Random Rants™! are rants too tiny to warrant their own post but still significant (IMO) to be mentioned. As my schedule ebbs or grows, this feature will also allow me to throw something out to the blogosphere– without investing two hours in it.
Think Tweets– with hopefully a little more meat.
RANDOM RANT™ #1
First Bit o’ Business:
A note about a column that almost was— Insideman’s Guide to Upcoming Hardcovers and Graphic Novels. With the helpful aid of Mr. Jose Melendez, I worked out the details with frequent SAYL commenter Locusmortis— who writes a similar monthly column focused on upcoming floppy releases for the CCW*TV Blog. Even though my column would be completely different, written in my style– I still wanted to check in and alert Locusmortis to what I had planned. I’m one of the few fuckers in Hwood who attempts to work with people– as opposed to always taking the shortest route… Which, in this town, is normally straight through them.
Satisfied that all the ducks were in a row, I sat down with the distributor’s monthly catalog and began looking intently through the book offerings. It didn’t take me long to realize that this kind of column– focusing solely on comic book collections– would not work unless I had read the stories in advance… And by the time these Trades or Hardcovers see print– the monthly comics will have long been dissected/reviewed by a million different comic-centric websites or blogs… Sometimes as long as 8 months to a year earlier.
The fact is I would not be commenting on new material 99.8% of the time. Besides the Vertigo Crime line (a series of mostly great original black & white books that, sadly, might yet be another casualty of the Jim Lee/Dan Didio/Geoff Johns DC Comics era)– there is precious little work being printed in collected form that still doesn’t see print as a floppy first. And as more and more companies flog and steer people toward the release of digital floppies, I truly foresee a day when the only way you can buy a PHYSICAL COPY of a comic book is by purchasing a hardcover or trade paperback collection.
But that’s the future and I would be writing this new column today.
If I don’t read the floppies and I don’t read the collections in advance, how in the hell can I really recommend a collection of said stories? What NEW ELEMENT could I bring to the table by adding this column to the SAYL Blog? Speculation on what type of binding (hot glue or stitched) they might decide to use on each book? (Nerd Fact: Almost 100% of all comics collections use the cheaper, simpler hot glue method for binding the stories together.)
Recommending something you haven’t read is a slippery slope I dare not tread. Just like most film stars nowadays, there are precious few comic book pros that you can automatically assume will always hit their next project out of the park. At $3.99 per comic or $24.99 to $29.99 per hardcover– that is an investment that very few are willing to make without at least reading one or two reviews first… No matter whose name is on the cover. I certainly don’t want to recommend anything on the basis of a name. I don’t want anyone investing money in something just because I think it might be good. I also don’t want to play fast and loose with personal friendships or professional relationships– only to find my subconscious urging me to recommend something I haven’t experienced just because a friend or business associate of mine created something.
So a column ends before it ever begins. I feel much more comfortable talking in-depth about books after I read them. That way I can give you a fair assessment in a review– just like I did with the inaugural review column Love, Dislike or Indifference – Rating 30 Recent Hardcovers & Graphic Novels. For those who care, I’ll try to do more of these shorter book reviews more often… Especially after a good friend pointed out that my 30 reviews could have easily been halved to 15 or even cut down to 10 reviews per column… With the bulk of the content spaced out over time. Oops! I often can be far too exuberant for my own good.
RANDOM RANT™ #2
Here’s a little factoid that’s liable to blow your mind:
As I began searching through the September 2010 catalog to research the column that never was (detailed above), I came upon the DC Comics section– where I counted 14 PAGES (including the cover) solely promoting the BATMAN FAMILY line of books.
If you are familiar with CCW*TV Blog veteran and Ultimate Bat-Fan™ Stamps 1723— you’ll know that she will never think of this as Bat Overkill. She’ll believe it’s more like Bat Heaven… Or, at the very least, an embarrassment of Bat Riches.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Bats too. In many ways, he gave me one of my worst and best movie roles… But we’re talking 19 Batman related comic books in one month— and that number does NOT include issues of Superman/Batman, the Dark Knight on the cover of either Brightest Day #13 or #14 (if the prelim art is to be believed), Bats on the cover of DC Universe Legacies #7, DC Comics Presents Batman #2, The All New Brave and the Bold #1 + 5 more Trade Paperbacks or Hardcovers and a $60 Harley Quinn Bust.
Do you know how much all this will cost? I guess I could have tallied it up when I was looking it all up– but I didn’t. Let’s indulge my laziness and just state with the utmost certainty that all this Bat Stuff is going to cost a Bat Shitload… Maybe even more than some people pay for rent on any given month.
This quite obviously is one of the ways that DC has decided to increase their market share. Flooding the market with your most popular character (or characters) is a time-honored tradition at the Big Two (Marvel & DC Comics). Think Punisher, X-Men, Wolverine and Deadpool just to name a few… And do a double take when you realize that EVERY CHARACTER I just listed was a MARVEL character.
So Didio and DC’s unique way of overtaking Marvel Comics as the #1 comic book publisher is to simply act like Marvel Comics and vomit out book after book after book featuring– or strongly related to– one popular character.
The big question is: Can you run a 70-year-old character into the ground– or dilute him so badly that his fan base will just flip the switch and say, “Fuck it. I’m done?” Deadpool– a relative newbie given the years Old Pointy Ears has been patrolling– is suffering a similar fate now… As once hot book after once hot book featuring the disfigured mutant is being systematically shut down due to poor sales.
Want to know what really sucks? I can remember when I thought 4 Batman books in one month were more than enough.
RANDOM RANT™ #3
By the time you read this, the “belt-tightening” at DC that “forced the lay-offs” of 3 very talented Vertigo editors will be old news. Ever love a job so much that you would willingly become the cliché and offer to pay your employer for the right to come to work each day? I have. I know for a fact that one of these editors at Vertigo did too. This Stockholm Syndrome affinity for your workplace becomes all the more insane when said dream job disappears overnight. You blame yourself. You blame your co-workers, the economy– even the sleep robbing witch downstairs that blares her music late at night while she lamely performs some half-assed aerobic work out.
Amazingly, it takes most people weeks or months to blame their employer. What people don’t realize is this same thing is going to continue to happen to them and every one they know until they insist on breaking free of corporate America and take the daring, scary jump to go out on their own… And start their own business.
I can’t imagine that any of these fine people will be out of work for long… And I am sure Marvel would love to volley another big fat “I told ya so” at DC after losing the likes of a super creative mind like Paul Cornell to a Distinguished Competition talent exclusive.
RANDOM RANT™ #4
Over at CBR/Robot 6, Kevin Melrose is quoting Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley as saying:
“I think it’s the appropriate price point for the entertainment value and quality that we offer in the books. The $3.99 price point was already the price point for limited series and one-shots before we moved some of our regular series up, and we still have several regular series that are at $2.99. If we want to continue to have the talent and the quality that we offer in those books, it’s a price point that we had to explore. What we offer from an entertainment standpoint is pretty solid and I think we should be proud of that.”
So how does that explain $3.99 price points for books that have artists who are just learning to draw comics? Or writers who are just learning to write their first books? Or the fact that some bean counter admitted long ago that he offered up the idea of raising the books’ cover price an arbitrary dollar just to see if the market would bear the huge price increase?
And one last thing: Please get off the “What we offer from an entertainment standpoint is pretty solid…” horse.
Fifteen $3.99 comics equal– or cost a few dollars more– then a brand new Video Game. You read the books in two hours or less. The video game takes 60+ hours to play. (It would take me 100+ hours to play.) If you just purchased an average stack of comics that week, you would be lucky to sell them on eBay for half off ($22.50). Meanwhile, you can quickly sell the video game back to any number of outlets and score a $30+ trade in fee– with none of the extra charges that you incur when placing an auction on eBay.
(Thanks to Jose Melendez for the link.)
RANDOM RANT™ #5
Over at IGN, they’re trying to scare up some page views by asking if Robert Kirkman is ending The Walking Dead. They are using these 4 Teaser Posters to prop up their argument:
As usual, a brilliant marketing plan by Kirkman & Company– ratcheting up the comic’s action and suspense just as The Walking Dead TV Show premieres on AMC.
But it is just that: A promotional push.
I’m not saying somebody major might not die in this story arc… Since Kirkman has killed many major characters already. But I seriously doubt it will be main character Rick Grimes. Might be his son Carl– but I doubt that too.
While I am certain that Kirkman can do whatever he wants with his book– I doubt he, director Frank Darabont or AMC want him to kill off the series most recognizable characters now. People who watch the show and then decide to pick up the comic will be awfully confused if there is no Rick running around inside the book. As it stands, comic buyers that come to the series via TV will have to digest Rick’s lack of a hand— an injury that Darabont seemed to think would not be happening on the TV show anytime soon– if at all.
And the idea that this is story arc could mark the COMPLETE END of The Walking Dead comic? Puh-leeze!
Again, it’s just IGN hyperbole to attract web surfers. Kirkman would be crazier than Christine O’Donnell to end the book now. I could see a new series with new survivors popping up some day– but again, that would currently screw whatever continuity will exist between the book and the show once Halloween night rolls around.