Friday, July 03, 2009

The story thus far - part 1

I haven´t posted regularly the last few weeks so I have to make up for that now. Because both of my brothers are on vacation right now I took the opportunity to do the stuff I can´t when they are both around.

Here are a few of the things I´ve been up to :

A. Put all the vcr tapes in order

The last time I was in Spain my older brother used my absence and that of my mother to totally rearrange the living room furniture to transform it into his own personal home cinema center. Of course he didn´t empty out all the vcr tapes before that so when he moved the furniture all of them fell out. And of course he put them back all wrong so that it was impossible to find particular tapes. So it took me a whole day to take them all out, sort em through and put them in the right order.

B. Start watching the ONE PIECE tapes

Because the tapes were all mixed up I couldn´t find the tapes of ONE PIECE, a pirate / superhero anime that I had been following for the longest time. But a few years back my younger brother was more interested in playing on his PS2 than catching up with the show and we made it a habit to watch the episodes together. While I was in Spain they rerun the episodes so that my brother was now up to date and I wasn´t. When the episodes were shown again a few months back I watched them but there was a huge gap of episodes I hadn´t seen. So now that I have the opportunity I´m watching the episodes. So far I have finished the first Davy Back fight.

C. Put my mixtapes in order

Last time I came from Spain all the tapes were in the wrong order and I couldn´t find my mixtapes of hot chicks like Janet Jackson, Beyonce or Mariah Carey. Since they are now in the right order I could also put my mixtapes where they belong.

D. Streamline my comic collection

Since reading an article in DOLMEN about the difference of collecting comics and amassing comics I have started to get rid of comics I won´t read again or which I don´t want in my comic collection. So far I have only been able to go through the few boxes that were on shelfes somewhere. Since I´m all alone now I could go through all the hundreds of comics I have in my secretary and in the big boxes and all the others I didn´t have access to before.

My problem is that my brother keeps rearranging our room as he sees fit which means adjusting to his needs - and totally ignoring mine. Usually it works that way that whenever I have rearranged all my stuff so that I can work again he puts all the furniture where it blocks my access to my comics and everything else. Which is one of the reasons why my stuff and my comics are so totally all over the place. One of the things I have also been doing is putting collections and runs together that were in seperate places. So far I´m making good headlomg in streamlining my collection but it is really hard to decide what to get rid of because somehow it´s like choosing between your kids.

Anyway, I have selected a huge pile that I will get rid of. Right now I´m putting them online at several comic forums to see if I can sell them at a good price and every time I go to the comic shop I take the worst cases with me. When selecting the comics I always put them in three piles. One pile for the ones that are so worn out or have other defects so that I can´t sell them to other collectors. One for the comics I sell for one buck because they have a price tag of one buck or less. And the third pile for the rest.

The first time I took some comics to the shop was a sobering experience since I took some grade - a stuff and didn´t get much for it. That´s why I now make it a habit to never take number ones or special issues to the shop. As a last resort I will do that but then it will be like fourty number ones at the same time.

Of course that´s not the end of my streamlining efforts since I still have to go through some boxes that I can´t reach now thanks to my shoulder injury. But it´s the first step. So far I´m trying not to break up complete runs and storylines. Wnem I´m done with it I will probably have to go through the remaining comics again. The work of a comic collector never ends.

E. Close gaps in my comic collection

Since I´m online and putting my comics for sale anyway I´m also looking to close the gaps I still have in my comic collection. The same reason why now is really not such a good time to sell your comic collection is the same reason why now is the best time to buy comics online : everybody and his brother is selling his comic collection. Maybe it´s the actual state of economy, maybe readers are fed up with hyped crossovers and price increases that border on the insane.

In any case there is now a lot of quality back issue stuff at the lowest prices available. Just Yesterday I found someone who is selling some of the Green Arrow and Black Panther issues I still need. He also sells a lot of trades at a really low price but since I already have the Captain America issues of the Brubaker run I will stick to the Daredevil trades. Usually I buy them at half price at the german comic fairs. But I missed the last one and even if he sells the trades only four bucks cheaper than normal price that´s roughly half the german price.

F. Start throwing away old PREVIEWS catalogues

As with most stuff they have accumulated and since there isn´t much to do with them I have to start throwing them away. It´s not as if there are other comic readers out there who need them or I can get something for the paper. So I have put them on a big pile and everytime I leave the house I take a few with me to throw them into the paper bin.

Anyway, that´s what I´ve been up to the last weeks besides physio therapy and having to do all the normal chores. Inbetween I feel like a composite legionnaire because sometimes my shoulder hurts so bad that I think I´m Arm Fall Off Boy on other occasions my feet are so swollen that I think I must be Bouncing Boy. I have sat down at the computers a few times in the last days but in most cases I was either too tired already and just switched it off or it took me some hours alone to stay up to date. And THEN I was too tired to post anything.

But I have wanted to do a new post for a few days now and today I´m finally going to. I thought that my next post would be about comic books, Dc messing with Power Girl´s boobs ( if you have read the first issue of the new series you know what I mean ), the long promised big Teen Titans post or even the last part of my convention diary of last year´s catastrophic visit of the Salon del Comic de Barcelona - or at least a new solicitation rundown - but there is so much stuff I have to comment on that it will have to wait. As it is I will have to split it into various parts so here is the first one.

Comic sales crash in May

I admit that this is kind of old news now but nevertheless I wanted to post it. According to ICv2 no comic passed the 110K mark in May and it should really surprise noone with the 3.99 price tag that´s put on more and more books these days.

Again the 3.99 price point

And speaking about the price increas in comics Joe Quesada has answered.....or better given his final answer to the 3.99 price increase. After the comments of Marvel's General Counsel, John Turitzin, had leaked out ( Tales from the Kryptonian covered it in an earlier post ) Marvel´s head honcho has to try to contain the damage. The comments that were made : "We’re always testing our pricing on our comic books to see to the extent to which it is inelastic, and we can increase our profit in that business."

and "We’re just looking to maximize our profits for that business while not alienating our own fan base by making them feel that they’re gouged, which I hope you don’t feel.” sparkled a lot of anger by comics reader and rightly so.

Now Mr. Quesada has answered this but before putting up the link I wanted to comment on some things he says. I know I have no idea of the actual comic business but as a customer for more than 20 years I think I can at least share my viewpoint on this.

I can´t understand that he´s unwilling to give an exact price rundown from a business point of view. Not that I like it much but here in Germany comic companies won´t even publish their printruns or the monthly numbers like in America. So this is no real surprise.

The fact that the smaller size was not an experiment to find out if this would be more cost efficient is kind of disappointing though. All the more since it doesn´t seem that he´s in the least interested in following that train of thought. Now on the matter of crappier paper I have to say from my experiences as a comic publisher that the cost difference to better quality paper is really small. It´s something I have also heard from most comic guys I know so we can take that as a fact.

On the other side don´t tell me that you have to pay the artists so much to keep them on the books. Because :

1. this way I will think the higher price is justified for someone I like on a book like HULK that´s done by Ed McGuiness but I won´t think it´s justified when someone I don´t like is on New Avengers like Billy Tan. If you start arguing that way there will be a lot of books out there which in my opinion don´t deserve the higher price tag. Furthermore I will start to think that maybe it´s just a cheap trick to squeeze as much profit from the bestsellers. Bad idea.

2. if you pay the artists that much it is kind of insulting to take it as a reason to slap the readers with the higher price tag while doing nothing about late issues or keeping said super star artists on the book for more than 6 consecutive issues. I mean if you say you need it to produce quality that quality should also cover reliability and loyalty. Meaning if a super star artist takes longer to do an issue and only stays on a book for a few scattered issues that IS the price you as a reader are already paying. So I´m not inclined to pay more.

Yes, the artwork is far superior to other artists BUT when I have to pay it with long publishing gaps and less issues it may not be worth to buy the single issues.

It´s true that every month the next issue of ALL STAR BATMAN & ROBIN THE BOY WONDER ( that is still being published, right ? ) doesn´t ship I have an additional 2.99 to spend on another book. But there is a point when you ask yourself if it´s really worth all the trouble and just decide to wait for the trade.

3. the fact that better comic artists earn more money doesn´t help me get a bigger monthly budget. It is what it is and no argument is going to change that. That´s a fact that I have brought up uncountable times in discussions with german comic companies and it seems to be something that comic execs just don´t get. If a parent just wants to pay 3 bucks for a comic ( and as it is you are lucky to find a parent willing to pay 3 bucks for a comic ) it won´t matter that your 20 buck comic monster gives him the equivalent of 10 comics for 2 bucks. It´s above the 3 buck budget and that´s that. No parent ( or kid for that matter ) will buy comics in bundles.

Another argument is that if you produce comics with lesser quality standards and another company does the high end product all the good talent will go to the other company. Meaning that only the highest quality books are worth the effort of producing it. Sorry, but that doesn´t ring true if we look at Marvel like it´s more than one company. Because they DO produce 3.99 books as well as 2.99 books which means that the 3.99 books should be selling like brownies at a weight watchers seminar while the 2.99 books should not sell at all.

Which would mean that it is financial suicide to produce those books since they can´t sell. On the other side it would also mean that it´s impossible to have high profile artists like Brian Hitch on Fantastic Four or Steve Epting on Captain America.

Now you may argue that some people will just buy the 2.99 Marvel books because their budget won´t allow it and they will be upset because they can´t afford to buy the 3.99 books where the best artists and writers give it their best effort. Or they will be buying less books letting the mid - level or low - level books fall to the side.

I think readers will rather quit Marvel entirely and go to other companies like IMAGE for instance where they get a book like Erik Larsen´s SAVAGE DRAGON where Mr. Larsen is putting his love, sweat and tears in the book for 150 ( !!! ) consecutive issues. He´s writing it, he´s drawing it and for 150 issues it´s one long story without rebbots that is still entertaining.

Or another great book like USAGI YOJIMBO that is indeed in black and white and surprisingly sells. It may be news to Mr. Quesada but there are quite a number of high quality black and white comics out there and the comic industry is still alive and kicking. It may not be very popular with most mainstream readers but if I have learned one thing it´s that the mainstream always changes according to quality. With that I don´t mean that the best comics will alway be the bestsellers. That´s not true. But when BATTLE CHASERS started nobody wanted to read sword and sorcery comics. Then BATTLE CHASERS hit, was a huge success and suddenly there were dozens of other books like it.

And if you want the comic industry´s greatest artists and writers on the best books you might try the back issue bins where you can find such gems like DREADSTAR, ELFQUEST or NEXT MEN. One more reason to buy back issues.

Mr. Quesada says he´s not talking about dropping books but I AM talking about dropping books. If you have 10 bucks to buy your food for the week and suddenly you have to pay 1 additional buck for bread there are three things that can happen. It can be you have that extra buck than it´s business as usual. It can be that you don´t have the extra buck so you will leave the chocolate bar at the supermarket. You will not leave the butter or the milk there because it doesn´t make sense to buy bread and not buy butter or milk. The third thing that can happen : you go to a supermarket where bread is still at the old price or where they sell a cheaper brand. Which would be like buying back issues something that has increased a lot in the last months. As well as customer to customer sales.

Another argument is that the majority of Marvel´s books is still at 2.99 because they want to keep as many books at that price point. Okay, then why start so many new series that all start with the 3.99 price tag ? And why restart so many series with the 3.99 price tag ? Wouldn´t it make more sense to not restart books if it meant having to do the jump from 2.99 to 3.99 ? I´m sorry but that doesn´t look like Marvel is really interested in keeping as many books at 2.99 as possible. Quite the opposite. It may be that Marvel really IS trying to keep books at 2.99 but it certainly doesn´t look this way.

He hints at the possibility of 3.99 books going back to a 2.99 price but that´s something Í will believe when I see it. As for the point of not anting to sell less comic for more money - it seems Marvel is already doing it. And up till now I have seen nothing that undermines his statement that he would rather give the readers more comic content for their money. Till now I have only seen DC doing it which may be the reason that ne mentions it. Anyway, as usual my comments have gotten to long so here´s the link where you can read Mr. Quesada´s final words on the 3.99 price tag :

  • joe quesada´s final words on the 3.99 tag

  • It´s my own fault for letting them milk me dry

    Now despite all my bitching I have to say that I´m one of the guilty ones too when it comes to the 3.99 comics. Mea culpa. Here I am telling people NOT to support the 3.99 tag and then when I´m at the comic shop I buy them. Cami Berardi over at COMICS WAITINTG ROOM ponders the question why we still pay so much for comics :

  • shut up and give me all your money

  • It´s really an interesting read and I have to say for me there is a clear limit to what I´m willing to pay : 2.99 for a regular 22 page comic and 3.99 for either a comic with more than 22 pages - comic content - or 22 pages of top star artists. Well, what I consider top star artists : Carlos Pacheco, Ed McGuiness, Marc Silvestri, Frank Cho etc. And don´t tell me I´m too picky. A few months ago you got a 48 page comic like the JLA annual by Jerry Ordway for 3.99 so it´s hard for readers to pay the same for normal comics as it is.

    On a similar note Publishers Weekly takes a look at the changes Diamond´s new sales benchmarks have caused in the industry one year later. It seems that independent publishers have had to adapt and try new forms of retail but so far they haven´t had the idea to band together and start their own distribution system or find another distributor.

    I think I recall that when I started collecting american comics back in the 1980s there were more than one comic distributors and I don´t think there is one real reason why there can´t be more than one. Other than Diamond not wanting to let others cut into their business.

    And it seems that I´m not the only one who thinks that there could very soon be an alternative to Diamond as Kleefeld offers his prognosis for the future of distribution.

    Diamond is also the topic of Simon Jones at Icarus publishing :

    Yen, TP, Yaoi Gen on latest Diamond cancellation list

    Sharp-eyed Tweeter (Twittee? Twitterite? Twittista? ) Sean Gaffney spots several Yen Press books on the latest Diamond Previews cancellation list, and MangaBlog follows up with YP’s Kurt Hassler, who reconfirms the release schedule for said books. In other words, the books are still coming out, but Diamond has passed on them, and DM retailers must rely on another source. Anime News Network lists all the Yen Press books affected, plus cancelled items from other manga/anime companies, which includes Tokyopop, Go Comi (via PGW), and, unfortunately, Yaoi Generation; as a younger publisher with fewer established distribution avenues, YG may be hurt most by this latest round of cancellations, although it is possible they do a significant amount of business through direct online sales like many other yaoi pubs.

    These may not be big titles, but cancel enough of them, and DM retailers will eventually have enough reasons to move most or all of their manga orders to someone who keeps a more complete stock. (Someone like AAA Anime, for example. Or any of the book market distributors.) And that’s not a bad thing at all for the rest of the industry. Or even Diamond, for whom Marvel and DC are still 80% of their business. They certainly seem quite willing to cede manga sales to others, even for books from top publisher Viz, so they surely have good reasons for it.

    There is no distribution monopoly on paperback manga, so this isn’t a Diamond issue (pamphlet comics are another story). Yen Press’ books will still be released, and the good comic shops will still have them; any DM retailer committed to manga already know that they cannot depend solely on Diamond. But if it so happens that your store is one of those exceptions, don’t blame Diamond… the problem lies with the store. Why aren’t they willing to order the book for you from another distributor? And if it’s not viable for them to do so, have they voiced their dissatisfaction to Diamond? If the store cannot provide adequate answers to these questions, you should shop elsewhere.

    Optimum survival tips

    And while being on the subject of comics and economics OPTIMUM WOUNDS´Jason Thibault has an interesting article about 23 Ways for a Comic Artist to Survive and Thrive in any Economy.

    Not all the tips are for everyone but this list should be required reading for all artists. Especially struggling artists. There are really cool ideas as well as links to pages that will help you get on the right track.

    German comic award announcement and other stuff

    COMIKS DEBRIS has the winners of this year´s ICOM Independent Comics Award which was announced on the 14th of June. The ICOM award is one of two german comic awards with the Max und Moritz Preis that is given at Erlangen and mostly covers mainstream books.

  • the icom award winners

  • After CRY HAVOK ! fellow blog FORTRESS OF FORTITUTE closes it´s doors. Blogging is really not as simple as it looks and one by one the legendary ones quit. Sometimes I think I´m just still blogging because I still have so much stuff to talk about. Anyway, I haven´t been an avid reader in the last months for obvious reasons but the fortress keeper was one of the good ones. Good luck and thanks for the untold hours of entertainment.

  • fortress of fortitute finally finished

  • Well, it seems some topics follow you no matter what. In my last post I mentioned MATCHING DRAGOONS the ultimate website on all things Jonah Hex

    that just celebrated it´s three year anniversary this week ( Congratulations again ! ) and today I find an interview on THE GEEK BEAT with Justin Gray one of Jonah Hex´co writers.

  • justin gray interview

  • I have added it to the Jonah Hex post as well as the ComicGeekSpeak episode with Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti.

  • justin gray and jimmy palmiotti on comicgeekspeak

  • Last but not least Ben Morse over at THE COOL KIDS TABLE offers his list of his definite Batman comics although I have to say VETO ! on No Man´s Land since it wasn´t really a Batman story :

  • the definite batman

  • And with that I finish today´s post which has - once again - taken a few hours longer than it should. And that was only a part - roughly a third - of what I wanted to cover. I thought I could cover more but I got a bit lenghty on my comments to Joe Quesada´s last word on the 3.99 tag. Sorry about that. Anyway, I want to whish you a happy Independence Day if I don´t get to post tomorrow !

    New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN :

  • top ten posts

  • more posts of interest


    Anonymous said...

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    Anonymous said...

    Thanks for sharing the link, but argg it seems to be down... Does anybody have a mirror or another source? Please reply to my post if you do!

    I would appreciate if a staff member here at could repost it.


    SUBZERO said...


    I have found the right source for the article. I hope this helps.

    Greetings from your friendly neighourhood Kryptonian

    P.S. You said " staff " and " member " the same sentence. :-)