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50.

§ March 13th, 2019 § Filed under old § 31 Comments

And now, 50 things I’ve learned from, or discovered about, comic book retail over the last thirty or so years I’ve been doing this:

1. “Collector’s Items” aren’t.

2. New first issues are jumping-off points as well as jumping-on points for readers.

3. A whole lot of folks unfamiliar with comics think that Hawkman is called “Birdman,” and that Green Lantern is “Green Hornet.”

4. There’s only one real way to put your standard comic book storage box together, but hoo boy have I uncovered any number of ways folks have forced their boxes into shape using tape, staples, baling wire, what have you.

5. 95% of the comic supplies I’ve sold have been “current” (or “new”) sized, but the supplies I find on collections I acquire are almost invariably the larger sizes.

6. Folks who ask “have the movies and TV shows improved sales?” are always surprised to hear “um, not especially.” They are pleased to hear that the primary effect is that everyone knows who Groot is now.

7. I still kind of freeze up a bit whenever anyone asks me if I have any “key books,” as my definition of “key book” may not be the same as theirs. “Why yes, I do have a copy of Honey Bunny’s first appearance in Bugs Bunny #108!”

8. There are some people who feel entirely no shame in asking things like “where can I download all these new comics for free?” or “can I take pictures of all the pages of this comic with my phone?”

9. Any new person who comes into the store declaring “WOW! I love comic books! This is going to be my favorite shop, I’ll be your best customer!” will never be seen again.

10. Yeah, sure, y’all make fun of him, but I’m telling you, Rob Liefeld comics usually sell. I’m still selling copies of Youngblood #1, for God’s sake.

11. I was bothered by the continual “Hey where’s Sheldon?”/Big Bang Theory-related comments I’d get from people who’d pop into the store, until I realized at least the non-comics reading public is at least associating comic book stores with something they like. Quite a change from just a few years ago.

12. When someone encounters The Walking Dead comics for the first time, the general assumption is that it’s based on the TV show, not the other way around.

13. A lot of people think Maggie and/or Hopey from Love and Rockets is based on them. (Perhaps specific to the Ventura County area.)

14. When a publisher doesn’t give you any information about an upcoming comic aside from “TRUST US, YOU’LL WANT TO ORDER PLENTY,” most of the time you can safely not order plenty.

15. Used to be bemused by people bringing in comics that “used to belong to my late grandfather,” implying heavily that these were old, old books, and then they’d turn out to be Spawn and Witchblade…until I realized recently these have been around long enogh that they would likely be found in Grandpa’s comic boxes now.

16. Folks just don’t get tired of Batman. Other characters wax and wane, but Batman just keeps chugging along in a variety of formats and stories. It is a perpetual comics machine.

17. Most everybody, fans and non-fans alike, love Stan Lee. …I know his legacy is a bit more…nuanced than that, but I found it best not to disillusion these folks. Nobody likes a party pooper.

18. Readers don’t mind high issue numbers. They certainly find them less frustrating than constant reboots/relaunches. When Marvel did their “Legacy” initiative and briefly restored original numbering to a lot of their books, my sales went up on them.

19. If something doesn’t have a price marked on it, and the customer says “that means it’s free!” they don’t care for it when you replay “no, it means I can make up whatever price I’d like…ONE MILLION DOLLARS PLEASE.”

20. “Ms. Tree” is a pun. …LOOK, I NEVER SAID IT ALOUD ‘TIL I WORKED IN A COMIC SHOP, OKAY?

21. When people ask me “do you know anything about this Swamp Thing character,” I’ve learned not exclaim John Lithgow-style “oh DO I!” and immediately drop an infodump on them. …Only took about two and half decades in the business to break that habit.

22. As annoyed as I generally was by Wizard, I kinda miss it now that I realize the part it played it getting kids excited about comic books. That was certainly better than today’s kids being, I don’t know, being exposed to YouTube videos about how icky girls are ruining Marvel or whatever.

23. It’s a common assumption that I get to read comics all day at work. Man, I barely have time to read comics at home.

24. As a comic shop clerk/owner, you are assumed to have seen every superhero TV show/movie as soon as it’s released, if not sooner. (NOTE: I’m behind on every CW DC show, and I didn’t see that last Avengers movie ’til it made it to home video.)

25. Every Furry customer I’ve ever had has been nothing less than friendly and kind, except for that one guy who was an annoying jerk, but that really didn’t have anything to do with him being a Furry.

26. Turns out if companies go to the “DEATH OF [CHARACTER]” well too often, the general public will stop falling for it.

27. That said…it took a long time to stop hearing “there are new Superman comics? I thought he died!” from people who weren’t joking.

28. “Comic shop” is just a catch-all for “store that carries any weird thing I can think of” for some folks. I’ve taken calls from people looking for inflatable sheep, or asking if I buy “slightly used” Halloween masks.

29. Role playing games (and collectible card games) have become so associated with comic book stores, people are shocked to discover a shop like mine that doesn’t deal in them.

30. If anyone comes through the door looking for sports cards, it’s only because they want to sell you some, never because they want to buy any.

31. No matter how busy I’d been just previously, when the store clears out and the next person comes into the now-empty shop, there is a non-zero chance of him or her saying “so…slow day, huh?”

32. Nobody wants Woody Woodpecker comics. NOBODY. If any of you write in to say you do, I will have to assume you’re either lying or deranged.

33. If someone tells you they have a comic book at home in Near Mint, it’s probably been set on fire at some point.

34. Just realized that I don’t hear “I remember when they only cost a nickel!” so much any more is because, um, persons of that particular age group…uh, aren’t, um…how can I put this?

35. Nobody who says “I have a copy of the first appearance of Superman” at home actually has one. …I mean, somebody has copies of Action #1 out there, they’re just not going into comic shops and telling the clerks about it.

36. There are a whole lot of Golden Age comic stories that, well, aren’t very good. YEAH THAT’S RIGHT I SAID IT

37. There are a whole lot more comics autographed by Jack Kirby than you think. Some of those comics were even done by him.

38. Anyone looking for Tales from the Crypt comics are generally surprised to find out there are other similar comics from the same publisher (like Vault of Horror, and so on). I mean, if there was a Vault of Horror TV show that ran for years, it’d go the other way, surely.

39. The old Robotech comics from Comico in the 1980s used to sell better at our shop once they were in the back issue bins than they did on the new shelf. Weird, huh?

40. All those foil/die-cut/hologram covers from the ’90s nearly did the industry in, but customers today who weren’t around then for all that nonsense think those fancy covers are great now! I can even sell Turok #1s!

41. The worst damage that can happen to any comic book is cat pee. I will accept no counterpoints to this.

42. Someone will invariably read the “1ST SATURDAY IN MAY!” on the Free Comic Book Day promo material as “May 1st” and show up on the wrong day.

43. Related: it still comes as a surprise to many that comic shops have to pay for the FCBD comics. I know everyone tries to get the word out about this every year, but it’s still news to some.

44. “It’s old, therefore it’s worth money” is a very common belief. Well, I’m old, and I’m worth practically nothing, so there you go.

45. Not every licensed comic, but enough licensed comics based on non-superhero properties eventually do a story involving superheroes somehow.

46. The Number One Giveaway that someone’s come from another hobby to try their hand at comic book collecting was when I repeatedly was asked for “comic book Becketts in the early ’90s. Nothing else ever came close.

47. “Crumb comics” is slowly becoming the generic term for “underground comix.”

48. Folks who haven’t been in a comic book store in a while are always surprised to discover Spawn is still being published.

49. Turns out if you carry a variety of product in an organized, welcoming store, you’ll acquire a diverse customer base, including plenty of women and children. Who knew?

50. Also found out that blogging is a fun way to not only educate others about the industry and day-to-day realities of selling comic books, but also a great way to promote one’s business, organize one’s thoughts about running said business, and maybe learn a little more about just what it is I think I’m doing. It’s also a fine way to connect with the many wonderful people out there on the internet (no, really, there are some!) who have supported both my shop and my silly online endeavor here for so many years. Thanks, everyone.

50 1/2. I also learned that blogging brother Andrew shares his birthday with me! Happy birthday, Andrew!

49 (and change).

§ March 16th, 2018 § Filed under jack kirby, obituary, old, smallville, superman, television § 13 Comments

So one of the victims of my part-week blogging break was no birthday post. Yes, that’s right, your pal Mike just began his last year of his forties this past Tuesday…the warranty’s long expired, the creaking frame continues to bow, and the decay continues apace. I did mention the occasion on the Twitters, however, and received some very kind response there (as well as wishing birthday-and-blogging-brother Andrew a happy day).

The Bullest with the Mostest, Bully the Little Birthday Bull, worked up a bit of magic:


You can find the original image he used on this page of nightmare fuel. Oh, and by the way, now that I can make GIFs I may need to revisit that last pic.

Oh, and Tom Spurgeon over at Ye Olde Comics Reporter also noted the occasion, as he does every year. Thanks, Tom!

Another reason I kinda skipped out on the birthday post this time around is that I had my heart set on a particular panel, but could not find the thing, which has me wondering if I’m remembering the right comic, or if my age-addled brain has it confused with another comic, or if I didn’t just make up the whole thing out of thin air. Anyway, I’ll mention it here in case it rings a bell with any of you fine folks:

What I’m remembering is a panel from a Star Trek comic, maybe in the first DC series, or possibly the second run, where mention is made of Captain Kirk’s 49th birthday. However, and the reason this has stuck with me all this time (assuming I’m remembering it correctly at all) is that the “49th” in the comic had very obviously been relettered just prior to going to print, and almost certainly read “50th” originally. I mean, that was my presumption, in that they probably wouldn’t be making any kind of big deal out of a 49th birthday for story purposes. I remember guessing they were likely saving a 50th birthday story for some bigger event, or someone at the main Trek headquarters decided that they didn’t want Kirk to be that old, or some darned thing.

I hunted through my Trek comics for the scene, and couldn’t find it…I still have full runs of both series (didn’t give ’em up to my store!) plus all the specials and minis and whatnot, so if it actually exists, it’s in there somewhere. But, like I said, at this point I’m even sure it was in a Trek comic and involving Kirk. If you know, please share your knowledge!

• • •

So this week, DC released a freebie funnybook tying into the imminent Superman-prequel Krypton series appearing on the SyFy cable channel:


My immediate reaction to seeing that cover is “…Tom? Tom Welling?” but that’s likely because I watched all ten seasons of Smallville and I’m still recovering. But it didn’t help when I looked inside the comic at the “meet the characters” section and Superman’s grandfather is dressed like this:


…which all the world looks like the get-up Clark was wearing in the latter seasons of Smallville:


I mean, that has to be deliberate, right? Aside from all that…despite my initial skepticism regarding the show (“It’s about Superman’s grandpa?”) I’m actually intrigued, particularly now that I know about the time travel element and the inclusion of DC’s classic space hero Adam Strange. I may be one of those “wait to binge it on streaming” guys, since I’m way behind on everything as it is, but I’ll at least try to catch the first episode. …There better be at least one Thought-Beast on the show, that’s all I’m saying.

This tweet from Twitter pal Joe sort of got me thinking about that Smallville-esque comparison, though Joe’s point of contention/admiration was more for the “Fight Like El” tagline, which is admittedly both amazing and appalling. And if you’re wondering, yes, the entry for the Zod family character has a reference to kneeling, because that’s just a Zod thing now and you better be used to it. (“Fight Like El” reminded me of these somewhat confrontational DC bookmarks from a while back.)

Oh, that World of Krypton comic, by the way, is a reprint of the first issue of the mini-series of the same name from the mid-ish 1980s by John Byrne and Hellboy creator Mike Mignola. If you’ve never read it, it’s not bad…and if you like it, the entire series has been very conveniently reprinted in a World of Krypton trade paperback released just a week or two ago (along with other Krypton-based stories).

• • •

Oh, and there’s going to be a live-action New Gods movie…you know, no big deal. That of course means…LIVE ACTION SLEEZ:


Well, okay, maybe not. But the director of A Wrinkle in Time, Ava DuVernay, is signed on to direct, and given what I’ve seen of the visuals for that film (which I haven’t had a chance to see yet, despite really, really wanting to) gives me a good feeling about her take on Kirby’s Fourth World. Also, to quote my hopes for this film from Twitter, only with the stupid typo in the original corrected:

“I want this New Gods movie to be the Kirby-est thing that’s ever Kirbied. I want to SEE the quotation marks around assorted words in actors’ dialogue.”

I mean…right? Yes, yes, I know Thor: Ragnarok was very Kirby-ish, but New Gods was straight out of Kirby’s head, no Stan Lee required. I want everyone in their original costumes (yes, even…especially…Black Racer), I want dialogue quoted from the comics, I want that opening bit preserved in its entirety (“THERE CAME A TIME WHEN THE OLD GODS DIED!”), everything. I don’t care if movie audiences are ready for it. Let the studio paraphrase Jack himself on the movie posters: “DON’T ASK, JUST WATCH IT!”

Alas, it comes too late for the Don Rickles cameo:


…though it was suggested having one of his old movies/TV appearances on a television screen might be a good reference for those in the know.

But…c’mon, a New Gods movie. I can’t wait.

• • •

Mark Evanier reports that comics writer Michael Fleisher passed away last month at the age of 75. He was probably most famous for his Spectre and his Jonah Hex (and, ’round these here parts, the amazing Hex), but this is what I’ll remember him for the most:


I wrote a bit about that book a couple of years back…man, I spent I don’t know how many hours perusing that tome. And there it still sits on my bookshelf today, nearly forty years after I first acquired it. Thanks, Michael, for all that entertaining information you provided a young me, just beginning to learn about Superman’s history.

48.

§ March 13th, 2017 § Filed under old § 20 Comments

+

+

=


 
 
 

Yes, that’s supposed to be a cake with 48 flaming candles. Also, best wishes to my blogging-and-birthday brother, pal Andrew, whose own cake is almost certainly illuminated by tiny mushroom clouds.

47.

§ March 13th, 2016 § Filed under old § 7 Comments

(Additional data may be located here.)
 
 

And a happy non-47th birthday to fellow blog trekker pal Andrew!

46.

§ March 13th, 2015 § Filed under old § 18 Comments






 
 

And I wish the most atomic of happy birthdays to my blogging brother, the blastedly brilliant Andrew Weiss!

45.

§ March 13th, 2014 § Filed under old § 24 Comments


 
• • •

 

“Hi Father.”

 

“Listen, son…you were out all night. Where were ya?”

 

“Uh…out…partying?”

 

“That’s cool. Listen, do you want to smoke a doobie with your old man?”

 

“No thanks, Dad. It’s 10:15 in the morning!”

 

“Your loss.”

 

“I’ll split it with my lawyer!”

 


 
 
 
 

Source. Also, happy birthday to blogging brother pal Andrew, who is hip and cool despite not yet being 45.

44.

§ March 13th, 2013 § Filed under old § 20 Comments


 
 

Happy birthday also to pal Andrew, whose impending decrepitude is just slightly farther away than my own.

43.

§ March 13th, 2012 § Filed under old § 43 Comments

 














 

Happy birthday to my blogging birthday brother Andrew, and a slightly belated birthday to Caleb who, I discovered in the midst of putting this post together, did a similar thing for his own birthday. I wasn’t copying him, honest! Also, thanks to the Grand Comics Database, which I totally abused for this thing.

Another sign of age is saying “I can dig it.”

§ November 25th, 2011 § Filed under old, retailing, run-on fun-on § 2 Comments

So it is once again Black Friday, that one big sales day of the year where the giant retailers sell, oh, I don’t know, 75-inch LED flat screens for a dollar and a trashcan full of Blu-rays for 50 cents (one flat screen and one bucket per customer, please) and little Mom ‘n’ Pop ‘n’ Nerd stores like our own watch tumbleweeds bounce down the empty streets while everyone is at Best*Mart or Walfry’s or wherever, waiting for that time late in December when people have finally devoured everything at the malls and their search patterns spiral out in the forbidden countries, where live stores that only exist in that one spot and not franchised across this great land of ours.

Er, okay, it’s not as bad as all that. We have a big sale all weekend, and our sales usually do pretty well, so I’m not too worried about that. But it does seem the focus is on giving money to the big guys, while the little guys gotta wait their turn, and…you know, I can dig it. In this economy, you’ve got to grab the deals where you can and stretch your dollars as best you’re able, so I completely understand. However, don’t forget your pals in the outlands away from the malls and the big-box stores…we’ve got some deals too, maybe, so after you get your two X-Station 180s for the price of one, drop by the shop and buy a graphic novel…for BIG BIG SAVINGS.

Also, come by and see my head full of totally naturally brown and not dyed at all hair turn grey again. That’ll probably be fun.

• • •

Speaking of my accelerating decline into decrepitude: I’ve been processing a pretty sizable amount of underground comix at the shop over the last few days…a collection that included several issues of Vaughn Bodé’s Junkwaffel. And every time I see issues of Vaughn Bodé’s Junkwaffel I think the exact same thing: “hmmm, I need to buy these for my own collection.” Which, of course, I did when I looked at the copies in this particular assortment I was working on.

Well, going through a box in the Vast Mikester Comic Archive, what did I find?


A run of recent printings of Junkwaffel issues 1 through 4, so I already have them. BONUS: I talked about them on this very site back in ’04. …Well, like they say, memory’s the second thing to go, right after breakdancing skills.

However, I am reasonably certain I don’t have the magazine-sized fifth issue, which is also in this collection, so perhaps I’ll be getting a copy of Junkwaffel out of this after all.

(CUT TO two weeks later:

“Oh, man, I already have six of these!”

throws Junkwaffel #5 into the extras box)

42.

§ March 13th, 2011 § Filed under old § 22 Comments

from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #3 (1993) by Douglas Adams
adapted by John Carnell & Steve Leialoha

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