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Sunday, August 31, 2008

 
Roger Ebert: How to Read a Movie -- Here's Ebert with the best piece on visual storytelling techniques you'll read today, many of them applicable to the composition of comics panels and pages.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

 
Are You in the Northeastern United States? -- If you are, especially in the upstate New York area (or willing to drive there with the proper enticement), and you are either a comics creator, blogger or otherwise have expertise in the artform and industry and have something to say about comics, I would like to talk to you about an upcoming comics festival. Please email me ASAP so I can fill you in.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

 
Roger on Fantaco's Chronicle's Series -- And he wrote it all without once mentioning "Fantaco/Tundra," go figure.

Wow, was that ever in-jokey. Never mind me. Go read Roger Green's first-person account of the decline and fall of Fantaco's ahead-of-its-time Chronicles series. As always, it's riveting and entertaining stuff.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

 
Virgin Comics -- I've never seen one, and couldn't tell you what their titles are or who creates them. And I spend more time in comic book stores than almost anybody I know who isn't a retailer. Sorry people are apparently losing jobs, but this company never even really existed within the comics industry as I know it, so it's hardly a surprise.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

 
Sean T. on Santoro's Incanto -- A brief but loving look at maybe my favourite work by Frank Santoro, here's Sean T. Collins on Incanto. (and here's my own, while I'm at it.)

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

 
Batman and Teddy Roosevelt -- Check out a feature in the Glens Falls Post Star on parallels between TR and Batman, which includes a couple of quotes from your humble correspondent.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

 
Critic or Blogger? -- Alleged cartoonist Scott Kurtz (hey, if you wanna call that cartooning, I guess it's a free country) says Johanna Draper Carlson is a blogger, not a critic. So reading critic Roger Ebert reflect on the joy blogging has brought to him really brought a smile to my face.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

 
Responses to My 100 Must Read GNs -- I'll try to keep this updated with new links as I find them or they're sent to me, followups to my list of 100 Must-Read Graphic Novels:

Logan Polk's 50 Must-Reads, most of which are not on my list, although many of them almost made it.

Which books on my list cartoonist Jason Marcy has read.

Johnny Bacardi does the same, quibbling about a "difference" between "graphic novels" and "trade paperbacks." Johnny, Johnny...! You're supposed to be hip to the jive, Daddio!

Blog This, Pal looks at the list. And says I "took the high road," surely a first.

Writer/artist Gary Spencer Millidge is happy at being #51.

David Wynne looks at my list and comes up with his own list of 50. Good man, Dave!

More links as they come in...

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

 
L. Nichols Exhibiting in Albany in September -- I'm psyched as hell for this. L. Nichols of Jumbly Junkery fame will be exhibiting her art at a show at a Lark Street gallery in Albany next month.


Details on the exhibit here and here.

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100 Must-Read Graphic Novels -- According to Eddie Campbell, "anyone who thinks there are more than a few dozen so-called 'graphic novels' worth reading is an idiot." Sorry, Eddie, I beg to differ. Here's my list of 100 Must-Read Graphic Novels. Funny part is, I limited most creators to two or three slots, or Eddie Campbell's oeuvre would have made up a good half-dozen all on their own, and the list would have been closer to 200.

100 - Little Nothings: The Curse of the Umbrella by Lewis Trondheim (NBM)

099 - Reid Fleming: Rogue to Riches by David Boswell (Deep Sea Comics)

098 - Real Stuff by Dennis Eichhorn et al (Swifty Morales Press)

097 - The Norm in Color by Michael Jantze (thenorm.com)

096 - Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O'Malley (Drawn and Quarterly)

095 - Life's a Bitch: The Collected Bitchy Bitch by Roberta Gregory (Fantagraphics Books)

094 - Swallow Me Whole by Nate Powell (Top Shelf)

093 - Curses by Kevin Huizenga (Drawn and Quarterly)

092 - American Splendor: The Best of American Splendor by Harvey Pekar et al (Ballantine)

091 - War Stories by Garth Ennis et al (two volumes) (DC Comics)

090 - A Treasury of Victorian Murder: Abraham Lincoln by Rick Geary (NBM)

089 - Storeyville by Frank Santoro (Picturebox)

088 - All Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (DC Comics)

087 - Spent by Joe Matt (Drawn and Quarterly)

086 - My War with Brian by Ted Rall (NBM)

085 - Mad Night by Richard Sala (Fantagraphics Books)

084 - Late Bloomer by Carol Tyler (Fantagraphics Books)

083 - The Collected Hutch Owen by Tom Hart (Top Shelf)

082 - God's Bosom and Other Stories by Jack Jackson (Fantagraphics Books)

081 - Fred the Clown by Roger Langridge (Fantagraphics Books)

080 - Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (Marvel)

079 - Ripple by Dave Cooper (Fantagraphics)

078 - Conan: Born on the Battlefield by Kurt Busiek and Greg Ruth (Dark Horse)

077 - City of Glass by Paul Auster, Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli (Harper Perennial)

076 - Bone One Volume Edition by Jeff Smith (Cartoon Books)

075 - Black Hole by Charles Burns (Pantheon)

074 - Daddy's Girl by By Debbie Drechsler (Fantagraphics Books)

073 - The Gypsy Lounge: Lunchtime Variety Criminals by Jasen Lex (Aweful Books)

072 - Marvel Boy by Grant Morrison and JG Jones (Marvel Comics)

071 - The Walking Man by Jiro Tanaguchi (Fanfare/Ponent Mon)

070 - Waterwise by Joel Orff (Alternative Comics)

069 - Red Eye, Black Eye by K. Thor Jensen (Alternative Comics)

068 - Good-Bye by Yosihiro Tatsumi (Drawn and Quarterly)

067 - Abandon the Old in Tokyo by Yoshiro Tatsumi (Drawn and Quarterly)

066 - The Push Man - by Yoshiro Tatsumi (Drawn and Quarterly)

065 - Shuck Unmasked by Rick Smith and Tania Menesse (Top Shelf)

064 - Paul Has A Summer Job by Michel Rabagliati (Drawn and Quarterly)

063 - Monkey vs. Robot by James Kochalka (Top Shelf)

062 - Hellboy by Mike Mignola (six volumes to date) (Dark Horse)

061 - Lost Girls by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie (Top Shelf)

060 - McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #13 edited by Chris Ware (McSweeney's)

059 - The Legend of Wild Man Fischer by Dennis Eichhorn and J.R. Williams (Top Shelf)

058 - The Fart Party by Julia Wertz (Atomic Books)

057 - Demo by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan (DC/Vertigo)

056 - The Silver Surfer by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (Marvel Comics)

055 - Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus by Jack Kirby (four volumes) (DC Comics)

054 - Pizzeria Kamikaze by Etgar Keret and Asaf Hanuka (Alternative Comics)

053 - James Sturm's America by James Sturm (Drawn and Quarterly)

052 - Palestine by Joe Sacco (Fantagraphics Books)

051 - Strangehaven by Gary Spencer Millidge (three volumes to date) (Abiogenesis Press)

050 - The Outer Space Spirit by Will Eisner, Jules Feiffer and Wallace Wood (Kitchen Sink) (Out of print; stories available in The Spirit Archives Vol. 24 from DC Comics)

049 - Top Ten by Alan Moore, Zander Cannon and Gene Ha (two volumes) (America's Best Comics)

048 - The Placebo Man by Tomer Hanuka (Alternative Comics)

047 - We3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (DC/Vertigo)

046 - David Boring by Dan Clowes (Pantheon)

045 - Cages by Dave McKean (NBM)

044 - Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw (Fantagraphics Books)

043 - Crecy by Warren Ellis and Raulo Caceres (Avatar Press)

042 - The Maakies by Tony Millionaire (Fantagraphics Books)

041 - The Book of Leviathan By Peter Blegvad (The Overlook Press)

040 - Fantastic Butterflies by James Kochalka (Alternative Comics)

039 - B. Krigstein Comics by Bernard Krigstein (Fantagraphics Books)

038 - Jay's Days: Rise and Fall of the Pasta Shop Lothario by Jason Marcy (Hairy Bald Guy Books)

037 - GÝdland by Joe Casey and Tom Scioli (Image Comics)

036 - Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O'Malley (four volumes to date) (Oni Press)

035 - The Filth by Grant Morrison and Chris Weston (DC/Vertigo)

034 - The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson (Andrews McMeel)

033 - Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (DC Comics)

032 - Marbles in My Underpants by Renee French (Oni Press)

031 - Catwoman Volumes One through Four by Ed Brubaker, Darwyn Cooke, et al (DC Comics)

030 - Bluesman by Rob Vollmar and Pablo Callejo (NBM)

029 - The Castaways by Rob Vollmar and Pablo Callejo (NBM)

028 - DC: The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke (DC Comics)

027 - Mad Love by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm (DC Comics)

026 - The Journal Comic by Drew Weing (Self-published)

025 - 32 Stories by Adrian Tomine (Drawn and Quarterly)

024 - The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard by Eddie Campbell and Dan Best (First Second)

023 - It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken by Seth (Drawn and Quarterly)

022 - Street Angel by Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca (SLG)

021 - Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli (DC Comics)

020 - Daredevil: Born Again by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli (Marvel Comics)

019 - Criminal by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (three volumes to date) (Marvel/Icon)

018 - Sleeper by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (four volumes) (DC/Wildstorm)

017 - Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin)

016 - The Complete Peanuts by Charles Schulz (Fantagraphics Books)

015 - King-Cat Classix by John Porcellino (Drawn and Quarterly)

014 - Locas by Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics Books)

013 - The Frank Book by Jim Woodring (Fantagraphics Books)

012 - The Ticking by Renťe French (Top Shelf)

011 - Bob and Harv's Comics by Harvey Pekar and R. Crumb (4 Walls 8 Windows)

010 - Palomar by Gilbert Hernandez (Fantagraphics Books)

009 - Alec: How to be an Artist by Eddie Campbell (Top Shelf)

008 - Hey, Wait... by Jason (Fantagraphics Books)

007 - Ghost World by Dan Clowes (Fantagraphics Books)

006 - Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware (Pantheon)

005 - American Elf: The Collected Sketchbook Diaries of James Kochalka (Top Shelf)

004 - Ice Haven by Dan Clowes (Pantheon)

003 - Louis Riel by Chester Brown (Drawn and Quarterly)

002 - Diary of a Teenage Girl by Phoebe Gloeckner (Frog LTD)

001 - From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell (Top Shelf)

What do you think? Is Eddie Campbell right, or are there more than a few dozen graphic novels worth reading? I think every book on this list demands the attention of anyone that loves good comics and wants to know all the very best works the artform has to offer, and I think this list is just a beginning.

What's on your list?

---

Speaking of graphic novels, buy some cheap and with free shipping during the ADD Blog graphic novel sale!

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Quote of the Day -- Courtesy of Sean T. Collins:
"The problem with Iron Man in the wildly popular, not good Marvel event series Civil War wasn't that he was wrong, but simply that he was written wrong."
Read Sean's review of Invincible Iron Man #1-4 here.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

 
Recipe for a Good Blog -- Here's a nice, concise look at What Makes a Good Blog, over at 43 Folders.

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ADD's Bargain Graphic Novel Sale -- Low prices, free shipping. Check it out.

 
Do You Love Artcomix More Than Me? -- If so, John Jakala has a real deal for you!

I'd so pay $450.00 for this if I hadn't just spent $250.00 on a frame job for a Bruce Timm JLA lithograph. That seemed like a good use of my disposable income more than $125.00 for Kramers Ergot #7, somehow...

Monday, August 18, 2008

 
Jim Crocker on Kramers Ergot #7 -- I know, I know, I said I was done with this subject. But when the owner of my favourite comic book store in the United States weighs in on a subject as controversial as the $125.00 price tag of the next volume of Kramers Ergot, I have to give him the floor. Ladies and gentlemen, Jim Crocker of Modern Myths in Northampton, Massachusetts.
How many will you order for your shelves?
BWAAA HAAAA HAAA HAAA HAAA HAAAA! None.

How many would you guess you may preorder by request of regular customers?

MAYBE one.

Do you think $125.00 for a 96 page anthology is a reasonable price for your customer base?

$125.00 for 96 pages is pure art-house gimmick pricing. It's comics removed from any even remote expectation that they're going to be read by ANY sort of mass audience and reduced to elitist art-world gallery projects. They're not comics at that point, they're basically museum catalogs of contemporary works that happen to have a narrative joining the pieces.

Will you offer it at a discount, either to customers pre-ordering it, or on your store shelves?

I don't offer anything else at a discount, why should I offer this? At that price it's basically a convention/Amazon exclusive in all but actual name.

How do you feel about Amazon's discounting of the book (currently over 30 percent off) and how it might impact your store, or the direct market in general.

Meh. When you've got hundreds of millions in venture capital and can lose more money than I'll see in my entire life for 5+ years, how does the market actually apply to you in any real way? Amazon isn't retailing, it's using something that looks like retail to move stock. Nearly everything they do is destructive to the long-term health of publishing, but the same can be said of most publicly-traded, solely profit-driven companies in any field they operate in. 'Hating' them accomplishes as much as 'hating' aggressive childhood leukemia or those little voles hating the dinosaurs did. We just scamper around scavenging for what they miss and try not to get stepped on.

Bottom line: Amazon discounts EVERYTHING. The impact they have on any individual title is just part of the mix these days, like hurricanes, UPS truck breakdowns, and convention pre-releases.
My thanks to Jim for letting me know his plans and thoughts regarding Kramers Ergot #7. And anyone who has not set foot in Modern Myths has no place casting aspersions at Jim's opinion. He is the savviest and most forward-thinking comics retailer I have met in the United States, and his store runs a very close second behind The Beguiling in terms of being the very best comic book store I have ever set foot in. For him to respond so negatively to the price point of KE7 should be food for thought for anyone involved in the publishing of this book. Modern Myths the most alternative comics-friendly shop I've set foot in in the US, and for him to regard the book with such reluctance, tells me the vast majority of comic book retailers will not be supporting the book at its currently-expected price point.

As for me, and the process of deliberation I've engaged in these past few weeks trying to decide whether to order the book was decided this past weekend, when I re-read Kramers Ergot #5 and #6. Both were priced about $35.00, both had far more than 96 pages, and both had more than 50 percent of their contents flipped quickly through by me as I realized that either they weren't comics, or weren't good enough comics for me to bother reading. The occasional appearance in the pages of KE volumes 5 and 6 by artists like Kevin Huizenga and Dan Zettwoch was not enough to offset the self-indulgent tripe contributed by alt-comix divas like CF, Ron Rege and Paper Rad.

So, no, I will find better things to do with my comics-buying money this fall than spend it on KE7. And given the likelihood of a print run in the high hundreds to very low thousands, I'm guessing the creators whose work I do want to read, such as Dan Clowes and Chris Ware, will be smart enough to collect their KE pieces down the line in future volumes of their own work. And like Jim says, if they don't, chances are very few people will ever see those stories. And what would be the point of that?

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Virtumonde! -- Elegant sounding, no? It's the trojan program that has infected my main PC, so posting will be light to non-existent until I can get my machine cleaned. If you have any experience with Virtumonde and have any recommendations, please email me ASAP.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

 
Graphic Novel Sale -- Here is a list of graphic novels I would like to sell or trade for stuff I need (want list at bottom). Terms are: I only ship to US buyers (because of postage prices), and I don't do Paypal, so I need your payment in the form of a check or (preferred) a money order.

All books are new and unread copies. Any questions, or to reserve the books you want, email me. And thanks!

ALL PRICES INCLUDE SHIPPING IN THE UNITED STATES.

Alan Moore's Yuggoth Cultures TPB (Avatar) - Huge collection of entire mini-series plus tons of extras, including the interview I conducted a few years ago with Alan Moore. Cover price $29.99, your price including shipping, $16.00.

Comics Journal #291 - In the new squarebound format, big issue with long, beautifully illustrated Tim Sale interview. Cover price $11.99, your price $9.00

Flight Vol. 5 (Villard) - Newest volume in the acclaimed anthology series. Beautiful, full-colour artwork. Cover price $25.00, your price including shipping, $14.00.

Freddie and Me (Bloomsbury) - Mike Dawson's witty and engaging autobiographical look at growing up in the shadow of one of the greatest rock stars of all time. Cover price $19.99, your price including shipping, $13.00.

Prince of Persia (First Second) - An advanced reader's copy of one of the most anticipated graphic novels of the year. Cover price $16.95, your price including shipping, $11.00.

Three Shadows (First Second) - A detailed and evocative parable about family, heartbreak and loss. Cover price $15.95, your price including shipping $12.00.

NON-COMICS BOOKS ALSO AVAILABLE

Crazy Collector, The - 201 signs you are a certifiable collector. Cover price $9.95, your price including shipping, $7.00.

Cubicle Warfare (Collins) - 101 office traps and pranks, with varying levels of complexity and evilness. Cover price $14.95, your price including shipping, $10.00.

Homemade Hollywood (Continuum) - Advanced reader's copy, documents the creation of fan films including interviews with the filmmakers. Cover price $19.95, your price including shipping, $12.00.

Mr. Fooster: Traveling on a Whim (Flying Dolphin) - Lavishly illustrated hardcover documenting the whimsical travels of Mr. Fooster. Cover price $14.95, your price including shipping, $10.00.

Police, The, 1978-1983 (Little, Brown) - This oversized, hardcover coffee table artbook chronicles the glory years of The Police, with many candid photos of Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland at work and play. Cover price $29.99, your price including shipping, $17.00.

Sentinels (Swarm Press) - Illustrated superhero prose novel by Van Allen Plexico. Cover price $14.95, your price including shipping, $10.00.

Who Can Save Us Now? (Free Press) - Illustrated anthology of prose superhero short stories. Cover price $16.00, your price including shipping, $10.00.

World Made by Hand (Atlantic Monthly Press) -- Compelling hardcover prose novel by James Howard Kunstler, documenting life after the oil crash. One of the best novels of the year. Cover price $24.00, your price including shipping, $16.00.

WANT LIST - If you prefer to trade, I am looking for VF or better copies of Miracleman #15, 16, 17 and 18. Fantastic Four Omnibus Vol. 2. Amazing Fantasy Omnibus. Also need selected Love and Rockets TPBs in the first, oversized editions, inquire and I will send you a list of which ones I need.

Friday, August 15, 2008

 
Kramers Ergot #7 Dialogues -- Here are posts on the subject of the week, at Jason Marcy's LiveJournal and a comics retailing blog called Comics are Serious Business, which I hadn't heard of but now have subscribed to.

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What Are YOUR Fantaco Memories? -- Roger Green wants to know, and I want you to go tell him.

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Quote of the Day -- Dick Hyacinth on Grant Morrison and Howard Porter's 1990s JLA run:
Almost every superhero comic looks dated once you're far enough away from its original publication, but harpoon Aquaman, electric Superman, and crab mask Green Lantern are quite the trifecta.
Yeah, pretty much sums it up. Too bad the issues couldn't have been redrawn (and tweaked to remove references to the bad '90s "updating" missteps) for the deluxe hardcovers that will be showing up in stores soon.

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The Dark Side of the San Diego Comicon -- Beaucoup Kevin shines a light on some pretty loathsome sexual abuse incidents at Comicon International at San Diego. I can't say this is a surprise, but the seeming widespread institutionalization of it is. I'd say the convention organizers have a responsibility to respond to these claims and police future conventions a lot more closely than they obviously did this year.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

 
The Beguiling's Peter Birkmoe on Kramers Ergot #7, and Some Final Thoughts -- There's not a better comic book store that I have ever been in than The Beguiling in Toronto. It's an inclusive, progressive shop that has exactly what I've always said a good comic book store should have, something to offer for every age, interest and gender. And I should have known that they would have an excellent plan for retailing an expensive artcomix hardcover, too. Here's Beguiling owner Peter Birkmoe's thoughts on Kramers Ergot #7 and its $125.00 price point.
While Iím reluctant to give out precise numbers on what we order on any item, I would say that our orders on this are going to be very high, both in high in terms of a anthology and high for something that expensive. We donít really operate on a preorder basis for item like this that the store supports, and by supports I mean items that we are ordering with the intention hand-selling, offering additional promotion for, and stocking for as long as the item is available. Preorders for us are for things we wouldnít stock unless specifically asked . . . Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose, Toys, etc. An anthology with new work by Sammy Harkham, Daniel Clowes, Adrian Tomine, Jamie Hernandez, Chris Ware, Carol Tyler, and Kim Deitch is not a preorders-only item for us at any price.

We have ordered every Kramers since the first issue, usually pretty deep, and have yet to regret it. Still having stock on now out of print books like that is one thing that helps our reputation as a great store. In all likelihood, we will have some sort of event for this book, further increasing what our initial order would normally be. There is no doubt that this is an expensive book, and out of the price range of many people, but for those that can find a way to afford it, it will be money well spent.

Amazon discounts like that have been around long enough that I would imagine it affects my sales on just about everything I sell, so it wonít affect my ordering on this one any differently than my normal ordering, and I canít say how great that effect is. I donít feel great about this, but one canít lose sleep over it.

Peter Birkemoe, The Beguiling
Thanks, Peter, for sharing your thoughts, and thanks as well to Christopher Butcher at The Beguiling for passing them along to me.

I'm not at all sure why this subject has resulted in such heated discussion over the past few days; when I first posted about the book and its price tag, I just wanted to explore my own reluctance to lay out $125.00 (or $100.00, after a retailer discount that was offered to me) for a book that seems aimed square at the market I have been a part of for most of my adult life -- artcomix readers with a taste for experiment and a willingness to pay a little extra for the sort of comics I crave.

Off the top of my head, I have in the past paid $40.00 for books of sketches by Chris Ware, and $50.00 for hardcovers reprinting Love and Rockets comics I already owned, and I never once questioned such expenditures or regretted them in any way. Last year I spent $100.00 on The Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus, but that's not artcomix. At least, not what we typically think of as artcomix. But I bought it, make no mistake, because of the art, by Steve Ditko. If a Volume Two were to be published with an equal number of pages of John Romita Sr. art, I wouldn't even think about buying it. To me Ditko's entire Spider-Man era is worth a hundred bucks. I like Romita's work to an extent, but not a $100.00 extent.

Sorry, there I go exploring my own spending habits and comics interests again, and that's kind of what started off this whole magilla. I do think its very important for all comics readers to think about what they buy and measure their own enjoyment of it -- if we all bought what we truly valued and stopped buying bad comics out of habit or to "keep the collection complete," we would have a better comic book industry in very short order, I think. There's not a superhero title I am a completist about, except maybe Street Angel, but even then, if Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca turned the title over to Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver, I would have to call it a day and occasionally re-read my old Rugg and Maruca issues. And how does collector completism figure into this?

Well, I have the last few volumes of Kramers Ergot, you see. I think I have either three or four of them on my bookshelf. And I decided some time ago that, like Love and Rockets and Eightball and some other artcomix titles, Kramers Ergot would be a title I would always support and always want to read, craving as I do "what's new and what's next" in comics.

Then that philosophy met the $125.00 price point of the new volume.

I got a funny email last night from an old internet pal, one of the most well-known comics bloggers and a guy I like a lot. He was having some well-earned fun with the idea that I, who have always subscribed to Tom Spurgeon's axiom "The only comics that are too expensive are shitty comics," had finally met a comic that was too expensive.

I don't think KE7 will be shitty comics. I don't think it costs $125.00 due to greed, or hubris, or cruelty. I hope it costs that much because it has to in order for the creators, editor and publisher to make a modest profit. I don't imagine anyone is getting rich off this book. I do agree with whoever it was at Johanna's blog that said something to the effect of, "it's like getting 96 art prints for 100 dollars." And I'm sure that is true. Except that if I could buy them individually, I seriously doubt I would want all 96. But of course, there is no a la carte option, nor should there be.

I have no doubt Kramers Ergot #7 will be great, progressive comics. A beautiful book that may expand the boundaries of what is possible within the artform of comics. And costs more that what I pay for a week's worth of groceries for a family of four.

I think an expense like that needs to be considered. Weighed. Thought about and pondered. And given my decades of support for artcomix as a medium of expression, I have to believe I am not the only one unsure if it's a wise expense. The economy hasn't even begun to sink to the levels it ultimately will settle at. I ask myself if I have the right, as a father and husband, to be so selfish as to spend $125.00 on fewer than 100 pages of comics. "But they're great comics," I could tell my wife, as she beats me to death with the tombstone-sized hardcover (I don't imagine more than one or two whacks would be needed).

Well, I've been told many times in the past few days that the book will be a huge success. It will be a huge success because people will want to read it. And I'm sure many will want to read it, whatever constitutes "many" in the realm of boutique artcomix hardcover aficionados. 500 readers? 2,500? As a longtime observer of this artform and industry, I can see the book selling fewer than a hundred copies. And I can see it selling thousands. It all depends on the zeitgeist and the marketing, probably much more so than it does on the quality of the work. Because, while I do not believe Kramers Ergot #7 will be shitty comics, neither have I yet been convinced that it, or any single anthology volume of any creative lineup or production quality, is worth $125.00 to me personally.

Maybe as we get closer to the date of the book's release, we'll know enough about the book that my mind will be changed. I'd love to be convinced that this is a must-buy book for me, and that I'll forever regret not spending $125.00 (or $100.00, as noted above, if I buy from the one retailer that offered me a discount) on it. As Peter Birkmoe's comments above prove, the way to make this book worth the pricetag is to make it an event, and I have no doubt that The Beguiling will be very successful in making a big thing out of this release.

But I don't know how many retailers will go to that trouble. The Beguiling can do it because it's the best comic book store in North America, if not the world. I have only set foot in two other shops (in 36 years of buying comics) that even come close to the savvy and expertise and sheer quality of The Beguiling. So maybe KE7 isn't for me or readers like me. Maybe it's for shops like The Beguiling or Modern Myths or Million Year Picnic, who have paved the way for the future of comics and presumably made a nice living doing so. Peter Birkmoe and his crew will make the book something to be celebrated, and I think that is very cool, and a very good thing for comics. I hope it helps make the book a big success in shops forward-looking enough to carry it and smart enough to market it right, to the people that can afford it. I hope Tom Spurgeon is right and that all these factors combine to make Kramers Ergot a monster hit.

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The Omnivore's Hundred -- Go play this fun food meme. I posted my answers and a link to Andrew Wheeler's original post at my LiveJournal.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

 
Kramers Ergot #7 for $125.00: Retailers Respond -- In the wake of the latest discussion of the subject, at Comics Worth Reading, I asked some retailers what their plans are in regard to the $125.00 price tag attached to the forthcoming volume of the artcomix anthology Kramers Ergot. Here's what some of them had to say.

1. How many will you order for your shelves?

JC Glindmyder, Earthworld Comics, Albany, NY: "Unless I get preorders for it, I'm going to get one copy."

Robert Scott, Comickaze, San Diego, CA: "If ordered at all, probably no more than one copy."

Jevon Kasitch, Electric City Comics, Schenectady, NY: "Zero."

2. How many would you guess you may preorder by request of regular customers?

JC Glindmyer: "That would probably be two customers, but the price tag would really scare them off no matter what Tom Spurgeon insists."

Robert Scott: "Probably zero. We sell the Little Nemo Sunday Tabloid books from Sunday Press well enough but this isn't Winsor McKay/Nemo, not to slight the KE contributors. It also doesn't have a historical need to be presented in that format. But I haven't had any input from my regular Kramers Ergot buyers to know for sure."

Jevon Kasitch: "We would preorder as many as customers request. Iíd expect that given our sales profile and patterns that number will be zero."

3. Do you think $125.00 for a 96 page anthology is a reasonable price for your customer base?

JC Glindmyer: "No. At the time, Lost Girls was a hard sell for it's steep price tag- and that was written by Alan Moore who has a huge following. There were a lost of Moore fans who said no to the price tag, opting to pass or wait for an inexpensive version to be published. For a $125 anthology to float it has to have some pretty kick ass creators inside to justify the price point, like Frank Miller illustrating a Alan Moore story printed in the blood of Rob Liefeld."

Robert Scott: "I can't see it being reasonable for any customer base, other than folks who want to own limited edition art which seems antithetical to my purpose which is getting as much diverse comic work into the hands of the public as possible. It's hard to look at this as anything but a novelty, like die-cut or holofoil covers."

Jevon Kasitch: "No, the price is not right for this market. Far too high. This is a boutique book that will appeal to a very small number of customers. I wager that there are 3-5 in [New York State's] entire Capital District [Albany/Schenectady/Troy] that might consider buying it. Probably 1 or 2 that would. We do not have any of them [as customers]."

4. Will you offer it at a discount, either to customers pre-ordering it, or on your store shelves?

JC Glindmyer: "[We] always offer a discount to preorders -- although, I may give a bigger one for a larger priced item like this."

Robert Scott: "No. The profit margin on Buenaventura books is already poor and with the size/weight of the book making incoming shipping very expensive, even if I felt discounting was valid, I couldn't afford to."

Jevon Kasitch: "If we carried it, and a subscriber bought it they would receive our traditional discount."

5. How do you feel about Amazon's discounting of the book (currently over 30 percent off) and how it might impact your store, or the direct market in general.

JC Glindmyer: "The one advantage I have over Amazon is that people can actually come into my store and look at the book. People tend to purchase things more readily if they can hold them and look at them. Sure Amazon has larger discounts, but as I'm fond of telling people, the fact they can look at the book before buying it, take into account the cost of gas, and their time, they're more likely to enjoy their purchase(s). And of course it didn't hurt that I had 50 copies of Watchmen to sell while Amazon was backordered for two weeks..."

Robert Scott: "It's a poor business practice and definitely hurts publishers and creators as well as retailers. We already know that many publishers are floundering in the DM and this kind of predatory pricing reduces the opportunity for retailers to support this work as anything other than a charity work because even the most ardent DM customer is not going to spend $50+ more than they have to on a book like this and matching Amazon means that retailers must sell every single copy ordered because even selling 9 out of 10 makes it a money loser at retail."

Jevon Kasitch: "Amazon makes an entire class of product pointless to carry. This includes the huge Marvel hardcovers and the DC slipcase and oversized projects. They often sell them at only a dollar or three more that our cost. Cost-careful customers always buy there first. 30-40% off, free shipping, we canít beat it. Weíll always get any book that is available that a customer asks for, but most folks want to save $50. We canít do that. We concede the product class."

Thanks to JC, Robert and Jevon for responding to my inquiries; if other retailers I polled respond, I will post their answers in the days ahead, and I invite any retailers with thoughts on Kramers Ergot #7 and its price point to comment on this post or email me your thoughts.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

 
Comics Blogging: The Next Generation -- Andrew Goletz's 7-year-old son is now reviewing comics on his own blog, and man, he has a lot to say! Click over and have a look.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

 
New York State Bans Broadcast Non-Compete Clauses -- Forgive me a little moment of Norma Rae, but WOO-HOO!

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

 
Reflections on Japan -- Toronto comics retailer/activist Christopher Butcher shares his thoughts on his 2007 trip to Japan. Different from his excellent series of photo essays, in this post Chris kind of wraps it up with his views on why he enjoyed his stay in Japan as much as he did, and many of his points -- ease of public transit, the scale and design of the urban areas -- rub elbows with what James Howard Kunstler talked about in his book The Geography of Nowhere.

Having spent a few hours in Toronto with Chris and some of his friends (and pal Jay Marcy), it's interesting to me to note that Chris feels about Japan like I feel about Canada; everything seemed cleaner, safer and saner that it does here in Los Estados Unidos. I have thought of our Canada trip (over three years ago, now) and how much we enjoyed it nearly every day since we came back, and I would love to go back, but it doesn't seem to fit in my family's financial picture any time soon.

We're lucky Chris is such a gifted and thoughtful tour guide. If you've not seen his Japan photos, click over and read his new piece, then dig into his archives and check out the amazing pictures he took while he and his husband were there.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

 
Me and Tom and Kramers Ergot #7 -- Is $125.00 too much for a hardcover artcomix hardcover? I've asked myself that question a lot since the price point of KE #7 was announced. Even with a huge lineup of great talent, more than $1.25 a page seems like a lot to pay, especially in the current economy.

In a brief back and forth on the subject with Tom Spurgeon, Tom seems to feel that the awesomeness of the book will overcome any reluctance readers will have to spend a week's grocery money on a big, if likely extremely well-done, funnybook. I have no axe to grind in this question, and I'm still weighing whether to order it, even with a 20 percent discount from my retailer. What do you think?

Update: Christopher Allen has added some thoughtful points in the comments section of this post, as has cartoonist and sometimes-self-publisher Jason Marcy. Have a look, and weigh in if you have an opinion. I'm anxious to see what everyone's opinion on this is. And please note that I really am not trying to rile anyone up or poke anyone in the eye, I really am personally conflicted about buying KE7, which shocks me since I've always accepted Tom Spurgeon's truism that "the only comics that cost too much are shitty comics." I don't think KE7 will be shitty comics, but I do think it may actually cost too much and as Chris notes in the comments, may have priced many interested readers right out of the market.

Update 2: I had forgotten about this May discussion on the price of Kramers Ergot #7 at The Beat. Tom Spurgeon, Heidi McDonald, Paul O'Brien and others weigh in.

One interesting (to me) note is the assumption at some points that Sammy Harkham and Alvin Buenaventura are being accused of greed. I hope no one thinks I am coming at it from that direction. I think they have every right to make it 96 pages for $125.00, or 12 pages for $1,000.00 if they want. I am just struggling, at the moment, with my own commitment to artcomix versus the extraordinary price point of this book. If, as Spurgeon says, it will be a "monster hit" at $125.00, would it still at $500.00? Where do the diminishing returns set in? If KE7 were priced at 50 or 60 bucks, I probably would have ordered it already and would have shut up by now, making everyone happy. I'm just interested in exploring my own reluctance to spend $125.00 on a comic book I am sure I would enjoy, perhaps because $125.00 is more than a week's groceries for my family, and I am not making the phat public radio money I was making circa 2001-2004, when I would have not even blinked at the price of KE7.

Maybe there are more highly monetized artcomix readers than I think, but after thinking about this for a couple of days and talking to some retailers and friends about it, I have come to the conclusion that most comics shops, even the most chi-chi of the chi-chi artcomix-enabling Beguiling-type shops, will order one copy of this for their shelves at best, and otherwise only order them for regular customers who commit to buying it and perhaps even lay down a substantial deposit. I can't for a moment imagine any one of the 90-percent or so of superhero convenience stores within the direct market looking at this volume with anything other than beady-eyed contempt, if indeed they think about it at all, or are even ever aware that it exists, somewhere in a world they have never visited and never will.

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End of the World Watch: Planning for the Future -- Here's an excellent primer at Casubon's Book on planning for life during The Long Emergency.

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Things I Care About More Than Comic Books Sales Analysis Based on Diamond Figures -- Liechtenstein. Whether polka music is still relevant. How to sex ladybugs. The Sunday hours of the Kenosha, Wisconsin Public Library. Whether Barack Obama flosses. And if so, what brand? How exactly do they make corrugated cardboard. Why do people say tunafish when they mean tuna salad?

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Monday, August 04, 2008

 
ADD on EW's Top 100 Novels -- Finally, I found something I can do with my LiveJournal. Memes!

 
The Monday Briefing -- I have a whole lot of nuthin' for you this Monday morning. Just a couple of things...

* The Fart Party. I'm late to the party in discovering the work of Julia Wertz, but who wouldn't want to be late to a fart party, I ask ya? Go visit her website and soak in her luxurious autobiographical cartoon strip archives, and order her book published by Atomic Books, The Fart Party. I love the book so much I will probably read the whole thing again tonight. It's funny, it's dirty, it's sad and it's awesome. Most importantly, it's real, and really good, in the way great autobiographical comics are. Apparently Wertz takes some shit from readers for the simplicity of her line or whatever their complaints are, but Wertz's comics are filled with energy, great observational skill, sarcasm and wit. Not what you'd expect from something called "The Fart Party," I know, but isn't being surprised half the fun?

And thanks a bunch to Alicia at Earthworld for validating my purchase with her comment on Saturday, "You're buying The Fart Party? ALL RIGHT!" Buying it I am, for life. More Fart Party now, please, Ms. Wertz.

Bonus: My two favourite phrases from the book: "Turd cutter," and "Hot dickings."

* If you ever wondered what I'm doing, thinking or fuming about in the in-between moments when I am not constructing brilliant essays and reviews, you now have access: the add lifeblog, with all the little Doaney moments you need to build an even more complete picture of why you hold me in such contempt high regard. Bonus: It's all lower-case for more ee cummings-like pretentiousness. YOU KNOW YOU WANT IT.

* Have a great Monday.

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Saturday, August 02, 2008

 
Kunstler Reviews The Dark Knight -- And does it really, really well.

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Blake Bell's San Diego Report -- I enjoyed the hell out of it. Sounds like he had a great time, and his Ditko book was deservedly well-received. Lots of great pictures too. Go read it.

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Comics I Got -- Made it to the comic book store tonight after work. Got:

Red Colored Elegy HC (D&Q manga recommended by Rob Vollmar, who never steers me wrong)
Punisher #59 (Already read through The Favoured Store, loving it)
Femme Noir #2 (Loved the first issue)
Miracleman #8-10 (completing a set of #1-14...anyone have #15-up they want to trade for? Man, would I ever be generous with the trade credit...)

Also got review copies in the mail of the new MOME from Fantagraphics and the Best American Comics 2008 anthology, the one edited by Lynda Barry with Matt Madden and Jessica Abel. Breezed through that last one already, need to go through it again to solidify my thoughts. Barry's introduction, in the form of comics, is pure gold, though.

 
Another Goddamned ADD Blog -- Fiddling around with a new blog on Wordpress. Not comics, or focused essays. A place for me to rant and update my conflicted and pathetic feelings. An extended version of Twitter? God help us all. Anyway, I don't know if I'll keep at it or let it atrophy and die, but I am eager, finally, to see what Wordpress can do. Add it to your RSS feeder and see if I peter out or build it up. Or, you know, you could do something worthwhile with your weekend. The choice, it's in your hands.

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