As you may recall
, Wednesday we received our UPS shipment from Diamond Comics, but alas, we were short a box that was apparently taking the scenic route through Laguna Hills. Said box contains about a third of the new DC titles, so I was a little peeved (especially since it meant pulling books for our subscription service twice, when believe me, once a week is plenty). Well, it did arrive today, about two hours after we opened, so I guess all's well that ends well, and all that. Thought now I have to wonder what will happen next week? Will UPS arrive early but be missing a box? Or will we get everything, but not until after we've opened our doors for business that day? Stay tuned!
The delayed book I was most looking forward do was DC Comics Presents Hawkman
, as the previous Julius Schwartz tribute books have been mostly quite well done. So far the pattern has been to have one great
story (the Morrison story in Mystery in Space
, the Azzarello story in Green Lantern
), paired with a more...well, "average" story, for the lack of a better term, though that has a negative connotation I don't intend. For Hawkman
, however, both stories are closer to the "average" level, but are enjoyable nonetheless...Cary "Mr. Surprise" Bates returns to comics with a story starring Julie himself, with nice art by John Byrne and Lary Stucker. Very evocative of the Silver Age trend of the comic creators somehow getting mixed up in the very adventures they're writing/illustrating/editing. The second story, by Kurt Busiek and Walt Simonson, is a tale of the love between Hawkman and Hawkgirl, with of course a flying gorilla mixed in, and it's fun as well. It does make one wish for a longer Simonson Hawkman tale, as his art style is very suited to the Winged Wonder.
Speaking of comics that are new this week...Marvel needs to go back to an actual publishing schedule
, instead of just immediately sending books out to the printer as soon as the art is in-house, which is what appears to be happening. Getting three
of the four Fantastic Four
books in the same week is inexcusable. It's like Marvel is daring the reader to realize that, you know, maybe they don't need to read all these FF books and that they should drop one, or two, or all
of them. What made Marvel think that the market could support multiple FF titles anyway, when it could barely manage one? ...Oh, right
On a completely unrelated note, I was watching a little bit of RoboCop
on cable TV last night...this is one of those movies that, even though I already own the Criterion edition DVD (he said snobbily), I always feel compelled to watch at least a little bit of it whenever I come across it on TV. It's a great darn flick...I've referred to it as "the best superhero movie not
based on a comic book," and I'll stand by that statement, mister, so don't give me any guff. It's got one of my favorite villain-comeuppances of all time, and no one plays "sleaze" like Miguel Ferrer.
Er, I got a little off the point, there. Anyway, I noticed something in the film last night that hadn't occurred to me before. Comic books pop up once or twice in the film, and each time they appear (at least in the hour or so of the film I saw last night), Rom
is prominently featured. Rom
...the comic about the space warrior whose body has been mostly replaced by robotic parts. Hmmm. Coincidence?
Speaking of RoboCop
, in the second film (the one written, at least in part, by Frank Miller), there is a scene where a computer screen is flashing through several files of criminals as candidates for the RoboCop program. Now, I haven't seen this movie on regular television, so I don't know if you can make it out on the small screen (maybe on the 50-inch plus screens you can), but all the names of these criminals are people from the comics industry. I remember specifically "Deitch," "Crumb," "Hernandez," and (I believe) "Groth," and "Kirby" might have been in there, too. Every name that flashes by was the name of some comics guy or gal. Hmmm. Coincidence? Probably not. Yeah, I was watching the computer screen instead of the actual action of the film. I was probably better off.
And on yet another unrelated note...welcome to Matt Maxwell and his new comics weblog Highway 62
Thursday, July 29, 2004
...at least until there's some kind of real
news about it.
Anyway, I had one final thing to say about that particular bit of theoretical casting:
Man alive, did people hate
the idea of Michael Keaton as Batman. "But that guy does wacky comedies," everyone said. "He's not heavily muscled!" etc. etc. But, in retrospect, the casting of Michael Keaton as Batman is probably one of the few good
things about that movie. (It certainly wasn't the screenplay or the direction.) It seems to me that the same people who were complaining the most about Keaton's casting prior to the film's release later lamented Keaton's loss after the second film.
Okay, a Jack Black Green Lantern
film is a slightly different situation, since it is supposedly a comedy...but basically, all we really know about this alleged film is that 1) Black is GL, and 2) it's a comedy. Hey, it could be a really good
comedy...we don't know yet. It's way too early to go into histrionics based solely on casting. We don't know who's writing, we don't know who's directing, we don't know what sort of perspective on the whole GL thing they're gonna be taking. You might all be pleasantly surprised, for all you know.
Yes, I know chances are it'll be bad simply because most
Hollywood movies are bad...but the presence of Jack Black doesn't automatically
mean it's going to be stinky. Besides, to borrow an observation from another weblogger (I don't remember which one...let me know, please!) -- what do you want from a GL movie? A serious
take on a guy who makes big green fists with his magic ring?
And that kinda sorta leads me into this: a couple days ago there was a brief exchange
on pal Dorian
's weblog thingie regarding the impact of films on comic sales...Dorian asserts
that there is an impact, the commenter remarks that it's not really the case at his shop.
Well, in my experience, there's the first Tim Burton Batman
film, and then there's everything else. Bat-fever was at its height in the late-80s, centered around this film, coupled with the peak faddishness of comic books in general. So, business was way up, people couldn't get enough of Bat-stuff (we had waiting lists for T-shirts
, for pete's sake), and everyone, comic fans and newcomers to the field alike, were excited about Batman. New Batman comics sold like crazy, back issues flew out the door, and there was an attendant increase in prices on those back issues. (Example...a couple years prior to the movie, I bought a Joker
#1 out of a dime
box at a convention. After the movie, Joker
#1 became a $30 book in the price guides!)
The superhero movies that followed never even came close to this sort of crazed activity. However, that's not to say the movies have had no impact on comic sales. Recently, the Hellboy
film was very successful in getting people interested in the comic (despite difficulties in getting our trade paperback stock replenished in a timely manner), spurred along by the 25-cent Hellboy comic Dark Horse Comics produced just for the occasion.
Marvel could have learned from Dark Horse's example, as I'll never understand the decision to publish 25-cent versions of Hulk
to tie in with those respective movies that don't
feature the title characters in any significant fashion. The Hulk
comic in particular is absolutely shameful...the Hulk's arm appears in a flashback panel. That's it. That's all the Hulk you get from that 25-cent comic. No kid is going to buy that and want to come back for more Hulk comics. Fortunately for us, we have a significant back issue supply of both titles that do
feature Hulk and Daredevil in significant amounts, and thus we were able to give the public what it demanded and what Marvel itself wasn't currently supplying. Spider-Man
is a whole different matter. Kids always
want Spider-Man comics. Yes, there was a brief bump in sales after the first film (people were even snapping up the pretty-much universally-reviled Spider-Man: Chapter One
series). I didn't see much of a difference in sales in relation to the second film, though most everyone seemed pretty sick of Doctor Octopus appearances.
There was also a surge of interest in the Alan Moore properties The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
and From Hell
...in the former case, League
had been selling well anyway, but the movie seemed to get a few people (regulars and new customers alike) to try it out. In the case of the latter film, the number of people who picked it up because of the film was matched by the the number of people who picked it up, looked at it, and decided not to buy it because it didn't look anything
like the movie (i.e. it was good).
For the non-superhero movies...there was a brief spurt of interest in American Splendor
, and I managed to sell several back issues of the magazine, as well as the two available collections. Ghost World
too had an increase in interest...unfortunately, we had a great deal of difficulty getting it in stock for pretty much the entire theatrical run of the film. However, we can get all we need now, and it remains a fairly steady seller.
Now you may have noticed that I haven't mentioned X-Men
. That's because the X-Men
movies haven't really had much of an impact on the sales of the comics, since the comics themselves are pretty much resistant to acquiring new readers (the sole recent exception being Grant Morrison's run). Rather, the X-Men
films serve as an example of another phenomenon I've noticed in regards to movies' impact on comic sales: people either dumping their collections or suddenly acquiring an interest in buying old "key" issues. Prior to, and for a brief period shortly after, the release of a major superhero movie, we'll get a slew of people hauling in their cardboard boxes or supermarket bags filled with issues of the superhero in question, hoping that they've got a fortune on their hands. At the same time, there is a certain group of people that decide that now
is the time to start investing in back issues of that superhero's title, since they're certain to skyrocket in value following the release of the film. (Hint: they don't. They increase at the same slow and steady rate they always do...unless it's Howard the Duck
, then they plummet for a few years.) You'd think these two groups would be perfectly matched for us to make a lot of money buying and selling back issues...but the people selling comics never have any comics for sale that the people buying the comics want. This activity dries up almost immediately after the film has been out for about a week or so.
There are other examples, too...pal Dorian mentions that he can always tell when one of the Swamp Thing
movies has been on TV, since kids come charging in looking for the comics. Just yesterday, Dorian theorized that Judge Dredd
must have just been on, since he had kids looking for those. And then there's Catwoman
, which has slightly increased the number of people looking at Catwoman goodies, but not by a whole lot...then again, Catwoman is one of those characters that has always had a non-comics fan following...more as an icon than a character, in much the same way the general public is aware of the Silver Surfer as an image rather than a character in a story.
So, to wrap up this huge block of typing that almost none of you made it though, comic movies in general do give our comic sales a slight increase, mostly with kids, though adults will look into the non-superhero comics that have inspired films. Hellboy
is probably the one big crossover book, in that kids and adults were suddenly very interested in the character (thanks to the publisher's providing a 25-cent comic and a stand-up book display).
(JB as GL picture courtesy pal Corey