Let me A your Qs, or at least D your Ts.

§ April 11th, 2016 § Filed under question time § 38 Comments

I haven’t done this since late 2014, so let’s try it again: ask me your questions, hopefully related to the comics business and artform somehow, and I’ll answer over the following posts for the next few months days. I’ve been trying to get the ol’ blogging juices flowing again (…ew, gross) and I find I’ve been having more luck of late responding to specific topics rather than generating content on my own. Not “writer’s block” so much as “topic block,” I guess.

In fact, let’s cast a slightly wider net this time…feel free to ask me a question (just one per person, please) or suggest a comics-related topic you’d like me to discuss, just right there in this post’s comments section. I don’t know everything about everything, which I realize may come as a shock to some of you, but if I can’t dazzle you with my brilliance, I’ll at least try to baffle you with my…well, you know. But I’ll give your questions and topic suggestions my best shot and try to avoid responding with “duh, I dunno” too often.

So please, leave your single question or your single topic in a comment for this post, and I’ll start taking a crack at ’em in a few days. Thanks, pals!

38 Responses to “Let me A your Qs, or at least D your Ts.”

  • Smicha1 says:

    Any thoughts on the Wasteland comic that DC published in the late 80s? I always loved that book and am still surprised that it hasn’t come out in trade or omnibus form from Vertigo.

  • Bruce Baugh says:

    Wasteland yay! I’d so love a collection of that.

    Mike, talk to us about what your dream comics format would be for ongoing series. Any quality of pages, prices, etc.. What’s the coolest format you can think of that would probably sell enough to be worth it?

  • Thom H. says:

    Wasteland made me feel a little queasy when I read it as a boy. In a good way, I mean.

    Mike — Any thoughts on the Ellis/Shalvie/Bellaire book Injection? I think it’s the best book on the stands right now — not to mention the best thing Ellis has written in years — and I don’t see much written about it on the Internet. How does is sell for you? Have you read it? How does it compare to other Ellis work in your opinion? etc. etc.

    Thanks for all your hard work on this site. It’s a pleasure to read your blog!

  • Jay from Tennessee says:

    Of course in your opinion, what is the best series of Shadow comics in the past 40 years and why?

  • MrJM says:

    T for D: Comics retailing and social media, i.e. In what ways have social media affected comics retailing? In what ways should social media affect comics retailing?

    — MrJM

  • Rich Handley says:

    Hi, Mike,

    I’ve recently been doing some Watchmen research for an upcoming book. Other than the original Alan Moore series, the Zack Snyder film, Before Watchmen, the three RPG books, the New Frontiersman website, the viral videos made to promote the film, the mock New Frontiersman and Metro newspaper promos, the three video games, and the two Who’s Who in DC issues, do you know of any other in-universe Watchmen lore? I’m trying to be as all-encompassing as possible. Thanks!

  • Paul Di Filippo says:

    In this vital election year, would you vote for a Lex Luthor-Pete Ross ticket?

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    Do you think the super-hero genre can continue to evolve? We’ve gone from good vs. evil to soap-opera to deconstruction/ post-modernism to reconstruction and everywhere in-between. We’ve been through parody, stories without any traditional costumes or physical action, super-heroes as metaphors, distillation to the lowest common denominator, and tributes to every previous era. Has the idea well run dry?

  • Dan Wars says:

    The main thing Ive been collecting the last year or so is back issues of Warren mags; Eerie, Creepy, Vampi, etc. I would love to hear your take on these. Did you ready these when they were on the news stand, how often do back issues come into the store, and any other thoughts or comments. Thanks!

  • You probably covered this, but can you think of a time in early Mike’s comics retail career where something came up that completely junked how you thought comics should be ordered?

    I’ve had a couple of those “one to grow on” moments, and I’m interested in hearing other perspectives on that kind of event.

  • Steve Cameron says:

    Is there a comics publisher that you really like as a retailer? One that goes above and beyond to address retailer concerns, or goes out of its way to accommodate special requests, or one that just “gets” the retailing side of things? You always hear about the companies that go the extra distance for creators… is there one like that for retailers?

  • William Burns says:

    Do those Dover reprints of comics from the 80s and 90s move at all for you?

  • Dan says:

    So, are there any good comic books?

  • What were your opinions on the Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe/Who’s Who series?

  • Hooper Triplett says:

    What do you do with a creator like Paul Grist? Love his work, want to support it, but how can I not knowing if/when it will ever come out?

  • jason says:

    Do you ever feel like the internet…for lack of a better word…”fetishizes” key books? Does all the slabbing/ unboxing videos/ haul videos create an insatiable appetite for them?

    More succinctly, does social media drive people to hunt key issues?

    Do you get more knowledgeable fans looking for keys, or more everyday people with limited knowledge? Follow up question, would you ever pit one against the other in combat?
    Thanks, Jason

  • Gareth Wilson says:

    What’s the best comic book story that’s told completely in a single issue?

  • DavidG says:

    In the long run, The Legion of Superheroes never recovered from the Post Zero Hour reboot, in which baby boomers destroyed years of continuity in a misguided, nostalgia based decision to make the Legionaires teenagers again, even though they were more popular as adults. Discuss.

  • ChrisD says:

    With the Free Comic Book Day coming up, this is a chance for comic book stores to connect more with the community. But it is only once a year. How else should a comic book store connect with the community, besides as a seller of goods? Does it offer any “complementary services” like a comic book meeting club?

    An example I think of is board game stores which provide a place for playing.

  • DanielT says:

    It seems because his hood was permanently attached to his head, Baron Zemo had to be fed intravenously. Why didn’t he just cut the fabric from his mouth?

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    Marvel and DC are determined now to let none of their trademarks lapse, and so no matter how poorly a character’s previous appearances sold, he is guaranteed to return every few years, or at least have his name attached to a new character.

    Given that, why has there been no return of the Super Boxers? Or has there been, and I have missed it?

  • Hulk It Up, Y'all says:

    Did you ever read Toyfare when it was running? If so, what was your opinion of the magazine, especially Twisted Toyfare Theater?

    I’ve been going through all of my old back issues and TTT books and I’ve been surprised by how much I still enjoy them. Can’t tell if it’s nostalgia or if I truly do love it.

  • ExistentialMan says:

    Not sure if you’ve addressed this before but how do you manage customer pull-lists? Do you use a web-based site like Comixology, Diamond software or app, paper forms, or some combination of all of the above. What is your policy/approach to clients who visit infrequently and let issues stack up for months? In general, what percent of your average weekly sales can be accounted for with pre-ordered books on pull-lists? Yeah, three questions, I know. Sorry!

  • BRR says:

    I’ve seen some recent distinctions between newsstand and direct market editions of some back issues in a couple online marketplaces. Do you have back issue customers seeking one or the other?

  • The Mutt says:

    The Fat Fury v Swamp Thing. Who wins?

  • MrJM says:

    “The Fat Fury v Swamp Thing. Who wins?”

    I got this one: We ALL win.

    — MrJM

  • ScienceGiant says:

    Wow, have the Charleston heroes been ill-served by DC, or what? With the most egregious example being what’s happened with The Question.

    Also (yeah, yeah, one per commentor. I know. But I gotta know) what was the deal with Pandora from DC’s New52? Or should I call her Poochie, based on the way she disappeared after Trinity?

  • Pedro de Pacas says:

    So how DOES the sausage get made?

  • googum says:

    Anything new and good in what’s left of the comics blogosphere, or is it all over?

  • Zeb says:

    We all know anthologies just don’t work in the North American market–at least not as ongoings–but why is that? Is it the cost? The format? Just plain ol’ ‘I want only one story and damn you to Hades if you can’t give it to me’?

    Have you found the usual reluctance of people to commit to anthologies with the Legends of Tomorrow book? I was curious about whether this could finally be the book that breaks the curse but have seen nothing about it anywhere online.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    Zeb’s question reminds me that a principal reason–maybe the most important–why anthologies were the standard comics form in the 1940s, still a common one in the ’50s, and well represented even into the ’60s, is that publishers doubted the ability of most comics creators to produce a full issue’s worth of material on a regular basis.

    They were not really wrong about that, were they?

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    A moment’s extra thought on the subject reminded me that the actual most important reason for this was the postal regulation that required a periodical to contain multiple features in order to qualify for second class shipping (which allowed the comics companies to sell subscriptions cheaply). This is probably also why the comics that did contain single stories broke them into chapters for a long time–the publishers hoped that the postal authorities would mistake a story in three chapters for three separate stories.

    (Does anyone know the purpose of this regulation? The only one that occurs to me is that it may have prevented such things as catalogues and political flyers from being passed off as magazines and so getting the lower rate.)

    (This regulation also required a certain quantity of text–which is why old comics have those short stories that no one ever read; eventually, comics publishers realized that they could meet the requirement with letters pages, which had the extra advantages of being cheaper to produce, and of encouraging reader loyalty. Again, the regulation’s purpose is hard to decipher from the distance of time. Were “girlie” magazines the target?)

    However, the concern about productivity was a reason. It was also the reason why, for a long while, DC would not make any single-character comic monthly (Gil Kane was fast, but expecting him to turn in 25 pages of Green Lantern and 25 pages of the Atom every month was inviting trouble). And why, for a long time, the job of drawing Superman was split among Curt Swan, Wayne Boring, and Al Plastino.

  • MrJM says:

    “the actual most important reason for this was the postal regulation that required a periodical to contain multiple features in order to qualify for second class shipping *** Does anyone know the purpose of this regulation?”

    Oh boy, was THIS question was cat-nip to my diseased brain or what? I didn’t find a definitive answer, but I believe the reason was to keep publishers from mailing books as periodicals. Why you ask?

    Well, according to p. 106 of the 1891 Annual Report of the Postmaster General, books would have properly been sent as third-class mail at a rate that was eight times higher – a penny per two ounces, versus a penny per pound. Postmaster General John Wanamaker estimated that there were “probably 50,000 tons of so-called serials” mailed each year at the penny-a-pound rate, adding a million dollars a year to the postal deficit.

    And as the volumes of mailed periodicals rapidly grew, estimated losses on second-class mail grew as well — from $17 million (470 million 2016 dollars) in 1894 to $27 million (718 million 2016 dollars) in 1905!!!

    There were repeated calls to address the issue by raising the second-class postage rate, but that was wildly unpopular with both periodical publishers and their customers. As a result, best way to stem the losses from periodicals was to stringently enforce the rules.

    So apparently the requirement of multiple features had the same rationale as the requirement that periodicals be “formed of printed paper sheets, without board, cloth, leather, or other substantial binding” — to distinguish them from “printed books for preservation”. 39 U.S.C. 226 (1876)

    tl;dr- the second-class scourge sweeping America wasn’t political propaganda or girlie mags, it was books!

    — MrJM

  • Skinslip says:

    You can turn any existing other character in the DC Universe into the new Swamp Thing, who do you choose and why?

  • Bretsector says:

    From one Yummy Fur fan to another…any hidden gems from the B&W boon/bust of the 80’s? I’ve been going through my old long boxes and found old Aircel, Fish Police, TMNT clones, Cynicalman, Giant-Size Mini-Comics, Poison Elves, Underwater, Caliber Press, etc. and wondered if any other one else on the planet still had a soft spot for some of these floppies?

  • Late to the game here, but I only NOW came across an item about which you MAY wish to call FOUL:
    Specifically… MARVEL SLINGERS.

    No, not the mini series about the characters who took over Peter Parkers various alternative alter-egos during the naughts…

    No, I’m referring to the 2011 UPPER DECK collectible metal POGS that the player used a yo-yo magnet to collect from the playing field.

    I just received what appears to be a full set or more of these tin milk caps, and wonder…why?

    Any thoughts, before the end of the world?
    I mean, if THESE came out a decade.5 or so after the “Great Pog Epidemic” of the nineties…WHAT is the NEXT evolutionary leap for these things?

    Only YOU can warn the people of Earth.
    Only YOU!

  • Dammit…not long after I made my previous comment do I find that there’s yet another NEW Pog for this age…
    Marvel (and DC) HUBSNAPS


    The difference HERE is that they have a “clicker” mechanism, so by depressing the center, they make a “snapping” noise.

    When will it stop?


  • Ok. SERIOUS comics retailer question:

    How do you keep on top of Diamond / Previews constant “newly announced product” and “just now added-on variants and reprints”that are announced DAILY (with their own dedicated web pages on the Previews site)?

    I’m just a guy trying to keep up with the solicits of pretty much ONE CHARACTER (Doctor Strange, natch) and the constant newly announced stuff is hard to consistently track.
    How do you do it for your entire store’s new inventory?