Good thing there wasn’t a Swamp Thing one, else I’d be traveling across the country looking for it.

§ July 16th, 2018 § Filed under dc comics, publishing, retailing § 8 Comments

(NOTE: I’ve been told that these aren’t actually “digest-sized,” which for some reason I got into my head these actually were, similar to the ’80s DC digests. This is why I wanted a copy to look at for myself! Also, I’ve heard from various sources that they’re racked “with the Pokemon and Magic cards near the registers,” and, um, my local Walmarts don’t appear to have those either, unless I’m really missing that particular series of shelves.)

(NOTE TO MY NOTE: So, uh, just ignore every time I call these things “digests,” okay? Thanks!)

So I’ve been trying to track down copies of those Walmart-exclusive DC digests, mostly to have just at least one sample copy I can look at and discuss here on the site, before passing it on to a niece or nephew. Like, I wanted to know the actual dimensions of the thing, its readability at that size (likely extra problematic for me, Mr. Gots Eye Troubles), the paper quality, the story selection, etc. And as it turns out…no dice at two of the Walmarts in my immediate area. Not that I found the DC Digest display bereft of copies, sitting on a shelf somewhere…I couldn’t find any sign that there were any on display at all.

Now, given the, um, state of said local Walmarts, “not finding something” could be said to be the default result of any product search, and it could very well be that they were there, somewhere, diplayed in plain view in a disused lavatory with a sign that read “BEWARE OF THE LEOPARD” Douglas Adams-style, but I checked all the usual spots and didn’t find a thing. So, let us hope that this was a case of the comics finding their target audience (i.e. not me, Elderly Comics Guy) and the empty displays were removed to make room for economy-sized tins of mixed nuts, and not, as was suggested by some Twitter pals, disappeared into the hands of speculators, a possibility I honestly hadn’t considered but…well, yeah, that could’ve happened.

I mean, it’s just as well…these digests are not for me, but to get kids to try out comics. Despite my near-despotic command over comic sales in my area (via my foreboding Camarillo headquarters at Sterling Silver Comics) I realized not every young’un will come through my doors to discover the sublime delights of Swamp Thing and…well, pretty much just that, but kids like comics and if you get them into their hands, they more often than not will devour them. I mean, read them, but get ’em young enough they may very well eat them…it’s just paper, they should be okay. So yes, I’m very much for the idea of getting comics into the hands of new readers via publishing initiatives such as this one. I have zero idea if it’s actually happening around here, since I don’t know if our local Marts of Wals even had ’em, but they’re out there somewhere, presumably getting into young people’s hands and not just being mailed off to Comic Slabbers, Inc. to get graded and traded.

I heard about some comics collectin’ and retailin’ folks getting bent out of shape over these things even existing, for some reason. I mean, yes, there are new stories mixed in with the reprints, but, c’mon, it’s not like DC is going to sit on that Brian Michael Bendis Batman story…that’ll be a trade or a mini-series or something down the line. Or it could just be “there’s something out there I can’t have!” — how dare there be a Collectible Issue #1 of Something we can’t order through our shops. (‘Course, if it were, then we’d hear “$4.99 for a new 12 page story and a bunch of reprints? BAH!”) I mean, whatever…the good these could do versus…basically no valid argument against, I think. Get kids used to the idea of reading comics…that’s a net gain for the industry as a whole! And it’s not like Walmart’s going to “steal” your customers, since most of those kids weren’t going to your shop anyway, but now, maybe, if they decide they want more comics, maybe they’ll seek you out. You never know. And besides, just given my personal experience seeking them out, it’s not like you’re going to find well-curated permanent comic racks in these shops directly competing with you.

Going back to that DC Comics release, i can see a lot of the actual contents of the initial digest wave right there, and it looks like a pretty solid mix of recent-ish stories. Now, the old ’80s DC Comics digest fan in me was kinda sorta hoping for some Silver Age-y or even Bronze Age-ish reprints, but I realize those may come across as a little old fashioned. But man, at the very least I hope they drop some Neal Adams Batman stories into some of these digests, just to blow some kids’ minds. Here’s that Shirtless Batman fighting Ra’s al Ghul you’ve been waiting all six years of your life to read, Little Billy!

Anyway, these digests are fine in theory (assuming others have better luck than me finding them). If it gets some kids to realize that, oh, hey, these just aren’t movie characters, they came from somewhere…good. I hope whoever got their hands on these reads the hell out of them, leaving it with tattered covers and bent pages and happily awaiting even more.

Let me just end this on saying that this pic of an empty digest display pocket (courtesy Twitter pal Joe) leaves me in deep appreciation of some designer’s dark sense of humor, considering the source of the image:

“For all my super-speed I wasn’t (choke) fast enough!” …Me neither, Superman — me neither.

8 Responses to “Good thing there wasn’t a Swamp Thing one, else I’d be traveling across the country looking for it.”

  • David Beard says:

    Just a note — not digest sized, not in the nut aisle, but next to the Pokemon cards near check out…

  • Jim Kosmicki says:

    at the Walmarts around here, the collectible cards shelf (not really an aisle) is hidden among the checkout lanes. It used to be pretty reliably about halfway down the row of checkouts, but since our Walmarts replaced half the checkouts with self-checkouts, it has been moved recently. The good news is that it was moved closer to the main entrance, not farther away.

    And at our Walmarts, they are either not selling or are being re-stocked. I was just there Sunday and the more popular of our two Walmarts had all the initial stock still there.

  • Thom H. says:

    I don’t understand the resistance to this initiative, either. My first comic book purchase was at the (proto-Target) Zayre store way back in the day. They were selling little comic bundles — 3 to a pack — and the one I bought included Uncanny X-Men 150 (and maybe an issue of the Defenders?). I was instantly hooked, and when I couldn’t find the comics I wanted at Target after that I quickly sought out alternative sources. At the time, that meant convenience stores and eventually comic specialty shops. So I’m saying that this kind of marketing definitely works. Comic shops wouldn’t have made thousands of dollars off me (oof!) if it hadn’t been for 3 comics randomly thrown together in a plastic bag at Zayre in 1981.

  • Thom H. says:

    Oops — read “Target” as “Zayre” in the above. I realized Target wasn’t quite in Kentucky yet back then, but forgot to change that one mention. It could have also been Ames. Remember the time before Target?

  • Bryan Irrera says:

    If you go to a Wal-Mart and look for the baseball cards, Pokemon cards, Magic cards, etc. (also some Funkopop figures and such), you generally find them up on a gondola next to the express registers at either one end or the other of all the registers (like, either extreme right or extreme left).

  • Chris Gumprich says:

    Apropos of nothing, just wanted to point out that the legendary Shirtless Batman was one of the very first Batman comics ever read my little Chris, way back when.

    The next 30 years were somewhat of a letdown.

  • Hueysheridan says:

    What’s the Supes panel from? “For the man who has everything”?

  • Mikester says:

    Hueysheridan – Yup, from the end of Part One.