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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?”

So anyway, as I was saying….

§ August 26th, 2019 § Filed under miraclemarvelman, publishing § 5 Comments

Sorry for the extended hiatus, pals…my eye isn’t *quite* back to where it was before the last incident, but it’s getting there. Now all I have to do is try to remember where I left off.

jmurphy mentioned in the comments from my last post about reprinting the unreprinted comic book series:

“Nearly one-fifth of the way through the 21st century, and Print-On-Demand can’t handle this? One of Warner’s other subsidiaries uses On-Demand technology for out-of-print audio CDs and movie DVDs. Books can be printed on demand, maybe someday the technology will be applied to comic trades as well.”

I’m pretty sure it has been, to some extent. I believe at least a couple of Rick Veitch’s original graphic novels available through Amazon (Boy Maximortal and Rare Bit Fiends), and surely there must be other examples. Turan thinks that ownership shenanigans may give some folks cold feet about doing something similiar, but I suspect wouldn’t be doing it if he thought his intellectual property was at risk.

Hooper triples down on this reprint idea:

“Finally thought of something I wish was/is collected in print – Impact’s Fly by Parobeck and Strazewski.”

Hey, did I ever mention I once met Len Strazewski? Years ago he came into my former place of employment. Nice guy. Anyway, since this is a licensed title from Archie Comics and published by DC, I support it falls within the “non-Marvel/DC” parameters of the original inquiry as to what we’d like to see reprinted And Impact Comics as a whole, I thought, was pretty good. I had the complete set, including the looseleaf Who’s Who binder pages.

Anyway, The Fly is a nice suggestion, and it’s a shame that any Mike Parobeck work is out of print. I was quite partial to The Jaguar as well. In fact, I think there was a lot of solid work in these comics, and if there’s any consolation, at least they should be cheap if you happen to find them in any shops. I’m not even 100& sure I have any in my shop right now.

The King of the Moon proclaims

“I’ve got a cool idea, they could finish MiracleMan”

Oof…again, it’s a Marvel property now, but it started out as someone else’s so we’ll let it slide in there. Yeah, it’s too bad that it all started out as such a big deal and then just kinda…went away. I suppose we’ll see the new, hopefully concluding issues of Miracleman eventually, then reprinted in collected editions forever and ever until Marvel inevitably lets volume 2 fall out of print, requiring anyone waqnting to complete their set of the books to go pay stupid prices for it on eBay. I mean, I’ve waited this long for the story to continue, I suppose I could wait a little longer. Not too much longer, though, I’ve probably only got about 25 to 30 years of life left in me, so let’s get cracking, people. Though every time I hear about Neil Gaiman getting a new TV or movie deal, I think “well, that’s Miracleman pushed back another year or three.” Good for him, honestly, but the comic fan in me is like “ACK, COME BACK TO US NEIL.”

Okay, my eye is twitching at me, so I’ll wrap up this post here. Oh, wait, I thought of another thing I’d like to see in print: Popeye from Charlton Comics. I know IDW did a lot of the Dell/Gold Key stuff, but I have a real soft spot for those ’70s Popeyes. Probably zero market for them right now, but we’re talkin’ ideally, not realistically.

THE EYE SAYS STOP TYPING. Back Wednesday. Thanks for reading, pals.

I am kind of curious regarding the legalities re: reprinting Groo/Conan, since, y’know, Marvel.

§ August 14th, 2019 § Filed under publishing, question time § 3 Comments

So there were lots of good, interesting responses to the question that was posed to me and I reposed to you, regarding the reprint volumes you’d like to see of non-Marvel/non-DC comics material. Both in the comments to that post and on Twitter folks had some solid suggestions. I’m not going to note every single one here in today’s weblogging entry on the World Wide Web, but please feel free to peruse those links and see what you, the people had to say.

BobH brings up what should’ve been the most obvious example, and I’m surprised I didn’t mention it (though I believe I’ve lamented before on the site about the lack of accessible reprintings): Groo the Wanderer. Okay, granted, the majority of them were published by Marvel, but originated elsewhere and remained creator-owned to this day, so we’ll let this one slide.

There is a lot of Groo, and as BobH says, a whole bunch of it never got reprinted. Even those trades collection the Marvel run didn’t get that far into the run, and as I recall the earlier volumes were falling out of print even as newer volumes were being released. And the availability of trades for the Dark Horse run is spotty at best. I just now did a search on Diamond’s retailer site for Groo trade paperbacks, and the only two currently available are Play of the Gods (which is a follow-up to Fray of the Gods, currently out of stock) and Friends and Foes Vol. 2, the second half of that year-long mini-series.

Just two. That’s it. I’m sure nobody is happy about it, especially Sergio Aragones and longtime writer/collaborator/whatever-he-does-er Mark Evanier. I’m pretty sure Evanier mentioned on his blog that plans were in the works for some kind of reprinting, but no news yet that I’ve seen.

It’s a real shame. That so much work, purt’near four decades’ worth, by one of the world’s top cartoonists is not readily available is such a waste.

In fact, that so much work by anyone is out of print is a waste. Even digital availability is better than nothing, though clearly my own bias is toward physical editions.

I mean, there’s hope…that company what did Puma Blues and Border Worlds (even getting Don Simpson to create a new chapter for the latter), so maybe someday we will get that reprint of Bernie Mireault’s The Jam (a great suggestion by Rob)…I mean, it’s not impossible. Also, speaking of Don Simpson, I wouldn’t mind having all of Megaton Man in one place…the series, the one-shots, the webcomics, etc.

Mike’s suggestion of Sam Glanzman’s Hercules had some amusing timing, as I was just talking to pal Dorian during last weekend’s visit to the shop about this very thing. (You can see some examples of this amazing comic right here on this very site from…urgh, 9 years ago.) It was Dor’s impression that a trade or something of this series was coming, and I could’ve sworn that was true, but can find no trace of it in Diamond’s datebase, either current or forthcoming. Maybe I’m not searching the right terms. Maybe the words “Glanzman” or “Hercules” appear nowhere in the solicitation. I wouldn’t put it past some publishers. A lot of his war stuff and the repint of his weird caveman strip Attu turn up, but no Herc.

EDIT: Okay, so I was wrong…Jim points out that Dark Horse did publish one only last year…my mistake was searching only “currently available” and “not arrived yet” entries in Diamond’s database, not the “what has already come and went” section. Sure enough, it came out in 2018, but is currently unvavailable from that distributor. As Jim notes, copies can still be snagged on Amazon.

Cassandra Miller brings up Cutie Bunny, and I adore Joshua Quagmire‘s work on Cutey Bunny. That five issue series plus various other appearances here and there would be great to have under one cover. (And for bonus content, throw in all those bonkers entries for the title from the Amazing Heroes Previews Specials, with details on forthcoming issues that, far as I can tell, were entirely invented for those specials.) Those comics were just crammed full of swell cartooning and funny jokes and all kinds of craziness, and wouldn’t it be nice to have those on nice, clean, white paper with crisp printing.

Augh, I have more I want to say about more of your suggestions, but surely you’re read enough of my typing for the day. Let’s get back to it on Friday, shall we?

All the news that’s fit to get around to eventually.

§ June 24th, 2019 § Filed under atlas, batman, dc comics, publishing § 4 Comments

Okay, first off, right now it looks like everyone’s all “woo-hoo, it’s the 30th anniversary of that first Tim Burton Batman movie starring Prince” and I’ll have you know I’m so ahead of the game, I posted about that film for its 28th anniversary! Take that, Batty-come-latelies! Anyway, I even created a special category for those posts where I talk about my retail memories of that exciting time when the words on everyone’s lips were “Mr. Mom is Batman!?” so be sure to click on that link there and bask in the nostalgia.

Now, one of the problems of doing a comics blog that updates usually about three times a week (or less, depending on which of my eyeballs has exploded this time) is that I don’t tend to concern myself with the day-to-day Hot Comical News that’s all the rage on your Mastodon incidents and no other short-form social media sites. I figure everyone else has got it covered, no one’s coming to my site for anything hot off anybody’s presses, they’re coming here to see me talk about Frank Miller’s The Spirit or Swamp Thing or whatever. I mean, after Journalista folded, I tried once or twice to do big ol’ linkblogs to “hey here’s what’s going on” but quickly learned that was the sort of thing I enjoyed seeing other people do, not, you know, do myself.

But occasionally things come up that I have to say something about, like this relatively old but surprising news that the Seaboard/Atlas Comics of the 1970s, mostly notable for launching big then, um, flaming out, have been optioned for movie/TV deals. And I gotta be honest, my first thought when I heard that was “every single other comic book thing must have been taken” — and please don’t take that the wrong way. I adore those Atlas Comics. I’ve written on and off about collecting them here on the site…and I’m about 80% of the way to having a full collection, so this movie news kinda irks me a bit in that I’m sure the issues I still need will suddenly get cranked up in price.

But back to my point that this seemed like a really strange thing to do. And that’s coming from someone who does like these comics. I’d love to see what they’d do with a Grim Ghost movie, for example, even though the reaction would likely be “that’s just a rip-off of Spawn!” grom the grandparents in the audience old enough to remember the Spawn movie. I mean, I guess some characters might be fun to see in live-action…in discussing this with a customer he mentioned that seeing Morlock 2001 on the big screen would be something else, and by God I can’t disagree. And I think Ironjaw would be kind of amazing as well. So, who knows, I shouldn’t judge too harshly. It’s still pretty surprising…who saw that coming?

Another thing announced a little more recently was the impending return of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and there are a bunch of reports about it on the Googles, but I’ll link to this one because it talks about some tie-in Flight Ring replica merch. I mean, good, I’m all for a new Legion series…they’ve been teasing the Legion, after an extended newsstand absence, in Doomsday Clock, but it’ll be nice to just have a full-on Legion of Super-Heroes title on the stands again.

That said, I don’t know if I’ll be back for it, personally. I hope it does well, I hope it gets a new audience that’ll stick with it and not peter off after a year or two, requiring yet another relaunch. I stuck with the Legion books for a long time, and enjoyed them best I could, but finally gave up after relaunch and reboot and re-whatevers…I didn’t pick up the New 52 titles, and frankly I don’t think I ever finished reading the last couple of issues of the incarnation just prior to that.

The thing that might get me to try it out is 1) the artist, Ryan Sook, seems well-suited to the title, and 2) I have enjoyed the writing of Brian Michael Bendis on the Superman titles, and his take on the Legion may be…”modern” enough, for a loack of a better term, to get the attention of current comic fans, and maybe break the perception that the Legion is a relic of an older time in comics. Well, when you get right down to it, all superheroes are relics of an older time in comics, but anyway.

Like I said, I hope it does well, and I hope it lasts a long, long time, in a marketplace where publishers don’t keep their comics running for a long, long time. One of the things that appealed to me about the Legion was the idea that there was a line you could draw from that first appearance in Adventure Comics #247 in the 1950s to the (then) current pre-first reboot issues. That the “Five Years Later” Legion was the same Legion that had, at one point, had to deal with the Fatal Five or the Super Moby Dick of Space or whathaveyou. That the characters and relationships and such had a continuity to them, a history, that you could see where they’d come from and wonder where they were going. (See also “X-Men.”)

That’s not a feeling that’s going to be replicated in a new series, I realize. Too much water under the bridge, too much resistance to giving readers a new book with a steep learning curve and the idea that “you’ve already missed a lot of what’s happened.” Not saying a new Legion can’t been good, just saying it’s not going to give me that ineffable essence of what I enjoyed about the original Legion, which can’t be helped.

Okay, I typed too much and my eyes need their beauty sleep, but let me just touch upon DC’s recent reorganization of their publishing imprints. We’re down to just plain ol’ DC for their main line, DC Kids for kids what read the DC, and “DC Black Label,” which basically replaces the to-be-shuttered mature-readers, occaionally creator-owned Vertigo label. That makes sense, I suppose…DC’s Black Label books have been a sales success of late, whereas the Vertigo brand doesn’t move books like it used to, just by virtue of having “Vertigo” on the cover. I’m sad to see it go, given Vertigo outlived the other similar imprints from DC and Marvel, like “Helix” and “Icon” and…does “Barkerverse” count as an imprint? Let’s say it does, just to annoy you.

I guess that’s fine, which I’m sure relieves DC to no end. But I kind of wish the Vertigo label would stick around, but if a whole series of Sandman-related titles couldn’t revive it sufficiently for DC’s tastes, I guess that’s that. Gonna be strange seeing the Black Label logo on preacher and whatnot. I do wonder what’s going to happen to the Young Animal imprint…I presume that’s Black Label now, though the “Young Animal” thing actually does get in new readers looking specifically for those. I haven’t read every news story on the topic, so I presume somebody covered this somewhere. Same with “Wonder Comics” Maybe the new imprints will have sub-imprints? EDIT:: Yes apparently so.

Oh, and in other news, the Swamp Thing TV show is still canceled. The jerks.

Quick. someone Ask Jeeves.

§ May 17th, 2019 § Filed under dc comics, how the sausage is made, publishing, swamp thing § 7 Comments

So the plan was to continue my dicussion of DC’s history of getting superhero chocolate into Swamp Thing’s peanut butter, and to do so I was going to, ahem, “borrow” some images from the DC Universe streaming app/service/comic library thing to save myself the time scanning the appropriate images. But lo and also behold, when I went to check out issue #23 of the original 1970s Swamp Thing series, this is what I found:

…It was in black and white. And so was #24. And when I checked other issues in the series, the available online scans from #14 ’til the end of that first run are all in black and white. Oh, and I eventually noticed the little, um, notice that was in the short text intro for each issue letting you know that, yes, this issue you’re about to read is in blcak and white.

That struck me as a bit…odd. I haven’t come across any other series on the service that was originally in color being presented in black and white. Granted, I haven’t done much of a deep dive beyond scattered issues of DC Comics Presents and some Silver Age Green Lantern, and there are literally thousands of digital comics recent thrown onto the service here, but it seems like this is weird.

Now there never was one of those black and white DC Showcase paperbacks for this series, and the entire run of the book was recently recolored and reprinted in that big ol’ Bronze Age Ominbus that came out not long ago. And other recently returned for regrooving and recoloring issues of other Swamp Thing series, like the 1982 run (also in that omnibus) is on the service, in full glorious technicolor. So why did the ’70s series get singled out?

There must be some kind of production issue involved here, though I have no idea what it is. The first thirteen issues are presented in color, and those same thirteen (representing Len Wein’s entire run of stories) were also recolored and reprinted in a hardcover some years back. So, I guess, maybe since those issues were reprocessed a few years back, they were ready for digitizing and uploading, but the later issues had yet to be recolored for that much more recent omnibus and weren’t ready when it was time to get all this online? But then, the pre-Alan Moore issues of the 1982 series had also never been reprinted before, but they’re all up and newly colored…so I have no idea. I’m really just guessing, and someone’s probably already explained why somewhere, but Alta Vista’s down and I know of no other way to search the World Wide Web.

Anyway, thought that was interesting. I’m still gonna talk about those issues soon, but I’m going to have to scan my own comics like some kind of caveman. I have talked about issues #23 and #24, the particularly superhero=y Swampys, on the site before, back in ye olden dayes of comics blogging, back before the meteor struck and killed 90% of Earth’s comics-blogging population. The scans I used then were tiny little things designed for dial-up, and not the glorious giant bandwidth-hogging pics I try to use now, so I’ll get on that in short order.

To follow up on BobH’s question from Friday’s comments section, about whether or not that final caption from issue #24 is in the currently-available print editions…my answer is “I don’t know.” I got pretty wiped out on much of my trade paperback stock during Free Comic Book Day, so I don’t have those Swamp Thing books readily available to peek at. I’m restocking best I can, and those Swampys are a priority what with the TV show about to debut. When last I investigated this important matter, that caption was missing from the then relatively recent hardcover printing, but present in the softcover edition. I believe we’ve had a repackaging of those issues since, so when my stock of those gets replenished, I’ll take a looksee.

In other Swamp Thing reprint news, DC has a series of “facsimile editions” (new printings of classic comics, ads and all, kind of like what Marvel’s been doing lately) coming soon. And House of Secrets #92, featuring the work of Jack Kirby and alos the first appearance of some swamp creature, is on the docket. That’ll make reprint number…man, I don’t know, I’ve lost count of how many versions of this I have. I made a list on this site long ago, and a later addendum or three, and I was up to, what, 15? 16? Whatever it is, it’s too many, and I’ll be adding to that collection soon, it seems.

Remember when comics bloggers were all concerned about “snark?”

§ April 22nd, 2019 § Filed under dc comics, publishing § 5 Comments

Hiya pals! I’m still recovering from my recent eyeball bugaboos, so please be patient as I slowly get the hamster-wheels running on the ol’ Progressive Ruin website again. In case you missed it, I did have a couple of smaller posts over the last few days, and I think that may be par for the course for a little while as my vision continues to defog. So you’re not rid of me just yet.

One thing I wanted to post about last week is the fact that the new DC solicitations include the beginning of the direct market-available reprintings of the new content from the Walmart-exclusive 100-page giants. My thought was that they were probably going to collect those stories into trade paperbacks, but nope, they’re going for periodicals, each containing two installments from the giants. $4.99 cover-priced periodicals, natch, but What Can You Do? I’m sure the trade will follow eventually.

The Superman one (cover pictured here in the post somewhere) is titled Superman: Up in The Sky, and the Batman one is Batman Universe. I particularly like the title of the Superman book, and quite frankly I’m surprised it hasn’t been used yet. Or maybe it has, I don’t know, there are lots of Superman comics. Batman Universe is a pretty good title, too. Hopefully the eventual collection of the Swamp Thing stories from the Walmart giants will be called…what? Swamp Thing: Out of the Muck? Swamp Thing: Born on the Bayou? Swamp Thing: Gotta Defuse It Before? …I bet they go wtih Roots of the Swamp Thing. Y’know, again.

The interesting thing about this…when I made a comment about this on the Twitters, about how nice it was to be able to get these stories since no local Walmarts carried these comics, well, the following happened:


THEIR EYES ARE EVERYWHERE. Though I notice they didn’t comment on my rather cynical observation from a couple of years prior. …Yeah, that’s a tad snarky. Not as snarky as this, but still.

Okay, enough of these shenangians…time to return my eyes to th evault. I’ll be back midweek. Thanks for sticking around and I’ll see — well, “see” — you then.

I think “The Violence and the Vulgarity” was my prom theme.

§ October 22nd, 2018 § Filed under batman, publishing, question time, retailing § 3 Comments

I’ll get back to the topic of extended breaks in ongoing series (1 and 2) shortly, but I wanted to get a couple more questions ahead if at all possible:

William opens the gate to the following:

“Let’s talk about that evergreen topic, The Bat Penis.

“Maybe I’m cynical, but it seems like the image was provided just to garner controversy (and sales) for that issue. The image does not play into the plot, and is basically superfluous. It’s only there to either satisfy the kinks of the creators or stir up word of mouth and demand, which if it was the latter, it did magnificently.

“My question is this. I know you touched on this briefly in your post on the subject, but, as a retailer, do you feel that DC left you out to dry in this case. I am old enough to remember the Friendly Frank’s raid when it was current events, and while a lot of things changed since then, a lot of things stayed the same. I know the book was advertised as mature readers from the get go, but it seems DC didn’t let retailers in on just how ‘mature’ the book really was. And there is a difference between ‘expletive-laden’ mature readers and ‘Let’s look at the Batwang’ mature readers, and parent would be far more upset if the latter landed in their kids hands.

“I’m just wondering if you wish DC was more upfront about what the mature content was beforehand or if it didn’t really make a difference. I’m not a censorship guy, but an informed retailer can better avoid any potential legal entanglements that might cause. I’m curious on your opinion on the matter.”

So I’ve been watching that new Titans series on the DC Universe streaming channel, and…well, if you’ve been following my Twitterings, you’ve probably seen a few of my comments on the show. Overall, I do like it, but it does inspire a bit of eyerolling when they lay on the violence and the vulgarity. Especially in that one scene from the premiere episoide, the one that made it into the pilot, with Robin, um, expressing his opinion about his former crime-fighting partner. What I tweeted was

“Yes, in context Robin’s ‘F Batman’ line is totally gratuitous and tacked on as the buzz-creating ‘everyone will talk about this’ free advertising moment it was meant to be.”

Okay, maybe when they were writing this scene, they were simply intent on making this as “adult” and “gritty” as possible, and that meant the occasional f-bomb…but they still put that scene into the trailer, knowing full well that would engender some controversy and get mouths yappin’ and fingers typin’ about this new TV show.

That I think was an intentional usage of unexpected “mature” content to garner attention. I honestly don’t think Full-Frontal Bruce in Batman: Damned was the same situation. I don’t know the specific reasons why they decided to include that image (if the creators were interviewed about that topic, I haven’t seen it) but my guess is that they took this new “mature readers” “almost anything goes” imprint at DC to heart and, well, went for it. I could see ’em saying “mature imprint, huh? Let’s see if THIS gets past the editor” and then a while later: “oh dang it did.”

I don’t think I was blindsided by the image…I knew it was a mature readers title, and granted, the image itself it relatively minor…silhouetted, almost easy to miss, not like other popular comic book penises like Watchmen‘s Doctor Manhattan. His Lower Manhattan just popped up (heh) in DC’s Big Event Series Doomsday Clock, and seems more like a thing (ahem) than Batman’s deal. I think exposed wedding tackles fit well within the subject matter covered by the “mature readers” label. Now if there were explicit close-up images of Tab A being inserted into Slot B, that’d be a different story…one likely published by Avatar or Boundless.

I don’t think I felt legal problems were potentially a threat here…I mean, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund still exists for a reason, but the naughty Batman comic probably received more jokes about it on late night talk shows than actual complaints from concerned citizens. Raina Telgemeier’s publisher probably receives more letters from uptight parents about her graphic novels per week than the whole of DC does all year. Superheroes are “mainstreamed” now, and I think enough people have been exposed to tie-in media where Batman says “shit” or where Deadpool gets, um, rogered roundly, or where Robin says “fuck Batman” that the idea of an adult-oriented comic book isn’t quite the foreign idea it once was. I’m not saying problems wouldn’t, or don’t, happen, just that Batman: Damned probably wasn’t going to open those particular floodgates.

Not that I shouldn’t be careful, of course. Keep the Bondage Fairies off he kids rack an’ all that.

File under “death, beaten to.”

§ October 17th, 2018 § Filed under publishing, question time § 16 Comments

Following up on the last post, where I answered Paul’s question about “longest publication gap” in a series, I feel like I may have confused the issue a bit. So let’s clarify:

THE PRODUCTION DELAY: what I think Paul was specifically referring to, where an ongoing series, which is intended to continue or complete, experiences a huge unintended delay between issues. Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk, with its years-long pause between issues, is my go-to example of this, though there are plenty of others (like Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do, or Camelot 3000, or anything in the Dark Knight Returns ongoing saga).

THE RETURN FROM THE GRAVE: where a series totally ends, and is not intended to continue at the time…but the title is later revived and continues the numbering. Seems like such a foreign idea now, where any given comic book series seems to have a new #1 every few months or so, but there was a time when the Golden Age Flash series would end at #104, and a few years later, after the introduction of the Silver Age Flash, said series would be resurrected beginning with issue #105. Those “Blackest Night” one-shots which purported to be, like, issue #48 of the canceled Power of the Shazam series and whatnot, would fit in here, as well as those new issues of long-canceled Marvel titles (like Power Pack #63). Ghost Rider #94 would probably fit here, too, since as far as anyone was concerned at the time, #93 was the end of that series, and it wasn’t like there was an editor impatiently waiting nine years for script pages to come in so they could wrap the title.

THE INTENDED SPORADIC RELEASE: where there are extended gaps between issues, but more from design than because of any particular delays in production. I’m pretty sure something like Zap Comix would go here, where it was just released as the participants came together to produce it. (Unless Zap was intended to be monthly, in which case hoo boy did they blow it.)

There are other permutations and variations, but I think those are the big divisions, there. The recent Miracleman reprints probably span a couple of these categories, and some of the longrunning Disney comics which nobody thought would go away for long but definitely stopped publishing at times ’til a new publisher put ’em out again. but I think I’ve created enough headaches splitting these funnybook hairs like this.

Separate from all that are the aborted series, where an issue or three came out and then never continued. I mean, sure, this happens all the time, but it’s relatively unusual from Marvel and DC. Daredevil: The Target is one fairly high profile series that got out one issue and then vanished, never to be seen again except when we dug out our unsold copies of that first issue to return them to the distributor for credit. Or something like Sonic Distruptors, which I liked, but stopped at 7 out of the intended 12 issue run.

But I think what we’re specifically talking about is the first category: the comic that did eventually complete in the format and numbering in which it was intended, just with excessive pauses/delays in the release schedule, and never officially intended to be over and done with. Like Ronin with a much delayed final issue.

That’s the spirit in which I took the question, and sorry if I confused the topic initially. You all had interesting (and some extreme) examples of extended gaps in comic series publication, mostly of the resurrected title kind, which would probably be an all new post just by itself! DON’T TEMPT ME

So, with all that in mind…what’s the record production delay in a comic that did eventually publish an issue after said delay? And again, not meaning a revived title that picks up the numbering, but rather has everyone involved going “holy crap, is this book late.” Excluding Ghost Rider #93/#94 for reasons noted above, would that Spider-Man/Black Cat mini, with 3 1/2 years between issues, be in the top spot?

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