Yes, I promise I know it’s spelled “Serji-X Arrogantus.”

§ April 22nd, 2022 § Filed under retailing § 4 Comments

Just noticed I typoed the last name of Sergio Aragonés in Monday’s post, and didn’t notice it ’til now. I assure you, as a fan of the man’s work for, what, over 45 years, and having interacted with him in person many times starting over 30 years ago, I know how to spell his name! All I can say is that I must have been pretty tired Sunday night when I was writing that entry.

EDIT: And I typoed his FIRST name this time. “Spelling Sergio Aragonés correctly” is the second thing to go, apparently. Fixed now, hopefully.

And I’m not much less sleepy now, but the blog must go on! Let’s continue addressing some of your comments from the last few days:

Joseph P Gualtieri notes

“Questioning whether or not Turok #1 was a sales success is a good reminder that sales charts for comics only show how many copies retailers order, not how many copies fans actually bought. A success in one doesn’t mean success in the other. See also, dead or discounted stock ordered to get variant covers.”

The “ordering to get the variant” really came to a head with the recent autographed Spawn comics, where the publisher shouted from the rooftops their inflated order numbers. As I talked about relatively recently, a customer wanted that autographed King Spawn, and paid enough for it that I was able to sell the regular covers for about a buck a pop as a special promotion. I’m juuuuuust about out of ’em now, but I’d probably still be sitting on boxes of the things if I had them priced at full cover.

And Marvel’s no stranger to this, if I may quote the above linked post:

“…Marvel trumpeted their X-Men #1 orders, and their X-Force #1 orders, without mentioning how many ended up being warehoused, buried in storage lockers and occasionally being dragged out into daylight and into shops like mine to unload.”

I think, nowadays, this sort of order-padding to grab benefits like “more variants” is not as common as it used to be. Shaving orders a little closer to the bone feels like the preferred strategy, especially in this market (which alas encourages speculation on a randomly-picked “rare” comic each week — uh, buddy, they’re all rare). But there are always exceptions, and once in a while even I’m like “well, I’ll just order a couple more to get that ratio variant.” It’s going to happen, but I don’t chase the variants with my order numbers like I used to, unless I’m darned certain it’s going to be worth the money I’m spending.

• • •

Chris G wants to know

“Let’s say I have a lot of comics stacked in boxes at my parents’ house and they’re starting to talk about downsizing. And given that the books in question have been sitting there largely unread for 20 years, it seems the best thing to do would be to sell them. I don’t care about making a ton of money, and few are bagged and some are very well read. But I also don’t want to get nothing for them. So I guess my question is: What are the two or three least effortful things I can do to goose any offer I might get from a shop near my parents by a couple bucks?”

Some minor things that might help:

Make sure they’re clean…boxes not covered with dust and cat pee and just general crap.

Have the books in relatively decent order…not like everything has to alphabetical or anything, just have all copies of the same title together. And all facing the same direction in the box..don’t make me constantly flip things over.

Make sure they’re accessible…don’t bunch together a dozen or so comics into a magazine bag before sealing it up. And if they’re in crummy plastic bags sealed with tape that’s going gooey with age, and you have to literally peel comics apart to look at them — man, I’m dealing with a collection like that right now and it sucks. I have to cut comics out of their bags, it’s terrible.

Basically, make it easier on the person looking at your collection to actually look at your collection. It may not bump up the moolah you receive for your books by much, but it surely won’t hurt. And the other suggestions from your fellow commenters in the thread are pretty good, too.

• • •

Chris Gumprich enters the following inquiry

“How is it that your store (started in 2014) has such an amazing stash of promos from the 1980s and 1990s? I know I personally have bought a number of promo posters from you — including such 80s classics as normalman, Thriller, and Mr.X — and yet every time I look at your ebay listings you have more up.

“Did you find a lost cache of promos from a store that went out of business in 1987 and has laid undisturbed ever since?”

Oh, huh, I thought everyone know, but maybe it’s been a while since I’ve said and some of us, Chris, may not have committed my entire website to memory like everyone should have from now.

My former place of employment was a comic shop that had been active since 1980. After the complicated semi-change in ownership of the shop (detailed here), my old boss still had all the old promotional material he’d accumulated over the decades. When I opened up my shop, he sent over all the promotional material and had me sell it for him on his behalf. That’s kind of it, really. I’ve got boxes of this stuff, and I go through it when I can.

Interestingly, I also “inherited” a few boxes of old comic distributor invoices and order forms, going back to very nearly the beginnings of the old shop. I keep meaning to do a little data-mining on those, but I’ll occasionally look at one, think “we used to order that many of The Flash, and then just be depressed. Ah well.

4 Responses to “Yes, I promise I know it’s spelled “Serji-X Arrogantus.””

  • Wayne Allen Sallee says:

    All I can offer re: Turok#1 was that we likely had more copies of it on the shelves than the DEATHMATE books.For me, that was the end of the store I was working at.

    Three stores nearby closed, the last one was the first specialty shop around here. The owner called it his retirement sale, all books were 50 cents. I found more Turoks there and here it is almost thirty years later. I bought a few and mailed them to some friends to annoy them since it was the middle of winter.

  • Wayne Allen Sallee says:

    This question is for Mike, or other shop owners reading this. I know stores are more spread out in California, but I’m curious as to how one store closing affects others?

    When CHAOS IN PRINT closed in 1994, about half the stock went to TENTH PLANET. They closed in 2020, but CHIMERA COMICS was on the same stretch of road, 95th Street (which passes through many suburbs), but kept the original store open even today. A lot of our stores rely on gaming, and social distancing took things apart during the pandemic.

    The one remaining store is ALTERNATE REALITY, which only took new customers for pull lists, not stock from any other stores.

    CHAOS and TENTH PLANET would team-up and have tables at WizardWorlds and other small cons in the tri-state area, no need to mention the store being closed if the person buying books is from outside of Chicago.

    So. What happens out there? I’m sure some stores closed in that dread time of speculation, 1994-5. Do you know of stores sort of teaming up when they go to cons to sell overstock? I’ve never really thought about how many shops are near enough where the owners can share the same stories from years gone by.

  • MisterJayEm says:

    Quick question: I haven’t been in a comic shop since before the pandemic — what titles are on the shelves these days that are both 1) good, and 2) appropriate for bright children ages 4-8?

    My niece (8), nephew (4) and I (!!) thank you for your time.

    — MrJM

  • Chris G says:

    Thanks for the helpful advice, Mike (and commenters)!