Friday, July 29, 2005

They're losing their businesses...and we're reaping all the benefits.

Two Comic Shops have effectively closed in the recent months with us reaping the benefits of their hardcore customers.
I say "effectively closed" as the one in Stratford no longer stocks new comics as he couldn't maintain a weekly Diamond order, so now he just sells the most disparate disorganised section of back issues I have ever seen. To give an example, the biggest comic section in his shop isn't labelled "Amazing Spider-man" or "Uncanny X-Men" but: "1st Issues - Half Price".
Another comic shop seems to have closed in Bedfordshire, I don't know the name, but we have picked up a very good mail order customer in his absence.

So am I happy that we are picking up new customers? Of course, but then you have to look at why.

The industry is shrinking, at least thats what the evidence says. Marvel are down 11% on the 2nd Quarter 2004, comic shops are still closing down and most of the industry (in fact, most retailers in the UK) are complaining that trade is down on this time last year. Yet my shop is holding steady, if not growing.

If our comic shop closed tomorrow, how many of the 150 people on our pull list, or the 350 speculative Tpb readers would continue reading comics?
I reckon as little as 20% of our readers would continue their habit, making the extra effort to travel, or organise mail order. The rest I think would make the occasional stop off in Ottakers for nostalgia, but otherwise drift away.

With every comic shop that closes in the UK, it means we have a bigger slice of the figurative Comic Industry Pie. It also means the comic Pie shrinks a little.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Last Spawn post on this site ever.

So, I did a little digging to follow up the whole Spawn Tpb reprint debacle. The following is a list of all the Spawn Gns / Tpbs currently available from Diamond Comics (THE Comic Distributor - so exclusive in fact, people have tried to get the monopoly comission involved, but the monopoly comission look at Comics as a very small piece of the book industry so they didn't investigate any further. Shit, more digression there than a Will Boroughs novel).


Pretty shite and inconsistent huh? But look at the two volumes listed right at the top. Surely they feature the Neil Gaiman created Angela with names like that? But I thought Image wern't allowed to republish those.

Next on the list is the Frank Miller DKR follow up, Spawn Batman, currently listed on some websites and priceguides as being worth $10. Yet its still available from Diamond Comics.

And then we have the sheer randomness of the volumes still in print. This list has pretty much looked the same for 3 years now as well. And people wonder why Spawn doesn't sell anymore. The answer is this:

If the creator doesn't care for or respect the character, why should we?

Grr, argh.

My Brother just beat the shit out of my Dad, 1,500 miles away in Bulgaria, and I am the moron paying the phonebill for a mobile phone call to Bulgaria, trying to sort the whole thing out.

It comprises the saga of gay intolerance, bigotry, chinese whispers and the ineptness of adulthood and the impotence of old age.

Throw in a superhero twist and you'd have the pitch for Demo #13.

Will write for food!

Sewer blocked.

Washing Machine Broke.

£120 on driving lessons this week alone.

Sore from wrestling.

Comic Shop Job Great, but doesnt pay enough.

Need writing gig, paying writing gig.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

No friends, no family, quite literally; on his Todd.

Looks like the sequential reprints of Spawn have already hit a stumbling block. Don't expect to see issues 9 and 10 in the collection.

Issue 9 was written by Neil Gaiman, and within the pages he created Medieval Spawn and Angela. He has since had to sue Todd McFarlane to retain copyright to characters he created, despite Image being created to give more creative rights to the writers, artists and inkers. Todd lost.

Issue 10 was written by Dave Sim, apparently he has consented to the issues reprint, but it still looks like it will still be ommited from the final printing.

So the best two issues from the entire series arn't to be included. Ah.

Teen Boat

The Angst of Being a Teen, The Thrill of Being a Boat...

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you TeenBoat.

Actually, to be fair, the above people bring you TeenBoat, and then Comiccon point it out to me, and then I present it to you, but either way, there it is.

Glory be, there is even a theme tune too. More comic creators should do that, I would love to hear a pissed up Warren Ellis singing about Desolation Jones and Hitlers porn.

Friday, July 22, 2005

A lot to get through...

More Bombs in London: Copycat attacks done on the cheap my people who didn't know what they were doing and thought they could learn to be a terrorist over the internet in two weeks? In fact, I am pretty sure over the internet you could buy a certificate confirming your terrorist stature.

People who Can't Break the Cycle: These people fuck me off. These people usually have a real, deep-routed psychological problem with their parents and/or upbringing, and claim the last thing they want to do is become their parents. Yet they seem completely powerless to break the cycle as they continue on the downward spiral to destruction.
Case in point: One of my former best mates who shall remain nameless (but we will refer to as Asshole) went around some of my other friends house last night, in the middle is an ex-girlfriend of Asshole who is now going out with the aforementioned Other friend (I fucking hate this inbred hick shit, I hate it on EastEnders and I hate it in reality). Asshole decides, as he is as drunk as the Grandfather he claims to hate, to start causing shit on the property which leads to Other Friend having to call the police out.
Its fucking clownshoes, Asshole cannot overcome the demons of his past and actually have a life so he has problems with anyone who can, despite the fact he split up with this girl nearly two years ago.
I hate him. And you for reading this bile.

Racists: There is a great wrestler called Mohammed Hassan. He is great, and he has a very good angle where he talks about the discrimination that American Muslims have suffered since September 11, from the perspective of being an American-born Muslim himself. This usually ends with a fucking idiot crowd chanting USA at him, as if it was going to upset him - when it is his home country - because the average fucking IQ of the average wrestling fan is so low, that is the only way they can percieve a Muslim; Not One of Us.
I got this in an e-mail this morning:
"Looks like The Great American Bash will be the last time we see Hassan. UPN and its sponsors are outraged by the fact there is an arab on TV due to the terroist attacks they have told WWE they won't allow him on TV. WWE have bowed to the pressure and agreed to remove him after Sunday."
Thats basically saying that he cannot wrestle - which is the man's job for fucks sake - because of his ethnic origins. Equality in the works people. Orwell was right, society has failed. The experiment is over. Wipe the petri-dish clean and start again god.

I suppose as this is a comics blog I need to put something comic related in, here we go:

In the first move that could be considered clever from Todd McFarlane Productions since they didn't pay Bendis and he moved to Marvel (oh wait, that was a fucking dumb move!), they have finally announced a reprint Tpb series of the Spawn comic run in sequential order. Now while I hate Spawn, a lot of people love it, and these will sell, and probably help the future success of the Spawn comic franchise.
Good work Image.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

No Coherent String of thought.

Its so hot today that all the fans are doing is pushing the hot air towards me quicker.
The sky is seaside blue, the masses are looking even less educated than normal today and the media is desperately trying to turn last Thursdays bombings into September 11th 2.
Sometimes i think its a good thing Bill Hicks died before we - as a "society" - got to this point.

The worst thing about the death of Bill Hicks is that he had a very important message to get across, a message that his impersonators and clones have failed to recreate because - and lets face it - its far easier to just do the angry man of comedy routine.

Sin City GN's have been selling stupidly well for us, over 100 copies sold in the last three months, which is fucking impressive for our store when you compare it to 2 Sin City Gn's sold in the first 9 years of business. One of the reasons they never sold well for us was, quite simply, there was no consistent uniformed range. People want to get the set of Sin City, and they want them to look nice on the shelf, it took a movie release for Dark horse to get their reprinting ass into gear.
This makes Sin City almost rival our sales of Transmetropolitan as best selling GN range ever, but consider this: Sin City took over £100 million at the box office and had adverts in and on; Bus Stops, TV, the London Underground, Cinema trailers, movie review shows, magazines and had the names of Quentin Tarrantino and Robert Rodriguez attached.
What advertising has Transmetropolitan had?
Good word of mouth.

Batman GNs have spiked a little, but they have always sold well anyway, so its just the Bat-curious picking up Year One and Arkham Asylum.
I doubt we will really see any real marked jump in Fantastic Four sales because a) You have to really really like the F4 to get past the campness of it all. b) Most people with a passing curiosity of F4 picked up the Ultimate series in periodical or Tpb. c) The movie looks dull and d) Our local two-screen cinema won't be getting F4, as it will be too busy showing Madagascar Pixar-clone and Willy Wonka's Chocolate-Rehash. So I am sure the 300 Free Comic Book Day comics we gave the cinema featuring the F4 are going to go down a treat when they are given away with NOTHING!!! (Our local cinema didn't get sin City either)

So why are our best selling GN ranges Transmet, Sin City, Barry Ween, Powers, the Ultimate range and Preacher?
Maybe, just maybe its because these are examples of comic lines being released SEQUENTIALLY as GNs. Meaning, in order and numbered.
The last 5 years have seen leaps and bounds of progress in the Tpb / GN arena, but there is still a long way to go.

Titles like Robin for example, which is a fairly decent seller. The Tpb range includes Tim Drakes origin, issues 1-7, and then jumps all the way to issue #123 with the Bill Willingham / Spoiler isues.
JLA, which was DC's flagship book for a long time (before Supes / Bats - which incidently screws over tpbs in favour of overpriced Hardcovers) only had numbering when it reached volume 8, (when I say numbered, I mean on the spine, its a bit useless if it only describes where it fits into an arc when you crack the title open only to find out you have missed three volumes) something which they have since rectified in subsequent print runs. The same thing applies to the first 5 volumes of Nightwing.
The list continues: Green Lantern; no numbering. Hellblazer; Volume 1 numbered, the following volumes nothing. Flash - another flagship DC title; no numbering.
I can understand it with Batman and Supes as the sheer volume of titles makes it impossible for it all to reach Tpb with any kind of consistency or quality control, better to keep to the core stories.

Marvel are hardly innocent either, pretty much every volume of the non-Max Punisher series by Ennis is out of print, the first two volumes of Mark Waids Fantastic Four have dissapeared, Morrisons New X-Men, Davids Captain Marvel

The people leading the way with numbering is Image / Top Cow, they have always made it very clear which volume of the title you are buying. Even Midnight Nation is marked as Volume 1, even though I think it will NEVER have a sequal.
But they are not perfect, there is a lot of money to be made (from idiots) who would buy a sequentially numbered, complete GN run of Spawn. Rather than the currently available volume 7 and 9, and two Spawn: Angela GN's.

Before the industry can make the inevitable leap from monthlies to OGN, this kind of lacklustre numbering and reprinting schedule needs to be addressed by all companys.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Why I hate the industry, why I love the industry.

Sometimes Ihate my peers in the comic retail industry. I had a lovely email this morning that read:

"I don't know what Warren Ellis did to my local retailer as a child but he refuses to stock any of his books.

"Best not to ask really, I was wondering if you had a copy of the second Global Frequency trade paperback."

Naturally I reply with the usual about how we are only to happy to help, that we stock all the Ellis backlist (including his Avatar and AiT/PLANETLAR stuff), and try and pimp a copy of Channel Zero while I am at it. I then ask which comic shop is prepared to alienate a pre-existing customer and a healthy sector of the comic industry (IE: Intelligent comic readers)...

"My local retailer is a nameless little shop in the mean back streets of Rhyl. It's a particularly ugly area of an unnecessarily ugly town with the unmistakable odour of faded dreams and warm desperation. Or that could be all the seagull dung."

And thats why I love this industry. Educated people that can see comics as what they really are, and are prepared to hunt out the really good stuff, even in the face of disparaging bigots.

The thing that really sucks about the industry:
Bad enough that comics are considered a niche market, but "true comic" fans are so quick to attack fellow comic readers if they step outside the very insular boundaries of what they think is acceptable.
If you read comics I am sure you have at some point encountered someone who says: "What do you read comics for? They are for kids?!?" in that strange, somewhat incredulous tone which sits somewhere between inquisitorial and accusational, but wihout commiting to one nore the other (because these people are weak and should die, for they cannot make this one, admitably very small decision on their own without TV to guide them). But you expect this from idiots.
So to then have comic fans ask: "What are reading that comic for?", which basically translates to "I don't read it, therefore it must be crap", in an environment which is suppose to cater to your hobby (a comic shop), really adds insult to injury.

Its just another cause of the abused becoming the abusers. A little taste of power in an otherwise stunted life.

Its like Manga fans who refuse to read American comics, or the American comics who refuse to read Humanoids. They are buying into an ideal, rather than buying a product, which - in a medium that prides itself on being counter-culture - IS JUST ANOTHER FORM OF CONFORMITY.

Yeah, we are all guilty to some degree, I, for example, refuse to stop buying X-Men and Uncanny because I have unbroken runs dating back to 1976, even though I havn't enjoyed X-Men for 5 years except Grant Morrions "New X-Men" and Joss Whedons "Astonishing X-Men".
But I will read Maus.
And Bone.
And Soulwind.
And Ronin.
And Nightwing.
And Owly.
And Sharknife.
And Battle Royale.
And Spider-girl.
And more...

Partly because I consider it part of my job, but mainly because I love the industry. I will read something on a recomendation, or a whim, not just because I have been reading it for 20 years and don't know otherwise.
And thats the difference between me and a "nameless little shop in the mean back streets of Rhyl".

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Where are all the comments???

I know you fuckers read this, don't even try to pretend you don't!

I WANT FEEDBACK, I crave attention almost as much as Mark Millar does.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Something Productive This Way Comes...

Probably not, but I'm sure I will achieve more with today than Live8 will (what a fucking stupid name), someone let me know what time they have scheduled in the elimination of all third world debt. That bit I might watch.
Y'know, the more the world fucks itself in the ass the more I am glad I am not a social satirist, because its getting less and less funny.

Hey - thought I'd chip in on some of this, can't be bothered to reference everything in a Comment, so Sam is in Red. Apologies to Brian Hibbs...

Christ, what a dull fucking day, glad I am not stuck in London.


Yeah, yeah, but as it turns out I had to go to London yesterday for (another) NIN gig, but it was all good. I should come up to London sometime to hang out with you again sam, its been too long.

Bitch, bitch, bitch. Bored, bored, bored. Lets try and focus on the good in the world.

Eisner/Miller: its an essential discourse on the dichotomy of comic books yadda yadda yadda. Eisner comes up with a good point about the nature of the medium and Miller takes it the wrong way and gets all defensive about about his work as he suffers from small penis syndrome. Seriously though, its a good book and both men come out with very good points about the comic industry, each being unique to the generation and environment the creators work in.

The most interesting thing about this book was, without question, the way they disagreed with each other. I think it's pretty rare that two people have such different approaches and attitudes to their field, clearly spark off each other and get a little antsy about the whole thing, but still admire each other enough to actually argue and fight sensibly over points.

Really made me want to pick up some of the Spirit Archives too... but £30 a pop? Yikes...

Sin City: Great books. Volume 5 was a little weak and volume 6 suffers from what all anthologys suffer from, being a mixed bag. But all in all, thoroughly enjoyable throughout. Oh yeah, fine ass movie too. People whinge that Nancy didn't have her tits out, yet no-one has said to me "its a shame we didn't see Dwights knob", so I don't think the faux-concern over Ms. Callahans breasts was for the sake of accuracy.

Going to go see this one again. I've only got the first 5 books (you didn't like Family Values? That suprises me, actually), been warned against vol. 7. But without question, Yellow Bastard, Hard Goodbye, Dame to Kill for and Big Fat Kill are the strongest and essential reading.

It's a shame though that in the film we didn't get to see Dwight's kno... wait, nevermind...

Family Values just seemed a bit bland, I don't really like Mio, I don't really like 40 year old guys trying to appeal to the skater generation, and while I felt most of the tit / nipple shots in the first few volumes had a place in the story, I felt the sheer volume of pointless tit-tape slips detracted from the charcater development and story.

Family Guy Series 4: Yeah, its an illegal download job, but I will buy it on DVD so its not all bad for Seth. This fills my life with humour in an otherwise bleak world populated by Coldplay fans.

Brian Wood: The art in Couriers Vol. 2 let down an otherwise fine, if somewhat by the numbers story; would make a great 1/2 hour movie. As would Ellis' "Red". Whatever happened to the half hour movie format? Surely in this post-media apocalyptic MTV-2 fallout limited attention span era the 1/2 hour format would be immensely popular, yet the movie studios keep churning out 2 hours at a time?!?
Pounded was immensely good, fantastic really, an Oni tpb. £6. I have never heard of it before seeing it listed in the back of another Wood publication. If you think fake Hardcore (pre-emo) kids are tossers, read this book and laugh along with (or at more acucurately) the trust fund babies.

I'm still a Wood newbie. Grabbed his Martial Arts extravaganza, Fight For The Future for 50p each the other day, enjoyed that, but Demo remains a mystery to me. It's on the list though, don't worry.)

Channel Zero!

24 Hour Party People: Great film. The Joy Division back story was brilliant as I was too young to have lived through it and didn't really like music until I was 18, so its the first time I have really seen the formation of that scene. And Partridge is in it too.

Video Games: Can't get into them at the minute, don't know why. Roll on Halo 3.

People should give Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Prince of Persia: Warrior Within a go. There's some great gameplay, enough action and properly mind-warping puzzles in those games. Other than that, yeah, it's all a big Meh.

Yeah, PoP:SoT was amazing, one of the best balanced video games I have ever played, simple yet mind-boggling puzzles and the most charming lead character I have seen in a video game for some time, and the emotional content of the story rivaled most Hollywood blockbusters.
Warrior Within; An otherwise great game marred by zero character growth and a lead character who tried too hard to be "cool" and "edgy" (look mummy, he swears!), and a cast of villains who are in the game for little more than to give 14 years olds (and probably a few 40 years olds too) something to wank over. Ubisoft turned out a sequal which would make EA proud: sold shitloads and was inferior to the previous incarnation.

Deaths Head: The Original. Met Geoff Senior at a TF con the other week, nice bloke, bought him a pint. Shame he is wasted on advertising and not drawing comics anymore. Cracked out the old Deaths Head series. Real shame Marvel own the rights, it would be great to see a return of Deaths Head.
Hey Simon Furman, if you are reading this, how about we through a pitch together for Marvel? Get Mr. Senior on board. Could be glorious.

Life Update for anyone who cares:
Got a few story ideas in the pot. Maybe a small publishing house with a mate. Need artists. Anyone have Charlie Adlards e-mail?
Trying to organise a signing for my shop as well, got Dillon, Fabry, Hitch and Lloyd; no reply from Ellis, which is a real shame, would have loved him in my shop, would hate to meet him (for the same reasons he never wanted to meet Hunter S Thompson).
Driving lessons going well.
Wrestling company going fine, got our new ring, we wrestle fortnightly.
Monthly Metal night is winding down a little, wouldn't mind if it disapeared to be honest.
Gym is going well, personal trainer leaving which is a shame.
Girlfriend is great, couldn't be better to be honest.
Un-read Monthly comics starting to pile up, really couldn't care less about X-Men or Laphams Detective Comics, or Spidergirl. More about that in a future column.
One of my cats has gone insane, looks confused and keeps doing the same thing over and over..