Mostly I’m just bitter there aren’t four or five ongoing Swamp Thing titles on the stands right now.

§ September 9th, 2013 § Filed under question time, retailing § 9 Comments

So I had a couple of questions and comments to this post from last Friday that I wanted to respond to:

  • LFC notes, regarding my comment on having 17 issues of Superior Spider-Man in eight months:

    “2012 saw 29 issues of Amazing Spider-Man (including point ones, Ends of the Earth one shot and anything by Slott), 2011 saw 29 issues as well, 2010 saw 33 issues and so on. Luckily it’s a very good book.”

    The quality of the book almost doesn’t matter. It’s just too much. Comic fans only have so much to budget for their books, and every dollar that goes towards maintaining their run of Amazing or whatever at two or three copies a month are dollars not going toward maybe trying out something that isn’t a Spider-Man comic that month. It’s rack crowding and market flooding, and I don’t like it when Marvel is cranking out two or three issues per title per month, and I don’t like it when both Marvel and DC are cranking out a half-dozen titles or more for each of their franchises. We don’t need this many Batman books, or this many X-Men or Green Lantern or Avengers or Superman books, except we now have a marketplace that depends on devotion to the big franchises and doesn’t leave room in anyone’s budgets to try out or support something different.

    And before anyone says anything, this isn’t absolutely 100% across the board for all fans everywhere, that everyone is just buying this stuff and not buying that stuff. But there is a trend toward this kind of marketplace, where the only comics that sell well are Batman or Avengers books because if you throw a dart randomly at a comics rack that’s what you’re gonna hit, well, there you go. “We keep putting out Avengers books because those are the comics that sell” is the self-fulfilling prophecy of the comics market.

  • Sean writes:

    “haven’t been paying much attention to Marvel’s books for the last couple of years, so I got a good laugh out of the three-digit issue number (017) on the front of Superior Spider-Man. Is there anyone out there who genuinely thinks any of Marvel’s books are going to get to 100 before being rebooted with new issue #1′s?”

    It’s a design element not just to accommodate the eventual possibility that any of the comics will make it to the triple digits, but also because it creates a uniformity of design with those few remaining comics Marvel is currently publishing that are in the triple digits. (Or is X-Factor the last?) Also, I think having the three digits seems a little more aesthetically pleasing than just having the two digits. Anyway, I’d be surprised if the current cover layouts are around for more than a couple more years at most, so the problem will likely be moot.

  • ~P~ has a comment or three for me:

    “I’m not sure if you’ve mentioned it yet, but how does the Marvel ‘NOW!’ trend of placing issue numbers on the BOTTOM of the cover affect your display and sales?”

    Most of our comics are racked with the full cover face out, so the issue number isn’t obscured. We have some wall racks that overlap the books, and if any of the comics have non-traditional logo and number placing, I’ll make a small sign to rack with the comic to indicate any of the relevant information. A minor annoyance, but racking thing properly is what they pay me the Big Bucks. (NOTE: Bucks may not be as big as may be implied.)

    “I just spent some time this past week filing away about a year’s worth of adopted comics into their drawerbox longbox forever-homes, and having logos placed wherever the heck the artist thought was aesthetically pleasing was bad enough, but issue number placement at the bottom is murder!”

    Honestly, this doesn’t bother me at home, when I actually do get around to sorting my own comics into boxes. The only thing that bothers me is when no issue number is on the cover (like on many Gold Key or Dell comics, or, in the case of Hellboy or B.P.R.D. comics, when the overall series number for the various minis isn’t on the cover (as I described in annoying detail way back when). In those cases, I note the issue number on the white resealable sticker I use to seal the comic bag (because only savages and the deranged would use tape to seal their comics, I mean honestly).

    “But then, what will happen when any unsold comics go into back-issue boxes?
    Kids (sure, kids. Why not?) rifling thru boxes to see if you have a specific issue will have to pull the comic most of the way out of the box, and will inevitably BEND the comic backwards a bit to see the numbers.”

    Well, regardless of issue number placement, anyone of any age going through back issues without prior instruction or the proper encouragement from the Knuckle-Rapping Yardstick of Enforcement is likely to mishandle the back issues, so I’m keepin’ my eye on all of you. Yes, you, you comic spine-breaking vandals. Anyway, the way we try to handle issue numbers that are in less than obvious positions on the cover, or not on the cover at all, is to write them onto our price stickers which are generally placed in the upper right hand corner on the front of the comic bag.

Thanks for leaving your comments, everyone. I know the big thing on the Internet is “don’t read the comments!” and while I, ahem, may have a somewhat neglected side-project devoted to how terrible commenting can be, I do appreciate and enjoy the comments you folks leave here. A big part of my enjoyment in doing this site is the interaction from you that I receive, and I thank you for it.

9 Responses to “Mostly I’m just bitter there aren’t four or five ongoing Swamp Thing titles on the stands right now.”

  • Adam says:

    Mike, do you ever see any kind of temporary downturn for a brand when stuff like DC’s recent foibles (RE Batwoman and the Harley Quinn contest) come to light and make internet waves?

    Also, did people really like Spider Island? I love Dan Slott, but that series was crazy dull. Maybe I’m just biased against Spidey dating Joe Quesada’s daughter?

  • swamp mark says:

    Don’t be bitter, Mike. Looking at today’s solicitations, Swampy is in his own mag, JLDark #26, and Phantom Stranger #14. Sweet days, indeed!

  • Snark Shark says:

    “no issue number is on the cover (like on many Gold Key or Dell comics”


  • Tim O'Neil says:

    Serious question, why is 29 issues of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN that much worse than the situation in the 90s, when you had 50+ issues a year of AMAZING, SPECTACULAR, WEB OF, the adjective-less series, as well as a monthly VENOM and who knows what else? Was it that many people only bought the flagship book, so that the tertiary titles were less of an obligation?

  • Adam says:

    Tim: I’d say that you’ve got your answer. For the most part the stories went through Amazing. If I remember correct Web of and Spectacular were mostly one shots and adjectiveless was awful. It was only occasionally during big events (like the execrable Maximum Carnage) that you saw all four titles being used. And at those times I think that the wear to keep up with so many titles did start to show itself.

  • Tim O'Neil says:

    Well, speaking for myself, I always bought all four titles, and at least the first couple years of the Venom series (which was a monthly series of mini-series without a set creative team). When I was in, what can I say, I was IN. I couldn’t see the point in only buying AMAZING – if you liked Spider-Man, you were in for the whole package, at least that was what I told myself at the time.

    SPECTACULAR, far from “one-shots,” was consistently the best Spider-Man title, especially once JM DeMatteis took over in 1990. I didn’t care as much for WEB because, yes, it was a lot of filler, but it got a (belated) direction when Howard Mackie came on in (I think) 1991 and gave the book an identity as the organized crime-focused Spider-book. That was in contrast to SPECTACULAR’s slightly darker tone and focus on Spidey’s supporting cast, and of course AMAZING’s more traditional super-heroics. (Of course, whether or not WEB had a distinctive identity had nothing to do with whether the title was any good, which it mostly wasn’t, because Mackie was and is a terrible writer – but compared to the listlessness that preceded it for most of the late 80s Mackie’s run was still strictly better.)

    And there were some good stories in the adjective-less book, such as Larsen’s “Revenge of the Sinister Six,” a Don McGregor / Marshal Rogers two-parter, and a weird Ann Nocenti story that I didn’t really get at the time and so I have no idea whether or not it holds up . . .

  • GregNGray says:

    Mike, re: market flooding.

    Would it be comic shop suicide to place indie comics front and center and big-two comics on secondary or side racks using the (undocumented and totally lacking in evidence) theory that:
    a) big-two readers are far more likely to know exactly what is out each week and will have no problem finding what they want and,
    b) they are less likely to make spur of the moment purchases?

  • Boosterrific says:

    QUOTE: “Looking at today’s solicitations, Swampy is in his own mag, JLDark #26, and Phantom Stranger #14. Sweet days, indeed!”

    Enjoy it while it lasts, swamp mark. In 2011, Booster Gold was staring in his self-titled series, the bi-weekly JUSTICE LEAGUE: GENERATION LOST, and TIME MASTERS: VANISHING POINT, plus a handful of cameo guest spots all at the same time. Just two years later, he doesn’t even seem to exist in the DCnU anymore.

    It’s feast or famine at DC, so eat up while you can. (And just be thankful you’re not named “wally west mark.”)