apr0901472:20pm: Man do I not have time for this. I should be doing TCAF stuff, but unfortunately I can’t just quit my day job at The Beguiling to do TCAF for 2 months… So I have to do the Previews Catalogue. And since it always takes me about a day to do, and last month when I did this it took me about a day to do, I may as well do this again. LIVEBLOGGING THE PREVIEWS: ONE RETAILER’S HONEST REACTION TO DIAMOND’S PREVIEWS CATALOGUE. Why Not?

First up? We totally sold out of PREVIEWS this month, because the cover looked great and had a top-notch creative team featured. I don’t know what it is, but usually the cover of previews is either an incomprehensible mess of digital paint, or just plain hideous. Morrison and Quitely’s BATMAN AND ROBIN for the win.

2:25pm: Huh, the Editor’s Note on page 7 actually mentions that the Previews is thinner, and they’re being “more choosy” with what they offer. I always thought choosey was spelt with an ‘e’, but perhaps in this “tough economic climate” we can’t afford a surfeit of e’s.

Oh, and I’ll try to mention page-numbers for those of you playing along at home.

2:27pm: God’s honest quote: “What would William Shatner Do? Apparently, create some good comics.” Thank you, “indieEdge”, for the most depressing thing I’ve seen in days. And we’re only at Page 9.

2:28pm: Is this the fourth or fifth consecutive month of Free Comic Book Day ads in the front of the catalogue? Yikes. Though it is still nice to see Comics Festival in there.

2:29pm: This is actually what I meant about a mess of digital paint on the covers of Previews. This Predator #1 cover is a nightmare. Comics fans aren’t known for being big “impressionist art” fans at the best of times, and this is just all rendering and no composition. Although the strictly realist interpretation of the Predator on the facing page is… ugly. I mean, perhaps that’s the point, but it’s not attractive at either. At least there’s some thought to the composition with the figure framed by the window/doorway. Still, not auspicious for a debut to the section.

2:33pm: The Art of Tony Millionaire has an introduction by Elvis Fucking Costello. That’s cool, but is that gonna sell the book? It’s so cool.

2:42pm: I think I mentioned these “Neil Gaiman Presents” novels last month…. I just saw that the first one was cancelled by Diamond on my last invoice. Does anyone know if it’s just going to get resolicited or if the line isn’t happening? Because this one, Spave Chanety, with are by Vaughn Bode, that will probably do alright for us.

2:46pm: I’ve been really, really hard on Dark Horse in the past. I know it’s not easy keeping tons and tons of backlist in print, but I’ve never understood their handling of the Usagi Yojimbo series by Stan Sakai. Volumes out of print for huge stretches of time, and a general confusion about how to handle the series seem to pervade it. I’m really glad to see that they’re doing new editions of all of the Usagi stuff, starting with volumes 8-10. Completely remastered and rescanned artwork, new story notes. Sounds good, you know? Sounds good.

2:50pm: So Buffy the Vampire Slayer is doing a new TALES OF THE VAMPIRES one shot featuring Becky Cloonan, Vasilis Lolos, and covers by Ba and Moon and Jo Chen. Sounds like a pretty amazing crossover, and given the creative pedigree is likely to be awesome. My only fear is that the hardcore Buffy fans won’t pick it up because it’s not “cannon” or by “Joss” or whatever, even though it’s quite likely to be a really strong genre comic. Blessing and curse of setting the bar high?

2:54pm: Man, 12 volumes of EDEN: IT’S AN ENDLESS WORLD. Nice. If you’re the kind of person who misses Masamune Shirow’s regular output, but kind of wish he stayed on the “interesting philosophical digressions on humanity + kick ass art” track, instead of, you know, a cyber-version of Hot Biker Sluts, you should check this out. Also, if you’re the kind of person who was repulsed by every part of the previous sentence, you can check this out too, it’s actually really solid and enjoyable.

2:58pm: Alright, DC COMICS! … You know, I even LIKED Final Crisis (seriously, it was a lot of fun) but? Is anyone at all gonna care about these Final Crisis spin-off books by the time they come out, months after the end of the series?

BTW, I decided the one written by Joe Casey and drawn by Chris Cross has the strongest crative team, despite having the most ridiculous (within the context of superhero fanboy names), so that’s the one I’m ordering the strongest.

3:00pm: It would be nice if there was not a 1-in-250 variant on Batman and Robin #1.

Actually, let me expand on this. This is fucking stupid. It either rewards the absolute largest retailers, the ones who are already ordering thousands of copies of these sorts of books anyway (chains mostly) while thumbing its nose at the mass of small-to-mid-sized accounts that make up the meat of the orders on many of these books. 

Or? Or it’s encouraging retailers to take untennable positions on books, in a time of economic downturn. Is it a biased, favouritist promotion, or just totally irresponsible?

We are going to qualify for this incentive, we are going to be fine. But “I got mine” is not an acceptable way of doing business in the same month that the editor of Previews says “We all have to tighten our belts.”

3:20pm: Okay, that out of the way, is anyone going to be rushing to pick up these new Batman books that don’t have the real Batman in them? Like, Gotham City Sirens I kinda get, put a bunch of popular sexy characters in the same book, get a cheesecake artist to draw them. But like, Paul Dini’s “Another Batman Ongoing Series” has a solid creative team, but are people on board with reading this? I have no feeling, except negative.

Also, Red Robin #1? Really?

I feel disconnected from this. I am ordering low.

3:24pm: Our Superman sales are really taking a hit right now. That is unfortunate… but unsurprising.

3:25pm: Really? Superman vs. The Flash cover on issue #3? I… I dunno.

The DC section is kinda depressing me here.

3:28pm: Man, new series are Not having a good go of it right now. Dead Romeo #1? Tanked. The Mighty #1-3? Not promising numbers. I guess I could’ve done more to promote both series, but with so much on the racks it’s a little tough. But the lack of sales were not for a lack of copies on the rack…

3:35pm: You know, I like Mike Oeming’s artwork; I own all of Powers. I think that Kevin Nowlan is an incredibly talented artist, just the bees knees. What I am less on board with, is getting Kevin Nowlan to do a cover for The Spirit #30, and then having Mike Oeming draw (and write) the interiors. Because, you know what? Those two artists are very different. Their work does not compliment one another. That is what we in the biz call a bait-and-switch. That is a poor choice.

3:40pm: Time for the monthly “bitching-about-DC’s-collected-editions-department”. Listen folks, I DON’T LIKE DOING THIS ANYMORE THAN YOU LIKE HEARING ABOUT IT. But what do you want me to do, exactly? Huh?

You’re releasing a prestige-format Alex Ross project years after the demand was at it’s peak! AND you’re asking me to order it now, but it’s not arriving until November 25th, 2009. I’m officially ordering Christmas Product here when, and let’s be honest with ourselves here, last Christmas would’ve been a much more realistic window for release of this book.. Hell, Christmas 2007 would’ve been the ideal time to release this book. The “heat” has sort of dissipated from this project… released as it was 3 years ago, when everyone knew there was an absolute edtion coming. Who knew it would take DC this long to put it together.

3:46pm: Who is the audience for the “El Diablo: Haunted Horseman” collection? I thinik Phil Hester and Ande Parks are great, but did this mini-series get rave reviews or huge sales and I missed it? I am willing to accept that I missed it.

3:47pm: The Final Crisis: Revelations Miniseries does not need a hardcover.

3:48pm: Ugggggh. Why are you doing simultaneous Hardcover and Softcover releases of the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League Material? We only have so much shelf space, Jesus. Just stop it. The HC and SC are coming out within a year of each other for a series of books. JUST PICK A FORMAT. PLEASE. Stop with these dual releases on projects, it’s So Fucking Pointless.

3:51pm: Seriously. Like, DC must know that these collections are broken, right? Terror Titans? Is someone really demanding a Terror Titans collection for the ages? I honestly don’t give a shit if Terror Titans is your favourite mini-series of all time, good for you! But… But we don’t need a trade paperback of a series that people are going to be fishing out of quarter bins in under a year. It’s a waste of trees, of shelf-space in my store, of resources on DC’s part.  Not everything is worth collecting, not everything is worth a larger audience.

Prepare for me to cut and paste this when we get to the Marvel section.

11927_400x6003:56pm: That really, really looks like Blue Beetle on the Cartoon Network Action Pack #38 cover.

3:59pm: I had no idea that the kangaroo that Sylvester thinks is a mouse is named “Hippety-Hopper”. At least according to the cover of Looney Tunes #175. Weird.

4:05pm: The first Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash mini-series sold well, and surprised the hell out of by actually sending new customers to my store, asking for a book by name. That’s how licensed books are supposed to work, offering fans of other media something that they can only get from a comic book. Unfortunately most times these books are just aimed at existing comic fans, doing nothing to grow the market… So yeah, we’re putting a solid order in on this new series.

4:13pm: Oh man, I just read the most brutal, brutal review of Azzarello’s Filthy Rich graphic novel. I mean, I dig his work and all, 100 Bullets is aces, but I avoided that Joker HC specifically because it seemed callous and awful and… and tossed-off even. Just random. So to read this dude at The Oregonian just tear this book to pieces. I cringed a little. I don’t think it’ll affect the first few weeks of sales, actually, negative reviews rarely do. But I know that I personally am not that interested in picking it up anymore… Yikes.

4:18pm: …but by all accounts 100 Bullets ended well. My orders on the last trade, WILT, are going to be pretty darned strong.

4:25pm: Second Northlanders TPB. Good good.

4:26pm: Does Nightwing always look constipated, or just in this statue on page 128?

4:28pm: IMAGE: I’m not really a Dawn/Linsner fan, so maybe I don’t know, but I kind of get the feeling that these one-shots? If you slapped a hardcover on them and charged $14.99 instead of $5.99 for the same story? We’d sell just as many. I understand the French-market “album” format doesn’t really work for North America, but I can’t help but feel that this is one of the few properties that could really make a go.

chew_14:31pm: Writer John Layman e-mailed me about his new series here, Chew, from Image. I have to admit that I didn’t actually read the email very closely, I’ve been incredibly busy for the past month. But I’m looking at this here, and the art is a very appealing indie/lo-fi sort of a thing, and the idea of a detective who gets psychic impressions from whatever he eats? Pretty good, pretty good. I’ll give this a shot for the store. And then probably go back and read the e-mail and figure out I shoulda ordered more. But, you know, only so many hours in a month.

Oh, and John Layman’s website is http://themightylayman.blogspot.com/.

There, good deed done for a creator-owned book. I can go back to being a jackass.

4:38pm: Fair enough, I could probably discern that T.RUNT by Derek McCulloch and Jimmie Robinson is going to be in an odd format, a square book, just by looking at the solicit image. But it would be nice if that information was in the actual solicit somewhere.

4:43pm: Douglas Fredericks & The House of They is written by Joe Kelly, whose work I generally enjoy, and illustrated by Benjamin Roman, whose work is kind of hideous, but also in an enjoyable way. OGN for 13 bucks, I’ll give it a whirl.

5:06pm: sorry for the big break, I had a rash of customers come in and sadly had to stop working on the previews… this is exactly why I’ve started working from home btw. Someone at The Beguiling needs to build me an office before I go all Les Nessman and start taping up the floors. YOU KNOW WHAT I’M SAYING PETER? I AM JUST A FEW WEEKS AWAY FROM LES NESSMAN. That reflects poorly on all of us.

5:08pm: There are WALLS here.

5:09pm: Okay, MARVEL. Hah, Halo. It’s funny, last month I made mean jokes about how Halo #4 and Detective #857 were never going to come out, and then they both came out less than 4 weeks later. Perhaps I have a gift? Perhaps my snide disbelief and criticism is what Gets Shit Done TM. Alright, let’s try this: “Yeah, a MIRACLEMAN trade paperback! That’ll be the day! Haw Haw haw!”…

If it’s announced in the next 30 days you’ll have to give me credit, you know that right?

Huh, no shit. Colourist Richard Isanove is now illustrating the Dark Tower series. I would not have seen that coming. I’m not really digging the cover; it’s well-illustrated but lacks the broody menace of the series, and of Jae Lee’s take. Still, this is just the cover.

5:14pm: Really? Spider-Man election day seems… Like a poor choice. I’d really like a book that has the (terrible) Spider-Man/Obama book in it, but the story arc it’s attached to… How accessible is that? Isn’t there material in the archives that would serve as a better introduction to the character, or would be of the same sort of kitsch-value as the Obama material in the first place? Or what about just doing a thin stand-alone collection, like 48 pages for $15 or something? This product just doesn’t make any sense to me as anything other than “the next Spider-Man collection”. 

Which is a missed opportunity, considering.

5:20pm: I have no specific interest in the golden age Marvel reprints, but I do find the 832 page omnibus of Golden Age Marvel Comics incredibly tempting. 

8_anita_blake__the_laughing_corpse___necromancer_35:23pm: Jesus does Anita Blake ever do anything other than stand around with her hands in her pockets? What an intensely boring looking comic book. Also, I guess those are supposed to be “Ladies of the night” milling about behind her on this cover. but you know what? That’s just what all women in mainstream comics look like, so it totally fails as a visual cue! Even moreso because that cover is horribly underdrawn hackwork.

5:27pm: Fun-fact: This month in the Marvel Previews “illustrated” section there are colour-bars with the names of the classic authors in all caps. It’s very Marvel. Like, we can visually pick up what Wolverine looks like, even “Wolverine Noir”, but who’s that buncha chicks in that image? Is it one of those “The ladies of X-Men go shopping” down-time issues? Oh, no, wait, it’s JANE AUSTEN. Dude with a sword? HOMER. Got it. Sadly no similar one for L. FRANK BAUM. Actually, Baum isn’t mentioned anywhere in the solicit for Shanower and Young’s Wonderful Wizard of Oz adaptation. Kinda disappointing.

5:32pm: Marvel’s got way, waaay too much sub-mediocre product out here. All of these Dark Reign tie-in mini-series and stuff. You’ve got an almost-weekly Spider-Man book now, the story of his mysterious new villain introduced in that series couldn’t be told in that series? We need a mini-series for this? Well, no, we don’t. But we’re getting one. Weaksauce.

5:40pm: Is Reed Richards uncovering a mass grave in the middle of New York? That’s a bit much, isn’t it? Am I just being a prude?

5:47pm: Wow, the new creative team on Runaways seems awesome! Kathryn Immonen, really lovely cover by David Lafuente, and the interior art by Sara Pichelli looks great too. Cool beans, I hope this team sticks around for a while.

5:50pm: The cover to Deadpool: Suicide Kings #3, is stupid.

5:52pm: I’ve been out of the store for a while so I had to check, but it says Kick Ass #5 came out in April. That means the last two issues have gotta come out monthly for this hardcover to release in July… I don’t really see it happening? Did someone give an interview somewhere where the editors and creative team promised monthly shipping on issues 6-8? I’m willing to accept that I missed it. But I find it unlikely.

5:59pm: Ugh, really? The Jeph Loeb FALLEN SON story is getting an oversized hardcover? That’s just brutal.

Edit: Okay, I’m a huge jack-ass. Somehow I completely missed the page (99 in the Marvel Previews) where Joss Whedon’s Runaways was solicited as volume 8 of the Digest series. Missed it completely. So, officially? I am a huge jack-ass. Apologies to Marvel, and thanks, for giving us product that I know we can sell. But because I don’t believe in editing these things to make myself look better, here’s me being douchey to Marvel (although in my defence my heart was in the right place):

6:01pm: Maybe I’m inappropriately holding out hope here, but this will make the third regular-sized hardcover RUNAWAYS collection since we had a digest. We Really Sell A Lot Of Digests. Please Print More Digests. This would be volume 10. And you know, Runaways sells like manga for us, and manga sells _well_. Please let us keep selling these books to more than just anal fanboys who need to own everything in bullshit prestige-format hardcovers. Please.

6:04pm: Ah, I’ve answered my own question. Regular-size tpb of the first Terry Moore Runaways arc. And $16 for 136 pages too, lovely. Marvel: You’re kind of fucking up a good thing here.

6:08pm: …and I’m done. Well, the first half here anyway. After I take a little break to do something about this headache and maybe have some dinner, I’ll come back and do the back-half of Previews. Thanks for reading so far!

- Chris


13 Comments on “Liveblogging the Previews: April ’09”

You can track this conversation through its atom feed.

  1. Bitter Matt says:

    Horray, the return of the best Previews run-down to actually tell it like it is.

    Also, I think choosy Moms choose to spell it without the “e.” Or, at least Jif does, and they probably account for more than half of all use of the word “choosy,” so I feel like they can realistically define the terms.

  2. Greg McElhatton says:

    Usagi Yojimbo — Do you know what drives me utterly crazy? The collected editions are coming out slower than the individual issues. So for example, between one TPB and the next, 10 issues might be published, but the new collection will only have 7 issues. Usagi collections continue to slip further and further behind the monthly series. I can understand having, say, a year’s gap between collection and issue. But I think it’s in the 3+ year range now.

  3. Scott Robins says:

    Simultaneous HC and SC usually means HC for libraries and SC for bookstores. Libraries need HCs for the books to last. That’s the only reason I could think of…

    Unless there are hardcore fans who NEED HC editions of these books.

  4. Greg McElhatton says:

    I can see the reasoning behind a Terror Titans TPB, since it’s a story that spun out of Teen Titans and then the conclusion spins back into it. But they’re going about it absolutely the wrong way; it should’ve been folded into the Teen Titans TPB line the way that, say, the Beast Boy mini-series was half of one of the early volumes.

    Of course, if we’re applying logic to this, then a smarter thing would’ve been to have the Terror Titans mini-series be part of the Teen Titans comic as well, but let’s not get crazy now or anything. Bet it would’ve had higher sales though.

  5. Torsten Adair says:

    How is the JLI V.2 TP simultaneous? (HC=08/08, TP=07/08? Perfectly normal in the publishing industry.) Or are you confusing it with the Perez JLA collection? I’m a collector building what will be a library collection someday. I prefer hardcover editions.

    Does everything need to be collected? Well, the production costs are half-paid by the periodical issues. The collection has a longer shelf-life and is easier to market and sell. DC knows how the issues sold, and can calculate demand. With non-returnability with the Direct Market, it’s even easier to calculate profit, since those sales can subsidize any returns from the trade market.

    The Absolute editions are a problem. In a perfect world, the Absolute would come out first, then a regular hardcover, then the trade paperback. When it’s an ongoing series like Justice or All-Star Superman, then DC has a choice… Do they issue regular hardcovers and capitalize on the buzz generated from the title, or wait and lose some money? Myself, I figure some titles will be collected into Absolute editions, and wait. If it doesn’t come out within five years of the series ending, I can always pick up the HC, sometimes cheap, or read it at the library.

    Yup… that’s his name… Hippety-Hopper. Don’t think he’s ever been referred to as such in the cartoons. The singing dancing frog is Michigan J. Frog, the big red hairy monster is Gossamer, and the weasel who bedevils Foghorn Leghorn is named Bill. (And Space Jam features a cameo from every Warner Brothers classic cartoon character.)

  6. Torsten Adair says:

    Frank Baum got the side banner, when they gave The Wonderful Wizard of Oz #7 a full page, so it works the same. And let’s face facts… Even the people who walk into bookstores to buy “Wicked” after they’ve seen the play don’t even think to buy the original Baum book. (I know… I try to handsell them on Baum. They don’t want to be bothered.) Most people don’t know that the MGM musical is missing a good witch, that it ends with the insulting “it was all a dream… I’m happy to be back home in dull, gray, dust bowl Kansas” scene. Everyone’s seen the freakin’ movie, but how many could name the author?

    Man, I’m just glad Marvel’s doing this right. The collection is going to sell (check out the sales on Shanower’s $40 Oz trade).

  7. Torsten Adair says:

    I agree with the Deadpool cover… shoulda used the design from The Amazing Spider-Man #129.

  8. Chris says:

    Torsten Said: “How is the JLI V.2 TP simultaneous? (HC=08/08, TP=07/08? Perfectly normal in the publishing industry.) Or are you confusing it with the Perez JLA collection? I’m a collector building what will be a library collection someday. I prefer hardcover editions.”

    Perhaps I was unclear. I meant that the series itself is simutaneously releasing volumes in both SC and HC, but not the same volume at the same time. Like the first SC version came out before the 4th HC version. It just creates confusion amongst customers to have a prestige-format HC release that all of the sudden starts releasing in SC half way through. Particularly because these collections have a lot more in common with the annoyingly high-priced DC classic library editions, which are HC only. So far.

    I dunno, I think it just evidences a lack of vision on the part of their collections department, a lack of consistent format and no clear path for the customer to follow. I really pay attention to these solicits, and I had no idea these were going to be HC then SC.

  9. afdumin says:

    “Oh, and I’ll try to mention page-numbers for those of you playing along at home.”

    (…or at least just on the first entry!)

  10. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » April 28, 2009: Look at the Moon! says:

    [...] “We are going to qualify for this incentive, we are going to be fine. But ‘I got mine’ is not an acceptable way of doing business in the same month that the editor of Previews says ‘We all have to tighten our belts.’” – Christopher Butcher [...]

  11. Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources - Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment » Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes says:

    [...] | Christopher Butcher (again) live-blogs his Previews order, in two parts: “It would be nice if there was not a 1-in-250 variant on Batman and Robin #1. [...]

  12. Chris Howard says:

    For the record, the two groundhogs are named Mack and Tosh, while we are giving names to obscure Warner Brothers characters. And I love that you torture yourself publicly for our enjoyment.

  13. Blog@Newsarama » Blog Archive » Linkarama@Newsarama says:

    [...] variant cover scheme for Batman and Robin #1 are especially worth paying attention to. Here’s part one, and here’s part [...]

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