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§ October 16th, 2020 § Filed under batman, eyeball, publishing § 15 Comments

So as many of you know (and I mostly can’t shut up about) I have had some eye trouble over the last couple of years, which has (among other things) interfered with my ability to read comics. Slowing me down at first, then, now and again, stopping me entirely.

While I’m still having the occasional bout of clouded vision, it’s a little less often, and my sight is pretty much as good as it’s going to be. My left eye is mostly good, my right eye is somewhat impaired, and my prescription glasses do help quite a bit, and I’m functioning more-or-less normally. I do have bit of a problem dealing with low contrast writing and images, but I’m adjusting best I can.

As my vision has stabilized, I’ve attempted to catch up on all those comics I’ve been accumulating but not reading. For example, I just finished reading something like 20 issues of the current run of Daredevil this past week. And I’ve done similar bulk-reads of titles trying to get current (and stay current as each new issue comes out).

One of the tools I’m using to read comics I’m behind on is the DC Universe digital library. While I do have print copies of the books I’m reading via this method, this actually makes it easier on the eyes to have larger (and sometimes clearer) panels that I can read a little more quickly than their on-paper counterparts. (And yes, I know I can get free digital copies of several Marvel titles, I’m just too lazy to go through the process of typing in the codes printed in the back of the books.)

Mostly I use my iPad mini to do the DC digital thing…my parents had ended up with a couple of free ones after buying a pair of iPhones, and gave one to me, which was nice. I have half-considered buying a larger iPad for my funnybook perusing, but that can wait for now. But I have used the DC Universe app via my television to read some material when certain troubles arose, in this case being the 2018 mini-series The Batman Who Laughs.

“Trouble you say?” I’m sure the three of you what still read the blogs are asking. Yes, the trouble is the very thing I’ve been having difficulty with ever since this particular evil Batman was introduced…his goldurned black-on-red word balloons:


It’s…not easy for me to make out in print comics, and even reading it on my iPad, zoomed in as much as I’m able, was a pain in the rear. I made it through an issue on my pad, and then opted to try reading it through my television instead.

That did the trick…blowing it up nice ‘n’ big on a large flatscreen made the red-on-black balloons a tad easer to discern. But apparently this mini-series realized it was being far too lenient on me, and unleased its secret weapon: RED ON GREY TEXT:


Man, there’s, like, almost no way I could have read this except for being blown up on a flatscreen, and even then it was a struggle. When I was doing screengrabs on my computer for this post, I found I couldn’t make them out, and I have a pretty good-sized monitor for my desktop computotron.

I eventually muddled through the series (I ended up enjoying it, despite everything), but man, I have a real distaste for these novelty-colored captions and word balloons. I think Swamp Thing’s black-on-orange dialogue is about as far as I’m willing to travel, and even that isn’t quite as legible to my peepers as it once was. If comics are going to continue to do that sort of thing, either bold the text more, or use higher contrast colors (the Batman Who Laughs seems to have white-on-black balloons in current appearances, which is a vast improvement).

And in short order DC Universe (when it becomes the digital comics only DC Univesre Infinite) is going strictly to tables/phones/computers, dropping TV support. I’m sure there are workarounds, but it won’t be as convenient as “selecting the app on my Roku” easy, so I may be losing that option for reading other comic lettering in this style.

Okay, okay, that’s enough waving my red-tipped cane at you publishers. I just hope they take things like “readability” into consideration when they do stuff like this.

I do have one more question arising from my Batman Who Laughs reading: what was the Gotham street planning commission meeting like that resulted in putting up an actual damn street sign that reads “Crime Alley?”


I mean, yeah, sure, it’s Gotham, this is probably the least crazy thing the city’s government has done. However, even assuming there are no businesses or residents on this particular stretch of road, surely anyone located nearby would be all “WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO OUR PROPERTY VALUES?”

I always figured “Crime Alley” was the nickname inhabitants of Gothan had for the road, I never realized it was an officially sanctioned street name. Though I suppose we’re lucky millionaire socialite Bruce Wayne didn’t insist that it be called “My Parents Are Deaaaaaad Way.”

whynotboth dot jpeg

§ October 9th, 2020 § Filed under comic strips, publishing, question time, Uncategorized § 10 Comments

So this got brought up in a discussion I happened to witness between Twitter pal Ben and another person, and decided it was something I needed to acquire for my own self. May I present to you, from the co-creator of Twin Peaks, the creator of Eraserhead, and the guy what did that one Dune movie…a collection of David Lynch’s comic strip The Angriest Dog in the World:


For those of you unfamiliar with the strip, each installment is a series of the same panels (an introductory caption box, three panels of the Angriest Dog growling and straining at the chain in a yard, and a final panel of the same scene at night. Only the dialogue balloons of someone speaking off-panel change. A look at the Wikipedia page will give you a sample strip.

Anyway, this book is not in any way a comprehensive collection of the strip, which had run for about ten years. This is a short book, presenting only a very few strips, each one separated by a page that’s black on one side and white on the other. It’s more of an art piece than anything else, purposefully strange in the way you’d probably expect from anything that would come from David Lynch. It’s a handsome looking item, measuring 11 inches wide by 5 inches tall, 36 pages plus covers. A neat curiosity, but if you’re waiting for the Definitive Compleat Angriest Dog Hardcover Set, I’m afraid that’s not yet a thing. There was a previous collection, now out of print, but I don’t really know anything about it. Strips were also reprinted in Dark Horse Comics’ Cheval Noir a couple of decades back.

You can find this new book at Rotland Press.

• • •

FROM THE QUESTION POST, Paul asks

“What is your reaction to Gerry Conway’s recent screed?”

What Paul is referencing is this message [WARNING: pop-up ads my blocker didn’t block, which locked up my machine for a minute] from longtime comic writer/editor Conway in regards to improving the comics industry. His idea is basically for Marvel/DC to cancel everything, repurpose properties into books aimed at a younger market and get ’em into bookstores/grocery stores/movie theaters/anywhere that’s not a comic shop, and cater to the older fans with occasional trade paperbacks with new material.

I mean, this isn’t a new idea, and the fact that the best-selling comics in the U.S. are in fact books aimed at kids. I mean, DC and Marvel both had their eyes pop out of their heads shaped like giant dollar signs when they saw how well Raina’s books were doing and immediately started their own line of reasonably successful young reader graphic novels.

Now my response is a bit biased, as I’d see this drastic of a plan as being the end of comic shops, or at least comic shops as we generally know them. Eventually DC/Marvel/etc. will have to come up with some kind of format for their regular titles that’s more cost effective in regards to size and cost and so on. Probably a shift away from the periodicals to a regular trade paperback format, but I don’t think the market is quite ready for that yet.

That doesn’t mean that Conway’s idea of getting comics into other retail spaces isn’t a good idea. Of course, you’d have to convince these other retail spaces to consider even carrying comics, assuming whatever format these will be in will be at a price point that’s profitable enough for these other venues to be worth the hassle. And frankly, I can’t see movie theaters wanting to deal with them…I’m picturing a few months of theater employees having to clean up The Book Corner because folks are just standing around reading grpahic novels while waiting for the movie to start, and tossing them back on the shelf haphazardly, if at all, when showtime starts.

But whatever they do I don’t see any real reason to “kill all the comics” in order to do this. Can’t see why there can’t be a parallel to get graphic novels into new places and getting the regular monthlies, or whatever they eventually become, into comic shops. Or everything just goes to digital, leaving print for eventual collections of that material, or throwback releases for a niche collectors market, which the comic book industry already kind of is but you get my meaning.

Basically, everyone has ideas on how to “save comics,” and Mr. Conway’s isn’t any better or worse or even that much different from what’s been proposed. The big trick is getting other industries to cooperate with any of these schemes.

Look, Marvel’s Golden Age reprints are this whole other deal which I didn’t get into here.

§ July 31st, 2020 § Filed under marvel, publishing § 13 Comments


Not too long ago I purchased a copy of the above comic for my shopMarvel Super-Heroes #1, from 1966, reprinting what was then a few relatively recent-ish comics from the publisher.

But of course, in 1966, most fans didn’t have the option of strolling on over to ye local comic book emporium to peruse the stacks and fill in gaps in their collections. Not to say there weren’t avenues to find old comics…there were stores here and there that had some, and you could always try mail order, but for the average comic book reader the newsstand was their source, which meant just the latest releases. So, if you had an interest in a particular character and title, and came to the property a tad late, these reprints held a lot of appeal.

Both Marvel and DC cranked out the reprint books throughout the 1960s and 1970s…the work was already paid for, and just sitting around in the archives, why not get it out there again? And it was, perhaps, easier to sell to an audience that tended to refresh every few years, meaning this old stuff was hitting new eyes.

I feel like Marvel’s reprints may have had more of a hook, however. DC’s stories were, by and large, standalone items, where, outside of their out-of-continuity “Imaginary Stories,” all the toys were put back in place by the tale’s conclusion, no matter how scattered or destroyed they may have been during the course of the plot. There were exceptions at DC, of course…the Legion of Super-Heroes springs to mind, and the status quo of Supergirl changing from “Superman’s Secret Weapon” to “Supergirl Reveals Herself” (ahem) is a fairly significant alteration to the premise. But a Superman story is a Superman story is a Superman story…if you read one Superman adventure, you don’t feel like you’ve missed any backstory, any twists or turns or surprising revelations.

In Marvel’s case, their superhero comics had adopted a more soap-operatic strategy. Stan Lee often ballyhooed Marvel’s “illusion of change” in their comics, but the subplots and relationships felt like they built on what came before, that there was forward progress being made with each character as they lived what seemed like, well, not “realistic” lives, but at least suspension-of-believable existences. This made you want to know what had come before, as coming in on issue 34 of, say, Amazing Spider-Man, will make you want to know what happened in the previous 33. You feel like you’ve skipped ahead to the 34th chapter in a book with 33 previous chapters (oh, and a prologue in Amazing Fantasy #15), and who knows how many chapters left to come. (Answer: this is one hell of a long book.)

Thus, the great appeal of Marvel’s reprint lines. You get those early chapters, maybe not in precise order, and not always in the same reprint title, but with some perseverance one could piece together earlier storylines. You could see beginnings of character relationships, early clashes with recurring villains, where those subplots had traveled prior to the more recent installments. Plus, in the 1960s, with Marvel’s new superhero line having only started a few years earlier, filling the gaps back to the beginning and getting the whole story probably seemed somewhat within reach.

The interesting thing is, in the modern marketplace, a lot of those early reprint books remain affordable, especially in lesser conditions. The copy of Marvel Super-Heroes #1 sold for $15, and I had several copies of Marvel Collectors’ Item Classics (don’t forget that apostrophe!) that sold from $1.50 to four or five dollars. Still have fans today trying to fill in those early stories, looking for the foundations on which the Marvel Universe was built. And doing it the old fashioned way…hunting and collecting and piecing it together. Sure, you can buy trades with the stories in order and on nice paper (assuming they’re in print), or even (gasp) digitally…but what’s the fun in that?

I explain the Cerebus Bi-Weekly image eventually.

§ July 27th, 2020 § Filed under cerebus, publishing § 14 Comments

Okay, so about a week ago we were talking about comic book reprints. Specifically, sustained reprintings of entire series or runs, which was brought up because of the forthcoming “Walkin’ Dead in Living Color” series that’s about to be unleashed on us on a biweekly basis. Did I mention last time that it was going to be biweekly? Yup, boy howdy it’s biweekly, a thing that seems…less supportable in the modern marketplace unless it sells for under $3.99 a pop, so I am reconsidering my opinion on whether it’ll be around the full eight years to complete the series.

And I just logged into the Diamond retailer site to check…the first issue (with its multiple covers, natch) is indeed $3.99. Well, gotta pay for them fancy colors, I guess.

Matthew notes

“Kirkman already did a Walking Dead reprint project with The Walking Dead Weekly in 2011. It reprinted the first 52 issues of the series weekly for a year after the TV show premiered.”

I…completely forgot about that. I mean, we carried them all at my previous place of employment, but I don’t think I’ve had a single copy of it turn up in any collections or whatever since I’ve opened up my own store. Like Matthew says later in his comment, print runs seemed to be well under 4,000 copies each in the latter portion of the run, so I suppose it doesn’t surprise me that I haven’t seen them around much. I seem to recall them selling relatively well…not huge numbers, but pretty close to sell-outs and moved reasonably well as back issues.

I suspect the main reason for the low numbers was the availability of the trade paperbacks, which would likely be the preferred method of catching up on a series that suddenly rose to prominence in the public eye and may have started to attract readers who weren’t normally comic book consumers. I mean, yes, sure, there are always a few folks who are driven to comic shops by something they saw on TV or in movies who want the “authentic comic book experience,” which means buying a stapled monthly off the new arrivals rack, but most folks interested in catching up would probably prefer the bigger chunks they can pull off the bookshelf instead of trying to piece it together issue by issue, either through the weekly reprints or the certainly now pricier back numbers of the originals.

Which is why they’re emphasizing the fact that this new color Strolling Fred series is not…well, here, let me pull the direct quote from the solicitation:

“This deluxe, definitive presentation of the story in full color will NOT be collected any time soon, so these single issues will be the only way to experience this.”

And I imagine this will last until sales start plummeting because people coming late to the color series will not be able to find the early issues, which will be long out of print, or they will find them but at greatly inflated prices. Unless there’s a plan in place to keep everything in print for the duration, which, c’mon, let’s not kid ourselves.

What the series does have going for it, aside from, you know, the novelty of color, is backmatter. Series notes, commentary, abandoned plotlines, etc., which will be of interest to the Stalking Ted completist. And, of course, would be a way to get those fencesitters who aren’t necessarily enthused about color, but may be attracted to the idea of learning more about the series, so, you know, completists, like I said.

What this reminds me of a little is Cerebus Bi-Weekly. Now, I own every volume of Swords of Cerebus, reprinting the first 25 issues of Cerebus, and including extra commentary by Dave Sim as well as new cover art and a short story original to the collection (or originally printed outside the series, like the “Silverspoon” strips from the Comics Buyers’ Guide). When I got into Cerebus in the mid-1980s, around issue 70 or so, I started buying the back issues, but decided the Swords books were good enough for the earliest installments, and focused on buying 26 on, to wherever I started picked them up new off the rack.

(Okay, fine, I went to the Grand Comics Database to try to figure it out…issues 74 and 75, the Jaka issues, were the first I’d read, thanks to pal Rob, and I think it was around 79 to 81 when I started buying them new. But I, as they say, digress.)

So anyway, I had the stories, with extras besides, from those early issues. I didn’t need to buy the Cerebus Bi-Weekly series, reprinting each of the first 25 issues in order…but what they had that the Swords of Cerebus volumes didn’t were the letters pages, and editorials, and extra features, and whathaveyou. It was a full reprint of the contents of the original, and since part of the appeal of Cerebus was the occasionally rolicking letters page, and just he whole package in general, it was nice to get a replica of that experience. And thus, I ended up buying all 26 issues of the series (with #26 reprinting some of the material that appeared in Swords of Cerebus, as well as several “Single Pages,” a feature that ran in Cerebus Bi-Weekly that presented work from various cartoonists).

In short (like anything I do on this site is ever short) I double-dipped on stories I already had because I wanted to get my mitts on the extra material. (Note I didn’t buy the follow-up High Society reprints, as I already had the original issues…but apparently the reprints also included sketchbook pages, which in retrospect I would have been interested in seeing. Ah well.) Perhaps the extra material in The Technicolor Dead will grab folks the same way.

Like I mentioned, I’ll be picking it up only because I didn’t the first time ’round, and it’ll be interesting to see if they follow through on doing the entire series (and by the time it’s done, I’ll be 60 years old or purt’near — ack). Also, the solicitation says this is the “definitive” version, meaning they intended it to be color from the start, so I’m buying it the right way, not like all you suckers who bought it in black and white. Hey, don’t get mad at me, I’m just reporting the truth!

Okay, more on the Marvel reprint stuff next time, for anyone I didn’t manage to just alienate right now.

I wonder what the chances are for Walking Dead II: Walk Deader #1 coming out by 2025?

§ July 20th, 2020 § Filed under indies, publishing § 12 Comments

The big news over the weekend was the announcement that The Walking Dead cook series would be returning to the stands in a new biweekly reprint series…in color.

I was pretty sure something like this was going to happen…I predicted it here once or twice over the years, but honestly I thought they’d just go with colorized trade collections. I suppose a new color reprint comic book series might help get folks back into the habit of visiting comical-type bookstores again, what with the effect the real life plague has had on business.

Now I expect Robert Kirkman will see this project through to the end…though I do think the possibility of sales on the reprint series falling os low that they’d switch over to doing color trades only. I know the press release states “no trade collections for a while,” but we’ll see what happens if and when circulation drops to precarious levels.

This is nearly 200 comics they’ll be reprinting (I’m assuming the various specials will be included), and I’m wondering what the exact market for these will be. Walking Dead completists, sure. And there’ll be the investor-types who’ll probably want multiples of the first issue, and will want the color editions of whatever “key” issues turn up. There are the folks who didn’t read it the first time, either because it was in black and white, or they just up and missed it. Personally, I may pick up the series myself, since I skipped it initially but had enough interest in it that I’d poke through the occasional issue. We’ll see.

New editorial backmatter will be presented in each book, which may get the old readers to pick it up again, at least for a while. But 200 issues of something you’ve already read, even if it’s now in color, at twice a month over the next eight years, is kind of a big ask. I imagine sales eventually are going to depend heavily on those readers who hadn’t read it before, plus a handful of those old Walking Dead fans who cannot resist the new colorized temptation. It’s gonna start big, I’m sure, but I’ll be selling single digits on these by the time 2028 rolls around. Aaaand I’m sure by that time the trades will have started coming out.

Anyway, this is some project, and like I said, I’m surprised they opted for the comic book format versus the trade. Now to start pestering Dave Sim about Cerebus But Now in Color #1.

I think the world is ready for a Concrete/Thing crossover.

§ June 22nd, 2020 § Filed under cerebus, dc comics, marvel, publishing § 15 Comments

So remember last week when we were talking about the Marvel/DC crossovers, and which ones I thought we the good’uns? Well, a couple of you had questions, so let me address those first:

John Lancaster tossed his line into the water with

“Seems to me that a lot of good crossovers that aren’t Marvel/DC are getting forgotten”

and then he proceeds to list some ones that are indeed good. My focus of the post was specifically just the Marvel/DC encounters, but I had planned on address some of the crossovers involving other companies as well. In other words, let’s talk about Deathmate:

Ah, just ribbin’ ya a little, and I’ve already talked about Deathmate at length if you want to go relive that.

But yes, there were plenty of crossovers among the smaller companies, sometimes even with either Marvel or DC. A personal favorite is 1994’s Archie Meets the Punisher (AKA Punisher Meets Archie, as per the Marvel-published diecut cover version):


General reaction to this at the time when this was announced was “Whaaa–!?” and for good reason, though it turned out to actually be a bit of fun. with art by Stan Goldberg and John Buscema.

Archie Comics, in fact, seems pretty game to cross over their character with other companies even to this say. John mentioned Archie Vs. Predator (which featured some fairly shocking content for an Archie comic, but in this post-Afterlife with Archie world, pretty much anything is fair game, I suspect). We’ve also had Archie meet up with Batman ’66, and the Archie gang turned up in issue #13A of Gen13 back in ’96:


I remember that one surprising me more than the Punisher crossover, for some reason. Like, Marvel and the Punisher were fairly “mainstream” and high profile, versus a relatively unknown (though admittedly popular) indie book. Wasn’t sure what Archie was going to get out of that…except, after thinking about it for a second, exposure of the characters to an audience that might otherwise not have paid attention to them, duh.

I suspect creator-owned titles are a little easier to negotiate with when it comes to crossovers like this, simply due to less layers of bureaucracy being involved. I mean, I’m about to exaggerate a little, but assembling the deal to make this happen feels like it probably only took about five minutes:


Don’t write to tell me I’m wrong, I know I am, but you have to admit the process of Todd ‘n’ Dave getting together to team up Spawn and Cerebus probably was a great deal less involved than JLA/Avengers. And Mr. Sim wasn’t shy about letting Cerebus show up here and yonder in other people’s independent comics, which again probably consisted of a fax asking if they could use the character, and Dave faxing back “yeah, sure.” Okay, granted the two that immediately come to mind are Journey and normalman, both Aardvark-Vanaheim publications at the time, like Cerebus, but I know there were others. Alas, the fabled X-Men/Cerebus didn’t happen (beyond a piece of promo art). But look, all I got for that Mr. Monster/Swamp Thing proposed team-up was a single piece of art as well:


…so we all just have to suffer.

More on specific crossovers next time, maybe, but let’s address Thom H.’s query briefly:

“I mean, is it that difficult or costly to have an inter-company meeting to discuss splitting the costs and profits 50/50? It seems like something two lawyers could do via email.”

As it was explained to me by someone also in the comics publishing business, it’s the potential profits that are a problem. Apparently neither Marvel nor DC feel like they’d be making enough profit on bringing any of these back in print, that having only 50% of the take isn’t enough. Now it seems to me making a little money is better than making no money (believe me, I’ve told myself that plenty of times at the shop after looking at the end-of-day receipts) but the Big Two don’t see it that way, I guess.

My half-facetious solution was that each company get the rights to publish their own paperbacks reprinting their crossovers…like, DC could publish JLA/Avengers under their own trade dress, and Marvel could do the same, titling it Avengers/JLA and putting it out with their trade dress, and they could agree to just keep all the profits from their versions. But I can see other problems arising from this (like, what happens when Marvel lets theirs fall out of print almost immediately…can DC still keep publishing their own?) so that may not be much of a solution.

So I don’t know, Thom…maybe when we enter a cashless society then someday all these comics will come back into print. In the meantime…WRITE YOUR CONGRESSPERSON! I’m sure they have nothin’ else going on right now, let them deal with this issue.

Okay, more crossover talk next time? Eh, we’ll see. In the meantime, be good to each other, wear your masks and wash your hands, and for God’s sake quick setting off your firecrackers at night, old comic shop owners need to get their beauty sleep.

Guess I should have just stocked up the trades while they were still available.

§ June 10th, 2020 § Filed under dc comics, marvel, publishing § 11 Comments


So the 11-year-old niece and the 9-year-old nephew were telling me the other day how much they wanted Marvel and DC to have their characters meet. Specifically, they wanted the Justice League and the Avengers to fight.

“Oh, they already did that!” I told them. “I can show you a book of–”

“A BOOK!?!?” they exclaimed. “Why would you want to read a book of that? We meant a Marvel and DC movie!”

Well, I figure we’re some time away from a movie like that…probably going to take the collapse of the superhero film industry to make everyone desperate enough to band together, much like the ’90s collapse of the comics industry encouraged such crossovers. But, boy, speaking of which we sure did have a lot of those crossovers between Marvel during the ’90s, and while they used to be as common as dirt in the back issue bins before, now that some time has passed they’re not quite as plentiful.

I’m sure part of the reason is the same one I’ve given before, that a lot of the shops that existed during that period, and had wholesaled stock of those titles from distributors and possibly still had extras in storage, are now gone. Maybe their stock made it to other shops, maybe that stock is languishing in some poor bastard’s garage or storage unit, but whatever the cause, those crossovers don’t seem to pop up as often as they used to. Not long ago I had a copy of the Batman/Captain America team-up, and I’d posted a pic on my Instagram…and I had multiple requests to buy it. Demand definitely outstripped supply in that case.

And it’s just not that comic…once common, low-demand examples of Marvel/DC crossovers like Spider-Man/Batman or Batman/Daredevil never seem to last long. And high-demand ones like Hulk/Superman barely even get a change to get put in the back issue bins before it’s out the door.

It’s a shame that the deals between the companies that could result in keeping them in print (like they did in a series of paperbacks collecting them all together) are gone. And no more terrible example of this is JLA/Avengers.

I pulled my copy of the oversized, slipcased hardcover set to eventually show to the niece and nephew, who will probably glance at it briefly, shrug, and tell me “this isn’t a movie,” which is fine. But it was nice to look through it again…and at this size, it’s a lot easier for me to enjoy given the eyeball problems I’ve had of late.

It really is amazing…it’s nothing short of a miracle and Kurt Busiek and George Perez were able to cram in pretty much every character ever associated with either team, fill each page witih multiple panels and plenty of dialogue, and still have it come out at the end beautiful and readable. Sometimes you hear folks talk about how “not an inch is wasted” when discussing comic art, and boy howdy, does it ever apply here.

The real shame here is that it is not in print. This should be a perennial seller, constantly available, and it practically sells itself. So much money being left on the table by not having this available, and so many new fans just missing out on it. Well, okay, some people are just downloading it for free via file-sharing, I’m sure, but they’d probably do that anyway even if it was in print.

I’m saying the book should be available, as well as the other crossover collection paperbacks. But, it was pointed out to me on the Twitters when I was griping about this very thing, the economics of it probably don’t work very well, with money on each copy sold would have to be split between Marvel and DC. My idea was that maybe each company can just publish their own version of the paperbacks and keep all the profits from their own book. Like, DC could put out JLA/Avengers, Marvel could release Avengers/JLA, identical except it’s under the Marvel label and they get all the cash. I don’t know, there’s probably reasons why that wouldn’t work (least of which that the two companies probably wouldn’t want competing products that were essential the same), but…I just want JLA/Avengers back in print. Somehow. Just look at all that work that went into it…only for it to be dropped down the memory hole.

I would like to see Marvel/DC crossovers again…I tended to enjoy most of the ones that were released. I never did get my Swamp Thing/Man-Thing comic, despite cameo gag appearances. Ah, well. I know Todd McFarlane was throwing the idea out there of a Spawn/Spider-Man team up, to generate some excitement and get folks into stores after the retail shutdowns. That’s Image/Marvel, not DC/Marvel, but it’s the same kinda thing.

In conclusion, the niece and nephew better like seeing my copy of JLA/Avengers. At the very least, I’m sure they’ll enjoy that crazy “every character from either team ever” image on the slipcase. Honestly, what kid could resist that?

Look, just go read the entire Wikipedia article on Deathmate.

§ May 1st, 2020 § Filed under market crash, publishing, retailing, valiant § 4 Comments

So the other day I saw that comics artist Dan Panosian had posted a photo from the Deathmate promotional tour he and other artists did in the 1990s. (Here’s another pic showing more of the particpants.)

For those of you who weren’t there in the comics field during the ’90s, or were there and have since buried those memories. Deathmate was a high-profile intercomany crossover event between Image Comics and Valiant Comics. It…had some scheduling issues, shall we say, mostly on the Image side, with one chapter (Red, as they were IDed by color not issue number) coming out after the Epilogue. End result…sold well at first, then customers just kinda gave up on it partway through, leaving retailers with plenty of unsold copies.

I’ve noted Deathmate on this site here and there before, mostly in the context of how it was a symptom of/contributor to the comics market crash of the ’90s. I remember having boxes of these things in the back, and aside from a very brief flurry of interest in Deathmate Black due to it having an early appearance of the now mostly-forgotten Gen13, there were no aftermarket sales. Well, okay, that’s not entirely true, at one point at the previous place of employment we brokered a deal to sell 100,000 copies of our overstock to someone-or-‘nother for literally pennies apiece, and thus were we rid of these things. We got a nickel each, and we were glad for it.

Anyway, back to the tweet…I retweeted Mr. Panosian’s tweet with the comment about how “I’m here for Deathmate content,” which amused him. In the ensuing exchange we had (in which I assured him I wasn’t making fun, I’m genuinely interested in this period of comics) he asked “did it ever finish?”

Okay, you know publishers done screwed up when the folks who worked on the comics don’t even know if the series ever completed. I let him know “well, yes, technically” and that was that.

What amazes me most about Deathmate is how it should have been a slam dunk. Valiant was red hot, Image was red hot, a series pairing up all their characters written and drawn by strong creative teams (and they were!) should’ve sold like each copy was bagged with an original Incredible Hulk #181. And as I recall, the initial installments sold very well…and dropped off almost immediately after that. Even I tried only the first couple of issues and gave up (I think primarily because I was interested in the Valiant characters, but not so much the Image ones). The long delays on many of the books didn’t help, and despite it being emphasized that you could read the installments in any order, that apparently wasn’t true. All in all, it turned out to be a huge mess, and you should really read former Valiant honcho Bob Layton’s thoughts on the topic.

I am curious if any of you folks out there braved the entire series. My opinion of the project is based somewhat on those two issues, but mostly on the retail end of it, where I could probably have built a house using the leftover copies. I’m also curious if anyone is trying to revisit it today, as Valiant is a current thing again and, I don’t know, maybe someone out there has an interest in early Image publications? (If so, send them my way, I’ve got some Spittin’ Image to sell them, too.)

One last thing…as I was looking up those tweets, I found this one where I posted a pic of an original promotional poster for the Deathmate event. Being the wag that I am, I noted the optimism of the poster declaring the event as taking place “over the summer.” But then Twitter pal Corey outwagged me with “they didn’t specify only one summer” and fair play, sir. Fair play, indeed.

Not to be confused with “Bad Idea Jeans.”

§ March 12th, 2020 § Filed under publishing, retailing § 6 Comments

So you may have heard about this new comics company (comprised, I think, of several former Valiant Comics folks) called “Bad Idea,” which the more I talk about this publisher the more hilarious and clearly self-aware its name sounds to me. Anyway, their deal, which is admittedly a bit weird, is that they’re initially only going to be offering their comics to a limited number of retailers, and that said comics wouldn’t be reprinted, collected, digitized*, variant-ized, or spindled or mutilated too, I’m presuming. Originally they announced it was only going to be 20 retailers, then they upped the number to 100, and, well, clearly I’m talking about it here because I managed to get my store on that list.

When I first heard about this, I contacted the publisher, expecting, like, there was going be a $1000 buy-in or something in order to participate. But, nope, just had to fill out an application/agreement thing, and then after whatever selection process was completed, got the email that I was in. I’m not being forced to order more comics than I’m comfortable with, so, you know, I’m willing to give it a shot. And after I announced it on my site and social media outlets, and after the list of retailers showed up elsewhere, I started getting interest from my customers and requests to add their titles to pull lists, so let’s see how it goes.

It is a weird business model, contrary to most business strategies, or what passes for them, at most comic companies. Conventional wisdow is that collected edition sales is where the longterm profit is at, and that digital sales is what all the kids are into, or where the future of comics is at, or that sort of thing. Plus on top of everything else, putting a cap on the number of outlets allowed to even order the books…I mean, it certainly got everyone’s attention, but I hope they’ve figured out a way to make money on this. I’m sure they have, but it certainly seems odd. Which, I guess, is the point.

I don’t know how long these particular strategies are going to remain in place, or how long they’ll stand against general market forces, but I’m glad I’m in there on the ground floor and trying this company out. No idea how it’ll all do, but it has my interest. One thing I’m wondering about is just how to order on these. Like I said, I’ve already had a bit of demand for these from customers, so that gives me at least an idea on what to order. But I can see folks who aren’t near a shop carrying Bad Idea books going down the list of retailers and calling each one, looking for copies to mail order. I like mail order, I do a lot of mail order, so I wonder how many copies extra I should have on hand for this sort of demand? I do not know. Don’t want to go overboard on numbers, but don’t want to be stuck short either. But if any of you reading this want any of these comics, let me know, I’ll be happy to send it to you!

You can read more about the publisher on its site.

* At least officially…sigh.

Be pretty wild if he did return as The Outsider.

§ February 10th, 2020 § Filed under batman, publishing § 3 Comments

[SPOILERS for recent events in Batman comics]

So I think none of us who are devoting any minimal amount of thought to the apparent death of Alfred are thinking “if” over “when” in regards to the character’s eventual return. It goes without saying, but I’m saying it anyway, that a vital part of a franchise like this won’t be out of the picture for very long. Now granted, Alfred isn’t entirely indisposable — the only indisposable part of Batman is “dude what dresses up as a bat” — but he’s certainly an expected part, and certainly noticeable in his absence.

Anyway, I was thinking about Alfred’s death (and the on-panel death seemed to be about as definite as these things get) and how DC would eventually bring him back, which inspired me to slap together this poll for the Twitters:


Before I get into the results, let me talk about the choices I included. “Never actually dead” is pretty self-explanatory…some kind of fake-out or ruse or clone or whathaveyou, leaving him alive but out of the picture somewhere. This is pretty much the deal with the whole “Death of the Human Torch” story.

The second option, “Magic/science shenanigans” covers things like the Lazarus Pit, or Herbert West-style reanimation, or, well, clones, I guess, so there’s bit of a grey zone between this and the first option. I suppose the Death of Superman would fall under this, though if I recall correctly there was maybe a tiny, tiny bit of life in him so maybe he wasn’t entirely dead and now you’re beginning to see the choices aren’t nearly as cut and dried.

Option three is again, probably self-explanatory…if you don’t know what a reboot is, I refer you to the past decade or two of Marvel or DC comics. But if you need a specific example, perhaps the Legion of Super-Heroes rebooting itself out of a painted-in corner during Zero Hour.

What’s interesting about the results is that “Reboot” was the choice that garnered the most votes in a relatively short amount of time. It’s probably the most cynical of the choices, but not unwarranted by the publishing strategies of the Big Two. It speaks to a lack of faith in publishers providing a satisfying resolution to a story, or committing to any significant changes or plot developments. The Reset Key remains a looming threat.

In my mind, the other two options, “never dead” and “shenanigans,” feel more likely. In chatting with Brian Cronin, who noted that the death of Alfred was perhaps a top-down decision at DC, has me thinking that the ultimate goal will of course be the big “RETURN OF ALFRED” to-do in the Bat-books, or across the DC Universe line, with all the attendant tie-ins and such. A wild plot/character development now lays down the groundwork for a big payday later, everyone hopes.

Now I suppose it’s possible this now just the new status quo at DC, along with Batman having a biological son, or Superman and Lois having a son, but even those are only permanent ’til another reboot passes through. …Perhaps a good follow-up poll would be asking “when?”

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