As to your Qs Part One: Up in Smoke.

§ October 5th, 2015 § Filed under question time § 5 Comments

I asked for questions, you gave ’em to me, so let’s get going!

bkmunn is sequentially first with

“Do you have any Halloween costume recommendations?”

Now, I love Halloween. I love the decorations, the costumes, the weird candy, all that stuff. That said, I almost never dress up for Halloween because…well, I don’t know. Usually I’m working on Halloween and I don’t want a costume interfering with what I’m doing, I guess? Or I just never plan ahead for a costume, or suddenly it’s Halloween and oops, too late to dress up, or I never have a good idea for one. I’ve seen plenty of costumes I’ve been jealous of, like former employee Rob dressing as one of the Ramones, which was perfect. Or customer Marlon, who years ago as a high schooler dressed as Icon, and had he was tall and muscular and the costume was perfect and he just nailed it.

If I were to recommend a superhero costume, I’d say the Badger. It’s relatively simple, he’s usually wearing proper pants so it’s not too embarrassing, and you get to explain to people the entire night who you’re supposed to be. I even briefly considered a Badger Halloween costume for myself at one point before coming to my senses and realizing that whatever the exact opposite of spandex is, that’s what my body is more suited for.

Or, you know, just go as a ghost. One year as a kid I went as a ghost wearing a baseball cap and said I was the ghost of Babe Ruth. …Hey, I thought it was funny.

• • •

Smicha1 challenges me with

“What are the qualities of a great kids comic(for simplicity’s sake, let’s say ages 7-12)? What are some past and present examples you would use as really solid books appropriate for the younger ones?”

I’d say clear storytelling and ideally done-in-one stories. Continued stories aren’t necessarily a problem, but I’d rather give a kid something with an ending rather than a “come back next month for part 27!”

There are plenty of good kids comics on the shelves now, like the Adventure Time series, or the recently relaunched Disney titles, or the Smurfs volumes, or Lumberjanes, or even The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl which I know is beloved by children at my shop. Raina Telgemeier’s books, like Smile, are also popular with the young’uns…maybe more towards the “12” end of the spectrum than the “7.” Also popular: the Minions comic, which is good for pre-literate kids given the emphasis on physical humor over dialogue.

From the past: DC has lots of options, from all their Cartoon Network comics to the multiple Batman: The Animated Series tie-ins to Supergirl in the Eighth Grade. Old Disney comics are good, too, but I’d avoid older Archies as they tend to be a harder sell to kids. In selling to libraries, I was often told “no Archies” as their patrons had no interest in them.

That’s only barely scratching the surface, and I think I should tackle this with a full-length post rather than just tossing off a brief answer here. Let me expand on this in a future entry.

• • •

Sanctum Sanctorum Comix summons up

“What’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?”

“Peace, Love and Understanding walk into a bar….”

“Oh, and how much would you love a serious horror book of Marvel’s magic side (Man-thing, Doctor Strange, Son of Satan, Ghost Rider, et al)?”

I’d think that would probably be okay. An actual full-on horror comic seems unlikely, as the focus seems to be on fitting everything into the superhero milieu, but what I wouldn’t give for a ’70s-style black and white anthology magazine featuring all my old Marvel monster-y favorites. I’d also like it written by Steve Gerber and drawn by Mike Ploog, but, well, you know, getting at least one of those folks is extremely unlikely.

I think something in the style of DC’s current Constantine series would work. Not so extreme that you’d have to put “DANGER! DANGER!” labels all over it, or publish it under another imprint, but definitely on the creepy side of things.

• • •

Dave Carter has yet another comics question with

“What calculations go into your decisions on how to order DC’s open-to-order variant covers for your store, and will there be any change in how your order December’s polybagged variants?”

The open to order variants aren’t too hard. A quick description: these variants from DC Comics are generally the “themed” variants you see every month, like the “Green Lantern Anniversary” variants or the “Monster” variants. Retailers can order as many of these as they’d like, and are not tied to order plateaus (like being able to buy 1 for every 25 regular cover you order). In general, I don’t tend to order a lot, as most of my customers prefer the “real” non-variant cover. And I say “real” because often that’s how it’s asked for. “Do you have this issue?” “Sure, here’s the Beach Party Batman variant.” “Um, don’t you have the real cover?” Like that.

There are exceptions. I have a few customers who collect both the regular and the variant of each issue, and I have at least one customer who wants all the Looney Tunes variants coming in a month or two. And sometimes the covers look really neat and I’ll order and extra or three. And then there’s stuff that will sell regardless, like the Harley Quinn variants.

Now, these polybagged variants…apparently how this works is there are multiple variant covers distributed in different ratios for a particular title, but the variants are sealed in an opaque polybag and you don’t know which variant you’re getting ’til you open the seal and seriously what the **** is this ****. I have no idea how I’m going to order on these yet, though I’m going to have to decide pretty soon. I suspect I won’t be ordering a whole lot more than I do of the other variants.

• • •

Corey gets to the core of things with

“On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you that DC didn’t bring back those stupid 3D covers this past September?”

Well, sort of happy. The actual ordering process of those are a pain in the butt, as you have to order extra months ahead of time to allow for the production of the covers. But on the other hand, they are neat-looking and certainly attract attention, but on the other other hand I’m still working on figuring out the local market and may not have been quite ready to commit to ordering these things. So, hey, maybe next year.

• • •

Sean beans me with

“What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned about the funny book business since you took on the additional mantle of store owner?”

That’s a good question. I really don’t know. It’s not like there was some hidden store-owner-only secret revealed to me once I got my own Diamond customer number. I think maybe the one thing I learned is that having the buck stop with you increases the stress and pressure quite a bit more (not that this particular job is that stressful and pressuring, but it’s still running a small business), and that I’m finding myself a lot more wiped out when I get home than I used to be.

• • •

swamp mark bogs me down with

“what does the word ‘trolling’ mean exactly and why is it a bad thing? personally I’ve always loved trolls and wish Tolkien had written a book about their culture. or is it a fishing term?”

It is sort of a fishing term, actually, in that by “trolling” on the Internet, you’re trying to bait someone into reacting to you in a way that you’ll find amusing, much in the same way a fishing boat “trolls” a line or net behind it trying to catch fish. That, um, amuse them, I guess. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing…you can troll folks to make a point or just push a gag, but sometimes folks can troll you just to waste your time and / or eat up your energy, and that’s no fun for anyone. Well, except the troll.

• • •

G23 shoots me with

“Now that you’re a comic book store owner instead of a manager, what one new task occupies your time the most now that you didn’t have to do when you were a manager?”

Easy. Dealing with the finances, taxes, and so on. Occasionally at the old job I’d but together a bank deposit, but mostly the owner(s) took care of that. Like I said above, the buck starts with me, but literally this time.

• • •

David Oakes ain’t nuts for asking

“Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would change?”

Major in business instead of majoring in English.

• • •

Thelonious_Nick chips me with

“Weird industry type of question. It seems like there a ton of new comic companies lately, each with their own lines of comics. Are we approaching (or have we passed) oversaturation? Is this another bubble? And if a shakeout comes, will we be back to just Marvel and DC and a few minnows, or will the industry look different, like maybe Image or IDW will become a third big player?”

That’s hard to say. I don’t know if it’s oversaturation or just everyone throwing what they’ve got at the wall and seeing what sticks. Even Marvel and DC are doing that right now. I can’t say it’s a bubble, because with rare exceptions most things aren’t selling huge numbers, so it’s not like a rapid expansion of a healthy marketplace filled with large amounts of high-selling books. It’s a bunch of low-to-middlin’ selling books all trying to fill some niche or ‘nother and jockeying for position. I think if anything, we’re in the shakeout period now, as everyone’s looking to see what will survive.

In the end it will still be Marvel and DC and then everyone else. Because if either Marvel or DC go, well…there goes the neighborhood.

• • •

Rob S. steals the end of today’s show with

“If there were a new Swamp Thing movie in the works, who would you like to see direct it?”

Me. Or if they wanted someone with, oh, I don’t know, filmmaking talent and skill, Guillermo del Toro. I know, I know, he’s the go-to guy, since he was attached to that alleged “Dark DC Universe” movie that would have had Swampy in it, supposedly. But in Hellboy 2, Hellboy and his hell-pals fight that giant plant monster, and it was weird and beautiful at the same time, and I thought as I was watching it “what could this guy [del Toro] do with America’s favorite muck-encrusted mockery of a man?” Then I realized del Toro will probably never make a movie about pal Ian, so I also thought “okay, what about America’s second-favorite muck-encrusted mockery,” and I’ve associated del Toro with “an interesting Swamp Thing movie I might like” ever since.

• • •

More answers in the next day or so!

5 Responses to “As to your Qs Part One: Up in Smoke.”

  • Rob S. says:

    Thanks for answering my question! I remember that scene in Hellboy 2, and thinking roughly the same thing at the time. (Well, not about Ian.)

    Good luck with the rest of the inquisitive deluge!

  • Quick note, the DC Harley polybagged variants are all the same ratio. A color, black & white and a pencil sketch version of the cover. The quality of the artists on them will certainly help.

  • MRPRSN says:

    Yay! I love question time. I know I’m too late for this round but it might make good fuel for a full post: I’d like to see Mike’s Guide to Comic Storage with all your tips and recommendations such as using low-tack labels to seal comic bags rather than scotch tape.

  • Tom Cherry says:

    No Archies? That makes me want to cry.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “and realizing that whatever the exact opposite of spandex is, that’s what my body is more suited for.”

    That would be a polyester leisure suit!

    “older Archies as they tend to be a harder sell to kids”

    really? when I was a kid I liked `em!