Seriously, you should’ve seen the numbers he ordered just on Robotech.

§ January 28th, 2019 § Filed under retailing § 2 Comments

Okay, I said I was going to dn epilogue to the 2018 prediction posts, where I go back and comment on any comments you folks may have left on them…but looking back, I don’t really have anything to add. So, you folks out there go back to the last post, and use the links there to go read the comments everyone left. And thanks to those of you who did leave comments…always appreciated! Remember, early 2020, we’ll do all this again! …Yes, I know you can’t wait.

So today, let me tell you about the latest thing from comics retailing past I’m just beginning to dig into. My former boss Ralph recently gave me a sizeable pile of his old distributor order forms/catalogs dating from the early to mid 1980s. That’s prior to my jumping to the other side of the counter in 1988, where I’ve pretty much been ever since. As such, this is a compelling and educational look at the industry from a very interesting time, when the indie market was really beginning to take hold, when “hot” books were changing the way retailers dealt with their orders, when companies were beginning to change things up a little with stuff like Crisis on Infinite Earths and Dark Knight.

I’ve had these for a few weeks, but I’m starting to take a closer look at them now. Of particular personal interest to me is that many of these booklets have Ralph’s original order numbers written in them. I can look at some of these numbers, compare them with my memories of what we used to have in the back room there, and think “wow, that many copies sold?” or “hoo boy, that number was a mistake.” And believe me, some of the numbers ordered were immensely high, borne of a time when the market may have been a bit more robust, and when of course Ralph’s shop was the only game in town. And by “town” I mean “the entire county.”

On an even more personal note, it’s a bit of an…odd feeling, I suppose, looking at Ralph’s order for Amazing Heroes #96 and thinking “hey, I bought one of those copies he ordered!” I mean, starting in the early ’80s I was pretty much there every week, so I can literally think that about a lot of things in these catalogs, but for some reason the Amazing Heroes and Comics Journal listings were the ones that got me. Go figure.

A brief perusal of the catalogs brought up at least one solicitation for a comic by a noted cartoonist that I don’t think was published, at least under that name…more on that in a future post once I find that solicitation again, and do a little more research. And plus there are distributor news items, telling you things like “Cmelot 3000 ship dates are pushed back” and “Frank Miller’s Ronan [sic] will be a six-issue mini-series.”

What I really am looking forward to reading, however, are the columns where ordering advice is given on several titles from a number of publishers. Here’s an excerpt from a bit about the DC books:

I’m just picturing Diamond trying something like this now, and how the publishers would almost certainly quail about it. But anyway, I love stuff like this…preses my “fanzine fanboy” buttons something fierce. And go easy on the person who wrote this…yeah, I know “order based on your previous sales” barely counts as advice, you’d think, but some folks needed to be told that. And who knew about Mask? Maybe it could have taken off, don’t act like you were all certain about it.

And there you have it…a lot of material for me to data-mine, as time and eyesight permit. I look forward to going over these, and I hope you enjoy whatever info I can pull out of them over the next few whatever-increment-of-time this project will require.

2 Responses to “Seriously, you should’ve seen the numbers he ordered just on Robotech.”

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    Hey, at least in my neighborhood, Mask toys were pretty hot for a while there. I’m not sure I even knew there was a Mask tie-in comic, though–and at age 10, this was the period when I had discovered and started going regularly to the local comic store. I was more of a Marvel fan but might very well have picked up a Mask comic. Sounds like the local store owner didn’t follow the advice here!

  • King of the Moon says:

    We had all the MASK toys but the insert preview of the comic was so boring I never bought an issue

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