Don’t think about the math.

§ June 24th, 2020 § Filed under pal plugging, this week's comics § 9 Comments

Alas, it has come to pass on this, the occasion of his seventh birthday, that Bully the Little Bull Stuffed with Love, is bringing his website Comics Oughta Be Fun to a close after fifteen years.

Bully (with the assistance of his pal John, who helps Bully type since he’s too small to reach the keyboard) has been one of the purest delights of the comics internet, with an endless library of comics and a staggering knowledge of the artform. Always presented with good cheer, enthusiasm, and delightful humor, Bully was a dependable break from the sarcasm and cynicism that too many others (including myself) often utilized. To read Bully was to read joy, to remember why it is we all love comic books…and we all do remember why, even if it’s buried beneath layers of accumulated mental crud caused by industry shenanigans and less-than-great publications.

Bully was also a good friend to me, personally, and I’m glad to have known him…oh, and his friend John too. More than a handful of times have I asked Bully for production assistance on some post I was trying to put together, and he always came through, bless his little fuzzy heart. And of course he occasionally found time to razz me a little:


DARN YOU BULLY

Anyway, I am sorry to see Bully wrap up his blog, but am glad we were able to enjoy it for so many years. And of course, despite me continually talking about Bully in the past tense here, he’s still around on Twitter as one of the very few good things on that platform. And, if I know Bully, I’m sure he’ll find even more ways to continue reminding us that comics oughta be fun.

Here’s to you, Bully and John, and please, always remember:

• • •

So, in a minor tribute to Bully’s long internet efforts, let me talk about a couple of fun comics right now! It’s the stunning return of the “This Week’s Comics” category, after being years behind on purt’near everything due to my ongoing eyeball situation. Well, while I still have eyeball issues to contend with, I have been able to get actual prescription glasses, thus allowing me to finally start trying to catch up on my funnybook reading. Oh, and also work and drive and stuff, I guess.

I’m not entirely behind…I did attempt to at least keep up on a couple of titles during those brief periods I could see well enough to struggle through a comic armed with a pair of dollar store reading glasses. And one of those titles was Immortal Hulk, a new issue of which comes out this week:


This continues to be the best comic Marvel is current publishing. Hulk-as-horror-comic is a natural interpretation of the character, one that’s been touched upon many times in the past but not for the extended examination that this series has provided. Psychological and body horror mixed together with nightmarish interpretations of Hulk’s enemies and allies, combined with the overarching existential dread that always lurks behind every plot twist and character moment in this book. It’s lotsa fun, honest!

Ol’ Sam Sterns, The Leader, the fella what got super-strong brains from gamma radiation instead of the muscles the Hulk received, is the focus of this issue, though perhaps you guessed that from the cover. We see the history of the character, from his beginnings to present day, and if you’ve read Hulk comics for way too long like I have, you definitely recognize some of the stops the narrative makes along the way. Certain events are recontextualized for the overall themes the book explores, particularly those of life and death and resurrection, and it’s all endlessly fascinating.

It was recently announced that the series is wrapping up with issue #50, and while it’s disappointing to have one less good comic to read, it is good that the creative team will be given the option to conclude the story on their own terms. Of course, we’re all gonna feel sorry for whoever takes over the Hulk next.

Should note that this is the work of regular series writer Al Ewing, while quest-artists Butch Guice and Tom Palmer fit right in. I hardly noticed the difference.


A confession: aside from Action Comics #1000, I haven’t read any of the recent 80th Anniversary specials DC has released. I want to read ’em, I have a copy of each of them, but, well, I refer you a couple of paragraphs back where I complain about my eyes yet again.

But gosh darn it the Green Lantern anniversary special came out today, and while I have working eyes and good glasses I was going to read the darn thing. And read it I did.

First, of course I was going to go for the ’60s cover variant, with the go-go checks and the swell art by Doug Mahnke and David Baron. I think they did a good job differentiating the different decades represented on the covers…I didn’t even have to look at the small print in the corners to figure out which one was which. (Unlike the Joker anniversary covers from a couple of weeks ago, where…maybe the ’40s one looked like it was trying to evoke the 1940s?)

The contents are a good read as well, starting off with a pleasantly done Alan Scott story that addresses the origin of a particular aspect of that version of Green Lantern. (Will note that seeing Doiby Dickles, the Golden Age GL’s sidekick, being called “Derby” feels so terribly weird to me.) And I know y’all like to kick Geoff Johns around, but his contribution is a simple character piece with an amusing payoff. The rest of the book is enjoyable as well, with nice bits featuring Jessica Cruz, Simon Baz, Sinestro and Kilowog, plus a story where the other GLs talk about Guy Gardner…it’s a good piece, but a tiny bit distressing, which you’ll see when you read it.

The book is filled out with several pin-ups, including a great image of Guy Gardner by Joe Staton, the very fella who helped usher him back into the DC Universe back in those long-ago 1980s. The back pages are a mini-who’s who of the various Green Lanterns, human and otherwise.

Anyway, both of these are fun comics. As they oughta be.

I think the world is ready for a Concrete/Thing crossover.

§ June 22nd, 2020 § Filed under cerebus, dc comics, marvel, publishing § 15 Comments

So remember last week when we were talking about the Marvel/DC crossovers, and which ones I thought we the good’uns? Well, a couple of you had questions, so let me address those first:

John Lancaster tossed his line into the water with

“Seems to me that a lot of good crossovers that aren’t Marvel/DC are getting forgotten”

and then he proceeds to list some ones that are indeed good. My focus of the post was specifically just the Marvel/DC encounters, but I had planned on address some of the crossovers involving other companies as well. In other words, let’s talk about Deathmate:

Ah, just ribbin’ ya a little, and I’ve already talked about Deathmate at length if you want to go relive that.

But yes, there were plenty of crossovers among the smaller companies, sometimes even with either Marvel or DC. A personal favorite is 1994’s Archie Meets the Punisher (AKA Punisher Meets Archie, as per the Marvel-published diecut cover version):


General reaction to this at the time when this was announced was “Whaaa–!?” and for good reason, though it turned out to actually be a bit of fun. with art by Stan Goldberg and John Buscema.

Archie Comics, in fact, seems pretty game to cross over their character with other companies even to this say. John mentioned Archie Vs. Predator (which featured some fairly shocking content for an Archie comic, but in this post-Afterlife with Archie world, pretty much anything is fair game, I suspect). We’ve also had Archie meet up with Batman ’66, and the Archie gang turned up in issue #13A of Gen13 back in ’96:


I remember that one surprising me more than the Punisher crossover, for some reason. Like, Marvel and the Punisher were fairly “mainstream” and high profile, versus a relatively unknown (though admittedly popular) indie book. Wasn’t sure what Archie was going to get out of that…except, after thinking about it for a second, exposure of the characters to an audience that might otherwise not have paid attention to them, duh.

I suspect creator-owned titles are a little easier to negotiate with when it comes to crossovers like this, simply due to less layers of bureaucracy being involved. I mean, I’m about to exaggerate a little, but assembling the deal to make this happen feels like it probably only took about five minutes:


Don’t write to tell me I’m wrong, I know I am, but you have to admit the process of Todd ‘n’ Dave getting together to team up Spawn and Cerebus probably was a great deal less involved than JLA/Avengers. And Mr. Sim wasn’t shy about letting Cerebus show up here and yonder in other people’s independent comics, which again probably consisted of a fax asking if they could use the character, and Dave faxing back “yeah, sure.” Okay, granted the two that immediately come to mind are Journey and normalman, both Aardvark-Vanaheim publications at the time, like Cerebus, but I know there were others. Alas, the fabled X-Men/Cerebus didn’t happen (beyond a piece of promo art). But look, all I got for that Mr. Monster/Swamp Thing proposed team-up was a single piece of art as well:


…so we all just have to suffer.

More on specific crossovers next time, maybe, but let’s address Thom H.’s query briefly:

“I mean, is it that difficult or costly to have an inter-company meeting to discuss splitting the costs and profits 50/50? It seems like something two lawyers could do via email.”

As it was explained to me by someone also in the comics publishing business, it’s the potential profits that are a problem. Apparently neither Marvel nor DC feel like they’d be making enough profit on bringing any of these back in print, that having only 50% of the take isn’t enough. Now it seems to me making a little money is better than making no money (believe me, I’ve told myself that plenty of times at the shop after looking at the end-of-day receipts) but the Big Two don’t see it that way, I guess.

My half-facetious solution was that each company get the rights to publish their own paperbacks reprinting their crossovers…like, DC could publish JLA/Avengers under their own trade dress, and Marvel could do the same, titling it Avengers/JLA and putting it out with their trade dress, and they could agree to just keep all the profits from their versions. But I can see other problems arising from this (like, what happens when Marvel lets theirs fall out of print almost immediately…can DC still keep publishing their own?) so that may not be much of a solution.

So I don’t know, Thom…maybe when we enter a cashless society then someday all these comics will come back into print. In the meantime…WRITE YOUR CONGRESSPERSON! I’m sure they have nothin’ else going on right now, let them deal with this issue.

Okay, more crossover talk next time? Eh, we’ll see. In the meantime, be good to each other, wear your masks and wash your hands, and for God’s sake quick setting off your firecrackers at night, old comic shop owners need to get their beauty sleep.

“Buy a CD,” said the guy obviously in his 50s.

§ June 18th, 2020 § Filed under eyeball, real world stuff § 16 Comments

Okay, I do plan on getting back to the whole intercompany crossover business we were talking about last time. What I was going to talk about today was the fact that I finally got prescription glasses (my eyes finally being stable enough for them, but still prone to occasional bleeds) and have started to try to read the enormous backlog of comics I’ve got waiting for me at home. I’m literally a year behind on some titles.

But something needs to be said about comics writer Warren Ellis and writer/artist Cameron Stewart, both of whom are facing allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior. You can read about what’s going on with Ellis here, and Stewart here. No word that I’ve seen from Ellis, but I saw Stewart locked down some of his social media presence.

Now…okay, I don’t really know anything about Stewart, aside from seeing his name on some comics here and there (and I know I enjoyed the Batgirl run he worked on) but I am quite familiar with Ellis, as I suspect most of the folks reading a comics blog like this would be as well. I think it’s safe to say that Ellis had cultivated a persona of being someone who did not suffer fools, was encouraging of new work by independent creators, supportive of the rights of women and the LGBTQ community. So of course it’s greatly disappointing to hear these reports coming out about him. I mean, it’s disappointing to hear them come out about anybody, but Ellis, in particular…you can’t help but think “but surely he was smarter than that?”

I have no idea how this is going to shake out…while I’m all for “innocent until proven guilty,” I’m also for “believe women,” and there is a lot of stuff just kinda pouring out right now. I am curious as to what Ellis, and Stewart too I suppose, are going to have to say in response, whether they’re apologies of varying levels of sincerity, or just a flurry of self-defensive libel suits, I don’t know.

But I do know that I hate seeing these stories come out of the comics industry, a business primarily built on telling stories about good conquering evil, in which evil is continually inflicted on good people and so often goes unpunished. Or worse, unmentioned.

Reader Hooper left a comment on my last post regarding these recent events. You should read the whole post, but I did want to respond to one part of it. Hooper says

“…I feel guilty for contributing to their careers by seeking out their work and purchasing their art.”

Well…you really shouldn’t. How could you have known? It’s not your fault. I mean, you have to go through life and make your decisions based on the idea that folks whose work you’re supporting are operating in good faith. You can’t buy a CD thinking while you hand over the money “I sure hope this guy isn’t a child molester!” You’d drive yourself crazy second-guessing yourself like that. Don’t feel bad that you supported someone who turned out to not be a good person. Don’t even feel bad that you enjoyed the work in the past. Just think “I know better now” and stop supporting that creator. Maybe that creator will make amends, work to better himself, do proper penance, and someday be worthy of support again. Or maybe not. But it’s all on the person who did wrong. It’s certainly not on you, the consumer who didn’t know.

Sigh. Sorry, I don’t have a funny or pithy wrap-up to this post. These are just ugly situations, and I hate that these things happen. I really do.

Money on the table.

§ June 15th, 2020 § Filed under dc comics, marvel, Uncategorized § 6 Comments

Continuing from Friday’s post, where I was going on about intercompany crossovers…well, once again I ran out the clock on my blogging time, so let’s see what I can cover at least briefly here. I did want to mention a couple more favorites of mine…though, oddly enough, I ended up putting a couple of them on sale here at the shop, like a big dummy, but I suppose I can replace them someday.

The first two Marvel/DC ones I wanted to point out as being particular notable, and the first tow have one thing in common: John Byrne. Now, Byrne seems to be most in his wheelhouse when playing in Jack Kirby’s playground, and that’s definitely the case with Darkseid Vs. Galactus: The Hunger:

It helps that Galactus is a character I’d liked since I was a kid, and that Byrne’s Galactus is the one that I was really into, so it was nice to see Byrne returning to him. And pitting two of Kirby’s big baddies from either side of the publishing aisle is hard to resist. Sadly, it’s been a while since I’ve read this, so I forget most of the details (again, wish I hadn’t given up this comic) but the conclusion, as I recall, is a pretty good and clever defining moment for each character.

The other Byrne-produced crossover was Batman/Captain America, presented as a period piece with both characters in the World War II-era incarnations. You’ve likely seen the much-scanned-and-posted sequence from this book where the Joker, discovering that his partner in crime, the Red Skull, is a Nazi, turns on him, declaring himself an all-American criminal (shades of The Rocketeer movie). It’s a good scene, and the comic overall is a lot of fun…Byrne gets to play with Kirby’s Cap, and I’ve always liked his version of Batman.

Of note, I had a copy of this in the shop recently, and posted a pic on the store Instagram. I received a lot of requests for it (not just on Instagram, but in email, via Twitter DMs, etc.). Alas, had but the one to sell, but it certainly demonstrated the demand for these things.

Another book I wanted to mention was Incredible Hulk Vs. Superman, featuring beautiful art by Steve Rude (and honestly, would you expect any less from The Dude?). As was noted in the comments to my last post, it’s a nice retro-presentation for both characters, with the early ’60s version of the Hulk and the Golden Age-esque style of Superman, which nicely matches Roger Stern’s story placing this encounter early in the careers of both.

It’s a common thought I have about comic works of notes, but it’s a real shame material like this is out of print and difficult to come by. A nice, permanent edition of this (or any of thse intercompany crossovers) would be perennial sellers. I realize there are economic reasons that make it difficult to keep these in print, but still, what a waste and what a shame.

Crossing the streams.

§ June 12th, 2020 § Filed under dc comics, marvel § 9 Comments

Okay, it’s been a long day, and I’m starting to write this late, but thankfully reader Matthew Murray dropped in a question that I can type about for a few minutes here:

“…What are your favourite intercompany crossovers?”

OOH BOY. There are quite a few, actually, and now that I’m pondering the question I realize this is a post that could go on for a while. So, let’s see what I can do tonight before Mr. Sandman whisks me away to sleep.

Well, JLA/Avengers, already discussed, is a great one, I think. Really, you look at it, you look at how crammed full it is of, well, everything, and there’s literally no way it could have worked in this particular form except for the fact that it’s by Kurt Busiek and George Perez. It should have been a disastrous mess, but instead it’s a towering achievement. Good on them.

The very first intercompany crossover I bought was the second Superman/Spider-Man crossover from 1981, published as Marvel Treasury Edition #28:


…and in many ways, it still remains my favorite. Marvel and DC, for their first batch of superhero meet-ups, were trading off the producution duties, so DC did the first Superman/Spidey, Marvel did this one, DC did Batman/Hulk, and Marvel did that X-Men/Titans one.

And I think it was the Marvel-ness of it that made me really like this particular event. It very much felt like “What If Superman Was a Marvel Character?” with Supes drawn in a very Marvel style by one of the most Marvel of artists, John Buscema, and colored in more somber tones than the usual brightness of DC’s Super-books. It felt…gritter, more “realistic” if you’d pardon the expression. This was not a version of Superman I was used to seeing, and I very much took to this version of the character.

Alas, I no longer have that original treasury edition, or any of those original four crossover books from the ’70s/’80s (not counting the Wizard of Oz adaptation DC and Marvel teamed up to produce) as I have that trade paperback reprinting of the four instead. Kinda loses something shrunk down like that (especially since my eyes would probably appreciate the larger format right about now). Also, I could be wrong on this, but it feels like they colored Superman’s costume even darker in the reprint than in the original tabloid. But, it’s still a good read, if you can find a copy.

Now I briefly mentioned the other super-crossovers between Marvel and DC published around that time. I actually liked them all quite a bit, but that second Superman/Spider-Man team-up is the tops of the bunch for me. But look, that Batman/Hulk treasury was full of giant pages of Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez art, and X-Men/Titans was chock full o’Walt Simonson. Those initial four comics have images and dialogue that have been stuck in my head for decades now…just a lot of fun.

Yeah, okay, surprise surprise, I’m being long-winded about this. Let’s pick up on this topic on Monday and I’ll try to think what more recent (i.e. 20 years ago) intercompany crossovers really strike my fancy.

Guess I should have just stocked up the trades while they were still available.

§ June 10th, 2020 § Filed under dc comics, marvel, publishing § 11 Comments


So the 11-year-old niece and the 9-year-old nephew were telling me the other day how much they wanted Marvel and DC to have their characters meet. Specifically, they wanted the Justice League and the Avengers to fight.

“Oh, they already did that!” I told them. “I can show you a book of–”

“A BOOK!?!?” they exclaimed. “Why would you want to read a book of that? We meant a Marvel and DC movie!”

Well, I figure we’re some time away from a movie like that…probably going to take the collapse of the superhero film industry to make everyone desperate enough to band together, much like the ’90s collapse of the comics industry encouraged such crossovers. But, boy, speaking of which we sure did have a lot of those crossovers between Marvel during the ’90s, and while they used to be as common as dirt in the back issue bins before, now that some time has passed they’re not quite as plentiful.

I’m sure part of the reason is the same one I’ve given before, that a lot of the shops that existed during that period, and had wholesaled stock of those titles from distributors and possibly still had extras in storage, are now gone. Maybe their stock made it to other shops, maybe that stock is languishing in some poor bastard’s garage or storage unit, but whatever the cause, those crossovers don’t seem to pop up as often as they used to. Not long ago I had a copy of the Batman/Captain America team-up, and I’d posted a pic on my Instagram…and I had multiple requests to buy it. Demand definitely outstripped supply in that case.

And it’s just not that comic…once common, low-demand examples of Marvel/DC crossovers like Spider-Man/Batman or Batman/Daredevil never seem to last long. And high-demand ones like Hulk/Superman barely even get a change to get put in the back issue bins before it’s out the door.

It’s a shame that the deals between the companies that could result in keeping them in print (like they did in a series of paperbacks collecting them all together) are gone. And no more terrible example of this is JLA/Avengers.

I pulled my copy of the oversized, slipcased hardcover set to eventually show to the niece and nephew, who will probably glance at it briefly, shrug, and tell me “this isn’t a movie,” which is fine. But it was nice to look through it again…and at this size, it’s a lot easier for me to enjoy given the eyeball problems I’ve had of late.

It really is amazing…it’s nothing short of a miracle and Kurt Busiek and George Perez were able to cram in pretty much every character ever associated with either team, fill each page witih multiple panels and plenty of dialogue, and still have it come out at the end beautiful and readable. Sometimes you hear folks talk about how “not an inch is wasted” when discussing comic art, and boy howdy, does it ever apply here.

The real shame here is that it is not in print. This should be a perennial seller, constantly available, and it practically sells itself. So much money being left on the table by not having this available, and so many new fans just missing out on it. Well, okay, some people are just downloading it for free via file-sharing, I’m sure, but they’d probably do that anyway even if it was in print.

I’m saying the book should be available, as well as the other crossover collection paperbacks. But, it was pointed out to me on the Twitters when I was griping about this very thing, the economics of it probably don’t work very well, with money on each copy sold would have to be split between Marvel and DC. My idea was that maybe each company can just publish their own version of the paperbacks and keep all the profits from their own book. Like, DC could put out JLA/Avengers, Marvel could release Avengers/JLA, identical except it’s under the Marvel label and they get all the cash. I don’t know, there’s probably reasons why that wouldn’t work (least of which that the two companies probably wouldn’t want competing products that were essential the same), but…I just want JLA/Avengers back in print. Somehow. Just look at all that work that went into it…only for it to be dropped down the memory hole.

I would like to see Marvel/DC crossovers again…I tended to enjoy most of the ones that were released. I never did get my Swamp Thing/Man-Thing comic, despite cameo gag appearances. Ah, well. I know Todd McFarlane was throwing the idea out there of a Spawn/Spider-Man team up, to generate some excitement and get folks into stores after the retail shutdowns. That’s Image/Marvel, not DC/Marvel, but it’s the same kinda thing.

In conclusion, the niece and nephew better like seeing my copy of JLA/Avengers. At the very least, I’m sure they’ll enjoy that crazy “every character from either team ever” image on the slipcase. Honestly, what kid could resist that?

I have no idea if Gilgamesh II is even still available.

§ June 8th, 2020 § Filed under dc comics, fakeapstylebook, real world stuff, retailing § 10 Comments

So…it still feels weird to be writing about comics right now. Things continue to be in a huge state of upheaval, folks are remaining angry (and rightfully so) and even as changes to the system are appearing to be slowly progressing, the pushback is still hurting folks and costing lives. If you wish to contribute to resources helping out Black people, this list is a good place to start (which also includes support for the gay and transgendered). There may be organizations local to you that could use help as well. I know wallets are pretty much emptied after months of state shutdowns, and you might not be able to donate. At the very least, promote resources like those linked above, and be vocal in your support of those in need of it.

• • •

So the comic news that’s kinda hard to ignore even with everything else going on is the fact that DC Comics is bailing entirely on Diamond Comics as a distributor of its product.

Okay, when DC decided to start distributing their items through a couple of other sources during Diamond’s shutdown, I figured things were going to change for the industry. Mostly I thought we’d see a lot more publishers, mostly indie types, deciding to either split from Diamond themselves, or at least wholesale their items directly to retailers in addition to offering them through the usual system. Mostly, I anticipated having to go through a half-dozen catalogues and cut separate checks to everyone every week, like The Good Ol’ Days. However, I didn’t anticipate DC leaving Diamond entirely. That came as bit of a shock.

Still not sure what the ultimate impact of this will be to the industry as a whole, or to me personally. I mean, aside from not knowing when the new DCs will arrive each week. Hard to meet DC’s new Tuesday on-sale time when I don’t get the books ’til a few hours before closing that day. The actual process of ordering from this other distributor is fairly easy, and I noticed they changed the user interface to make things more organized and convenient. Items don’t always get listed in alphabetical order, which I would prefer, but they weren’t at Diamond either so I’ll live. [EDIT: Oh wait, now that I look at the new distributor’s website with newly cleared vision, following the most recent eyeball procedure, I can see there are teeny tiny buttons that let me change the ordering of the lists. NEVER MIND]

Plus, I’ve yet to experience a single damage or shortage on DC product from this other distributor, so that’s a nice change. I am curious about backlist titles, as so far the only older items the new distributor has is whatever they had come in since they started shipping out DC books to retailers in April. I presume eventually more books (and older comics) will move over there, but far as I can tell I can still order that product from Diamond. Wonder how long that’ll last? Will DC buy it all back from Diamond to move to their other outlets, or is Diamond going to be stuck trying to sell those Gilgamesh II graphic novels ’til the end of time?

Also of concern is the financial impact on Diamond. With the loss of one of its two biggest vendors, that’s gotta cause the ol’ pursestrings to be tightened a little. I presume that means fewer employees manning phones and packing/shipping product, but there’s also less product to be packed/shipping, so maybe it’ll all balance out? I suspect we’ll see soon enough. I know Diamond told retailers directly that losing one vendor, even a large one like DC, is something they could ride out, and I can believe it. So long as Marvel doesn’t Heroes World-it again and also depart, I suspect we’ll still have Diamond to kick around a while longer.

On the personal side of things, my business has been doing…okay so far now that I’ve been able to reopen. Most days have been having normal business, though my Wednesdays have been pretty short of what they once were. Almost by necessity, since new comic shipments are only a fraction of what they once were, and Marvel’s only shipping a handful of titles every other week. As my former boss Ralph once told me, decades ago, “as Marvel goes, so goes the industry,” and it certainly feels like it’s Marvel that drives the folks in the door each week for their fix. Anything else can wait ’til it’s convenient to show up, but the new Avengers and Amazing Spider-Man must be bought right away.

The big question coming up is Batman #92, which prior to the COVID-19 shutdowns was The Big In-Demand Comic, what with that issue’s focus on the new villain Punchline. I’d actually ordered quite a bit on that, expecting a rush, plus having to meet the demands of advance requests for multiple copies, etc. Now I’m wondering it that same demand has maintained itself over our extended break? I’m curious to see. I’ve also noticed a decrease in Random Hot Books, where there’s one comic nobody expected, or ordered a lot of, that suddenly everyone wants so they can flip it on eBay or whatever. Last week was the first example of this in a while (the “B” cover for most recent installment of Blackwood, selling for around $30 online the day of release). Oh, this crazy business.

• • •

In other news, Fake AP Stylebook has come back for the nonce, in our time of greatest need. Yes, I’m writing for it again. Probably not getting another book deal out of this comeback, but that’s okay, we’re doing it out of love. And bitterness. And just pure, unadulterated sarcasm. Anyway, no one stopped us, so it’s back. We regret nothing.

Added a “real world stuff” category to the site just for this post.

§ June 1st, 2020 § Filed under real world stuff Comments Off on Added a “real world stuff” category to the site just for this post.

Think I’m going to pass on talking about comics today.

Pay attention to what’s happening right now, and don’t depend on network or cable news for information, as that’s all just “looters looters looters.” Look to reports and videos from ground level reporting on social media to see what people are fighting for, and what they’re up against.

Yes, I know that’s “being political,” and some people don’t like that getting mixed with their entertainment. Tough shit. The two are rarely, if ever, separated. Racism sucks, Black people getting slaughtered in the streets sucks, innocent people getting injured and permanently maimed (or blinded) by rubber bullets sucks, agitators discrediting movements with violence and vandalism suck. Sorry if I’ve offended anyone who’s actually okay with any of that…well, no, I’m not sorry, come to think of it.

Look, I know the regular readers of this site won’t have a problem with me saying any of this. I figure after doing ProgRuin for the better part of two decades, you gotta know what I’m about by now, right? I’m not aiming any of that at you. But there’s always those drive-by comenters who pops in to say something stupid whenever I take a controversial stand like, to use a recent example, when I decided to follow actual health regulations to maintain my business.

On top of that…I had to get this off my chest. It felt wrong just to ignore what was happening and continue on my site, business as usual. Look, I’m just a slightly-past-middle-aged white dude who sells comics, writes about comics, and writes about selling comics. I’m not pretending to have any special insight on any of this. Like most of us, I want to see a better world, and that better world is worth fighting for.

Thanks for putting up with this today, and I’ll see if I can’t get back to the usual content later in the week. In the meantime, stay safe out there, friends.

For the loosest definition of the word “lucky.”

§ May 29th, 2020 § Filed under retailing § 3 Comments

So it’s been a week since I was allowed to reopen my shop to customers, and so far, so good. Everyone’s being careful, maintaining distance and wearing masks, and happily shopping. I’m not quite as busy as I was before the shutdown at the end of March, but I’m still doing fairly good business.

One problem is that I’d been adjusting orders on my comics based on being closed to public access. Being told Thursday of last week that I could open again caught me by surprise, so I don’t have quite the amount of new stock that I would prefer to have for folks browsing the shelves. That’s not to say I had nothing, but my stocked copies on the new arrivals racks were perhaps not as deep as I would have liked. Now as it turns out, and as I noted, I’m not getting the foot traffic I normal get just yet, as folks are gradually getting used to the idea of venturing outside their homes again, but I did have to place a handful of reorders just to make sure I got the demands of the walk-ins I do have covered. It’s a fine line I’m walking here.

Speaking of orders, Diamond’s shipments for these last two weeks have been relatively small, so this week’s New Comics Wednesday was not the usual Big Register Take that I’m generally used to, but that’s okay. My Diamond bills aren’t all that high either, so as long as the sales on the new books pay for themselves, I should be in good shape.

Now the DCs…as you’d likely heard, DC started using alternative distribution outside of Diamond to start getting their books into shops a few weeks prior to Diamond’s reopening. And the distributor I’ve been using I’m mostly happy with. No damages, no shortages, good customer service, bulletproof packing…the only problem is the shipper they’re using. This distributor’s comic shipments are supposed to show up on Monday, so that the DCs may be put out for sale on Tuesday. I think I’ve had one of their boxes actually show up on Monday once. In fact, this week, I didn’t get the new DCs until several hours into my Wednesday. I like the idea of having alternatives to Diamond, but I’m going to have to transition my new DC orders back to Diamond just so there’s a better chances of having my books on time. I’ll likely do reorders and such from the other distributor, but time-sensitive stuff needs time-sensitive service, and I’m just not getting that.

When it comes to the actual racking of the new books, it’s a little trickier I have one shelf on the rack for the “New This Week” books, and the two shelves beneath hold all the books that came out the last week of March (the last Diamond shipment before their shutdown, released a week after I had to close the store’s doors) through New Comics Day of last week (which turned out to be the last day I had to be closed). I plan to continue racking things this way for a could of weeks so that as my customers return, they’ll have an easier time picking out what they have have missed while I was closed and they were away. Thankfully I have sufficient shelving space to accommodate this sort of behavior.

So, all in all, I seem to be doing okay and heading back to at least semi-normal business. I don’t want to say for sure my business made it through this crisis, because it ain’t done yet (and may not be for a while, if the folks demanding they be allowed to be disease vectors get their way) but there’s reason to at least be a tad hopeful.

• • •

IN OTHER SITE NEWS: Okay, there was a typo in Monday’s post title. It’s fixed now. And there are probably typos in this week’s post. COLLECT ‘EM ALL

Also, I did have a post ready to go for Wednesday…but I scheduled it way ahead of time, never bothered to check if it did load, and when I logged into my admin pages, I got a notice that publication failed for whatever reason. But it’s up now in all its glory. …So, two new posts for today! Ain’t you lucky?

And I’m not sure what’s up with that extraneous “K.”

§ May 27th, 2020 § Filed under marvel, merchandise § 6 Comments

So I had a fella bring in a few Spider-Man comics to sell the other day, and he had them stowed away in a small cardboard carrier. That that carrier looked a little something…like this:


I bought the comics, as it turned out I needed them all, and the seller left behind this box when he departed. At first clance, I thought it was a homebad box, as I’ve certainly seen a lot of personally-decorated comic boxes over the decade.

But no, the lettering appears to be printed directiy on the cardboard, which doesn’t preclude someone making one of these for himself, but more likely it’s some kind of mass-produced item. And it’s not official Marvel merchandise, given the lack of copyright notices. Not sure if this really counts as a copyright violation, despite the phrase “Amazing Fantasy” appaering, and having a spider dropping from the name “Peter,” which must be some kind of look ‘n’ feel thing.

Anyway, no idea where this comes from. I’d be very surprised if this was an Official Spider-Man Item™, but if you know where this came from, let me know!

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