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“Save vs. hemorrhaged eye.”

§ December 7th, 2018 § Filed under question time § 3 Comments

Let’s get a few more questions answered here, before I go under the knife and I’m away for the week:

Cassandra Miller foresees

“Who’s right about the Lucky Dime, Magica or Scrooge?”

Ooh, a good question. The Lucky Dime AKA the Number One Dime is, of course, the first dime Uncle Scrooge ever earned, which Magica De Spell believes has imbued it with some mystical essence she could exploit for her own nefarious purposes. As I recall, Scrooge’s own belief in its “magic” comes and goes depending on the story, but in general it’s a highly personal symbol of the wealth that followed.

Given that the main “canon” of Scrooge, as presented by Carl Barks, tends to generally hew towards the “real” mundane world and away from more fanciful explanations, I would say that Scrooge is more correct, more or less. It’s true that “magic” and “luck” and other weirdo stuff exists in the Duckiverse, and there are times when Scrooge is parted from his Lucky Dime and suddenly everything just goes to hell for him, but I would say Scrooge’s fortune arose without any supernatural advantage from ownership of that dime. It simply served as an inspiration for Scrooge, and any of his difficulties that arose from losing said dime were likely psychological in nature, losing an old crutch he depended on to support his financial endeavors.

I’m sure there are comics and TV shows and such I haven’t read that directly contradicts the above, but I think the ultimate answer is, as always, “depends on the needs of the plot.”

• • •

Skyintheairwaves swoops in with

“Mad Magazine has been a ‘thing’ that has seen many phases and highs and lows. But it has a place in so many of our consciousnesses.

What has been the heyday of Mad for you?”

Kind of like how the “Golden Age of comics” is described “whatever you were reading when you were a kid,” what I think of when I consider the definite era of Mad is what I read in the 1970s and very early ’80s. I still think of issues from, say, 1984 as “those newer Mads.” Pretty sure this was during the publication’s era of its largest print runs, so just by sheer numbers this may be the definitive version for most people, featuring the classic cartoonists and features that comprise the Platonic ideal of a Mad.

I was exposed to earlier Mad, mostly thanks to an uncle who passed his copies down to me…but mostly still within the ’70s, from the earlier part of the decade as opposed to the latter half where I was getting my hands on them, but were still mostly the same (but with more gags about Nixon and hippies). It was when I got my hands on the occasional copy of an early ’60s era issue, where it was like “Dave Berg’s art looks different, and where are the Marginals, and why are there weird jokes written in the margins instead?” — they just felt slightly off to me. Recognizably Mad, just not my Mad.

• • •

Rob Staeger stages the following

“What novel that has never gotten a comic book adaptation do you think deserves one?”

Isaac Asimov’s Foundation. I mean, like, the whole thing. The trilogy, the prequel, the follow-ups, the novels from other Asimovian franchises that tie in, the whole enchilada. You thought the comic book adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand was a mountain of a project? Wait ’til you get a load of this. In some parallel universe, adapting all of Asimov’s novels into comic book form is the sole purpose and publishing concern of Positronic Comics, Inc.

• • •

Andrew Davison sneaks in with

“Do you visit other comic book establishments to see how they do things? What disguises do you normally use? A rubber mask, a la Mission Impossible, or stage makeup and wig, a la 50’s Batman?”

One time, very early on, a fella that used to shop at our store opened up a store in a neighboring town (long gone…the store, not the town). Just out of curiosity, I popped in to take a look and see what was goin’ on, but not with any specific plan to see what his display or marketing strategies or whatever. Later we heard that he was talkin’ up the fact that “oh yeah, a guy from the other store checked me out, they must be worried!” so I kind of put an end to that.

In the years since, particularly on the rare occasion I was out of town, I’d drop by other stores, mostly to shop for myself, and to some limited extent to see what they’re carrying and how it’s laid out and sometimes think how lucky our customers were they weren’t shopping at this store. Haven’t done that in a long time.

Nowadays, if I’m going to other shops, they’re usually shops run by people I actually know, and if I’m there, I’m either doing some horsetrading, or just saying “hi,” or picking up some of my UPS shipment from Diamond that got misrouted to the wrong comic store (which happened at least once in recent months). Thus, I’m otherwise occupied and not really there to steal…comic secrets. Or…am I?

• • •

philfromgermany drops in the last question for today

“Considering the TWERPS shout-out you must have at least a passing knowledge of pen & paper D&D and their ilk.

“Have you ever read any Knights of the Dinner Table and if so, who’s your favorite character?

“Is it selling at your store?”

Phil is referring to this post, where I dropped in a reference to Twerps, the simple and bargain-priced role-playing game that used only one die, and utilized characters with only one stat (Strength). We sold quite a a few of these at my previous place of employment, though I wonder how many sold because people just wanted the small-sized 20-sided die included with the game.

While RPGs aren’t my particular passion, I do have some familiarity with them simply from my years of carrying large stocks of them at the old job. Plus, I sold a lot of vintage gaming materials on eBay when they showed up in collections (some of which you can see in this site category). I don’t do anything in new gaming materials currently at my shop, but I wouldn’t object to dealing in more of the old items. I always found those fun.

Knights of the Dinner Table does sell at my store…not a lot, but it has its fans. If I had to pick a favorite character…well, Brian is just so hilariously single-minded when it comes to gaming, but Bob is just plain bonkers. It’s hard to choose!

• • •

Okay, pals, don’t forget I’m taking the next week off from the site following my eye procedure, so I’ll see you on the other side!

“Not to be morbid,” he says.

§ November 28th, 2018 § Filed under question time § 5 Comments

So I need to get back to your questions, but first, let me address the one left for me recently by JohnJ on this post:

“The two versions of Sgt.Rock #400 cover prompt me to ask you this question, have you ever had a customer who preferred newsstand covers versus direct market? Someone who thought that what was in the UPC box made a substantial difference to the comic?
I know one retailer who thinks newsstand covers triple the price on back issues and wondered how you stood on that difference.”

By and large, I don’t think there’s a significant difference. If there is a difference in price and collectability, it’s generally the result of something other than just the UPC code or lack thereof. Like, cover image differences (such as the Spider-Man/Mary Jane wedding issue, though honestly I haven’t looked at compared prices/demand on those in a while). I think some of the early Image releaes had newsstand editions that were a little harder to find in the direct market (like Spawn and WildC.A.T.s ) with UPC codes and, I believe, different paper stock on the covers. There was a little demand for those once upon a time (particularly the non-foil covered newsstand edition of WildC.A.T.s #2) but I haven’t had anyone ask about those lately.

I mean, I don’t know…it hasn’t really come up too much, and I’ve sold a lot of back issues to a lot of people over the last three decades. Aside from situations like the above, where there’s an actual difference between the two versions, I haven’t had anyone just wanting the covers with Spidey’s face in the little white box instead of a bunch of lines and numbers. But, you know, to each his own.

Okay, back to the salt mines! ExistentialMan gets existential, man, with this:

“So, you’ve been doing this comicbookin’ retail thing for quite a while now. Although it’s clearly kept you virile, young-looking, and famously wealthy, I’m curious about your plans for the future and, eventually, retirement. I’ve ssen a number of retailers retire over the years (most of them very successfully). Do you envision calling it quits at a certain age?”

Well, I don’t know if I’ll ever straight up retire, unless my business suddenly becomes The One Comic Book Store Left Standing and I’m suddenly carrying away buckets of cash to the bank. Instead, I suspect I’ll keep my hand in, turning over day-to-day operations to a trusted employee, or robot, while still drawing income as the evil taskmaster of the business. I can’t imagine I’ll be behind the counter forever and ever until…well, not to be morbid, but I want to go off to that great Comic Book Convention in the, um, let’s say Sky in the comfort of my own bed, not sprawled out over a pile of X-O Manowars I was in the process of bagging.

• • •

Dave Carter asks Yet Another question:

“As a comic shop owner, what do you see as the biggest challenge for your retail establishment over the next year? Over the next five years?”

The biggest thing is just trying to maintain sales in the face of publisher shenanigans, as relaunch after reboot after renumbering erodes consumer confidence. Plus, the rising prices of the periodical format is always going to be an issue…I don’t think the periodical comic is going away, or even really on the verge of changing that much, but I feel like folks are really at their limit as to how much they’re willing to spend for a single issue. And I don’t think the Big Two, especially Marvel, are ready for a trade-only model. Whatever change that’ll happen is going to be a rough one to ride out.

Aside from that, there are the more practical concerns…rising costs of simply running the business (rent and utilities ain’t goin’ down), increased competition from new shops, an economy that’s all over the map, the fragility of my own human body…you know, cheery stuff like that.

• • •

Patrick Gaffney pours out

“Who can drink more? Thor or Hulk?”

We know, from our studies at Stan Lee University, that the madder Hulk gets, the stronger he gets, so there’s some sort of energy source that exists within him to fuel this increase in his capabilities. Like, there’s this giant radioactive engine inside him, powered by that long-ago Gamma Bomb burst, that flares hotter with Hulk’s emotions. I believe the Official Marvel Universe Handbook has noted that “there could be no upper limit” to this rise in strength. So, as his anger increase, the radiation-borne effects in his body increase, generating more energy, and presumably anything the Hulk would have consumed would probably go toward feeding this upward output. Thus, assuming Hulk is in an agitated enough state, I could see any drink he imbibed being immediately converted to bolster his physical abilities.

But then again, Thor is magic, which could supersede my 100& entirely scientific explanation. So let me go to the fallback answer…”depends on whose comic the drinking contest appears in.”

That X-Men cover never fails to make me laugh, because I’m a bad person.

§ November 16th, 2018 § Filed under question time § 8 Comments

Sorry, was too pooped to post these last few nights, but here I am again, still alive and mostly aware. Let’s dip back into your questions from a little while ago:

Hooper Triplett doubles down on

“Outside of nostalgia and/or habit, why should I buy single printed issues instead of digital or print collections?”

Well…yeah, sure, that’s a good question. It all comes down to personal preference, I suppose, though there had been the economic reason of a periodical not lasting long enough to get a trade because of the perception that people were waiting for the trade and thus didn’t get enough sales to keep going. That was a tricky balance (Fables always stood out to me as one of comics that seems to maintain the right measure of “people reading the monthlies” vs. “waiting for the collections”). I don’t know how much digital downloads have affected that particular division, if those sales would be enough to subsidize the continued printing of physical copies of a title underperforming in the direct market.

Anyway, trying to pick one format over the other strictly for economic reasons (both the publishers’ and your own) is beside the point: you need to read comics in whatever way is preferable and convenient to you, naturally. I personally prefer having the monthly (or biweekly, or semi-annual) magazines in hand, as they’re just easier for me to read and enjoy in smaller doses, versus waiting for an eventual collection to plow through (though I don’t mind those for older material). And my brief dabblings in digital make for a novel experience, but I just like having the actual comic in hand when I have a choice.

So read ’em however you like, Hooper! Just be sure to buy plenty of them from me.

• • •

Kirk beams in the following

“Where did your love of Swampy & Sluggo begin & do you also love Sgt. Rock ( please say yes )?”

I shared the origin of my Sluggo love way back when, back when I thought I was going to end my Sluggo Saturday posts. In short: a friend turned me on to Nancy and Sluggo in particular, and I hope over the years I turned some of you on to them as well.

My love of Swamp Thing came about through a combination of finding a couple of issues of the original series in a used book store (oddly enough, not Wein ‘n’ Wrightson issues, but these two), and this very early Nickelodeon program I discussed here about five years ago (which did feature Wein ‘n’ Wrightson). That’s pretty much where it all began!

And yes, don’t you worry…I do love Sgt. Rock comics as well. Didn’t read nearly as many of those as I should, but I did have a few scattered issues and a digest reprint and that one team-up with Superman. I specifically remember buying this issue and this one off the racks at the local convenience markets.

Always found Sgt. Rock comics to be well-illustrated, usually short, punchy self-contained stories, that ran the gamut from tragic to heroic to sometimes a tad preachy but generally just preachy enough. They were essentially the Platonic ideal of A War Comic, and it’s a shame that specific kind of book is missing from the stands.

King of the Moon crowns me with

“Greatest hero who got their powers from a space wizard horse:
Alex Power, Julie Power, Jack Power or Katie Power?”

I’m gonna have to say Katie, because she’s the Power Pack member featured on this, the greatest X-Men cover of all time:

They should get Skottie Young to finish up Big Numbers.

§ October 31st, 2018 § Filed under question time § 12 Comments

Here I am with more unsatisfying answers to your inquiries:

Gareth Wilson reaches new frontiers with

“Which comic book had the best stories about exploring new worlds?”

Huh. That’s the kind of vague-ish question I occasionally get at the shop that sounds like it should be easy to answer but…I don’t know, can be hard to nail down sometimes. Taken literally, as in “going to new planets in outer space in a sci-fi type way” there are plenty of anthology titles published over the years with weird alien landscapes and critters and situations. Classics like Weird Science or Mystery in Space, or newer (er, relatively speaking) comics like Alien Worlds which pretty much has it right in the title there. For comics with more of a continuing narrative, there’s Black Science from Image, with folks bouncing from dimension to dimension. And there’s Legion of Super-Heroes and the various permutations of Star Trek, I suppose, though those would be far more superficial a take on the “new worlds” thing.

Oh, there’s Stellar from Image, too…I’ve only read the first issue so far (picked it up because I love Bret Blevins’s art) but that looks like it may be up this particular alley as well.

I’ve sure there are others that will come to mind after I hit the “PUBLISH” button on this post, but that’s probably a good start, I think!

• • •

Matthew suggests:

“…Maybe write about some never-to-be-finished comic book stories/series. (And not just Sonic Disruptors.)”

Sonic Distruptors was one of those comic series I was enjoying but got cut down in its prime…and I swear I saw a news blurb in the comics press at the time that a one-short or graphic novel or whatever was going to come out wrapping up the series, but of course that didn’t happen. I’ve written a little about it on this site in the past, but look to pal Andrew and his post for the best take on the situation.

Grimjack is another one I’ve mentioned before, where the forward progression of the story has halted. It wasn’t so much cut off mid-story like Sonic Disruptors — there was an ending to that final storyline — but more was definitely planned, continuing the ongoing Grimjack saga. It’s unusual in that there have been newer mini-series featuring the character, but they were essentially flashback tales involving the “classic” Grimjack and not the Grimjack that he had eventually evolved into.

And of course there was the Helfer/Baker Shadow, and Eye of Mongombo which I talked about way back in the very beginnings of this site, so I’m sure all the links are kaput by now. I seem to recall that cartoonist maybe emailing me or leaving a note in the now-deceased Haloscan comments that he planned on bringing the title back to finish it up, but I never saw that he did. Too bad.

Let’s not forget 1963, which is like the patron saint of this sort of thing. Or Big Numbers, which hadn’t really grabbed me as of its second and, as it turned out, final issue, but I was looking forward to to reading through ’til the end anyway. I’d also love to see more of Journey: Wardrums, too.

I was kinda digging this adaptation of the Illuminatus Trilogy, too, but they didn’t want it to finish. You know…them.

More recently there was that Badger revival, which far as I can tell never put out its last issue.

There are no end to series that never reached their intended conclusions, of course. What’s nice is that there is the occasional happy ending, play on words intended, with new collections of previously unfinished comics. I’ve talked about the Puma Blues hardcover before. I thought I talked about the Border Worlds volume on my site here, but I guess I missed it…but that book adds a new 30-page chapter that, despite the publisher’s description, doesn’t exactly conclude things, but is at least more of a stopping point than where it left off before.

So, you know, it’s possible that some of these interrupted comics can get the conclusions they need. Well, maybe not 1963, since it seems unlikely that particular band will ever get back together, but sometimes I think about stocking a complete 1963 hardcover that I’d have to reorder on a regular basis and I get a small tear just in the corner of my eye.

That was more than one question, but I had joke answers so I’ll let it slide.

§ October 24th, 2018 § Filed under indies, question time, retailing § 5 Comments

Let’s tackle another one of your questions! BRIAN, YOU’RE UP:

“1. What is your name?”

Michael Ricardo Anatoly Sterling.

“2. What is your quest?”

“3. What is your favorite color?”

Squant.

“4. Probably something that you’ve discussed before, but I’ve missed it, but I’m curious how you go about sorting back issues in the age of constant reboots and New Number Ones (including volumes that slightly change the name on occasion and then change it back). Being a fellow child of age of long runs, where a title might have hundreds of issues to be put in the bin together, I’m curious how it’s done differently when major titles aren’t aiming at Major Anniversary Issues.”

I did go into some detail about this just under a year ago, when pal Cathy posed that question to me. The short answer is basically labeling new title dividers with names and dates to identify series (for example, “Venom [2018 series]”). That admittedly does make the back issue bins appear a bit cluttered, particularly since a lot of these series (especially at Marvel) tend to run short and get relaunched anyway, making for smaller sections, but that seems to be the best way to avoid confusion.

There are a handful of titles where I just haven’t separated out the newer series from the older series, partially from no huge demand (or simple lack of backstock) for a specific title, or not wanting to put yet another title divider on the table, or just sheer laziness. But on the whole, more information is better for customer awareness than less information, so I do try to properly I.D. everything.

Not everything gets its own title divider, of course. I do have, like, an “X-MEN MISC.” section for the piles of mutant mini-series or short-run titles…though sometimes something graduates to its own section. And sometimes if there’s a small run of something related to a longer running title, I might just put the smaller run in the back of the box of the main run…like putting Groo Chronicles in the back of the Groo the Wanderer section.

It can be a real…well, I don’t want to say “mess,” but it certainly is some work keeping on top of it.

• • •

ThomH dares to inquire

“I like it when you discuss old independent comics that I’ve never heard of (a la Jupiter most recently).

“Anything else you’ve read and enjoyed but maybe not talked up on the blog in a while (or at all)?

“I’d love to be pointed in the direction of something interesting, wacky, weird, or just plain awesome.

“Thanks!”

Oh, don’t thank me yet!

I suppose one old indie title I really liked that I’ve never really mentioned here is Ralph Snart Adventures by Marc Hansen.

It has a slightly convoluted publishing history involving multiple series…and going back to the previous question, at the previous place of employment I had them all filed in the same section with notations on the price tags as to which series was which. And, if you pulled up the title divider, I had written on body of the divider which issues comprised which volume of the series, as the price guides at the time had it all messed up. …Probably should’ve made sections for each series, but what can I tell you.

But the series itself…it’s kinda sorta an anthology title with our titular hero as the recurring character in a variety of wild, usually contradictory, adventures from issue to issue. The thread pulling everything together is that Snart has, well, been driven nuts by the pressures of life and is stuck in an asylum, while his brain generates strange and fantastic scenarios in which he may engage. The set-up is a little…well, the idea of “this guy is crazy and his crazy brain invents crazy stuff!” is perhaps not the most sensitive portrayal of mental health issues, but me describing it is probably worse than actually reading it in context. So blame me, not Mr. Hansen.

Anyway, the story functions on two levels…the internal fantasy life of Mr. Snart, and the “real world” shenanigans, mostly revolving around nefarious forces trying to harness the unusual imagination power of Snart’s brain…I seem to recall at least one cliffhanger where his brain has actually been removed from his body! Don’t worry, it gets put back (SPOILER).

If you can get around the set-up, the comics themselves are pretty funny, and Hansen has this great, lumpy cartooning style. It’s been a while since I’ve read ’em, and of course writing about it here makes me want to read them again. Like, you know, I have time. Ah, well, I still have them…didn’t give those up to my store when I opened it up!

If you do seek out Ralph Snart comics, keep in mind that there are some non-Hansen issues…The Lost Issues is all non-Hansen, so avoid. Also, the black and white Volume Two that ran 9 issues is reprinted in color in the first nine issues of the 26-issue long Volume Three. You can find previews of various issues here, along with some extensive descriptions that would probably give you a better idea about this series than my meandering typing here.

• • •

Okay, more questions answered next time, probably! Add more to the pile if you’d like!

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

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

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

William opens the gate to the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

File under “death, beaten to.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let the answering of questions begin!

§ October 15th, 2018 § Filed under publishing, question time § 12 Comments

Here’s Paul, filling my comment section with this, the first question from this post I’m addressing:

“What is the current winner in the “Longest Delayed Issue” contest? Completion of a mini-series, etc. Please feel free to discourse on this title as much as you wish:”

…which he follows with a mention of the never-released follow-up to the as-yet-unfinished comics classic All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder by Frank “The Spirit” Miller and Jim “Put a Collar on Everybody” Lee.

Now, I’d meant to bring home my copy of the Überstraße comical book pricing guide for research purposes, but dumb ol’ me left it sitting on the front counter at work, so what’cha gonna do. So, I’m going to depend on online databases like the Grand Comics Database for my info here.

For the purposes of argument, let’s just consider series that did have a follow-up issue after an extended pause in publication (which would leave out something like that All Star Batman follow-up, which is more theoretical at this point anyway, not to mention technically being a separate mini-series aside from the original).

The first thing that comes to mind is of course Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk, a six part mini-series that had a three-year gap right in the middle there. That’s one of the more obnoxious examples of this sort of thing.

However, there’s an even longer gap from another Marvel title: the 1990s Ghost Rider series, which ended at #93 in 1998 even though an issue #94 had been intended to wrap up the series, sales (and orders!) just didn’t warrant the expense to publish it! Eventually, Marvel did publish #94 as an extra-sized special in 2007, 9 years later, which included a reprint of #93 as well as the heretofore unpublished #94, finally bringing closure to that run.

Then I suppose there’s the legendary underground comic Zap Comix, which published #15 of its run in 2005, and #16 (the final issue, supposedly) in 2016. I mean, this is slightly different from the other examples, in that its not a serialized story that was suddenly interrupted, keeping everyone in suspense until the shocking conclusion was released. …I mean, I suppose once you start looking into undergrounds, there may be all kinds of long publication gaps between issues like this. That’s a whole ‘nother ball of research.

Then there are circumstances like this one, where a Buck Rogers #1 was released in 1964, and then 15 years later, in 1979, when the title was revived due to the TV series, the comic continued with an issue #2. I feel for the Buck Rogers fan who picked up #2 on the stands and lamented that he just missed the first issue, surely containing a prequel to the television show.

I guess I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Miracleman, which doesn’t quite fit the criteria I established above in that it hasn’t yet had the follow-up to its final issue in 1993, and the continuation would have had a newly numbered series anyway. But Marvel came close, coming within a couple of issues in its recent reprint series to finally getting to the promised new material. Had that come out when expected, that would have been a 23 year gap. And though it wouldn’t have had “#25” on the cover, it would have been “The Silver Age” Part 3, so maybe we can consider that the numbering system that was so cruelly interrupted. It’s all a moot point anyway, since those new Miracleman stories don’t appear to be arriving anytime soon, and frankly I’m surprised Marvel hasn’t thrown some version of Marvelman into the Avengers or whatever, and try to recoup whatever money and resources they put into acquiring the character.

Oh, and I just remembered Amazing Fantasy, which had a somewhat famous issue #15 in 1962, followed by #16, #17 and #18 in 1995. Plus, there were all those Blackest Night books that purported to be the next issue after each series’ last issue (like Atom and Hawkman, ending with #45 in 1968, getting a new one-shot event tie-in special #46 in 2010). I’m not sure I’d count these specific cases as “interrupted series runs” as clearly these next issues weren’t part of the plan when the original series were canned.

Well, that’s certainly a lot of typing. Paul, these are the best examples I can think of off the top of my head. I haven’t yet looked into the Disney conics, as I’m pretty sure here there are some lengthy publication gaps, particularly in the 1970s. Admittedly I got a bit off track near the end there, so if anyone can think of any series with lengthy publication gaps that retain their actual numbering, and clearly were meant to continue on but got horribly delayed (as opposed to my examples where a series definitely had its ending, but then had follow-up issues that continued the numbering), just let me know.

Gimme Qs to A.

§ October 8th, 2018 § Filed under question time § 24 Comments

I’m well on my way to having the new End of Civilization post ready…but alas, there’s too much stuff and I’m not going to get it done in time for Monday.

So what do you get? You get QUESTION TIME! Yup, that’s right, ask me a comics-related question (just one per person, please) in the comments, and I’ll do my best to give you an answer. Hopefully I won’t take as long as last time, where I dragged out the proceedings for about, what, 20 years or so?

Anyway, ask away in the comments, and I’ll give you answers as opportunity arises. Again, just ONE QUESTION PER PERSON, PLEASE. Or just one topic suggestion…I’ll take those, too! I do reserve the right to reject questions/suggestions, because I’m a jerk.

Okay, back to producing the End of Civilization…I’ll have it up shortly.

Underwear that’s fun to wear.

§ February 19th, 2018 § Filed under question time, superman § 8 Comments

So last time I was wrapping up my responses to that long-ago call for reader questions, and I ended with a more recent question asked by a certain Mr. Hal Shipman. His question was regarding the recent news of the return of Superman’s red trunks, which had been discarded during the New 52 reboot a few years back. He wondered if that was actually going to be the official costume here on out, or if that was just hype for some covers and pin-ups that would have the red trunks and that was it.

Going by what I’d read about the re-trunkening thus far, it seemed like, yes, Superman’s duds would no longer lack the shorts. If I’d waited just a tad longer, however, I would have had access to an even more complete and official answer to the question via one of the comic news sites:

“…There will be an in-story explanation for why Superman has decided to go back to displaying his red trunks outside of his costume again.”

…which appears to be occurring in new regular Superman writer Brian Michael Bendis’s story in Action Comics #1000. Of course, I can’t wait to hear what that explanation will be…”Oh, they’ve been in the wash.” “These aren’t shorts…on my world they stand for Hope.” “Gah, Batman bought these for me for Christmas, I have to wear ’em or I’ll hurt his feelings.” “Um, the local parents groups have been complaining about me being too, uh, revealing.”

Or, of course, there’s always the scenario I laid out here, which would make Action #1000 a Doomsday Clock tie-in, something we’d all want, I’m sure.

The other thing in that quote is the specific mention of “displaying his red trunks outside of his costume again,” which could imply he’s been wearing them this whole time, just under that blue armor or whatever. Could just be reading too much in the statement, which, honestly, I almost never do on this site.

Anyway, Hal, there’s as complete an answer as I can give you about the current status of Superman’s red trunks, without having the actual issue in front of me so I can describe the event in excruciating panel-by-panel detail: “OKAY, ONE LEG’S IN THE HOLE…what happens in panel TWO, I wonder?”

As a follow-up to a comment I made near the end of the last post, where I said I didn’t see exactly what was “new” about the costume, which I’ll picture here again:


…’twas David G what solved the mystery, as I missed Superman’s new sleeve cuffs. Those little angular things that I suppose are evoking the look of the tops of the boots, but for all the world just remind me of Wonder Woman‘s logo. …I guess I can give ’em that, so long as we never see that terrible collar again, but I give ’em like a year before artists just forget or straight-up stop on purpose drawing those cuffs into every panel that “needs” ’em.

Next step, of course, is getting Henry Cavill into those trunks for the next four or five Justice League movies. Or maybe going back and digitally adding trunks back into various films and cartoons from the last few years. …And as long as I’m on the topic, let’s see Justice League: The Moustache Cut too. I mean, why not.

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