.

  • Rich Handley ponders

    “If I turned my long-dormant Swamp Thing site into a book, do you think DC’s lawyers would break down my legs and THEN issue a cease-and-desist, or would I get the cease-and-desist first and then the broken legs?”

    If you ask them nicely if you could use DC’s characters ahead of time, maybe the lawyers would let you slide with just a busted ankle or something. I really don’t know…do the people who put out Draw and Alter Ego get DC’s permission to run all the DC art they do? Or is it fair use for review/discussion purposes?

    “’Sluggo-Thing’: Best. Crossover. Ever… or just plain stupid?”

    Nothing this beautiful could ever be called stupid.

• • •

Tomorrow…the shocking conclusion!

10 Responses to “The Progressive Ruin Questionnaire-Fest 2010 Part Three: Good for Your Soul.”

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    Regarding Marvel hardcovers, I’ve seen several less-popular stories offered in hardcover that end up deeply discounted. “Ororo” hardcovers for $5, “FF: The End” and the Matt Fraction Thor stories for $10, Eternals & Annihilation: Conquest for half-price, etc. It’s been great for me, but I kind of shake my head at Marvel’s decision making. Could they sell more copies of these stories for full-price in softcover? How do the less popular stories sell at your shop? Do you offer similar discounts?

    Also, how are print collections of webcomics selling? I bought the 2 Achewood collections and Perry Bible Fellowship book, enjoyed them quite a bit, but wonder how many other people are willing to buy what they can get for free just because it is in their preferred format.

  • Ryan says:

    Because most comics now are $3.99. Do you have less customers because of it?

  • Demoncat says:

    Hi Mike. to answere your question on what gets reprinted. one thing is what the companies feel will sell. like who is hot at the moment may be a big thing. plus for DC and marvel some of what they decide has to do with if they legaly can reprint the stuff for Marvel can not reprint any Rom or micronauts stuff. and due to legal issues shan chi. dc it depends for Dc has a thing that if the idea is from the seventies or older they really do not dare to reprint since the royalties they would owe the creators of those stories would make reprinting too costly unless as per the agreement to get the writers and artists on said stories. to take a lump sum rolyaty payment but most due to what they think would sell

  • David Norman says:

    Regarding Fell, Ellis said that his computer died horribly, permanently losing ALL his files (the data couldn’t be recovered by a professional), including the Fell scripts he was working on (and other things from that time frame: Desolation Jones, newuniversal) and it has taken a lot of time to get back to writing new material.

  • Mike, there are also paperbacks available for most of those. If The Eternals you’re referring to there is the recent Neil Gaiman series I expect a lot of places over ordered based solely on his name.

    The Annihilation stuff is really weird; the original series were under printed. Then Conquest seemed to get over printed. And now the War of Kings hardcover vanished from shelves about as quickly as it was printed. It was released in November and in early January when I said, “Oh yeah, I wanted that!” it was going for $200. I’ve never seen a price shoot up like that on a collection. This probably means that the next marvel cosmic crossover will be severely overprinted again…

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    JSG, yes, I’m referring to the Gaiman series. I didn’t realize it was out in paperback, too, which could account for the discount. Other comics, though, I wonder about. I’ve seen 5 + copies of FF: The End and Ororo at more than one comic book store, all for a steep discount, and I wonder if a) retailers thought the books would sell much more than they did, b) Marvel shipped a few bonus copies or priced them low enough to make selling discounted hardcovers profitable, c) all of the above. It’s one thing to discount 1 random Spider-Man hardcover that won’t sell 2 years after it’s initial release. It’s another to have many copies of a series or mini that isn’t very popular. Or is it? Maybe Mr. Sterling can shed some light on the subject…

  • Trinity Moses says:

    “Sugar & Spike” is a good answer, but it is not THE answer. The reprint project that DC most needs to publish is a collection of “Burp the Twerp” strips from POLICE COMICS. This is an insanely delightful series that in a lot of ways anticipates “Herbie.”

  • Kid Nicky says:

    Mike,you say trades and monthlies are two seperate markets,and the trades aren’t taking any sales away from the monthlies,but how is that so? Waiting-for-the-trade is a recent development,since only recently have trade collections become reliable enough to depend on. So I’d have to say almost every wait for trader was formerly a monthly customer.

  • MrJM says:

    “I’m trying to think of something recent from Marvel or DC that either hasn’t ended up in a collected edition or isn’t destined for eventual collection. Not a whole lot, is there?”

    Isn’t it kinda odd that Byrne’s “X-Men: The Hidden Years” hasn’t (to my knowledge) been collected?

    X-Men + Byrne = Sales… right?

    — MrJM

  • Snark Shark says:

    “I’d like to see a collection of all the ’70s Atlas Comics”

    ME TOO!!

    (“The Destructor” was the best!)