And by “Deadbeats” I don’t mean the Claypool comic.

§ March 22nd, 2023 § Filed under indies § 15 Comments

Smicha1 cashes in with

“Mike, how do you handle it as a retailer when you feel that a product just isn’t worth the money? Are you pretty candid with your customers? You seem like a pretty ethical guy so I imagine you must be occasionally kinda torn between maintaining the trust of your customers and making that scratch. Have you ever felt compelled to actively dissuade someone from buying something because you know they will be disappointed?”

It’s…not always easy. Yes, of course I want to make a buck, even quite a few bucks, at all times in order to maintain my lavish* lifestyle. But here and there I cut costs on things to 1) encourage sales, and 2) lessen the burden on customers, such as probably charging less on comic supplies like bags, boards and boxes than I should be. And a lot of my back issues are very cheap, he humblebragged, but that’s mostly a case of pricing accurately due to condition. I probably kept my Funko Pops at a lower price than I should have for too long, and now that I’ve raised the price a buck or so I actually seem to sell even more of them. And there are other things around the store, mostly more merchandise, where I price ’em out at a buck or two below retail.

I have been known to angle some customers away from some comics and towards other comics that may be more to their liking, based on either what they say they’re looking for, or based on my knowledge of their tastes if I happen to have that in the ol’ mental database. That’s just a function of salesmanship. I don’t just come right out and announce “boy that sucks, don’t buy that” to everyone in the shop, because my taste ain’t your taste, some person might like it.

This was a point of discussion in the old comicsweblogosphere a decade or so back, about some folks who just broadcast to their entire clientele via newsletter reviews telling them to either “buy” or “not buy” comics that, um, they were carrying, which seems self-defeating. One on one suggestions with individual customers is one thing, just telling everyone “don’t buy this comic, it’s the worst” is another. The distinction, sadly, was lost, as the internet is where nuance goes to die.

My favorite example of this is the fella what slagged some Big Two event book to all his customers, then wondered a few months later “huh, wonder why [said event] isn’t selling for me?” Boy, get Hercule Poroit on that case.

What I’m trying to say, in between dragging out old grudges, is that I do try to find ways to keep my customers happy, and to help them spend their dollars wisely. I try to focus more on the “you might want to check this out” versus the “I don’t know if that’s for you” tack, but in the latter case I try to offer something else they would like as an alternative.

• • •

An additional note on that post about the most recent Nexus graphic novel: I was looking at the Nexus Wikipedia entry, where it states that Mike Baron and Steve Rude have “parted ways,” and that Rude is doing his own graphic novel. I talked about the recent Baron Nexus story, and with a new story by Rude apparently coming…does that mean the ongoing Nexus saga is split into separate continuities, with each creator deciding independently on what to do with the character? That’s going to seem a little strange. But then again, Nexus has always been a little strange, that’s part of the appeal. We’ll see what happens, I suppose.

• • •

Okay, I’m going to skip over responses to the Dilbert post in order to keep with the current locally-centered zeitgeist of ’80/’90 indies. Anyway, y’all had good comments there, with the exception of a recurring dipshit who popped up to say something stupid, but I left his shame intact for future generations to gawk at.

So, onto the next post, where none of you deadbeats have bought my Zot!s yet…but you left lots of good comments, so I guess that’ll do.

Cassandra Miller asks

“Do you, by any chance, have the Matt Feazel issues? Because I’m missing those…”

Those Feazel issues seem to be the popular ones…the mini-comic #10 1/2 and the full-sized issue #14 1/2. I did have a 14 1/2 but that sold right away. Sorry about that.

As a consolation prize, please enjoy this early post on my site (from within the first month of its existence!) about my even earlier encounter via the mails with Mr. Feazell. WARNING: link rot ahoy!

• • •

Daniel T tees me up with

“Mike, did you like Badger: Shattered Mirror? That was the only post-First thing I read and I thought it was pretty good.”

What Daniel T is talking about here is one of the two mini-series published by Dark Horse Comics after the demise of First Comics, the previous publisher of the Badger.

Released in 1994, these two series presented essentially mutually-exclusive origins for the character, Shattered Mirror being the serious one, and Zen Pop etc. being the wacky one.

Now it’s been nearly 30 years since these came out, and thus probably nearly 30 years since I’ve read the darn things. I am sure I liked them well enough, though I can’t honestly remember a thing about them. Badger is on my upsettingly long list of things to reread while my mortal coil remains unshuffled-off, so maybe I’ll get around to them again someday. However, my current sense of the Badgers funnybook history as a whole is, as I may have mentioned before, that some subtle lifeforce that powered the appealing balance of serious/wackiness of the Badger’s tales had begun to peter out near the end of the First run, and was never quite acquired again. Maybe a solid reread of the series may alter that opinion, but that’s my overall memory of everything.

“…Do you have anything to say about the language changes made in the B&W collection?”

Daniel’s referring to the Zot! book reprinting that series black and white run of issues from 11-36. And I have to say…I didn’t know there were language changes! I presume “word choices,” and not that they’re all suddenly speaking Swahili or something. Scott himself says he “fine-tuned the source material” on his site, and I suppose that means more than just touching up the art for republication.

So I tried looking for examples online and didn’t have any luck, so if there are any out there I missed, or, Daniel, if you want to tell me specific citations, I’d love to see them. But to answer your question in general…if Scott thought the changes were necessary, then it’s his book, I’m perfectly fine with whatever he did. Unless he, like, hid new drawings of Sluggo or Swamp Thing throughout, in which case I’d be ecstatic.

• • •

And before I pack it in for the night, let’s see what Customer Sean has to say

“Mike, as long as you are talking about Capital Comics characters who went on to First Comics, what about Whisper?”

I gotta say, I didn’t pick up on Whisper at the time. Looked a little too ninja-y to me, and my eyes just kinda glazed over whenever “ninjas” were brought up in whatever comics I was reading (aside from the Teenage Mutant Turtles who were also you-know-whats, of course).

With the comics ninja craze long behind us, I’m probably a little more open to checking them out. If only I’d thought about it before my previous place of employment went the way of HBO Max programs, as I’m sure they had a full run of every iteration of the series. Plus, with my backlog already thoroughly logged, I’m not sure when I’d get to it anyway. As it stands now, I think the opening issue of First’s Crossroads series may be the one thing I’ve read featuring the character. Ah well, can’t read everything.

And Sean’s second question is about the late, lamented Pacific Comics, but I’ll get to that next time. Thanks for checking back in, pals.

* Sometimes I’ll splurge on buttered toast, rather than dry.

15 Responses to “And by “Deadbeats” I don’t mean the Claypool comic.”

  • Chris says:

    Badger was certainly an interesting comic for its time, though I think it was kind of more interesting in its premise that execution, it seemed to work best when they did a ‘day in the life’ issue, I remember the one when he had to capture a panther on the loose in a shopping mall as a particularly fun romp – generally Badger seemed a lot more fun when he was featured in Nexus than in his own title. Weird seeing as Baron wrote both series. I just remember there was a lot of Badger fighting a different generic tough guy bully each issue. Ham the weather wizard was a lot of fun though.

    I only read Whisper in the afore-mentioned First Adventures issues which she shared with Dynamo Joe and Blaze Barlowe. At the time I thought it was interesting she wasn’t presented as your usual buxom super heroine and she seemed to mess up as much as she succeeded in dealing with the bad guys. I seem to remember that the premise was significantly rejigged when it came over from Capital to First, as opposed to Badger and Nexus which pretty much continued as was.

    Looking forward to that Steve Rude Nexus, though I can’t think of too many examples where a character is ongoing with two different continuities? I’m sure someone will have some examples.

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    -Reads post, reacts- Oh, gosh, I commented on that post, maybe *I’m* the dipshit!
    -Rereads comment section- Oh, phew, it wasn’t me.
    -Reflects- You know, I bet the one person who *was* the dipshit is the only one who didn’t feel a stab of panic upon reading that a dipshit had been spotted….

  • Chris V says:

    The only time I’ve had a comic store owner dissuade me from reading a comic series was the first issue of Squirrel Girl. I took his advice and skipped it, but then read some good reviews online, so I picked up the second issue. It turned out to be a really fun comic…although, I could understand his complaints about the artwork. Artwork can usually be quite subjective though. The owner of the comic shop is my pal, so there were no hard feelings. I don’t think he was telling all his customers to not buy Squirrel Girl, which would seem to be a horrible business decision as he was ordering the book, presumably to sell. I think he genuinely thought it was a “bad comic” and was being a fellow fan in that moment by telling me his opinion…which happened to be wrong.

    Whisper was another quite good 1980s indy comic. I didn’t read it until very recently (2018, maybe?). The local comic store had the entire First series for very cheap. It was also a case of, “What is this? Some ninja comic?” as to why I waited so long to give it a chance. It’s definitely not just another ninja comic.

  • Daniel T says:

    McCloud addresses it in the notes to issue 34 in the B&W collection. He toned down the language of the bully, changing “rip your f—– cock off” to “rip your dick off”; “stuff it down your goddamn fucking f—– throat” to “stuff it down your f—– throat” and “Fucking queer!” to just “Queer!” He said he came to agree with readers that thought the excessive swearing was out of tone with the rest of the series. An odd argument, I think, when you’ve already pulled the trigger on “f—–“, but that word was even more acceptable than profanity when the comics were originally published.

    I think an artist can change their work however they want, but I also think if a work has been released and then changed the original version should still be available. Not a big deal with Zot! since back issues are easily available. But I have no interest in owning any of the original Star Wars movies unless they ever release the theatrical versions.

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    The only case of an artist “remastering” a comic for the better that I can recall are:

    – Brian Michael Bendis’s Fire. For the trade paperback, he included panels from the original, and the newer version had noticeably better lettering and scripting.

    – P Craig Russell’s “What is it that Disturbs You, Stephen?” He drew a Dr. Strange Annual early in his career, and it looked good. In the late ‘90s, he redrew the story in his current style, and it looked gorgeous.

    – Richmond Lewis’s colors on Batman Year One look better in the trade.

    Every other time I’ve seen a new version of an older story that the artist retouches (almost always recolored with modern coloring), it’s looked worse. I support an artist’s right to do what they want with their older material. I prefer to also have the original available to avoid another “Special Edition” problem.

  • Allan Hoffman says:

    @Mike Loughlin
    A remastering for the better I liked was in Sandman. In issue #72 they didn’t have enough pages for the funeral barge sequence. For the collected edition the artist was allowed to create more art and expanded it from two pages to four.

  • Daniel T says:

    I like what they did with the Absolute Batman: Year One where there is a volume of the “remastered” version and a volume where it was presented as originally printed in the comics.

  • Wayne Allen Sallee says:

    the inter-
    net is where nuance
    goes to die.

    Nice work, Mike. Haiku aside, that is a great line. I missed the GF,SM whack job who posted on the Deadbert dealie. I can still remember back to 2022 where some numbnuts posted about being pissed that you had customers wearing masks. He’s some other comic shop owner’s problem.

    And if customer Sean is Sean Magean, did you pass on the Kooba Cola poster? It relates to me being the old guy rambling on about the GA Blue Beetle.

    And I agree about not picking up Whisper because comics were too ninja stuff for awhile. My loss.

  • Sean Mageean says:


    Re: Harvey Comics adapting the classics, can we please get Hot Stuff the Little Devil in Dante’s Inferno? Or Wendy the Good Little Witch in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible?

    Who owns the rights to the Harvey Comics characters now, anyway?


    I need to get myself down to the shop –in between atmospheric rivers–to check out that Kooba Cola poster, thanks!

    If anyone wants to get real ’80s with their comics and their music they can read Whisper while listening to Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream) by Icicle Works…which actually makes me wonder, does anyone listen to Love & Rockets while reading Love & Rockets…??? Of course, listening to Dr. Know or Ill Repute while reading Love & Rockets would be more appropriate…

  • Wayne Allen Sallee says:

    My bad. That goofball was complaining in 2020.

    Sean: it is taking up room at the comic shop. I get mine sent here to Chicago. Mike Sterling is the Bruce Springsteen of comic shop owners.

  • Sean Mageean says:


    You mean Mike isn’t the Bruce Wayne of comic shop owners…?

    Actually, if we were going with musician analogies, I’d say that Mike is more like the Robert Smith or the Andy Partridge of comic shop owners–based on the amount of times I’ve heard him playing The Cure and/or XTC (or The Dukes of Stratosphere) albums when I’ve gone to the shop. He’s definitely got his senses working overtime…

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Mike Loughlin:

    This is kinda obscure, but I think when Jack Katz’s The First Kingdom was reprinted a few years back by Titan Comics as six graphic novel volumes, it was relettered, which was probably a good thing (unless one is a purest), because the original issues of The First Kingdom had typewriter lettering which was aesthetically displeasing.

    Speaking of Richmond Lewis, I’d say the list of outstanding comics colorists also must contain Marie Severin –especially for her EC Comics coloring; Jack Adler–who colored for DC Comics going all the way back to Action Comics no. 1; Sol Harrison; Tatjana Wood–who also colored some EC Comics, but especially did great coloring on Swamp Thing; George Roussos for his great coloring on Silver and Bronze Age Marvel Comics; Tom Palmer–possibly my favorite colorist–especially on Doctor Strange; Steranko–who as an artist/writer/colorist was a triple threat; Klaus Janson; Adrienne Roy–who, along with Perez and Tanghal, made the New Teen Titans art really pop; Petra Goldberg; Glynis Oliver; Lynn Varley; John Higgins–“Who Colors the Watchmen?”; and Steve Oliff–I’m sure there are others, but those are the ones who come to mind. Also, just my view, but I don’t really enjoy the coloring on modern slick paper comics very much (or even Baxter paper books from the ’80s)–I really prefer the way the colors looked on traditional pulp paper comics. I didn’t really like Neal Adams recoloring his stuff for the trades either–I feel that vintage Golden,, Silver, and Bronze Age stuff should be reproduced faithfully to its original look.

    Re: P. Craig Russell –man, is he an amazing and visionary artist! I especially love his Killraven art!

  • Wayne Allen Sallee says:

    Sean: no, it has to be Springsteen. He’ll play requests from scratch. One time someone requested “96 Tears” and the band took a few minutes to get in synch.

    So that’s how Mike runs his store, answers the phone when some goon from Chicago calls, some new customer wants to know how to pronounce John Romita, and so forth. Bruce Wayne would have Alfred do all of that.

  • William Gatevackes says:

    March 22, 2023 at 6:36 AM

    -Reads post, reacts- Oh, gosh, I commented on that post, maybe *I’m* the dipshit!
    -Rereads comment section- Oh, phew, it wasn’t me.”

    I did the same thing and I didn’t even comment on the article!

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Mike Baron and Steve Rude have “parted ways,””

    Man, I hate it when a good couple gets divorced!


    Read a couple, didn’t think they were that hot.

    “But I have no interest in owning any of the original Star Wars movies unless they ever release the theatrical versions”

    That’s why I have SW on videotape!