William Burns, what have you wrought?

§ August 16th, 2019 § Filed under question time § 11 Comments

One thing I didn’t spell out in Wednesday’s post about what comics I’d like to see in new trade/hardcover collections is, well, the financial end of it. I’m sure every publisher would like to have everything in print at all times for ready sale, monetizing their past as much as they’re able.

But printing these things cost money. And ordering these things cost money. I wish I had copies of every single trade paperback available in my shop, but leaving aside where I’d store ’em all, even my vast Deathmate-built fortune couldn’t swing paying for such stock. Picking and choosing what I carry and being willing to special order items is the best I can do.

And going back to the publishers…even if they did, for example, do an extensive reprinting of all the Groo the Wanderer issues in a series of nice, new trade paperbacks, there’s no guarantee that they’d sell well enough to justify the effort, to cover the costs of keeping them all in print and available at all times. Now, I know they’re great, and you probably know they’re great, but despite what that one movie said, just because you build it doesn’t mean they’ll come. In an ideal world they would, but, well, you know.

Also, publishers only have so much money and resources and personpower to spread around, so I’m trying to hard not to read too much into the fact only two Groo paperbacks are currently available, that perhaps they’re just focusing on something else at the moment. It’s hard to publish and sell comics in the U.S. nowadays, so like how I have to pick and choose what to carry at the shop, publishers have to pick and choose what they throw their efforts behind.

So, I’m not trying to be critical of any publishers and their efforts to maintain a solid reprint line by wondering “hey, why don’t they do this?” We’re just wishing aloud here about what we’d all like to see, and I’m sure many publishers would like to see them too, if they were able to do so.

That was a lot of apologizing for someething nobody complained about. Er, sorry about that…I just kept thinking someone was going to call me on it ever since I posted on Wednesday, and had to get it out of my system.

If I may follow up on something else, longtime reader Rruce noted that one of my suggestions, Elementals, would be a bit tricky as its creator, Bill Willingham, never had the opportunity to really complete his work on the title, and the Elementals comics that followed were…well, likely would seem out of place in a comprehensive collection of the title and wouldn’t make for a satisfactory read in toto.

Which brings up the topic of collecting incompleted work, which I’d count Elementals under, as well as BobH’s suggestion of 1963. The interesting thing about the Dover reprints I talked about last time, for Puma Blues and Border Worlds, was that the creators provided, if not outright conclusions, then at least new chapters to bring those books to more satisfying endpoints. Granted, the likelihood of the same being done for Elementals or 1963 is slim to nonexistent, which is too bad. It’s a loss, is what it is…it’s good, solid creative work that’s now strictly in the realm of those comic fans who feel like piecing together runs from back issue bins, rather than in the larger, potentially more lucrative world of The Fancy 1963 Complete Hardcover Featuring That Annual That Would Have Been Published Originally Hardcover, giving someone yet another Alan Moore book they could have sold.

Onto happier news, Bully, the Little Bull Stuffed with Carrots, wanted a Flaming Carrot collection. Well, as mentioned by that darn BobH, there is one coming! There have been reprint volumes for the Carrot before, but they’re long out of print. It’s called the Flaming Carrot Omnibus, and when it was announced, the weird selection of issues included (#1-2, #4-11, #25-27) is peculiar, but 1) Flaming Carrot ain’t exactly continuity-heavy and messing up the order won’t hurt much, and 2) this gets the Flaming Carrot/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles team-up in that first volume, so hopefully that’ll goose sales enough to keep the books coming.

One other series came to mind that I’d like to see a trade of is Jim Valentino’s normalman. Yeah, okay, it’s been collected twice…originally by Slave Labor Graphics (I have that one!) and later by Image (which includes some of the post-mini appearances) but both books are in black and white, and boy does this series scream for color. I loved the look of the original comics, and would much appreciate having that experience duplicated in a nice color collection for current audiences. As I said when I started today’s post…that probably wouldn’t be cheap to make or sell.

Probably have yet another post in me on the topic, so I’ll get back to it next week. Thanks for reading, pals, and as always, please keep leaving your comments. They’re always appreciated.

11 Responses to “William Burns, what have you wrought?”

  • DavidG says:

    Well, if we’re talking unfinished unreprinted stuff, then let’s get the Helfer-Baker Shadow back on the shelves. I still miss that book.

  • William Burns says:

    It’s a nice, leisurely morning, let’s see what Sterling has up on Progressive Ruin today. . .good thing my coffee wasn’t in my hand.

  • jmurphy says:

    “to cover the costs of keeping them all in print and available at all times.”

    Nearly one-fifth of the way through the 21st century, and Print-On-Demand can’t handle this? One of Warner’s other subsidiaries uses On-Demand technology for out-of-print audio CDs and movie DVDs. Books can be printed on demand, maybe someday the technology will be applied to comic trades as well.

  • BobH says:

    Dynamite did reprint all the Helfer SHADOW series (with Baker, Sienkiewicz, Rogers, etc) a few years ago. Don’t think they added anything new, so it ends at that rather awkward story point.

  • demoncat_4 says:

    i agree for like i stated in a differant comment the chances of 1963 getting a new trade is slim to none mostly due the creators not having a realationship with each other and also the rights to the characters belong to each creator would have to be aquired same with getting alan moore to finish and release the legend that is big numbers too

  • JohnJ says:

    As far as “unfinished” goes, if Martin Wagner ever tried to finish “Hepcats” again, I would be interested. As I recall, he didn’t finish the first storyline when Antarctic Press reprinted the original comics and he briefly started another storyline.
    Another self-publisher, Teri S. Wood, did finish her original story, “Wandering Star” which was republished a year or so ago, but only did a couple issues of “Darklight” before she gave it up.
    I wonder if these creators ever finish the storyline just for their own satisfaction even if they don’t have the resources to publish them. These two books were both done before Kickstarter ever started and both did good work that should have found a larger audience.

  • King of the Moon says:

    I’ve got a cool idea, they could finish MiracleMan

  • >There have been reprint volumes for the Carrot before, but they’re long out of bring.

    Typo; you meant to write “out of brine”.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    Jmurphy, the creators may not necessarily be on board for print on demand. I have seen nothing about this in the comics world, but I have elsewhere read the worries of authors about this. Specifically, they fear that publishers will use print-on-demand to claim perpetual ownership of books (because they remain “in print,” even if few or no copies are being printed) and so prevent the rights from returning to the authors.

  • William Burns says:


    They’re already using ebooks for that since the cost of keeping them “in print” is virtually nil.

  • Hooper Triplett says:

    Finally thought of something I wish was/is collected in print – Impact’s Fly by Parobeck and Strazewski.