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The Weekly Haul – Week of June 7th, 2017

Despite hopes for a "small" week, found this to be a fairly large week, particularly with a couple of high-priced issues I hadn’t consciously planned on, particularly for the prices!

weeklyhaul_06072017a

Of course, the weekly Superman issue. Then, because it was there, snagged the Superman & Bugs Bunny issue/volume. $8 and I believe it reprints a 4-issue mini-series…so functionally $2/issue for a full story in one go? You betcha! And of course, Captain Atom and Predator with new issues this week.

I went ahead and snagged the Batman issue rather than waiting for my DCBS bundle shipment, having had stuff spoiled a bit thanks to Bleeding Cool, and figuring I’d want to read this sooner than later for myself instead of just going on second-hand information.

And I hadn’t known anything about the Steve Trevor issue–I actually thought it was some new series or mini-series, so didn’t want anything to do with it. Plus, I simply never cared for the character, period, til seeing the new Wonder Woman movie this past Friday. And with it being a one-shot and NOT jacked up to $4.99+, I opted to give it a shot. Though the presence of an alternate cover–such that I had no idea which cover was the variant and which was the "regular" nearly drove me to put it back and pass on it entirely.

I did pass entirely on Magnus #1 because there was a B cover and a C cover, but no A cover, and I hadn’t realized it was out this week to request it be pulled as I did a couple of the other issues! (Publishers: you LOSE people like me by conditioning me to "accept" variant covers’ existence, but then messing me up when I at least attempt to stick to the "A"/non-variant/regular/advertised cover and ALL that remains are variants withOUT even the "original"/actual/real cover!)

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With The Batman/TMNT Adventures wrapped, the "cartoon" TMNT series TMNT Amazing Adventures is back with (presumably) a mini-series…perhaps in lieu of an ongoing as stuff on the "2012 series" starts to wrap up with the final season (I believe) presently airing and all that. And I’m definitely on a Spawn kick at present…barring price increase or my getting hosed over a variant or such, I’m mostly intending to dig in and stick through #300 at least.

I didn’t even realize it til I got it home, but this issue of Reborn was $5.99! I think had I realized that, I might’ve passed on the issue for now. I’m not certain that I have all 5 previous issues–I might be missing an issue–but having "most" of the issues, I simply figured hey, next/new/final issue, why not? Though I’ll grant it a LITTLE more leeway than I would Marvel at this point, as they’ve totally "abused" the extra-priced issues. And I’ll gladly take an extra $2 for presumably twice the content, or at least an extra 50% of content, especially if it means holding to the established number of issues, even if they had to expand the page count (again looking at Marvel primarily for tacking extra issues on at the end of event series).

I also noticed that Batman: Dark Knight III finally had its "final" issue out, which itself is a DC book that added an extra issue (as I recall, it was supposed to have been an 8-issue series, not 9).

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Then, for good measure, apparently, as I approached the register, I saw three stacks of books. Curiosity got me and I looked at the price stickers: $1.00! So for the price of 1 DC Rebirth issue, snagged two hardcovers and a paperback collected volume. No idea, for example, if the Zombie Christmas Carol is a Marvel Zombies thing, or just a zombie theme applied to the classic Dickens tale (thinking the latter), and I know I don’t have the other two, so at least they’d be "something" to read someday.


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It’s been a fantastic year of movies already, and some of them are starting to come out for home release. Logan a couple weeks ago, and now the live-action Beauty and the Beast.

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And just because I had it in my ‘camera roll’ as I was transferring stuff for this post…a photo of my 43 or so Supermen at the moment. Once/whenever I get new bookcases assembled and stuff re-arranged, I’m pretty sure these guys are gonna have to split up–it’s getting harder to add new ones, and I’m not too keen on the statue straddling two bookcases, nor of "hiding" it amidst dozens of alternate counterparts.

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Late to the Party: On Marvel and Diversity and Sales and Such

It’s been interesting to read the various pieces over the past few weeks (from ICv2, Bleeding Cool, I’ve wound up clicking a couple links to stuff at CBR, etc) on “Marvel and Diversity” and “the Sales Slump” and whatnot. (And you either know what I’m talking about or not…if not, you probably won’t care about what I have to say here, and I’m NOT playing linky-link “name-dropping” with this post).

Why Marvel has fallen so far in MY eyes, and MY willingness to give them money on any REGULAR basis:

  1. Price
  2. Renumbering (Rebooting, Relaunching, whatever)
  3. Variants
  4. “Event Fatigue”
  5. Inorganic Change for Change’s Sake (Parker marriage, Death of Wolverine, character “replacement”)
  6. Hero vs. Hero with few villains in sight
  7. Rehashing old story elements/beating a dead horse
  8. Everything is a mini-series yet nothing is billed as such

To elaborate a bit:

#1: Price

I am a customer. I am not a shop owner, newsstand, etc. If $2.99 is not enough margin for profit, then what the HECK was $1.99 or $1.25 or $1, and other prices before?!? I’m relatively CERTAIN that the leap from $2.99 straight to $3.99 and the full-dollar increpricesments since ($4.99, $5.99, $9.99) are far BEYOND any reasonable equivalency of inflation and the like. And WHATEVER the “logic” or “reasoning” behind it, that does not change MY bottom line as the customer: I see ridiculously-high prices, I’m gonna resist, be more conservative, and be much much more discerning in what I buy than at lower price points. SINCE I am not a shop owner, newsstand, etc. I am not concerned with all the logistics…as a customer, I’m JUST looking at the price that *I* pay in exchange for leaving with the product.



#2: Renumbering (Rebooting, Relaunching, whatever)


My first issue of Uncanny X-Men was #300. First Captain America I remember was around 400. Adventures of Superman was 453, Action Comics was 651. Detective Comics was 604 and Batman was on #439. Avengers was in the late 300s. Iron Man was in the high 200s, and I’m pretty sure I remember seeing #300 hit. Marvel might try to “go back to” “legacy numbering” by “adding up” all their numbers to a huge whole (effectively leaping from #6 to #150, or #25 to #200, or #10 to #300, or whatever). But that’s merely a superficial, hollow gesture: they canNOT suddenly “get back” what they scrapped, abandoned, avoided, blew up for the last 17-20 years.

high_numbered_first_issuesa_thumb

In the late-’80s/early to mid ’90s, if I found a book at #440, I could easily backtrack and find #250, or #389, or whatever previous issue, and be fine. Suddenly jump to a “total number” system, and I’m in the same (but worse?) boat as NOW: ok, here’s #607…but, well, there’s STILL no #550-599 or such! Here’s #300, but where the heck are #s 40-299?!? Here’s #150, but where’s anything numbered 30-149? Here’s #200, but where’s anything numbered 180-199 and why is it that maybe the most recent prior story arc tops out at #23? (* arbitrary numbers for concept, I’m of NO mood to look up concrete numbers and titles!)


#3: Variants

venom_variantVariants are one thing if they’re used sparingly, and are ACTUALLY “special.” But when there are variants on virtually EVERY SINGLE ISSUE, and it’s an extreme rarity for anything to NOT have a variant, it’s too much! Worse, having NUMEROUS variants for seemingly every single title, and/or even just on several titles in one month, even multiple in one week, with crazy “ratios” on them…it’s a huge turnoff just on PRINCIPLE, regardless of my not personally caring about/for them or wanting them, etc.

And if it means taking some initial “hit” to GET AWAY FROM so many darned variants, then suck it up, cupcake, and just DO it. If you START with “inflated numbers” because of PROPPING stuff up FROM THE START with variants and rely solely on numbers based ON variants, it doesn’t seem like you’re working with accurate counts and reasonable, realistic expectations. (Though I’m not getting into nor do I necessarily care about exceptions or such). I just see a flood of variants such that it’s SPECIAL when there are NOT a ton of variants for something! Again with me being a customer, and not caring about the behind the scenes logistics or logic or reason, it’s just my feeling simply as and from the perspective of being the customer.


#4: “Event Fatigue”

Secret_Invasion_Dark_Reign_Vol_1_1I think MY tipping point was back in 2008 or so, when two “event”/”status quo header” things converged in a single issue; something like SECRET INVASION: DARK REIGN. When “events” just roll into the next event into the next event, then these so-called EVENTS just become STATUS QUO. And when numerous low-numbered and new TITLES get sucked into arc-length tie-ins, it makes the non-tie-in issues into the “special status” or rarities; I haven’t checked but for NOT following, it sometimes seems like there are more tie-ins than not these days, one event to another, such that it’s more common for an issue to BE a tie-in than to not be tying into an event of some sort.

(Might was well just embrace the “seasonal model” and say THIS season is “Civil War II” and everything can just tie to that, then THAT season can be “__________” and everything carries that banner, etc.)

At the VERY least, ONE event should be able to completely wrap up, conclude, end, be DONE and OVER, with some downtime, before REAL-WORLD there’s any teasing/hinting/hyping the NEXT event. When you’re barely HALFWAY into an event and already announcing/soliciting the next relaunch or launch or event or prologue or such (and/or any COMBINATION)…you’re doing too many and far too close together!


#5: Inorganic Change for Change’s Sake (Parker marriage, Death of Wolverine, character “replacement”)

amazing_spiderman_0544This one is certainly far less clear, and I tend to waver on various things depending on exact context, various immediate thoughts, and reasonable conversation. While I absolutely WANT there to be change and GROWTH and for that to be LASTING CHANGE (essentially 20 years now of the Clark/Lois marriage, with a several-year hiccup in the New 52 stuff…and of course, that’s a DC example, not Marvel). Just as I often wondered what it’d be like to “finally” get to the same age as Superman, similar thoughts with Peter Parker. To be years-past high school and college crap; just to actually BE an adult and into another stage of life withOUT all the “drama” FROM high school and college.

And when Marvel‘s shoehorning in a future/older Logan, a clone/daughter female stand-in, I’ve lost track of death/life status of his son, they seem to be bringing in another alternate-reality younger version…it’s like they WANT to have Wolverine, they WANT to have stuff based on that character, but they’re going outta their way to do anything BUT the actual genuine character, rather than SIMPLY dialing-back the character’s presence in EVERYTHING.

When the main/existing titles star unfamiliar characters to the familiar title, I have an issue with it–have new titles and new characters, sure. But save the classic TITLES for classic CHARACTERS. Do stuff organically, and don’t draw crap out. If Thor becomes unworthy, let us IN on it as readers, and follow that story in the course of his own ongoing title, not multiple realunches of the title. (See also: Eric Masterson in the late-80s/early-90s).

I, personally, am NOT going to buy a title specifically/solely on the starring character being “female” or “white” or “non-white” or “straight” or “GLTBQ” or any of those typical “checkboxes” and such. I’m interested in characters that are MORE THAN “just” some “characteristic.” I also don’t want to be preached at, guilted, and so on. Don’t be combative toward me, don’t insult me, don’t tell me I’m wrong or guilty for not embracing every new title and character spun off when there’s already a huge flood of titles and everything is so ridiculously PRICED!

There HAS TO be room for new stories withOUT completely, totally altering characters or changing them outright, especially in some sudden sense. At the same time, I’ll readily admit that some sudden SHIFTS might be required, major significant changes within a single story arc, perhaps…but it has to be “reasonable” and “work,” and not just feel like some “mandate” handed down or that it’s pushing some “agenda” or whatever.

Brubaker‘s Captain America felt far less “general super-hero” than it did a solid spy epic, realistic while holding to classic elements. Bringing Bucky back seemed like such a crap idea, but it was simply DONE WELL and now HAS become an integral part of the character(s). The Iron Man shift from bigger/bulkier armor that (realistically) would need a whole team to transport it was done away with by the Extremis stuff, the bio-armor or whatever it was, allowing Tony to be himself AND quickly/simply go into Iron Man mode.


#6: Hero vs. Hero with few villains in sight

civil_warsWhile I KNOW there was stuff like the Phoenix (AvX) and within that, the X-Men dealt with a new take on Sinister, and I “know” there were some other “villains” in some X-books or that I consciously am aware that there have been various villains plaguing Spider-Man or such… it seems like the biggest events have largely been hero-versus-hero, the larger conflicts being between the heroes themselves, and less of the singular villain threats. While some of this might be more “realistic” or “logical” in a “real world” sort of way…in that “real world” sense, to ME, these “heroes” would also be much more threat than not, and really WOULD themselves functionally be villain figures or legitimate threats/sources of fear for the public. It’s the suspension of disbelief, the fantasy, the larger-than-(real)-life stuff with the characters, the embracing of their being fiction, that made them escapism and entertainment and all that.

I’ll readily admit that some of the more “classic” villains and “plots” and such are “dated” and maybe don’t work as well in contemporary stories; when you have characters getting so much more well-rounded and developed, the “Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! I am ______ and I shall soon RULE THE WORLD!” stuff doesn’t work so well.

But it also seems like there’s an over-saturation of so FEW villains, and so much MORE of the hero-vs-hero crap or merely “situational” stuff. Of course, I’m so far outta the loop and unwilling to “come back” at any great length until my interest and trust is restored (and that’s talking years of consistency avoiding the stuff that pushes me away).


#7: Rehashing old story elements/beating a dead horse

clonageWe already had a Clone Saga. So why does that have to be brought back again (granted, as a conspiracy)? We already had a Civil War…that’s done again? We’ve had numerous “Return of the Phoenix Force” stories. Numerous “Death of _____.”

Merely digging up old story titles to “reimagine” or “sequel-ize” just doesn’t work for me. Some stuff, there’s room to play on nostalgia or have fun “nods” to past things, but being so overt and forced on stuff, it sucks.

I’m the consumer, and from THAT standpoint I don’t really CARE about logistics of new storytelling and creative teams and such, or “synergy” or whatever…I just care about having new, GOOD stories about characters I want to read and not feel like anything’s forced or pushed, and that I’m not being insulted, bullied, coerced, etc.


#8: Everything is a mini-series yet nothing is billed as such

transformers_0080I sorta tacked this point on, but it goes with points 1 & 2 (Price and Renumbering). I am glad to read and follow lengthy ongoing series, because there’s something TO eventually looking back and realizing I’ve been following _____ for 30 issues, or 68 issues, or whatever. But when it seems like Marvel RARELY gets anything past issue 20 or so, and 30 is like some ancient, mystically-high number…and there are so many Omnibus and thicker hardcover/paperback collections where an entire run of a book can be collected into a single volume, I’d much prefer THAT format. If you’re ONLY going to have 6 issues, I’d rather buy/read them in a single volume. Especially if/when I’m paying a PREMIUM for it. If the single issues were CHEAPER, I’d be fine with that, but BOTH formats are premium-priced, so let me have my freaking CHOICE, as the consumer. I don’t want to be forced/manipulated into something or required to double-dip or such!

limited_series_vs_stealth_cancelIt used to be that something intended as a “limited series” would be marked accordingly, and an ongoing/non-limited series would simply be THERE. Granted, occasionally something INTENDED to be a LIMITED series would be EXTENDED to an ongoing series or such (See the 1980s’ Transformers or 1995’s X-Man for examples).

But there wasn’t the “stealth cancelling” and stuf just put out there with NO designation as a limited run (outside of stunts like Malibu‘s Exiles thing in the early Ultraverse days).

You either expect something to last awhile, or you don’t–but you should be up-front with your customers instead of trying to sucker them!


Concluding-ish

There are so many other factors and details and combinations and whatnot. These have all been “main” things, and any/all individually or in any random combination, at a random time, with a certain sort or source of hype, can serve to frustrate me or just set me off such that I’ll drop or avoid something on principle alone, if not flat-out long-term line-wide disinterest and such.

DC is guilty of plenty, but their lower prices on single issues, their far better prices on collected volumes and size of collected volumes (with great/superior pricing) get them a better “pass” on stuff. I’d waked away from them completely for a time, and their Rebirth initiative brought me back I a surprising way and I’ve stuck with stuff. Barely a year into that initiative and they have yet to announce any significant or line-wide renumbering initiative or relaunch or whatever; and outside of their having “restored” Action Comics and Detective Comics to legacy numbering, I hope they–at this point–simply keep the “current numbering” and allow long-standing titles TO amass larger numbers again…to EARN the high numbers.

And even if I can’t exactly put my finger on a reason, Marvel has so disgusted me on so many of these in various ways that their BRAND itself is “tainted” and I just associate the name Marvel with too-high prices, ridiculous stories, variants, lack of consistency and numbering and whatnot such that outside of rare/special/nostalgic things (X-Men: Prime/Gold/Blue and such) I’m just gonna gravitate to DC or TMNT right now.

More Inconsistent, Baffling Pricing at HPB

It’s amazing to me the seeming “randomness” of books’ pricing at Half-Price Booksespecially on graphic novels/comics!

Take two different copies of the first printing of 1993’s The Death of Superman.

HPB_DoS_pricing_01

Two copies, neither in great condition. One is–as would be EXPECTED for a place calling itself Half-Price Books–half of the $5 cover price. It’s actually a “newsstand” edition, given the bar code (as opposed to the Direct Market edition that had the “bleeding S”). Yet the newsstand one is in better condition at less than half the price of the more battered copy!

HPB_DoS_pricing_02

The date on the price stickers suggests that at least these were bought a couple weeks apart…though that also suggests to me (given the condition and these BOTH being First Printing editions) that two different people may have handled the pricing. (That, or it goes to show how ridiculously INCONSISTENT they are!)

HPB_DoS_pricing_03

I’d gotten the two reversed to hold and better show the damage to the more expensive copy–a bent spine/corner in particular.

Two different copies of the same book–one that’s not particularly “rare,” as I often see at least one (if not multiple or several multiples) at any HPB I go to. The book has been “in print” in one format or another for nearly a quarter-century–it eventually went from $4.95 cover price a $9.95/9 edition where they changed to the more iconic image lifted from Superman #75 itself. That one (I believe) went through a couple editions, and then just last year, the entire Death/Return saga was repackaged into a 5-volume set (including post-saga Doomsday stuff).

I’m even more flabbergasted at the pricing given the condition of the books. It’s one thing if something is in pristine/new condition…but when it’s old, beaten/battered, obviously seen better days…something MIGHT BE a “First Edition” or first print, but what, exactly, about that qualifies it as an exception?

I overheard at a an HPB location on the day of their 50%-off-one-item coupon day an employee commenting in response to a customer remarking on the crowd that a lot of folks were in getting “collectible” stuff that’s sat around for MONTHS.

Or, in my interpretation…stuff’s priced too high for folks to justify, but cut that price in half, and they’ll flock to the store!

As I’ve said numerous times in the past…if they want to be a boutique specialty shop, fine…but I wish they would at LEAST separate out their precious “out of print” and “collectible” stock and KEEP to their name for the general everyday stock.

End rant.

Comics’ Pricing and Half-Price Books: Why I Complain So Much

hpb_grousing02I don’t “get” HPB and their pricing on comics. They are a used-books store, firstly. Their very premise is “everything is half-off the publisher’s list price” (printed cover price in most cases). Meaning that reasonable expectation is that you walk in, and everything is half-off. Not “pull a random book that’s appealing and discover it’s full price or 150% cover price or 200% cover price.”

Because they are a generalized books store, and have numerous “sections,” they are not a subject-speciality store. You want historical reference? They have it–but they’re not a “Historical Reference” shop. Books on pets/animals? Section for that, too–but they’re not an “Animals books” shop. Religious texts? Sure, they have a section for those, too–but they’re not a “Religous books” store. Vinyl records–yeah, they have those as well, but they’re not a “Record Store.” CDs, but even Records and CDs, they’re not a “Music Store.” They have DVDs and Blu-Ray, and I’m sure I’ve even seen VHS…yet they’re not a “Movie Store.” So even though they have comics and graphic novels, they are not a “Comic Shop.”

hpb_mentor

photo from HPB website, https://www.hpb.com/042

At least a couple of the HPB locations I’ve been to have had a whole separate section for “Rare,” “First Edition,” “Autographed,” and “Out of Print” books. This works well–this section is a “special” section of the store that provides space for the anomalous pricing…these rare, collectable volumes/editions are outside of the store’s broad, general premise of half-off: this section is where you would expect to find that $100+ signed First Edition of a book from 1892 or such. Or the now-long-out-of-print oversized Marvel Hardcover edition of House of M from 2005 or so.

As such, I find that it is quite reasonable of me to be able to expect that if I’m browsing the general “Graphic Novels/Manga” section of the store (not the Rare/Collectable) section–that everything will be at least half-off. If something is damaged, overly common, donated, or whatever factors lead to it–more than half off is a bonus, and quite acceptable…even though it’s the inverse that drives me batty–finding something less than half-off or even with a price at or above cover price. For me, it only goes one-way: cheaper than half-off = good, less than half-off = bad…and I admit that readily.

hpb_grousing01Typically, the vast majority of their graphic novels and such are well-organized, with four primary categories: DC stuff, Marvel Stuff, manga, and non-DC/non-Marvel/non-Manga. Within those, they tend to be roughly alphabetical, and generally the same series is clustered together with numbered volumes in a series mostly in numerical order. My core complaint here is when the higher-priced “collectable” editions are mixed in…when I get excited about the Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told thicker volume being present, it’s a huge turnoff to the store in general to be looking for the $9.99 price thinking it’s a $19.99 volume and finding a sticker indicating that HPB is actually asking $29.99 ($10 above cover price!) because it’s marked as “Out of Print.” If it’s out of print and thus rare and they’re not willing to “let it go” at half-off the cover price…it should not be shelved in with the general stock! I’m not shopping at HPB for rare/out of print stuff, and if it’s not half-off cover price, it is functionally not in stock at all even if the store has a copy present, for my purposes of general browsing.

hpb_mayfield

photo from HPB website, https://ww.hpb.com/050

Back to my earlier bit about their not being a comic shop: their pricing on single issues. HPB‘s pricing has been erratic and trending toward the ridiculous, and the other day I would escalate it from “ridiculous” to flat-out absurd! Being curious, I checked to see what the single-issue stock was like…and they had a relatively new-looking sign indicating that all comics are $2.00 unless otherwise marked. I do not fault them for setting a “general” price, or a “minimum” price or such, but there are a number of factors that collectively leave me extremely irked essentially “on principle” with that $2 mark. (Among other things, numerous prose books into the mid 1990s were roughly $4 each, so that at the “half price” they would be $2 as vintage items compared to relatively recent comics; let alone 1990s comics that by and large are hardly worth 25 cents apiece). To me, HPB does not “earn” the “legitimacy” with their comics to be asking “top dollar” for them.

I would strongly argue that most single issues of comics from the late 1980s/early 1990s to the early 2000s (if not at this point as recent as 2005 or so) are functionally 25-cent-bin books. Between digital and collected volumes, the single issues hold very little “value,” after their first couple weeks or life of the story they contain. It typically seems to me (and I could be wrong) that in many cases, it’s the long-time comics folks who are adamant about having “the single issues.” I imagine casual fans are happy just to read the stories, and would be content with collected volumes, perhaps moving to single issues if they’re completely caught up from collected volumes to where the only option is the single issues, because the current story has not yet finished for there to BE another collected volume. As such, once the story is in a collected volume, there’s little demand or collectability to the single issues.

hpb_grousing03HPB‘s comics are primarily in open bins to be flipped through. Typically their “priced” issues (the “unless otherwise marked” issues) are at least bagged if not bagged and boarded. So those $2 default-priced issues are the ones that likely were not worth protecting and individually pricing, as well as the ones that are more prone to damage from anyone/everyone “flipping through” the bins, bending covers, ripping/tearing, etc. and damage as sturdy bag/board issues get pushed back in, yanking a cover off, or causing the “loose” issue to be folded under, its bottom folded and the whole thing pulled downward…or tape from the protected issues sticking to a loose cover, etc. Someone simply browsing is more likely to pull a “loose” issue out and flip through it than to attempt to take an issue out from a bag or bag and board (especially if there are signs requesting one not do that).

Aside from being loose and more prone to browsing-damage…these “single issues” are not a curated collection. HPB has some dividers indicating letters of the alphabet, and that’s about the extent of the organization of the issues. The “A” section might start with several issues of Avengers followed by a couple Mighty Avengers and Dark Avengers (“M” section and “D section mixed here with “A”) before getting to an issue of Action Comics Weekly and then some issues of Angel: After the Fall and then an issue of Avengelyne before getting to a bunch of scattered issues of Clone Saga-era Amazing Spider-Man and then 4 out of 5 issues of Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows and so on. There might be 50 scattered issues of Amazing Spider-Man, but they range from #372 to #595, and are in no discernable order. There’s no telling if there are even any instances, say, of two consecutively-numbered issues…unless one personally goes through all the bins (not even just this “A” section) to pull the issues and then sort by number.

Columbus, North High - https://www.hpb.com/092

photo from HPB website, https://www.hpb.com/092

One might be able to–at a glance–see that there are dozens (if not hundreds) of late silver-age or even bronze-age Superman comics (spanning Superman, Action Comics, Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen, Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane, Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, The New Adventures of Superboy, Supergirl, The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl, Adventure Comics Featuring Supergirl, etc). These will be “priced” issues, ranging perhaps $1.75 to $25 or $30 or $35+. And yet… they’re all intermingled, out of order, and so on. Absolutely maddening to even consider seeking one or two specific issues in the mess. And asking even $2/issue let alone the higher collectable prices…but at best you can find most of a given series scattered within a mess of comics whose series titles all begin with the same single letter.

hpb_too_expensive_comics_02At 25 cents or even 50 cents…sure, throw the stuff in loose and let the customer sort it out. You’re not making any significant money of a couple single issues here and there, no need to go to the effort of clear, detailed sorting. I, for one, have no problem with just flipping through several bins of stuff looking for something that is (to me) an unexpected treasure, when I’m “only” out 25 to 50 cents per issue. My effort is made up for by the insignificant price. But once you’re getting to $1 an issue or $2 an issue that’s a much higher, significant bit of money off single issues (and I’ve not seen any HPB location use any “middle-tier” pricing like 75 cents (from the 25 to 50 cents) nor $1.25, $1.50, or $1.75 between $1 and $2!) If I’m paying $1 or $2 per issue, I’m a lot more “serious” about the issues and as such expect the seller (HPB) to take it seriously as well. Have everything in order by series and number within the series. If you think you know enough about comics to know which ones are truly “key” issues worth having a higher price, know as well which version of series go in what order, and which number comes before another number.

Perhaps I overthink it, but…respect the customer. Respect the fact that someone who doesn’t know anything about comics doesn’t care about this particular issue over that particular issue, and thus will have zero interest in laying out $25 when there are sixteen other issues with Superman on the cover for $2 apiece, any one of which works as “a Superman comic for the kiddo.” Meanwhile, anyone who is willing or capable of laying out $25 for a single (not particularly great condition) issue does actually know at least a little bit about comics and that the used-books store is not a comic shop nor is this customer at a convention or other comics specialty location.

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photo from HPB website, https://www.hpb.com/077

Additionally, one should know enough to differentiate between printings (at the height of the Death of Superman, the newsstand edition of Superman #75 went for around $10. Past 2010, the fourth printing of this issue–that probably was never “worth” more than about double cover price (or $2.50) certainly is not a $10 issue. In 2016, one should realize that those ridiculous, astronomical prices of certain issues in the 1990s–be it one of the Deathmate issues or the original Gen13 #1 or whatever–were already inflated and inaccurate, more a sales gimmicky thing of Wizard Magazine than much else. Maybe Gen13 #1 for one month in an issue of Wizard was listed as “$40.00,” but 20+ years later, I don’t know (of) anyone who would pay $10 for the single issue (probably not even that for a collected volume of the first 4 or so issues–the first story)!

hpb_too_expensive_comics_03Finally and perhaps most shocking to me recently…”clearance” comics were seen priced at $1 (they were 25 cents or 50 cents as recently as six months ago)…but $1 by tear-away stickers directly on the covers of the comics themselves. Essentially, the comics were being defaced to mark them as “clearance” items…and at $1 apiece. I could sort of see at 25 cents apiece or 50 cents apiece, marking them physically, indicating they’re not the “$2 unless otherwise marked” comics not otherwise marked. But putting stickers on them that are designed to tear apart and not remove simply or cleanly is flat-out insulting.

If things were priced consistently and clearly I would also have less problem…but all of the above taken into consideration, in short, sometimes it looks to me like it’s just someone at HPB looking at an issue or a graphic novel and thinking “hey, I think that was something I “heard” was valuable…better price that higher to not lose out!”

hpb_grousing04I posted recently about a paperback edition of The Irredeemable Ant-Man that I found, priced as expected at half-off the cover price. And yet, by the same apparent “logic” that seems to “mandate” something like Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told or a hardcover of Avengers Forever be priced at 150-200% above cover price, the Ant-Man book should have been $10-$20, but it wasn’t. Because who gives a darn about The Irreedeemable Ant-Man compared to Batman or The Avengers?

A Half-Price Books Book…That Was Actually Half Price!

While browsing Half-Price Books, I happened to notice this volume: The Irredeemable Ant-Man–the second volume. This is a 2007 (9 years old!) edition, collecting issues 7-12 (I believe the single-issues ended at 12)…from back in the days when Marvel was playing with the digest-sized format for younger-reader/all-ages titles (such as Runaways, Sentinel, Spider-Girl, and Mary Jane/Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane).

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This a long-out-of-print volume (again, 9 years and Marvel doesn’t seem to keep any given edition of much of anything “in print” for more than a few months!). Cover price on the book was $9.99 at the time. And didn’t we just have an Ant-Man movie out last year?

So here we have an out of print volume from nearly a decade ago, featuring the back-half of a series starring a character that (granted, this is not the same character as what was in the movie) just had a movie…this is surely the sort of rare, collectible volume that Half-Price Books would seem to love to sell as a collectible!

All the more because even if the original series was reprinted, now it would be as an “Epic Collection” or part of some “Omnibus” or a “Premier Edition Hardcover” or something–this is a long out of print rare book in a format not likely to be duplicated even if the material it contains is reprinted.

So really, I am honestly quite curious at how this slipped through at “only” $4.99, or (wait for it) Half. Price.

Really.

Half-Price Books, a place whose purpose is to take used/non-new books and sell them back to the public at half of cover price…and despite age, despite condition, despite status (out of print), despite being related to some huge movie (Marvel Studios), even despite being a Robert Kirkman-written book for Marvel (seems he’s sticking firmly to The Walking Dead and his other creator-owned/run projects as well as being a huge figure at Image and not terribly likely to be expected to produce anything else for Marvel at this point), this edition was price at half its cover price.

Meanwhile, there was an oversized Batman volume by–I believe Paul Dini and Alex Ross–that has a $9.99 cover price, and is Half-Price Books priced $19.99. In rather beat-up, dog-eared condition. Sure, out-of print, but not even masquerading as a good-condition edition, the thing’s been reprinted in a collected volume, and I’ve seen actual comic shops selling the Superman one, at least, and I think the Shazam! one, for $10 (so cover price) even all these years later.

Which ultimately tells me that there is very definitely no consistency to HPB‘s pricing scheme for comics/graphic novels (except as “wannabe collectible dealer”).

If something is looked at first as whether or not it is “in print” and marked up if not; having some media tie-in or not and thus marked up; featuring a popular (say, movie-worthy) character and the number goes up if so… why not something like this?

Then again, in this particular case it’s a Half-Price Books that has junk comics listed as “unless priced otherwise with an HPB sticker, all comics are $1 each.” When any of the comics matching that criteria are barely quarter-bin fodder and many comics have price stickers putting them at “full cover price” or more… And yet I’m reasonably certain that if I were to take any of my comics in to sell, they wouldn’t come anywhere near offering even 25 full cents to me per issue (if “everything” was bound for the generic bin, they’d still be “making” 75 cents an issue giving me only 25)…and they’d be making even more if they price-stickered anything.

Anyway…I bought this volume. I already had vol. 1, and never really expected to get around to snagging vol. 2. But finding it, and it being priced at half-price…it’s worthwhile. All the more having 6 issues’ content in an age where new Marvel #1 issues seem to be flirting with the $4.99-$5.99 price point.

The Weekly Haul – Week of February 17, 2016

Raided the 80%-off bin…and snagged these four volumes. $25 for the four.

Four decently-thick (especially Inferno) volumes…for the price of 6 current single issues. And given Marvel‘s propensity lately for the $4.99 to $5.99 #1s…hey…these make for that much more of a value-purchase.

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The drawback is now going to be tracking down the 2nd volume of the Complete Collection by Matt Fraction run, having scored vols 1 & 3 here. But considering what it would’ve been for all 3 at full price, even if I’d pay full price for it, I’m still well ahead on things.

Deals like this continue to totally blow away even convention deals, as most dealers seem to primarily stock $10 bins of scattered Marvel hardcovers ($19.99 cover price)…while “complete” collections or thicker volumes like these are scarce, at least for reasonable prices.

As to regular comics this week…a $1 reprint under my “all $1-or-less issues” and an off-the-shelf Power Man and Luke Cage issue…because of a couple friends, figured I’d TRY the first issue if only to be able to talk about it with them…though I can’t see following it on a regular basis unless it surprises me and totally sucks me in.

Mid-February Stream-of-Consciousness

[Pardon the lack of usual nice formatting and such…I’ll never get this posted if I try to go through and do my usual formatting. Plus, this isn’t a fancy post…I just started typing, and this is the result. For now.]

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. I’ve found myself a BIT more active posting stuff over on the Facebook Page, though.

I feel like a lot of the “fun” in comics has disappeared for me. I’m less and less inclined to go to the comic shop…and I’ve actually skipped weeks here and there lately…as there’s nothing (even on my pull list) out in a given week that I’m planning to buy…or I’m behind on reading so not gonna read the issue immediately even if I buy it…so no particular rush to get to the shop.

I’m less and less interested in NEW comics…and increasingly frustrated with the likes of Marvel and DC both for their single issues, be it pricing, numbering, or whatever.

Marvel keeps renumbering every couple years such that numbers don’t mean squat anymore–they might as well just add a “subtitle” of the year to their books, and start fresh at #1 in January for any quasi-ongoing/recurring titles. Say, Deadpool 2016 1-12 for this year. Deadpool: Merc With a Mouth 2016 1-4 if they do a mini-series. Amazing X-Men 2016 1-12. All-New X-Men 2016 1-12. Etc. Then they can do Amazing X-Men 2017 #1 next January. New year, new “season.” If they squeeze out 18 issues in a year, just add to the count. If they run over the calendar year, keep the year of #1 on the book, so at least when one looks at back-issues, they can know which iteration of the title (with the same Marvel logo, same title logo, same creative team, and umpteen variant covers) any given issue belongs to.

DC hasn’t seemed to know what to do with Superman…and the only thing right now that REALLY interests me at all is Superman: Lois and Clark…but heaven knows if that’s even going to continue past “Rebirth” this summer. Though its concept is good, I’m not even entirely sure how much I’m enjoying it…versus clinging to it as the sole chip of bone thrown to me as far as continuing stories of a Superman resembling the one I grew up on.

Variant covers, “chase” covers, “chase” CONTENT, renumbering, high prices, lack of continuity (or sense of continuity)…it all just discourages me at this point and leaves me grumpy.

It’s hardly a wonder to me that the vast majority of my graphic novel purchases for ages are all volumes collecting older “classic” stuff…largely 1990s material, with some stuff back to the 1980s, and some into the early 2000s.

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