Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Resolution #1: Freak Out Less

I think I make this one every year. But I'm starting early with this one, because Diamond has, with the help of UPS, managed to turn a Friday comics delivery day (already a recipe for reduced sales) into a following Monday comics delivery day (a recipe for apocalyptically bad sales).

Here's what generally happens. On a late release day, which happens seemingly every couple of months thanks to various holidays, and pushes comics to Thursday, we generally lose about a grand in sales. Where do they go? I don't know. But mostly it seems that folks who are more casual about their comics buying, or who might have picked up a few extra books, don't come in that week at all, opting for a "double helping" on the next Wednesday (which, due to budget realities, usually means more of a "helping and a half", and a bunch of add-on comics that might have sold don't sell) or they come in.

A Friday, when the next comics day is looming closer, is even worse. A Monday, when there's a new comic day two days later? I'm gonna guess that a large majority will go ahead and wait it out, and we've effectively lost a Wednesday. Worse, we get pick-up sales on those books on Thursday, Friday and the weekend. Those are now gone as well. Now it's not like we have nothing to sell... we'll still sell graphic novels, comics that had already come in, games, etc... but as with everything, the new is what drives things, and a bunch of books that would have sold on Friday may not sell at all. Crazy as it is, every day a new comic is late, it's value decreases.

Especially in a town where two other comics shops are chains, and thus get the benefit of early shipping, so they *will* have their books on Friday.

Diamond "regrets the error" but isn't offering anything to make up for this money loss, not even free shipping on the books that are now shipping out three days late.

Diamond and UPS are two of the most important parts of my business... I interact with each of them at least twice a week, and one of those times (the weekly comics drop) is literally life-and-death for the business. And if they screw up, as they do on a monthly basis (in small and sometimes big ways), my only recourse is... to get frustrated. Which earns me nothing, and hurts them not at all.

Thus the resolution to freak out less. I'm not going to let the fact that I probably just lost a couple grand in sales kill my enjoyment of my New Year's Eve party, and I'm going to try real hard not to worry about it all weekend.

But if all of you could spare a moment or two over the four-day weekend to mutter "Fucking Diamond" under your breath, you'll probably be syncing up with me at some point. ;)

Monday, December 29, 2008

This Headline

GOP reaction divided over controversial Obama song

Pretty much says everything you need to say about the modern GOP, doesn't it?

To their credit, *most* of them are smart enough to distance themselves from this, but a couple are actually trying to defend it as "political satire."

Oh, and the song originated with Rush Limbaugh. Shocker.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


In the spirit of the holiday, I will say that I do not currently wish for The Spirit to tank so badly that it ends the film career of Frank Miller and prevents him from ever touching Will Eisner's character or (God forbid) makes the awful Buck Rogers movie he wants to make.

But ask me again on Friday and I'll have a different answer. :)

At any rate, what I think hardly matters, because so far, the critics seem to be delivering the smackdown you might have expected from the terrible trailers for The Spirit we've been seeing.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Best Of 2008 - Music

It's time for Best Of lists, and while I'm not quite as on top of these kinds of things as I usually am, I was reading the picks by Alex Robinson and I was surprised to see that he had a few of my picks on there, and it reminded me that I've gotten a fair amount of music that I liked this year.

I don't listen to the radio ever, I don't watch MTV, so most of my music comes from a sort of weird osmosis of stuff I see on TV shows, picks by friends, folks I read online, freebies from iTunes or Amazon or occasionally Rock Band or similar games. I don't tend to pick up full albums, and I've always been more of a singles guy than an album guy, so I'm picking by song rather than by album or band. So here are my favorite new songs of the year, in no particular order:

Borneo - Firewater (I believe this was an Amazon free download. Nice little poppy, big band-ish song with a bit of political commentary on the Iraq War thrown in)

Loose Lips - Kimya Dawson (and the entire Juno soundtrack, actually. I'm not sure if this actually came out in 2008 or 2007, but I was really pleased with this music. Recommendation courtesy of my friend Jamie... thanks, Jamie!)

Handlebars - Flobots (Loved this whole album as well. I know Handlebars is the single that most will know, and it's probably cooler to pick a more obscure track, but this one is still my favorite track off the whole album. Anne Braiden is a close second. Recommendation from my friend and customer at the store Ray Brister. Thanks, Ray!)

Lake Pontchartrain - Ludo (Great little horror story in song form, has a Cthulhu type vibe to it. Got this one from a mix CD by my friend Jason Murphy. Thanks, Jason! This album also has Go Getter Greg, a funny little stalker song. These guys do great lyrics.)

Your California - Parker Brothers (Another Amazon free download, this is an upbeat song that reminds me a bit of the Presidents of the United States)

More Bad Times - Presidents of the United States (Speaking of... I've always liked these guys, but aside from "Cleveland Rocks" from Drew Carey, never had any of their stuff. Rock Band 2 spurred an interest in them, so I picked up a few singles and the new album, and this was my favorite song off the new album, which I generally liked)

Shut Up And Let Me Go - Ting Tings (This one was a recommendation by Cameron Stewart on his blog... thanks, Cameron! I like the whole album, but this one is a favorite, and my daughter loves it too... she sings along, which is adorable)

The Greatest Man That Ever Lived - Weezer (I know a lot of folks were down on this album, just like they were on the last one, but I liked about half of it quite a bit, and find most of the rest listenable, at least. This is my favorite of the bunch. This was also the only album I found with no help from anyone. New Weezer or Foo Fighters will always be on my radar.)

I also bought the new Fratellis album, and while it was OK, it was a disappointment compared to the consistent greatness of their debut. And I bought a bunch of stuff spurred on by Rock Band 2 that has been out forever, including Joan Jett, Journey, Rage Against the Machine and The Clash.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rick F*%^#ing Warren?

I'm on record as giving the President-Elect a chance to at least get into office before we start criticizing his policy decisions. But inauguration decisions, those seem like fair game.

And this... well, this makes me as angry as anything Sarah Palin ever said. I've been annoyed at the overly conciliatory tone the Democrats (and Obama) have taken with their foes in the media and the political arena, but I was willing to swallow my own sense of revenge in the name of moving forward in a positive direction.

But you sit a guy who is so vehemently anti-gay, so vehemently anti-choice, so much the embodiment of making yourself rich and famous off of the faith of others, and turning that faith into a weapon against those who disagree with you... well...

It's just a slap in the face. It is, at the very least, a dick move.

I still believe a President Obama is going to be better than a President McCain or *shudder* President Palin... but this is disappointing. Bordering on crushing.

On most days, I can accept that religion is for some people... I have a close friend who leads a congregation, and most of my family is in church of one kind or another. But there are also days when I wish that organized religion would completely vanish from the planet, never to be seen again. This has become one of those days.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Santa Thing

I know a lot of parents (and many of those who aren't parents, but want to tell people how they should raise their kids) have some unease about the whole Santa thing.

If you want to boil it down, Santa is really lying to your kids for an extended period of years, setting them up for disappointment when they discover that he's not real. But he's also an expression of the magic that's still in the world when you're a kid.

Myself, I have no such ambiguity. I didn't hesitate to start the Santa tradition with my daughter. Everyone is in such a hurry to get kids to grow up and start accepting reality these days, and while there's a certain amount of reality you've got to dose them with in order to keep them safe (the whole "distrust strangers" thing really introduces the notion of other people being unsafe, but unfortunately, a lot of other people *are), there's no need to rob them of a magical world. It's OK, even preferable, when you're a kid, to believe in fairie princesses and dragons and robots and aliens and Santa and the Easter Bunny and all that cool shit.

The trick is, if you *don't* believe this, and you tell your kid there's no Santa, then not only are you robbing your kid of Santa, you are potentially robbing other kids of it as well. Because there is *nothing* that kids who don't believe in Santa love more than spreading that disbelief to others. So while I understand folks who say "I don't want to lie to my children," I can't help but be a bit annoyed that they're making it more difficult for those of us who do want our kids to believe in Santa for a bit longer.

Of course, there are some who can't afford the presents, and have to tell their kids Santa isn't real to avoid disappointing them by having a Santa who can't deliver them the promised presents for being good. I've got sympathy there. But in general, I'm very pro-Santa.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Weekly Comics to Come - December 17th, 2008

Naoki Urasawas Monster Vol 18 (Finally! The long awaited conclusion to Urasawa's suspense masterpiece)
Spider-Man Noir #1 (X-Men Noir was surprisingly good... Hine's Marvel track record isn't as good with me as Van Lente's, but I'll definitely give this a read)
Thunderbolts #127 (Seems clear from the Dark Avengers solicits that Diggle's Thunderbolts will be having some major status quo changes... so I'll definitely keep checking in for a few issues to see how it shakes out)
Uncanny X-men #505 (Possibly my favorite non-Abnett/Lanning Marvel book of the moment. I can't believe I'm loving X-Men again)
Walking Dead #56 (Slowed down for #50, but has picked up speed with each issue, and it's at the top of my favorites again)

Dark Reign New Nation (Not excited about Bendis's Dark Reign, but I like a lot of the creators on this one, and I like War Machine, Agents of Atlas, etc.)
Fables #79 (Lost something for me at #75, but four issues later, I'm still at least interested enough to see where it goes next)
Impaler #1 (Enjoyed this one when it came out, but super-lateness may have killed it... still, I'll give it another chance to win me back)
Star Wars Legacy Vol 4 Alliance TP (Read 1-3 of this recently and really enjoyed it)
Terminator Revolution #1 (In a major Terminator mood lately, so I'll probably check this out)
Warhammer 40k Exterminatus Vol 1 TP (Another great tale of the dark Warhammer universe from Boom!)
Wormwood Gentleman Corpse Down Pub (Templesmith's Wormwood outings are always fun, and the one-shots in particular seem to serve the character well)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Blog Update for November 2008

This is the latest monthly update to the right column of the blog, updating my favorite comics and TV for the previous month. The listings are alphabetical, not by rank of how much I liked them in comparison. My criteria for what makes the list is when I read them, not necessarily when they were published. This is basically also my own records of what I read/liked for the inevitable "End of Year" lists I feel like making.

With the disappointing solicits for Dark Reign, this might be the last month that Marvel dominates this strongly. Honestly, given that DC is still sucking the life out of the room, it might also be the last month I manage even close to a Top 20, unless the indie guys can really step it up. But this month, there are 6 Marvel (One actually a Secret Invasion tie-in, the rest clear of that particular crapfest), 5 Dark Horse (The only four issue ones on the list), 3 Image, 3 Boom! and 2 DC (both making it on the strength of it being a weak month).

Finished the second Song of Ice & Fire novel this month, and I'm hoping to start the third one in December. Caught up on a bunch of TV, though. The Daily Show is back in daily rotation, and I'm really enjoying it lately... clearly the election of an actually competent man hasn't hurt them too badly. Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles is one of my favorite shows and, aside from the "Self-Made Man" episode, this month continued to impress. The Shield finished on an amazing note. Still really loving Chuck, and the three-parter with his ex-girlfriend was particularly good. How I Met Your Mother finally regained some of its funny, especially with the "Naked Man" episode. And The Office and 30 Rock continue to delight as well. Always Sunny was, overall, a disappointing season, but it was still funny enough. Oh! And the new Brave and Bold is a ton of fun.

I've been spending wayyy too much time reading RSS feeds lately, so it was time to do some pruning. Blog@Newsarama and Comics Foundry both folded, and the new Blog@ team hasn't won me over, so I'll check in more casually until they do. Newsarama and CBR seem to carry much the same stories as far as news, and feature content rarely interests me, so I'll keep Newsarama for the daily comics scan, and The Beat for the more widespread (and snarky) comics news.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Weekly Comics to Come - December 10, 2008

Let's see if I can actually update this weekly through December.

Courtney Crumrin And Prince Of Nowhere TP (Always a treat, new Courtney by Ted Naifeh)
Nova Annihilation HC (Oversized hardcover of the Abnett/Lanning Nova series? Yes, please!)
Phonogram 2 #1 (McKelvie's art actually looks even better than his last two projects, and I'm curious to check this out and see if I can make heads or tails of the story without the necessary musical background)
Warhammer 40k Fire & Honor #4 (Concluding the latest Warhammer book from Boom! - or maybe there's one more to go? Good, at any rate)
Wonderful Wizard Of Oz #1 (Eric Shanower writes the Wizard of Oz, from the beginning. Skottie Young's art style on it looks intriguing as well)

Booster Gold #15 (This is on my "take it or leave it" list, which usually means I'll stop reading it soon, but on a light week, I'll still give it a read)
Final Crisis #5 (Yes, it's a little nonsensical, but in a more interesting way than Secret Invasion, which is painful even to skim read)
Justice League Of America #27 (On the upside, the Milestone characters return and Dwayne McDuffie is writing. On the downside, the DCU is lame/annoying as hell lately thanks to editorial direction/crossover-itis, and I'm no fan of Ed Benes's art)
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 1 Legacy HC (Love this book, hate Marvel's premiere hardcovers... so I'll wait for the trade)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Why I Hate Congress (Even The Democratic One)

Barney Frank offers up this little nugget for President-Elect Obama. You know, the guy who has been putting together his administration faster and more effectively than we've seen in decades? The guy who has put together a pretty amazing cabinet thus far, who is getting kudos from a majority of the public in polls pretty much whenever he announces something?

"He's going to have to be more assertive than he's been," House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., told consumer advocates Thursday.

"At a time of great crisis with mortgage foreclosures and autos, he says we only have one president at a time," Frank said. "I'm afraid that overstates the number of presidents we have. He's got to remedy that situation."

Well, that's very glib, Congressman. But hey, isn't asking the guy not yet in power, who is trying to observe the Constitution, to "get more assertive" a bit hypocritical when you and your idiot cronies are the ones who gave Paulson a blank check to further fuck up the economy?

The speed with which the liberal blogosphere and the Democrats in Congress have turned on their new party leader, *before he's even in office*, is astounding. Are we *so* determined to put the Republicans back in office that we're going to undermine our leader a full month and a half before he's even sworn in? Even when pretty much every indicator is that he's on a pretty solid path?

Look, I get a little cautious needling and questioning around the edges. But there seems to be this huge panic that Obama isn't doing whatever they want him to do right this minute, even if he's *legally prevented from doing so.* I'm not a "My President, right or wrong" kind of guy. If Obama turns out not to be able to do this, then hey, yeah, call him on the carpet.

But at least let the guy get to standing up before you try to cut him off at the knees. We elected him to lead, let's see if he can lead, huh?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Blind Man and the Elephant

There is a tendency on the Internet, especially the comics-related portion thereof, to take little tidbits of information and draw from that absolutely irrefutable conclusions that have no basis in reality. These conclusions, unfortunately, often wind up getting reinforced on other message boards, become "common wisdom," and help shape buying patterns to the point that they can help make their original premise become true.

I believe that's happening, to some extent, with the meme going around the comics blogosphere that layoffs at Devil's Due and Tokyopop, and the closing of Comics Foundry, are indicators of the recession hitting comics.

Well, yes. To some extent, it's pretty clear that the timing is related somewhat to the recession where the layoffs are concerned. But keep in mind that both Tokyopop and Devil's Due have had more than their share of rough blows this year, from losing prominent licenses to a shrinkage of interest in manga (especially OEL manga), and the recession is, at best, a *contributing* factor. Maybe not even the major contributing factor.

But hey, that's fair enough. What I don't get is all the people pointing to Comics Foundry closing its doors, when Tim Leong couldn't have been clearer about saying in his press release that "It's not about the money." He's just got a full-time job that takes too much time to continue. They're refunding subscribers the remainder of their subscription fees. This is not the mark of a company closing because financial realities of the recession closed them down.

Sure, you can argue that if Comics Foundry were making huge money, Leong would have given up his other job, but I'd say two things:

1) Nobody in comics journalism is ever, ever going to make huge money.

2) His other job involves photography of and interviews with amazingly hot, often famous, no doubt very interesting people. Seriously, no matter how much you love comics, which would you choose?

So all you chicken littles need to chill the fuck out. It's worth keeping an eye on the growth of digital media, the worrying increase in comics prices and the event fatigue that neither of the big two seem to have caught on yet, as well as dozens of other little problems, but... the recession is not the anvil coming down on our heads. It's just another headache to keep track of in the always interesting (in the Chinese curse sense of the word) world of the comics industry.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Weekly Comics to Come - Three Weeks' Worth

Wow, I've been neglecting this blog. Haven't posted in over a week. Hopefully I'll be able to remedy that soon. At any rate, here's my last three weeks of comics buying/reading:

Week of December 4th
Criminal 2 #7 (This series continues to delight, and even though I think it reads better in trades, I haven't slipped to trade-only reading with it because I can't wait that long)
Hellboy Wild Hunt #1 (More Mignola-Fegredo should be good, as I thought their previous team-up was the best Hellboy had been in years)
Proof Vol 2 TP (This book has fallen into trade-only reading for me, but I am anxiously awaiting reading the trade, based on the issues I had read)
Supergirl Cosmic Adventures In The 8th Grade #1 (All-ages friendly Supergirl. Great idea, love the creative team, can't wait to read this to my daughter)
X-men Noir #1 (Looks like fun, actually. A weird sort of concept, but promising)

Marvels Eye Of Camera #1 (I don't really believe Busiek can re-capture the Marvels magic, but I have to see if I'm wrong)
Wasteland Book 3 TP (Another "trade only" read for me, and I'm anxious to see what I've been missing)

Week of November 26th

Guardians Of Galaxy #7 (Great last-page reveal, nice status quo shake-up, the usual great art and moment-to-moment writing)
Nova #19 (Also a great status quo shake-up, also nice art, love the use of the aliens)
Secret Invasion X-Men #4 (Surprisingly good X-Men mini, despite the Secret Invasion tie-in)
Umbrella Academy Dallas #1 (Great opener. Actually stronger than the opener for the last series)
Walking Dead #55 (Really digging this book right now. Love the new characters, and that ending is a heartbreaker)

Incredible Hercules #123 (Remains one of the most fun Marvel comics at the moment)
Mesmo Delivery Vol 1 TP (Beautiful art, strange story, a great read)
Mouse Guard Winter 1152 #4 (Music in comics is a pet peeve of mine, but even with that, it's just good to see this book again)
Warhammer 40k Exterminatus #5 (Pretty solid finale to another impressive Warhammer outing from Boom!)
Welcome To Hoxford #4 (Haven't gotten around to reading it, but I'll probably just wait, since I know I'm buying the trade and that'll make the ending a surprise)
X-men First Class Band Of Brothers TP (Upon re-reading, remembered why I have such a fondness for this book, even if it's dimmed a bit of late)

Week of November 19th

Crogans Vengeance HC (Fantastic. Beautiful cartooning, excellent (but not overwhelming) research, good characters, one of the best graphic novels I've read all year, and super-ambitious)
Dynamo 5 #18 (Another solid superhero outing)
Fables Vol 11 War And Pieces TP (Good conclusion to the series. Yeah, I know it continues, but I *might* be done with buying the trades as of this issue, as it's such a good stopping point)
Uncanny X-men #504 (This has been really good of late, and I actually could see myself buying it in trade, the first mainstream X-Men I will have bought in years. Dodson really stepped up with his art here, too)
Walking Dead Vol 4 HC (Wow, the brutality of this arc comes into even sharper relief when you read the issues preceding it with all the proper dread)

Love And Capes TP (Thom Zahler's fun superhero romance gets a swanky-looking trade)
Thunderbolts #126 (Not the slam-bang opener I was hoping for, but solid enough to keep me reading for a couple more issues)