Yes, I know “semi-unique” doesn’t really mean much of anything.

§ November 6th, 2020 § Filed under question time, this week's comics § 5 Comments

So I read the original Savage Dragon mini-series back in ye ancient tymes, in my samplings of the early Image Comics releases. (For the record: read Spawn ’til about issue 20 or so, wasn’t interested in Youngblood (sorry, Rob!), found WildC.A.T.s incomprehensible, Shadowhawk was…well, it wasn’t normalman.) I thought Savage Dragon was probably the best of the bunch, but I didn’t follow it past those initial installments, for reasons more to do with my personal budget than anything about the book itself.

Now as it turned out, of all the Image books, it was ol’ SD’s creator Erik Larsen who the the greatest staying power, writing and drawing all 252 issues, and counting, of the title…evening including doing an extra issue to kinda/sorta “replace” an issue of the run done by a guest team. (Details here.) It’s a incredibly impressive run by a single creator, who’s maintained his personal vision on this book, and isn’t afraid to really changes things up on a regular basis.

All of which makes me wish I’d kept reading from the beginning, but What Can You Do? I’m glad it exists, I’m glad Larsen’s able to do this on his own terms, and I hope he’s able to do it for as long as he wants.

Now since that initial mini (and I think the first issue of the monthly series), I haven’t picked up very many of the series. There were one or two specials along the way, where Mr. Dragon would occasionally cross over with characters of interest (like Megaton Man, Destroyer Duck, or Marshal Law), and I think I glommed onto a Free Comic Book Day issue or two, however many there were.

At long last, I’ve had another reason to pick up an issue, this time an actual issue of the series rather than a spin-off, as it intersected with a couple of my interests. Pictured above is the second printing of Savage Dragon #252, released this week, with a cover image of what should be obvious inspiration. Now, I may not as big a Peanuts fan as some of my friends, I still do love them enough to be properly amused by this cover and want to have a copy for myself.

the other interest of mine this comic tickled is “comic strip parody,” which fills this publication. Dick Tracy, Calvin and Hobbes, Little Nemo…even Tumbleweeds. Tumbleweeds. Who parodies Tumbleweeds in this, the Never-Ending Year of Our Lord 2020? Well, Erik Larsen dood it, right here in this funnybook. That’s all I need, friends, and this book is at home, waiting for my full perusal. Looks like it’s stand-alone enough so I hopefully won’t be too lost with any specific references to regular continuity. But the cover alone is fun bit of parody and, as they say, worth the price of admission.

• • •

Now you folks had a lot to say in response to Monday’s post, and I do want to address more of what you all said soon, which I have a little more time and energy. But let me at least say something in regards to this question from Thelonius_Nick:

“You’ve mentioned ‘local market conditions’ several times on your site in the past. Are there really back issues that might be systematically more common in one part of the country than another? Not just a random issue here and there for whatever reason, but something structural, like maybe Flash is all over stores in Oregon because they like track there?”

I have to admit, “local market conditions” is more of a caveat, an acknowledgement that my own personal experiences in terms of comics retail and such are not necessarily universal, or perhaps unique, or semi-unique, to whatever it is I’m doing. It’s not really exact knowledge of what’s going on here, there or anywhere, but it’s my assumption that there are countless variables involved in retail than can affect sales or demand for certain products in one place that may not be duplicated elsewhere.

Now admittedly, there can be a sameness across the retailing board regarding certain trends…ask your local funnybook slinger if he has plenty of copies of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #1 floating around, and watch him/her/them sigh deeply. Or maybe there’s a shop that is just swimming in copies of Last Ronin somewhere, wishing he could get rid of them. That would be a difference in local market conditions!

I remember talking to a shop owner in the Los Angeles area sometime around…1990, I guess, where he mentioned he couldn’t move any copies of Legion of Super-Heroes. I was like “whoa, we sell lots of those!” which 1) probably shouldn’t have rubbed the poor guy’s nose in it quite like that, and 2) clued me in to the idea that not everything sells equally everywhere.

Another thing is that I’ve taken to pricing first issues on certain comics maybe a buck or three above the guide value. I can put a full run of U.S. 1 in the new arrivals boxes, someone will come along and snap up that #1, leaving me with the rest to languish. If I’m going to sell one and not the rest, I’d better get better value for the one I do sell. I’m sure not everyone does that, and I’m also sure some folks price ’em up even higher than I do. More of them local market conditions.

Or some days, maybe it’s just raining. A local weather condition that affects the local market condition.

Okay, that’s just me being silly. But you provide several other examples in your question, Mr. T. Nick, and all of those are just as valid. You never know what can mess up or bolster sales. That’s what makes this business so fun! Or “fun,” as it were.

5 Responses to “Yes, I know “semi-unique” doesn’t really mean much of anything.”

  • James G says:

    I picked up some Savage Dragon early on in it’s run, when Image was on their early tear. I think you are right about much of the image stuff at the time. So much flash and trash. SD was pretty good, but it never hooked me. Spawn just seemed like circular breathing: it maintained you, but you never really got anything from it.

    To me, Image picked up when Warren Ellis took over Stormwatch. It felt like an Image comic was finally going somewhere. Mind you, I came in late even to his run, so I had to pick up back issues to catch up on his arch, and was seeing where it had gone, rather than where it was going (I think I came in around 46 or so, with his first arch ending on 50).

    Image was very much it’s namesake back then. The image mattered more than the story. SD always seemed like it was going somewhere, but I never felt connected to where that was. I kind of wish I could reread it all, just to analyze what I didn’t connect to.

  • Matthew says:

    I read a ton of Savage Dragon a few years ago through Hoopla. The “neat” thing about it is that it moves in real time, so one year in our time is one year in the comic as well. Not something you see in a lot of long running comics. (The only other one I can think of is Judge Dredd.)

  • @misterjayem says:

    I’m pretty sure that in the 90s, the comics stores in the Chicagoland area had more back issues of First and NOW Comics floating around than most of the country.

    I imagine (hope?) that they’ve turned them over by now.

    — MrJM

  • Eric L says:

    I picked up Savage Dragon 250 even though I haven’t read it in years just out of nostalgia and I was pretty surprised at how accessible it was. There were a few panels of blatant exposition, but they more or less give you everything you need to know in the book itself.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “found WildC.A.T.s incomprehensible”

    That’s the NICE way of putting it!

    “Shadowhawk was…”

    Shadowhawk made the Punisher look like a sane, normal individual!

    and Savage Dragon is GREAT! It’s one of just a couple titles I kept buying the other year, when I had to trim my reserve list for economic reasons.