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The nexus between price and value.

§ February 27th, 2023 § Filed under publishing, retailing, this calls for hyperspeed, this week's comics § 15 Comments

Nexus by Mike Baron and (usually) Steve Rude has been one of my favorite comics for a long time, dating back to almost, but not quite, the beginning of the series. I started reading Nexus (and Baron’s other book, Badger) when First Comics started publishing them. Fortunately, this was relatively early in both titles’ runs, so picking up the relative handful of previous issues published by Captial Comics wasn’t so onerous a task. However, I did pick up First’s trade paperback reprinting the original three Nexus black and white magazines, instead of buying all the originals. (I did eventually get the third magazine, because of the included flexidisc.)

So anyway, I’ve been a fan for a long time, and look forward to any new material featuring Nexus. After a bit of a dry period, we got some serialized stories in the 2011-4 run of Dark Horse Presents (reprinted as the Into the Past TPB), the Nexus Newspaper Strips TPB (which I think reprints material produced through Kickstarter or something similar, someone correct me), and there was also that 3 or 4 issue run (depending on how you count it) published in 2007 or so by Rude himself.

And then, this past week, we got a new Nexus graphic novel, Nefarious. It’s written by Baron, and illustrated by Richard Bonk, who does a good job, I think, and you can see sample pages over at Dark Horse’s site.

The story is relatively simple…Nexus gets accidenntally stranded on what amounts to being a prison planet without his powers. And, as it turns out, the prisoners may not deserve to be there. It moves quickly, with Nexus gathering allies (and encountering one strange old “friend” that I hadn’t expected to see again) and, probably not a spoiler, going after the person responsible for these unjust imprisonments (and worse).

It feels like classic Nexus, like the pre-First era, in that events are almost…dreamlike in their progression, no time is wasted on long exposition or explanations. Sometimes it is to the detriment of the narrative (like, I’m not sure entirely what happened when Nexus had to prove his identity to a pair of aliens early on…maybe I’m forgetting something from the original series involving that particular race), but overall it’s a fun read.

My main issue with this release is the format and cost. While it’s marketed as a “64 page hardcover” the story itself is 54 pages, with 8 pages presenting black and white copy-free artwork from that story, and a final page with an ad for the newspaper strip book. I know this is a format Dark Horse has used in the past, like with some standalone Hellboy stories (such as 2016’s 56-page Into the Silent Sea for $14.99), but $17.99 for this book seems…just a little too much. Maybe there are publishing and/or economic reasons for not just releasing this as a staplebound one-shot for, I don’t know, $6.99, where it would likely have stronger sales off the new comics rack.

I’m sure “longer shelf life” is a big part of it, and getting it into bookstores, too. But it was bit of a sticker shock when I saw that price. I’m not trying to pick on the Nexus book here, as this format at $14.99 I feel like was pushing it. $17.99 just seems like going a little too far, even with consideration for inflation and such. As a store owner, I have to consider perceived value, what prices would my customers consider reasonable for certain items. This has been a problem as comic periodical prices slowly creep up and up, but graphic novels have, at least, seemed to maintain that price/perceived value balance, more or less. It simply seems to me that this Nexus book is too far on the “less” side, which does a good comic a disservice.

Now I kind of want to see a “Groo Vs. Nexus” series.

§ June 16th, 2014 § Filed under cheese dip, this calls for hyperspeed § 4 Comments

So after my Groo post from last week, there was some lamentation, both on my site and on the Twitters, regarding the lack of easily-accessible Groo reprints. And, sure enough, a quick search of the Diamond Distributors database reveals that only one book, Groo: The Hogs of Horder (a 2010 collection reprinting the most recent series from 2009), is still available for order.

There have been a number of Groo trade paperbacks over the years, with Marvel/Epic reprinting its Groo comics starting with The Groo Adventurer, followed by The Groo Bazaar, and The Groo Carnival and you probably see the pattern by now. When Groo moved to Dark Horse, the paperbacks reprinting the Marvel/Epic run continued there in the same fashion, making it all the way up to The Groo Odyssey in 2003. Dark Horse also reprinted the various Groo mini-series they published, each in their own trade.

I only sorta vaguely remembered that this was going to be a thing, the Groo Treasury which was going to reprint the earliest material, but was held up due to production issues.

That doesn’t explain why the more recent, and presumably more easily accessible, Groo comics that Dark Horse published aren’t still in print, other than possibly a lack of resources to keep them available, particularly with those foreboding Star Wars-less days looming ahead for the publisher. Or that perhaps with the recent gap between new Groo series, there was a perception that the time wasn’t right to focus on keeping those items available versus promoting other product lines. Or maybe the last batch of printings took a while to move and that discouraged any immediate printing of new stock. Or, who knows? I don’t work at Dark Horse, I have no idea.

I’m hoping the about-to-be-unleashed Groo Vs. Conan sells spectacularly, thus encouraging more thoughts about getting old Groo back into print. That any work by Sergio Aragones, one of the world’s greatest living cartoonists, is not in print and prominently featured in every bookstore everywhere, is a damned shame.

• • •

My old pal Cully (you remember Cully, who got to hang with King Jack) asked, in the comments to that same Groo post, the slightly…well, okay, totally off-topic question of “what would be a good Nexus storyline?” Maybe not completely off-topic, since we are talking about good comics, I suppose.

Someone already responded with “the first 50 issues,” which is Nexus in its prime. As long as you have the original creators, Mike Baron and Steve Rude, working together, you’re pretty okay. Those original 50 did have some art fill-ins from time to time, but it all holds together well. (#29 has guest-art by Rick Veitch, and #28 is drawn by Mike Mignola, for example.) The first four issues of the color series were more or less self-contained, and issues 5 through 8 (which carried over the series’s transition from Capital Comics to First Comics) are an extended storyline, guest-starring the Badger, which is a lot of fun.

Unlike Groo, Nexus does have many currently-available reprint volumes. The first Nexus Ominbus contains the original three-issue black and white magazine series, as well as the first eleven issues of the color series, and at the beginning is as good as place as any to start. The b&w issues, and even the earliest color issues, aren’t quite as polished as the later work, which can only be expected, but there is still an excitement and energy to them that is hard to resist.

Also, I know you were asking for someone else, but Cully, read the Nexus: God Con mini. Trust me on this.


§ May 29th, 2013 § Filed under scans, this calls for hyperspeed § 1 Comment

Not to be confused, of course, with Vooper from Nexus:

…though the resemblance to our esteemed former Presidential candidate was not quite as pronounced in Vooper’s first appearance in Nexus #11 back in 1985:

…or in this pic of the character. But then, why would it be? I do remember being — well, even “slightly startled” is too strong a description, maybe “bemused” — at the early ’90s Vooper redesign, because I was the kind of person who worried about that sort of thing suddenly changing in an ongoing series I’m reading. Not like today, where I hardly ever go on at length about costume changes and continuity tweakings. Oh, no.

images from Troll Patrol #1 (January 1993), Nexus: The Wages of Sin #1 (March 1995) and Nexus #11 (August 1985)