Man of the Moment

Sean William Scott

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Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Joe Casey and Matt Fraction think the problem with blogs is that they're too exclusive...

Y'know, they're right, it really is too hard to set up your own blog and update it regularly.

They also think blogs spend too much time talking about other blogs. They almost have a point there, but the condescending way they make it is almost certain to guarantee even more of the cross-blog type conversations they abhor.

Oddly, they also are discouraged by the big pushes blogs make for titles that the bloggers enjoy greatly. Well, since the last thing I would want to do is try to increase the awareness of a book I happen to enjoy but don't think is getting enough attention, I'm going to go ahead and cancel my plans for those Last of the Independents and The Intimates contests. After all, I'd hate to think that "real" comics commentators are bothered by that sort of thing.

A customer recently bought an Invisibles trade by accident. I'm not quite sure how, as he is generally pretty staunchly a Marvel customer, but he did.

He came back for more. I rather like that.

As Mike and I have mentioned before, we've been going through a rather large collection that the store recently purchased. (I couldn't afford the Wildcat appearance in Spectre, but the 100 page House of Mystery is mine. I also had my eye on some 100 page issues of Detective because of the reprints of Quality and Fawcett stories in them, but the presence of the Goodwin/Simonson Manhunter series drove them out of my price range as well.) Anyway, usually when we see a large collection like this, the Bat-family titles are affordable, as they tend to be beat-to-hell, read to death and very obviously loved much by the prior owner, and the Superman titles tend to be in much better condition. The reverse is true in the case of this collection. The Batman books are all in fantastic condition, and the Superman titles are so badly beat up they barely qualify as comics anymore.

Well, I find it interesting...

How do I know that manga is starting to penetrate the consciousness of the average comics reader? I'm increasingly being asked for bags, boards and mylars that will accommodate the standard manga size book. That's not the sort of thing a person who reads a lot of manga is worried about; they just want to read their books and to hell with their condition. That's the sort of thing that someone who is used to being careful with their comics because they're going to be worth something someday worries about.

Not only are we being over-shipped enough copies of Arana: Heart of the Spider to effectively double our order (why? The first series with this character barely sold), but we're also getting in a variant cover edition which I had somehow managed to remain blissfully unaware of. This puts all those people asking about it last week into context for me. They, and I'm going out on limb here based on past experience, probably just want the variant cover because it's "hot."

Inventory Control Observation: The non-G.I. Joe titles from Devil's Due are just not moving for us. Even the one written by Chuck Dixon isn't selling more than one or two copies, and he is a writer who tends to have very, uhm, dedicated fans. Not that the G.I. Joe titles themselves are very strong sellers anymore, either. The comics buying public at large seems to be tiring of these comics based on twenty year old cartoon and toy properties. In fact, much to my surprise, the only title that is selling briskly is the Army of Darkness one. So, if this rumor going around that Devil's Due picked up the Transformers license is true, well...I think I've used the phrase "throwing good money after bad" before, right?

Spotted at The Comics Reporter, this letter to ICv2 from a retailer unhappy with the spotty availability of Marvel trade paper-backs. It's something that's been a nuisance to us as well. However, I wouldn't go so far as to say that it is "irresponsible" on Marvel's part to not keep 100% of their trade paperback line in print at all times. In fact, I'd say that doing so would be a huge drain on Marvel's finances, and something that their stock-holders would see as irresponsible (imagine that, me defending Marvel...better take a screen-capture of this page for posterity, because it don't happen too often). And while it would be nice to be able to always have, say, all the Ultimate titles and proven sellers like Grant Morrison's run on New X-Men available for reorders, I think the larger problem is that Marvel puts out too many damn trade paperbacks in the first place. I know the point behind their "everything we've ever published gets put into a trade, regardless of merit or demand" policy is to take up as much space on book-store shelves as possible and squeeze out competition there. I don't think that's a tactic that will work in comics stores, however.

The approach we've taken to this has been working well for us. First, we drastically cut back on our initial orders for Marvel trades. Second, we only make the effort to keep the top sellers and the works of merit in stock. Third, we don't re-order any other titles unless someone specifically asks us for a copy. This means that if we do manage to sell the one copy we initially ordered of Powerless or Identity Disc, we won't get it back in stock unless a customer special orders it, in which case we'll get one for the customer and probably one for the shelf. The only books that get checked for availability each week are the Ultimate books. We use the same approach with the manga re-orders. Inu-Yasha, Battle Royale and Fruits Basket get re-ordered just about every week. I'm not going to worry about getting that volume of Steam Detectives or Bow Wow Wata we're missing unless I get a request for it.

What's far more annoying to me is when we can't get books in stock because the publisher is repackaging them to appeal to film-goers. Right now the only Sin City trade available is the hard-cover edition of "The Big Fat Kill." I have this horrible fear that the new editions of the books won't be available to comics shops until after the movie comes out and interest in the source material goes away. You know, like what happened with the Hellboy trades that we couldn't get in stock before the movie opened and then just sat there for weeks once they did finally come back in stock. Or what happened with the Ghost World trade, which was not available to comics shops for an entire year, thus guaranteeing that we didn't have any copies to sell while the film was playing. What really annoyed me about that one was some Fantagraphics flack later said in an interview that comics shops didn't support the Ghost World film, as evidenced by the fact that direct market sales for the trade were non-existent. Well, maybe if you'd made the damn book available to direct market stores they would have ordered it you colossal tool!

I'm getting really sick of being asked for "dark" comics. The conversation usually goes:
"Do you have any 'dark' comics?"
What do you mean by "dark"? Do you mean cynical and depressing or morbid? Or is it a quality of the art?
"Just, you know, 'dark'."
Well, name me a movie that's like what you're thinking of.
"You know, like, 'dark' movies."
Darkman? Dark City? Give me the information I need to help you!
"So, you don't have any 'dark' comics then?"

Bonus New Content: (because it doesn't warrant a post of its own, really)Why Movies Based on Super-Hero Comics Generally Suck

"The toys and the video game are already in the works and they are going to kick ass!"--Mark Steven Johnson, director of the upcoming Ghost Rider film, unitentionally revealing where the real priorities lie in projects of this kind...

I've got a huge pile of manga books sitting by my computer, staring reproachfully at me because I haven't reviewed them yet. I should do something about that.

There, moved them to the other side of the room where I can't see them. Problem solved.


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