What do two LIGHT SHIPPING WEEKS in a row tell you? I know what they tell me: That they’re at least two HORRIFICALLY OVER-PACKED WEEKS to come! Now I know what you’re thinking, “Horrific, Ian? Horrific?!” And I understand. Given the atrocities that take place hourly in this world, how can anything to do with comic books be HORRIFIC?
The following scenario shouldn’t seem like too far a stretch for any of us: Suppose you loved a hobby– so much so that you lived and breathed it and couldn’t wait until the NEXT Wednesday when you could run to the comic store and get another “fix” of your favorite four-color fantasies.
Now imagine a business run– and FLOODED by– BIG PUBLISHING CORPORATIONS… Who are now mostly and wholly owned by even BIGGER corporations. Now imagine a distribution partner– besides being a monopoly, now largely toothless… Having lost the ability to tell or even suggest to their business “partners” what they should– and should not– do. (If they EVER cared.)
And remember YOU make $6, $7, $10 or maybe, if you’re lucky– $15+ USD an hour. Then, one day, for no other reason than because “they can”– these companies arbitrarily raise the cost of their books by ONE DOLLAR. Worst case scenario, you have to work an HOUR and TWENTY MINUTES to afford TWO Marvel or DC Comics. Best case scenario, you can buy about 3 and 3/4 DC or Marvel books if you make $15 an hour.
Then suddenly, with PLUNGING SALES and MONTHS going by without ONE single book selling even a PALTRY 100,000 copies– ONE of the behemoths SHAKES AWAKE and LOWERS their book prices by a buck. WHAT?!? Prices NEVER go DOWN… How could they do it?
Simple: Greed & Common Sense
Greed drove the TOTALLY ARBITRARY increase; common sense caused the NECESSARY decrease. Meanwhile, the other BIG company, Marvel– owned by gargantuan Disney (a company that ROUTINELY makes a yearly PROFIT of over FOUR BILLION DOLLARS plus)– states they are going to lower their prices too. But they DON’T– not really. They lower the cost on a couple of mini-series and one-shots– then keep the bulk of their books at a nose-thumbing $3.99.
Now it comes to light that Marvel has QUIETLY started lowering the page count on some books (to DC Comics’ earlier mandate of 20 pages– a move that various Marvel talking heads previously ridiculed and said they would NEVER do) and their prices to $2.99 (on their lower selling series)… But they still keep the prices of their BETTER SELLING TITLES at a ridiculous $3.99.
Realistically, Marvel HAD to do something– again out of NECESSITY. Their loyal zombies were shaking off years of manic servitude once the weekly sight of their EMPTY WALLETS (and the realization of what LITTLE entertainment they were getting for their $3.99) began to sink in.
THOR— The Movie– sold $128 MILLION in tickets LAST WEEKEND. For the 2nd weekend in a row, the film was NUMBER ONE at the US Box-office. Did even a MINUTE fraction of these moviegoers leave theaters across the world eager to enter a comic shop and search out a Thor comic?
Maybe. Maybe not. That’s why the 100,000 copy mark is such an EMBARRASSINGLY LOW sales benchmark to shoot for. MILLIONS watch these movies and the SAME millions then tell this INDUSTRY week after week, month after month that they have NO INTEREST in the medium that spawned these popular cinematic roller coaster rides.
Do you know what comic books are now? Little more than ANOTHER LICENSED PRODUCT for a movie. Yes, they are still the BASIS for these films– but COMIC sales are dwarfed by the sales of ancillary Thor products like BED SHEETS, COLLECTOR CUPS and their ilk.
And you know what? The corporations that own Marvel & DC could care less. Sure, they’d love the books to sell more– but in the end, MONEY is MONEY… And they don’t care if their profits come from licensed MJOLNIR Boxer Shorts (“Show the lady you love that you have a MIGHTY MYSTIC HAMMER in your pants!”) or one of the DOZENS of Thor comic series, mini-series or reprint trade paperbacks and hardcovers Marvel has been attempting to shove down our throats for the last 8 – 10 months.
I’ve written this before and I will write it again: Back in the day (and not SO DAMN long ago) companies raised the price of their LESSER SELLING titles in an attempt to make the books profitable enough to keep printing them. They didn’t want to lose ONE fan– and if that meant increasing the price or changing the publication schedule (many less popular titles were BI-MONTHLY back then), then that’s what these publishers would do– to APPEASE every single customer they possibly could.
Now? Each and EVERY ONE of us is DISPOSABLE… With the characters and the comics that each of us have grown to love little more than fodder to entertain the masses. The books are NOT what’s important now. Profit-wise, they are ALSO-RANS to the great movie-making machine.
God (or whomever/whatever you happen to believe in, if anything) help us all when the movie-going public tires of these 120 minute confections. If you can buy a comic for less than $5.99 when these films are no longer made, I’ll be completely amazed.
That’s not to say that individual creators don’t care about their work for the Big Two. Far from it. But any substantial level of care and sincerity is getting harder and harder to find.
The GOOD NEWS: The Indie scene is as VIBRANT as it has EVER been. And for those who can discover a way to pull themselves away from the not-so-Amazing Spider-man– you have a treasure trove of treats waiting for you. There’s plenty of superheroes to be found too. So if you find you just can’t give up your Big Two Obsession (And WHY should you? It’s your money!), then skip a Starbucks coffee or two this week and try something different. I am GUARANTEEING that 99% of you, if you are truly open to different experiences, will be VERY GLAD you did.
Just remember, it doesn’t have to start with an “X” to be a good comic.
P.S. It is being brought to my attention that more and more people are actually buying books based on MY suggestions alone. I am both FLATTERED and HUMBLED by this realization… And I reiterate my promise to every single reader: I will NEVER recommend a book for PAY and if ANY prejudices enter into WHY I like a certain book (if I happen to be friends with the creator(s), etc.) I will be certain to NOTE this information in BIG BOLD TYPE.
Stick with Inveterate Media Junkies, IMJ Nation. We DON’T play for pay. We DON’T post shit solely to get hits or to feed our monstrous egos… And we will never, ever KNOWINGLY mislead you.
The Devil’s Concubine by Palle Schmidt
Published By IDW
A heist comic about two assassins who find themselves #1 on a Hit List when a package delivery goes bad? By a Danish illustrator that likens his work to an American Action movie?
There are very few American entertainment concepts that have not been improved on by our European counterparts. Keep THAT in mind if you start thinking you might want to buy this cool graphic novel!
HARDCOVERS & GRAPHIC NOVELS
28 Days Later Vol 4 Gangwar – I LIKE this book!
Art of Alice Madness Returns HC
Atlas Greetings from Earth
Avengers We Are The Avengers
Batman And Robin Deluxe Vol 4 Batman Must Die HC
Batman Streets of Gotham Vol 1 Hush Money
Battle of Destiny
Birds of Prey Vol 1 Endrun
Captain America and the Korvac Saga – POS* OF THE WEEK #1
Captain America Omnibus Vol 1 HC
Chronicles of King Conan Vol 2
Danger Girl Vol 1 Destination Danger
Deadman Vol 1 – I’ve read them. If you haven’t, you should.
Deadpool Corps Premiere Vol 2 You Say You Want a Revolution
Devils Concubine – HOT PICK OF THE WEEK!
Dynamo 5 Vol 5 Sins of the Father
Elias the Cursed
Emily the Strange Vol 3 13th Hour
Fame Pop Stars – Beware! Get the SKINNY on this shit HERE!
Fighting American – It’s NO Captain America
Goon Vol 1 Nothin’ But Misery (2nd Edition) – Own the Graphic Novel
Irredeemable Vol 6 – CAN’T WAIT to read this!
Jack and Zombie Box
Jew Gangster – Two words: JOE KUBERT
Little Lulu Vol 27 Treasure Map & Other Stories
Marvel Adventures: Thor Spider-Man Digest
Nanny & Hank Vol 1: Retirement is Hell
New X-Men by Grant Morrison Book 1 – POS* OF THE WEEK #2
Origins Of Marvel Comics
Panda Ma vs Chiwanda
PunisherMax Bullseye HC – Got my fingers crossed…
Ray Harryhausen Presents Sinbad Rogue of Mars
Spider-Man Hobgoblin Lives
Spider-Man Matters of Life and Death HC
Star Wars Adventures Vol 5 Boba Fett & Ship Of Fear
Starcraft – Own the Hardcover
Superboy The Boy Of Steel – I am hoping things IMPROVED past issue #1
Thor Lord Of Asgard (New Print) – RUNNER-UP PICK OF THE WEEK!
Tony & Cleo
Witchblade Redemption Vol 2
Yossel – Three Words: MORE JOE KUBERT
Young Marvelman Classic Vol 1 HC
Inu Yasha Vizbig Edition Vol 7
Maoh Juvenile Remix Vol 5
Oh My Goddess RTL Vol 38
Tony Artworks Shining World SC
Twin Spica Vol 7
Thor: Lord of Asgard
Written by Dan Jurgens, Ron Zimmerman & Jose Armenta Art by Stuart Immonen, Tom Raney, Joe Bennett and Deon Nockuls
Published by Marvel Comics
My first criteria when making these picks: BE HONEST. Some weeks the choice is agonizing. I truly sit and think (often delaying the column) until I feel I have made the CORRECT decision on which books to highlight.
And the “BE HONEST” rule is why I recommend the trade above. I know this Thor comic is a direct result of the ill-advised 1998 HEROES REBORN initiative that encompassed most of Marvel’s high-profile characters. It was a reboot seemingly born out of profit and the chance to renumber several books to the Almighty #1 (a numbering policy mostly reversed by the company in recent months– again a money-making decision).
But as misguided as the whole character revamp may have been and as little as many may regard Dan Jurgens workmanlike linear WRITING style (his CLEAN PENCILING being almost beyond reproach for his solid storytelling techniques)… I just love his Thor.
Like Jurgen’s Death of Superman saga or Booster Gold, his Heroes Reborn Thor is a throwback to a simpler era.
I’m not going to apologize for liking it. I’m not. And Jurgens DEFINITELY has nothing to apologize for. Some may see him as Barry Manilow to their Arcade Fire– but Dan is a hell of a great creator. He always submits strong (if not totally groundbreaking) work… And while I also appreciate his pencils more than his prose– I feel very strongly that his voice deserves a prominent place in current comics. After watching various characters fondled, raped and ripped in half (I’ll leave it up to you which of these actions YOU find MOST offensive)— Jurgens’ work serves as a much-needed palate cleanser.
He might be one of the few comic book creators that still has his head screwed on straight.
New X-Men Volume 1 & Captain America The Korvac Saga
Published by Marvel Comics
Have I lost my mind? You may not know much about Captain America: The Korvac Saga– but certainly almost everybody that even remotely has followed comics in the last 5 to 10 years knows that Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men is near legendary and a classic.
And they’d be correct.
So what’s my problem? To start, it has NOTHING to do with the content or the creative teams on these books. It has to do with their SIZE. Yes, you read that right: The SIZE of the books. Both of these “Trades” were released LAST WEEK… And calling them “trades” is very much a stretch… Because they are DIGEST-SIZED: 6 inches by 9 inches.
So WHY is this a problem for me? TWO reasons:
#1: They’re both priced $14.99 each. Just like a lot of REGULAR-SIZED graphic novels.
#2: NOBODY tells you the damn things are DIGEST-SIZED– except Amazon (in the fine print). I surfed to Google, typed in “Captain America: The Korvac Saga TP” and of the TOP TEN results– which included Retailers and Comic “News” Sites– only Amazon noted the size of the book!
That tells me that somebody– or a group of somebodies– doesn’t want you and me to know that somebody is overcharging for a DIGEST-SIZED comic collection.
It’s sickening and it needs to stop.
I don’t like digests. My big hands, mauled by football and boxing, don’t like them either. My aging eyes think I’ve gone fucking crazy when I attempt to read one. But what I REALLY don’t like? I don’t appreciate Marvel ostensibly hiding this info to the point where mail order customers (like me) don’t know they are paying a premium for a book that is 2/3rds the normal size (or smaller).
You know HOW I found this out? Jose Melendez just casually mentioned it on the telephone– not knowing I had purchased one of the titles. But I tell you, if this is a trend, I am going to call them out on it. It’s one thing for DC to quit shrink wrapping their books that cost $49.99 or less… It is completely something else for a company to miniaturize their books without adequately informing their customers.