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It’s a miracle I’m still talking about this, man.

§ June 13th, 2018 § Filed under miraclemarvelman, retailing § 1 Comment

Just a brief follow-up on MIRACLEMAN TALK (from this day and this other day)…I did ask my former boss about the comic and the relative scarcity thereof, and once again I called upon his powers of recollection regarding his comic orders from decades ago.

To the best of his memory, while in general his Miracleman orders had dropped as the series went on over the years, his numbers hadn’t varied that much during that end run by Moore and Totleben. In other words, he didn’t suddenly cut orders on #15, purposefully making that the “rare” issue. While delays and such did affect sales a bit, Ralph said that he quite liked Miracleman and wanted to support it. It was generally agreed that the likely explanations for that one issue’s relative scarcity was the reputation it had garnered when it was new and on the shelf, thus bumping up sales to curious readers who hadn’t been following the title before, and in the years that followed said reputation kept the comic out of circulation as, to repeat what I’d said before, it was “hot and rare” because it was “hot and rare” – an assumption of collectability that fed into itself.

Related to the former assumption that some of those #15s that were bought as one-off samplings of the series by folks who didn’t otherwise read the comic is the idea that many of those particular comics were just simply lost or discarded — “ah, I just have the one” [tosses it into the trashcan], that sort of thing. Or perhaps they’re still there, buried in neglected short boxes out in the garage, with tools and pieces of wood and that old tire pump that doesn’t really work all that well but you never seem to get around to buying another one so the old one will do for now, all piled on top of the lid. That’s just talking about the people who dipped in and out again buying the one issue, inflating those rack sales…I’m sure there are plenty of full runs of Miracleman out there equally languishing. I mean, I know I have a set of the series tucked away for another reread after I actually catch up on all the recent comics I’ve not had time to read yet.

Anyway, the scarcity of #15 was borne out by his recollection (and mine, from my years tending the comics mines at that shop) that as far as backstock storage went, Ralph still had leftover unsold stock on most of the Miracleman issues, but didn’t have any #15s. Without cycle sheet information tracking sales at the time, that was our only real indicator of the increased demand for that one issue over the ones around it. Now, whether that was specifically from rack sales or just secondary market demand, that’s hard to say today. (Eventually most of the rest of the stock was sold off, too, as Miracleman went through occasional fits of demand over the years…and of course with the advent of eBay, the stock depleted even further).

So there we go…plenty of assumptions and some distant memories…nothing but the coldest, hardest facts here at Dubba-U Dubba-U Dubba-u Dot Progressively Ruined Dot Weirdcountrycode. Also, as I was talking to Ralph, the topic came up of, as I said, cycle sheets, plus the actual process of ordering back in Ye Olden Dayes, so look forward to that, and more Comic Crash Talk, in the next day or so.


§ June 5th, 2018 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, marvel, miraclemarvelman, retailing § 2 Comments

It’s been a long week for me already, and it’s only Monday night/Tuesday morning as I write this, so…well, let me just cover a couple of things:

First, regarding the seeming scarcity of Miracleman #15 that I was discussing when last we met, a discussion with pal Andrew on the Twitters put me onto the Google search for any print run information. This site here seems to have come up with what they call a “rough estimate” of 37,000. Not sure entirely how they came by that number, but it seems reasonable enough to me, given the publisher, the time period, and so on. Now, how many of those copies are still extant, or even in circulation, I’m not sure…that website labels this particular comic as “common,” and I suppose, despite the relative difficulty in the past of turning up copies in stores, there always seem to be plenty on eBay, and I suspect after all this time the number of people looking for it has declined, while the number of available copies have perhaps increased. I mean, I’ve seen two copies pass through my store within the last year or so, while is quite the improvement over the past decade or three of my observations.

Second, speaking of rare comics:

Definitely the first time I had one of these in my hands. Was looking forward to having that iconic cover in my case, but didn’t have it in my possession nearly long enough…like, a few hours at most? Anyway, it’s off to a happy home, but it was neat to have it around at least for a little while. There was an original Hulk #6 in the collection too that also sold, but alas, didn’t have time to take any pictures of that one. As per usual for the original Hulk series, it was a little worse for wear…I bet some mint copies exist somewhere, but never among the many copies I’ve seen over the years. Ah well.

Third, I may again be a little light on content this week, for which I apologize. Still more health things I’m addressing, but I should have another post on Thursday, and then with any luck, a new End of Civilization post next Monday. There, I’ve typed it, I’ve gotta do it now. THAT’S BLOG LAW.

I’m not entirely sure how Alan Moore could disguise himself, frankly.

§ June 1st, 2018 § Filed under miraclemarvelman § 4 Comments

So the other day I purchased a small collection of Miracleman from Eclipse Comics, including what I tweeted as “the hard-to-find #15,” which is pictured below:

Almost since its release, it’s been more-or-less accepted that Miracleman #15 has been the most difficult to find, which is borne out by my experience over the last few decades, as all the issues around it would regularly turn up, but not that fifteenth one. The price in the Overstreet Price Guide tends to reflect that assumption, with #15 listed much higher in value than the issues around it.

This is not a thing I’ve really looked into or thought about over the years. I mean, I had some general assumptions about Why This Was, mostly involving…well, let me get into that in a second. First, let me point out this tweetery from Twitter pal Tom, who noted

Now, 1963 I would argue is a slightly different situation…this was a ’90s Image comic during the whole boom/crash of the market, and the occasional urge to over-order on certain titles still hadn’t been driven out of retailers’ habits. I mean, yes, the promise of A New Alan Moore Project certainly helped bump up numbers, but being A New Image Comic probably helped, too. Also, the fact that 1963 wasn’t a “serious” superhero comic, y’know, drove down demand from those folks who insisted their superhero funnybooks be SERIOUS BUSINESS. And it was notoriously an unfinished series, with the never-released 1963 Annual, and that drove down aftermarket sales as well. (Okay, not that Miracleman didn’t end on a still-unresolved cliffhanger or anything, but at least Moore’s segment came to a conclusion.)

So, why is this particular issue of Miracleman so hard to find? As I was about to say eariler, my personal belief for the cause of its scarcity was its hyped-up reputation for being a particularly dark and violent superhero battle, graphic and unpleasant and totally unlike anything we’d seen in superhero comics before. Even previous issues of Miracleman, with its moments of graphic violence, weren’t a patch on the horror so disturbingly illustrated by John Totleben. As I vaguely recollect, there was at least some promotion of the title as such in the fan press and Eclipse’s advertising, which surely attracted buyers beyond those who regularly read the title.

Which brings me to another possible answer, and one that I initially replied to Tom with…that despite all the hype and anticipation, orders may have been lower than normal. Miracleman was a comic that had been plagued with delays…which may have caused retailers to drop numbers believing that lateness would affect potential sales. Remember, this was back in the day when late shipping books weren’t nearly as common as they’d be in succeeding decades, with, you know, three years between issues an’ all. Something consistently late-shipping would normally see attrition in sales, Alan Moore or no Alan Moore.

Now, the problem with this assumption is that I don’t have ordering/sales records for my old place of employment at the time. I’d need to talk to my old boss and see if he can recall, but this is still 30+ years ago. What I’m working on is my knowledge is how I’d approach the problem of a late-shipping book, at least in the context of the 1980s marketplace, vs. the somewhat more lenient comics market of today. I’m sure I would have cut orders…maybe not by much (it’s still Alan Moore, at the peak of his initial Alan Moore-ness) but as someone running a store and maintaining a budget and juggling what I can afford and not afford, that’s the call I would likely have made. Now of course with 20/20 hindsight we’re all “you should have ordered a million of these and perhaps fewer of ALF #9″ but what’s done is done.

Another possible answer, which has its own problems with I’ll come to in a moment, is the simple fact that people are holding onto their copies. The fact that this issue has this “mystique” about it, that it goes for a lot in the secondary market, becomes in a way a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s hot and rare because it’s hot and rare, and folks hold onto their copies because it’s hot and rare, making it even more hot and rare, and so on. Now this is a bit trickier, because it seems like if someone is aware enough of Miracleman in the first place to know about #15’s reputation, it would seem unlikely that they would unload their other issues of the series while hanging onto the one issue. Or maybe they already sold their #15 for a premium price (like on the eBay, where there’s no shortage of them) prior to the rest of the issues being brought to us for sale. Or maybe they never got a copy of #15 in the first place, having sold out before they could get to a shop and they’re now unloading their incomplete series onto stores.

Anyway, that’s just a few possibilities. I’m sure there are some I haven’t considered, like Alan Moore surreptitiously traveling from shop to shop buying up copies of #15 just to stick it to fanboys. And perhaps things are changing anyway, as, in the couple of Miracleman collections I’ve picked up since being at my own shop, #15s have been included. Maybe Marvel’s recent reprinting of the series has loosened some collectors’ grips on the originals…I even thought briefly about unloading my own run and replacing them with the reissues, though a couple of problems with the reprints made me glad I hadn’t.

In conclusion…Miracleman #15…I have one for sale here at the store in case anyone wants one.

Also, if you want to read more about Miracleman, I’ve definitely said plenty over the years, but Twitter pal Tom, whose blog I’d already linked above, also has his own Miracleman category you should peruse.

And that spot is right in my skull.

§ June 19th, 2017 § Filed under buttons, miraclemarvelman § 2 Comments

So longtime readers remember how I love buttons. Hoo boy, do I love gathering pinbacks of all kinds to admire and display. Of late, my button acquisition has slowed down a bit, as I haven’t had the time to properly maintain the collection, though a few here and there still end up in my hands just as a matter of course.

I bring this up because I recently purchased a run of the British Warrior magazine, famous of course for being the initial home for the Marvelman revival and V for Vendetta, early and important works by writer Alan Moore (with artists Garry Leach and David Lloyd, respectively). Included in the batch was a copy of the Marvelman Special, which I’d previously discussed on this site at length several years ago (though honestly it feels like I just did so…time flies, and all that).

I didn’t mention it at the time, but was reminded of it again looking at this other copy of the magazine that appeared in this collection…there is a great ad for buttons (or “badges,” if you prefer) on the back cover:

…featuring several of the properties that have been appearing in Warrior. My eyes of course immediately went to the swell batch of Marvelman pins that I would love to get my greedy mitts on, down there in the bottom row. I went looking on the eBays and found nothing, though I did find this pic via Google image search, and I hope the person who posted it on this message board doesn’t mind me using part of his (or her, I don’t know!) pic here:

Those are some snazzy pins, and would look great on my blazer or my beanie. Alas, all I have is this ad to remember them by (though pal Dave suggested I make them into pogs, and I don’t know if I should thank him or hate him for even bringing that up).

I also found the Axel Pressbutton badges to be amusing, particularly since they come in “clean” and “blood-splattered” variations:

I’m going to guess that anyone who actually wore one of these was poked right in the pinback several times a day. Probably had a good bruise beneath by the time the poor sap got home.

This Bojeffries Saga pin with Ginda is amazing:

And if you haven’t thought about Zirk in a while, don’t you think it’s time you have?

Speaking of Marvelman pins, like I was just a moment ago if you remember, I was reminded of the button released by Eclipse Comics back in 1986, back when they were handling the character (under the Marvel Comics-enforced name of Miracleman). Under the thrall of Mr. Moore and of Miracleman as I was, combined with my long-existent love of pin collecting, I of course had to have this item, which I wore on my jacket and/or backpack to high school, to such admiring calls of my classmates as “who the hell is that?” and “hey, get a load of the dork!” Anyway, 31 years on, I still have the button in my possession, and though I featured a tiny little scan of it on this very site quite a while ago, I thought I’d rescan it and give you some big ol’ pics. To wit:

A little wear and tear on the button, to be sure, but still a beloved item in the collection just the same. Hopefully I can track down some of those other Marvelman pins at some point…I recently told a pal that I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of knick knack-y detritus in my home, but I have a soft spot for Marvel/Miracleman, and for pinbacks, and especially for the two combined.

Eventually we’ll get a one-shot starring the three-eyed fish, and I will read that like my life depended on it.

§ September 7th, 2015 § Filed under miraclemarvelman, this week's comics § 3 Comments

So I put out my bafflement on the Twitters yesterday afternoon, wondering why this comic was still being polybagged enough though the content was hardly warranting it. Yes, previously there was the childbirth issue, and the all-violence issue, but to the best of my recollection there’s nothing in issues yet to be reprinted that require that plastic protection from prying eyes.

As I discussed this with pals, it occurred to me that Miracleman is still branded under the Marvel imprint, and still has a “MATURE READERS” slug on the cover. That’s probably “why the polybag,” as opposed to Marvel’s other much more adult-y type titles like Powers, which are published under separate imprints like “Icon.” Like I said, I don’t think there’s anything particularly parent-shocking coming up, unless Gaiman and Buckingham have an “ALL-NUDE SPECIAL!” planned once they start doing new stories again.

And speaking of which, I’m sure somebody’s glad they can start crediting the actual writer now, since Alan Moore didn’t want his name attached to the previous reprints. Should make it easier to market once those new stories do start showing up. …Man, new Miracleman stories. Hard to believe they’re so close now. Big news for those of us who’ve been waiting decades for this to continue.

The thing I keep hearing is “the new creative team of Daredevil is going to have a hard time following that,” and yes, the Waid/Samnee/etc. run was a good’un. It got me to read Daredevil for the first time in a long time, probably since…the Kevin Smith run, I think? I know, I know, everyone’s all “ACK! KEVIN SMITH!” now but those were pretty good, too. But back to my original point…yes, the new creative team is going to have a rough go winning folks over, but this is Charles Soule writing the new series. Soule, who seems to impress with nearly everything he writes. Who is also a lawyer. Who excels at writing lawyerin’-type stories, as seen in She-Hulk. And seeing as how Daredevil’s day job is “lawyer,” I think everything’s going to be just fine.

I could have sworn this was a four-issue series, but nope, there’s a number 5 on that cover, so I guess I read all five issues and, um, it was fine, I guess. It’s the only Secret Wars tie-in I followed, what with it following up on Peter David’s plotlines from his initial run on Incredible Hulk (and the previous Future Imperfect mini with George Perez). Even if the book felt stretched a little thin (hence my surprise that it was a five-issue series), it was still fun to revisit the characters. There were a couple of clever twists along the way, but even if the ending was of a type we’ve seen often enough before, it did manage to strongly underscore the inherent tragedy and, well, patheticness (shut up, it’s a word) of the Hulk character, especially in this series’s role as the Maestro.

Just wanted to mention again that I love these character-specific Simpsons one-shots. Bongo could almost literally do these forever, what with The Simpsons having one of the most amazing supporting casts in television history. (Maybe they could…NAH.)

These one-shots usually have some kind of gimmick insert, like stickers and such. I hope the eventual Ned Flanders one-shot has a Jack Chick-esque tract stapled inside.

A lot about the Fantastic Four, and a wee bit about Miracleman.

§ August 7th, 2015 § Filed under fantastic four, miraclemarvelman § 5 Comments

In response to yesterday’s post, Earl asked:

“Out of curiosity, regarding Doom, do you have a favorite version of him from the various Marvel animated series?”

And to be honest…aside from my memories of watching a whole lot of the 1960s Spider-man cartoon, and some random installments of various series here and there over the decades, I really wasn’t much of a Marvel cartoon watcher. I have a vague memory of watching some animated version of Doom who spoke with a heavy accent, but I’m not sure what cartoon that may have been from, assuming I didn’t just cook that up myself in this aging brain of mine. The end result is that I don’t really recall enough about any of these cartoons to be able to pick out a fave Doom.

Earl suggested the Dr. Doom from the 1960s Fantastic Four cartoon [EDIT: um, Earl actually said the Doom from the 1970s FF cartoon – oops, my brain apparently needs new batteries], and having taken a brief look at a sample:

…why, he’s adorable! That’s some voice he’s got, so watch enough of the video I linked there to experience it yourself.

Other comments from yesterday: esteemed longtime reader G23 suggests that maybe they should just stop trying to do a live action FF altogether, and while I understand the frustration, I’d hate to not see one at all. Now, I realize a live action FF wouldn’t add anything to the comics, wouldn’t improve the overall state of culture, wouldn’t cure the common cold, etc. and so on, but boy I’d like to see one anyway, and I don’t think it’s so insurmountable a task that it can’t be done. I know it’s fanboyish wishful thinking, but it’s so fundamentally a part of the artform I’ve devoted most of my life to, I’d hate that the world at large wouldn’t get to experience at least some portion as to why we all like the FF so much. In fairness, though there was a lot they didn’t get right, at least those two previous Fantastic Four movies managed to do a good job with Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew. The Thing, as I have noted before, is one of those creations that is so strong on its own that its basic essence can survive even the worst circumstances, though I understand the new film puts even that to the test.

Anyway, I think a good FF film isn’t impossible. It’ll probably just take a little more understanding about what made the original comics work, and a little less fixing it ’til it’s broken.

Another longtime commenter Jer notes that the problem with getting a Dr. Doom that’s like the Dr. Doom in the comics comes down to basic Hollywood blockbuster film-making. Everything’s gotta tie together, that gun in Act One better shoot something in Act Three, an’ all that. The trend — and Jer lists several examples — is that the villain is inextricably tied to the hero’s origin. And, in a way, the Doom of the comics is tied to the heroes…specifically, to his old college roommate Reed Richards, who tried to warn him about his experiments, and, well, you get the picture. But that’s probably not dynamic enough for a Big Moving Talkie, so we get the Doom who’s caught in the same accident as the rest of the FF and thus also gets superpowers.

Now arguably, one could say that there’s no such connection between the film versions of Superman and Lex Luthor, or between Nolan’s version of Batman and the Joker. But even without an origin/plot connection, there’s a thematic connection: brain versus brawn, order versus chaos. I suppose Reed Vs. Doom could be “science for good vs. science for evil,” but that’s not quite as basic a thematic struggle on which to hang your superhero movie, I guess.

At any rate, we’re probably some ways away from the next attempt at the World’s Greatest Comics Magazine That Hasn’t Quite Managed A Great Movie Yet, but I hear tell the final battle in the new film actually approaches the FF we know. Maybe, on the very slim chance the planned sequel actually happens, we can get past this rough set-up and get down to the business of punching Galactus and tangling with the Impossible Man, as God, and Stan and Jack, intended.

• • •

In other news, someone asked Neil Gaiman on the Twitterers how many new issues he and Mark Buckingham were going to produce to wrap up his Miracleman story, and the answer was “about nine.” The reprints for the previously-issued Gaiman and Buckingham comics are about to start up, so we’re that much closer to seeing some decades-old plot threads finally getting resolved. Barring any more production errors, of course.

Spoilers for Miracleman #14, probably.

§ January 7th, 2015 § Filed under miraclemarvelman § 11 Comments

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE TO THE UPDATE (1/9/15): Newsarama just ran an article on the situation that cites me, including the extra bit of info that I didn’t mention here, that the missing text will be sent to retailers, somehow. (I talked about that on my Twitter account, but wasn’t yet clear on how the text was going to be distributed.)

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE (1/8/15): Apparently there was a miscommunication somewhere, as replacements aren’t on their way, since Marvel has opted not to replace this issue with a corrected edition. Digital copies have apparently been fixed, however, and it will be corrected in the eventual hardcover/paperback collections. …Well, it was nice selling the print editions of the individual comics while it lasted.

UPDATE: I’ve been informed by Diamond that replacement copies are on the way, with the error corrected.


Well, hopefully Marvel will be going back to print on Miracleman #14 to release corrected editions, because certain word balloons on page 15 that originally looked like this in the original 1988 Eclipse comic:

…now look like this in the Marvel reprint out this week:

…though you can read the dialogue from those balloons on the original artwork pages in the comic’s backmatter:

It wasn’t just that panel; all the black word balloons on that page lost their lettering. Well, not “lost,” exactly…at first glance I thought the balloons were entirely black, but upon looking at the scans I can see the lettering is there, just miscolored to the point of illegibility.

Now, mistakes happen, I know, and I realize 1) it’s going to cost a lot, and 2) it’ll suck for everyone involved to bite the bullet on this, but I really do hope Marvel does fix this error with a new printing of the comic. After going through all this trouble to get this material back into the marketplace, it would be a shame to have something like this mar the rerelease. Maybe they can save a few cents by not polybagging the corrected version.

I realize that’s some real splitting of hairs when it comes to Tarot.

§ August 8th, 2014 § Filed under miraclemarvelman, retailing § 10 Comments

So reader Chris asked in response to Wednesday’s post:

“I’ve found myself doing double takes recently a couple of times in local comics shops, not so much because I think that certain items shouldn’t be sold, but because I question how they are shelved/displayed in a way that seems to draw kids’ attention. Once was on Free Comic Book Day when a copy of a ‘Hentai Hotties’ anime DVD was on display right behind the artists doing sketches for kids. Ahem. The other was when I saw the Image ‘Sex’ title shelved on a low shelf (eye-level for 6-7 year olds, probably), adjacent to all the superhero shenanigans books, with no signage or indication that you might be veering into less family-friendly waters. Just seemed to be inviting trouble, somehow, or at least some unexpected conversations for an unwitting parent.

Which makes me wonder, Mike–how *do* you display the more adult-themed titles you sell? Am I being overly cautious in my concerns?”

A while back I did briefly discuss new comics racking, but I didn’t specifically address what we did with the more explicit, very adults-only titles.

For the adult-y titles like Image’s Sex, or Marvel and DC’s adult imprints Icon and Vertigo, I keep those on the top shelf, out of the reach of the yung’uns, with tags on the shelf stating “hey, this is the 18+ section.” In the indie books section (again, see this post for a brief description of our screwy but still operable set-up), where the subject matter generally skews a little higher, the more adult-ish titles will be racked alphabetically with the rest. If the content is a bit much to where I really wouldn’t want any younger patrons to be exposed to it (like, say, Tarot) we’ll bag up the comic with an “18+” sticker on the front cover. Not so sealed that an adult-type person couldn’t pop it open and briefly browse it for a purchasing decision (ideally), but sealed enough that we’ll notice if someone’s breaking the seal. And, hopefully, sealed enough so that any concerned citizens worried about this material can see we’re making some attempt at controlling access. (‘Course, if they’re really that concerned, just having anything naughty in the shop is enough to bring out the torches and pitchfolks, but that’s a discussion for another day.)

There are some instance where the covers on the comics are just a little much, and not something I’d particularly want on display to shock the sensibilities for the overly sensitive and the youthfully impressionable. I don’t use these very often, but occasionally I’ll need to bust out the “privacy bags” that Diamond has available, that black out most of the cover while keeping the logo visible, to protect the casual customer from the hideous filth and carnality presented for all to see:

Now, for the titles that are just straight-up porn, I’ve got the secret naughty box that I keep on a counter with all those comics, sealed in the privacy bags and monitored. Not that “straight-up porn” comics are quite the deal they were back in the ’90s, when smutty funnybooks were all the rage, but there are still a few being unleashed on the market once in a while and I need a place to put them that isn’t next to Wolverine, or even Tarot.
• • •

That Caleb guy asks:

“How different is [the birth of Miraclebaby] than the image of Prince Robot’s son being born in a recent issue of SAGA (other than being a human birth, instead of a gray-skinned, blue-fluid-filled royal robot birth, of course)…?”

Well, that’s probably the main difference…I haven’t seen the Saga sequence, so I don’t know if it was as anatomically explicit as the Miracleman scene, and having that extra…layer of separation, I guess, of being in a sci-fi setting with non-humans? That might have been enough. Plus, this wasn’t out of character for Saga as far as I know, whereas Miracleman up to that point had been a slightly more violent than average superhero comic with no distributor-disturbing gynecological details. And then there’s the fact that the threat of “LOOK AT WHAT YOUR KIDS ARE READING!” news stories doesn’t loom quite as large over the industry’s consciousness now as it did back then, so folks aren’t quite as uptight over content as they used to be.

Like I said in my last post, there’s still some worry out there, otherwise Marvel wouldn’t have started bagging Miracleman months ago in preparation for this issue.

• • •

Alan writes about the seeming lack of coverage over Marvel’s rerelease of Miracleman, which does seem a bit peculiar at least from the perspective of old fans of this material (like Alan and myself). In my head, I’m thinking “hey, this is Miracleman! It’s been out of print for ages! This is where all the ‘dark ‘n’ serious’ superhero comics you’re reading now come from! YOU SHOULD BE BUYING THIS!”

Part of the problem is the botched release of this material, coming out in dribs and drabs in an overpriced package stuffed with extra material most readers don’t care about, and in some cases (cough the classic Marvelman stories cough) openly resent. Yes, the hardcover collections are nice, but their sales aren’t a patch on the single issues. That may very well have turned off any folks who were likely to have discussed this series.

There’s also the fact that this project is maybe just a little too late…Alan Moore isn’t the red-hot comics star he once was (yes, his name’s not on the current comic anyway, but everyone who cares knows he wrote these), Miracleman is a forgotten obscurity, and a lot of people who were reading comics back when it was coming out are likely no longer buying comics. It’s a lot smaller marketplace now than in the ’80s and early ’90s, it should go without saying.

I suspect that as we approach the release of new Miracleman material, especially given that it’ll be written by Neil Gaiman, who arguably still has more cachet in the current industry than Moore, we’ll see increased discussion of this project. Or maybe when we get to the John Totleben-illustrated run that wraps up Moore’s tenure, which is gorgeous and I hope for good things with its reprinting, people’s minds will be sufficiently blown to ramp up interest.

Of course, it may be as simple as no one having much more to say “oh, hey, another Miracleman reprint is out,” which is a shame. Maybe once it’s complete, assuming it will be completed, we’ll see more new discussion about its overall impact on comics. Maybe I should be discussing it more, outside of retailing concerns. I am not unaware that I’m part of the problem. Outside of some facile, jokey commentary I don’t do a whole lot of comics reviewing or essaying in regards to content. I’m generally more focused on the business side of things, when I decide to peer more closely at something in my meanderings here. For a while there I was attempting semi-regular reviews of selected weekly releases, though I’ve fallen out of the habit. I should fall back in, I think, and include Miracleman in those overviews. It really is an excellent comic, and deserving of your attention, despite those formatting barriers seemingly designed to keep you away.


§ August 6th, 2014 § Filed under miraclemarvelman § 11 Comments

Quite a while ago I came across a couple of mid-1980s distributor memos to retailers in regards to the release of Miracleman #9, a comic that contained explicit scenes of childbirth. Given that today is the release of Marvel’s reprint of said comic, I thought I’d present them here, in slightly redacted form, to give you a bit of a historical perspective on this comic’s initial release. Some very telling details in here about the sort of things the industry was worried about at the time, and an interesting footnote in the then-raging debate about comics content-labeling and ratings systems:

Clearly this didn’t sit well with certain concerned parties, resulting in this follow-up memo:

Of course, this particular distributor wasn’t alone, in that Diamond Comics also had some objections to the book.

In my particular case, I was still at the time just barely a minor, but “just barely” is still “not old enough,” given that the local funnybook store did indeed restrict sales of Miracleman #9 to adults. But, unlike as is implied in the first memo, my dad did come with me to buy comics, so I was able to purchase said issue. Actually, I had to come back with my dad, since I wasn’t allowed to buy it during my first visit that week. Imagine having to wait so long for a new issue of Miracleman to come out, particularly since the previous issue was a fill-in containing 1950s reprints, only to be told “sorry, kid, gotta be this tall to get on the ride.”

Not complaining, mind you. There was a feeling of “they’re coming to get us!” prevalent at the time, as the industry’s rising visibility from high-profile projects like Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns eventually increased the number of “do you know what your kids are reading?” exposés from people eager to blame problems on easy targets (cf. rock ‘n’ roll, video games, short skirts, fire, the wheel) and folks were just straight up afraid. A little precaution, such as the shop restricting sales on MM #9 to adults, wasn’t out of line. I still do so at the shop if necessary now that I’m the dude making the decisions, though to be honest it’s rarely a problem. Kids aren’t looking for Avatar books, by and large, so I’m not bagging and tagging them “ADULTS ONLY” and pasting them to the wall. (Though, frankly, most issues of Crossed make that birth issue of Miracleman look like Richie Rich.)

The Avatar comparison isn’t exactly analogous, of course. It’s not like all the previous issues of Crossed were all ages or rated Teen Plus or whatever and then suddenly here’s an issue with pages of close-ups of [REDACTED] being jammed into [REDACTED] while cascades of [REDACTED] pour out of [REDACTED]. It’s more like, I don’t know, here’s a new run of Spider-Man and then suddenly issue #10 is the all Topless Mary Jane issue. Or something. You know what I mean. But it’s funny, and certainly clichéd to point out, that the violence in the previous issues didn’t warrant all this fretting, but the non-violent birth scenes did. The contrast of that violence with this birth is the very point of the story:

And yes, it’s easy in hindsight to sort of mock the reactions (or overreactions) from distributors at the time, especially since, as far as I can recall, there wasn’t much or any (or at least any widespread) objection to Miracleman #9 from “the real world” back then. Of course, there’s still some worry, now as then, otherwise Marvel wouldn’t have started polybagging their reprints months ago to keep this specific issue from standing out as anything special, no need to look, nothing to see here, officer. But if this were a perfect world, a comic book legal defense fund wouldn’t need to exist.

Possibly the only place you’ll see Miracleman being compared to a Roger Waters album.

§ January 17th, 2014 § Filed under miraclemarvelman § 15 Comments

So basically I just went ahead and did Marvel’s job for them, trying to at least try to get new readers to give this Miracleman release a shot, by offering the ridiculously-priced $5.99 debut issue at a significant discount at our shop. We’re not going to sell future issues if we can’t get people to at least pick up this first one, so it’s in our interest to get customers looking at this book any way we can. I’ve written before about how a six-freaking-dollar first issue is a hurdle too high for casual readers who might have a slight interest in this 25-year-old comic book story they’d heard about, starring a character they don’t know. As it was, even with the discounting, it’s been a bit of an uphill battle to move copies.

It’s only been a day or so since it’s come out, so I suppose it’s really too soon to judge for sure, but sales out of the gate have been…okay, not great, with some purchases of the book only coming after extended discussions attempting to explain the history and significance of the comics. And emphasizing the discounted price!

And, of course, mentioning the writers. “The Original Writer” sobriquet that replaces Alan Moore’s credit in the advertising and the solicitation information does appear in the book, on the inside front cover, despite my initial impression it wasn’t there at all, that Marvel just eschewed creator credits altogether. But nope, there it is, white on black, right there next to “ARTIST: GARRY LEACH.” Yeah, it looks dumb, but what can you do. I suppose “WRITER: A.M.” or “MR. M.” or “JILL DE RAY” were out of the question.

Anyway, I had to handsell the books using Alan Moore’s name on my own, since Marvel wasn’t permitted to identify him properly, though most folks at the shop already seemed to realize that Moore was involved with this particular project. Not so well known, apparently, was the fact that Neil Gaiman stories would eventually appear in the series, culminating in never-before-published new installments by Gaiman and artist Mark Buckingham. That particular tidbit appeared to tip over a number of people to the side of forking over a few dollars to try out this oddball comic.

I’ve also been hearing here and there that some digital editions of this comic feature some mild editing: a fairly innocuous bare bottom is covered up, Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking-style. All I can tell you is that when the “birth” story comes around, those digital funnybook sellers are going to have to blank out whole panels on several pages. Good luck with that! (The print comic, at least this first issue, is not similarly censored. The butts run free!)

As to the comic itself: the remastering of the original pages was done quite nicely, I have to admit. The coloring is very bright and clear, certainly better than the somewhat murky reproduction in the Eclipse Comics editions. (The glossy white pages help!) The new lettering is well done, too, and I haven’t noticed any egregious typos just yet, which frequently has been a problem in other reprint projects requiring relettering. I hope the quality in that particular area stays high, because nothing really takes me out of the reading experience like a misused “it’s.”

There’s an enormous amount of padding, filling out the book from what should have been a more reasonable $3.99 32-page experience to a $5.99 64-pager containing material that you may or may not have any interest in, and could have easily been spaced out as back-ups in subsequent issues. All the first issue really needed was that history of Marvelman textpiece, and, okay, maybe the pullquotes from that interview with MM creator Mick Anglo, only squeezed down to a couple of pages.

The black and white reprints of three “classic” MM stories from the 1950s are excessive, given that we already have the redialogued “Invaders from the Future” story from about the same time period serving as the contrasting prologue for Moore ‘n’ Leach’s Miracleman story. The original MM stories presented here are…well, rough going for modern readers, to put it kindly, and eating up pages with these adventures isn’t exactly adding to the book’s perceived value. There are some good — well, at least good-ish — classic MM stories, but boy, these three aren’t it.

Future issues appear to contain more Miracleman content and less other stuff, and at the slightly cheaper but still not-great price of $4.99, so hopefully the price/content ratio will be more favorable to sales. Assuming, of course, enough people give the first issue a try.

Again, to repeat a point I’ve made on this site, I want this project to be a success. Not just out of the selfish desire to finally read the conclusion to this story I’ve been anticipating for decades — well, okay, mostly that — but because it is a great comic and one of the recent seemingly-lost treasures of the industry. It’s a comic series that deserves to be available and in print, even if the eventual collected editions are in the hands of the ever-mercurial Marvel graphic novel department. At the very least we’ll get a new run of trades reprinting Miracleman that, once they fall out of print, may go for slightly less on eBay versus the sometimes-crazypants prices the Eclipse volumes command. But perhaps I’m being cynical.

• • •

Slightly related: Employee Aaron brought in a V for Vendetta action figure, still in the package, that he said he purchased at our shop years ago. I absolutely cannot, for the life of me, remember selling these figures. I may learn a lesson from that, should I mistakenly think about it too closely.

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