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CSBG Archive

Saturday’s Annual Inventory (…Came Unexpectedly Early)

I keep thinking I’m done talking about the DC relaunch, and then some new piece comes up.

This time it was from my retailer. A couple of weeks ago, when picking up my comics from the shop, there was a form waiting for me.

What? I have to do this NOW? But... but... it's not JANUARY!

The short version is, the shop tells me that none of my current DC pulls are going to roll over with the new number ones, even if it’s got the same title– like, say, Batman and Robin. So I have to re-list anything I want to keep getting (if it still actually exists. Some, like Superman/Batman, are ending.)

The form they gave me to do this, I must admit, is kind of cool. It’s a booklet with all the DC preview info helpfully listed in alphabetical order, along with a thumbnail pic of the cover art.

Just as a printshop guy, I approve of the way this is put together. DC should do a promo booklet like this.

After each listing there’s a box to check off indicating whether you want to order just the one issue, or go ahead and commit to getting the book on an ongoing basis. When you’re doing a checklist previewing 52 books all at once, this is about the most efficient way to do it. The booklet’s done by my actual retailer, Zanadu Comics downtown, it’s not from DC. (Though DC could do a lot worse than to put out some sort of booklet like this.)

Looking through it, though, I’m feeling a fair amount of ‘meh.’

Here’s my problem in a nutshell; I’ve turned into a trade-waiting guy. Standard 32-page booklet comics have almost completely disappeared from my comics reading. I look at the stacked boxes here in the office and I think that I need to start seriously getting RID of these, not ADDING to them.

That's most, but not ALL, of the office stack of longboxes. Maggie the Easter Kitty likes to perch up there and watch me write, not unlike Snoopy doing his vulture imitation.

Moreover, I’ve become a retailer’s nightmare: I’m a used-trade-waiting guy. Over the last few months my habit has been to do online searches on graphic novels (usually Amazon, but not always) and pick up used trade paperback or hardcover collections of comics for three to five dollars each, plus shipping.

On top of all that, those books have largely been Marvel books. Despite my loathing for Civil War in general and the last half of the Straczynski-written run on Spider-Man in particular that caused me to drop the book, I was lured back and then completely won over by what Dan Slott and friends have been doing on the rebooted Spidey. Now I’ve got everything from Brand New Day on up in hardcover. Likewise Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man and Brubaker’s Captain America.

Really, not a lot has changed since January’s column about this… except I picked up the Secret Invasion! hardcover on a whim and then discovered a whole bunch of the Bendis and other New Avengers books marked down to nothing.

Picked 'em up for cheap and now I'm hooked. One more for Marvel.

Just kinda got to picking off the hardcovers on Amazon for way cheap, one by one, and without even really realizing it, I’m caught up all the way on the various Avengers titles through Siege. So now suddenly I’m an Avengers guy again. I even enjoyed the Dan Slott “I will make Hank Pym cool or die trying” version of Mighty Avengers.

I don't know if I agree that Hank Pym is as badass dangerous as Dan Slott thinks he is, but these were fun books.

So really, despite the current pull list being very DC-heavy, it’s the deep-discounted Marvel collections arriving in the mail that I’ve been enjoying the most. (Although last week I picked up several of the earlier Peter Tomasi Green Lantern Corps collections on a whim because they were three dollars each, but that was largely a fit of re-awakened Green Lantern fanboyism left over from my godson and I having such a great time at the Ryan Reynolds movie.)

Honestly, though, it’s come to this. Here’s what I said in the January column where I traditionally look at my pull list selections…

Last January when I did the annual look at the pull list, I was thinking that 2010 would be the year I made the switch to trades-only. And it almost was. I strongly suspect that 2011 absolutely will be… because even if I don’t make the switch, well, the industry itself will probably do it for me.

That was in January. Now it’s July, and, well, here we are.

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And I find myself asking, Hell, do I even want a pull list any more? Because it’s not really a question of “What do I want to read?” so much as, “What do I want to read so bad that I’m willing to shell out for more expen$ive and difficult-to-store individual issues, or for titles I like that I think won’t ever get collected?”

There’s the digital option, but I just can’t see paying what DC wants to charge for that, and my computer’s kind of a pain to read digital comics on anyway. Even with my new reading glasses, the monitor’s still a little too small for me to read them easily and comfortably. (Because I’m old.) Besides, I like having my comics in my hand, I much prefer reading a tangible object. (Because I’m old.)

So it comes down to trades vs. monthlies. Trades win with me in a walk. Just in terms of financial sense, ease of reading and storage, and so on and so on. We all know the arguments in favor of buying comics in collected form, I’ve made it here many times, and there’s no need to rehash them.


…I really like visiting the shop on Wednesday. It’s a pleasant break in the middle of my work week.

And it’s a good shop, too. I’ve been buying comics from Zanadu since I moved here in 1984, and had the reserve box for quite a few years now. The staff often set aside promotional posters and giveaways for my cartooning students, and they display the class ‘zines at the store as well. Plus they give me a discount. I feel like I should support them.

But I’m too cheap to pay full price for most trade collections (except Jonah Hex, because I want to be sure DC knows people are buying those.)

So…. I guess I’m going to hang on to the pull list.

Now I have to figure out what new DC monthly books to put on it.

Time to look at the booklet. A to Z. What’ve we got?

Action? No. If there’s anything that’s a certainty to show up in a trade, it’s Grant Morrison. Pretty good bet Jonah Hex will too, so I think I’ll chance skipping All-Star Western. Batgirl? Not with Barbara Gordon. I like the current Stephanie Brown version, I’m annoyed it’s going away, and I like Barbara Gordon as Oracle….

…And so on. I’ll spare you the entire decision-making process but just talk about the seven DC books that actually made the cut.

First one on the list: Batman with Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.

For the record: I’m really irritated at losing Dick Grayson as Batman. Truthfully I vastly preferred Grant Morrison’s Dick-and-Damian version of Batman and Robin to his Batman Inc., which (sorry, Whorrisons) just isn’t doing it for me. I feel cheated that I didn’t get more of the Morrison Batman and Robin before we went off in yet another BOLD NEW DIRECTION! (In fact, while we’re on the subject, I’m fed up in general with the industry-wide case of attention-deficit-disorder where apparently two years is the cap for any Bold New Direction. But that’s a column in itself.) I would have been much happier if the “Batman Reborn,” Dick Grayson Bat-titles had lasted a lot longer.

That said, I’m a Bat guy, always have been, and I am very much enjoying Snyder’s current work on Detective. I see a lot of crabbing about how it’s Capullo and not Jock on the relaunch version, but I don’t care about all that, I’m a story guy. The art would have to be really super hideous to drive me off a book. I like Snyder’s take not just on Batman, but also on the supporting cast and Gotham City as well.

Next one to make the cut: Aquaman from Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis. I’m not nearly as down on Geoff Johns’ work as many of my colleagues are here on the blog, and I think when he’s just doing regular superhero adventure — his first run on JSA, the new Flash with Francis Manapul, stuff like that — it’s usually pretty good. It’s when he gets all snarled up with Big Events that the wheels come off the wagon.

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Plus… it’s Aquaman. I admit it, this is a fanboy nostalgia thing, I’ll always have a soft spot for the character. The old Filmation Aquaman cartoons helped to bring me to newsstand comics as much as the Adam West Batman did, back in 1967.

So I always give Aquaman a chance, I’m a big Aquaman fan. I want Aquaman to have a regular book. It’s a wallet vote.

It was a real back-and-forth for me on this for quite a while, but I finally decided to go ahead and get the new Batman and Robin, as well. Again, this is one where I like the older version a lot better than the one it’s replacing. Easygoing cheerful Batman and young grim Robin is a fun reversal of tradition, it makes for entertaining reading even when it’s not Grant Morrison writing it. It was an engine built to last, we could have gotten years of stories out of that. Older grim Batman and young grim-in-a-slightly-different-way Robin isn’t nearly as much fun of an idea, and we saw that back in the 1970s anyway when Marv Wolfman decided that Bruce and Dick should fight all the time.

But I like Peter Tomasi’s writing. I liked what he was doing on the current version of Batman and Robin after Grant Morrison left. This new relaunched version probably is going to get collected, but it might not, and I decided to give it a chance.

Long slog from the Bs to the Ms. Nothing’s really doing it for me– either I’m not interested or it doesn’t pass the “wait for a trade” test. Until we get to Mister Terrific by Eric Wallace and Roger Robinson.

This is one that I suspect won’t get collected and probably won’t last more than a year based on past observations of the industry, but many of those one-year wonders are among my favorite comics of all time. (I.e., Chase, DC’s Phantom, Hercules Unbound.) So I’m willing to give it a shot. Mostly because I really liked Michael Holt’s character in general and especially in JSA. (Aside: you know, volume one of JSA was a perfectly serviceable superhero book, it was like the old Thomas-Buscema Avengers.The new version, along with All-Stars, just hasn’t got that same old-school flair.) Anyway, that residual JSA goodwill gets this one a shot with me, along with the fact that I’ve been a fan of Roger Robinson’s art since Gotham Knights. And I like the idea of Mr. Terrific having his own title. Wallet vote. The blurb makes me mildly suspicious that he’s getting some kind of hipster makeover but I hope it’s not true.

And the very next one listed makes it as well, Nightwing from Kyle Higgins and Eddy Barrows. This is, again, a wallet vote — it might get collected in trade and it might not, and I’d like DC to know that I want to read about Dick Grayson’s adventures on a regular basis, so I’m in. I am not familiar with Higgins or Barrows but the setup with Haley’s Circus seems like a nice idea, though I can also see some story problems with it long-term. What I really want to see is more of the approach Peter Tomasi was taking in the final issues of the first run of Nightwing, the grown-up Robin that still stops by the Batcave once in a while to do his laundry and goof on Alfred. I just love that idea, it humanizes all the Bat characters and it’s fun. Tomasi really nailed that vibe, it was a great version and I’m clinging to the hope that someone else will get hold of that idea and run with it.

This pick’s part fanboy nostalgia and part Maybe-they’ve-finally-figured-it-out, but after another bout of back-and-forth with myself I decided to go ahead and give The Savage Hawkman by Tony Daniel and Philip Tan a chance.

This is a wallet vote because I like Hawkman, and I would like his book to succeed. I especially like the idea of Hawkman as being more of a mystical kind of character, rather than the science-y Thanagarian policeman/soldier/whatever. My idea of a good Hawkman is a Conan with wings in the world of Indiana Jones. This cover and blurb seems like a version of that idea. When Geoff Johns and Rags Morales were doing it a few years back they did some nice stuff going in that direction, and then somehow it kind of sputtered out. Here’s hoping they get it back.

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Although I really, really hate those spiked things on the glove or gauntlet or whatever. I don’t need my Savage Hawkman quite THAT savage. The artist they should have gotten for this is Jason Metcalf.

Jason did a redesign of Hawkman a few years ago that I always liked. Still not loving the spiky glove thing but it's not as oppressively huge as Mr. Tan's version.

We’ve been seeing Jason at Pacific Northwest shows for years, he’s an amazing talent, and I’m telling you, he’s born to do this kind of exotic-adventure, barbarian-gladiator strip. If you’re reviving John Carter of Mars or Claw the Unconquered or any kind of a strip with “Savage” in the title, Jason’s the guy you want drawing it.

…Anyway. moving on. There’s one more from the DC relaunch that I decided to take a chance on — Voodoo by Ron Marz and Sami Basri.

This one I picked because… well, because I always liked Ron Marz on Green Lantern, he does good solid work, and this seems like an interesting idea. Never read anything about the character before, no idea if this is brand-new or some sort of revamp, but I always enjoy ‘street-level civilian viewpoint’ superhero comics, whether it’s Gotham Central or Marvels or Alias or The Pulse. And this one stars a woman who’s not falling out of her shirt or wearing a painted-on impossible leotard. (It’s not quite enough to cancel out the horrible new costumes for Harley Quinn and Starfire, but it does give me hope that not ALL the staff at DC hate real grown-up women.) Voodoo probably is another one that won’t last a year, but I am rooting for it. The premise sounds kind of like Chase. But with voodoo. Anyway, I figured I’d give it a shot just because I like the idea of more quirky titles set in the DCU. Another wallet vote.

So there you have it. It actually ended up being more titles overall than I thought it would be, considering. I suspect several of these aren’t going to last, though I hope I’m wrong. I guess in September we’ll find out.

See you next week.


It’s been reported that Roger Robinson’s already been axed off Mr. Terrific after issue #1, Greg, so if he’s a major reason why you were choosing that book, you may want to rethink it.


What Mainstream DCU books that have come out over the past year/year and a half are not either available in trade or slated to get a trade after the appropriate level of time has passed?

Travis Pelkie

July 17, 2011 at 1:03 am

Yeah, Louis beat me to it, about Robinson getting the ax. Although it brings up the topic of “is DC actually going to get on creators’ asses and get them to produce in a timely manner”, one both Louis and you have discussed in the past. When I heard about Robinson getting the ax, though, I was puzzled, because I thought he was the artist on Azrael for quite a long time, and should be good at keeping deadlines.

That is a sweet looking pamphlet. I’d order stuff from them solely due to the time and effort put into that. (and hey, maybe the person who did put it together would be someone that could discuss layout, etc with your students in the fall or some time.)

I think you’re probably right that Mr Terrific won’t get traded. There was some talk that some books that might not fare well in print might continue as digital (but traded later, I think), which will be interesting to see.

Bleeding Cool’s deadpool (as to what would get the ax first) seemed to coalesce around figuring I, Vampire would be the first to die, but I dunno.

I’m hoping to try the first ish of everything, but I think Action, Swamp Thing, Animal Man, JL Dark, a few others will be on my must buy list.

I was all excited for the relaunch at first, then wary after the first announcements, then a few others made me go yay, and then I read some of Flashpoint, and was wary again.

Based on those boxes, you (and the cat) have good taste. (But Voodoo? Ah, I kid.)

I would think, though, hearing all that ELO and Olivia-Newton John would be a deterrent to shopping at that comic shop.

What’s that?

Oh, Zanadu. Sorry.

What Mainstream DCU books that have come out over the past year/year and a half are not either available in trade or slated to get a trade after the appropriate level of time has passed?

That’s a good question. Offhand I’d say the easy way to check is an Amazon search, though you have to slog through a lot of re-issues. Nothing’s really jumping out at me, they’re even collecting a lot of odd low-sales titles. I know it can’t be everything but it’s a hell of a lot.

Anonymous, there’s still tons of DC books not getting collected. The company still has a bad habit of collecting one or two trades for any series not starring Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, or strangely, Jonah Hex, and leaving the rest of the series to rot.

It sounds like part of the New 52 initiative will eliminate this issue.

RE: the rest of your choices:

I sort of get your position on the various batbooks, though I think you’re being a bit soft and just buying out of rote habit. Isn’t all that stuff trade-waitable? I mean, it’s Batverse. That stuff all gets collected.

Aquaman: Don’t see why you’re interested in that one. I mean, I get the nostalgia, wanting the character to have a title… just not with THAT creative team. I’ll agree, Johns was decent on his first run of JSA, on STARS & S.T.R.I.P.E., but ever since he’s become one of their “go-to” star writers working on the “big guns”, his efforts have mostly been lackadaisical junk.

HAWKMAN: Ugh. The creative team is completely unacceptable to me. Sorry. The art you put up, by the way, is by James Pascoe, not Jason Metcalf. Perhaps that’s who you meant?

VOODOOO: Nah. Can’t see it. Probably because I’ve never cared for the Wildstorm-verse and don’t really care about the character. Marz is okay, but there’s arguably better projects he’s doing currently that you could spend money on that deserve it more, if you’re buying it for him. Like that Image book he’s doing, Shinku.

“And this one stars a woman who’s not falling out of her shirt or wearing a painted-on impossible leotard. (It’s not quite enough to cancel out the horrible new costumes for Harley Quinn and Starfire, but it does give me hope that not ALL the staff at DC hate real grown-up women.) ”

And the irony of that, Greg, is that the character is an exotic dancer / stripper.

Ah, wait. I see the Metcalf in it now.

The art you put up, by the way, is by James Pascoe, not Jason Metcalf. Perhaps that’s who you meant?

No, Jason drew it. His signature’s there too. Pascoe inked it.

EDIT– ah, I see you found it.

Travis Pelkie

July 17, 2011 at 1:42 am

Yeah, took me a minute too. But I took a brief look at Metcalf’s site, and saw another cool ass Hawkman piece, so yeah, DC, get Metcalf on Hawkman when Tan blows his deadlines :)

The link Louis put up was the one I was looking for, actually. In fact, I’m going to go edit it into the column. That’s the print I saw at a show a few years back and it just blew me away. THAT Hawkman, I want to read about.


RE: deadlines / all these guys being replaced —

It’s an interesting situation. I’m not sure how long these guys took developing this relaunch, but it feels rushed and not well through at all. So I’m not surprised to see rotating teams, especially when we had reports of writers like Brian Clevinger being on/off Firestorm before the series was ever announced. I would expect to see reports to continue for another 6-10 weeks.

That’s “not well thought-through”, sorry.

And no problem about the link, Greg.

I don’t understand why a retailer would expect you to preorder the DC ReBoot titles. DC has made them returnable so it would make more sense for a shop to overorder thse titles and put one of each in your bin so that you can sample them.
As for the “Rushed and Not Thought through” comment, hasn’t that been DC’s house style for years?

Glad to see some love for DC’s Phantom! It’s one of my all-time favorite books and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it get any love on this site.

The pamphlet does look quite nice. That was a nice move by your comic shop.

Half of the reboot titles I’ll be getting are essentially continuations of what I had been getting (the two LSH books and the Jonah Hex title), and the other half are new for me (Action, Demon Knights, Stormwatch). Which means three new titles I’ll be spending on DC… although with Doc Savage and Spirit getting canned, it’s really only a net gain of +1 for DC.

I should probably just switch to trades, but I really do like stopping by my local store every Wednesday to pick up something new to read.

DC has made them returnable so it would make more sense for a shop to over-order these titles and put one of each in your bin so that you can sample them.

There IS an option for sampling; and getting this order booklet in my box feels like a courtesy. Getting an extra fifty-some books I didn’t order feels more like the old Book Club trick of mailing you books automatically unless you mail THEM the form saying, No, don’t mail me this month’s selection. That never ended well for me and I doubt it’d be different at the shop.

And think of the nightmare at the counter with a whole bunch of angry fans wanting to know what the hell, and then having to return all that stuff.

I think an order booklet was the right way to go. Hell, it sold them a couple of extra books to me; Mr. Terrific and Voodoo were impulse buys. I’d never have ordered Voodoo if the cover thumbnail and blurb hadn’t struck me as kind of cool, I’d never heard of it and had no preconceptions at all.

No response, is not a response and normally not acceptable. Who wants to see all 52 issues with the same gimmick if they didn’t order it? Of course if you did, you are in for a heck of a week of reading.

I’ve also been trying to figure out what to buy from these new DCs (there’s no stopping them now!). It’s going to be really hard going for me, but I think I’ll wait for the collection for Action Comics. Morrison usually writes my favorite stuff, so a sturdier shelf-ready format is probably a better choice for those, going into the future. I am also mourning the death of Batman Inc, which is the Morrison Bat-comic I’ve been hoping for all this time. I did enjoy the Dick-and-Damian stuff a lot, but “Incorporated” is like Haney’s Brave and the Bold cross-pollinated with the Brave and the Bold cartoon series and Morrison’s own self-created corner of the Bat-verse, so it’s everything awesome about Batman in one comic.

Batwoman and Wonder Woman also look like the kind of gorgeously-drawn comics that would be better preserved in a book with a spine. But I’ve tried to switch to trades before, and I’m back buying a dozen singles a month. The single issue format says comics to me, while the collected version is… something else.

You seem to have a higher tolerance for bad comics than I do, Greg. A Tony Daniel/Philip Tan joint is just asking for trouble. I’d also love to give Aquaman a chance, but I just can’t find itself in me to spend money on Geoff Johns comics anymore. I thought about giving this series a go, because I really want Aquaman to have a series, but the solicitation for the second issue took pride in sounding gory and gruesome, and that’s one of the peeves I have about Johns’ superhero work.

I’ll be buying Snyder’s Batman as well, because I like his Detective (Capullo is not a draw, but what can you do), and also his Swamp Thing, especially with a tag-team art squad of Paquette and Francavilla. Paul Cornell is another writer whose stuff I tend to really enjoy, so I’ll pick up both Demon Knights and Stormwatch. Milligan’s Justice League Dark will get a tryout, because that could be Good Milligan, but Red Lanterns looks like Paycheck Milligan. I’ll also pick up Frankenstein and I’ll even dare to sample Blackhawks, though I have low expectations for that one.

With creative team turmoil already affecting several titles, I’m wondering if DC will be able to hold onto the good will they’re trying to build here.

The Fourth Man

July 17, 2011 at 10:08 am

My local comic shop gave me a similar booklet as well. Here’s how I’ll probably fill it out.

Sold (I’ll be signing on for the series)

Action Comics – loved all star supes, hopefully this will be similar

Batgirl – I’d rather read Simone write a Secret Six/Suicide Squad title, but I’m willing to follow her to her Batgirl obsession

Animal Man – interested to see Lemire’s take on the character

Batwoman – been waiting for this one for a while

Swamp Thing – No one can top Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing, but it will be interesting to see Synder & Paquette try.

On the bubble (I’ll propbably pick up the first issue to see if it grabs me)

All Star Western – I haven’t been reading the current Jonah Hex series so this might be a good place to jump on

Sgt. Rock and the men of war – just curious to see what this one’ll be like. don’t know much about the creative team.

Wonder Woman – Many fantastic creative teams have tried and failed to get me interested in WW, here’s your chance Azzarello & Chang

The thing I’m living with now, is overwhelming circuit overload.
Given too many things to decide all at once usually means I decide none of the above.
Since getting back into comics about 4 years ago the only BIG2 books I’ve bought monthly have been DC books, and this half-baked relaunch is starting to really turn me off.

got to admit finding out wiith that booklet your showing makes it easier for me to try and give dc new idea a chance. since really curious to see if geof can make aqua man stick as a series where other attempts have failed plus also the look of hawkman looks like the character should be . plus nice to see dc giving mr. terrfic his long over due title. plus looking forward to batgirl mostly to see how gail is getting Oracle in that suit walking.

Bill Hall:

“As for the “Rushed and Not Thought through” comment, hasn’t that been DC’s house style for years?”

In the strictest of terms, no. DC and Marvel have been pre-planning most of their major arcs and events anywhere from nine to eighteen months in advance of solicitations right along, and their key writers are plotting as much as thirty six months in advance. It’s simply that their “architect /superstar” writers write way too damned many books, are utterly predictable in their writing styles and quirks, and are often thumbing through their own comics collections / DVD collections / book collections looking for ideas, so unless you’re willing to look past that and “just enjoy the ride”, you’re typically going to find the work to be lackluster, at best.

Now, you could certainly argue that the (lack of) execution and debatably limited perspectives of the ‘architect’ creators have contributed to the sense that books feel rushed and not well thought through.

But in this particular instance, I think it’s more the fact that DC’s been in editorial upheaval and parties have been relocating cross-country over the past eighteen to twenty four months, Geoff Johns and Jim Lee’s attentions having been increasingly divided towards outside media endeavors (and honestly, I for one would be happy if they both just got the hell out of comics entirely and went to the other media once and for all), and Bob Harras taking over as DC’s E-I-C less than ten months ago, which I think this relaunch, marking his first year in office, is more the first “Harras Effect” on DC – the first major sign of his editorial influence, for better or worse.

What happens reamins to be seen. But honestly, this feels more like a shifting of deck chairs on the Titanic than a truly new vision of the DCU. Did we “need” a new vision of the DCU? *shrugs* We certainly need a leaner, meaner product line, which this most certainly is NOT, so they’re failing right out of the gate.

“What would you cut?”, you may ask.

Obvious choices are BATMAN & ROBIN, BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT, BATGIRL (unless they’re doing it right and making Stephanie the character), BAT-WING, GL: THE NEW GUARDIANS, RED LANTERNS, JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL, JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK, RED (Robin) HOOD AND (his Merry Band)THE OUTLAWS, the Lemire books, DEMON KNIGHTS, DEATHSTROKE, SUICIDE SQUAD, HAWK & DOVE – that right there’s thirteen books – one fourth of their lineup – and I could justify the cancellation for another thirteen titles.

Now I’m not saying they shouldn’t have 52 DCU books. But if you’re going to have 52 titles, there should be at least 45 non-related titles. Not eleven Batman related series, four Superman related series, four Green Lantern related series, three Justice League series, etc.

“But these characters are popular enough to warrant it!” No, they aren’t. Who was clamoring for Red (Robin) Hood and (His Merry Band of) The Outlaws? Who was begging for a David Finch scripted Batman other than Finch himself? Who the hell asked for JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK? Certainly not the Constantine or Zatanna readers – DC did nothing but piss off two fan contingents right there. Maybe the readers loving Morrison’s BATMAN, INC. actually have wanted Batwing in his own book, but they wanted Batwing by Morrison, not by Judd Winick, I can assure you. Did anybody REALLY want the Red Lanterns to have their own series? “Oh yes, we all love seeing characters who get so angry they puke out their internal organs!” *rolls eyes* And so forth.

Could DC (or any publishers) produce 52 diverse books and sustain a high end quality and build readership evenly across the boards? *shrugs* I don’t know. I like to think it possible. I just don’t see it happening any time in the forseeable future.

Here’s a possibility: If you’re not interested in buying most books at full price but still like going into the shop then go in every week and pick up a single trade, then buy the bulk of them online. Maybe the latest release of something like Jonah Hex, maybe something you missed a while ago but heard good things about, or maybe something random you read the back of and tickles your fancy. That’s what I’ll be doing within the next year.


“If you’re not interested in buying most books at full price but still like going into the shop then go in every week and pick up a single trade, then buy the bulk of them online…”

That’s nice. Now, here’s another possibility – instead of wasting your money on corporate crap comics, print OR digital, why don’t you surf the web and seek out all the cool free digital comics that have been around the net and pay that 99 cent to $1.99 fee as a donation to the ‘poor kid’ creators instead? They’ll be a lot more appreciative for your support, and you’ll probably find better content to read in the process.

Just saying.

Here’s a possibility: If you’re not interested in buying most books at full price but still like going into the shop then go in every week and pick up a single trade, then buy the bulk of them online. Maybe the latest release of something like Jonah Hex, maybe something you missed a while ago but heard good things about, or maybe something random you read the back of and tickles your fancy. That’s what I’ll be doing within the next year.

I thought about that, actually, since it’s practically what I do NOW. Usually there’s only one or two comics waiting for me in any given week. But part of it is that giving up the box also means giving up the discount.

How it worked out actually suits me fine, at least for the moment. We’ll see in September. But yeah, letting the box go is probably coming… but part of what I discovered, working all this out, is that I’m not quite ready to give up the pull list.

I only have strictly anecdotal evidence for this, but I suspect, just from talking to fellow fans and from what I see online, that a lot of us feel the same way; we’re pretty set in our ways. That’s why I think DC doing same-day digital isn’t really going to hurt retailers very much at all.

As far as publishers and retailers, and quite a few creators, are concerned, when you talk to them about things that hurt sales you find out that the real elephant in the room is piracy and torrenting. That loses them a LOT of sales. There are books out there in danger of cancellation that would be X-Men-sized hits if you could count all the times they’ve been pirated as actual comics sold.

I’m aware that even mentioning it here is probably poking the bear, and I imagine after reading the last sentence there’s all sorts of people lining up to type their angry responses that justify torrenting, but facts are facts. It’s undercutting sales and the number of sales it undercuts is rising as more and more people turn to the option. It’s why I applaud DC for even TRYING to find a digital solution, because that’s going to be the only game in town for monthly 32-page comics pretty soon. The trouble is, I think their current plans are probably not going to help them a lot, but it’ll be instructive for everyone else to see what happens. SOMEBODY had to be the first one to try it large-scale.

According to my LCS, DC *IS* releasing a similar booklet/guide to comic shops very soon.


July 19, 2011 at 2:51 am

I’ve been going the other way – too many shelves over flowing with trades have driven me back to singles.

The pic of those boxes has me worried!

I’ve found with singles there’s a bit more fun with some books – Morrison’s Batman & Robin and Wednesday Comics were the two that sent me back to singles… they just gave me the ‘I have to read them NOW’ vibe.
(Detective Comics, Batman Inc and Amazing Spider-Man are my current three that I think really will read better as a serial than they will in the collection – even though they’ll read great in trade).
From there I found the advantage with singles is that I can try a book out and find out if I like it, and if I don’t like it, I’ve saved money and not had valuable shelf space taken up.
Of course, with a lot of books I try and like, I can’t be bothered to wait six-twelve months for the collection!

I was having to deal with singles anyway as I love getting back issues of various runs on ebay – the 90’s LOSH reboot, Superman Y2K era-issues, Maggin Superman, and various DC annuals and anniversary issues – so I already had some single issue storage going on.

Bugger is, turns out there’s new comics every month, so yeah, space will become an issue soon.
Might have to do a cull myself.

Louis Bright-Raven:

Who the hell asked for JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK? Certainly not the Constantine or Zatanna readers – DC did nothing but piss off two fan contingents right there.

I wasn’t asking for this title – but I’m always keen for a Peter Milligan book.
I loves me some Constantine – Moore, Delano, Ennis, Ellis, Azzarello and Milligan are my faves – and I think it will be great fun – Constantine was a different sort of character when he played in the DCU, where we didn’t know his insecurities, we just saw the player. So I’m keen for reading this alongside Hellblazer.
As for Zatanna readers… if they can’t have Paul Dini on a solo book, front and center in a new team has to sound good.

The other examples… well, I’m not going to defend them!

This is not at all meant to justify piracy or torrenting, but I have to wonder (and I hope I’m not beating a horse that’s already been flogged to death on the internets) if it isn’t a bit presumptuous to assume that each actual download of a comic book (or song, or movie, or book and so on ad nauseum) means a lost sale? As I understand it, the fact that something’s free is the draw, and the people who do so (i.e. torrent, etc.) are usually not willing to shell out the bucks otherwise…
So when you say that piracy and torrenting “loses them a LOT of sales” (and I’m not doubting for a second that they have to have some impact), how much a lot? Have the numbers been quantified? And is that even possible?
To sort of bring this comment back on topic, personally I think there’s quite a few things that are losing the big 2 lots of sales, not least the rather hefty price for a roughly 32-page comic that can usually be read in about 5 minutes (yeah, that’s the old curmudgeon in me griping there…). Even if I were still living in the US, and near an LCS, I wouldn’t be following any regular series put out by the big 2, and this DC reboot, while interesting, would probably not draw me back into becoming a regular monthly buyer.

So when you say that piracy and torrenting “loses them a LOT of sales” (and I’m not doubting for a second that they have to have some impact), how much a lot? Have the numbers been quantified? And is that even possible?

The only numbers you can quantify are the number of sites that offer the downloads and the number of possible downloads offered on each site. Jonah’s been tracking those numbers for a while and he says they are proliferating. Quoting the boss, “It’s RAMPANT… Full collections of Wednesday comic releases have THOUSANDS of seeders in just hours.”

How many of those people MIGHT be buying the books if they weren’t pirating? I don’t know. (I doubt there’s a way to quantify it other than polling the people doing the downloading, and I don’t see THAT happening.) But just on the basis of logic, I have to assume that if torrenting is ramping up so quickly, print sales have to be going down.

Sure, monthly 32-page comics cost too much for what you get. But printing and paper costs are going up too — again, rising alarmingly in the last few years– and the only way to get the unit cost down on an individual issue of a comic is to sell a bunch of them. The usual fan solutions to this are “go back to printing on shitty paper” and “put them back on newsstands.”

The trouble is that hardly anyone prints on the crappy newsprint any more, the print industry’s gone digital too. Press setups and so on just aren’t done the way they used to be, and hardly anyone even does full-on offset printing any more. The costs of printing on even the crappy paper have gone way up along with everything else in any case. As for selling on newsstands, the ugly truth is that newsstands don’t want us and print magazines on those newsstands are hurting as bad as we are, anyway. You should see what a sad anorexic thing Newsweek has become.

It’s the old Napster music scenario, all over again. How did bands and record companies finally beat that? With iTunes. You make the digital option cheap enough and inviting enough that pirating drops to a manageable level. I think that’s the way comics are going to have to go and I really do applaud DC for trying. I just think this first swing at it probably isn’t the solution that’s going to stick. But we’ll see.

Travis Pelkie

July 21, 2011 at 1:08 am

Anecdotally, I was chatting with a guy in my LCS, and he was saying that the big books (events, Batman, Spidey, etc) aren’t the ones hurting from being torrented (even saying that they WEREN’T the books being torrented, so much), but the mid level books, your Booster Golds, etc, etc, were getting pirated like crazy, and THAT’s what’s hurting the sales. For a mid level book like, say, BG, an extra 1-5K IS going to make or break the existence of the book (in print, anyway).

Not sure 1-5K people ARE pirating books like that, but maybe.

Which means it will be interesting if DC does follow through on one thing I heard, that if some books don’t do well in print (individual issue-wise), they might continue digitally and then maybe get print collections. Seems like a good idea for mid level books.

Greg, a store you probably remember, Future Dreams, is offering a special deal – all 52 of the new #1s for $79 if you pay by August 10. Not sure if this is available to out-of-town customers.

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