Monday, August 29, 2011

DC: The New 52 and You.

And so it begins. After months of promotion, speculation, trepidation, anticipation, and a little confusion, DC launches the first of their new titles this week with JUSTICE LEAGUE #1. Written by superstar Geoff Johns, and art by the legendary Jim Lee, this initial release should be a home run in sales, and a solid way to kick off what promises to be an interesting time in comics' history.

So what's it all about? For those not familiar with the "New 52", here's the short of it: In an effort to gain new readers and inject some life into stale titles, DC Comics is relaunching their entire line of comics with first issues starting this September (Justice League #1 being the exception this week.). Yes, their entire line, starting with 52 titles in September. Yes, even Action Comics which recently reached issue #900. DC states that they are not discarding the storied histories of their characters, but just reworking them in a way for new readers to jump on board more readily. Looking for a good time to try DC comics again? This is it.

Does this mean all your favorite stories of the past will be preserved? Probably not. DC isn't saying yet (I mean, they DO want you to buy the titles and see for yourself), but you can bet that the most life-changing stories will remain somewhat intact, although re-worked to fit into their current continuity. While titles like the Batman family of books, and the Green Lantern line appear to remain somewhat less affected, Superman is getting a major overhaul, complete with modified origin, and a return to bachelorhood. Other characters like Hawkman, Green Arrow, and Captain Atom appear to be getting major overhauls as well.

While comic characters have undergone changes over time, like Superman in the 1980s, or Batman in the 1990s (and over at Marvel, Spider-Man had his history changed recently by magical means), the industry has never seen anything like this current initiative. Initially upon hearing the news, there was shock among professionals, retailers, and fans. Over the past few months, as information spread, the shock gave way and excitement started to build. Customers in our store have an overwhelmingly positive attitude about the changes, and have expressed genuine interest in trying the new titles.

DC Comics is asking alot of fans, old and new. All we can do is try this newest flavor of our favorite characters, and in the end, good stories & good artwork will keep us coming back for more, no matter what number is on the issue.

David Romeo
Owner, Comics on the Green

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

We're Talking Dead

As of this writing, there is only one episode left in this season of THE WALKING DEAD tv show on AMC. I was practically giddy with delight after watching the pilot, but wanted to hold off any judgement until a few more airings. The feeling I had after the initial offering has pretty much stayed with me throughout this series; every episode displayed the same quality as the pilot, with a good balance of action, suspense, and the signature characterization.

Make no mistake about it, despite the always-present danger of a zombie attack, this show, like the comic, has been about the people. Robert Kirkman, creator of WALKING DEAD (comic) always said the series is about people first. The zombie apocalypse could just as well be any type of virus or nuclear holocaust (Let's face it though, zombies are cooler, and haven't been represented on television, well, ever.), but it's how mankind pushes forward against this backdrop. It's not uncommon for months/issues to go by without any scene involving the undead. Has anyone noticed that the opening montage/credits doesn't feature even one shot of a zombie? That speaks volumes about the direction in which the creators of the series wish to go.

Customers in our store have been unanimous in their praise of the show, however I've heard a few grumblings about how it already seems to be diverging from the books. For me, that's just fine. Why would I want a panel-for-panel adaptation of the comic? I'll trust the writers of the show to keep the spirit of the comic first, and throw fans some new twists along the way.

So the final episode airs this coming Sunday, and if the previous chapters are any indication, fans are in for a doozy of a time. Given that our heroes are already venturing into different territory than the comic, I think it's safe to say it's going to be wonderfully unpredictable.

Comics on the Green

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Superman is not a retirement plan.

Back in August of this year, a family whose home was doomed to forclosure found The Holy Grail of comic books, ACTION COMICS #1, featuring the first appearance of Superman from 1938. It's estimated to sell for around $250, 000. Yup. A quarter of a million dollars for one comic. It's not clear how much the family owes on their home, but you can bet the sale of the comic will help.

Although we hear stories like this from time to time, they're more rare than winning the lottery. ACTION COMICS #1 is literally a piece of publishing history, and it's estimated that less than 75 copies exist in any grade. Demand is high, supply is scarce, so the acquisition price is astronomical.

That said, all old comics in short supply must be worth money, right? Not exactly. While Superman is a world-wide cultural icon, there were literally hundreds of super-heroes created around the same time that faded into obscurity. Heck, there were comics published before 1938 featuring popular characters that sell for a fraction of what ACTION #1 sells for. We've all heard of POPEYE, right? Sailor-guy with strange muscular development, eats spinach, loves the skinny girl? THIMBLE THEATRE STARRING POPEYE #1 from 1931 sells for around $300. in the same condition as the ACTION COMICS #1. The difference is demand.

The fact is 99% of most comics & collectibles do not appreciate in value to any degree that would change someone's life. Although it may be nice to find a $300 comic lying around the attic, that sum of money will most likely not make significant changes to your financial situation. When I hear customers ask me "What's going to be worth money?", I answer them as honestly as I can: "If I knew, I wouldn't be selling it at cover price. Realistically, nothing will."

Parents, I urge you to encourage your young collectors to buy comics & toys for the entertainment value, not as a retirement plan. Although no one can truly predict what a collectible may be worth in the future, averages are against anything being worth lots of money. Collectors are more fickle than ever before, and prices rise and fall at such a rapid pace these days. A CIVIL WAR #1 (Marvel) limited edition comic that sold for $70.00 at it's highest about five years ago just failed to sell on ebay for the paltry sum of $19.99. All you POKEMON card fans...have you tried selling those "rare" cards you bought years ago? You'd be lucky to find anyone even interested in giving you pennies on the dollar for them currently.

The internet has opened up commerce to such a degree that very few items are truly rare anymore, especially collectibles released since the 1980s. Buying a Superman comic to read, or a toy to engage your child's imagination will yield much higher dividends than putting it aside in hopes of a huge payoff in the future.

Comics on the Green

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What you don't know about your little girl.

You're wrong about your little girl. You only think you know her.

Underneath those curls and Hello Kitty (insert product here) is a young person longing for adventure. Oh sure, she enjoys the latest dress-up doll and reading tales about the latest babysitting exploits, but stirring below the surface is the desire to take flight, find lost treasures, and maybe even deliver a karate-kick to a bad guy.

For almost two decades now, parents have entered our store, many with the same request, "Do you have comic-books for girls?". Archie, Betty & Veronica, and the like immediately come to mind. I mean, girls like reading about dating & relationships, right? While it's true that females tend to enjoy stories that are more character driven and reality-based, my best-selling comics purchased by girls aren't about dating and babysitting.

They're about wizards, monsters, lost valleys, cartoon super-heroes, and Sonic the Hedgehog. Yup, the same Sonic character based on the long-running video game.

This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Some of the best-selling books of all time for young girls are the likes of Nancy Drew, Wizard of Oz, and of course, Harry Potter. Each of those book series feature strong female leads, but the thing they have in common is the sense of danger, fantasy, and lots of action.

In our store, young girls often purchase BONE, the adventures of cartoonish male cousins and their female friend in a lost valley, comics based on Pixar animated films such as FINDING NEMO and THE INCREDIBLES, as well as adaptations of ALICE IN WONDERLAND, and the various WIZARD OF OZ books. THE SIMPSONS is a consistent seller among girls. DC comics TINY TITANS, featuring the elementary-school hijinks of the super-hero teams sells extremely well to girls. SUPERMAN has his young female fans as well.


So the next time you see your young daughter acting out some type of romance between her dolls, remember, she's probably thinking about ways to make them fly, or is planning their next great adventure.

David Romeo, Jr.
Comics on the Green

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD: Be cool before seeing the film.

SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD arrives in theaters Aug. 13th, and early reviews are very favorable. I was lucky to see a screening of it a few weeks ago, and enjoyed it tremendously. Judging from crowd reaction, everyone else liked it too. It's a repository of pop-culture references to video games and comics books, but blends in the universal themes of love, responsibility, and relationships seamlessly so as not to alienate the non-gaming crowd. It's a fine, funny, if flawed version of the comic book series that inspired it.

What? The movie is based on comic series? Yup. Consider this a Beginner's Guide to Scott Pilgrim. In true geek-culture form, you can tell everyone you knew about the comic series before it ws a movie. Impress your friends...if your friends are easily impressed.

Since 2004, SCOTT PILGRIM has been released as a series of graphic novels from Oni Press, the final book (volume 6) was just released this July. The plot is simple enough. Scott is 23-year old slacker/wannabe rock star/lover/hero who falls in love with the new girl in town, Ramona Flowers. To "win" the chance to date her, he has to battle her evil ex-boyfriends, all of whom have various super-powers. (I won't tell you what the powers are, it's too much fun when they're revealed.) Did I mention Scott has a girlfriend already? He does. Her name is Knives Chau, she's 17, kicks butt, and isn't thrilled about Scott's current behavior.

With the help of his fellow band members and gay roommate, Scott embarks on his quest to win Ramona's heart. During this time, he battles Ramona's ex-boyfriends, avoids his own girlfriend, competes against rival bands, and maybe learns a little something about himself along the way. Each comic serves as a video-game level, complete with power-ups, with Scott battling the boss/boyfriend at the end in order to move ahead.

Despite the heavy nod to video games and pop-culture references, this is a series that will appeal to anyone who's passed through the strange world of young adulthood. Even with the over-the-top battles, the series never strays far from it's human core. Always funny, very entertaining, and easy to relate to, SCOTT PILGRIM is a recommended read for everyone. Now go tell your friends about the comic before the movie is a hit.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

San Diego Comic-Con! What did you expect?

Expectations. We all have 'em. Whether it's going to a movie for the 1st time, visiting a new vacation spot, or reading a new comic book, we all bring our personal feelings on how the experience should be. The biggest event of the year in pop-culture, The San Diego ComiCon, is over, and now fans can process all the information revealed there. Expectations for ground-breaking news was high as always. With the upcoming releases of various comic-book themed movies like Green Lantern and Thor, as well as new comic books like David Finch's new BATMAN title, fans were eager to glom onto any new morsel of information.

And boy! Did we get tons of new information...a week or two before the convention started.

The convention was a success, it always is, and is getting bigger. However, I feel the impact of it is diminished by the numerous "leaks" of information. When companies announce ahead of time what they are going to announce at the show, the effect is anti-climactic. I remember not too many years ago constantly visiting various news sites for up-to-the-minute information, and the excitement in the comic community as the news broke. ("Marvel Comics bought Marvelman? Now way!")

Far be it from me to tell the many marketing and advertising people that the entertainment companies employ how to do their job. They want to generate excitement for the show, but I say the show has a built-in excitement without advance notice of news.

The San Diego ComiCon has become a mecca for pop culture, and some say it's become too polluted by the influence of Hollywood. I don't have a problem with Hollywood's involvement, since it's hard to ignore their impact on the comic world. I would just like to see a return to the days (not THAT long ago) of news actually breaking during the convention. But as always, my expectations for the con next year remain high.

Comics on the Green

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Comic Companies are Doing Something Right. Really.

The Comic Companies are Doing Something Right. Really.

To say comic-book fans are passionate is an understatement. I know some people who will get in a more heated argument over changes in their favorite title than they ever would about politics or current events. Society has become more cynical over the years (thank you, local & world leaders), and we citizens tend to focus more on what’s wrong in our lives than what’s right.

Despite the often-reported decline of the print media, business in our store is strong. I can attribute a lot of it to the hard work of our knowledgeable staff, I’d like to look at what I think the comic industry itself is doing well. After all, even if our store does a fair job, if the product isn’t any good, and promotion is scarce, customers won’t be coming back.

1. Big-name talent on big-time characters. It’s like boxing. (Really? Yeah, hang on.) In boxing, there are lots of great lightweight fighters who have made the sport very exciting. However, there’s nothing like two big heavyweights putting on a show to get fans really excited. So too in comics. Not long ago, Jim Lee tried to revamp his creator-owned WILDCATS with Grant Morrison. Too bad nobody cared about Wildcats, and it never got past issue #1. Trust me, if sales were good on that issue, both creators would’ve come back for more. Yet Grant Morrison’s current run on BATMAN & ROBIN is one of the top-selling comics in the industry, and Jim Lee’s last two stints on Batman titles were best sellers as well. Brian Bendis’ AVENGERS run has been one of Marvel’s top-selling titles for almost 5 years, yet SPIDER-WOMAN was only a marginal seller at best, and has already been cancelled at issue #7. At no point am I questioning the quality of the lower-selling work, just the simple sales facts.

2. The availability & wide variety of graphic novels. Years ago, if someone wanted to read a story with multiple chapters, they were at the mercy of finding back issues, which was always an inconsistent search at best. Even the most well-stocked stores had trouble keeping entire storylines, and once it was sold, the chance of getting it back in stock wasn’t too good. Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, and many other small publishers have realized the importance of keeping a library of their work available. The wide variety of titles, from X-Men to Walking Dead, from Fables to Scott Pilgrim, makes it easier to recommend reading material. Not in the mood for Superman and Spider-Man? No problem.

3. Comic sites providing information and promotion of material. Although too much information
can sometimes be bad, in the case of product promotion, there’s no such thing. Now more than ever, fans are wired into their favorite titles and creators via websites, message boards, social networking sites, and more. This constant exposure to their hobby allows fans to keep up with all the news, upcoming projects, and inside scoops. With senses heightened, fans are excited (or turned away) about future titles and storylines. I know this to be true due to the increased frequency in which customers will ask about a title they read about online. The big companies have very interactive and informative websites, but one must credit the online press and fans as well for making comic news and rumors viral.

There is certainly room for TONS of improvement (a future article) on the part of everyone involved in maintaining the comic-book tradition, but we seem to be moving in the right direction. As long as the publishers understand the importance of providing top-notch product by their best creators, as well as making that product accessible by many means, including current technology, the comic industry should weather the decline of print media rather nicely.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Special guest: DC Comics artist,
Tom Derenick!

Tom's work includes X-Men, Superman, Smallville, Justice League, Justice Society, the upcoming Green Lantern movie, and others.

Tom will be signing autographs, doing sketches and drawing commissions for fans from 11-4.

Want to have your face painted like your favorite comic-book character? (Of course you do!) CandyFaces face-painting will be here from 11-3.

And it wouldn't be Free Comic Book day unless we had some crazy sales on graphic novels, toys, back isssues, and more. Prepare yourself!