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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!)

weeklyhaul_06072017b

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).

weeklyhaul_06072017c

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.


beauty_and_the_beast_shiny

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.

superman_collection_june_7th_2017_qty43)

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.

Curse Words…for Curse Words: Dropped Due to Variants

If you’ve been reading this blog for ANY length of time, you know that I–as a general rule–loathe variant covers. Primarily "ratioed" variants, but with very FEW exceptions, variants in general, their very existence.

And this week just REALLY reminded me WHY.

And though I COULD blame the comic shop, I personally place the blame squarely on the publisher, FOR doing a variant. Or allowing a variant. Or WHATEVER the case is.

curse_words_variants

After actually rather enjoying the first issue, and looking forward to the second issue, the day finally came: Curse Words #2 was on "the list" as out on February 22nd.

Having been "burned" by a "surprise" variant on Moonshine #2 (which, by the way, immediately prompted me to NOT pick it up ,and thus lost me on singles on that series), I was "re-aware" of even Image doing variants on stuff (something I’d be more inclined to attribute to DC, Marvel, IDW, Boom, and Dynamite!).

So, when I saw two different covers, neither of which was visually "familiar" to me, and I was already expecting there to be a "new" or "unfamiliar" (because I ONLY bought one cover of #1!) issue, I figured fine, they did a second issue with variants, I had not really seen any "marketing" or such for the issue so was not (for once) pre-disposed to preferring one specific cover…so I grabbed the more appealing (to me) cover of the two or so I saw.

Got it home, even included the thing in my photos for my "Weekly Haul" post, none the wiser of anything.

But then I went to READ the thing.

And I saw that the word "Second" was NOT followed by "Issue" after all, on the cover.

Nope…it was followed by "Printing."

I managed to grab a second printing of #1, the issue that I already owned, that I bought and read weeks ago.

And of course, much as with most publishers, comics are not some "returnable" thing, so it’s not even like I can take the thing back to the shop for a refund or such. I’m stuck with a second copy of the first issue now, and no copies of the second.

Frankly, to say that I’m "annoyed" is an understatement.

On principle, I’m done with this book as single issues. I might snag the collected volume(s), but I will NOT support it any further as single issues.

Should I have noticed that it was not actually the second issue? Maybe. BUT when I know the second issue’s due out, with a cover that’s not mimicking the first, and I’m grabbing my comics in a hurry and just want to get stuff and get out after a long day at work, I’m not gonna examine every stupid facet of a cover. I buy comics because I want to read the story, not for stupid covers!

Maybe the shop should have put something with the issue to indicate 2nd printing. Maybe they should’ve shelved it with last month’s books instead of right next to the brand-new 2nd issue (but probably more sales having them together, so someone can immediately see and pick up BOTH issues if they’re looking for them/curious!).

So, I hold Image responsible…with no idea if the "idea" or "push" came from a creator or not. Just use the same darned cover, and mark it as a second printing! IF I wanted more "art" from something, I’d buy a darned print or something!

And on top of this…folks wonder why I tend to gravitate toward collected volumes for new issues. At least THERE, I’m FAR LESS LIKELY to wind up getting some 2nd print of something I already have, with just a cover in quick passing to go on.

More Grumpiness Toward Variants: An Archie Edition

This morning, I was checking out stories at The Beat, and came across a preview for the latest issue of Jughead.

jughead_preview_trigger_variantsSomething about the image used in the header here drew me in–I’ve seen a couple things recently about Sabrina guest-starring or such, and I have a bit of a renewed interest there lately after seeing Melissa Joan Hart in God’s Not Dead 2 and a couple other things that cropped up in my Facebook newsfeed with her…like it being 20 years since the tv show!

I’ve never really considered Jughead to be a character who was interested in romance, so seeing this image of him with Sabrina, it’s a charming image, and got my curiosity.

But upon getting into the article/preview itself, I was "treated" to the first three images being three different covers for the issue.

Instant turn-off!

I hate that Archie got into the "variants game!" I’m sure they had been doing some here and there, but it was never so noticeable as it’s been the last year-plus with the "relaunch" of the various series. And aside from my usual complaints about variants, the very real anecdote from my own experience is having 1. been "interested in" checking out the new series (Archie #1) and 2. finding over 20 copies of the issue…and not one cover was the same. It was impossible to determine a "main" or "regular" or "standard" cover, because there were just simply too many covers, PERIOD.

Then there was the fact that they upped their pricing, jumping from being pretty much the "best value" to having nothing stand-out. It seemed that where Marvel and DC and the other "major publishers" were dealing in $2.99s and $3.99s and in-between… Archie was maintaining at $2.25 or $2.50. Any given issue would be better than DC/Marvel‘s best price, and thus a prime issue for impulse buying (and this is without even getting into the value of the digests!)

But at $3.99, a standard-size, standard-paper comic is NOT an "impulse" or "casual" buy for me, in general. There are the occasional exceptions, but those are quite rare!

And while it’s a matter for another post, in brief, I’ve held to my refusal to utilize Comixology directly for any digital comics purchases (even apparently avoiding a popular buy-1-get-1-free sale for Cyber Monday yesterday). (31 months now, I was NOT just mouthing off with an empty threat of quitting buying through them over dropping in-app purchasing on Apple devices!) But partially due to ill-will I hold toward Comixology, I’m wary of most digital comics purchasing, period. I’ve softened somewhat in that I’ll use the DC app (powered by/interacts with Comixology but allows in-app purchasing) and the IDW/TMNT one (does the same), but I’m not interested in umpteen different apps for buying digital comics, and I’m not going to buy digital comics on a website and then hassle with "translating" that into some sort of e-reader.

Additionally, while it’s great to have the option of locating a key back-issue or such through a publisher directly, it’s not feasible to me to buy individual issues from a publisher directly, unless they would offer free shipping. If I pay $3.99 for a comic and have to pay $3.99+ shipping and/or handling, you’ve DOUBLED the price of THAT ISSUE ALONE. I don’t like paying $4/issue, making it functionally an $8 issue does not begin to improve anything in my eyes. Even if the issue would be "free" the shipping cost still means I’m better off getting the issue(s) at a comic shop…assuming the shop has the issues stocked to begin with.


Perhaps I seem hypocritical in this, as I know that DC and Marvel and virtually every other publisher trades in ridiculous quantities of variants. In this case today, with the Jughead issue, what (I think) particularly set me off was the THREE covers. I can–will–do–mostly turn a blind eye to the existence of variants when there are "only 2" covers. I’ve been beaten into submission on those, and at least can often (yet NOT as often as I’d LIKE) tell which is the "main" cover and which is the variant and can flat-out IGNORE the variant.

But when there are 3 or more covers…it becomes that much MORE likely that I will be unable to get the cover that I actually want! If a shop orders 3-4 shelf copies and there are 2 covers, there’s a better chance there’ll be at least 1 copy of the cover that I am interested in over the others. 3 or more covers further dilutes this and makes it more likely that if I’m not THE first person getting a copy, there’ll be 2 or more copies of the issue, but NOT the cover that I actually want.

And that turns me off and fully discourages buying into the series or continuing with the series at all.

Given the easier availability of stuff from "the big two" and their content being what I’m primarily after, I also have to compromise more. When the smaller publishers or indie publishers pull those same "stunts," it’s a lot easier for me to be harsher and more pointed in my displeasure and avoid them entirely.

I have a nearly-30-year-history with Superman comics and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with Batman virtually on-par with both of those. Batman I’ve been very choosy on over the years, and even walked away from the Superman titles for over 3 years.

People love variants? Variants are essential to sales, to the continuation of a title? There’s no option to NOT deal in variants? They’re fun? They’re "bonus," or any other spin?

Fine–good on the publisher.

But I am an actual real-life example (particularly when calling stuff out in posts like this or comments on Twitter) of someone who is NOT happy with variants, does NOT enjoy them, for whom the chase and ‘game’ of variants is NOT fun, and who WILL flat-out drop a series…and has "dropped" ENTIRE PUBLISHERS over "variants" shenanigans (Valiant and Boom! Studios).

I get that many will complain but buy anyway. I get that I myself will make rare, occasional one-time/case-by-case exceptions. But as a general rule, I’m quick to drop or continue to just not buy stuff over seemingly insignificant things like variants.

Hey, the publisher is selling or banking on selling multiple copies of an issue to people.

SURELY one of those makes up for not selling any copy to me at all.

On NOT Going to Local Comic Shop Day

I admit it–I did not participate in (attending) Local Comic Shop Day today.

doctor_strange_the_oath_lcsd_hardcover_solicit

My primary interest–which I recognize comes largely from a photo of Benedict Cumberbatch in costume as Doctor Strange holding a copy of this book combined with over-hypeage from Bleeding Cool–would have been Doctor Strange: The Oath.

Thing is, virtually no one had a PRICE listed.

See, I don’t have the kind of money to just not care what the price is on an item. The price itself helps determine my interest…as it’s a huge part of how realistic it is for me to even consider purchasing the item.

Then I did find a price for it–$39.99! $40 for a 5-issue hardcover…functionally $8 per issue!

Nope, no thank you, nuh-uh, I don’t think so.


Then there’s this other question: isn’t every Wednesday ‘Local Comic Shop Day’?!? Where, weekly, on Wednesdays minimum, sometimes additional days, I visit some local comic shop and usually wind up buying SOMETHING. I’m not into records and such and don’t visit places like The Exchange or Buybacks or even Best Buy on any regular shedule, and not even necessarily weekly or monthly. But I do visit a comic shop virtually every single week.

So I can see where, perhaps, a Record Store Day or such might get more people in…but when it becomes (whether record store or comic shop) about high-end, premium, ultra-limited-edition high-priced "exclusive" items…that’s NOT EVEN doing anyone any good except rooking the customers.

I might have been interested in the Serenity issue, but that would’ve been more of a "guilt" purchase once I was at a shop, if I felt like I "had to" buy something after spending too long "just browsing" or such.

I don’t like variants generally-speaking, and all the more I don’t like relatively prominent alternate logos or variants so prevalent they get their own logo.

So having a prominent Local Comic Shop Day/LCSD logo on something would just make it stand out (negatively, for me) as "not the ‘real’ thing" and as something faux-special. Worse, the other main thing I might’ve been interested in would be the DC Universe: Rebirth deluxe hardcover…but the LCSD edition is just an inferior, unfinished cover! (aka "sketch" cover or whatever the called it)

Worse, this came less than a week before "Black Friday," in the midst of all sorts of "early" or "pre" Black Friday "sales" and such the world over (ok, slight exaggeration), with the ACTUAL Black Friday looming, followed by "Small Business Saturday" (aren’t virtually all comic shops "Small Businesses"?!?) and even "Cyber Monday" (at least in terms of online sales, for ordering stuff via online methods).


Am I just that discouraged lately, that grumpy and cynical and such?

Perhaps all the better that I didn’t go to a shop.

But with something like the Doctor Strange hardcover, or any of the other "LCSD exxxxclusivvvvveeee!!!!!!" things…if it were REALLY about getting people into the shops and aware of them and such…don’t short the shops or force THEM to pre-order everything. Make stuff available FOR ORDER, even if it’s a one-day-only ORDERING.

Get me into a shop, "sell" me on an item–having a copy of it in-person to show me–but if you don’t have enough at the moment, be able to order one for me, because it IS LCSD and it’s a special FOR that day.

Meanwhile, Wednesday I’ll be making my hour-or-so drive to my "usual" LCS to buy my pull list stuff, some things on order, and likely raid the bargain bins. Because it’ll be Wednesday.

And for me, EVERY Wednesday is Local Comic Shop Day.

According to Valiant, the Comics Industry Isn’t Built for Comics to Have Only 1 Cover Per Issue

I’m rather dismayed at information I was given–by an industry professional–over the weekend.

I rail against variant covers, as probably any reader of this blog knows. But now I have it from a major figure of a fairly major publisher that apparently, the industry is NOT BUILT FOR NON VARIANTS.

Saturday, I read an article on Bleeding Cool about Valiant‘s latest stunt–a game of collect-and-clip-coupons-to-mail-away-for-a-super-special-limited-edition isue–and I tweeted a comment referencing the Valiant language of the stunt being a "tribute" to the 1990s coupon promotions:

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Not long after, to my surprise, I received a response:

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I followed up, as that answer does not sit well with me AT ALL:

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I continued:

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And I received these followups:

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I am not, myself a publisher; I am not involved in that part of comics. All I know is as a fan, a customer, someone who BUYS comics, and has been REPEATEDLY "burned" by the use of variants and stunts involving the intentional screwing-over of longtime fans in interest of a short burst.

I think it’s a bunch of crap that the industry "is not set up for that" [doing only 1 cover per issue].

THAT ALONE shows me the short-sightedness and HUGE PROBLEM with the comics industry. For a publisher to feel that they CANNOT POSSIBLY go with ONLY ONE COVER for a SINGLE iSSUE of a serialized comic book?!?

Does that mean that the material is NOT QUALITY, and can ONLY sell well enough to BE published by forcing people to buy MULTIPLE COPIES of an issue? (Why not just double or TRIPLE the price, and insert an extra full-page image and 3 more ads in the back?)

"Trying 1 cover with Mirage" suggests (to me) a lack of commitment. It’s not like that’s a top-tier primary character from the publisher…so it’s not going to sell as well ANYWAY as, say, a more recognized property like X-O Manowar. So it’s tried with one issue (or 4 or 5, the entire mini-series?) of one series. That’s hardly lengthy enough to get the idea out there that quality stands on itself instead of just not selling as many copies as a bigger title that IS using variants.

IF variants were truly limited solely to A/B 50/50 1:1 individually-orderable status, I still don’t like them, but those sorts I can sort of overlook. But it’s the ratioed variants that cause me the most frustration; the 1:10 and 1:25 and 1:50, with the worst offenses getting up into 1:100, 1:500, 1:1000 levels, to list a few (and without getting into specific Marvel numbers/hoops I’ve seen referenced, say, by Brian Hibbs in his Tilting at Windmills columns)

But both Valiant and Boom! have earned my ire (and specific avoidance + loss of existing purchasing in protest) over the variants and ratio-based shenanigans.

I just have a really hard time getting my head around the notion that the industry is so ****ed up that supposedly it can’t support comics being published and standing as themselves, without Every. Single. ISSUE. having at least one variant!

I guess I’ll be "interested" to "see" what "initiative" is being done for X-O Manowar, though at this point, it being Valiant, the publisher that is going back to making people clip coupons out of an issue and pay to mail those and shipping expenses to receive some "special edition" issue, and the publisher that sought to force longtime, loyal customers into being Valiant salespeople if they wanted to keep up with the "full story" of the comics universe…I can’t say I’m expecting all that much.

Given I’ve seen numerous comic shops with multiple longboxes full of nothing but "variants"–an ENTIRE IN-STORE CATEGORY–obviously (to me, experientially) that means it’s NOT LIKE they’re ALL SELLING. SOME people MAY "like them," but not enough people to buy them all!

And *I* think that if publishers would just give the darned things A REST and STOP IT for several months, take the "hit" of "lower profits" for the short-term, it might avoid as much likelihood of a bomb-out like the ’90s.

That the entire viability of a publisher is predicated on variants, as if it’s an unconscionable loss to not use variants on every issue, makes me an official subscriber to the notion of the industry being in trouble.

But hey, that must mean that I am just old. That I am not the target audience. Comics are no longer for me if I’m not willing to change and embrace the trend(s), right?

Well, dear publishers (not just Valiant), where IS the mythical "new audience," the huge influx of "new readers" and such? When comics are among the worst value in entertainment, frustrating the people who overlook that week in and week out is (to me) not the best of plans.

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Old-School Variance: Superman #75

I’ve often referenced it, but rarely had actual "live" photographic example to illustrate the point.

I do not consider 1990s "Collector’s Edition" and "Newsstand Edition" comics to be variants. Technically, I’ll give you that they are variants–one issue with two (or more) different covers.

Perhaps it’s that typically there would be two covers, and two covers "only" in such cases. There was also the notion of the selling channel–one version was intended for the "direct market" (comic shops) and the other for standard newsstand distribution. Also the fact that they were equally orderable by a shop–no "regularity" of 1:10 or other worse "ratios" on ordering and the other ridiculousness seen today. (special cases such as "platinum" or "gold" editions could be an exception, but those tended to seem truly "special" compared to 2016 1:50 or 1:100 or 1:500 or 1:1000 ratios!)

Back in 1992, there was the cover image. This is what people were looking for. They’d seen the image on tv, in the newspapers, in magazines, etc…so this is what they were looking for; and it was the content of the issue, the "event" of the story that was key, not which of fifty dozen alternative covers you had.

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The variance (as opposed to variants/multiple editions) of the Superman #75 covers is due to the multiple print-runs. You have your standard first print; and then for later printings, rather than taking interior art or additional artists, the color of the Superman logo and text The Death of Superman! was changed, and a small Roman Numeral was added to the cover copy to clearly indicate which printing the issue was. (I recently came across at copy of The Killing Joke that I had and couldn’t find anything saying which printing it was…I finally realized/remembered that which printing is indicated simply by the color of the book’s title and the cover price). That’s part of why the issue(s) are so clearly "iconic" and memorable…they’ve not been diluted by umpteen hundred different images for just one issue.

It’s occurred to me that there’s likely additional variance–the UPC box. In my photo here, the first print has an actual bar code…while printings II, III, and IV have the creator credits (these are direct market copies of the "newsstand edition.") I also make a distinction there–bar code vs. not–I consider the same. I’m not actually sure if the later printings have a version with the bar code, or if the later printings were comic-shops-only (newsstands perhaps having gotten the first printing only, and anyone else had to go to the direct market?)

Anyway…the ultimate point of this post is the photo; that these are 4 different versions of the same edition of the same issue, just produced as separate print-runs. Yet same cover image, still instantly recognizable as the same issue, despite not all being printed at the same time.

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