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And now, my favorite comic book promo poster of all time.

§ February 15th, 2019 § Filed under promo § 5 Comments

Straight outta 1994, this promo poster made me laugh at the sheer chutzpah of it:


…and I absolutely 100% do not mean that in a bad way. I admire the salesmanship at work here. “Hey, you know that impossibly-hot superstar artist? Yeah, this guy is just as amazing, so get on board!” More power to ’em, I say.

I know, that was a lot of promo material in your faces here over the last couple of weeks. I’ll try to have a little something different next time, I promise…unless I find more cool promo posters, of course.

“Leaps and bounds” — I see what you did there.

§ February 13th, 2019 § Filed under fantastic four, marvel, promo § 8 Comments

From Marvel Comics Retailer Spotlight #16 (August 1990), here is the hype for the Walt Simonson/Art Adams “New FF” run on Fantastic Four #347 through #350:


In case you’ve forgotten, here’s what the first issue looked like:


Now, it’s been a long time, and I think in 1990 I was still in the “huh-yuk, I’m a’sellin’ comic books!” starry-eyed haze and not worried overly much with the behind-the-scenes ordering hoohar that the boss concerned himself with, so I probably didn’t know at the time that this first issue was in fact returnable. (Returnability is only occasionally afforded to retailers on certain books today, but it was a real rarity back then.)

As it turned it, it sold extremely well, eventually going to a second printing (also not a very common occurence in those long-ago Young Mike days). I know we didn’t have much backstock on it, and we’d buy back copies as they came in collections. This was quite the popular item for some time after its release, and even still today gets an inquiry from curious fans here and there.

It’s an interesting look at the cross-promotion and sales strategies used for a comic that one would think would almost sell itself anyway. This was during the big 1990s comics boom, so something like this seemed like it was almost guaranteed to outsell the Bible anyway, but even in those times when the gold poured out of the rivers and the oil flowed freely, no one was going to take any chances. Even dragging in ol’ Fin Fang Foom and referencing the rest of the Marvel Monsters to get that crowd (you know, “them”) shows the extent of hype for this book.

The listing of each guest star and why he’s of import is certainly a sign of the times, when any of these characters popping into any book usually meant at least something of a bump upward, if not necessarily in rack sales, but at least in retailer order numbers. It may still sorta be true today, but not nearly to the extent it once was, a combination of readers being a little choosier with their comics money and the fact that “Special Guest Appearances” of “hot” characters are no longer the huge sales pull due to overuse and overexposure. Wolverine’s “sales power,” once taken for granted as shown here, is no longer the sure thing.

I think most interesting to me is the characterization of this storyline as a “fill-in,” which I think maybe surprises me a little. It never felt like a fill-in, like some inventory story or reprint pulled out of storage thanks to the Dreaded Deadline Doom. I mean, it was the same regular writer and a special guest artist…it may have interrupted the main storyline, but it didn’t feel intrusive (like a fill-in in the Simonson run a couple of issues later, which was…okay, but it was a real case of “well, I guess this’ll do ’til Simonson’s back”).

Anyway, this is one of those few cases where the publisher was all “better order lots of these!” and being correct. It was quite the item, and stil is today, thanks to fans with long memories or a deep interest in comics past. Also a rare encouragement to stock up for later back issue sales, which you don’t see too much of anymore. (I think Crossgen was the last company to really push the “better have back issues for new fans!” thing.)

But as far as that advice to place copies of this comic “all over [our] comic racks” — yeah, I know one of Marvel’s publishing strategies was (and maybe still is) to make a retailer fill up his/her shelf space with all the Marvel product they could possibly carry, and crowd off everyone else. I mean, I get it, they wanted copies of this next to Ghost Rider, etc. However, I’m pretty sure we just had them up on the rack under “Fantastic Four,” and it seemed to do fine.

One last note…as to this being the Punisher’s “most unique” role…yeah, I think there’s a challenger.

I never did buy that Swamp Thang parody comic…wonder who worked on that?

§ February 11th, 2019 § Filed under promo § 2 Comments

Now I’ve probably shown you this before, I think:


…a promo piece from the early to mid-1980s featuring Dalgoda, a fine science fiction comic by Jan Strnad and Dennis Fujitake that deserves to be collected (along with the stories from the Flesh and Bones mini, and a back-up in that Doomsday +1 reprint series, and probably something else I’m forgetting…Anything Goes, maybe?) into a fancypants hardcover. Hey, if they could do it with Puma Blues and Border Worlds, right? Anyway, this sign dates from those long ago pre-Mike in Comics Retail days, but I seem to recall seeing it on display in the shop at the time.

Same with this next item, pulled out of the endless boxes of old promo material that my former boss passed along to me:


I have yet to find the matching “OPEN” sign (and yes, pal Tom, I checked the other side!)…as I recall, this part was taped into the window in such a way that the “OPEN” sign could slide in front of it when necessary. I suspect the “OPEN” half eventally disintegrated from constant handling, given the state of the “CLOSED” portion here.

Anyway, Dalgoda hardcover. Someone get on that. In the meantime, I’ll add my copies of those comics to my “Pile of Stuff Mike Was Reminded of While Blogging or Tweeting and Would Like to Reread Someday.”

Next up, a couple of promos for Wizard, that price guide and news magazine that somehow I didn’t think I’d miss once it was gone, but it did go a long way to getting even casual fans excited about comics. In a very facile, surface-level way, usaally, sure, but I don’t think any retailers nowadays would really turn down anything getting folks hyped about the weekly funnybooks.

But perhaps I digress. There were a few of these 9 by 12 inch mini-posters that I found in The Box, which were basically just reproduced images of forthcoming Wizard covers. Like, for example, this one by Sam Kieth:


Not really much to say except “that’s a neat image.” I always liked Kieth’s work, and I especially liked it those couple of times he drew the Hulk. Glad he’s still out there doing stuff for us to enjoy. (Kieth, that is, not the Hulk…well, Hulk too, I guess.)

Kieth also drew this image for Parody Press in 1992:


Parody Press was sort of dismissed at the time, but I’d like to go back and see what creators worked on some of these titles. Sam Kieth just did the cover for this particular comic, though he (and Mike Baron) wrote a couple of the stories. And it looks like Ty Templeton drew a “pin-up” page, too! Huh. (I do know I have a current pal who wrote a Parody Press title back then, but I’ll let him out himself if he wishes!)

And going back to Wizard…boy, doesn’t this promo flyer sum up the ’90s something fierce:


“Order with reckless abandon,” indeed. I’m pretty sure that was printed on the covers of the distributor order forms at the time.

I wonder just how shocking that back design on the Badger shirt really was?

§ February 8th, 2019 § Filed under indies, promo § 4 Comments

So I was digging through the endless boxes of old promo materials that my former boss gave me from the previous place of employment, when I came across this thingie: solicitation material from Capital Comics for their forthcoming releases, Whisper #4, Nexus #8, and Badger #8, all due out early summer 1984:

(you can click the following two images to enlarge them)


And it took me a moment to remember…oh, hey, these comics never actually came out from Capital. First Comics ended up acquiring the properties, with those issues of Nexus and Badger eventually coming out as-is, with the same numbering scheme (imagine that!) from First Comics in 1985. Whisper, on the other hand, while also coming out from First in 1985, instead picked up with the Whisper Special, wrapping up the story from the previous issues, and continuing on with a brand new series starting with a first issue.

Looking back on this reminds me of just how close we were to these titles being tiny blips on the marketplace from the early direct sales days, if another publisher hadn’t arranged to acquire them. I know the rights issues behind this transfer was complicated…I don’t think the comics were strictly creator-owned, but I believe eventually they would be. Don’t recall the whole story, and I’m sure someone can remind me.

At any rate, I’m glad the titles survived that initial setback and left us some nice long-ish runs to enjoy. Yeah, I know, given the way the market is now, they may have kinda sorta fell to the side, but for a while there it was nice to see some good ‘n’ weird superhero alternatives on the shelves that had a little wit and style.

I swear this isn’t just a commercial for my eBay store, but if you happened to go there and buy something, I would not disapprove of your selfless behavior.

§ September 11th, 2018 § Filed under advertising, how the sausage is made, promo, self-promotion, Uncategorized § 3 Comments

So here’s the thing: I’m still planning on an End of Civilization post, but I just haven’t had the time to start putting it together yet. I’ve barely even cracked open the new Previews…I have no idea if that deluxe hardcover edition of Swamp Thing Meets Jesus is finally announced, or if the last issues of the Sonic Distruptors mini-series have finally been solicited. Could be in there, I have no idea.

But anyway…usually when I’m having a lunch break at work, I’ll buzz through the Previews and pick out some likely suspects for my EoC post, and then write up the “humorous” “gags” at home. Alas, this month my lunch breaks have been less leisurely and more “cram this food down my throat so I can get back to processing these huge collections I have to process” and “oh Lordy I gotta get all these things on eBay” and…well, you know, actual work. So, no Previews perusal has occurred as of yet. But soon…soooooooon. Hopefully before the DC Universe streaming service starts up next weekend and I suddenly disappar into binge-watching the Constantine series at long last.

Soooooo…let’s shoot for next Monday for the new End of Civilization. Agreed? Agreed! (I totally spoke for you there, I hope you don’t mind.)

In the meantime, let me tell you about some of the stuff I’ve been working on and processing (and may eventually get to my eBay store, if it’s not there already, and if it’s ite> already sold). Basically, former boss Ralph (I’m trying not to call him “old boss Ralph,” y’know) broght me more boxes of promotional funnybook items from the Good Ol’ Days, back when there was only one (or two) X-Men series, when many titles still had triple-digit numbering, when the only “-gate” we had to worry about had “Water” in front of it. I’ve been digging though them, and within I found:

Malibu Sun #13 from 1992:


…featuring a preview of Spawn #1, back when Image and Malibu Comics were briefly iinked together. As others have commented when I posted a pic of this on the Twitters…”that’s some logo.” Anyway, there are some black and white pin-ups by McFarlane inside, and a short (very short, since it had barely existed at this point) history of Image Comics and where it came from and why, and boy howdy do these things go for a pretty penny on the eBay.

Valiant Comics loved its chromium, as evidenced by this wee little “Ninjak on Sale” display piece from 1994 (I presume):


Measures about 5 by 8 inches, and is basically just a miniature version of the cover to the first ossie drawm by future Marvel head honcho Joe Quesada.

“Hey, where’s the new issue of Thor Corps?” “Why, right below the Thor Corps ‘New Arrivals’ sign, of course!”


Dated 1992. Odd choice to represent Marvel’s publishing line for All Time on a sign that’d be posted about the new comics and left there ’til it sunfaded into nothingness, but who am I to judge?

Speaking of odd choices, please enjoy this unopened pack of First Comics stickers from 1983:

And a closer look at said stickers:


Now, I read and enjoyed Mars as it was coming out, but even I’m like “…what would I do with a bunch of Mars cover stickers?” But stickers featuring First Comics mascot Teddy Q — well, those have no end of uses!

My favorite piece so far is the one that’s in the worst condition (a lot of dings and creases, but somehow never actually displayed!)…this promo poster for the second issue of the original magazine series of Nexus, from 1982:


Never did buy all those original mag-sized Nexus issues…got the third one for the flexidisc, but was otherwise satisfied with the trade collection First released years later. Also, that’s Paul Gulacy art on that nice-lookin’ cover, which I misidentified as “Steve Rude” in my rush to get this thing listed. Ah, well…fixed now.

You know, every time I’m reminded of Nexus, it makes me want to go back and reread all the comics. Man, I don’t have time for that…I’m behind on the new comics as it is. Anyway, Nexus is a good comic, is what I’m trying to say.

Next time…more stuff!

There’s probably an issue -1 somewhere in these boxes.

§ October 11th, 2017 § Filed under promo, retailing § 4 Comments

Okay, so I knew I had this in my possession…I’m pretty sure I’ve posted a pic of it on this site at some point in the last nearly-fourteen years I’ve been blogging here. It’s the first issue of the Comic Shop News weekly newsletter, published 30 years ago:


…and amazingly, it’s being published even today, in this age of widespread online availability of this sort of content, and that’s because the customers still like their weekly news freebie. It’s convenient, it’s cheap for retailers to carry, and I do have folks using it to keep informed and to plan out their future purchases. Not every fan spends all their free time looking around on the internet for comics info…I mean, who’d want to do that? Crazy people, that’s who.

Anyway, of late, I’ve been going through boxes of old store materials (as I mentioned Monday) that belong to my former boss Ralph, looking for items to eBay on his behalf. There’s a lot of promotional posters, company flyers and newsletters, distributor packets, all kinds of goodies. I’d been posting lots of pics of them on my Twitter account, a few things have gone up on the eBays, and a handful of items have, of course, been put aside for display right here on this very internet thingie before your eyes right now.

Which is a long way of getting to the point, which is that in one of these boxes was the previously-unfamiliar-to-me Comic Shop News NUMBER ZERO:


This was sent out to distributors/retailers only as a sneak preview. Four pages long, with some sample news stories (like the one pictured, and “4 New Universe Titles Cancelled” and “Trade Paperbacks Big Sellers”) and come-ons for the newsletter itself, like ad rates, and a full back page detailing reasons to carry CSN.

Now I’m not planning to sell this particular item on eBay, though looking there I see much more recent issues going for some premium prices. I am curious what an actual #1 or #0 would go for, but…I don’t know. Maybe I’ll list ’em for $2000 each and see what happens. Hey, it only takes one person who needs them that badly…!

Taking a break from Bat-talk for a little Bat-talk.

§ September 29th, 2017 § Filed under batman, promo § 6 Comments

So, going through boxes of ancient comic shop promo materials netted me this, a 1986 letter to retailers about the then-forthcoming Batman: The Dark Knight mini-series by Frank Miller:


This letter had six stapled pages, with the last three pages being black and white repos of some of the art (including the famous splash of Batman ‘n’ Robin leaping over the city, and that pic of Superman hefting a tank). Anyway, thought some of you folks would enjoy this look back at a piece of Bat-history.

A few notes:

  • I’m trying to remember reaction to Ronin at the time. I seem to remember…Gary Groth of The Comics Journal, I think, saying Ronin was better than 90% of other comics being published, but it was still crap. Well, I liked it, but I don’t know how well it went over in the retail sense, since I wasn’t involved in that part of the business then. My general recollection is that it had a mixed response at best, sort of a “he left Daredevil for this?” but that’s more gleaned from ‘zines of the time and not so much from actual interaction with people who read it. It’s considered…well, I was going to say “it’s considered a classic now,” but is it? I know it keeps getting repackaged and rereleased but when folks talk about the Big Classic Comic Books from Marvel and DC, it’s Watchmen and Dark Knight and, um, Marvels, I guess, but Ronin doesn’t seem to make it onto those same lists. Which is a shame…I do quite like it.
  • I vaguely remember the coverage in Rolling Stone and Spin, in that there were some pretty good-sized ads run there. Any accompanying articles I don’t recall, though I imagine there were strong…suggestions from DC that “BAM! POW! BATMAN’S OLD AND MEAN NOW!” headlines should be avoided.
  • The description kills me, with the comic “taking place 10 years after Batman has retired, when he’s pushing 50.” So, when Batman is my age right now, in other words. “This is a future Batman, when he’s old, worn out, creaky-boned and cloudy-eyed, just about to keel over and die, just like Mike Sterling.” Okay, maybe it doesn’t say that exactly, but they’re totally implying it.

    The other odd note in the series description, aside from “introducing a new, female Robin” and letting us know Superman will be in the couple of issues, is the declaration that the “Batman paraphrenalia [sic] (will be) updated and computerized.” It seemed weird at first that would be emphasized in the promo materials (hey kids, see how Batman fights crime in the future!), since that’s hardly the focus of the book, but there is that extended sequence with the new Batmobile/tank so, um, technically I guess that’s what they were talking about. Just out of context like this, however, it sort of sounds like “here’s Iron Man’s new armor,” or “introducing the Supermobile” — just, in retrospect, it feels a little diminishing compared to the impact the series would have. How would they have known, of course…they knew they had something special, but just how big it was going to be was surely an enormous surprise.

  • Their attempts at describing the actual printed product is a little amusing, in that the format, will very shortly after this, be referred to as “The Dark Knight format.” Hell, even Marvel described their comics like this as being in “the Dark Knight format,” until eventually someone there realized that was a bad idea, and we got “bookshelf” or “prestige” as names for this type of item instead. I think “prestige” is the solely preferred term now.
  • The Dark Knight 3D Counter Display is pretty neat…my old boss Ralph still has one in his office…a little beat-up, but he said he thinks he has another! This site has a pretty good pic of what the display looks like.
  • As was pointed out to me by a customer who was looking at this letter the other day, some poor soul had to go through and underline the appropriate words by hand. Another artistic skill lost due to computerization.

Though I have to admit I’m curious as to how a rebooted Spawn comic might sell.

§ September 9th, 2016 § Filed under pal plugging, promo, retailing Comments Off on Though I have to admit I’m curious as to how a rebooted Spawn comic might sell.

marvspotlight1993
Now here’s a thing I’d totally forgotten about: the 8-page Marvel Spotlight giveaways from the mid-1990s. I mean, I completely forgot this was even a thing. I remember the various iterations of the regular DC promo flyers, the Eclipse Comics one…but no memory at all of this one from Marvel. It’s got the usual features: the individual issue spotlights, the brief interviews with creators, the full checklist of every comic due out that month. I know we must have had carried these at the shop, and I’m sure I shoved them into the shopping bags of customers, but…nope, these have completely departed what’s left of my mind.

Anyway, this turned up in a box of comics that looked like it had been pretty much untouched since the 1990s…all the usual X-Men and Avengers comics that you see in every collection, plus a small stack of Wizards probably used to price said comics — RECREATION OF THEORETICAL PRICING EVENT PICTURED BELOW:

wizardpricing
…And as usual with collections like these, there are a small handful of comics that are actually of use, and then there’s the pile that goes straight to the bargain boxes. Ah, well. But it was neat seeing that old Marvel Spotlight…makes me wish for the days of regular individual company “coming attractions” freebies again, though those have been mostly supplanted by the Comic Shop News weekly paper and by Diamond Previews and oh, maybe the internet too, I guess. I mean, yeah, there are occasional high end free preview comics from Marvel and DC, but that’s not quite the same as a regular newsletter. The things one can get nostalgic for….

• • •

In other news:

  • DanielT asked in response to my recent End of Civilization post:

    “…I presume Erik Larsen coming to Spawn did absolutely nothing? How does Spawn sell for you compared to Savage Dragon?”

    Well, despite my joke from that post, Spawn appears to be slowly crawling up in sales. Yes, it’s true that for the most part, this series sells pretty much at the same level, month after month, with the occasional fluctuation, and right now we seem to be in a slight upward trend. It seems unlikely that it’ll ever come close to its ’90s heights again, but what titles do? That it’s still selling at all is a success worth noting.

    Now Savage Dragon…it’s fine, more power to Larsen to keeping it going and staying true to his vision, but it’s bit of a hard sell around here, I’ve noticed. Well, at least on the rack…I have pull customers for it, but it’s not a title that people just sort of casually grab off the shelf anymore. Even at my previous place of employment it wasn’t a comic purchased by walk-ins…it mostly just went into hold boxes. Which is a shame, because it is a solid and weird superhero comic. Hopefully our area is just an oddball one, and that it sells just fine elsewhere.

    And you know what? Good on both McFarlane and Larsen for not relaunching/rebooting their respective series with new #1s!

  • Hey, after a long hiatus, Dr. Polite Scott has resuscitated his site and once again doing comics medically-related funnybook blogging! Encourage that man to stick around a bit…go, read!

So pretty much whenever I’m short on blogging time, I’ll just run a picture of a piece of Tekno Comix promotional material…

§ August 25th, 2014 § Filed under promo § 10 Comments

…not that I have a whole lot:


Had a bunch of posters to put on the eBay, and while this one was just a little too beat up to put up for sale, I went ahead and photographed it anyway and kept the picture aside for a rainy day here on this site.

So here you go. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, TEKNO COMIX! “intz intz intz intz”

Here’s that picture of a Tekno Comix promotional flying disc you were asking for.

§ August 20th, 2014 § Filed under promo § 3 Comments


Just popped up in a collection recently, to remind us of those happier times when Mr. Hero and Isaac Asimov’s I-Bots walked the earth.

Here’s a pic from another Tekno Comix promo item I posted a while back.

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