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Okay, let’s wrap this sucker up: PART FOUR.

§ January 14th, 2013 § Filed under predictions § 7 Comments

Responding to last year’s predictions. Asking for 2013 predictions. LET’S CONTINUE:

MrJM predicts

“In 2012, I will once again spend more money on hard liquor than on comic books.”

Oddly enough, once we opened the speakeasy in the back of the shop, so did we!

• • •

CW stated

“I predict Nickelodeon will debut an animated series based on the ‘Crossed’ comic books from Avatar Press.”

I can’t help but suspect that prediction was less than sincere. But I bet if someone ever does do a Crossed media adaptation, one of the comic’s fans will complain about how the movie/TV show/whatever isn’t nearly violent/gross enough.

• • •

Bear bared

“1. Bendis’ departure from the Avengers titles will result in a relaunch featuring the ‘classic’ line-up. This team will add new members swiftly, become a bloated mess, spawn many tie-ins and generally be met with a feeling of ‘Wow, never thought I’d miss Bendis.’ The titles will be relaunched again.”

Well, there certainly are a lot of Avengers titles. With a movie that made a billion and a half dollars, Marvel’s sure is gonna hitch a whole lot of four-color wagons to that star. In the meantime, it seems to be more or less continuing from where everything left off, just with the old issue numbers filed off and “#1” stenciled in. I haven’t read them, but it’s Hickman on scripts and he ain’t bad from what I’ve read on other comics, so who knows. The main Avengers title is still the “here are the characters you’ve loved in movies, including Spider-Man and Wolverine” one, it looks like. It’s not quite a bloated mess yes, but give it time.

“2. The New 52 will continue. New titles will be added, old titles will be cancelled, and blogs will still be filled with commenters swearing the whole thing was a mistake and the old universe will return any day now.”

All true. Hell, in this comments section alone people are predicting the Old DCU’s return.

• • •

Bret jumps in with

“All political disputes will be decided by THUNDERDOME.”

This is the world I want to live in. Why the last election wasn’t Obama and Romney in heated battle with Tina Turner presiding, I have no idea.

“Comics will continue to shrink in market share and rise in price. Night of the Owls will not be very good.”

It looks like the comics market is more or less holding steady. Prices are very slowly creeping upwards, though. “Night of the Owls,” from all accounts, is highly regarded, but I haven’t had time to read it and judge myself, so maybe you’re right there, too!

“Avengers and the Dark Night Rises will unexpectedly cross over in the middle. No-one will know why.”

BANE: “You thing this gives you power over me?”

THOR: “No…I think this does!” (hits Bane with Mjolnir)

• • •

DavidG reveals

“Someone will do a massive crossover event in which the hook is the world is going to end in December 2012. The world will not actually end. The event will be lame, and all the new characters and reboots that come out of it will suck.”

I am really, honestly surprised this did not happen. I know December 2012 stuff was a plot point here and there in older comics, but I didn’t see anything dealing with it in, you know, real time.

• • •

Cole had a funny comment that I’m just going to link to here.

• • •

My old friend-in-real-life Batfatty contributes

“DC will stage a multi-universe, apocalyptic story all to retcon the editorial disaster of doing away with Batman’s outer underwear.”

Man, all I am picturing now is “CRISIS OF INFINITE UNDERPANTS” and Superman is wearing Batman’s black shorts and Batman is in Supes’ red shorts and it’s all very embarrassing.

• • •

Mike Zeidler reminds me

“Mike Sterling will finally get around to reviewing the ultra-special edition super-long director’s omnibus cut of the Watchmen movie.”

Er…no, not in 2012 I’m very sorry

• • •

Dwayne the canoe guy rows by with

“In All-Star Western we will see a story where Jonah Hex sires a bastard child for Harvey Dent’s ancestor, a storyline that was declined for Jonah Hex V2.”

I don’t think that happened, after some brief Googling (since I don’t follow the title), but maybe someone who knows can fill me in.

“Sluggo will be challenged to a deathmatch by Tubby. During the battle they will be struck by lightning as they fall into the lake and will emerge as the moss encrusted mockery of merged small boys known as Swamp Slubby. Little Lulu and Nancy will join forces and enlist the aid of Gyro Gearloose to help stop Swamp Slubby from killing Unca Scrooge, for whatever knows greed burns at Swamp Slubby’s TOUCH!”

This all absolutely happened, in House of Dell Comics #92.

“Also, the lost 192 minutes of the Jonah Hex film will be found and the movie will be recut and released by the Cohen Bros. The film will be a commercial and critical success and Megan Fox will appear for only ten seconds where she opens the door and Hex shoots her dead while saying ‘Yuh trade easy, woman.’ Crowds will cheer.”

Oh sweet jumping Judas on a pogo stick, 192 minutes is, like, what, eight, ten times the length of the actual film? Would it have killed them to shoot another, say, half-hour with Hex in a post-apocalyptic future? Were they afraid that would make it a bad movie?

• • •

Longtime customer of mine Rob foresees

“Doom & gloom variety: I predict that yet another title I really enjoy will be cancelled. Because that’s how I affect the comics industry. In the worst case version, it would be Sweet Tooth, which is one of my favorite books.”

Well, hate to tell you this, but, um, yeah.

“Hope & change variety: My one man crusade to get people to read more odd comics (usually from Fantagraphics) continues to pick up steam, helping Mike sell maybe 4 or 5 more volumes over the course of the year. Fine, in truth, they’ll probably all be bought by me.”

Oh, I’ll get your money.

• • •

Dave daves

“1) Image comics will rise in prominence and market share, led by Millar and Quitely’s Jupiter’s Children (the first issue of which will be in the Diamond Top 20) and supported by a number of high-quality under-the-radar comics that will finally start to catch on. Oh, and Walking Dead collections, which will continue to sell in huge numbers.”

Alas, that comic didn’t come out last year. Maybe this year! And while Image has certainly cranked out a lot of stuff, not a whole lot of it has really caught on. But Walking Dead certainly still is selling like gangbusters. (Though, come to think of it, how did Gang Busters sell?)

“2) DC will lower the standard price on their digital comics backlist (older than 1-year) to 99¢. Other publishers will follow, except (stubbornly) Marvel. Day-and-date digital comics will continue to be priced at cover price.”

I know one digital company regularly offers 99-cent sales on backlist comics, but that’s not a consistent thing. Day-and-dates, still at cover, I believe.

“My pie-in-the-sky prediction: Fantagraphics announces a Matt Howarth’s Complete Bugtown project, with chronological collections of Howarth’s Bugtown stuff in several huge (300-400 page) volumes.”

Not yet!

• • •

That Augie guy tries to muscle into my own website (hey, you got your own column!) with

“Oh, what the hell? This might be fun:”

It started out as fun, but I will never be free of these prediction posts. NEVER.

“Marvel or DC will go direct-digital with a comic that was unprofitable in print and had to be canceled, just to burn off the completed inventory and justify a collected edition. They’ll mess it all up completely, though, by charging digital buyers the full $2.99 or $3.99 cover price. It won’t sell, but the collected edition will still see print.”

…Not that I know about, but I expect this is an option the publishers are keeping in mind.

“The ‘Hawk and Dove’ TPB will include the 7th and 8th issues. (It’s due out in August, so there’s plenty of time to change its contents yet.)”

A HIT! It does indeed contain those two issues.

“A lower-priced iPad will be seen as a great boon to digital comics and sales will rise, though not exponentially. We’ll never know, though, since the publishers don’t divulge that information.”

Maybe not iPads, but there are quite a few lower-priced tablets competing with them…perhaps they are driving more comic sales, but like you say, who knows?

“Diamond won’t go bankrupt, though at least two major Steve Geppi-related Financial Difficulty stories this year will start raising that question again.”

Diamond’s still around…I haven’t heard any rumors along these lines recently, but maybe I just haven’t had my ear to the ground enough.

“Diamond Digital will flop and be canceled as a cost-cutting move, though Diamond will deny that reason.”

Diamond Digital is still hanging in there!

“DC and Marvel will cut costs by signing fewer exclusives and letting many of them lapse. A new rush of ‘mainstream’ creators will start creator-owned works at Image as a result. By this time next year, an entire wing of Image Comics will look like Marvel/DC 2010. Kirkman will grab at least three of those big names for Skybound.”

I haven’t heard much news on the exclusives front…at least, they don’t seem to be making as big a deal about them anymore. And there doesn’t seem to be a huge influx of Marvel/DC guys yet…at least, not enough to note it as a trend.

“I will write another 52 Pipeline columns.”

WRONG! You wrote 54! …Well, okay, technically, you did write 52…plus two extra. I guess I’ll let you have that one.

“The lack of diversity in superhero comics will continue to show itself, with no diabetic characters introduced in 2012.”

Not that we know of, at any rate. (Though I would bet money…well, someone else’s money…that it’s been done for some kind of educational comics, somewhere!)

“With the Avengers and Batman movies coming out this year, the Superman movie will be forgotten until it suddenly shows up one Friday night when nobody is looking. Only the nerds will skip ‘Brides Maids II’ or ‘Hangover III’ to see it.”

They wisely pushed it back a bit, so there’s a chance it won’t get lost in the hype for the other films. We can all enjoy shortsless Superman without being reminded we saw better movies just recently.

• • •

Adam Farrar reveals

“After Avengers vs. X-Men: Loeb will write a new on-going, probably Cable. The Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning cosmic stories (last seen as the two Annihilators mini-series which ended the last week of 2011) will not continue but be replaced with a new Nova series.”

There is a new Cable series, but not by Loeb. And there certainly is a new Nova ongoing, which I never would have predicted. That’s by Loeb.

“Some softball pitches to coordinate with the Avengers movie: Hawkeye will get an on-going title. Loki will get a mini-series that has nothing to do with the Journey to Mystery title.”

Well done on Hawkeye, no new Loki mini yet but it’s only a matter of time.

“DC will do an Amethyst title that will hopefully be all-ages and self-contained.”

Well…you were half-right.

“The relaunch of the Extreme titles will mean Alan Moore’s ‘Supreme: Story of the Year’ will finally be back in print.”

Would love to have Moore’s Supreme back in print. Sadly, it didn’t happen.

“The new Watchmen comics will be a huge financial success.”

More a so-so success, probably not worth the grief DC got over it.

“DC’s recruitment of Marvel’s creators from the 1990s will continue with new work from Danny Fingeroth, Terry Kavanagh”

Sadly, no…Danny’s doing his own thing, teaching comics writing and such, and Terry is apparently one of the folks behind this online game site.

• • •

Pal Andres sez, he sez

“DC’s $2.99 line will crack no later than mid-year.”

A couple of titles went from $2.99 to $3.99, and a few new titles started at the $3.99 price point, so the slow creep continues! …Andres also made a whole bunch of Doctor Who predictions that I’m pretty sure all came true.

• • •

Richard J. Marcej unveils

“DC will continue producing 52 separate monthly titles, canceling titles but quickly replacing them with new books that keep the total at 52.”

This is indeed what’s happening.

“In December DC will announce that starting in 2014 they’ll no longer be printing monthly comics but will instead produce 52 separate 80 page books (done in the same format as ‘Love & Rockets’) retailing each at $14.99. So the 52 different monthly titles will now be 52 weekly (one book a week) 80 page TPB.”

Not announced, but I can see this as a direction the publishers can go to get around the rising costs of monthly books. Assuming, of course, they don’t abandon print entirely and go straight to digital.

• • •

Señor Editor (AKA Professor Booty) edited

“Ghost Rider will be relaunched, with Johnny Blaze as the book’s protagonist.”

I’m very surprised we’ve gone this long without a Ghost Rider book. Give it more time.

“A new, rebooted and more realistic Wolverine movie will be in the works. Hugh Jackman won’t be starring as Wolverine this time, though.”

We’re still getting a Wolverine flick at some point, but Jackman remains the star. Good, I like him as Wolverine. It might be a bit weird if he’s still doing it when he’s, like, eighty.

“Much like in that one Brad Pitt movie, Mike Sterling will continue looking younger and younger and nobody will find it odd at all.”

Absolutely true.

“The Avengers books without Bendis won’t sell nearly as well.”

All the Avengers titles pretty much tanked in the final lead-up to the ends of the series in the face of Marvel Now, so it wouldn’t take much for them to sell better. And, by and large, they’re selling okay for now.

• • •

Rob S. had this to say:

“DC will announce the expansion of the Earth 2 books in the new 52 (currently Earth 2 and World’s Finest) to include a separate book set in the past, with superheroes fighting Nazis. It might or might not be called “All-Star Squadron.'”

I’d read that. Didn’t happen, but I’d read it.

“DC will slowly add more back-ups to its books (and raising the price to $3.99), including Green Lantern, Flash, and Justice League International.”

Like I said above, we’re getting the slow creep (Batman got the $3.99 w/backup treatment). Justice League International, alas, never had a chance to do so.

“More Milestone and Wildstorm properties are given a shot at a title. We’ll see Icon, Shadow Cabinet, and Zealot.”

…I’d love to see a new Icon series. But we did get Team 7, and Ravagers includes a Wildstorm character or two.

“Steph Brown and Cass Cain fans will continue to be disappointed and vocal. Heckler fans will continue to be disappointed and quiet.”

Fans are always disappointed. Except Heckler fans, who are just crazy.

“We’ll see a Wally West, Kyle Rayner, Connor Hawke team-up. Alternate Earth or DC Comics Presents reprint?”

Neither, I’m afraid!

• • •

Boosterific boosts

“Bah, I’m already over 2012! I’m skipping ahead to 2013: Progressive Ruin will run a fortnight’s worth of blog posts recapping the reviews for 2012 in a disorganized, rambling manner that will be equal parts un-illuminating and hilarious.”

Well, slightly less than a fortnight, anyway. And I’d like to think I’m a little illuminating, even if I’m not very bright.

• • •

Valdemiro gives us

“In 2012 Brian Michael Bendis finally collaborates with Kevin Maguire on the Avengers. They then create a headshot panel so beautiful it makes mere mortals weep.”

I’d like to see a Kevin Maguire Avengers series. Unfortunately, they’d just start yet another brand new Avengers series rather than put him on an already-going Avengers title.

• • •

Glitchy glitches

“DC will suddenly discover the pre-teen girl ‘princess’ market (possibly thanks to the Super Best Friends and Amethyst shorts). Because of this, editorial mandate revamps Starfire back to something closer to her animated Teen Titans persona.”

Hasn’t happened yet, but it really, really should.

“This also leads to a My Little Pony/DC cross over that just defied all forms of logic, but was very pastel.”

C’mon: “Comet the Superhorse meets My Little Pony!” It’s a natural!

• • •

Kid Kyoto isn’t kidding with

“DC will try a black and white manga-style phone book anthology with several 100 pages each month. The best series from that will then be colored and reprinted in TPBs.”

Another viable option for when the monthly 32-pagers go south. Hasn’t happened…yet.

“Real publishers like Scholastic Books will continue to make OGNs that outsell anything by DC or Marvel, mainstream comic fans will continue to ignore them.”

Yeah, probably.

“The EXTREME! Studios relaunch (Youngblood etc) will barely put out 3 issues before sinking quietly into the darkness.”

They’re all still hanging around, but just barely (despite critical acclaim for Prophet).

“The Superman film will bomb.”

Maybe next year.

“Superman will be back in his traditional suit about 15 minutes after the film closes.”

I expect that, too.

“New rumors of a Wonder Woman film which go no where.”

We can probably run with this prediction every year.

“The Avengers film will actually be quite good.”

I thought it was a lot of fun! I think a few others thought so as well.

• • •

Ben unleashes

“DC will announce that Grant Morrison’s run on Action Comics will end in early 2013, the same month as Batman Incorporated v2 #12 ships. Morrison will simultaneously announce his retirement from writing comic books.”

We’re still a few months away from Batman Inc. #12, but Morrison is ending his runs on both titles this year (with Action imminent). I think he’s sticking around in comics, though…just not necessarily the superhero books.

“The Avengers movie will be mildly entertaining but strangely empty of any engaging emotional content, just like all of Marvel’s movies since Iron Man. The announcement of their post-Avengers movie slate is met by bewilderment (by comic fans) and blank stares (by the general public) as ‘big guns’ like Ant Man and Guardians of the Galaxy are rolled out.”

That certainly is a consistent criticism of the Marvel films…like I said, I did enjoy the Avengers film, but it’s definitely about as deep as a sidewalk puddle after a spring shower. And I think folks are probably okay with the new slate of Marvel films, though they really haven’t been trying to sell them to the public just yet. We’ll see when the films get a little closer to release.

“The Dark Knight Returns animated movie(s) will, like almost all of DC’s DVD movie fare, be entirely unsuitable for kids to watch. But…”

Yeah, that’s probably best with teens and older. But kids will love it just fine, I think!

“…DC will unexpectedly find a long-dormant property that hits big time with the (actual) kids, probably via the DC Nation slot on Cartoon Network. What the hell, lets just say Amethyst. My daughter would *love* that show.”

I think DC Nation has generally been well received, but I don’t know that anything’s really taken off as a “hit.” But that there’s even such a thing as an Amethyst animated short is a victory of some kind.

“China Mieville’s Dial H for Hero revival will be excellent and universally liked by the comics blogosphere, but commercially it will fail dismally and be canceled by issue 8.”

It’s not selling great, but it’s holding on, and people do seem to like it quite a bit.

“Dan Slott will replace Brian Michael Bendis on the Avengers books, as Bendis takes over Amazing Spider-Man. Marvel will continue to pimp the hell out of Matt Fraction despite the fact that (Casanova aside, though that doesn’t even really count) he has never written a good comic book for them.”

OUCH. I think Fraction’s been doing good work over there, at least on the titles of his I read (Fantastic Four, FF, and the very well-received Hawkeye). And there has been plenty of swapping around of writers on the Marvel books, but Slott is still riding that Spider-Man train…um, there’s probably a better way I could have put that.

“The Ultimate Comics ‘free download’ thing is a dismal failure (though we never hear about it) and the whole line is shuttered either in late 2012 or announced to in early 2013.”

I’m not even sure I know about the free download thing. But the Ultimate line is still around, somehow.

“Vertigo will announce that Hellblazer will end with #300 and the death of John Constantine.”

Yes, indeed. I don’t know if it’ll be Constantine’s death, but I think it’s likely…a kind of a final “screw you” to the character’s transfer to the DCU.

“And finally, Sony will release a ‘skin’ for DC Online that make it both bearable to look at and as though it was all drawn by Carmine Infantino. More a wish than a prediction really…”

Man, an Infantino-styled video game. That would be both awesome and strangely terrifying.

• • •

Neil brought forth

“Tony Daniel will be taken off Detective Comics, as they will have found someone even worse.”

DOUBLE-OUCH. He was off Detective with the #0/#12 issues, but I’ll have to let you decide if the new guy is worse. Daniel will be back as the new artist on Action after Morrison leaves.

• • •

random surfer goofyfooted

“Late Dec/early Jan: Mike Sterling will ask people for preditions for 2013. He will comment on the predictions made for 2012. He will say this one is stupid and/or pointless.”

Nope, I’d say you’re 100% on target.

• • •

OH THANK GOD I’m done, which I’m sure you’re all thinking, too. Tune in next year when I do it again, reacting to these 2013 predictions, because I’m stupid.

Thanks for contributing, everyone, and, especially, thanks for putting up with these endless posts. I appreciate the readership.

So anyway, back to this.

§ January 4th, 2012 § Filed under dc comics, retailing § 8 Comments

I…really wasn’t sure what I was planning when I asked you folks what you thought about DC’s New 52 thus far, whether I was going to comment on the responses individually, or do some kind of meta-analysis, or what. And frankly, my need to address that post, at least in my mind, has been looming over me like a really large thing that loomed over me.

I think what I’m going to do here is borrow this list of the New 52 that Siskoid already typed out in his comment, and briefly discuss each book (or family of books) in regards to customer reaction, sales, etc., and let that stand as my final (or at least part one of my final) response to the matter. But honestly, thank all of you who took the time to leave comments…I read every one, and found them informative and interesting.

So, here we go…the first half of my comments on the whole shebang:

Action Comics – Like I said the last time I attempted this, there seems to be a vague level of disappointment from some quarters regarding the pacing of this comic, but plenty of people seem to like it just fine, and it’s certainly one of the top sellers of the New 52 here at the shop. And I think people who haven’t liked the last couple of issues may enjoy #5, due out…today, in fact, and I’m not saying I’ve already read it, but may very well have, and it may respark some interest from those of you out there who have been less than enthralled with the title. (Also, I saw some folks out there in Internet-land who are somehow using what they’ve seen in previews for #5 as more ammo for their ol’ “Grant Morrison hates superheroes/the Silver Age” complaints, which is just crazy-talk from Crazytown, frankly.)

All-Star Western – Started off well, but seems to be back down to the folks who had already been buying the Jonah Hex…plus one or two more, so, you know, there’s been some improvement.

Animal Man – Probably one of the Big Surprises of the New 52, selling well and critically acclaimed — nice when those two qualities actually match up with each other on the same thing. The comic is very good, though (like I feel with many of the other comics) the pacing could stand to pick up a bit. It is quite a compellingly-disturbing story, one of the few true examples of a superhero horror comic. (Steve Gerber and Gene Colan’s The Phantom Zone (scroll down to #1) being another strong example, I think.)

Aquaman – Another surprise hit, and one customers seem to be talking about the most. Mostly in the context of “wow, I can’t believe I’m digging an Aquaman comic this much!” …It has been pretty good, I think.

Batgirl – This one’s been getting pretty mixed reviews from the get-go, though I thought it was pretty entertaining. And it’s certainly selling very well for us.

Batman, Batman and Robin, Batman: The Dark Knight, Detective Comics – All these Batman books have seen a definite uptick in sales since the relaunch, though most of them had been selling pretty well to begin with. Detective probably benefited the most.

Batwing – A low to mid-range seller, still doing better than expected considering it’s a Batman spin-off not featuring one of the main Bat-family.

Batwoman – Solid mid-range seller…the art definitely sells the book. Brings in people who don’t normally buy comics.

Birds of Prey, Blue Beetle, Deathstroke – Selling okay, which is really better than I expected Deathstroke to do, to be honest. But otherwise, not really generating a whole lot of chatter or specific enthusiasm from the customers.

Blackhawks – Probably one of the lower-selling of the New 52. Have had a couple of customers note that the art really didn’t do anything for them.

Captain Atom – Good mid-range seller…haven’t really paid any attention to it, though people telling me (at the store and in the comments to that post) that it’s kind of a riff on Watchmen‘s Doctor Manhattan sort of has me intrigued.

Catwoman – I know people complained about the ridiculousexy in the first issue, but man, people do like Catwoman, regardless. Solid midrange seller.

DC Universe Presents – Good seller, will be interested to see if sales change when this series switches from Deadman to the Challengers of the Unknown. (Just had the thought that the series should just cumulatively add characters to the rotating stories. The first arc would be just Deadman, the second would be Deadman and the Challengers, the third would be Deadman, the Challs, and, oh, I don’t know, the Omega Men, and so on. Would be quite the sight by the time issue #50 rolled around.)

Demon Knights – Considering the setting is in Ye Olden Dayes, and that it stars a lot of the magical DC characters…actually selling a lot better than expected. …There’s probably more characters in here than the book can really comfortably handle, but it makes for an entertaining read nonetheless.

Flash – Strong seller, and I’m being told it’s actually quite good. Alas, I’d pretty much hit my limit on how many Flash stories I can read, and dropped the franchise a year or two back, but people telling me it’s good got me to poke my nose into an issue or two recently. Sadly, it still didn’t do anything for me, but I’m glad people are enjoying it.

Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. – One humdinger of a book…maybe a little too out there for most folks, but quite the treat for the reader who dares peek inside its covers. Like OMAC (discussed tomorrow), it’s one of those well-admired titles that has a small but loyal following. …It’s kinda like the DC Universe version of Hellboy, and that’s just fine.

Fury of Firestorm – Mentioned this in my initial post (which I’m not going to link to yet again in this post)…didn’t grab me at first, but it’s slowly growing on me now that I’ve wrapped my mind around the idea that this particular take is different from the one I’ve been used to for the last decade or three. Maintaining okay sales at the shop.

Green Arrow – Small gain in sales since the relaunch. Haven’t really heard any buzz good or bad about this title. It’s a Green Arrow comic that’s selling okay, so I’m not going to complain. Well, Swamp Thing’s not in it, so I’ll complain about that, anyway.

Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: New Guardians, Red Lanterns – Still probably about one or two GL titles too many, but…well, they all have some entertainment value, and they’re all selling well so far. So long as they don’t add a fifth Lantern title, and honestly I wouldn’t put it past them. Anyway, Green Lantern is the best, and the best-selling, of the bunch, with the ongoing Hal Jordan/Sinestro disfunctional bromance. Man, I hope this stays a cop/buddy book, because I love reading Sinestro stories and the dynamic between him and Hal makes for a fun read. I’ve mentioned before, once or twice, about how Sinestro is one of my favorite supervillains. In fact, I’d be okay with a fifth GL book if Sinestro was kicked out of the main GL book and given his own ongoing series.

Corps and New Guardians aren’t bad, but I think I’m ready for those initial storylines to be over. But Larfleeze finally showed up in the latter series, and Everyone Loves Larfleeze so that series just shot up in quality for me, as far as I’m concerned. And Red Lanterns is interesting sort of despite itself, what with all the blood and grossness and characters being dicks to each other and whatnot, and yet still being readable. Yeah, I know, it’s hard to explain. Still needs to just turn into a Dex-Starr solo book. (And maybe he can team up with that cat from Animal Man.)

…Come back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion of my overview of the New 52! …Ah, c’mon, come back. …Please?

In which I finally get around to my rambling answers to those DC Comics retailing questions.

§ September 6th, 2011 § Filed under retailing § 13 Comments

REMINDER: let me know what the ONE new DC title you’re looking forward to the most is. I’ll probably comment on your response tomorrow, assuming I don’t die tonight while breaking down the comics order, doing pulls, and suffering from flu symptoms.

Anyway, those questions a couple of you asked about DC’s current publishing plan, and how it affects me, Mike Sterling:

Boosteriffic says

“It seems to me that DC has been telling us that part of the reason for this whole rebootalaunch is because retailers aren’t doing their job finding new customers (probably true: I don’t live in a major city, but all the comic stores I know of are really gaming stores with some reading material for between matches), and it seems I hear retailers saying it’s because DC’s business model and storytelling are alienating their readers (of which I am certainly one: now I have to wait six issues to finish a story the bronze age Batman would have tackled in one?). Do you have any insight into the validity of this back and forth argument?”

There are a lot of reasons for sales reaching the point that triggered DC’s newest publishing hoohar, but I don’t think it’s as easy as saying “retailers fell down on the job” or “DC alienated its readers.” Not that either assumption is necessarily wrong: we’ve all been to comic shops that seemingly didn’t go out of the way to encourage business, repeat or otherwise. And what Boosteriffic says about DC applies to Marvel as well, with extended storylines intended to keep readers coming back month after month, and designed for republication in trade paperbacks or hardcover editions, which can in some (but not necessarily all) cases result in story-padding and less satisfying reads.

But there’s also the death-spiral of lower sales = higher per-unit prices = higher cover prices = even lower sales = even higher production costs, and so on. And there’s the economy in general, which, at the moment, isn’t exactly facilitating the generation of disposal income. Plus there’s also the usual explanations of increased competition for the entertainment dollar, the lack of an audience turnover for comics, the insular nature of superhero comics, the difficulty of even finding comics, and so on. You’ve heard all the reasons before.

Boosteriffic adds:

“…Will you be closing the doors if this whatever-DC-is-calling-it doesn’t take off because your comic sales have flatlined?”

In our case, comic sales have been increasing…slowly, but steadily. And judging by demand for the new Justice League #1 and the interest we’ve seen in DC’s next batch of first issues, we’re expecting a bit of a bump in sales over the next few weeks. Whether that bump sticks, even as a slight net gain after the initial excitement over the new launches peters out and we see what the sales levels on these titles will actually be, remains to be seen. But I’m optimistic. My fear was that our upward store sales trend may have been derailed by DC cancelling everything and starting again, alienating the readership we were building, but for the most part that doesn’t seem to be happening. But, you know, in six months or a year or so, we’ll know for sure.

Now, that’s what’s going on for us, but if other stores end up with a net loss in readership for their DCs, to the point where Warner Brothers tells DC “nice try, kids, but we’re handing all your properties over the movie and television development departments,” and DC Comics as a publishing concern goes away…that’s bad news for everybody. Not that I think that will happen. But let’s say it does, and DC Comics are no longer on your local funnybook store’s rack. That’s a pretty significant chunk of income lost for your comic shop. And some comic shops wouldn’t survive that loss…and when those shops close up, that means fewer venues through which the other comic companies can sell their wares, which results in lower profits for them, and comic publishers going out of business, and lower profits for shops…I hate to use the phrase “death-spiral” twice in one post, but you get the picture.

And, as folks have noted in the past, the death of the comics market as it is now doesn’t mean the death of comics. As long as people can tell stories through sequential images, there’ll be comics. They’ll just be sold and / or distributed via different means. Like through this “internet” I’ve heard so much about.

Not that the very concept of “comic book store” would go away if there were no longer any periodicals as we know them now. After all, there are still record stores. I can see our shop holding on, downsized significantly, still dealing in old comics to an increasingly specialized clientele. And there will still be some publishing holdouts and novelty press, putting out limited runs of staplebound entertainments for the discerning reader, that we could carry.

Also, in this post-apocalyptic future, we will fight each other to the death in Thunderdome, but that probably goes without saying.

Dallas has a few questions as well:

“Does it make any lick of retail sense to be out of a fairly big comic after 1 day?
Is/was there a program through Diamond/DC that could get you more comics as quick as Fri/Sat or Monday 9/5?
I assume that you won’t get the reorder till the week of September 12, so how many sales are lost?”

I’d rather not be out of a Big Title after one day, but when you’re ordering three months ahead of time…and even getting a chance to adjust orders about three to four weeks prior…sometimes you just can’t predict how something’s going to go over. We ordered five times on this Justice League #1 what we normally order on Justice League of America, and up until about a week or so before the #1’s release, that seemed like plenty. And then the media attention hit, and lo and behold people seemed to care, and the demand jumped upwards. I tried to place a reorder ahead of the comic’s release, but by that time all available copies of the first printing had sold out.

I did get a number of requests for the comic over the weekend, so yeah, I could have sold quite a few more copies. Now, had DC had more of Justice League #1 available, I suppose it could have been theoretically possible to receive more copies by Friday via Diamond’s two-day air shipping on reorders, if we had the time to put an order together and we get in it to Diamond early enough for them to process it right away. I could plan ahead, prep a theoretical emergency reorder a couple of days before, and then send it in Wednesday morning if necessary. But then again, even if demand seems high, pulling the trigger on a significant reorder before actually seeing if the demand pans out could be an expensive mistake. About halfway through Wednesday it looked like we’d have enough JL #1 to meet the immediate demand, but later in the day, and through Thursday, sales and demand picked up and we blew through our copies. But it easily could have dropped off completely, and getting another pile of copies on top of the ones we already had warming the shelves would be a problem.

Now, like I said, once we got closer to the release day, JL #1 started to seem like it was really going to take off, so a prerelease reorder seemed like a good risk. But for the other titles…well, here’s your next question:

“Have you done anything to change the orders for the rest of September now that this happened?”

Yes, I’ve gone through and bumped up some numbers, keeping in mind that, even if some of the titles are returnable, we still have to plan our budget to pay for these books. I’d love to order a thousand of everything, and return what we couldn’t sell, but we’d still have to cough up the cash to pay for all those copies.

“Does the system of ordering/printing comics just not compute?”

Most of the time, the way we order comics through the direct market is fine. We see what we’ve been selling on the books in the past, we plan our orders accordingly, we send them in. Even on new first issues, we can make reasonably educated guesses based on the store’s sales trends. But this new DC initiative is fairly unprecedented. We have to guess at sales on these new series vis-à-vis past sales trends, customer interest in first issues, possible bleed-over interest generated by real-world publicity for Justice League #1, and, maybe most importantly, the “first issue fatigue” I discussed before.

I mean, let’s take All-Star Western, starring Jonah Hex. On one hand, sales on the Jonah Hex series were pretty terrible. On the other hand, All-Star Western is a new first issue, which can expect a slight bump in sales. On the other, other hand, it says “Western” in the title, and westerns aren’t big sellers in the superhero comics market. On the other, other, other hand, it’s tied in a little more closely to the DC Universe, taking place in Gotham City an’ all. But it’s not like Batman’s going to show up. But it could ride that “hey, it’s a new DC #1, let’s buy it” wave. But it’s still a Jonah Hex comic. But it’s returnable. And so on. Again, love to order a ton of them, and just return what we don’t sell, but we have to operate within a realistic budget.

“Is it too much to ask DC to have a pile of extra copies of JLA ready to be shipped out. Or does a reprint business model and the new, variant covers make more sense for all parties involved, including the general public getting their greasy hands on this over-priced, under-written 4-color superhero funny book.”

Like us, DC has to operate within a realistic budget. I’m sure they would have loved to have looked at the initial orders, said “hmm, better print up ten times that number to meet reorder demand” and sat on the copies ’til retailers asked for them. But that costs money, and again, there’s no guarantee ahead of time, when the decisions are being made to actually go to press, that there would be that much demand. Publishers generally do some overprinting to allow for replacement shipments on items that are lost or damaged, plus some allowance for reorders, but within reason.

That they announced a second printing, and a third printing, so quickly means that they were staying on top of things, at least. Economically, this makes more sense for DC than tying up money in a stockpile of extra first printings. And it’s good for us, because it’ll meet the demand for customers who just want to read the thing, and couldn’t care less about “first printing” or “investment opportunity” or what have you.

…That was a lot to read, I realize. Also, I’m on the cold medication, so if something doesn’t make sense, ask me to clarify.

And then there was that time Mike decided to ramble on about which of the new 52 DC titles he plans to get.

§ August 15th, 2011 § Filed under does mike ever shut up, retailing § 13 Comments

So the general reaction from our customers to the onslaught of DC #1s quickly making its way to us has ranged from interest and excitement to “I’m giving up on DC.” It’s been a bit hard to predict just how these books are going to do, as customer response has been so mixed. And I just know that, no matter how much promotional material we put into folks’ hands, there’s gonna be at least one regular customer walking into the shop in September who will be shocked…shocked…that DC started all their books over from #1.

Anyway, I thought I’d go through the list of all these #1s and let you know what I plan to get. Or am thinking about getting. …Because it’s my weblog, that’s why.

Justice League #1 – I don’t think it’s any stretch to assume that, of all the new DC #1s, this will be the big one. It’s being released by itself at the end of August (along with the last part of the Flashpoint mini that’s leading into the big changeover) and surely most folks will be picking this up out of sheer curiosity, to see what exactly the new DC Universe status quo is going to be. That’s certainly a big reason why I’m picking it up…well, that, and it’s not like I’ll be buying a whole lot of DC Comics that week. (I’ve not been following Flashpoint, though that same curiosity may have me checking out that mini’s last issue to see how it’s setting everything up.) But I also tend to pick up whatever new iteration of Justice League happens to pop up, even if I end up not following it for long.

Action Comics #1 – I’ve been reading the main Superman titles for probably about 30 years now, through thick and thin, through mulleted Superman and Electric Superman, so I’m not stoppin’ just because they restarted the series from the first issue. Plus, it’s Grant Morrison on scripting chores, and I do like the Morrison.

Animal Man #1 – Speaking of Morrison, I was a big fan of his run on Animal Man, and I kept on with the title after Morrison’s departure, which maintained its sense of weirdness while still further developing Buddy Baker’s family life. I have a bit of fondness for the character still, whetted by that Last Days of Animal Man mini from a couple of years ago, so I’m going to give this a try. Plus, Jeff Lemire is writing, and more on that under the Frankenstein entry.

Justice League International #1 – This is in the “maybe” pile, as the main reason I’m interested in it is that it features Booster Gold written by his creator, Dan Jurgens. I was quite enjoying the Booster Gold series DC had been publishing of late, and sadly it was not one of the titles to make the transition to the new army of #1s. And I’m sure we’re not getting “The Adventures of Booster and His Justice League Pals,” so I don’t know how much actual Booster content will be in each issue. But, I’ll give it a look.

Swamp Thing #1 – Well, duh.

Batwoman #1 – The only Bat-book I’m buying (aside from Justice League International, which isn’t quite the same but you know what I mean). Being purchased primarily for the art of J.H. Williams, who has been doing absolutely beautiful work with this character.

Demon Knights #1 – Was going to be a “maybe,” but I’ve got every other Demon comic, so, heck, might as well pick it up. Plus, it’s written by Paul Cornell, and having enjoyed his recent stint on Action Comics, I imagine I’ll enjoy this series as well.

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1 – Wouldn’t have considered this, except the War Rocket Ajax crew convinced me to pick up the Jeff Lemire-scripted Flashpoint: Frankenstein tie-in, and that was a hoot. Lemire is writing this new series as well, so I’m definitely putting it on the buy pile.

Green Lantern #1 – Green Lantern is like Superman, in that he’s one of those characters/concepts I’ll usually always follow (though admittedly I skipped most of those Kyle-Rayner-as-GL years in the ’90s). I like how this series is starting, with old GL archnemesis Sinestro roped back into the Green Lantern Corps and starring in this book, but of course Hal Jordan will be back in the saddle in short order. In the meantime, though, I’m really looking forward to this book as Sinestro has always been one of my favorite supervillains.

Mister Terrific #1 – Probably picking this up, as I liked the character in Justice Society. Not much else to say, really, other than I like the idea of the hero, the world’s third smartest man, facing against a villain who’s one of the world’s two smarter dudes.

Red Lanterns #1 – Giving it a go because it’s a Green Lantern tie-in, but…not sure if I want to read a book where the entire focus is on the violent and angry Lantern corps. Fine in a supporting role, not sure I want 20 non-stop pages of it. Unless it’s the solo adventures of Dex-Starr, of course.

DC Universe Presents #1 – First story arc stars Deadman, and I’m always up for a Deadman story. Continued purchase of the series depends on which character they follow up Deadman with. I vote Adam Strange. Or Metamorpho. Or hell, both of them in the same adventure.

Green Lantern Corps #1 – Again, GL fan, so I’ll pick up the book. Hey, Kilowog is in it. I’m pretty sure I have the complete Kilowog collection.

The Fury of Firestorm #1 – Another one of my favorite characters, and I’ll always read a Firestorm series. I’m not even sure I can explain why Firestorm is a favorite character of mine.

Green Lantern: New Guardians #1 – While I like the idea of multiple-colored Lantern corps, I like them better as support characters in the other GL titles, rather than starring in their own book. (See also Red Lanterns above.) This is stretching the franchise just a little too thin, I think…but the three GL series that had been running before were selling great, even after the movie came out, so what do I know.

Justice League Dark #1 – Because John Constantine is in it. And Deadman. …I expect this comic will be very peculiar.

Superman #1 – The one Superman title taking place in “current day” (as opposed to Action, focusing mostly on Superman’s early years). It’s written and drawn…well, laid out…by George Perez, so I expect I’ll enjoy it, but it’s gonna be a while before I’m used to that new Super-armor costume.

…And that’s it, really. I may poke my nose into some of the other #1s to see if they grab my interest. I may try out the new Aquaman series, for example, or give a look to the new Jonah Hex title All-Star Western.

I am curious which titles will end up catching on. There are a few that seem doomed from the get-go, and others that will almost certainly undergo an immediate creative team change once it becomes obvious the monthly schedule just ain’t gonna happen. And while it’s a safe bet titles like Action and Green Lantern will have healthy sales, what about the second-stringers? Which of the not-so-big-name titles are going to be the breakout hits? It’ll be very interesting to see what thrives and what withers, particularly given the large number of new series and the limited consumer dollar available to purchase all these. I certainly hope every single title sells enormously well, but sadly we’ll being seeing a lot of bodies left at the side of the road as this publishing initiative progresses.

Remember when they rebooted Peanuts and took that jagged line off of Charlie Brown’s shirt?

§ June 10th, 2011 § Filed under peanuts, publishing, superman § 5 Comments

Two things that struck me while reading the latest Complete Peanuts volume:

1. This book is reprinting from the years 1979-1980, which is also about the same time I was reading just about every Peanuts strip reprint book I could lay my hands on at the time. So, I was reading a whole lot of strips from before 1979, but not a whole lot of contemporary ones which hadn’t yet made it into the reprint books at the time. As a result…nearly this entire book feels “new” to me, since I recognize almost none of the strips. I suppose I may have caught a few in the paper, but I wouldn’t recall those as well as the strips I’ve seen in the various Peanuts collections that I would read over and over again.

Yes, that means I didn’t really read any of the reprint collections from the early 1980s onward. I wouldn’t get back into seeking out Peanuts books ’til the late 1990s, reprinting those last few years of the strip.

2. There’s a sequence of strips in this book where the gang attends what appears to be some kind of religious cult summer camp. I may be reading a bit into this, but clearly something has gone horribly wrong when this kind of injustice is perpetrated upon innocent youth:


Those monsters.

Anyway, Peppermint Patty gets a bit freaked out by one of the guest speakers going on about “the last days” and the end of the world. Not a storyline I really expected in my Peanuts book, but yet another example of Charles Schulz’s continuing topicality…though in this case, the regular arising of doomsayers is nothing new and was bound to cycle through again. SPOILER ALERT: Peppermint Patty gathers evidence and uses skeptical, critical thinking to resolve her particular issue here.

• • •

I’m kind of all “new DC”-ed out at the moment, so I’m breaking from the commentary…even though as I write this, we’re only hours away from the official announcement of what the hell’s going on with the Superman family of books. The pics already leaked…via DC putting them in their blog’s image directory and people finding them…so we’ve all already seen them by now, I’m sure. And that pic with Superman’s new costume…that only goes to show George Perez can make anything look great. Anyway, those of you reading this Friday morning or later can hie yourself hither to the DC Comics weblog and check ’em out yourself.

About the titles announced Thursday…I guess we can blame that movie for the more striking and recognizable Jonah Hex title for going away, to be replaced by the Hex-starring and more blandly-titled All-Star Western. And I’m not sure why a new series starring the grandson of Sgt. Rock amuses me, but it does.

BUT I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT NEW DCS AT THE MOMENT so shutting up now.

More unwanted and certainly unnecessary commentary on your predictions, Part Two.

§ January 6th, 2011 § Filed under predictions § 4 Comments

And then, suddenly: more predictions! (Part one of my commentary here). Again, not commenting on every single one, but I will return to them in a year to see how folks did!

  • De declares

    “The summer superhero movies will perform well enough but not fantastically, causing studios to mine more past properties in hopes of making a quick buck (get ready for the Strawberry Shortcake movie in 2012!).”

    I think there’s probably some movement in that direct already, attempting to exploit the less-“name” properties to generate some real-world income outside the Superman/Spider-Man/Batman perennials. There’s talk of that TV show based on Teen Titans’ Raven, there may someday be an Ant Man movie, and so on. But too many second stringer comic book films like Punisher War Zone, The Spirit and Jonah Hex crashing and burning in the box office may be bit of a discouragement.

    “Marvel and DC will stop producing direct-to-video films as the public grows tired of the superhero genre.”

    Well, there will always be kids, and kids like superheroes (at least in animated form) so I think these may stick around for a while. There can be an oversaturation point, but I don’ t know that we’ve reached it yet. DC’s direct-to-DVD releases are about one every…four to six months, something like that. If they were monthly, that’d be a bit much.

    “The recently announced Carl Barks collections by Fantagraphics will receive public attention on the Today Show via Al Roker and become selections in Oprah’s Book Club. The widespread exposure of clever humor and commentary by 50-year old Donald Duck comics create a nationwide movement of crazy alternative-energy initiatives and treasure hunting.”

    De, I like the way you think. If more people read Donald Duck comics, the world would be a better place indeed.

  • Googum gums

    “Green Lantern may have a harder climb for that: imagine a mythical ‘new reader’ bounding out of the GL movie and into, say, Blackest Night. No.”

    Yeah, that is a good point. None of the current Green Lantern titles are exactly inviting to the non-initiated, are they? I’ve already begun planning orders on the Green Lantern Showcase and Chronicles reprint volumes for anyone expressing interest in early GL material, though I hope I don’t have to explain the whole “Pieface” thing to anyone. The two Sinestro War volumes might be a good sampling of recent material.

  • Matt remarks

    “My predictions for 2011, The Green Lantern movie will be critically panned, but commercially successful.”

    Yeah, probably. It looks cool, but will surely be your standard by-the-numbers, cliché-ahoy superhero flick.

    “The Superman books will reintroduce elements from the new krypton storylines.”

    Oh Lordy I hope not. After, what, two years of that hoohar? I’d be happy if they just reintroduced Superman to the Superman books. (Not a slam on the Luthor/Jimmy Action, which is a hoot.)

  • Frowny frowns

    “At some point Grant Morrison will be done with Batman and then there will be incredibly ham handed attempts to return the character to the status quo in time for the new film.”

  • I think eventually that’s gonna happen, like I’ve noted at the end of this post, but Batman is kind of a special case. Batman’s one of those characters that doesn’t necessarily need to adhere to any particular interpretation, and in fact seems to invite reinterpretation…and, almost uniquely, this facet of the character is understood and accepted by most people encountering the character. I get the “this doesn’t look like Superman” or “what’s with Spider-Man’s costume” stuff all the time, but different versions of Batman seem to be taken in stride. (Though a very small percentage of people didn’t appreciate All Star Batman‘s genius, but we can safely ignore them.) Even the Batman and Robin “Dick is Batman, and there’s a different Robin” thing was pretty easily grasped by most people newly exposed to that title.

    “For some stupid reason, Steve Rogers will be back in the Captain America costume in time for the new film.”

    That’ll probably happen, if only because Marvel seems to be a little more self-conscious about that sort of thing.

  • Wayne states

    “I honestly believe that each Earth-One GN will be terrible.”

    You’re right so far!

  • Sanctum Sanctorum conjures

    “Marvel will go back to the MARVEL ZOMBIES pool one more time, this time utilizing Disney’s animatronic special effects wizardry for a live-action amusement park thrill ride (because ‘teh kidz’ just love rotting corpse versions of their favorite heroes).”

    I could totally see a remade Pirates of the Caribbean ride long these lines. Would probably traumatize every kid that went through it, though. (Or maybe delight every kid and traumatize every parent, more likely.)

    Seriously, I do expect a return to the Marvel Zombies thing in the comics at some point…maybe a full-on “Marvel Universe Vs. The Marvel Zombies” event, which seems like the only way for this oddball franchise to go at this point.

    “Mike Sterling will email me to tell me how much I owe him for the variant editions he obtained for me.”

    Nah, that Mike Sterling guy is a jerk. He’ll never do this.

  • philip speaks up with

    “We’ll see the end of ‘events’ for a while and a return to good, long-form storytelling (okay, that’s really a “hope” more than a prediction and though it is unlikely, please just let me have this).”

    That would be nice, but don’t hold your breath.

    “There will be just enough new work from Los Bros Hernandez to make me wish there was more new work from them.”

    This is always true of every year.

    “DC will still not know what to do with Wonder Woman.”

    Sadly, also true of almost every year.

  • Ben peeks into my dreams with

    “DC will guerrilla market a one-shot via leaked uncolored pages, wherein Swamp Thing returns to the main DCU, but he is wearing tights and is traveling across America with his perky goth girlfriend Death. The comics intarwebs will collapse upon itself in an orgasm of hate.”

    If only this would happen. If only.

  • Dan Wars enters the battle with

    “By the end of 2011, the original Fantastic Four will be reunited. Duh!”

    And it will feel so good. But yeah, that’s pretty inevitable, I think. “Thanks for buying us for billions of dollars, Disney…don’t mind if we ‘permanently’ alter one of our properties, do you?”

  • Greg Merritt merits a response with

    “Gin Genie will make her long-awaited return to the Marvel Universe.”

    I honestly had to look that up, because my brain immediately went to David Bowie’s “The Jean Genie,” and I couldn’t get that out of my head. But, yeah, any character whose Wiki entry reads “there was some indication that alcohol helped or increased her powers” probably needs to come back.

  • Mr. A leaves no gray area by predicting

    “Without Dirk Deppey’s daily links roundup, traffic to TCJ.com will crash by at least 90%.”

    Well, I certainly hope not, as there’s still some quality material there, and the Fantagraphics blog is a fine place to start. But I think the internet will certainly miss Dirk Deppey’s fine linkblogging, if it hasn’t already.

  • Gordon unleashes

    “Smaller, more independent press comics focusing on non-superhero fare will begin to become more prevalent and receive more press, since superhero comics will be seen more as ‘movies-in-the-making.'”

    That would be nice, but unfortunately, with the number of comics-friendly press outlets shrinking, and the competition for attention increasing, the press may focus on the big, loud and splashy versus the subtle and challenging. You know, unlike before.

    “The trend towards “graphic novels” made specifically to be turned into other media (30 Days of Night, anyone?) will increase, with a plethora of celebrity-driven “vanity projects” arising (one example – Ron Jeremy’s CAPTAIN HEDGEHOG)”

    First, that is the most horrible example you could have possibly made. Second…yeah, that’s a given, especially in this economy, where a nice fat TV or movie studio check would be quite welcome. And…I’m trying to think of some current celebrity comics, but am drawing a bit of a blank. …Is Turf by Jonathan Ross still happening? I don’t even remember. But I’m sure there will always be some marketplace presence of comic books with licensed celebrity names attached to them, even if, as of late, it doesn’t really seem to help sales that much. Oh, wait, I just remembered…one of those guys from Heroes had a comic book, too. Is that still going? I should probably check.

    “The repeated use of ironic quotation marks, ‘…,’ ‘anyone”’and ‘meh’ will gradually fade, as more articulate comics/pop culture aficionados emerge online, thereby causing nerd critical sites (and Mike Sterling’s Empire 4.0 tumbler thingie) to disappear.”

    That would be Estate 4.1, thank you, and alas, “meh” is a blight that will never fade.

    “Next franchise for DC to exploit: Joel Schumaker’s SWAMP THING. (Sorry, Mike)”

    Would still totally see it.

    “Dan DiDio and Brian Bendis will both wrestle a bear at a convention…and lose.”

    Better get my bear costume drycleaned.

    “Finally, Mike Sterling will still be seen as the greatest comics blogger in the multiverse.”

    Well, naturally.

And on that point, I’d better stop for the day. Yes, that means there will be a third part to this. I’m very sorry.

From someone else’s backroom of misfit toys.

§ December 14th, 2010 § Filed under misfit toys § 10 Comments

So I was doing my usual retail tour in my not-yet-panicking-but-soon rounds of Christmas shopping, and I made one of my two-or-three times yearly visits to the local giant toy store franchise. And of course, I found myself by that one shelf in the action figure aisle set aside for those toys forgotten by both God and man…prices usually slashed, sometimes not (though the price cut is inevitable, as the dust piles upon them, the packages worn from handling). Here are a few that caught my eye:

Hellboy II: Princess Nuala:


That was the first one to grab my attention. There sure were a lot of these on the shelves (along with one figure of that goblin in the cart). Nicely done action figure, but overlooked in favor of Hellboy, Abe Sapien, and the other monster figures, I’m guessing. Or just overproduced for assortments.

Heroes: Exploding Man Peter:


Handful of these warming the pegs…good luck moving this hideous thing now that the series has been over for a year, and not liked for nearly four years.

The Jonah Hex movie action figures:


Surprisingly, there were a bunch of the Megan Fox figures on the shelves, and only a couple of the Jonah Hex and Turnbull. These figures didn’t look too bad, actually…unlike the movie, which was too long even at 72 minutes.

The Spirit – The Octopus action figure:


As the only person on the planet who liked the movie, that essentially makes me the one-man target audience for this action figure, and I still didn’t buy it. But it’s pretty amazing, I have to admit.

Watchmen Kubrick sets:


Two sets, three figures each, $19.99 a pop. Dr. Manhattan sees a price reduction in these items’ futures.

And this next item wasn’t a leftover toy, I don’t think…it was on the shelf facing the previous toys, and looked like it was still part of an active line. I’d known about it, but this was the first time I’d seen in person the giant f’-off Marvel Universe Galactus figure:


It’s ginormous, stupid, and beautiful, all at the same time. It’s also fifty bones, which, alas, I wasn’t about to drop when I’m shopping for presents for other folks.

Other figures from the land of unloved toys: a bunch of Prince of Persia figures, from a film which is pretty much done and gone now; those 3 1/2 inch figures from the Star Trek reboot movie, which seem so quaint and backwards now that most figures are larger and more detailed; and the Tron: Legacy figures, which…whoops, sorry, those weren’t on the close-out shelves. Getting ahead of myself, there.

No votes for Widening Gyre?

§ August 2nd, 2010 § Filed under question time § 6 Comments

So I asked you folks to pick your single favorite ongoing comic book (or manga/TPB) series, and boy, you certainly chimed in.

I actually went through the comments and tallied up how many “votes” each title received…not that I was planning on declaring a winner or anything, but more out of curiosity. I half-suspected that, even though this isn’t necessarily a large enough sample (or even a diverse enough sample, given that it was restricted to a group relatively web-savvy and, I’m assuming, perhaps slightly more aware of the reading choices available to them), that the votes may somewhat reflect a general relationship to in-store sales.

There’s a slight correlation between the votes and our shop sales, in that, say, Batman and Robin (the top vote-getter) is one of the bestselling comics at our shop, compared to, say, 2000 A.D. or DMZ, which each got one vote and sell very little at our store. (In fairness, I should note that while the monthly DMZ sells poorly, we do good business in the paperback collections.)

However, the correlation doesn’t remain the same across the board…Amazing Spider-Man only received one vote, but is still a consistent mid-range seller for us, while Jonah Hex received three votes, though in-store sales have plummeted since the film was inflicted upon movie theatres. So anyway, as far as correlation goes, it’s close in some cases, but no cigar.

Let’s take a look at what you folks voted for:

  • Batman and Robin – As I said, most of you folks picked this as your number one (and some of you included “all Batman by Morrison” in your vote, which does sort of fit with my rule of multiple series that are essentially part of the same run). I’d probably pick this one as my current favorite as well, since All Star Batman is currently resting.
  • The next-highest vote-getter is Secret Six, which kind of surprised me since you don’t really hear a whole lot of chatter about it. Or maybe you do, and I just don’t hang out with the right people. But it is a good series, written by Gail Simone (and occasionally John Ostrander) with a nice mix of dark humor, exciting adventure, and outright horror. Consistently sells well for us, and I’m always having to bump up orders and put in reorders on it.

And then we get down to the middling vote-getters, the ones that got three, four, or five votes apiece:

  • Scalped – Another Vertigo title that barely moves any copies of the periodical magazine version at all, but sells relatively well in its trade paperback format. It seems like the trick with Vertigo is finding that balance between reasonably strong monthly sales versus the portion of the audience that waits for the trade, and by and large only Fables and related titles seem to manage an even balance right now. (By the way, the last time I did this “name your fave” thing, Fables was at the top…this time around, it only got mentioned twice.)
  • Walking Dead – A solid and consistent seller, and another comic that found a successful balance between monthly releases and trade collections. I wonder what effect the TV show will have on sales, if any. I mean, if there was a Walking Dead movie coming out, yeah, comic sales would peak right before release and then die off completely, which is what usually happens. But an ongoing TV show…well, it’ll be interesting to see what it does for the comic.
  • Hellboy and B.P.R.D. – …got an equal number of votes, appropriately enough. Both are essentially continuing series released as a series of mini-series (more B.P.R.D. than Hellboy), and…well, it’s good stuff. Don’t really have much to add to that. Also, they recovered nicely from the sales-killing movie effect, thankfully.
  • Fantastic Four – This is another title that’s recently undergone an upward bump in sales, as people seem to be catching on to Jonathan Hickman’s excellent scripting on the title. I really like the concept of the Fantastic Four, though there have been gaps in my reading of the title (like, oh, say, the 1990s) where I didn’t much care for what was being done with it. But I came back onboard with Mark Waid’s run, followed by Mark Millar, and now Hickman, and it’s been quite a fun ride throughout.
  • Yotsuba&! was the top manga vote-getter, and it is indeed a very amusing and cute comic, about a five-year-old girl doing five-year-old girl things, to the amusement and occasional annoyance of family and friends, and its return to the shelves after a brief publishing hiatus was quite welcome.

And then there were a couple of things that sort of surprised me:

  • The only X-Men title anyone mentioned was X-Men Forever, which received one vote. The continuity-free, retro-style X-Men title, the only one anyone voted for. Perhaps there’s something to be learned here.
  • Deadpool – another one-voter, though there’s something like two dozen Deadpool comics on the stands at any given time. Okay, I exaggerate slightly, but not by much, and somebody‘s buying and reading all these. (And not reading my site, apparently.)
  • Punishermax – only one vote, which surprises me since the title seems to be slowly gaining readers with each issue. And it is a good series…I talked about it before, and it really is a return to the Garth Ennis-style Punisher. And as people catch on to that, the sales creep up.
  • American Vampire – also one vote, but this is one of the stronger Vertigo debuts in a while, and it’s selling reasonably well. I wonder if it can maintain the strong newsstand sales once the paperback collections hit.
  • Tales Designed to Thrizzle only received a couple of votes. This should have received every vote, my friends.

Okay, I’m going to cut it off here for now…if I have more to say about the results, I’ll pick it up tomorrow, but in the meantime — thanks for participating, everyone! This gave me a nice overview as to what you folks are reading and enjoying, and I’m glad you all took the time to leave a comment. I really do appreciate it.

Progressive Ruin presents…the End of Civilization.

§ June 24th, 2010 § Filed under End of Civilization § 15 Comments

Welcome, everyone, to the ONE BILLIONTH entry in the End of Civilization series! …Well, okay, I rounded up slightly, but boy howdy, I have been doing these a while. Anyway, here we go again…grab your copy of Diamond Previews, July 2010 edition, or download your space-age digital copy to your iDroid/ApplePad3000 thingie, and let’s go! (Also, I cut the thalidomide joke…consider yourself lucky.)

p. 135 – Batman Arkham Asylum Series 2 Action Figures:

Oh, sure, I really want this staring back at me:

Though looking at the figures, here…they’re basically making Batman and Robin movie figures, aren’t they?

p. 152 – Star Trek Captain’s Log: Pike One-Shot:

I really hope this is just a single shot of Pike in his chair staring at you, repeated for 23 pages. Maybe the light on the front of his space-wheelchair can be lit or unlit on different pages.

p. 193 – Spawn #207:

Just a reminder that the Spawn comic is still hangin’ in there. Yeah, I’m amazed, too.

p. 210 – Marvel Minimates Series 37 Mini-Figure 2-Packs:

Okay, the six-armed Spider-Man Minimate is an abomination before God and nature:

…but Incognito Thing is ten kinds of awesome:

p. 222 – Duncan the Wonder Dog Volume 1: Show One:

I think Rex the Wonder Dog might have a word or two about this:

p. 232 – Archie Marries… Slipcased HC:

Hey, remember that one time everyone thought something was going to happen in Archie and it turned out it really didn’t? Here’s your chance to remember it forever!

p. 350 – DC Comics Year by Year A Visual Chronicle HC (with Slipcase):

1934 – 1970: Nothing much of importance happens.

1971: Swamp Thing introduced.

p. 350 – The DC Comics Superhero Collection Magazine:

“Hey! Hey, you, DC Comics! Stop getting rid of all your non-white characters!”

“Whoa whoa whoa, don’t blame me, man! Some of my best friends come from the interdimensional island of Marzal!”

p. 352 – Final Crisis The Novel:

Phew! At last, a clear, plain novelization of Grant Morrison’s epic mini-series which will explain everything, since apparently “powerful beings invade the Earth and cause mayhem” is a plot of nigh-Joycean proportions.

p. 354 – Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics Limited Edition HC:

“Face front, true believers! I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler and a straight-line drawing machine, which is why I hired artists to draw my comics! If you can’t draw, you should hire artists, too! Excelsior!”

p. 354 – Disneystrology HC:

“Disneystrology combines astrology, numerology, and the magic of movies to help readers understand their own personalities.”

How can so much hard science be contained in only 48 pages?

p. 358 – The Snuggie Sutra TP:

“POSITION 32: Just take the damned thing off. I mean, c’mon, seriously, what’re you thinking?”

p. 361 – Reefer Movie Madness: The Ultimate Stoner Film Guide SC:

“WARNING: Readers may be really, really hungry after reading this book.”

p. 364 – Star Wars Millennium Falcon 3-D Owner’s Guide HC:

“Includes technical notes from Han Solo….”

I don’t know that Han Solo would be all that big on “technical notes.” “If it doesn’t work, hit it with your space-wrench. Or get your Wookiee pal to fix it.”

p. 374 – The Demon T-Shirt:

Will delight 1 out of 20 people you encounter who are also Jack Kirby fans. The other 19 will simply assume you worship Satan.

p. 381 – Nightmare on Elm Street Freddy Deluxe Sweater:

Okay, they’re just selling the sweater in this particular solicitation, but they could have tried a little harder on the actual mask. Looks like a background alien from Babylon 5.

p. 383 – Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter Prestige Costume:

Man, what the hell happened to Carrottop?

p. 400 – Living Dead Dolls Presents Freddy Kreuger Classic 10-Inch Figure:

Oh, c’mon, how many victims is he realistically going to slash to death with those wee little nubbins of arms?

p. 407 – Star Wars Flying Millennium Falcon R/C Vehicle:

At first glance, as I was skimming the catalog, I thought this was some kind of hat, or visor. I’d bet Employee Aaron’s salary that such a thing actually does exist.

p. 407 – Toy Story 3 Mr. Potato Head as Buzz Lightyear:

“OH MY GOD he’s killed and skinned Buzz and he’s (choke) wearing him!”

p. 411 – Return to Wonderland Alice Statue:

“Why, you sneaky little phallic symbol, coming up behind me like that, you rascal!”

p. 431 – Toy Story Kubricks:

Why, these are kind of cute and neat-looking…nice translations of the screen characters in Kubrick form. …Hmm, and what’s this….

p. 431 – Toy Story 3 Buzz & Woody Be@rbrick:

oh no why would anyone do this

p. 435 – Farts in a Can Sound F/X Toy:

AND NOW WHY MIKE IS NOT INVITED TO PARTIES:

“BRRAAAAPP!”

“Ha ha! Mike, you scamp, you have one of those Farts in a Can toys, don’t you?”

“A what in a can?”

“Um….”

p. 437 – Cthulhu Plush Cell Phone Holder:

“Hello? Hello? Are the stars right now?”

p. 437 – Zombie Fragrance Oil:

“For a zombie in a state of decay, they need Zombie Fragrance Oil. Liberally apply this scent, and combat that lingering odor of decay to entire the comely young undead thing that has caught your fancy.”

I don’t even know where to start on this.

p. 439 – Superman Returns Desk Clock/Paperweight:

Wow, somebody still has some old Superman Returns stock left over.

p. 441 – Zodiac Smurf Figures:

JOKE #1: Newspaper Editor Smurf keeps getting letters from an anonymous suspect who claims “I’m going to smurf again!”

JOKE #2: James Randi Smurf has totally debunked this astrosmurfology nonsense. These Smurfs should be ashamed of themselves.

p. 453 – Back to the Future The Card Game:

“Oh, man…I drew the ‘Your Mom Hits on You’ card. I’m feeling very uncomfortable.”

p. 458 – DC Heroclix Jonah Hex Battle Pack:

Made from recycled Jonah Hex movie filmstock!

Marvel Previews p. 77 – Wolverine #1:

Well, yes, I guess…but if you need more Wolverine-style action, there’s the Wolverine: The Road to Hell one-shot, the new Daken: Dark Wolverine ongoing series, the ongoing X-23 spin-off character, there’s Wolverine’s appearance in X-Force, and he’s prominently featured in the Avengers: The Children’s Crusade ad, and there he is as the feature character in New Avengers #4, and oh, look, there he is in Spider-Man/Fantastic Four #3, and Astonishing X-Men #4, oh, and Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine #1 Director’s Cut, and there’s his origin in Origins of Marvel Comics: X-Men #1, and I can see him there in X-Men #3, and there’s a little tiny pic of him on the cover of X-Men: Curse of the Mutants – X-Men Vs. Vampires #1, and he might be in Avengers #5 or some of the other X-titles, but I’m not seeing him in the ads, but you know, maybe, if we’re lucky, Wolvie might in those titles, too. So thank goodness, we’ll hopefully have sufficient Wolverine content in the months to come!

Marvel Previews p. 88 – Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall #1:

Available in August…and then sporadically thereafter!

Three links will fill him, three links will thrill him.

§ June 18th, 2010 § Filed under sir-links-a-lot § 5 Comments

  • Bryant Paul Johnson shows us all what he thinks that China Miéville Swamp Thing comic might have been like. (Thanks pal Dave for pointing this out to me.)
  • Bully the Little Stuffed Bull is the single greatest stuffed animal comics blogger on the entire nerdinet, and he proves it yet again with this…well, I say “tour de force” a lot describing Bully’s posts, but seriously, how else could you describe the genius of…“What Really Happened the Night of June 16, 1973” — God bless that Bully.
  • As I’m writing this, the Jonah Hex film is at 10% on the Rotten Tomatoes review amalgamator. The mighty Roger Ebert gave it two stars, which, well, that’s better than one star, anyway.

    How I would have improved it: halfway through the film, Jonah Hex is whisked away from the Old West and transported into the future. C’mon, that would have been awesome.

Okay, that’s more than three links. “Three bullet points” isn’t quite as snappy. And yes, that’s a Brak Show reference. I’m not made of stone, people.

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