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Get yourself Jupitered.

§ July 24th, 2023 § Filed under indies, pal plugging, this week's comics § 2 Comments

It’s here, it’s here, in my hot little hands direct from Jason Sandberg himself, as predicted by prophecy, the new Jupiter #1:

Jupiter was a black and white indie publisher too briefly in the 1990s, and I discussed that run here. Then in 2018 Jason put up a digital compilation of the best of Jupiter. And now, here we are, with a brand new color comic featuring his weird and wonderful cartooning.

Now, ever since I wrote that first blog post about Jupiter way back when, Jason and I have been online pals, chatting regularly, me hopefully being encouraging about his work, and he sending me the occasional goodie in the mail (like when he sent a stack of mini-comics he did for me to give away on Free Comic Book Day).

This time, he made sure I had plenty of the new Jupiter on hand, along with a few extra bits of business just for me.

First, he sent me a signed copy. That was nice!

Then there were the membership/fan club cards:

And of course, the official Jupiter coin:

Then, inexplicably, or perhaps entirely explicably, this WildC.A.T.s promo trading card:

He also sent me a personal note, but that’s personal, like I said. MIND YOUR OWN BEESWAX

Last but not least, yours truly gets not one, but two mentions within this mind-shattering publication, including a plug for the very site you’re theoretically reading right now:

…as well as for the store I reportedly own:

“Drop?” “Drop in?” “DROP IT, PUNK?” “Dropout Boogie by Captain Beefheart?” You’ll have to buy the comic, or surreptitiously sneak a peek in the shop, to see the whole pulse-pounding prose Jason attached to mentions of ME ME ME.

Anyway, there it is. YEARS IN THE MAKING! I’m glad Jason’s funding campaigns were a success, and that hopefully more people will get exposed to his wonderful cartooning.

I think you can still order it from that Indiegogo link? I’m not sure. But while supplies last, you can order them from me! Tell me I sent you!

Giving you the kind of book you want.

§ June 16th, 2023 § Filed under pal plugging, swamp thing § 5 Comments

At long last…Official Pal of the Site Rich Handley (of “In The Special Features on Planet of the Apes DVDs” fame) has finished his comprehensive overview of pre-Flashpoint Swamp Thing and will be coming to us in book form.

Born on the Bayou: A Pre-Flashpoint Chronology of Swamp Thing and Hellblazer (or BOTBAPFCOSTAH for short) will be shambling its way out of the marsh this September. Rich sent me an advance copy of the manuscript, and I can guarantee, if it’s not in this book, it’s not Swamp Thing or John Constantine-related. It has a foreword by famed Swamp Thing artist (and my Close Personal Friend) Steve Bissette! And I hear tell that I personally may be referenced more than a few times in the book itself! Just look in the index for “Swamp Thing, Best Friend of…” and there I’ll be.

But seriously, it’s a great book, a teeming repository of Swamp Thing knowledge you’ll lose yourself in. Check it out this fall, and tell them…well, don’t tell them Mike sent you, that’d be weird. Just tell ’em “gimme that swamp book, I gots to start readin’!”

Two days ago was the day!

§ May 8th, 2023 § Filed under free comic book day, pal plugging, self-promotion § 5 Comments

Just a brief follow-up on this year’s Free Comic Book Day event, presented at my store, Sterling Silver Comics, Ventura County’s spiritual home of FCBD. (Because, you know, I was there 22(?) years ago when FCBD started locally, and I’ve been doing ’em ever since!)

Anyway, it was very successful, moving lots of comics and also being the best financially-performing FCBD I’ve had at the store yet thanks to the storewide sales I use to supplement the event. I’m still doing the COVID-inspired set-up, putting the free comic book tables out in front of the shop, which leaves more room for shopping inside. Here’s I think the one photo we managed to get this year, thanks to my dad:

Yes, my dad helped out again this year, as did Pal Dorian (whom you can see in the above photo, wearing the black mask just sorta right of center). Former boss Ralph was there too, helping me keep an eye on things as I was mostly at the register. And Batman (AKA orimo-cosplayer customer Mark) came by to guard to festivities.

Dorian reported that the comics of choice this year seemed to be the Red Sonja giveaway, and (unsurprisingly) the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles book. The Conan comic seemed to be a slow-starter but ultimately did well. The Marvel books were popular, of course, and DC’s Batman crossover preview thing moved plenty of copies. DC’s more kid-friendly books didn’t do quite as well, despite having plenty of kids come through. And I think Dor and I decided that the 2000 AD giveaway may have performed better if, say, Judge Dredd, their one character recognized by the general public, had been on the comic somewhere. Ah well, What Can You Do?

One oddity this year was that a couple weeks ago, a person came by with piles of circa-2018 Marvel comics for sale. I didn’t need them, so she said “well, I don’t want to take them back home, so you can have them.” I didn’t really want them, frankly, so for FCBD I put them out in a couple of short boxes with signs that read “Take as many as you want, just leave the boxes.” Dor let me know that they didn’t last very long once the event started. I think next year I’m going to have to go through the too-many boxes in the store’s back room and find more dead stock to unload this way.

And the streak continues…no weirdos or strange problems or anything cropped up to spoil the fun again this year! I did have a light fixture go out during the day, which was kind of bad timing but not a crippling blow or anything.

I also sold a couple more copies of Write More Good, the @FakeAPStylebook book that both Dorian and I helped write several years ago. One copy I sold to customer who asked if I’d sign it by saying “sure, and you can get another writer to sign it too, today only!” So I’m out again, and since Marvel’s new distributor Penguin Random House also carries copies of this book, I can get more easily enough! (Someone at the PRH warehouse is probably thinking “who’s asking for copies of this book now?”)

Plus two-thirds of the Vintage Video crew dropped by…Vintage Video of course being the podcast where I helped them discuss the 1981 Heavy Metal animated movie. (Look for me on their eventual coverage of the first Swamp Thing movie sometime next year!)

Okay, I’ve successfully moved the FCBD coverage to “how did FCBD go” to “let’s plug stuff I worked on,” so let’s wrap this up. A big thanks to everyone who showed up…every single time I sweat it out the morning of, thinking “oh man what if nobody shows up” and every year I’m shown that I worried for nothing. So, you know, I suppose I’ll do this again next year.

Don’t be a dupe, get Jupe…iter.

§ March 31st, 2023 § Filed under indies, pal plugging § 23 Comments

Gird whatever needs girding, as Jason Sandberg is bringing new Jupiter print comics to you via Indiegogo! The campaign is already fully funded, but you still have nearly a month to get in there and order some great funnybookin’ for your own home or office. Lots of swell add-ons to be had as well! I’ve been a longtime fan of Jupiter and pal of Jason, and this work gets my highest recommendation!

I’ve written about the original late-1990s print version of Jupiter here, though I don’t think the Pelasgus feature is continuing. Maybe if we all demand a Pelasgus graphic novel….

You can hear Jason talk about his comic and the Indiegogo campaign on the Longbox Heroes podcast with Todd and Joe. I know the interview isn’t noted in the description but it’s there, I promise! I’m listening to the interview in episode #651 again right now. And at one point the three of them start talking about my favorite topic — me! — so definitely worth a listen.

• • •

Okay, to continue the 1980s indies talk…yes, I’ll get back to some of your older comments, but let me react to a couple newer ones that aren’t…parody songs? Is there something in the water? What’s going on with you nuts.

Customer Sean asked about maybe including Marvel’s Epic imprint or Dark Horse into my indie comic rankings. Well, Epic might be okay, even though it’s not really an “indie” in the sense we mean it here, and Dark Horse is still an ongoing concern and I was trying to stick to companies that are defunct, or at least no longer the same operations they were back in the ’80s. I think both the Comico and the First Comics brands returned within the last few years, but I’m not sure of their current statuses.

It’s funny…this puts me in mind of a long-ago article in The Comics Journal #98 (May 1985) by Jan Strnad, “The Alternative Comics Cadaver Derby.”

Following the demise of publishers Capital Comics and Pacific Comics, Strnad wondered who would be the next company/cpmpanies to fall, and thus lists several then-extant publishers and lays the odds on who would “win” by dying off first.

The general premise of the commentary is that the closer to being like Marvel Comics they were, the more likely they would “lose” the derby by surviving. And conversely, the higher quality of the material they publish, the more likely they were to “win.” A bit cynical, a bit smartass-y, a bit…well, right, kind of.

About three quarters of the companies listed are still around…including the Journal’s publisher Fantagraphics, which has managed to stick around despite publishing good comics.

Anyway, was reminded of that article, and wondered a bit what a modern version of that would be like — NOTE: NOT INVITING GUESSES AS TO WHAT CURRENT PUBLISHERS WILL GO OUT OF BUSINESS. I’m just curious what new factors would go into deciding who might live/who might die. Obviously the companies with the most variant covers and the highest ratio of CGC-slabbed investibility would be the big “losers” of that derby now.

Fine sarcasm is a lost art.

Sean also mentions looking back at the black and white boom, and I’ve said before I was only on the retail side of things for the tail end of that era. Mostly I was a wanderer through the wreckage, observing the boxes of unsold comics, the countless Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Dark Knight Returns parodies that came and went unsold, the b&w publishers slowly petering out or pivoting to color, the poor bastard at that one convention who had a longbox full of nothing but Shadow of the Groundhog.

Thankfully, my former boss, who did ride out that era, avoided overordering and getting stuck with the terrible comics cranked out to take advantage of the boom. But I read a lot about it as it was happening, saw it on the shelves (not to as great extent at my soon-to-be place of employment, but certainly saw it elsewhere), so I imagine I could say something about it. I mean, I suppose I just did. I also wrote about Solson Comics last year, so I’ve at least served part of my sentence.

But that’s enough for now. See you all next week. And ease up on the song parodies in the comments, geez louise.

An impending beginning and an unfortunate ending.

§ March 15th, 2023 § Filed under doom patrol, pal plugging § 4 Comments

I’ll be back to “1980s Indie Talk” in short order, but first I wanted to note a couple of things:

First, old internet pal Matt D. Wilson (whose melodious voice you hear every week on War Rocket Ajax) is raising funds to publish a new comic, Imposter Syndicate, via Zoop. Matt’s a good guy, the comic sounds interesting, the art by Rodrigo Vargas looks great, and I’ve already thrown in my support by pledging for the retailer multi-copy bundle!

• • •

Second, I am sorry to relate that writer Rachel Pollack is reportedly near the end of her life, and as a result folks are talking a lot about her tenure writing Doom Patrol. She was put in the presumably thankless position of following Grant Morrison on the title, and at the time I didn’t quite warm to her work right away, though certain individual issues (the Codpiece!) were a hoot. However, my plan had been to give her run a reconsideration, as I’ve been in the process of reorganizing my collection at home and have set aside my Doom Patrols as a whole for perusal.

However, I hope people don’t forget the absolutely wild mini-series she wrote for DC’s short-lived Helix imprint, Time Breakers.

It’s an imaginative time travel adventure, and it’s a shame we didn’t get more than just this. Well worth seeking out, though it may be a little hard to find now. It’s not on DC’s digital app, so hunt through those back issue bins and bargain boxes, folks! I can’t even remember if there was a trade paperback for this. But find her comics if you can.

DC recently released an omnibus edition of Pollack’s Doom Patrol, so at least that should be easy to find.

Anyway, I’m sorry to hear Pollack is about to leave us…I hope she’s still capable of knowing about all the outpouring of love and appreciation for the work she’s done.

A special big stuffed thanks to Bully the Little Substitute Bull…

§ June 13th, 2022 § Filed under Bully, pal plugging § 2 Comments

…for filling in for me last week when I had health stuff, family stuff, all kinds of stuff keeping me from my regular blogging shenanigans.

I apologize in advance to anyone expecting more Bully and only getting me here. I’m not quite as little or bull-ish, though I am a bit on the stuffed side, but I hope you folks will stick around as I go through the usual nonsense I’ve been delivering here for over 18 years now.

If you want to keep up with Bully’s happy trails throughout the internet, you can visit his long-running website Comics Oughta Be Fun! as well as his equally fun Twitter feed.

Thanks Bully, and always remember:

The internet is now a little more stuffed.

§ January 7th, 2022 § Filed under pal plugging, question time Comments Off on The internet is now a little more stuffed.

First, the big news:

…Yup, just like the little stuffed fella says right up there, Bully the Little Stuffed Bull’s blog “Comics Oughta Be Fun” is back in action after being shuttered for a bit. The primary focus is currently “Today in Comics History,” but boy, Bully has an endless variety of goodies to give you under that theme. So pop by, say “welcome back Bully” and tell him his pal Mike sent you!

And some site news here: my variant cover-age is going to be on hiatus for a couple of weeks as I start looking back at your comic industry predictions for 2021 (and a reminder: I’m still taking your predictions for 2022!). I received a lot of predictions last time, so it may take me a bit to get through them all, but I’m looking forward to it!

Before that happens, let’s see if I can’t polish off a few more of your questions:

Rob S. steals the show with

“Does your store have a convention presence? (In normal times, that is.) If so, what goes into prepping & transporting inventory for a con?”

Not as such, since I’m pretty much a one-man operation here, though I suppose I could wrangle one of the Legion of Substitute Mikes into running the shop while I manned the table at a show. But…I’m not really much into working cons, frankly. I don’t mind attending them, on the rare occasion when I do, but I don’t want to have to stand there all day watching people around me having fun while I have to work. Sometimes it’s easier to just stay at the store and let anyone attending a local convention come to me, as they invariably do.

Since I’ve opened my shop, at the very few local conventions we’ve had (which have been…not top tier, from what I’ve been told by attendees of same) I’ve had folks passing out flyers for my shop, so, you know, there’s at least that. And in my days at the previous place of employment, the shows we worked required picking out a selection of back issues to bring with us (the pricey case comics, the more popular “hot” stuff, some oddball stuff just to show some variety), tossing them into our respective vehicles, and hauling them over. And then…stand at the table working while watching other people have fun.

• • •

Smicha1 smacks me with

“Well this is a two-part question not two questions, hope that’s okay. And they are both fairly easy to answer I hope.”

What? How dare you.

“What percent of your sales would you say comes from new-on-the-shelf comics? And not counting current comics or trades (back issues still count) what product brings in the most money? I don’t mean an individual product but more like ‘t-shirts’ or ‘Funko toys.'”

Well, I don’t know what the exact percentage off the top of my head, but I will say the majority of sales come from the new comics. That’s the big draw, especially in a store like mine that’s pretty much just comics, with no Pokemon or D&D or stuff like that. Is it half? Maybe it’s half, followed by trades and back issues.

And if I’m understanding the second part of the question, back issues would be the biggest non-new-comics-or-trades product line. But excluding comics altogether…like I said, I’m mostly just comics, so I don’t have many other product lines to sell. I suppose “toys” would be the one, which would include Funko Pops in my mind. Perhaps between Pops and other toys, Pops have the edge. Which surprises me they’re still coming out and are still in demand, but hey, that’s fine.

• • •

philfromgermany asks some germane questions with

“Hey Mike, how are you?”

Fair to middlin’.

“Is that alt-right comic nonsense still going on?”

Oof, yeah, probably. I don’t know, I don’t try to pay any attention, which is usually easy since a number of their comics turned out to be vaporware, right? Anyway, not a thing I have to deal with on a regular basis, thankfully, and it’s not like I have customers beating the door down for this stuff.

• • •

Carlos has designs on me with

“I was curious how well Savage Dragon does at your shop/in the area? I have a sub & enjoy it, but don’t see it on shelves of other shops I visit (in TX). It seems that back issues are hard to find and getting pricy because people are now trying to complete the run. Thanks!”

Savage Dragon, going on for over a couple decades and still by Erik Larsen, God bless ‘im. It hadn’t sold for me at the new shop in a while, aside from pull lists, but I’m beginning to get a little more interest lately. Not a lot of copies, mind you, but at least there’s some interest where before there was none.

And yes, the back issue market on this series is pretty off the wall. I suspect sales at most stores are like at mine, with very small rack sales and the majority of copies going to pull lists. With such small print runs, if an issue is missed then it’s to the eBays to look, where the sellers are not kind in their pricing. I know my pal Cully missed a copy at his local shop a while back, and was calling all over (including my store) trying to find it so that he didn’t have to pay the buck wild price being asked for it online. (He eventually bit the bullet and paid a sliightly less than buck wild price for it.)

But I’m all for the Savage Dragon series. One creator doing the same book forever…just imagine if Rob Liefeld had stuck with Youngblood the same way, for the same length of time, and how amazing that would have been.

• • •

MisterJayEm dashes out this question:

“What do you recommend to uncles(52) looking to buy comics for their precocious nieces(7) and nephews(4)?

“It’s hard to peruse those books without looking like a possible creepo, so I prefer to have a plan before I approach the kiddie section of the funny book store.”

If you’re just talkin’ plain ol’ floppy stapled comics, I always recommend the Scooby Doo books for kids. Those are top notch, fun, and likely recognized by children as they never quite seem to go away, despite it being it as old as both of us.

For a four-year-old, Scooby Doo may be a bit wordy, so some of those comics by Art Baltazar (like Tiny Titans) may be cuter and a litle more accessible. Or there’s Owly, which is wordless, but still good and fun comic booking.

• • •

Michael Grabowski slaloms down the following

“I snagged the last copy of the new Usagi Yojimbo comic this week at an LCS. It got me to wonder: does a retailer such as yourself like selling out completely of a title like that during the first week or would you prefer to order enough to have, say, 2 or 3 left over for more occasional customers to discover?”

Ideally, I’d like to have exactly one copy left of everything I order at the end of the sales cycle to go into back issues. Of course, it doesn’t work that way, usually, but I try to cut it as close as I can.

But the answer to your question is basically “it depends.” Some comics die once they’re not longer visible on the comics rack and in the back issue bins. Those I want to sell out of completely on the shelf, whether it’s the first week or over the month. I mean, I suppose I wouldn’t want them to disappear entirely on the first week so that folks who don’t make it in every Wednesday get a chance at them, but there are a few titles where I’m good with them clearing out fast to make room for other new books. Again, it’s a case by case thing. Sometimes I want them to stick around a bit, sometimes I want them to clear out and get out of my hair, sometimes I want a copy or two for back issues, sometimes I don’t want any in the back issue bins because no one will ever buy them there.

Does that make the monthly comic order complicated? You bet it does.

• • •

And BRR freezes us out of the latest batch of questions with

“Would you consider doing an update to your classic 2005 post on best mailing practices? I would be interested in a permalink at your store’s site, perhaps with a sponsored link to your preferred bag sealing scotch tape alternative. Unless this is a trade secret to be kept from competitors and comics distributors.”

Good gravy, was it that long ago? Long enough that flat rate shipping in the envelope was only four bucks? But yes, maybe some updating is in order, as I do tend to ship comics a little differently now (using some of those solidly built comic mailers that Diamond offers, plus more emphasis on heavier protective cardboard, and more box shipping with bubblewrap). None of it is a “trade secret” or anything, but some common sense and a desire to have comics shipping to me the way I ship comics to others.

That post, by the way, was inspired by my own ordering of a run of The Minx off eBay that was shipped to me in the most ridiculous way possible. And the fella was going to charge me some bonkers amount for shipping that I told him “hey, that’s bonkers.” I wish I’d taken a picture of the box they were sent in…or rather, “boxes” as it was some giant monstrosity cobbled together from multiple containers. For eight comics. Well, I guess they did show up intact, so who am I to complain?

• • •

Okay, that’s it for the most recent question-fest…it’s on to 2021 predictions on Monday! Thanks for reading, everyone!

The terror that autographs in the night.

§ January 5th, 2022 § Filed under employee aaron, pal plugging § 3 Comments

So former employee Aaron posted this on his Twitters the other day…some signed/remarked copies of the Boom! Studios Darkwing Duck from a decade or so ago.

Scribbled in the darker cape area was a message from the writer, pal Ian Brill:

“Aaron – tell Mike to go easy on you!” it says. I’m sure everyone will be unsurprised to learn that I did not in fact go easy on former employee Aaron. In fact, if Aaron is reading this now…GET BACK TO WORK.

Hopefully you won’t mind a very, very tiny NSFW image.

§ November 17th, 2021 § Filed under pal plugging § 2 Comments

My response to Twitter pal Chance’s tweet about NFTs inspired another Twitter pal, kinneyrick, to take matters into his own hands:

Anyway, we’re all hilarious, thank you for noticing.

“Art is any Swamp Thing you can get away with.” – Andy Warhol (paraphrased)

§ April 14th, 2021 § Filed under pal plugging, swamp thing § 2 Comments

Look at these cool drawings customer Sarah gave me a little while back! The first is of that mossy gentleman Swamp Thing:

And the second is of a critter from the “Rotworld” storyline from the New 52 era…sorry if I don’t recall his/her/its name, as I haven’t committed that particular run to memory:

Pretty cool, right? Thanks to Sarah for gifting me with these fine pieces, and you can see more of her work at her Instagram thingie.

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