Taxing your patience with more comment responses.

§ April 18th, 2022 § Filed under retailing § 6 Comments

Yes indeedy, you folks keep bringing up topics in the comments that I want to answer here. And also yes, someday, I will get back to variant cover-age — I’m not done yet! — but I want to get to these responses out while we’re all still young and hearty.

First off, from not too terribly long ago, the King of the Moon crowned me with

“I used to pop in on my LCS during weekday times I knew would be slow because it was the best time to get good conversation and recommendations from the person behind the counter who was also a ;’well known comics blogger'”

Aaiieee, keep your fingers away from that blogger’s gnashing teeth, they’re all pretty much like Gollum.

Anyway, I literally have no idea if that was a veiled reference to me personally (I mean, a guy working in a comic shop who has a blog? How many of those can there be). But yes, a vital part of working in a comic shop is chatting with the customers, helping them find books to read, that sort of thing. There is a balance to strike, though, in between being “Helpful Dude at he Shop” and “Oh God He’s Coming to Talk to Us About Swamp Thing Again.” I may have told the story about going into a watch store at a mall (remember malls?) and trying to find a gift, but the employees there would not stop trying to chat with me and I couldn’t focus on shopping. I ended up bailing on that store and buying a watch elsewhere.

That’s really what I’m trying to avoid. I mean, that’s different from a customer coming up and talking to me and asking me stuff and engaging in conversation willingly, which is more what you’re talking about.

I think those of you who read my bloggering here on the site and then meet me in person are a tiny bit surprised at how relatively taciturn I am compared to the endless typing I make you all endure. Not that I don’t say anything, just I’m not quite as…verbose, or even semi-eloquent In Real Life as I am online. Over the years I believe I have become a little better at yakking it up with the folks in the shop, if only because I’m the captain and sole crewmate of the good ship Sterling Silver Comics and if not me talking, then who?

However, I believe it was our pal Tegan O’Neil who once said I write like I speak. I’m pretty sure that was meant as a compliment, but perhaps that also means my perception of myself as a tongue-tied funnybook purveyor is a bit off.

• • •

JohnJ does declare

“Your mention of Swamp Thing makes me ask if you’re aware of Rifftrax and the Kickstarter for this August’s Rifftrax Live! showing of Return of Swamp Thing. They’ve got a cool t-shirt designed for fans with art of Swampy carrying Heather Locklear. You don’t mention that movie nearly as often as you plug The Spirit (Frank Miller’s unauthorized Daredevil movie, I’ve always thought) so I just thought I would mention it.”

Yeah, I do lean kinda heavily on the Frank Miller’s The Spirit thingie, only because that’s funnier. I mean, it’s funnier to me, which is the only valid metric by which such things are judged.

But yes, I am absolutely a proud Kickstarter backer of the Return of Swamp Thing Rifftrax edition:

I am a long time fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, from which Rifftrax was born, and I have enjoyed plenty of Rifftrax’s offerings as well. For those unfamiliar, Rifftrax offers downloadable “commentary tracks” of movie-mocking jokes you can listen to while watching the mocked movie in question…or you can get the movies with the humorous tracks already embedded in the soundtrack. Return of Swamp Thing will be one of the latter.

In fact, like it says in the pic there, it’ll be a live show, recorded from a theatrical performance where they “riff” the movie in front of an audience. I found during MST3K creator Joel Hodgson’s simliar project “Cinematic Titanic,” I enjoyed the live performances quite a bit more over the studio ones. I liked the studio ones fine, but I enjoyed hearing the audience laughter, the occasional flubbed line from one of the performers, etc. Same with the Rifftrax output…the live stuff just feels more organic. Yes, I know it’s all equally scripted, but I like hearing the audience laugh, what can I tell you.

I didn’t support the Swamp Thing Rifftrax at a level that would have put my name in the DVD/Blu-Ray’s credits, but I will be getting the t-shirt (don’t wear t-shirts much any more, but I’ll still love to have it!) and the enamel pin, and the Blu-Ray, plus all sorts of digital downloads and extra material (including other riffed shorts, and I think an audio riff track for Cats). Anyway, they really piled on the extras, so I’m looking forward to all this nonsense.

• • •

Daniel wonders

“If you hadn’t gone into comics retail as a career, do you think you’d still be a comics fan/reader today?”

I’m pretty sure I still would be. I’m interested enough, invested enough, in certain creators and comics that I would keep following them, even if maybe the books would be harder for me to track down. I’m always going to want to see what Sergio Aragonés and the Hernandez Brothers are up to, for example. And I’ll always follow Swamp Thing comics, and Hulk stuff, Green Lantern, and the Superman books (though to be honest the whole Warworld story in Action, now entering its 34th year, is beginning to wear a little).

I don’t know that I’d read as many comics as I…try to do, anyway. I’m going through bit of a thing lately where I still have a large backlog of books stemming from that period where my eye problems were keeping me from reading anything. While I’ve had good luck of late in preventing any rebleeds in my eyes from happening and obscuring my vision again, my vision is impacted enough to where I can’t read nearly as quickly as I used to.

Combined with the fact that I don’t even have as much time to read them anymore, that backlog isn’t getting any smaller. I try to read all the new comics I pick up now, but even as few as they may be, that doesn’t leave much time for digging back into the older pile. I may be just cutting my losses and returning stuff to the shop. I’ve no idea.

That’s getting a little off topic from your question, Daniel, but it’s just stuff I’ve been thinking about lately. I like reading comics, but one of the ironies of owning a comic shop is having less time to read comics, even if you don’t have eyes that explode on you on occasion.

But yes, I’d still read comics if I didn’t work in a shop. Would I still be a comics blogger? All my early online stuff, on local BBSes and early AOL message boards, stemmed from my working in a comic book store, so I feel like my comic book internetting is heavily tied to that. Maybe I’d been involved in the online comics community in some respect, but as just a mere commoner, not the high falutin’ comics retailer whose majestic presence is before you now.

• • •

Roel thus spake

“What are the logistics for transferring a pull list? Is there a payment for each customer name?”

Roel is referring to my previous place of employment sending its pull list customers to another shop near its location, due to shutting down. I’m not privy to the details, so I don’t know if there was a specific price attributed to the customer base for the pull lists, or if it was just kinda lumped in with everything else. To be honest, I’m not sure how I would price that out if I were selling my business to another company. There is a value, but what is it? Do you charge $(X) for this one customer, but $(5X) for that customer who gets a lot more set aside for him? Or just make a rough estimate based on the pulls in total.

When I opened up my own shop, a number of the pull lists there came with me. Mostly mail order pulls, plus a handful of pulls from customers who lived closer to my shop than the old one. They were basically just handed over to me out of good will. Maybe that happened in this newer case, just handing the info over and making sure the customers had a smooth transition, figuring it’s just part of the lump cost of the business’s sale. Again, I haven’t the foggiest.

Okay, that’s enough typing for now. Thanks for reading, pals.

I’m making a lot of assumptions, I realize.

§ April 15th, 2022 § Filed under market crash, retailing § 5 Comments

So way back when on that post I made about Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #1’s solicitation, Chris V flew in with

“I never realized that Turok was considered a sales failure. I was always under the impression that it sold really well.”

To be fair, I did state that first issue experienced “relative sales failure (relative to its massively excessive orders, I mean).” I’m sure it did sell an enormous number of copies. There had been a lot of anticipation for it at the time, after all. But as I said, compared to the huge numbers retailers actually ordered and still had stuck in their backrooms (until they were dumped in the shredder, natch)…well, it didn’t sell up to preorder expectations.

It was technically a success for Valiant, as they still got paid for all the copies they shipped. (Though it was perhaps the beginning of the beginning of the beginning of the end for that iteration of the company.) But it was a marketplace failure, in that many copies were left unsold, and it was a retailer failure, most of them ordering way too many to begin with.

The comic because one of the symbols of the excesses of 1990s comics retailing, maybe not directly causing that decade’s market crash but it certainly didn’t prevent it. As such, despite actually being a not half-bad comic, it gets lumped in with Deathmate and other ill-received books from the time, symptoms of a sick marketplace that needed to get worse before it got (slightly) better.

More of your questions/comments responded to next week! Stay tuned!

“His shadow — advantageous!”

§ April 13th, 2022 § Filed under publishing § 11 Comments

Going to jump around a bit addressing some of your recent questions left in my comments sections, starting with this one that Thom H. though nobody would notice. I SEE ALL, THOMATHAN:

“Not sure if anyone will actually see this, but I just realized my copy of Miracleman #23 has a printing error. Some of the art is cut off at the top and some is cut off at the bottom, depending on the page. Does that make it worth a lot more money now?”

I took a look at my own copy of this comic, and it doesn’t appear to have any printing issues like that, and I don’t recall hearing about any widespread printing problems with this issue, so it could be you have a relatively unique item. The big question, though, is “does anybody care?” when it comes to additional collectibility.

The answer is usually “who the hell can tell” particularly in today’s market, where just about anything and everything can become a reason to inflate a price.

I would say one of the most famous of the printing-error books is Venom: Lethal Protector #1, where mistakes make in the application (or lack thereof) of the foil enhancements resulted in the “black” variant and at least one white variant (which I hadn’t heard of ’til looking up this link for the post you’re reading now).

In this Venom comic’s case, those variants do admittedly look very striking, and one can see how they would attract extra demand. As per the links a couple of paragraphs above, a small miscolored patch on an Amazing Spider-Man cover is…a tad more inexplicable as to why anyone would give a poop, but a miscolored Galactus in only part of the print-run is more understandable.

But a trimming error in the interior pages? The wide net cast by collectors trawling for any reason to create an investable item has yet to dredge that up, far as I can tell. Though things change fast, and for all I know “OCCUPY AVENGERS #4, CENTER PAGES MISCUT IN HALF, RARE H@T” will turn up on eBay at any moment.

• • •

Roel Torres asked in response to my Solson post earlier in the week (see, told you I’d be jumping around):

“Mike, are Quadro Gang and Shadow of the Groundhog the worst comics you’ve ever encountered?”

Okay. I try to be as charitable as I can be when it comes to comics. “It’s not for me” is, I think, a fair response to any book that I don’t happen to care for. Admittedly, I’ve come down hard on comics that are very not for me, but it’s been more of a sarcastic or silly disdain than any real hatred (I’ve used Purgatori as a punchline once or twice, for example).

In the case of Quadro Gang (which gets a full evisceration here — thanks to MisterJayEm for the link), I would say in its defense that it at least seems sincere. The cartoonist had characters she created, and stories she wanted to tell, and by golly that’s what she did. She printed up comics, and they were distributed to stores.

I realize that intention doesn’t make a comic good, and this comic was…not your typical professionally polished comic book. But there is at least an attempt at making content, at telling stories, and for that alone I would put Quadro Gang above something like Shadow of the Groundhog.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve looked in a copy of Shadow of the Groundhog, so it’s very possible a fresh reread would alter my opinion. But until then, my opinion is that it was a cynical attempt at riding the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles coattails, getting stores to put their money into another new small-press black and white comic in case that Turtle lightning would strike twice. And that the artwork and writing inside only existed because shipping a collectible item only intended for investment and not for reading with blank pages was, as yet, a bridge too far.

Again, just my opinion. Maybe this was just as apparently-sincere an attempt at comic book making as Quadro Gang. The black and white boom inspired a lot of people to get into the business of making comic books, for different reasons — being able to tell the stories they wanted to tell, or making a quick buck from a volatile marketplace. I happen to think Groundhog was more the latter than the former, but I’m willing to be told I”m wrong.

These were both obviously amateurly-produced comics, and, despite whatever motivation brought about their existence, I think it’s safe to say on an objective level, they’re not very good. But when you get right down to it, are they The Worst?

In the early 1990s, Kitchen Sink put out a two-part series called the World’s Worst Comics Awards, which went through a bunch of professionally-published comics from Major Comic Book Publishing Companies and dunked on how dumb some of them were. Basically this comic was the forefather of comics blogs, which I think my blogging brother Andrew once pointed out. And frankly, I think buying a comic from what is supposedly a Real Publisher that knows what it’s doing and ending up with a real stinker is worse than some vanity-press book by amateurs.

And by “stinker,” I don’t mean “oh, that story wasn’t very good.” I mean, “this shouldn’t have made it past an editor” kind of stuff. Specifically, I’m thinking of an issue of Avengers that looked like it was drawn by a child. Or many comics in the ’90s that only seemed to be released because pages needed to be filled and they just ran what they got. And even Charlton Comics should have been better than this.

So I don’t know if that entirely answers your question, Roel. Small press books by amateurs are one thing, but outright junk from companies that supposedly apply some quality control is another.

A Lonely Place of Shopping.

§ April 11th, 2022 § Filed under retailing § 8 Comments

Let’s hop into the ol’ Wayback Machine, because I’m covering some comments y’all left on this site back in the distant past of late February 2022!

Mostly I wanted to address this exchange in the comments to this post. It starts with Chris V. noting the relative dearth of customers in his local comic shop and its possible relation to high price points on new books:

“There’s no telling how long people will be willing to pay that amount of money either…and, in fact, a ton of people have already said ‘enough is enough,’ which is why the local comic book store tends to be empty when I visit. They obviously do have customers or they wouldn’t be in business, but the amount of customers seems to be decreasing by the year.”

…with Allan Hoffman responding thusly:

“Keep in mind that our impression of the customer base of a shop is based solely on what we see when we are there, which on average would probably 10-20 minutes on one day. Mike has often noted how his store can be dead at one moment followed by a crowd of people buying stuff.”

A few months back my girlfriend’s extended family was having a gathering at the restaurant next door. It was a Sunday afternoon, and Sundays can be pretty hit or miss for me (most Sundays are okay, some are great, and some like yesterday were…eh). This particular Sunday, I had a lot of business in the early part of the day, and in the later afternoon, things had slowed down quite a bit, allowing me to do some stocking-type stuff.

Apparently dinner next door had ended, and into my shop wanders one of the nieces. Seeing me alone in the store, she loudly exclaims “Don’t you ever have any customers?” “Yes, of course I do, you horrible child, it’s just slow at the moment,” was my reply, and she gave me the “yeah, right, old man” look as only a young teenager could give you.

And then another niece, this one a tad younger, walked in, looked around and asked “Where are all your customers?” “I’VE GOT CUSTOMERS, JUST NOT RIGHT NOW” I cried out, but to no avail as I was still pummeled with scornful disbelief.

She was followed by a nephew, brother to the first niece and the youngest of the three, who also noted “You don’t have any customers!” It was at this point I struck them all from the will.

So yes, as Allan says, it’s hard to judge a store’s business flow just from a short visit. I don’t know how many times I’ve had a full store for an hour or three, which then suddenly empties out, only to have the next person who comes in say to me “So, slow day, huh?” The ebb and flow of customer traffic can have an element of randomness to it, but I recall, at the previous place of employment, we had a cash register that could print out transaction totals per hour since the last time the machine was zeroed out. Basically it told us at what time of the day we were the busiest (barring unusual events like someone buying a $1000 comic at 2 in the afternoon or something). As I recall, it was usually around noon, which was an hour or two after we opened. Telling you what the second busiest time of day was, or the slowest time, would just be me guessing, as it’s been a while, but you get the idea.

The register I have at my store now doesn’t have that function (mostly just adding and multiplying, sometimes correctly), but my general sense is that late morning/early afternoon, followed by late afternoon/early evening, are my busy times, with slow times popping up in the early afternoon. Wednesdays are of course the busiest, being the New Comics Day of choice (despite DC trying to move some of that action to Tuesday). Later in the week is usually busier than early in the week. And of course this is all just generalization…nothing here is set in stone. I usually think of Mondays as slower days, but sometimes I have spectacular business that day. You never know.

New Comics Day is no exception to this. I’ve had great and busy New Comics Days with people waiting at the door when I open, all champing at the bit to get the new goodies. And I’ve had New Comics Days where…well, it’s not exactly a ghost town, but there were certainly longer lulls than usual between bursts of customers. Again, it Just Happens. It happened during the 1990s boom, and it happened during the later ’90s crash, and it happens now. So long as you’re taking in enough money to make the whole “selling comic books for a living” thing worthwhile, everything should be fine, even if maybe at some points during the day you can hear your own heartbeat because the store is so quiet.

Chris V says something else I’d like to comment upon:

“I’m concerned about the state of the comic industry as it currently exists, but more from a lack of collectors rather than from speculation.”

I don’t know about other shops, but I can tell you this about my experience. I know I bring up speculation a lot on this site and on the Twitterers, only because that sort of purchasing behavior can throw a monkey wrench into my planned orders. But that’s a minority of transactions. Most people coming into the shop for comics are readers, are collectors, and not just looking to flip this week’s first appearance to other speculators on eBay.

My business health has also been fine, with 2021 being my best year yet, financially. Sales are up, overall, I’m seeing new faces in the shop every day (even if, on a slow day, that one new face is all I see!), and I’m very happy. Given that there are many other comic shops in surrounding towns, I am grateful for the clientele I’m still acquiring.

Which reminds me, someone had asked (and I can’t find who did so at the moment) if my previous place of employment shutting down meant a lot of their customers coming my way. And the answer to that is “not really, maybe too soon to tell” which isn’t a surprise, as my shop is about a half-hour drive from the old one, and there are a few shops in the immediate vicinity of the defunct store, and the store’s pull list was transferred to one of those shops. Frankly, I’m too far out of the way to get much of that customer base, especially given today’s gas prices, not to mention any customers who were going to leave that old shop and start shopping with me already did years ago when I opened up. Not to say I saw no new customers from that unfortunate closing, but not nearly as many as you think.

Okay, even more questions in the queue (yes, even your Miracleman one, Thom!) so I’ll get to those shortly! Thanks for reading, pals.

I have held in my hands every comic mentioned in this post.

§ April 8th, 2022 § Filed under indies § 9 Comments

Born in that post-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles black and white comics boom, of the 1980s, Solson Comics was a company that was…not especially highly regarded by fans or critics. I mean, there were worse comics out there, but something about Solson struck some folks as one of the more cynical attempts at cashing in on this latest comics fad.

That said, I do sort of admire the sort of wild variety of books that were just kinda thrown out there into the marketplace, with the hopes that one of them would stick. I mean, this one, as I vaguely recall, was okay:

…and this one clearly had one of the all-time great comic book titles:

Plus, there’s this “Christmas” comic that achieved some notoriety when it was discovered that the inking was credited to a “Jim Lee.” It does appear to be the same Jim Lee we all know and love for putting a collar and cuffs on Superman’s costume, but I recall there being some debate for a brief time as to whether or not it was the same Jim Lee.

Anyway, nothing really “stuck” like they were hoping for, I think…nobody wanted to make toys or cartoons based on Rock Heads:

…or maybe they did want to and they just never came to fruition. You never know.

But two things did have some staying power from this company, aside from speculators and their slabbed copies of Samurai Santa. First, amusingly enough, in their pursuit for Turtles money, Solson actually produced licensed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics:

…some martial arts training comics, as well as a “how to draw” comic. Instead of trying to make money off a Turtles rip-off, just make money off the Turtles themselves. Well played, Solson, well played indeed.

The other comic with lasting cultural impact, at least within the realm of comic book fandom, is the one, the only…

Reagan’s Raiders. Long before there were a million Trump and Obama comics, Reagan was just all over the place in funnybooks during the ’80s. Yeah, sure, people liked putting Nixon into comics…but pop culture really cottoned to Reagan for a bit. And no appearance shines in a comic fan’s memory more than…well, okay, that issue of Captain America where Reagan turned into a snake monster, but Reagan’s Raiders is a darn close second.

In that picture above is the only copy I had in stock at my shop (already sold, sorry!). But this thingie here is an item I found in one of the many boxes of ancient promo stuff I took in from the previous place of employment:

Not sure you need any commentary on this particular document, as it pretty well speaks for itself. Though I do like that “color cover” is offered as a selling point. And having military ranks on the creative team (“Sgt. Dick Ayers”) is a wild touch.

The only thing I’m wondering now is — does the Reagan Library have a set of these Reagan’s Raiders comics? Y’know, that Library isn’t all that far away from me, so maybe I can go and ask. If you never hear from me again, at least you’ll know what happened.

“And whatever comics you don’t buy, they’ll become…dead stock! HEE HEE HEE HEE!”

§ April 6th, 2022 § Filed under promo § 2 Comments

Another goodie from the old shop…an unused Gemstone Publishing/Russ Cochran counter dump for their EC Comics reprint line, dating from the late ’80s/early ’90s I believe.

Of course you’d want to buy comics from this display! How could you say “no” to this face?

Magic is green…and so is Mike’s shirt.

§ April 4th, 2022 § Filed under low content mode, promo § 2 Comments

Another low content mode partial week…sorry gang, them’s how things work sometimes. Was feeling under the weather Sunday evening, and ended up sleeping instead of blogging. That seemed to do the trick, as I’m doing better now, but I also woke up about midnight realizing “oh dip, the blog.” So, here’s More Stuff from the Old Shop, like this 1983 Comico Comics mobile promoting the Mage: The Hero Discovered mini series by Matt Wagner on one side:

…and Evangeline by Chuck Dixon and Judith Hunt on the other:

It’s a beautiful piece of comics promotional material, still in nice shape even after nearly 40 years. I can still picture it hanging in the store when I was but a mere customer, and then afterwards, following my ascension into comics retail, being on display in the store’s office. I think it may be intended for sale, but forget that, I’m hanging it up in my shop.

Anyway, yet another very early morning doctor’s appointment Wednesday, so I’ll probably have another relatively easy-to-assemble post featuring another comics promo item that day. Back to my verbose self on Friday…thanks for understanding, pals.

Trying to cover all bases.

§ April 1st, 2022 § Filed under retailing, variant covers § 2 Comments

Okay, let me catch up on a few more questions from some posts earlier this…er, last month:

Mike Loughlin wants me to cover

“Is there any demand for older, limited variants? For example, do people come in looking for the 1:100 Superman Unchained cover anymore, or does the interest dry up once the book has been released? What about for less popular books (say, a 1:100 variant for an Outsiders series from about 5 years ago)? Do you sell those variants at a discount if they don’t move after a few weeks?”

Usually once the sales window on a new comic closes (generally about a month, when the next issue comes in), if any of the pricier “ratio” variants haven’t moved by then, that’s likely it. I’ll put them in a box on the counter marked “VARIANTS,” and occasionally they’ll sell out of there, but honestly I really should mark them down or something.

But yeah, with rare exceptions the demand drops on these variants almost immediately, regardless of how big or small, how hot or lukewarm, the comic may be. I can see some of them going for, and actually selling, for big money, but every time I try to sell a pricier variant online I get bupkis, so I stopped trying. Though maybe I should throw a few for cheap up on my Hipcomic page. I’ve been having better luck selling comics there than I ever did on eBay.

• • •

Joe Gualtieri speculates

“Wouldn’t some artists with established fanbases like Hughes or Campbell be worth it to get the variant every time out, or close to it?”

Well, sure, if you like those artists. And sometimes they can hold value…but not always. And usually it’s not the one you’ll think it’ll be (though with “investment” apps and a pretty wide echo chamber repeating to all who will listen “this will be hot” we get a lot of self-fulfilling prophecies).

• • •

Matthew Murray crowns me with

“Did you notice any increase in interest among your customers for the King Spawn series after selling those #1s for 99 cents each? Did m/any customers add the title to their pull lists? Did you order more of #2 than you would have otherwise?”

I did bump up orders on #2, and sold through, but as time went on the King Spawn orders normalized to about what I’d normally order on Spawn comics. And by “about” I mean I’m selling a little bit more on all the Spawn comics, though sales on those books had been creeping up a tad of late anyway.

Will get to the rest of questions later. But first, I must enter the Odinsleep. See you folks on Monday, and as always, thanks for reading.

Garry Leach (1954 – 2022).

§ March 30th, 2022 § Filed under miraclemarvelman, obituary § 5 Comments

Admittedly, I bought that Miracleman #1 Eclipse put out in 1985 because I was totally in the bag for Alan Moore comics. Knowing he had a whole big thing going on in England long before he wowed me my beloved Swamp Thing comic made me want to get my mitts on anything that eventually made it over the ocean and into my local shop.

That first issue of Miracleman did not disappoint, seeing Moore take a Captain Marvel (“Shazam,” to you young folks) clone and work what was to me mostly (cough) unprecedented twists on classic genre formulas.

But what stuck with me the most from that first issue, what seared into my brain and made me anticipate the following issue more than just about any other comic I’ve ever read, was this pic right here:

Miracleman’s former young partner, Kid Miracleman, having never said his “magic” word to change back to his normal human identity of Johnny Bates, is now grown up, his superpowered body having evolved into something terrifying as it aged. There he is, just hanging in the air, charged with energy, leering at his intended victims, made all the more terrifying because he’s just wearing regular people clothes, not a skintight emblem-adorned costume with a flowing cape.

Who drew that image? Who was responsible for putting that weirdly offputting yet compelling scenario into my eyeballs, making me ponder it for a month as I awaited the next chapter, making me remember it even now, nearly forty years later?

That Garry Leach fella, that’s who.

He was only on the Miracleman (or as it known originally, and I’m sure you already know, “Marvelman”) stories for a few installments, before Alan Davis took over. However, he established the look, the dark, mundane, and near-depressing world of the strip, where the garishly-clothed Miracleman should stand out in stark contrast, but still feels…reduced, in a way, pulled into the real world and away from the kid’s comics in which he was born. A brilliant trick, one that definitely sold the kind of story Moore was trying to tell.

Of course Leach did far more than these Marvel/Miracleman strips, but it was this comic that had the greatest impact on me. Someone on Twitter had posted the two pages that lead up to that pic above, in the original black and white printing as it appeared in Warrior in the UK, and those 40 years between seeing Eclipse’s color reprint and today just washed away. It was like seeing it again for the first time…just as powerful as it ever was.

Thanks, Garry, and so long.

A correction.

§ March 28th, 2022 § Filed under turok § 12 Comments

So a long time ago on this site, during one of my several discussions of Valiant’s Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and how it tied into the 1990s comics crash, I opined that one of the reasons for its relative sales failure (relative to its massively excessive orders, I mean) was that the promised fancy cover wasn’t exactly what people were expecting. To be fair to myself, I did admit that I wasn’t sure that a full chromium cover was promised, but at the time of my writing that particular blog entry, I had no access to the original solicitation information.

I did try to track it down, here and there…some random Googling, that sort of thing. And I did try checking Diamond Comic Distributor’s own database, but “early to mid-ish 1990s” was an ask too great for any digital information on the title to be retained there.

Anyway, I took some grief over my assertion that Turok #1 may have been originally solicited with a full chromium cover, and not the cover we eventually did get, as shown here with a brand new scan of my actual personal copy obtained back in 1993:

…which has a chromium “card” glued to the front of an embossed cover.

Now, I’d brought this up again in 2016, where I was a little more willing to admit that I wasn’t sure. And that’s where things had remained, until the other day when I had my box of Turoks out (both the Dell/Gold Key series and the Valiant series), which got me to thinking about it again. But this time, I knew folks who might have access to the solicitations from the period.

For a while now, I’ve been listening to the Longbox Heroes podcast, by Twitter pals Todd and Joe. In their spinoff podcast “Previewing the Past,” available on via their very-affordable Patreon — I joined, won’t you? — they examine Diamond Previews catalogues of yesteryear. They’re up to early 1992, but after a quick inquiry to these fine gentlemen, they were good enough to jump ahead and find that very Turok #1 solicit I’d been seeking all these years.

So here it is, page 164 of the February 1993 Diamond Previews, with the item of interest:

No, no, not The Pearl: Lady Pokingham:

…but Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #1:

Well, okay, fine I was wrong. The ad does explicitly mention that the Turok cover would the same as the Bloodshot #1:

…which also had the chromium card pasted on. But for anyone reading the solicit cold, not knowing what the then-new Bloodshot #1 looked like (possible, given thatBloodshot was out the same month orders for Turok #1 were due), it’s very possible some customers were at least somewhat anticipating a full-size chromium image, as I mentioned in that long-ago post.

Yes, I’m trying to soften the blow a bit for myself. “I didn’t screw up that badly!”

What I do find interesting in the text of the solicit is the warning that “this issue will be printed to order — it will not be allocated….” As we all know, there didn’t seem to be any problem with stores gettin’ enough.. If there was allocation, given the numbers in which this comic was ordered it would have been probably something like “ordered 3,000; allocated only 2,750.” That allocation warning probably also contributed to the vast overordering of this comic…retailers bumping up their initial numbers just in case they did get allocated…shades of the recent JLA/Avengers TPB hoohar.

So there we go, a longtime itch finally scratched, thanks to the good folks over at Longbox Heroes.

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