“Not to be morbid,” he says.

§ November 28th, 2018 § Filed under question time § 5 Comments

So I need to get back to your questions, but first, let me address the one left for me recently by JohnJ on this post:

“The two versions of Sgt.Rock #400 cover prompt me to ask you this question, have you ever had a customer who preferred newsstand covers versus direct market? Someone who thought that what was in the UPC box made a substantial difference to the comic?
I know one retailer who thinks newsstand covers triple the price on back issues and wondered how you stood on that difference.”

By and large, I don’t think there’s a significant difference. If there is a difference in price and collectability, it’s generally the result of something other than just the UPC code or lack thereof. Like, cover image differences (such as the Spider-Man/Mary Jane wedding issue, though honestly I haven’t looked at compared prices/demand on those in a while). I think some of the early Image releaes had newsstand editions that were a little harder to find in the direct market (like Spawn and WildC.A.T.s ) with UPC codes and, I believe, different paper stock on the covers. There was a little demand for those once upon a time (particularly the non-foil covered newsstand edition of WildC.A.T.s #2) but I haven’t had anyone ask about those lately.

I mean, I don’t know…it hasn’t really come up too much, and I’ve sold a lot of back issues to a lot of people over the last three decades. Aside from situations like the above, where there’s an actual difference between the two versions, I haven’t had anyone just wanting the covers with Spidey’s face in the little white box instead of a bunch of lines and numbers. But, you know, to each his own.

Okay, back to the salt mines! ExistentialMan gets existential, man, with this:

“So, you’ve been doing this comicbookin’ retail thing for quite a while now. Although it’s clearly kept you virile, young-looking, and famously wealthy, I’m curious about your plans for the future and, eventually, retirement. I’ve ssen a number of retailers retire over the years (most of them very successfully). Do you envision calling it quits at a certain age?”

Well, I don’t know if I’ll ever straight up retire, unless my business suddenly becomes The One Comic Book Store Left Standing and I’m suddenly carrying away buckets of cash to the bank. Instead, I suspect I’ll keep my hand in, turning over day-to-day operations to a trusted employee, or robot, while still drawing income as the evil taskmaster of the business. I can’t imagine I’ll be behind the counter forever and ever until…well, not to be morbid, but I want to go off to that great Comic Book Convention in the, um, let’s say Sky in the comfort of my own bed, not sprawled out over a pile of X-O Manowars I was in the process of bagging.

• • •

Dave Carter asks Yet Another question:

“As a comic shop owner, what do you see as the biggest challenge for your retail establishment over the next year? Over the next five years?”

The biggest thing is just trying to maintain sales in the face of publisher shenanigans, as relaunch after reboot after renumbering erodes consumer confidence. Plus, the rising prices of the periodical format is always going to be an issue…I don’t think the periodical comic is going away, or even really on the verge of changing that much, but I feel like folks are really at their limit as to how much they’re willing to spend for a single issue. And I don’t think the Big Two, especially Marvel, are ready for a trade-only model. Whatever change that’ll happen is going to be a rough one to ride out.

Aside from that, there are the more practical concerns…rising costs of simply running the business (rent and utilities ain’t goin’ down), increased competition from new shops, an economy that’s all over the map, the fragility of my own human body…you know, cheery stuff like that.

• • •

Patrick Gaffney pours out

“Who can drink more? Thor or Hulk?”

We know, from our studies at Stan Lee University, that the madder Hulk gets, the stronger he gets, so there’s some sort of energy source that exists within him to fuel this increase in his capabilities. Like, there’s this giant radioactive engine inside him, powered by that long-ago Gamma Bomb burst, that flares hotter with Hulk’s emotions. I believe the Official Marvel Universe Handbook has noted that “there could be no upper limit” to this rise in strength. So, as his anger increase, the radiation-borne effects in his body increase, generating more energy, and presumably anything the Hulk would have consumed would probably go toward feeding this upward output. Thus, assuming Hulk is in an agitated enough state, I could see any drink he imbibed being immediately converted to bolster his physical abilities.

But then again, Thor is magic, which could supersede my 100& entirely scientific explanation. So let me go to the fallback answer…”depends on whose comic the drinking contest appears in.”

5 Responses to ““Not to be morbid,” he says.”

  • Squints says:

    Two possibilities:

    Angry drunk Hulk gets ever stronger in an out-of-control feedback loop not unlike, well, a gamma bomb.


    Happy drunk Hulk reverts quickly to Banner.

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    Okay, Mike, if we’re talking about drinking, let me direct you to this quote from Wikipedia’s page about a drinking contest Thor was involved in (the mythological Thor, not Marvel’s, but still relevant as evidence, I think?):

    And when you drank from the horn and thought it slow to sink, I dare say that was a miracle I had not expected to be possible; the far end of the horn was submerged in the sea, but you did not see that. Now, when you come to the shore, you will see what kind of sip you drank from the sea; there is now a sandy beach where there used to be water.

    So Thor is able to drink enough from the sea to expose beaches. I think the Hulk had better just put his stein back on the table, because this is not strictly a contest of strength, and he’s going to lose.

  • Nicholas says:

    It’s probably a little ridiculous, but a few months ago I decided to collect all of the McFarlane Spider-Mans (Amazing and Adjectiveless – it started when I bought a NM copy of #300 for a dollar at a ‘zine show, but that’s an entirely different story) – but would only get the direct market versions, because in most cases the corner box had additional art (the earlier issues featured different variations of the issue number spelled out in webs, but later he started doing little character portraits). Larsen continued this trend on his run, as well. So in this case, I was particular about which one I was getting.
    It’s since made me wonder if there are other comics in my collection where artists did the same thing, and I’m missing out (I feel like this would be a thing on old Groos, since Sergio packed so much stuff into every issue)!

  • Dean says:

    But imagine how collectable those X-O Manowars would be afterward!

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    “(I feel like this would be a thing on old Groos, since Sergio packed so much stuff into every issue)”

    Well, now that you mentioned Groo in this context, I had to investigate this. I just checked the Mile High Comics website since they differentiate, and include pictures of, both newsstand and direct market versions of comics. Alas, I spotted no special Groo direct market art in the UPC box for any of the issues in stock, just the typical Spider-Man head and “Marvel 30th Anniversary” type notices found on many other Marvels.

    Also of possible interest–Mile High’s explanation of why they bother differentiating, and charging more, for newsstand versions: http://milehighcomics.com/newsletter/031513.html