Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I'm Fairly Alarmed Here

So here's some Chaos Theory applied to the comics industry. Get ready. Monthly nationwide comics sales numbers for the direct market (comic stores etc.) have been released. Marvel Comics and DC combined for 70.64% of the dollars spent on comics, magazines, and gns available in comic shops throughout the country. And 76.99% of all units bought. Marvel, DC, Image and Dark Horse combined for those numbers 81.79% and 86.58% respectively. 8.7 out of every ten comics sold in this country over the month was one of those four publishers' offerings. Take for granted that most numbers, most anything, posited as "fact" are subject to numerous variables and intangibles that have a direct impact on their application, authenticity, and legitimacy. Take for granted that 100% of those people, no matter how much I'd like otherwise, are not Forbidden Planet customers, sophisticated and savvy folks that you are.

Those numbers are not altogether a bad thing, as many of those books bought are some of the best literature published today. Those books include a ton of revolutionary, creator owned, or impeccably original comics known to man. And know that I'm aware that there aren't a lot of bucks to go around in the world of funny books.

But where's the variety, the curiosity? Why do those numbers reflect such a singularity of selection? Why does an IDW have half the readership of Image? Or Fantagraphics (whose books range from $3 to $40 generally) only have 0.07% more of the comic dollars spent in shops than Archie? And how can something be done about this?

First off- why something should be done about this: a healthy, varied comic market equals better comics. If other publishers' quality offerings are nipping at their heels/market share, the big guys have to continue to put out better stuff. If you have, as a consumer, exposed yourself to the whole spectrum of what's available you'll demand a lot better product. Brand loyalty in art makes little sense. You don't buy bad expensive paintings "waiting for them to get good," do you?

So here's my call to action. To anyone and everyone within the sight of my words: When making a trip to the local comic shop, please try at least one comic or graphic novel that is not published by one of the big two. Try something new. Imagine all the thousands of comic customers out there, buying thousands of exciting and new, different comics. Like the sound of a butterfly flapping it's wings.

Screw Heaven When I Die I'm Going To Mars -- It's finally here! Acclaimed cartoonist, FP buddy, and Weekly Planet contributor Shannon Wheeler's new books hits our shelves Wednesday July 18th, and boy are we excited! Heralded as "the funniest, most sharply executed collection of Wheeler's comics ever," SHWIDIGM is one of our most anticipated new releases in some time, and not a minute too soon. I could use some heartfelt yucks. And how!

Lenore #13 -- Mr. Roman Dirge's cute-psycho-killer-doll comic Lenore is one of the most perennial selling comics this store has ever carried. Celebrating her 10th anniversary, miss Lenore now appears in full color the whole issue. Congratulations, Roman Dirge.

Repo #2 -- More sciffy hijinx from the team that brought you Teenagers From Mars and Dead West. The highlight of this issue? Hover Car chase. Can't go wrong with that! Also this ish: Mutants and Clones (always a recipe for success).

Wolverine Origins Annual #1 -- by Daniel Way (w) and illustrated by Spider-Man: Reign's Kaare Andrews. Patch (aka Wolvie) returns to Madripoor, sleaze and scum crown of the Orient to dole out his usual brand of butt-whoopin. When I was a kid reading comics that took place in Madripoor I always pictured The Muppet Movie's El Sleazo. You know, the bar owned by James Coburn where Fozzie uses that "Drinks are on the House" joke and all the toughs and scuzzy patrons rush to the roof asking each other where all the drinks are? I always had this picture of Wolverine getting away with that same schtick, wiping his hands, pulling off his patch and saying, to no one in particular, "Works every time."

Super Villain Team Up MODOK'S 11 #1 -- So you've got a gigantic head, a tiny body, gingivitis, a chip on your shoulder, and a penchant for crime. So now you're gonna gather together an eclectic team of Marvel Villains to pull off a really, really big score. Let's face it, you're not exactly George Clooney here. The chances of them following your humongous melon to the bitter end are slim to none. Also, the chances of every other fringe baddie wanting a piece of the action are astronomical. Where's Elliot Gould when you need him?

Intersections -- A visual dialogue between Sean Phillips (Marvel Zombies, Criminal) and Duncan Fegredo (Hellboy, Enigma), conceived during a repast of fine wine and nouvelle cuisine. Can you read between the paintings and pick up what they're laying down?

Harvey Comics Classics Casper vol. 1 -- Containing over 100 of Casper's very best stories, from the beginning of the Harvey series in 1952 through the classic years of the mid-1960s and illustrated by the very same nonpareil animators as created the original cartoons, this affordable archival paperback is now in stock and must be seen to be believed. Features over sixty-four pages of restored color. Is Casper the friendly ghost of Richie Rich?

Black Cherry GN -- by Doug Tennapel (Creature Tech, Earthboy Jacobus, Eathworm Jim). Sex, violence, and the supernatural run riot as a Mafioso is charged with steling a dead body from his own boss, only to discover it' isn't human and was itself stolen from a monastery. And to top it off, there's this mysterious gal hanging around the picture who looks just like a stripper he once fell in love with named Black Cherry. This thing's got bad news written all over it.

Modok? "I'm not kidding, that boy's head's like Sputnik; spherical but quite pointy at parts! He'll be crying himself to sleep tonight... on his HUGE pillow."



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