Posts Tagged ‘Buying Books’

Since I am a 99.9% “Wait for the Hardcover or the Trade Paperback” kind of guy, I’m going to put my money where my mouth is and let you know what I’m buying every week. Since people keep asking why I buy so many books every week, I expect all you floppy readers to tell me what I am doing right and what I am doing wrong… And I may even chime in on occasion and defend my choices. Not that a personal preference should need defending, mind you…

I might also point out why I am not buying some stuff as well… And the list may also generate a rant or expose a pet peeve… So watch out for that!

THIS WEEK’S HARDCOVERS, GRAPHIC NOVELS & MANGA

The titles in blue are either new items or items I decided against:

Adventures of Superboy Vol 1 HCI just stopped myself. Maybe next week ;-)
Big Book O’ Ditko This is going to sound horrible… I don’t like Ditko’s art
Bone Tall Tales – I got the softcover… CHEAPER!
Chew Vol 1 Omnivore HC – Own both already. Still couldn’t resist
Classic Transformers Vol 6
Daredevil The Devils Hand – What’s up, Andy Diggle?
Felix the Cats Greatest Comic Book Tails HC Torn again but my heart says, “COMIC BOOK REPRINTS… Uh, no.”
Final Crisis Revelations I own the hardcover already

Hey Dark Horse! Next time you charge $49.99 for a book-- reprint something that critics aren't calling "Boring"!

Flash Gordon Comic Book Archives Vol 1 HC Saw several reviews that called these “COMIC BOOK REPRINTS” boring!
Garth Ennis Battlefields Vol 5 The Firefly & His Majesty – I luv this series.
GI Joe Best of Scarlett
Invaders Eve of Destruction
Locke & Key Vol 3 Crown Of Shadows HC – I luv this series too!
Marvelman Classic Vol 1 HCAgain, maybe next week.
Myspace Dark Horse Presents Vol 5
Penny Arcade Vol 6 Halls Below
Siege Avengers Initiative HC
Star Trek Original Series Omnibus
Street Fighter Vol 6 Final Round
Team-Ups of the Brave and the Bold HC – What a weird title!
Ultimates II Ultimate Collection Oh Hell No!

Love the shout out! Thanks, Mike!

Unwritten Vol 2 Inside Man- Really? How could I resist? (I bought the first volume already. Loved it!)
Wolverine Dark Wolverine Vol 2 My Hero I own the hardcover already
X-Men Forever Vol 4 Devil in a White Dress- I guess

MANGA

Gossip Girl Manga Vol 1 – You damn well better believe I’m buying this! I’m MAD for MANGA!
Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys Vol 10 – Oh my!
Ooku Inner Chambers Vol 4

Some Additions:
Amy Devlin Mystery HC Vol 1 Past Lies (2nd Print)
Dorohedoro Vol 2
My Monkey’s Name is Jennifer (2nd Print)

I'm amazed that no one has figured out I'm Jodie Foster yet

Since I am a 99.9% “Wait for the Hardcover or the Trade Paperback” kind of guy, I’m going to put my money where my mouth is and let you know what I’m buying every week. Since people keep asking why I buy so many books every week, I expect all you floppy readers to tell me what I am doing right and what I am doing wrong… And I may even chime in on occasion and defend my choices. Not that a personal preference should need defending, mind you…

I might also point out why I am not buying some stuff as well… And the list may also generate a rant or expose a pet peeve… Just like this week’s list did (again)… So watch out for that!

I truly have to question what a publisher is thinking when they willfully release 5 “Campfire” Editions in one week… And what distributor allows it to happen. Seems awfully excessive and counter productive. I bet they could have sold twice as many of these books if someone had the damned foresight to understand they were overloading the distribution pipeline with this particular product type. Of course, the distributor and the publisher don’t care. They sold their books as non-returnable to comic book stores– so they’ll do just fine. It’s the comic store owner that’ll take it in the “shorts” with this book line this week– as customers quickly realize they cannot afford to buy 5 classic adaptations at one time. This bullshit dumping is the exact subject of my recent post, COMIC BOOK RELEASE BS*.

I’m also finally holding strong with my promise to stop buying books that no longer entertain or impress me.

I have noticed that with the rise of the personal computer– even “5th rate” shitty artists and writers now have access to tools that disguise the amateur nature of their art and story. Some of these books that I– and many other comic fans– have paid good money for do not come remotely close to surpassing the quality that I’ve seen in some of the crudest homegrown “fanzines” produced in the 70′s and ’80′s. If some person wouldn’t pay 25 cents for a quality fanzine in 1974… Then it’s time for me to stop rewarding crappy artists and writers by paying $19.99 for their shit collections today.

I’m all for supporting the indie scene. In fact, most of my book purchases fall outside of the Big Two publishers. But now it seems like every ass with an Intel processor and $3k burning a whole in his or her pocket fancies themselves a top-notch comic book entrepreneur.

So I’m here to put such deluded “creators” on notice: If you make it near impossible for me to find “art previews” for your collections, I will not buy them anymore. I tire of being shocked by pathetic art and a juvenile story sense. If you burn me with a shit trade or hardcover once– do not expect me to continue to pay for your graphic arts or creative writing educations.

That’s what Student Loans are for… And this “easy mark” has finally started closing his wallet.

THIS WEEK’S HARDCOVERS, GRAPHIC NOVELS & MANGA

Alice in Wonderland Campfire (#1)
Amory Wars Ultimate Edition HC (Was not impressed with Volume 1, passing on the Ultimate Edition)
Angel Hole In The World (I’ve given up on IDW’s Angel. Certainly don’t need an episode retread)
Avengers Invaders (Already own the hardcover)
Batman Arkham Reborn
Brain Camp
Captain America Theater of War (Already own the hardcover)
Cinderella From Fabletown With Love (Shawn McManus is one of my favorite artists. I wish he drew more comics!)

Shawn McManus' art is the shit, baby!

Complete Dracula (Already own the hardcover)
Corrective Measures Vol 2 (The first volume stank… No second chances here)
Creature Tech (Image Edition)
Cyberforce Hunter Killer
Dark Tower Battle Of Jericho Hill HC
El Arsenal Vol 1 (This looks really cool)

Escape From Terra Vol 1 (This looks possibly cool too)
Fogtown HC (I have been enjoying ALL of the Vertigo Crime books)
Frankenstein Campfire
GI Joe Origins Vol 3 (Started reading these. Don’t know why. They are really fun sometimes.)
Harry Houdini Campfire (#2)
Hellspawn Complete Collection HC (Should I buy this? Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t.)
Hulk Fall Of The Hulks Savage She-Hulks
John Stanley Library Nancy Vol 2 HC
Losers Book 2 (Great books. Forget the movie. Read the books!)
Luke Cage Noir (Already own the hardcover)
Magog Lethal Force
Milo Ventimiglia Presents Berserker Vol 1 (We’ll see…)

Sign me up... Even though I have NO IDEA what I am getting into!

Moby Dick Campfire (#3)
Punisher Max Naked Kills (I love Punisher Max)
Robinson Crusoe Campfire (#4)
Robocop Vol 1 Revolution (We’ll see…)

Shadoweyes Vol 1 (From the creator of Wet Moon. Looking forward to it!)
Sherlock Holmes Study in Scarlet (Already own it and The Hound of the Baskervilles)
Sonic The Hedgehog Archives Vol 13
Spider-Man Gauntlet Vol 4 Juggernaut HC
Starmaker Leviathan (This is one of those leap of faiths that I am less and less inclined to take lately)
Tarzan the Jesse March Years Vol 6 HC (Great series. Art is not for me)
Thief Of Always (Read a previous edition. Was not taken with the pencils-only art)
Treasure Island Campfire (#5!)
Walord of IO Vol 1 (Just didn’t like the art-deco style art)

MANGA

Bakuman Vol 1 (I hear good things…)
Ikigami Ultimate Limit Vol 6
InuYasha Vol 51
Negima Vol 27
Starcraft Ghost Academy Vol 2 (Amazed this is coming out! Volume 2 took so long to come out, I thought it was canceled!)

I put "Shadoweyes" into a Google Search and THIS PHOTO came up... So I'm rolling with it!

Tezuka’s Black Jack Vol 12 (I should read this, huh? Almost everybody seems to praise it!)

*Or something your Friendly Neighborhood Retailer really wishes didn’t screw YOU– and THEM– every month!

How not to run an INDUSTRY without really trying.

You go to your Local Comic Store (LCS) every week (normally on a Wednesday) to buy your comics… Or you get them shipped to you via mail order, right? And you probably figure, “How hard could this be? They’re all just shuffling some books around!” Or you might overhear the store owner complaining about getting screwed for some reason or another and then think, “What a whiner!”

Well, I’m here to tell you this Comic Book Biz AIN’T as easy as you think!

I am not going to launch into any grand detail about the intricacies of running a Comic Store– or how to operate a magazine distribution business. There are people far better qualified than I to do that.

Instead, I’m going to focus on one awful– POTENTIALLY DESTRUCTIVE– problem that affects the entire industry at least once a month… A subject that rarely, if ever, get’s discussed in the open air.

WHY DO COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS RELEASE AN OVERWHELMING DELUGE OF PRODUCT AT THE END OF ALMOST EVERY MONTH?

Competition = GOOD Monopolies = BAD

I mean, “WTF?… Right?” Why is it you can go almost 2 months without seeing your favorite monthly comic and then at the end of the 2nd month you see 2 ISSUES in the SAME WEEK? Or 4 STATUES in one week?

And why is it that almost every time you walk into your local store at the end of the month– you are met with a monumental pile of product that you could only afford to buy if Angelina Jolie was your wife?

Who is the moron that allows this shit to happen– month after month, year after year? I mean, Hell… Comics have been around for a long time now. You’d think that the only major comics distributor would have figured out a way to stop this mad dump from occurring every month, right?

UH, NO. APPARENTLY THEY HAVEN’T

And, in my opinion (and remember, it is just my opinion), there are only 3 possible reasons why the professionals in this industry don’t fix this problem: 1) they have entered into some ridiculous distribution contracts that prohibit them from stopping the monthly crush, 2) they aren’t smart enough to fix it or 3) they don’t fucking care enough to fix it.

I’m sure most of you know that the comics you buy at your comic book store are non-returnable. Some of you may even know that certain publishers allow retailers to adjust their individual book orders higher or lower after submitting their initial orders. This practice– labeled FOC ordering– means stores can adjust their orders closer to a book’s actual release date (retailers order comics a full 3 MONTHS in advance)… And therefore the store owners can hopefully be more accurate when ordering their non-returnable product.

Sounds great doesn’t it? A long-standing system proceeding in a nice, orderly fashion: You reserve your books, your shop orders the copies they need to satisfy their customers… And then everyone sits back and relaxes as the products arrive on the day everyone expects.

To paraphrase a Justice League International J.M. DeMatteis/Keith Giffen-era Blue Beetle, “BWAH-HA-HA-HA-HA-HAAAAA!”

AND MONKEYS WILL FLY

Many companies will make a fraction of their items returnable over the course of any given year… And they do so under strict rules and guidelines accepted by the retailers, the distributor and their own business departments. Each company’s return policies are their own– and their conditions can vary widely.

How would you like me to SHOVE this THICK WOODEN CANE UP YOUR ASS at least ONCE A MONTH?

Needless to say, no company wants retailers to return ANY merchandise. For publishers and distributors– the process is a time and money consuming hassle. Workers have to he specifically hired to deal with these returns– and despite the best efforts of all the entities involved… The product rarely comes back in the same shape it originally went out in. So it’s understandable that publishers try awfully hard to never give comic book retailers a reason to demand a non-returnable book become returnable.

Here is one of the most UNIVERSAL reasons retailers can return a book: The comic is not released within a specified time frame. If an issue arrives “X” weeks past its’ scheduled due date– the companies are normally forced to take it back.

Companies rushing to publish and distribute their products before these non-returnable deadlines expire is the MAIN REASON why EVERYONE gets BURIED with comics and comic-related merchandise at the end of every month. The companies know they are behind schedule– yet they also know they have a cushion of several weeks to release their books before their product is returnable… And if they can just squeeze ‘em out and hurl them into your local store by the end of the month…

RETURN “THIS”, YOU DIZZY BITCHES

Here's another tip: He who holds ALL the cards WINS!

There are millions of reasons why the system doesn’t function as planned– from creator work delays to overseas shipments being held by customs. Very few of these fuck-ups can be fixed by any of the parties involved… Except ONE.

When a book is delayed, there is only one party in this entire process that can make the end result easier on everybody… One party that could say, “No. Wait. That’s too much stuff to all come out in just one week. It will put an unnecessary burden on the retailer and the consumer.”

And the party that could stop this? THE DISTRIBUTOR.

Understand that I’m not expecting the book publishers to fix this problem. It will be a frosty day in Hell when DC won’t release a huge book just because Marvel is releasing 2 or 3 of their best sellers as well. (And vice versa.) And the smaller comic book companies? Many are lucky to publish whenever the can… So you can’t count them in on any steady plan.

So if you can’t expect the publishing companies to release their books in an even pattern under some sort of “Gentlemen’s Agreement”… How can this CRUSH be fixed?

By the distributor instituting a reasoned allocation pattern.

Since the current distributor is the only major distributor for the vast amount of comics and merchandise you see every week, they know in advance exactly what is coming out every week. They know if Marvel is inexplicably releasing FOUR X-Men reprint volumes or 2 issues of the “weekly”  Spider-man comic in the same week. They know if DC is about to release 2 Women of the DC Universe Busts, 1 Cover Girls of the DC Universe Statue, 1 DC Chronicles Aquaman Statue and 1 Christopher Reeve as Superman Statue all in one week.

Consequently, they could stop this madness.

It's HARD to be the ONLY KING!

Wouldn’t it be nice of them to step up and say, “No more of this bullshit. We are putting undue artificial pressure on an already fragile industry in a frighteningly fragile economy… There is no reason to overload the retailer or the consumer with late merchandise that could potentially cripple them financially. You don’t want customers forced to choose between late shipping products either. In that scenario, somebody always loses. If we release these items in an orderly fashion (as originally intended)– retailers will sell more product because customers will be able to afford more product. Everyone wins.”

“So– along those lines– we are only releasing 2 DC Statues and 1 Spider-man comic book this week. Since Spider-man is only published 3 times a month– the book simply will not have a skip week this month. We will also only release only one DC Statue and one DC bust every week for the next several weeks until this unfortunate product backlog is efficiently distributed.”

“And, by the way RETAILERS– Even though these circumstances are NOT of our making and were beyond OUR control… Since we are doing our best NOT to crush you with product by artificially overloading our distribution channels with delayed items… Please note that NONE of the delayed product affected by these allocation shifts will be returnable… No matter how far the product arrives past it’s ‘due date’.”

And you know what? With one simple announcement… All the shit, all the anger, all the disappointment and all the physical, mental and financial burden that occurs every month– would stop.

Instantly.

OF COURSE, A FEW RULES WOULD BE IN ORDER

See? That WASN'T so damn HARD, was it?

Everybody would have to make certain that no publisher would deliberately abuse this new process to their advantage… And books that contained substantial creative team changes would still be returnable. (After all, a misrepresented product– whether intentionally misrepresented or not– is still a misrepresented product no matter how long it takes to reach your local store.)

With a few minor safeguards put in place– this system would ensure easier, more enjoyable comics selling and buying for all involved… Unlike the current system– which benefits only the Publishers and the Distributor during a ridiculously overloaded release week.

My guess is, if enough comic books fans and comic book retailers wrote the various publishers and the distributor… And finally stood up for their hobby and their businesses en masse by contacting the press about this chronic problem– the substantial outcry created would force an easy– yet long overdue– change in a failing system that continues to ignore the basic financial needs of its retailers and end-use consumers.

So next time you hear your retailer grumbling or find yourself silently cursing your shitty low paying job as you gaze–  financially fucked– at the huge wall of books that were all released in just one week (and that you can’t afford)… Think about getting off your ass and doing something about it.

Who knows? By approaching this idea sanely and correctly… Maybe the whole monopoly family will realize that they’re really tired of all the bitching and moaning… And a small nudge will be all that’s needed to make things a heckuva lot better!

Just another day at the office for the Odinson!

 

Yeah, I’m one of those guys.

I normally wait for the Hardcovers and Trade Paperbacks– rather than purchase floppies. (For the uninitiated– “floppy” is one of the current terms used to describe comics that a printed and released monthly.)

So why do I buy these sometimes-more-expensive versions of “regular” comics?

As I’ve gotten older (get used to that word, you’ll be hearing “older” being used as an excuse a lot if you decide to stick here)– I feel like I maul my regular comics. They’re too thin and too flimsy for my huge hands. Hardcovers (my format of choice) are much sturdier and often come over-sized– which makes it more fun to look at the art (you can see all the details without bending the book in half) and it’s easier to read the words (cue Craig Ferguson’s “Geriatric Voice” here). Trade Paperbacks (or Graphic Novels) are cheaper versions of Hardcovers– so they are normally smaller in size. (Gee, how did I figure THAT out?) I can maul their flimsier covers almost as easily as I can a floppy’s cover. So, if I had to choose– I’d choose to purchase a Hardcover any day.

I know a lot of Pro (term used loosely) Comic Book writers feel like you aren’t supporting them if you aren’t supporting their floppy. I have one phrase for them: “DVR TV Viewing”. Now all the major TV Networks and Cable Channels count displaced viewership– or people who watch a TV show on their DVRs an hour, a day or a week later– as part of that specific show’s rating. Often this DVR Viewership adds significantly to the overall viewership total… And these increased ratings can often make or break a television series.

If stodgy, monolithic Television Networks are savvy enough to factor in this “fractured” viewing pattern– comic book companies are smart enough to factor in the amount of money they make on reprinting floppies as Hardcovers and Trade Paperbacks. If you write comics and you can’t make a case for your title’s profitability by emphasizing HC and GN sales– then, guess what? Your title sells very poorly.

Plus, I have an extra hard time with the “you’re not supporting me” mantra when I PAY for my comics every week. I don’t download my comics off the internet for free. I have never downloaded my comics off the internet for free. (It’s a simple rule I have: If I were still writing comics (and never say “never” concerning that for the future)– it would drive me nuts if more “fans” were reading my book for free than paying for it.

So I pay for all my books. I blog about and promote good comics to my friends… Shouldn’t I be able to do this guilt free?

Oh, you Whiny Bastards.

Because of my hectic schedule (you’ll see a lot of 3am posts on here), I like reading Hardcovers because I can wait and read several in one sitting. (I also don’t have to take each book out of a bag & board– which is how I stored my floppies when I collected them. This is an amazing time-saver.) This way, if one of the Big Two (Marvel and DC) decide to run one of their huge EVENT stories that cross-over into 20 different comic books, I can sit down and read them all. As long as I am patient up front and allow the books to “collect”– I don’t have to wait months to read the end of a story. Hardcovers are normally released in a much quicker pattern than floppies– which are normally released only once a month.

I read “some” comic book news but I am not fazed by the info contained therein (“spoilers”). To be quite frank, I don’t commit a lot of this “news” to “long-term” memory anyway (unless it concerns a friend or Yes– even an enemy)… So I find I remember very few of the “spoilers” when I actually sit down and read my books. “Spoilers” are overrated anyway. Every comic book nerd knew by Wednesday morning– before they arrived at their local comic shop to pick up their weekly “fix” (new comics are normally released every Wednesday)– that Captain America had been assassinated in Captain America #25.

Because I wait to buy Hardcovers and Trade Paperbacks, it is much more likely that I will have forgotten salient plot points when I read these story lines 4 to 6 months later… Much more likely than the person who reads a specific comic related news story (like the “Death of Captain America”) on a Wednesday morning and then reads the comic that same Wednesday afternoon. So, I can still participate in comic fan sites– without really caring who lives or dies or has an arm chopped off… Because everything that happens in comics is temporary anyway. (Google “Wonder Woman’s New Costume” on the net or go to the CCW*TV Blog and view their “Last Rants” on the subject if you don’t believe me.) And anyway, the minute a new creative team takes over a book or a new EIC (Editor-in-Chief) assumes the top editorial spot at a company– the entire product line’s creative direction can be put into play.

So don’t HATE on the Hardcover or the Trade Reader. They are simply exercising their right to consume comics in a different form that you (much like someone might buy Hair Spray rather than Hair Gel). We all get to the same point eventually… And if we PAY for our books, we’re all supporting the same medium too.

Lesson to Learn? (If any?) Nobody likes a Whiny Bastard.