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Okay, that one RAW technically had a variant cover, too.

§ April 24th, 2020 § Filed under question time § 7 Comments

Just addressing some comments from the last couple of posts. Wednesday first:

Matthew asked

“Unrelated to anything, but I read recently-ish that the original Fathom #1 from the 1990s had variant interiors. Do you remember anything about this?”

I believe that’s correct…a little Googling around seems to confirm that, but I meant to check the Fathom #1s at the shop (I have two of the three main covers) but I forgot because brain no work good.

But yes, I’m pretty sure that was a thing. DC Comics also did that with Team Titans, their attempt at an edgier, hipper superhero team more like those X-Forces and the Youngbloods all the kids are into. First issue had multiple variations, each featuring a different solo story of one of the title’s characters. Anyway, variant interiors like that are dumb and don’t do it (unless you’re RAW magazine, which did “variant interiors” to much better effect).

jmurphy lays down the law with

“What’s this Episode IV New Hope nonsense? That wording didn’t exist until 1981. Anything from the late ’70s is just ‘Star Wars.’ Kids these days…”

Hey, I’ll have you know I was there in the theater as an excited 8-year-old in 1977 watching Star Wars during its original run, so don’t you try to out-Star Wars fan me! Besides, as we all know, every change made to Star Wars post-release ripples backwards through time, replacing all previously released versions with the newest revision. As such, we have always been at war with Episode IV, A New Hope.

JohnJ has this to say

“Didn’t Marvel also do a Treasury combining all 6 issues?”

Indeed they did! That’s what I was referencing in the title to Wednesday’s post!

Issue #3 of Marvel Special Edition collected the contents of the first two treasuries under a new cover. I remember when it came out, I had the first two treasuries pretty much memorized and, when I saw this third one, I immediately thought “oh boy, new Star Wars stories!” Until I got a better look at it and realized it was stuff I already had. I’m pretty sure I asked anyway whichever parent was in attendance if they could buy that for me, and my request was declined, which was just as well.

JohnJ also adds

“Speaking of Star Wars, doesn’t everybody think it’s way past time for Disney to put out dvds of the original versions of the first three movies??”

Well, the original versions (more or less, it’s hard to tell) did get released as “special features” on some DVD release or ‘nother many years ago, which I have somewhere in the “Remember Physical Media?” section of my home. As I recall, they weren’t remastered in any way, nor were they anamorphic. I’d imagine Disney could make a mint by releasing nice versions of those films…except of course they no longer exist due to that retroactive time-rippling effect I was speaking about earlier.

Now, you wanna talk what Disney should put out on DVD? Lucas ain’t around to stop no more, so I do believe it’s time for The Holday Special, The Deluxe Edition. C’MON DISNEY, you’re already doing stuff with Yoda’s people, once verboten territory per Big George, what’s one more thing?

Okay, now let’s go back to Monday for Snark Shark, who bites off more than he can chew with

“Seems like I’ve seen extra copies of [Superman’s Fortress of Solitude and Captain America Bicentennial treasuries] than most of the treasury editions. I wonder if those 2 were overprinted?”

I can’t say to the Cap book, but I got my copy of Fortress, it was in a freestanding cardboard display at our local grocery store. I can’t remember if the display itself was specific to the comic or just a generic cardboard dump, but it certainly must have come with that treasury. I have no idea how widespread that form of display for this specific comic was, and I don’t recall seeing any other treasuries displayed this way before or after. Was there a special deal in which you got that display with a certain number of copies, and maybe there was a bump up in print numbers to go along with this promotion? Don’t know enough to say.

It could also be just a regional thing specifically to you…maybe more copies just made it to your area for whatever reason. If only we could go back in time four decades or more and find out for sure, right?

I Googled “comics pariah” and all I found was a picture of me.

§ April 13th, 2020 § Filed under question time § 3 Comments

Got a lot to get through today, but first let me note that yes, your favorite comic shop owner…me, I’m talking about me, smart guy…was interviewed for this New York Times article about the impact of the coronavirus on the comic book industry. Now, you might be able to read it for free or not, ain’t entirely sure how that whole set-up works, but hey, I’m ihn the Times, spreading some of that fake news you’ve all heard about. It’s an interesting article, and I think the writer did a good job making me sound like I know what I’m talking about, for which I’m grateful.

Okay, now let’s finish up what I couldn’t finish on Friday, my responses to your commments on this post about characters what may have some long-term staying power.

The extremely positive Yes! said

“DC sort of hit a wall in New 52, having to spend the a lot of stories attempting to reintroduce everyone. There’s been a lot of fun new ones like Bunker and Super-Man. But karma insists that for every Gotham Academy there’s must be a Green Team.”

Hmm, that’s something I hadn’t considered, that the focus was on retooling what already existed for current audiences versus trying to get new concepts out there. I do agree that the New Super-Man was a very fun title, but I don’t know if we’ll see that character again, or if we do, it’ll be in the same tone as in his own series.

“I bet soon Pandora will end up like Harbinger, a forgotten footnote to confuse future TPB readers.”

Remember when we were all excited about trying to find Pandora’s “Where’s Waldo?”-esque appearances in the early New 52 comics? Anyway, I suspect we’ll see Harbinger in a comic again before we ever see the return of Pandora.

Funny thing about Harbinger, and the other two Big! New! Star! that popped up in Crisis on Infinite Earths:

…is that they pop up now and again to this day. Well, maybe not this exact day but you get my meaning. So they’ve beeen around for 35 years, two of ’em even made it into live-action TV shows…I think they’re qualifying as long-lasting, if not houshold name, characters.

I was also looking them up on Wikipedia to see what’s up with them, and it turns out they sure died a lot. People just loved killin’ ’em off. And I noticed that for a couple of them, Pariah and Lady Quark, they would get kiled, then show up later alive in another comic with no explanation other than “the writer/editor forget to check. Or in Pariah’s case, killed, revived, then show as still dead later. Anyway, thought that was interesting.

Oh, and despite being around for as long as she was, I was looking up Lady Quark to see if she’d made any appearances beyond Crisis and that issue of DC Comics Presents and lo, she was a big part of L.E.G.I.O.N.….a comic that I read and really enjoyed. She was just that memorable, I guess.

Oh, right, Yes! still has more to say:

“(Chris Kent seems in retrospect to have been a dry run of sorts. He didn’t get a ton of negative response if I remember correctly. I wonder if that gave DC the confidence to try a more permanent introduction)”

For those of you coming in late, Chris Kent was a Kryptonian child Supes and Lois were raising until he ended up trapped in the Phantom Zone and out of the series.* I glossed over a whole lot there but that’s basically it. But yes, Yes1, maybe it wasn’t a direct tryout for giving Lois and Clark a kid of their own, but maybe the mostly positive response helped influence the decision.

There’s precedence, in that there was a “Supergirl” wished into existence by Jimmy Olsen in Superman #123, not long before the actual Supergirl showed up in Action #252. (There were other “Super Girl” type characters in the Superman comics prior to that one, but that one in Superman #123 felt like more of the dry run for what was coming.)

• • •

BK Munn lets me know

“The only reason I know Skaar is the Hulk and the Agents of SMASH cartoon show, which is still on one of the kids channels here.”

Oh, okay, that’s interesting. I didn’t realize that. So Skaar is still getting some usage somewhere, if not (current, that I recall) in the comics. Marvel and/or Disney lets no IP gather moss, I guess!

• • •

And just to acknowledge a couple of you jokers, yes, perhaps my phrasing it “Damian Wayne, the son of Batman and the current Robin” is a tad ambiguous. LOOK YOU KNOW WHAT I MEANT

• • •

So for next time, I’ll finally be covering Tim’s long-ago Twitter question regarding Twitter pal Tim’s query about folks overvaluing comics they were trying to sell. I’ve got a couple of specific examples that I’ll be covering, so I hope to see you back here on Wednesday. I mean, what else are we all doing, right?

* Cassand’s comment made me go look it up, since I couldn’t remember, and yup, there was a new version of Chris Kent who shows up during DC’s “Rebirth” initiative.

First thing to go is the luxurious mane of golden hair.

§ April 10th, 2020 § Filed under question time § 2 Comments

So let’s wrap up this long week (it is Friday, today, right? I’m not 100% sure) by looking at your responses to Monday’s post. As a reminder, I was responding to the question “what new character introduced in the 21st century do you think will have staying power?” or words to that effect. And anyway, I totally forgot to bring up the new Batwoman, introduced in 2006, and certainly a distinct version of the character from previous iterations. I mean, she’s got a TV show now and everything.

So, to your comments:

I was wondering about that dinosaur what’s in the Runaways comic and whether it also appeared in the TV show adaptation, and BRR informs me

“I’ll blissfully ignore the possibility the question is rhetorical. The dinosaur is in the show!”

Not rhetorical at all! I genuinely was curious.

Chris G notes

“The funny thing about Jon Kent is that it wasn’t all that long ago that Lois & Clark had essentially adopted another super-powered Kryptonian teen. But nobody ever mentions Chris Kent these days!”

This is true…the whole “Chris Kent” thing occurred prior to the Flashpoint rejiggering of the DC Universe, and now that the pre-Flashpoint Superman and Lois have been moved into current continuity, he typed even as he realized how nonsensical that all sounded, that means those events are part of the current Superman’s past. …Except with the said rejiggering, both Flashpoint and whatever Rebirth was, the argument could be made that the Chris Kent stuff was made never was at some point, which is why he’s not brought up.

Or who knows. Maybe Bendis will bring him back and suddenly Lois and Clark will have two sons.

Matthew brings up some possibilities for new characters with staying power:

First mentioned are X-23 and Quentin Quire, and…yeah, probably they’ll be around for a while. X-Men characters I feel like have a better chance of sticking around or at least not being forgotten. The X-books always seemed like a franchise that wasn’t afraid to dig into is own history on a fairly regular basis for new subplots and story ideas. If X-23 goes away for a while, I’m sure she’d be back in some for or ‘noter sooner rather than later.

“Would the current version of Groot count?”

That’s a tricky question. The Wiki entry says that it’s a different Groot, but…part of the same species, maybe? I feel like there’s some continuity of existence between the two. By the standard we’d been going with, in which a prexisting superhero name/concept can be introduced with a new person under the cowl and be considered “new,” then this new version of Groot is a new, distinct character. WEIRD BUT TRUE

“The characters people have mentioned tend to be superheroes, are there any supervillains people think will stand the test of time.”

Think I’ll save that one for a future post. It’s a much harder question, I think!

“And yes, I have seen Simon Baz recently. He was in the Lego DC Super Heroes blind bag minifigure series released in January. Why him? I have no idea.”

There are worse fates than achieving a form of immortality via Lego!

Aaaand…let’s wrap up on Monday, because once again I’m dead tired (hey, it’s hard work running a store that’s closed!) and just can’t stay up any later to finish this post. Yeah, I know, back in my blogging prime i’d be up ’til 4 in the morning making sure I had one of my 7-day-a-week entries ready for the world. But, you know what they say, blogging is the second thing to go.

See you guys then.

I will never get tired of referencing Cool Points…sorry Brian.

§ April 8th, 2020 § Filed under question time, sterling silver comics § 8 Comments

Okay, being quick about this because I started late and I need my beauty sleep:

I recently started throwing the store‘s back issue stock onto a publicly accessible Google sheet, which you can see at this link here: Did it for what should be obvious reasons, plus I seem to have some extra time to work on such a thing. Anyway, I only just barely started (three boxes down, several dozen more to go!) but if you see anything on there you like, give me a call or drop me a line. Or ask me for anything else you’re looking for, I wouldn’t mind.

This is just a quick and dirty way of getting inventory in front of eyes too distant to see it all in person, which is working okay as is. But the spreadsheet format will allow me to export the data and import it into a more useful interface, I’d imagine. Something to worry about after the current crisis is under control, and I’m not in so desperate a need to move product.

Also today I was going to respond to this tweet by Twitter pal Tim:

“Best example of people overvaluing comics which they were attempting to sell to you (another excuse for you to reference the Death / Return of Superman)”

who inspired my post on the 3rd. Well, one, I still need to cover your responses to my second post on the matter, and two, my best example is a story I’ve told on this blog before, and I wanted to come up with more examples but brain no work good when it’s this tired, so I’ll try to save it for Friday or Monday. Anyway, 100 Cool Points to anyone who remembers what story I’m talking about.

Now I’m sure some of you have seen examples over the years of folks thinking their comics were worth far more than they were. It’s not uncommon, and you can’t really blame most people for it, especially after how many stories they’ve heard about the first Superman being a million dollars or whatever. But if you have any particularly weird or extreme examples I’d like to hear them if you’d care to drop them in the comments section. I’m sure I’ll end up discussing them in that aforementioned future post on the topic.

Okay, that’s enough, I’m hitting the sack, and also going to bed. Be back Friday!

Prepared for the complaints from the world’s biggest Martian Manhunter fan.

§ April 6th, 2020 § Filed under question time § 8 Comments

So when we last met, I was discussing what new, 21st century character had the best chance of standing the test of time, of still being an active presence in certain publishers’ outputs in the near and/or far future (assuing comic publishers still exist, of course). My idea was that Miles Morales would be the one, with Ms. Marvel (the stretchy one) a close second.

But some of you folks had your own suggestions, and I thought I’d look at a couple of them:

Tim says Marvel’s Runaways, debuting in 2003, is — are? — a contender, and I think that’s fair. Teen heroes who discover their parents are supervillains is a pretty good hook, and likely will appeal to young readers for a long time. Plus, they got a TV show which can only help but increase awareness of the property, though I know literally nothing about the show and how closely it may or may not hew to the source material. Like, is the dinosaur in the show? I have no idea.

Randal says Marvel’s Jessica Jones, and I actually like that idea a lot. First appeared in 2001 in a decidedly adults-only comic book series (Alias, no relation to the TV show of the same name), she was a private eye in the super-heroic Marvel universe, and she herself was apparently a former superhero. She sort of represents the one of the most effective “mature” takes on the Marvel Universe, and as a representative of that particular angle on the publisher, she’ll probably stick around.

Paul suggests thse two: Miss Martian and Skaar. I mean, it’s possible, but I don’t see them being major characters…which is fine, there are plenty of long-lived characters who aren’t headliners. Miss Martian is from the Teen Titans, so she’ll likely always be part of their history, and she has close ties to the Martian Manhunter, one of DC’s most enduring second-stringers. And she’s in the Young Justice cartoon, so she’s made the jump to media adaptions, which never hurts.

Skaar, on the other hand…he’s tied to the “Planet Hulk” storyline, which is a popular one, but as we get farther and farther away from that story, Skaar (the son of the Hulk and some alien, I fergit) seems less relevant and more complicated to explain. Again, probably never really a headlining character, but given Marvel’s propensity to keep everything that happens in continuity, Skaar will likely still pop up now and again at points in the future.

MikeyWayne brings up Damian Wayne, the son of Batman and the current Robin. I actually thought about this, but..well, here’s the thing. Batman having a biological son, and Superman having a biological son, in current DC continuity, does not seem like something that’s gonna last. Now my personal wish is that DC doesn’t reboot their continuity yet again but we all know it’s coming sooner or later, and all it takes is a new editorial voice in charge saying “I don’t want our characters to have kids” to do away with them. That said, I think the idea of Damian Wayne is a good one, and the way he was introduced, and the way the character’s been handled and how he fits into Batman’s world, gives him at least a fighting chance to survive whatever reboot is coming. There’s no guarantee, though, and I feel like “son of Batman,” and definitely “son of Superman,” are concepts that will be the first to go when DC rolls back the odometer on their fictional world.

Jason mentions Robbie Reyes, the current Ghost Rider, and…okay, I don’t really know much about Robbie Reyes, aside from that he was the version of Ghost Rider that appeared on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). I am…not familiar with this iteration, but it seems like the franchise always returns to Johnny Blaze, the original (demonically-possessed, motorcyle-riding) Ghosr Rider. Maybe he’ll be around as one of the many hosts of Ghost Rider, such as how Danny Ketch is used now. So Reyes will be around, sure, but as a footnote is Ghost Rider’s ongoing history more than a draw on his own.

Okay, hang on, only a couple more: Thom H. sez, he sez “Young Avengers,” given their possibility of making it into the movies. That’d do it, I think. Plus, they have “Avengers” in the name, and people seem to like that. I mean, in the real world, not in the comics. And Isaac M. brings up “Amadeus Cho,” boy genius in the Marvel Universe who was also briefly the Hulk…probably another supporting character who’ll always be dragged out whenever they need someone to fill that said “boy genius” role in the story, or whenever they put all the smart people in one room, as they sometimes do.

But as Steven R. says, once they make it into toy form, that’s a good indicator that they’ve got legs. Not that Toy Biz’s figure for Albert really helped him along much, but the point is taken.

Well, okay, “staying power” can mean a lot of things, I guess. I was thinking “prominently in the public eye” when I settled on Miles, but “occasionally popping up in the comics” is also not being dropped into the dustbin of history. Even if Damian Wayne and Jon Kent get retconned out of existence, there’s always gonna be somebody trying to bring them back in some form or another. Once created, they’re hard to uncreate, especially if the characters are part of Big Two superhero universes where no obscure character stone is left unturned for long.

Not on the list: Punchline.

§ April 3rd, 2020 § Filed under question time § 13 Comments

So Twitter pal Tim asked

“Is there any DC / Marvel character which has debuted in this century which you think has / will have significant staying power?”

I have a terrible memory for new characters and when they first showed up…there are one or two examples in this post where I Wiki-ed up their initial appearances and I was like “they’ve only been around that long?”

Anyway, I started to do a little research to see who came on the scene in this century (which of course began on January 1st, 2001, don’t @ me) when a couple of examples occurred to me right away.

Now the proper thing to do in answering a question like this is to go through some of the possibilities, discarding this one and than for whatever reason before finally revealing at the end who I think it is, but I’m just going to straight up tell you it’s Miles Morales:

He first appeared in 2011 as a replacement for Peter Parker in Marvel’s defunct “Ultimate” line, before somehow or ‘nother making it over into the main Marvel Universe, where he co-exists as Spider-Man with the other fellow.

One could perhaps argue that this isn’t a “new” character as such, since obviously the superhero aspect of the character preexisted. It’s like asking if the Wally West Flash is a new character, or just a continuation of the concept that began with the Barry Allen Flash (who was himself an altered version of the Golden Age Flash).

But all I can tell you is that kids really have taken a liking to the Miles Morales character, especially since the Into the Spider-Verse movie. I had them specifically requesting “Miles Morales comics” as opposed to “Spider-Man comics” or “comics with that new Spider-Man” — they’re asking for Miles Morales by name. Not to say the “Spider-Man” part isn’t important, since you read superhero comics for the superhero stuff, naturally, but I think that’s a significant difference in the way kids are approaching these characters. I mean, I never had people coming in asking for “Peter Parker” comics. Well, aside from the comics actually called Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man, but you know what I mean.

Now part of this may simply be because these requests are being made in this way because asking for “Spider-Man” isn’t precise enough any more…they have to specify which Spider-Man and saying “Miles Morales” makes it clear which one they’re talking about. But regardless, kids really like Miles, thanks to getting goosed along by the film, and I think has the potential of being around for the long haul. Yes, he could be just a passing phase, and maybe someday just a footnote in the overall history of Spider-Man, but honestly I hope not.

One of the runners-up, and probably having better claim to being a new character despite having an old name, is Ms. Marvel:

Like Miles, Kamala Khan is another teen hero character that appeals to younger readers, and has had some book market success with collections of her adventures. She’s also a headlining hero who happens to be Muslim, giving her a unique position and perspective in the Marvel Universe. This is the character that really surprised me to find out she’s only been around since 2013…feels like she’s been part of Marvel for much longer! If I remember correctly, there’s going to be a live action version of her popping up somewhere (or, if not, surely it’s inevitable) which, like Into the Spider-Verse did for Miles, will almost certainly boost her popularity. I know she’s popped up in some well received shorts with Spider-Gwen and Squirrel Girl and such. I feel like she’ll be around a bit.

Which reminds me…would Spider-Gwen (or “Ghost Spider” as she’s called now) be considered a “new” character? I mean, Gwen Stacy’s been around since the ’60s, but this superhero version of her is a recent development. I think, though, the distinction is that Miles and Kamala are new characters using old names, whereas Gwen is an old character (or a version of an old character) using a new name. Anyway, it’s my blog and I make the rules, so there.

I was trying to think of DC characters that have had equal impact, and I’m sure I’m overlooking some. There’s Jessica Cruz, who is another new character using an old name (“Green Lantern”) but I think is distinct enough in her own right. First appearing in 2013-4 (initially as a villain of sorts) she’s popped up in other media, a strong element in any comic book character having staying power, but I don’t think she’s hit that same level as Miles or Kamala. (And has anyone seen the other Hot New Green Lantern Sensation Simon Baz lately? Hello, Simon? Write in, would you?)

We’ve also got the Jaime Reyes version of Blue Beetle (yet another legacy character, first appearing in 2006) who seems to be pretty well received whenever he appears, particularly in other media (most recently in the Young Justice animated series). I feel like he’s different enough from his similarly-named predecessors to stand on his own as his own unique superhero. I think of the newer DC heroes, he’s got a good chance at sticking around a good long while.

Look, I know this is hardly a comprehensive list of new Marvel and DC folks, but I think these are four good strong characters, which despite all reusing names and/or powers of those who have come before, are each different enough to be considered “new.” And it probably says something that the new characters that do have some staying power build on past creations, whereas brand brand new characters fall to the wayside, but that’s an essay about the marketplace I’m not about to start writing after midnight (as I’m typing this) so let’s end this with me asking you to tell me what new Big Two characters from the 21st century I forgot.

Spoilers mostly for “Clone Saga,” I guess.

§ February 17th, 2020 § Filed under death of superman, question time § 16 Comments

So in answer to my late-night lament that I was comin’ up empty for blogging material for today, Twitter pal Tim posted the following:

“You’re on a desert island, with only one of the following to read:

1. Age of Apocalypse
2. Clone Saga
3. Knightfall / Quest / End
4. Death / Return of Superman”

I responded to him briefly there, before realizing he was actually suggesting a blog post idea to me, because I’m a dummy with a 5-second attention span.

The idea of “Desert Island Comics” is one that’s been discussed plenty of times, I’m sure, but I don’t think I’ve ever really nailed down what would be my choices should I ever 1) be able to afford a cruise ship ticket, 2) actually slip my chain and get away from the shop long enough to take that cruise, and 3) survive whatever sufficient disaster would occur that would let me live and also let me get my comics to shore unwaterlogged.

Ideally my top choice would be “every Swamp Thing comic, with “every Groo comic” and “every Love and Rockets comic” tied for second place, though I supposed Tim’s postulated island reading would be restricted to specific storylines/events rather than the whole series enchilada. So…I guess the “American Gothic” storyline from Swamp Thing, because Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and John Totleben, and also early Constantine, and also it’s just rad.

BUT ALAS that’s not an option offered up by cruel, cruel Tim. What he does offer me are four iconic ’90s multi-title events, which, for the purposes of deserted island enjoyed, each have the virtue of containing many, many pages of comics with which one may occupy one’s time. But in terms of reading enjoyment…welllll, let’s look at them in order.

“Age of Apocalypse” was the alternate timeline/universe thingie involving the X-Men, which primarily resulted in all the X-books being put on hold briefly while mini-series featuring new versions of the X-characters existing in whatever this parallel reality was. In concept it’s an interesting idea, and I know people enjoyed it just fine, and it certain sold well…but I’m just generally not an X-Men guy. Nothing against them, really, but it’s just with very rare exceptions am I interested in reading any of their books. I mean, sure, I read it for a while in the ’80s, came back for Grant Morrison’s run, and I’ll still go to bat for the X-Men/Micronauts mini. But, aside from that, I just don’t have any interest.

Yeah yeah, I know, “but Hickman’s X-Men is really good!” I’m sure it is, and honestly I was tempted, but I’m so far behind on everything else I didn’t want to add too much new to the “will read eventually” pile.

Okay, next is the dreaded “Clone Saga,” in which it’s revealed that the clone of Spider-Man that popped up in the ’70s and supposedly died was in fact not dead, and has come back to make the then-current line of Spider-comics unnecessarily complicated. Oh, and it also turned out that it wasn’t the clone that supposedly “died” in that ’70s issue, but rather the real Spider-Man and we’ve been reading the adventures of the clone all this time since. Yup, the fans loved that little revelation. That plot twist got untwisted right quick, of course, but if I recall correctly it did such a number on the Spider-books that Marvel did their first of too many relaunches for Amazing Spider-Man, just to clear the stink of what had come before.

I know there are plenty of readers who grew up with the Clone Saga stuff and enjoy it plenty, but again, just not for me. My Spidery tastes are more Ditko-esque in quality, though I have a soft spot for late ’70s/early ’80s Spider-Men, which is my own earliest newsstand exposure to the character. Now as a Desert Island Comic contender, it has possibilities simply through the sheer number of titles and plot permuations to keep one occupied, but I don’t know how much I would actually enjoy it.

Now “Knightfall” etc., the Batman event where he’s put out of commission and a new fella with much less crimefighting restraint takes over, had my interest as it was coming out, at least for a bit. Another thing in concept that was interesting, with a point to make (“so you want Batman to be more violent? Here’s why you don’t want that”) but it just felt like it draaaaged. The “Knightfall” bit was fine, but just couldn’t get into the rest of the event. Didn’t help that I was just plain bored by Azrael. Just really couldn’t care less about him.

Some nice Kelley Jones work in there, though.

Which comes to the conclusion that probably surprises no one, that the whole “Death/Return of Superman” thing would be my Desert Island Comic choice. It still holds together, it’s a real faster-than-a-speeding-bullet progression of the serial particularly as we neared the climax of the “Return” segment. It is filled with a lot of great art and fun writing that very much entertained me as it was coming out, and still entertained me upon subsequent rereads. And in fact, just thinking about it again makes me want to dip into it one more time. Someone find me a deserted island for me to reread this!

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?”







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 changes to 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

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