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Lies, damned lies, and comic books.

§ October 21st, 2019 § Filed under question time § 4 Comments

Time to wrap up the entries from the last Question Time post, don’t you think?

Dave’s not here, man, with

“What do you as retailer think about weekly books? I just picked up really nice run of just about every issue of ACTION COMICS WEEKLY back from the 80s and wonder if you had any thoughts about that book, the weekly concept (seems Busiek/Bagley book is largely forgotten) in general, as both a fan and a retailer.”

I’m…pretty okay with them, on the whole, so long as they’re not a financial burden on the reader (or, you know, the poor bastard who has to order them for the shelves). I think 52 at $2.50 was within reason. Doing one now at $3.99 or $4.99 per installment would be a tad on the oppressive side.

The content matters, too…I mean, duh, right? I think I’m more in favor of a weekly anthology title with multiple ongoing stories with varying durations (like the Action Comics Weekly you mentioned, and the biweekly Marvel Comics Presents) over one looooooong story. 52 worked out okay in keeping readers interested, I think, but a couple of the following attempts at a weekly or biweekly from DC felt like…well, one I called something like “10 pounds of story in a 20 pound bag.”

As a fan…I loved Action Comics Weekly. Couldn’t wait to read each issue…very few clunkers in there. That was also the only place to read new, ongoing Green Lantern comics for a while, which is weird to think about.

Marvel Comics Presents I didn’t read continuously, but picked up a string of issues here and there to follow certain characters and/or storylines. But I think the biweekly schedule is, perhaps, preferable, speaking as a fan and a retailer, in that it doesn’t feel like a constant conveyor belt of content being fed at you without a break.

I mentioned that I thought 52 was pretty good, but DC’s later weeklies/biweeklies weren’t quite up to that level. Again, not bad, just not…well, memorable. I read every issue of Countdown but I had to look up the title so I could type it here in this post. These other titles just didn’t feel quite as compelling, not the must-reads that would make you want to grab each new issue as it was cranked out each week/fortnight.

Would I want a new weekly series? I mean, a longterm series like the ones we’ve been discussing, not short-term weekly minis like Contagion where retailers could only cut orders on the fifth and last issue after seeing how that first one sold. I mean, sure, I wouldn’t mind seeing a weekly or biweekly anthology series along the lines of Action or MCP, but I feel like the way comic prices are now, a $3.99/$4.99 cover price would turn people off. If they could do it cheap…like, $1.50 for a 16 page comic with two or three stories per, that’d probably be acceptable, and probably the barest minimum of a format that customers would be willing to pay for.

• • •

Dave Carter, Warlord of Mars, Pennsylvania, asks

“Do you find that comic sales in your store eternally track with sales of the industry overall? Or are there some comics that are popular at Sterling Silver that barely make the Diamond charts (or vice versa)?”

That’s a good question, he said, stalling for time. …Well, actually, I took a look at a couple of Diamond “Top 100” sales charts, and yes, it looks like in gerneral, relatively speaking, orders/sales on my comics are about directly proportionate to the industry trends.

I mean, that makes sense…most stores are going to order heavier on Big Cosmic Hoohar That Changes Everything ’til the Next Hoohar #1 published by one of the major companies, while Unicycle Tragedy #47 from Sterling’s Poverty Publishing House gets a pity copy ordered by every fifth retail outlet.

But there are outliers, of course…I notice I don’t move, or at least order, as many copies of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at my shop as would be indicated by its position on that Top 100 list. Even now, while sales have bumped up a bit at my shop as it approaches its hundredth issue, my numbers aren’t even really close to put it up where it is on Diamond’s charts.

I don’t think I have anything selling way above and beyond its position on that Top 100. I do recall that time at the previous place of employment where we had a huge follwing for Evan Dorkin’s Pirate Corp$, spurred on my coworker Rob and myself…to the point where after we put in our monthly orders, someone at Diamond would call us up and ask, “uh, are you sure you meant to order this many?” Kinda my goal now to get someone at Diamond to do that to me on an order I placed. I mean, on purpose, not because I fumbled on the keyboard.

• • •

Come Clean turns on the heat with

“Be honest now: what’s the biggest lie you ever told a customer with a straight face? Was it worth it to hold on to his/her business?”

YOU GOT ME…I did it…I told a kid to invest in Warriors of Plasm because it was sure to be worth Big Money someday!

…Okay, not really. But, and I’m being as honest as I can about this, I don’t believe I’ve ever deliberately lied to anyone just to get their custom. I mean, I’m sure I’ve accidentally lied, because I was misinformed or mistaken about something, like when someone was going to take a title off his pull list, and I told him it was getting cancelled soon anyway if he just wanted to keep it on to the end…and the series went on for another, like, three years or something. I wasn’t trying to trick him, I honestly thought I read somewhere it was getting canned soon-ish, and I told him what I thought was the truth.

The one memory I have of deliberately lying to a customer was not to sell her something, but to keep her from buying something. At the old shop, a lady called and asked us to hold aside some…magazines, I think, that she’d purchase when she came through town in a week or so. However, a friend of hers called and said he was going to buy them for her and surprise her, and asked me not to say that the friend bought them, but that they weren’t held and they were sold out, so sorry for the inconvenience.

Now, this was a long time ago, I don’t recall exactly how this played out, and I do know now I wouldn’t put myself in this stupid position. I don’t think she was pissed (or at least too pissed) when I told her “UM SORRY I KNOW WE SAID WE’D HOLD THEM BUT OOPS THEY SOLD TO SOMEONE WHO TOTALLY WAS NOT YOUR FRIEND WHO ALREADY BOUGHT THEM FOR YOU” but presumably everything worked out in the end. Assuming that “friend” wasn’t some competing collector who tricked me into selling him the comics I’d held for her.

I know, Come Clean, this probably wasn’t the tell-all answer you were looking for, but I always tried to be honest with customers. Being dishonest would just create unnecessary complications and frankly, making a living in retail is hard enough.

Keeping in mind I actually like the show.

§ October 16th, 2019 § Filed under freak out, pal casie, question time, wood eye § 5 Comments

Pal Casie asks me this:

“I remember that hilarious mini-comic you wrote called, ‘Things NOT to say to a comic book shop employee’. Anything new to add to that list with time and now being an owner of a fab shop?”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


“WHERE’S SHELDON?”

 
 

“WHERE’S SHELDON?”

 
 

“WHERE’S SHELDON?”

No Go Pogo.

§ October 14th, 2019 § Filed under question time § 4 Comments

Let’s tackle the ol’ virtual mail pile and get to more of your questions, shall we?

GiantsinThoseDays looks back with

“Doomsday Clock posits the DC metaverae responds to changes in the Superman story (and I think Milk Wars said something similiat, which is why Superman couldn’t be subject to the retcon). What’s your most controversial opinion about Superman?”

Huh. I’ve read Superman comics for a very long time…started in the late ’70s sometime, reading them off the stands off and on, then buying every issue of Superman and Action (and related titles like Man of Tomorrow and other series that work into the ongoing continuity) after the mid-1980s relaunch.

In all that time, I don’t know that I’ve had anything that’s a really controversial take on the character. My feelings on Superman tend to conform to what I believe is the general conception of Superman. Like, “Superman is the moral center of the DC Universe,” or “Superman should always win,” and “Clark Kent is secretly Superman, shhhh, don’t tell anyone.”

As I recall there was some pushback from fans during the ’80s reboot regarding some of the changesto the franchise…not everyone, obviously, but a non-zero number, so I suppose saying “I’m okay with New Luthor, and with the Kents still being alive, etc.” would put me in the “controversial opinion” side of things with them.

Maybe the one event from that period that got up the most people’s noses is Superman executing the Phantom Zone villains from that alternate universe (long story, go read the back issues, they’re cheap)…and I was okay with that, actually, which probably puts me on the other side of the fence from most fans who read this story. The “Superman Doesn’t Kill” aspect of the character was…well, still is…pretty important, and having this occur came as quite the shock at the time. I think what saves it is that it was not without consequences, with repercussions running through the Superman comics for months afterwards, culminating in Superman’s vow to never again take a life, at least until he seemingly kills Doomsday in Superman #75. Anyway, it worked for me, but I can understand if some folks felt that was an unnecessary tainting of the character.

Aside from that, I don’t really have any “hot takes” on Superman. I always liked pal Dorian‘s idea that Superman should have always been a period piece, that his stories should always take place in the 1930s. In place of my own controversial opinion, I’m going to steal his.

• • •

Thelonious_Nick underscores his question with

“You’ve mentioned Pogo before, and as a lover of old comic strips (Popeye, Prince Valiant, Peanuts, Annie, even, God help me, the reprint editions of the early Blondie & Dagwoods) I’ve long thought about trying Pogo out.

“But it’s a bit more intimidating than some of those others maybe, since I think there was some level of continuity and I believe also Pogo doubled as a commentary on the politics of the time.

“Is there a place you recommend somebody unfamiliar with the strip start? Is Vol. 1 of the Fantagraphics reprints a good place, or are the early strips only for completists? Is there a good cheaper collection if I’m not sure I’ll like the strip?”

Um…hate to tell you this, but while I have mentioned Walt Kelly’s Pogo one or twice on the site, I’ve never actually read much, if any at all. My primary exposure to Pogo is this issue of Swamp Thing a weird tribute to the strip. Oh, and also I watched a VHS copy of this stop-motion animated movie that the aforementioned pal Dorian let me borrow several years ago. He’s more of an aficionado of the strip.

For some reason, as I was exposed to several different comic strips via paperback collections as a kid, Pogo never made into my hands. Doonesbury did, somehow, but Pogo never made it into my grubby little hands.

Now keep in mind this is nothing against Pogo, or some kind of unwillingness on my part to give it a shot…just circumstances and time have never really quite allowed me sufficient exposure to the strip. I’m aware of the characters and general premise, but as to any actual specific knowledge of the strip, sufficient to send you in the proper direction.

Mark Evanier, who’s involved with the new Fantagraphics reprint volumes, has had plenty to say on his site about Pogo and you can probably learn a lot more from him. He does say that the most recent volume, the fifth one, “contains two prime years of what I think is the best newspaper strip ever” and that sounds like a fairly solid recommendation to me.

• • •

Gareth Wilson volleys the following to me

“Robin Hood and King Arthur have been handled badly in recent movies, and some people have suggested that modern movie-makers have problems handling old public domain characters. Have comics done any better with these two characters? What about similar characters like Sherlock Holmes?”

Well, there have certainly been a lot of comics featuring all three of these guys, as I’m sure you know. I think comics might have a better chance at doing interesting and possibly even good things with them, as comics are perhaps a bit less beholden to studio interference, test marketing, and so on. Of the three, Sherlock Holmes has had a lot of play in the funnybook realm, probably because the general success of TV and movie adaptations spurred on comic publishers riding that zeitgeist. Dynamite has published several series that weren’t bad, I think.

The King Arthur legend has seen several weird permutations in comics, either changing the setting or flipping genders or what have you, whereas the film/TV adaptations tend to hew a little closer to the source material. Right now there’s the popular comic Once & Future from Boom Studios, there was Once and Future Queen from Dark Horse a year or two back, and Matt Wagner’s Mage is a take on Arthurian legend. Gotta say, though, Camelot 3000 is still a favorite of mine.

Robin Hood is a little harder to nail down…there have been plenty of Robin Hood comics, both adaptations of the original legend and transformative reworkings, such as Zenescope’s multiple Robyn Hood series. To be honest, I haven’t really been exposed to enough of these to have an opinion as to their quality, but this one was drawn by Tim Truman, so how bad can it be. Though I guess basically any superhero with a bow and arrow is inspired by Robin Hood (Green Arrow being the more obvious of them).

My general sense is that comics may have better luck dealing with these public domain properties, just through sheer numbers and more willingness to experiment with them. One of the fascinating aspects of these characters is how they’re adapted and changed to relate to new audiences, to reflect new circumstances. Not always successfully, but rarely without value, either. And when this happens, sometimes we get Tomb of Dracula, and sometimes we get

In which I shamelessly bend the rules.

§ October 11th, 2019 § Filed under question time § 5 Comments

So remember that time I asked you all for questions and you gave me a bunch of questions and I started to answer your questions until I got distracted by other questions which raised more questions? Anyway, I’m back to your questions:

DolphusRaymond dives in with

“Between Doomsday Clock’s [JSA]/LSH simmer, the return of Wally West (and consequent ‘no twins’ meltdowns), and the Zatanna “OMG Young Justice really existed what does it mean?!?” in the new Young Justice, do you see post-Crisis pre-New52 continuity making a comeback?
Is this my generation’s ‘I miss Barry and Hal bring them back?’
Will the comics world ever see more than 3 of the 52 multiverses published at the same time? (I count Main Continuity, Freedom Fighters Earth-X, and Shazam! …I don’t know if Bendis creates a pocket universe around his writing or not.)”

Ever since Crisis on Infinite Earths it seems like creators at DC kept looking for ways to bring back the stuff they liked from the pre-Crisis continuity. And of course later reality-changing events like Zero Hour and The Kingdom were intended to bend our new DC Universe back into a shape somewhat resembling the Old DC Universe, and all these reboots and retcons and so on is what brought us to the point of having a story where all the continuity problems were pinned on Dr. Manhattan, which is probably not a thing anyone saw coming a few years back.

Anyway, I don’t really see DC just straight up going back to the way things were post-Crisis/pre-New 52. Like, just ignoring everything that’s happened since and starting right up again from just before all these reboots/relaunches happened, like restoring from a back-up. But I imagine DC will continue its habit of picking and choosing the pieces from the past that it likes and reworking them into the comics of the present. We essentially have the post-Crisis Superman in our current DCs and that seems to be going okay so far.

As far as the “number of different universes in play at any given time at DC…I don’t know. Do the Sandman books count as a parallel universe? Scooby Team-up?

But everyone, hold everything: things are about to get more complicated (and more headachey for your retailer pal Mike) if this business about DC’s “5G” plan is true. So, basically, ignore everything I wrote prior to this paragraph because I’m honestly just hearing about this supposed coming hoohar from DC right now. So now I suppose the ultimate answer to your question, DolphusRaymond, is “who the hell knows?”

• • •

Synonymous means only one thing when asking

“So why _was_ the ‘Mike’s Magical Comics Fort’ name rejected?”

Mr. S is referring to this lightly prophetic post of mine (posted only a few months prior to, well, my actually opening a shop), in which I suggest that as a possible name for my no-longer-so-theoretical store. (Though I’m kind of partial to the store name “Ventura Fun Time Comic Book/Magic Card Store and Video Deli,” originally posted here…though I’d probably have to change “Ventura” to “Camarillo.”)

Anyway, I didn’t use the “Magical Comics Fort” name because people would continally come in thinking I had Harry Potter comics and I didn’t want to disappoint them. Unless they accepted Books of Magic comics as a sufficient replacement, of course.

RELATED: Brian followed up the previous question with

“Is it true that Mike’s Magical Comics Fort actually does exist, except that it’s your secret fortress of solitude, with statues of Swamp Thing and Sluggo holding up a giant long box in the central hall?”

And it’s constructed entirely from pogs.

• • •

De demands da dope:

“After crossover minis with Star Trek and Green Lantern, what’s the next natural mash-up with Planet of the Apes?”

Ooh, I immediately want to say Twilight Zone, given Rod Serling’s connection to both, but maybe that’s a little too wide-ranging an idea. Um…Kamandi seems like the natural one, given POTA was the inspiration for the Last Boy on Earth in the first place. Or…I mean, you can always throw Superman or Batman into any crossover thingie like this and probably come up with something workable.

Oh, wait, I’ve got it…Swamp Thing! Yeah, I know, gee, who saw that coming, but hear me out: “PLANT ELEMENTAL OF THE APES.” Don’t tell me you don’t want to see that.

• • •

ExistentialMan makes me ponder my existence with

“What do you consider the single best year of comics publication in your lifetime?”

Holy shit. I mean, pardon my use of the word “holy,” but man, that’s a good question. I’m going to say 1986. You had Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, the relaunch/reboot of the Superman books by John Byrne (hey, I think they still hold up, mostly), you had Dan Clowes show up with Lloyd Llewellyn which I bought off the stands because it looked so amazing, the first Mage series by Matt Wagner was still going, there was the two part “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” by Alan Moore, Curt Swan and pals, Englehart and Staton’s Green Lantern turned into Green Lantern Corps and started to get weird (and also introduced Kilowog!), Dark Horse Comics and Slave Labor Graphics started up, we had ‘Mazing Man, Flaming Carrot was still going, Cerebus was still good, Love and Rockets was around (as it still is!), Swamp Thing hit issue #50, we had regular Groo the Wanderers…man, there are lots of things to love about 1986. I’m sure I could pick out any other year and find things to love about it, but 1986 was the first one to come to mind.

Oh, and the New Universe started in 1986, too. Don’t forget that!

• • •

Jason Sandberg contributes TOO MANY QUESTIONS but he advertises on my site so I will let his filthy lucre sway me into breaking the “one question per customer” rule:

“What holds the Winter Soldier’s mask on his face?”

Our hopes and dreams.

“Am I correct that ‘Captain America and the Mighty Avengers’ issue 9 was better than the entirety of ‘Avengers: Time Runs Out?'”

Since you advertise on my site, I’m going to say “yes, you are correct, sir.” I mean, mostly because I’ve read neither and have no basis for judgement.

“What dark and sinister medial moguls are thwarting the progress of the DREADSTAR film/TV franchise?”

Alas, it appears the frailty of human flesh may be the cause, as according to this interview with Jim Starlin, the producer died and that kinda scuttled their plans. He’s still hopeful to get it on TV, but, well, you know how it is.

“Robbie Reyes ‘ghost rided’ a dead Celestial. Could he ‘ghost rider’ Galactus’s Taa II? Where would he go, what would he do?”

“Rided?” Anyway, I suppose Mr. Reyes could pull that off. As to the question “Where does a Ghost Rider ‘ghost-riding’ Galactus’ home base/spaceship go?” and answer is of course “anywhere he wants to.”

“If I ever make it out to the West Coast, where would we go for lunch, dude?”

Anywhere that takes your credit card, my friend, because I’m not going to restaurants too often on a comic shop owner’s salary.

• • •

And with that bout of sheer favoritism, I think that’s enough Question Time for today. I’ll try to get to the remaining questions in short order instead of making you all wait so long again. Thanks for reading, pals, and I’ll see you Monday.

William Burns, what have you wrought?

§ August 16th, 2019 § Filed under question time § 11 Comments

One thing I didn’t spell out in Wednesday’s post about what comics I’d like to see in new trade/hardcover collections is, well, the financial end of it. I’m sure every publisher would like to have everything in print at all times for ready sale, monetizing their past as much as they’re able.

But printing these things cost money. And ordering these things cost money. I wish I had copies of every single trade paperback available in my shop, but leaving aside where I’d store ’em all, even my vast Deathmate-built fortune couldn’t swing paying for such stock. Picking and choosing what I carry and being willing to special order items is the best I can do.

And going back to the publishers…even if they did, for example, do an extensive reprinting of all the Groo the Wanderer issues in a series of nice, new trade paperbacks, there’s no guarantee that they’d sell well enough to justify the effort, to cover the costs of keeping them all in print and available at all times. Now, I know they’re great, and you probably know they’re great, but despite what that one movie said, just because you build it doesn’t mean they’ll come. In an ideal world they would, but, well, you know.

Also, publishers only have so much money and resources and personpower to spread around, so I’m trying to hard not to read too much into the fact only two Groo paperbacks are currently available, that perhaps they’re just focusing on something else at the moment. It’s hard to publish and sell comics in the U.S. nowadays, so like how I have to pick and choose what to carry at the shop, publishers have to pick and choose what they throw their efforts behind.

So, I’m not trying to be critical of any publishers and their efforts to maintain a solid reprint line by wondering “hey, why don’t they do this?” We’re just wishing aloud here about what we’d all like to see, and I’m sure many publishers would like to see them too, if they were able to do so.

That was a lot of apologizing for someething nobody complained about. Er, sorry about that…I just kept thinking someone was going to call me on it ever since I posted on Wednesday, and had to get it out of my system.

If I may follow up on something else, longtime reader Rruce noted that one of my suggestions, ELementals, would be a bit tricky as its creator, Bill Willingham, never had the opportunity to really complete his work on the title, and the Elements comics that followed were…well, likely would seem out of place in a comprehensive collection of the title and wouldn’t make for a satisfactory read in toto.

Which brings up the topic of collecting incompleted work, which I’d count Elementals under, as well as BobH’s suggestion of 1963. The interesting thing about the Dover reprints I talked about last time, for Puma Blues and Border Worlds, was that the creators provided, if not outright conclusions, then at least new chapters to bring those books to more satisfying endpoints. Granted, the likelihood of the same being done for Elementals or 1963 is slim to nonexistent, which is too bad. It’s a loss, is what it is…it’s good, solid creative work that’s now strictly in the realm of those comic fans who feel like piecing together runs from back issue bins, rather than in the larger, potentially more lucrative world of The Fancy 1963 Complete Hardcover Featuring That Annual That Would Have Been Published Originally Hardcover, giving someone yet another Alan Moore book they could have sold.

Onto happier news, Bully, the Little Bull Stuffed with Carrots, wanted a Flaming Carrot collection. Well, as mentioned by that darn BobH, there is one coming! There have been reprint volumes for the Carrot before, but they’re long out of print. It’s called the Flaming Carrot Omnibus, and when it was announced, the weird selection of issues included (#1-2, #4-11, #25-27) is peculiar, but 1) Flaming Carrot ain’t exactly continuity-heavy and messing up the order won’t hurt much, and 2) this get the Flaming Carrot/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles team-up in that first volume, so hopefully that’ll goose sales enough to keep the books coming.

One other series came to mind that I’d like to see a trade of is Jim Valentino’s normalman. Yeah, okay, it’s been collected twice…original by Slave Labor Graphics (I have that one!) and later by Image (which includes some of the post-mini appearances) but both books are in black and white, and boy does this series scream for color. I loved the look of the original comics, and would much appreciate having that experience duplicated in a nice color collection for current audiences. As I said when I started today’s post…that probably wouldn’t be cheap to make or sell.

Probably have yet another post in me on the topic, so I’ll get back to it next week. Thanks for reading, pals, and as always, please keep leaving your comments. They’re always appreciated.

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?

Just picture that scene with Bruce reciting the lyrics to Clark in Batman V Superman.

§ August 12th, 2019 § Filed under question time § 23 Comments

At long last, back to your questions!

William Burns has a hot take about

“What non-Marvel/DC currently uncollected comic (book or strip)do you know you could sell the heck out of if they would only collect it?”

That feels like it should be an easy question to answer, but it really isn’t. There’s the stuff that’s out of print that I would like to see published in new editions, like…I don’t know, all of the Alan Moore/Don Lomax back-ups from American Flagg!, maybe, but I’ve no idea how it would sell. Or the latter portion of Chester Brown’s “Ed the Happy Clown” stories from Yummy Fur (or at least all the Bible stories), which…well, might sell okay, I suppose. But I’m having a really hard time thinking of something that would really take off that hasn’t already been snapped up by somebody for repackaging.

You know, I get the occasional inquiry from folks looking for the various knock-offs of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that came out during the black and white boom of the early ’80s. Maybe a collection of some of those weirdo comics all slapped together under one cover could be a surprisingly popular item.

But otherwise…geez, I don’t know. I think a book putting together all of Bill Willingham’s Elementals might do okay, if there’s any bleedover from fans of Fables looking for more of his work.

Or how ’bout archival reprintings of Cracked magazine? I still get a little interest in Cracked and I suspect it could sell, especially with all that John Severin work in a lot of the issues.

But beyond that…geez, I’m drawin’ a blank. Maybe some of YOU out there have some ideas.

• • •

Brad Walker flies this in

“I just re-read the origin of J’onn J’onzz. Was there ever an in-story reason why his fellow JLAers Superman and Green Lantern didn’t give him a lift back to Mars?”

I…wondered that a lot myself when I was but a Young Mikester. I think that may have been part of the reasoning behind the various permutations of the Martain Manhunter’s assorted backstories. “Everyone else is dead” or “it was from long ago in the past and Mars is dead now” or “JJ is the last survivor of Mars<" or "Mars is at war they don't want him back/banished him" and so on. Not having read every early Martain Manhunter story, I don't know if this particular query was ever directly addressed in the texts, but I suppose the answer back then would have been "then we wouldn't have any Martain Manhuter stories to tell."

• • •

Chuck V. telepathically sent me


Oh, I can read your mind, Chuck V., and you’re thinking “that recent spate of DC movies could only have been improved by the inclusion of sequences just like this one,” and I can’t disagree, friend.

• • •

philfromgermany has a word for

“Any characters or concepts you’d like to be given the DC/Kamandi Challenge treatment?”

Well, Swamp Thing, natch. Just issue after issue of cliffhangers featuring our favorite muck encrusted mockery of a man. …Hey, I think we have the premise for our Swamp Thing: Season Two comic!

Almost typed “much-encrusted,” which technically is true as well.

§ July 17th, 2019 § Filed under question time § 4 Comments

Oh hey, remember your questions? Let me poke at a couple more of them:

Matt M. howls at the moon with

“Hey Mike. Who should play Blue Devil in the inevitable TV show?”

Well, the answer to that is, of course, Ian Ziering, currently appearing as Blue Devil’s alter ego Dan Cassidy on America’s favorite TV show about a muck-encrusted mockery of a man…no, no, not Last Man Standing, I’m talkin’ about Swamp Thing, natch.

Now, I’m generally terrible at playing the “cast the superhero movie game” (except for this instance, where my casting for Wolverine is perhaps even greater that Hugh Jackman), so I hesitate to try to come up with someone suited (heh) for the role. Not that we’ve seen Mr. Ziering as said Blue Devil yet, nor are we likely to, or at least much of him, as Swamp Thing is headed to an early grave, as perhaps I’ve mentioned on this site before.

So what I propose, to make up for whatever reason the decision was made to can the show, is to do the ol’ switcheroo. Start up a Blue Devil show starring Ian Ziering on the DC Universe service, which guest-stars Swamp Thing, and they can pick up all the plotlines and such from Swampy’s show. Yes, I agree, this idea is genius, and I shall allow DC and Warner Bros. to have it for free. You’re welcome.

• • •

JohnJ jingleheimers the following

“I’m curious how many customers attempt to buy multiple variant covers of new books. Primarily just on the $3.99 books but also on the #1000s. I’m given the option and if there is an Adam Hughes or Frank Cho cover available instead of the main cover, I’ll pick that instead. There must have been a screw-up on a recent Superman cover since I thought I ordered Hughes and ended up with a Rob Liefeld variant! It left me to wonder if his art has finally improved or if the inker decided to only ink half the lines.”

Okay, first, I don’t even remember that Liefeld variant, because that totally would have been the cover I took for myself. Maybe I missed it? You know, all those eye problems and such. But sure, covers get solicited with one artist and ship with another all the time. Well, not all the time, but it happens and the distributor sends out notices regarding the changes ahead of time.

And second…oh yeah, people buy multiple covers of the same comic. And yes, I very definitely had people buying multiples of the recent #1000s, and more than one person buying every variant of those #1000s. Yes, that cost a lot. I’ve even bveen tempted to pick up both covers on things, but I usually resist unless (surprise!) Swamp Thing is involved. Thanks a lot, Justice League Dark.

You ask “how many customers,” and it’s certainly not all of them. But absolutely a few. Which is fine, but can sometimes make ordering for the shelves tricky. You never know if a certain variant is going to catch on or not.

• • •

Kurt bouces in with

“Whatever happened to the New Warriors TV show?”

Well, they cornered Nitro and he used his blowing-up power to blow up which took out part of a city, and then Speedball became Penance, which was weird, and….

…Oh, you mean the actual TV show they announced ages ago? No clue. Just from what I can glean from the internet, which has never lied to me, they’re still working on it, though it no longer has its original broadcast network of Freeform. Didn’t see any news whether that situation has changed (and this article from January of this year has it listed as “in imbo”), so in the meantime, let us all just hope and pray for a comics-accurate depiction of Night Thrasher.

Yes, yes, and the “blonde Latina” thing.

§ June 21st, 2019 § Filed under question time § 13 Comments

Okay, I’m going to tackle another inquiry from the last time I took questions from you folks…but first, I encouragge you to look at the responses to Monday’s entry. Some alternative watchlists for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, incorporating ideas/arcs I didn’t consider, and some discussino of just why Kryptonians weren’t all that into space travel. I know comment sections can be a nightmare on the internet sometimes, but I’m glad my readers here are thoughtful, interesting, and funny. Thanks, pals.

• • •

Dave’s here, man, with this

“I am lately having resurgence of love for work of John Byrne. Re-reading all his old stuff! So I’d be happy to read about what you think of Byrne’s stupendous output. Like what is favorite/least favorite, if you ever met him, anything about John Byrne really (except X-Men).”

Now, John Byrne…that’s definitely a thing. I’ve never met the man, but some of his commentary online that one came across from time to time, specifically from his message board, would strike me as…..well, it would range from “inadvertently funny” to “downright disagreeable.” A lot of it struck me as the words of someone who didn’t much like where the industry is heading or his place in it, and, yeah, sure, I can understsand that, but then he’d gripe about how calling the heroes “Supes” or “Bats” was diminishing to those characters, and…well, look, I really shouldn’t be trying to turn you off there. You clearly enjoy his work, and I enjoyed his work over the years, and in fact wish he would do more comics work.

The last regular gig he had was Photoshopping Star Trek fumetti comics for IDW, but it looks like that’s pretty much over. I often think, in the back of my mind when Marvel and/or DC are looking to relaunch something, “why not bring in Byrne?” I always thought he had a good track record of getting down to the core of a character or concept, and making it work in a fun and accessible way. That’s the whole “back to basics” thing he was known for throughout the ’80s. Could be his style is a little…less contemporary than publishers thing modern readers would like, but maybe a little old-fashioned comic booking wouldn’t be entirely unwelcome nowadays.

I didn’t read everything he did, but I did read a lot. I read his early Doomsday +1 series he did for Charlton (in the Fantagraphics reprints), I was the one guy that bought Lab Rats, I think Next Men still holds up, the New Gods/Jack Kirby’s Fourth World was fun…in fact, any time Byrne was working on Kirby creations, it felt like he was really in his element.

Speaking of which, my all-time favorite work of his is still Fantastic Four. It remains, for me, the definitive version of the book (outside of Lee ‘n’ Kirby, of course). The “back to basics” idea I mentioned above basically came from here. I loved his versions of Doctor Doom and Galactus, and I especially loved his renidtion of Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew, the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing. (It’s because of Byrne that every time I see another artist draw the Thing with a neck, I think “WRONG WRONG WRONG!”) It remains a nostalgic treat for me…scenese from those comics still solidly live on in my head.

The weirdness of Alpha Flight was a close second. Though I often praise the Bill Mantlo/Mike Mignola run following Byrne for its heavy body-horror tone, which is very unusual for a mainstream superhero comic, I think Byrne’s take on a “non-team” team book, where the characters rarely all unify for a single adventure, still made for some compelling reading. Given that the characters weren’t Marvel first-listers, or even second-or-third listers, Byrne seemed to have a bit more leeway with what he could do with them, including the sudden (and seemingly permanent) demise of what seemed to be the primary character. Er, SPOILER, I guess.

And of course one can’t forget the Superman reboot from the mid-1980s. He was one the books for about a year, but he managed to get a lot of material out onto the stands before he moved on. It was definitely a strange feeling to be reading Superman comics at the time with a consistent direction and creative team(s), shorn of all past history. “Back to basics,” once again. And it was this version of the character, this “post-Crisis” Superman that, despite New 52s and Rebirths and Zero Hours and whatnot, still basically exists today. I mean, more or less. You can still sorta follow a thread from Man of Steel #1 to the most recent issue of Superman. It’s a little knotted and tangled and the occasional piece was cut out and the ends spliced together, but the thread is there.

Now, “least favorite” is a little more difficult. I haven’t outright hated anything…there are works where bits and pieces I didn’t care for, but generally nearly all his work has some entertainment value. I suppose there’s that FX series he did back in 2008, but that was over someone else’s script and it mostly was “not memorable” more than “bad.” And I guess maybe that OMAC mini he did…despite his usual affinity for Kirby characters, I wasn’t particularly enthused with this one. Ah well, What Can You Do?

Also, for a time he was doing commission work, and a lot of that was downright beautiful. Seek those pages out to gawk at them, if you can.

So in conclusion…Byrne: so long as I don’t look at what he’s written online, I can still mostly enjoy his comics. There are some bits of his stories that…tend to get picked apart pretty thoroughly online, and deservedly so, but overall, it’s a long career filled with a lot of good work. And maybe someday, he’ll get to add to it.

But don’t skip Howard the Duck.

§ June 17th, 2019 § Filed under question time § 10 Comments

Okay, let’s start dipping into some of those questions you all left me…if you want to join in the fun, or “fun,” feel free to add your own ’til the comments section there shuts down automatically after how ever many weeks I set it for. Look, I can’t remember everything.

Roger Owen Green ties everything together with

“I were to watch all the MU movies in order which one(s) could I skip?”

Hoo boy. That’s a toughie. I mean, if you just want the core “state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe” flicks, you could just watch the Avengers films, since everything either leads into or ties into that. If you are just looking to skip the…well, none of them are particularly bad as such, but certainly some are less essential viewing than others, I guess. But if you’re committing to watching them all anyway, you might as well not skip the second Thor movie, right? What’s two more hours?

I mean, if you’re really pressed for time, skipping the second Thor momvie and the second Iron Man movie would probably not affect your MCU world-building too much. Also, I’d say “skip that second Avengers movie, too” but like I said, that’s kinda part of the backbone of the whole thing. Maybe fast-forward through it.

• • •

Paul Di Filippo falls out of bed with

“How can you account for the virtual extinction of Welsh Rarebit and the lack of dreams derived from the consumption thereof?”

Sir, I would blame the lack of sufficient newspaper space for the funnypages to properly contain the brilliance of Winsor McCay. Imagine this, sequeezed down to three tiny boxes right next to, I don’t know, Marvin. Do they even make Marvin any more? I mean, don’t tell me, I’m not that interested, but then again, strips do exist that can fit their weird genius into limited space. Who knows what McCay could have done?

• • •

ScienceGiant looms over me with

“Has Superman ever brought up Lori Lemaris to Aquaman, or is he all now-I’m-just-somebody-that-you-used-to-know?”

I don’t know that he’s ever specifically mentioned his mermaid friend to the King of the Seas, but I do recall that DC established fairly early on that there were two…Alantises? I don’t know that both their realms were called “Atlantis” specifically (though in the early Silver Age Lori and Aquaman each claimed to be part of the Atlantis home team. But when Marvel started breathing down DC’s neck with their own slightly more consistent shared universe, I think the official DC continuity explanation was that they were both of Atlantis origin, but there was a split of some kind into “mer-people” and “people-people what could breathe underwater.” Pretty sure Peter David’s Atlantis Chronicles covers this, if I recall correctly.

You know, I bet the Wikipedia entry covers this somewhere. Let me look.

[TEMPUS FISH-IT]

Okay, I did find this page which lists a couple of times that Lori met Aquman (and I also forgot about this Justice League of Atlantis thing) so they totally me. And there’s a reference in the Lori Lemaris Wiki entry to the character looking for other lost Atlantean cities in her first post-Crisis appearance, so there’s your textual support for that.

So unfortunately I haven’t read every Lori Lemaris appearacnce, so I don’t know if there is specifically a panel somewhere with Superman bringing her up to Aquaman and asking “so where’s YOUR fishy half?” but I suppose there’s something like that somewhere.

ª ª ª

Chris works the room blue with

“While they always shuffle around the reasons depending on the era, I always wonder why a super smart race like the Kryptonians really whiffed at the whole exploration/colonization of the stars. Has there ever been a satisfactory reason/story as to why DC’s cosmic realm is so fraught with danger, despite space mall cops in every sector?”

I think the main reason is so we don’t have a universe populated with super-Kryptonians. Keeping all down on the farm when the planet exploded establishes the main premise, that Superman is the Last Son of Krypton and we’ll never see any other Kryptonians, ever (except for Supergirl, and the Phantom Zone villains, and Krypto the Superdog…). The in-univesre excuse I seem to recall was that there was some genetic problem in them, that kept them from being able to leave the world’s orbit without dying (which somewho Kal-El was able to avoid)…that may have been in one of Elliot S! Maggin’s novels. I also assumed there was an implied xenophobia in John Byrne’s portral of Krypton in his 1966 Man of Steel mini-series. My guess is that the reasons given for the Kryptonias didn’t split their plenet tend toward “there’s something wrong with them” rather than “the universe is terrible so let’s stay home.”

Okay, had to once again look at a Wiki page (“Hello, and welcome to ‘Mike Rewrites Portions of Wikipedia for His Blog'”) and it brings up “xenophobia” and a genetic inability to leave the planet as well, so I was remembering some of that correctly.

Also, I’d bet after Brainiac showed up and stole Kandor, the Kryptonins were all “NOPE TO SPACE, THANK YOU,” and who could blame them?

• • •

ENOUGH QUESTIONS FOR NOW. More answers in…the future!

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