I presume the other fella’s name was, like, Blutus.

§ February 15th, 2023 § Filed under cerebus, popeye, retailing § 11 Comments

So last week, will richards remarked

“I seems ta remembersk a parody featuring Squinteye the Sailor (again, more appropriate than Popeye?), but can’t recall which comic that was in.”

I replied in the comments, but thought I’d point it out On Main, as the kids say. To the best of my knowledge, Squinteye stems from the 1985 release Cerebus Jam #1. This was a comic in which the regular Cerebus team, Dave Sim and Gerhard, team up with another creator to produce a short story. Said creators include Murphy Anderson, Will Eisner, and noted Popeye fan Terry Austin, who co-produced this tale of a Young Cerebus encountering a grizzled sailor down at the docks.

Eventually Squinteye bumps into an old adversary:

…who is dispatched in the typical fashion:

…leaving something of an impact on our junior main character:

According to the story notes in this issue, Sim provided very rough sketches of “Squinteye” and Bluto on the pages, which Austin very meticulously finished, including details like the dead Jeep on the (magically-changing) shoulder.

Like most Cerebus art in the main book, it’s quite stunningly detailed, and Austin fits right in with his legendary illustrative talent. It’s well worth tracking down a copy of this comic…all the stories found within are a lot of fun.

• • •

Snark Shark takes a bite at me with

“twitter: ‘somebody’s breaking street date’

“How much trouble can they get in for that?”

Mr. Shark is referring to a couple of posts I made on the somehow-still-functional-mostly Twitter about a customer who came in Tuesday and indicated a DC book released that day had already been purchased by him days earlier. Given that specific books’ release date was the 14th, if he bought it earlier, then some other retailer sold it too early. (Assuming the customer isn’t mistaken of course.)

Putting street dates on books allows retailers to ship them to stores early, to allow for more time to process and count the received goods, as well as report shortages and damages more a more timely replacement. For example, I received DC Comics due for release on the 21st this past Tuesday, the 14th. My shipments from Penguin Random House (containing my Marvel and IDW and, soon, Dark Horse orders) generally arrive the Friday before the following Wednesday’s release date, though Monday is relatively common too. Diamond shipments with goods for sale Wednesday arrive on that week’s Tuesday, but the occasional delay or UPS error can mean I’m scrambling to process the order Wednesday morning before opening for the day.

For the most part, assuming no shipping delays, this is a lot easier on me than in Ye Olden Tymes, when everything showed up on Wednesday for that day’s release, and hopefully the shipment arrived early enough in the morning that everyone rushed through getting the order counted and shelved and maybe pulled for the comic savers before opening. Unless UPS decided to start at the other end of its route and we ended up getting our boxes at, like, 4 in the afternoon, which did happen. (Eventually we just had the boxes held at the UPS center, and I would pick them up on my way to work that morning.)

Now for early shipments to work, that requires retailers to stick to the street dates, and Diamond used to send out “secret shoppers” to keep tabs on stores and make sure they weren’t breaking street dates by putting material out too early. From all accounts I’ve heard, these distributor spies were obvious as all hell, but to the best of my knowledge I’ve never dealt with any, either at my previous place of employment or at my shop. So, either I’ve never been tagged as a secret shopper target, or my secret shoppers knew what they were doing and actually remained secret. Not that it mattered, since I never broke street dates.

To get to Snark Shark’s question, finally, as to what would be the penalty for selling stuff too early — first they’d stop shipping stuff to you early temporarily, and then I’d have to assume if you’re a repeat offender they’d stop the early shipping permanently. That would mean whatever poor bastard got caught breaking street dates would be back to the Bad Old Process of trying to get stuff taken care of the very morning of its release, which can be done but it’s a pain in the ass.

So anyway, don’t do this, fellow retailers. And again, not that I’m sure this happened in the first place in this instance, as I’m half-convinced this particular customer was mistaken about getting that comic early.

• • •

Again, sorry for the dearth in entries the last few days. There’s a period in March where I have a bunch of medical stuff all in a row, so it might happen again. Be forewarned, be forearmed!

11 Responses to “I presume the other fella’s name was, like, Blutus.”

  • Daniel T says:

    I worked at a comics shop when the Diamond spies were around and they may as well have worn a name tag that said “Diamond Spy.”

  • Wayne Allen Sallee says:

    Back in the day, we got the books on Thursday. A heads up from another store who got deliveries right before us. And then we’d open the boxes where Wolverine was on the cover of almost every book. Or Ghost Rider. And to make certain all the MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS had the same cover showing (the back side had a different cover).

    The customer was likely mistaken, and who amongst us hasn’t grabbed a random book off the shelf one week and then purchased another of the same issue a week later because they never got around to reading the first copy? Show of hands? Of course, I’m on old man memory drugs, so there’s that.

    Mike: has anyone every come in with two copies with X-0: MAN OF X-MEN and said, here’s the thing…

  • Bill the Splut says:

    In the 90s I managed what we quaintly called “record stores.” First a Sam Goody, then in an awesome New England department store you’ve never heard of, Lechmere, which got bought by Montgomery Ward. You’ve heard of them, but go find one. They were so manifestly incompetent that they drove Lechmere out of business after 50 years of success, and then themselves after a century.
    Release dates were strict. The product came on Monday so you could prep it, but sell it before Tuesday…hope you got another job lined up.
    There was a thing, basically early spyware, called SoundScan. You sold even 1 copy early, boy were you getting an angry call from Corporate as soon as you opened next day. Once or twice, they understood that these things happen sometimes. Like a commission salesperson not knowing about it and grabbing one when you were busy. But more than that?
    There was a chain called Strawberries back then. Nobody got the deal with them. They were tiny, had little inventory, set in dying strip malls. They paid their store managers what we’d pay a head cashier. The theory was that they were–ALLEGEDLY!–a Mafia drug money laundering scheme. I heard this at 2 different companies, and from multiple salespeople. When everyone says unprompted “Oh, yeah, he’s an asshole” you tend to believe them.
    They broke street dates so often that they stopped getting new releases until 2 weeks later. 95% of your sales of an established artist happen between Tues and Sun. They closed 6 months later. Maybe they went on to found Silk Road or invented Bitcoin or sold Pablo Escobar hippos, I dunno.
    One Monday at Goody a guy demanded I sell him a CD. He claimed that “Record Town is selling them!” We peacefully coexisted with them in the mall, and we had their number to warn them about shoplifters, so I called. I could hear the guy’s eyes rolling. “If we were, don’t you think he would’ve bought it here?” I replied “Yeah, we’re a quarter mile apart, I wouldn’t want to walk that far” while maintaining eye contact with the clown.
    “If I sold that to you, I could get fired.”
    Him: “I don’t care!”
    In the most satisfying moment of 45 years of retail, I snapped “You don’t care if I get fired? I don’t care if you DIE!!”
    Punchline: the CD in question was Guns ‘n’ Roses “The Spaghetti Incident.” GnR fans hate that album. GnR HATES THAT ALBUM! Yeah, let me become homeless so you can get disappointed 12 hours earlier.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Terry Austin gets my vote for best inker of the ’80s!

  • Brad Walker says:

    Great post to talk about being forearmed.

  • MisterJayEm says:

    “Guns ‘n’ Roses ‘The Spaghetti Incident.’ GnR fans hate that album. GnR HATES THAT ALBUM!”

    I’m the guy who enjoys that album — possibly because I bought it used.

    — MrJM

  • Chris V says:

    I’m going to assume that the Diamond Spies were the Men in Black of the comic book world. Probably there were times the one was mistaken for the other.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Re: The tweets about Byrne inking Ditko — the Ditko art is evident in some of the awkward poses of the characters…like the off-kilter(rampaging) Hulk in the fourth panel…but Byrne pretty much “Byrneified” all of the characters faces.

    I think the first Ditko/Byrne art pairing was in Charlton Bullseye Magazine no. 1 (1975), where Ditko drew a Captain Atom and Nightshade story which Byrne inked. But Ditko, Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, and Neal Adams all seem to be artists who Byrne drew inspiration from and synthesized elements of their work in his own work.

    I think Terry Austin is a better inker fit for Ditko. P. Craig Russell also inked Ditko nicely on some ROM comics, and Steve Leialoha also did interesting inking over Ditko pencils on some stories of the Djinn in the back of some issues of Coyote. Then, of course, there’s Berni Wrightson’s epic inking of Ditko on Morlock 2001 no. 3!

  • Snark Shark says:

    “I’m honestly surprised they’re talking about a new Hellboy movie this soon after the last one tanked”

    Look, if they make “Hellboy 3” With Selma Blaire & Ron Pearlman!
    i know, that unlikely, given his age and her medical condition. but it would be GREAT.

    “To get to Snark Shark’s question, finally, as to what would be the penalty for selling stuff too early — first they’d stop shipping stuff to you early temporarily, and then I’d have to assume if you’re a repeat offender they’d stop the early shipping permanently”

    OK! thanks!

    “Guns ‘n’ Roses “The Spaghetti Incident”

    I like that album!

    “Diamond Spies”


    Sean Mageean: “P. Craig Russell also inked Ditko nicely on some ROM comics”

    And presumably did the Spider-Man drawing in those issues, as Ditko would no longer draw the character.

    “Berni Wrightson’s epic inking of Ditko on Morlock 2001 no. 3!”


  • Joe Littrell says:

    “these distributor spies were obvious as all hell”

    I never had to deal with one when I was actually in stores, but I got to see the reports from Diamond once I moved to the corner office. It was pretty apparent that they used third-party “secret shopper” services; the actual in-store reports often included an “I’ve never been in a comic store before” line. They’d send in some grandmother and ask for the titles for their grandkid or son, and then report what they were told.

    The report had some other bits to it – whether the hours were posted, whether they were greeted, if there was any TV or music playing, was the store clean, etc.

  • Snark Shark says:

    Joe Littrell: “was the store clean

    “How CLEAN do define CLEAN to be?”