This is being written on the day that initial orders are due for my store, and with the three week vacation I took, I’m a little behind the eight ball. Should I be writing articles for the internet? Probably not, but nothing says “Important Work Needs To Get Done” quite like doing something else entirely.

Welcome to Go FOC Yourself, a weekly column at The Beat that will serve as a catch all for interesting books coming that are on Final Order Cut-Off (FOC) and other miscellania that doesn’t quite merit a full retail column. Most weeks, there will be one or two bigger features and then a jumble of topics. Sometimes it will just be a jumble. This week will be especially rough because I don’t know what this column will eventually become.

The weekly rush, it never stops. Let’s go.

ALL NEW DEATHSTROKE

Some kind of Deadpool rip off or something
Some kind of Deadpool rip off or something, I guess.

So here’s the thing about this new Deathstroke book: I genuinely think there has never been a better time for DC to try and make this book happen. The character is coming off of a high profile turn as the big bad on the latest season of Arrow where he was watched by millions. The DVDs are out. The episodes will eventually hit Netflix. They’d be stupid to not test the waters with a new series. The problem? They are testing those waters poorly.

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Take a look at the solicitation information for the first issue:

The DCU’s deadliest assassin stars in his own ongoing series by writer/artist Tony S. Daniel! See him as never before in this explosive new series, with one surprise after another as we see Slade Wilson in the fight of his life!

Two sentences that tell you nothing more than “a Deathstroke comic by Tony S. Daniel is happening”. They honestly could have just written that and achieved the same results.

If DC wants me to spend a decent amount of money ordering copies of this book, they have to give me more. As it stands, it seems like yet another book where the house style is Serious Business with a side of limb rending, only this time the main character is a villain. What makes this book different than the recently launched All New Suicide Squad? Better yet, what makes it different than the previous series that was recently cancelled? Without anything to latch onto, I won’t be making a confident order.

ON THE OTHER HAND

It’s not on final order cut off this week – in fact, it will be in stores this Wednesday – but I wanted to share an example of a great solicitation DC sent out just to prove they can sell a book. This comes from Gotham Academy #1:

WELCOME TO GOTHAM ACADEMY! Gotham City’s most prestigious prep school is a very weird place. It’s got a spooky campus, oddball teachers, and rich benefactors always dropping by…like that weirdo Bruce Wayne. But nothing is as strange is the students!

Like, what’s up with Olive Silverlock? Is she crazy or what? Where did she go last summer? And what’s the deal with her creepy mom? And how come that Freshman MAPS is always following her around? And is she still going out with Kyle? P.S. Did you hear the rumor about the ghost in the North Hall?!

GOTHAM ACADEMY is a new, monthly teen drama set in the shadow of Batman and the craziness of Gotham City, with new characters and old plus a secret tie to Gotham’s past…

Even excluding the second paragraph, this solicitation is vibrant. It gives you the concept, and gives you just enough information to get the hooks in. Beyond this, the creative team has been hustling to get the word out about this series, and has created quite a buzz for the book. It, alongside the sell-and-hustle that’s happening with Batgirl shows that the company – or at least the creators and editors behind the Bat-books – can drum up interest in books with completely new characters, as well as books with new takes on older concepts. This, in stark contrast to the no-sell of Deathstroke and Klarion.

As it stands, my orders for all four titles definitely reflect upon the strength of the solicits, with Gotham Academy and Batgirl clocking orders that are roughly fives times as large as the orders I placed for Deathstroke and Klarion. Here’s hoping other retailers have done the same so we can start pointing DC in the direction of fresh sellable concepts.

PREMIUM KUSH COMICS

A joke about "baggies" or something.
Joooookes.

DC announced the smells that will be a part of the “rub and smell” Harley Quinn Annual, one of which will apparently cause problems at the border. From their e-mail to retailers:

The rub and smell scents featured in HARLEY QUINN ANNUAL #1 were chosen in an effort to capture the world in which Harley lives. This ‘scenticular’ book was created in the spirit of innovation and fun that DC Entertainment brings to our fans every day.

There will be two editions of HARLEY QUINN ANNUAL #1 available to retailers, and each edition will have a BOMBSHELLS variant. All copies will by poly-bagged.

UPDATE: Retailers, please note that the rub and smell feature will only be included in the first printings of this title.

The first edition and variant, available for purchase only in the domestic United States, includes smells similar to leather, suntan lotion, pizza and whats referred to in the story as cannabisylocibe 7-A.

DC Entertainment is creating a second edition and variant to be available for purchase in all territories. These alternate versions of the issue will feature smells similar to leather, suntan lotion, pizza and fresh-cut lawn clippings. This edition will feature differently colored versions of the cover art. Please note that all current orders under item codes AUG140294 and AUG140295 will be applied to the new international editions. You may continue to adjust your orders through the Final Order Cutoff date of September 29.

Yeah. “Cannabisylocibe 7-A”. Which I’m sure is going to stop folks from asking their local comic shop if they have the Harley Quinn comic that smells like weed. Just gonna add that to the long list of reasons my family doesn’t think I have a real job.

DEADLINES, ISSUES & DEADLINE ISSUES

Frank Cho provides the art to Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1, which is probably why it’s two months late. It’s a shame, because having a book that said something resembling GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1 on the shelves for August would have been great. As it stands, I’m lowering my orders on this, because I know I won’t be able to hand-sell it as well as I could have then.

For the record, this is also why I chuckled and shook my head when Cho announced two new creator owned projects at the Baltimore con a few weeks back. The dude can’t do deadlines when he has an editor pushing him, let alone when he’s left to his own devices. Remember Zombie King? That’s a book that famously began with a zombie having sex with a cow and got a lot of deservedly strange buzz right out the door. Only one issue shipped. And how about Guns and Dinos? The first issue was solicited from Image for the end of 2011. Nothing has shipped. I love the guy’s work, but the guy just can’t get the work done, and it will definitely colour the numbers I send in for any and all of his future projects.

FOC PICK OF THE WEEK // MEMETIC #1 (BOOM! STUDIOS)

Memetic #1

I made the mistake of reading the retailer preview copy of Memetic before going to bed this past Wednesday. While most folks have more of a stomach for scary stuff, I generally don’t do to well, and this book terrified the hell out of me. James Tynion IV and Eryk Donovan build a story that’s half Dramatic Look Gopher and half The Ring, and use a larger page count to let things simmer before bringing things to a boil. If you’re in the mood for something a little fun and incredibly disturbing, and don’t mind cringing every time someone tries to show you a new cute video, definitely check this book out. I’m upping my orders to make sure certain customers won’t miss out.

TO BE CONTINUED…

And with that, the first column mercifully limps to a close. I’m still feeling things out, and willing to take comments and suggestions. Want to hear more about certain aspects of ordering? Do you want more micro-reviews of upcoming product? Want me to shut up about certain things altogether? Please comment below. I want this column to become a nice resource for the industry to scour, from readers looking for insight into the process of retail (or upcoming books) all the way to creators and editors and publishers and other retailers. That’s a pretty lofty goal for someone as talentless as myself, but we all have to have dreams.

Until next week…

[Brandon Schatz has been working behind the comic book counter for eight years. He’s spent the past four as the manager of Wizard’s Comics and Collectibles in Edmonton, Alberta. In his spare time, he writes about the comics he likes over at Comics! The Blog. You can find him on twitter @soupytoasterson. The opinions expressed are those of Schatz and do not necessarily reflect those of The Beat.]

 

20 COMMENTS

  1. Tony Daniel writing a comic is an instant PASS for me. I like his art enough, but his writing is so stilted and the scenes don’t flow. Sorry, but I can’t imagine this book lasting.

  2. To create solicitation information an editor has to read that comics book and for many editors it’s probably preferable to stick a pencil in their eyes than to read Tony S. Daniel’s “writing”.

  3. hsssh, what else should the order for a new title be based on?

    Literally all we have sometimes is the solicitation info. Sure, sometimes there are a few pages of preview art out on the web somewhere, but retailers just don’t have the time to scour the internet for previews of the 50-100 new titles (including OGNs) solicited every single month that may or may not exist.

    Solicitations are *supposed* to entice readers to buy and retailers to order items. If the publisher fails to entice both groups with real information to excite us, it tells us that even the publisher thinks it’s a pretty generic comic that they’re offering.

  4. One of the top rules in retail: every writer and artist has their merit. You might not find their talents appealing, but others do, and you want to sell that comic to as many people as you can.

    That said, from an objective stance, while I have a small amount of files who are really into Tony Daniel’s work, it doesn’t amount to that of a Bendis or McNiven, you know? Oh! And in October, DC has 91 different non-reprint titles hitting the stands, along with a ton of variants and whatnot. I think… 10 of them are new number ones or creative team changes too. Lots to go through, just for that company. The solicit almost becomes the one thing you have any time for. It is certainly the only info you’re guaranteed to have at your finger tips when you’re placing orders.

  5. The reason the Gotham Academy solicit is longer is because this is a new concept. Pretty much everybody knows who Deathstroke and Tony Daniel are – that’s all you need to know.

  6. @Tim – Woop! I changed the heading to that section and didn’t adjust the later text in the original post in the deadline crunch. Fixed now!

    @Glenn – To each their own, I suppose. I guess we’ll see how those number shake out in general, but the numbers at my store and my ability to sell state otherwise.

  7. @Brandon – my meaning is, sales may be high or sales may be low, but whatever additional information they might have given you about that first issue would’t really probably add up to much. The strengths of this book lie entirely on someone liking Deathstroke and/or Tony Daniel. I seriously doubt there’s someone out there who’s like “I like Deathstroke when he’s battling rival assassins but not when he’s battling super-villains.”

  8. @Brian, as I said, I might understand the reasons, but realistically speaking thats really sad state of things. Solicits and covers have been known to usually have very little to do with actual issue, often are misleading and promise world shattering, Internet breaking events every few issues. Its sad that orders are made based on such dubious information.

  9. Sometimes it kills me to see a solicit on a book with just two sentences. Usually this is on a title that is already selling well. Meanwhile, I am struggling to write content-driven solicits in 50 words or less (Image’s requirement).

    And it’s true what hsssh says…. that cover art and solicits often have very little to do with the interiors. Some writers don’t want to giveaway good plot turns and reveals 3 months in advance. Meanwhile, some books get a higher order based more on the creative team than the solicit. But I understand all that. I don’t envy the tough job that retailers have. They have to buy the books and then they’re stuck with ’em. It’s like playing a never-ending game of poker… bluffing, holding an ace, betting large on a hand, folding when the odds are against you, etc. Meanwhile, the customers are asking for things and the retailer would like them to check out as many titles as possible to keep them coming to the store.

    I look forward to more columns on this FOC. Good luck.

  10. I don’t know that I see why this is the best time ever for a Deathstroke comic. We’ve seen that mass media success has little to do with how superheroes sell, particularly single issue superhero comics. The Marvel Studios films are monster hits and the solo books of Cap/Iron Man/Thor are all outsold by Spider-Man and Deadpool.

  11. @Zach – a couple of possibilities.

    One is that while the uptick is not huge, that there is a small growth in interest in a character when they get mass media attention. Which is to say, people who are already buying comics every Wednesday are more likely to buy a particular character when that mass media attention is floating around.

    Another possibility is that reality doesn’t matter – that the higher-ups are convinced that there IS a connection and so therefore everybody has to follow what they think.

  12. “The DCU’s deadliest assassin stars in his own ongoing series by writer/artist Tony S. Daniel! See him as never before in this explosive new series, with one surprise after another as we see Slade Wilson in the fight of his life!”

    One: I generally get him confused with Deadshot. Thus, yes, he needs better promotional text.
    Two: Unless he’s fighting Batman in the Batcave, I don’t think it’s ever “the fight of his life”.
    Three: He’s a villain, and villains in the DCU are negligible. They show up, create a little conflict, then disappear. There’s little character development, even when there’s a strong backstory, like with Manta Ray.

    So… the only thing that makes him interesting is his family.
    If they tie his wife into the Kanes of Gotham (and Batwoman), THEN maybe it’s worth a read.

  13. I like this column, I think it just needs more. This read like a preview column. Next time give us some more meat to chew on. The retail side of things is fascinating to long time comics fans like myself.

  14. I like this column too and am interested to read future installments but as others have noted so far, the title…… really? It reads like something Wizard Magazine would have titled a column back in the 90’s.. For the information I’m guessing you hope to impart, it does disservice to it’s credibility., IMO.

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