We got some work to do now.

§ December 22nd, 2021 § Filed under question time § 4 Comments

Trying to run through the rest of the latest batch of questions before the end of the year! But before I do that, don’t forget to leave your 2022 comic industry predictions!

Thom H. h.as this to say

“What’s the one book no one’s reading that everyone should be reading? Any hidden gems in the current marketplace?”

This is always a hard question to answer, because I don’t want to bum some poor creator out by saying “oh yeah, no one’s reading your book.” So let me alter the parameters slightly and give you this answer. I think a book more people should be reading but aren’t because they think it’s “just” a kid’s comic is The Batman Scooby Doo Mysteries, which is just about to wrap up. It actually sells reasonably well for me, and kids enjoy it, but I keep thinking one of the best kept secrets in comics is that DC has published multiple Scooby Doo comics over the years, and they’ve all been really good. Funny, clever, perfectly okay for young’uns (well, maybe not Scooby Apocalypse, also good but for the grown-ups) but enjoyable by older fans too. Even by someone like me, who is exactly as old as the Scooby Doo cartoons themselves.

• • •

James G drops this question

“Since you’ve been writing about variants for a bit now, something I’ve always wanted to know is: how does the way variant covers are distributed and sold to retailers affect your business? How have the ‘minimum orders to get a certain cover’ requirements changed the work you have to do for the store? How has it changed the bottom line?

“So that may be three questions, but I think it’s one question with refinement. :-)”

ALL RIGHT, MR. CHEATER-PANTS, I’ll let it slide this time.

I went fairly deep into the business end of ordering these variants a couple of years ago. Also, I was planning on another deep dive into the whole situation once I started wrapping up my variant cover-age and circled back to this first post and started addressing your feedback there.

To sum up: it affects my business in that I have to think long and hard about the numbers I’m going to place on these books. Is it worth it to get a few extra copies of something into order to reach the ratio variant plateau? What if then I don’t sell that comic for a premium in order to make up that extra cost and then some? Or those free-to-order variants…usually “lots of cover A and then just a few each of covers B and up” works okay, but for seemingly random reasons sometimes one of the variants becomes the in-demand item. It’s just a constant balance of ordering what you think you can sell, versus taking an occasional risk for extra profit.

When it comes to just pure numbers vis-à-vis profit and the bottom line, it’s not much different from taking a risk on a new first issue, or an otherwise “special” comic. You think about what you’re likely to sell, you place your orders, and either you sell enough to make back your money plus some extra, or you don’t make the money back. That happens regardless of variants or not. The tricky part mostly comes in trying to guess which variant will be the most popular, and trying not to get stuck with too many extra copies of any cover.

Also, refer back to previous installments of the variant cover-age to see specific ordering thought processes in regards to specific variants.

• • •

DavidG gives me the goods with

“Do you think that Diamond can survive losing the big 2, especially as you seem to think their service is pretty bad as well?”

I don’t think their service is perfect, no, but I do have to admit the vast majority of items I order show up with no problem. But every shipment seems to have some annoying and usually avoidable shortages and damages. For instance, this week was the third week in a row of not receiving any of my Dynamite “cosplay” covers. Maybe that doesn’t seem so bad, but those are the covers of their books in the highest demand.

As to surviving…I haven’t looked into it, or even heard, if Diamond has done any restructuring or scaling down of their company to reduce costs. I do still get quite a few books from them, even if my invoice costs aren’t nearly as large as they used to be.

On top of that…they haven’t necessarily lost Marvel as such. Retailers can still get Marvels from Diamond, just at a lesser discount than what they’d been used to. I imagine there are plenty of retailers who didn’t want to jump through the hoops to sign with Marvel’s new distributor Penguin Random House.

But a few smaller publishers have been slowly moving to other distributors. Again, for the most part you can still get them from Diamond, but I moved orders on those companies over elsewhere soon as I could. I feel like if Image ever decides to bail, that would probably be the catalyst for everyone else jumping ship, leaving Diamond as your exclusive Be@rbrick supplier.

• • •

Chris B be askin’

“Are you ever going to update your ‘The Chosen of God’ list? Most of those listed haven’t posted anything in years.”

In the blogging heyday, I used to go up and down the list of bloggers, checking in on their sites to make sure what I was planning on posting about wasn’t duplicating someone else’s content. Nowadays, of course, I just repeat stuff I already said over and over again and call it good.

And yeah, a lot of those bloggers ain’t bloggin’ any more, having wised up and found something better to do with their lives, leaving me to fend for myself. But you never know when someone might come back…or when one of the links will suddenly go to a squatter’s page or a site filled with text in an unfamiliar language. Or both!

Yes, I do someday have to perform a little maintenance on that sidebar (and the links page). Honestly, though, I hate the idea of deleting names and links…just perusing the list now brought back some memories of The Good Ol’ Days and I’d hate to lose those. Maybe some kind of In Memorium page, sorting the list of blogs into “Defunct but Still Online” versus “Now Selling V1aG4A.” Or possibly even “Actually Still Blogging,” but what are the chances of that?

4 Responses to “We got some work to do now.”

  • Cassandra Miller says:

    I’m getting Batman/Scooby Doo, reading it, then passing it along to the kids of a friend. You’re right, it’s been *tremendous* fun!

  • Michael Grabowski says:

    Mike, thanks for keeping your blog going. I read virtually none of the current comics being published anymore but your posts keep me connected to a hobby I have loved for close to 50 years. Keep on truckin’!

  • CalvinPitt says:

    I’m sorry to hear that losing some of their business has apparently not prompted an improvement in Diamond’s service. The last time there was one particular store I hung out at a lot was over 10 years ago, but they were the same way then, too.

    One thing I do appreciate about Diamond as a customer is they’re an easy way to find all the solicitations for the smaller publishers. Every couple of months I find a comic from some publisher I’d never heard of. If all of them scatter to different distributors I’m not sure how I’m going to keep track of what’s coming out I might be interested in. Plus, it seems like it’d be more work for you if you have to file orders with 5 or 6 different distributors.

    I always hesitate to take blogs off my blogroll. You never know when they might start up again!

  • Thom H. says:

    Thanks for the hot tip. I’ll have to check out DC’s Scooby Doo books. Happy holidays!

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