For those of you who haven’t been glued to the computer, there has been a bit of a comment war raging here on the Beat in the wake of Eric Reynolds’ report of a less-than-up to date comics shop. A frequent argument posited by those outraged is that folks like Reynolds are being completely irrational in their demands that struggling comics shops carry material that no one wants to read like Chris Ware and Peanuts. While this argument seems logical on the face of it, is it really true that all people want to read is Marvel and DC?

We noticed that CBR’s John Mayo just posted his monthly sales analysis of the Diamond figures. While not as chatty as the sales charts supplied by Marc Oliver Frisch and Paul O’Brien here at the Beat, these charts are worth looking at for another take on the raw data. Mayo also supplied estimated sales figures for all 100 graphic novels on the Diamond charts, and he also keeps a running total of sales to date. We thought it would be interesting to look at the top 20 books on the charts based on their sales to date. It’s completely unscientific (these are not the top 20 books for the year just the ones that charted in July) but no more so than all the anecdotal evidence everyone has been throwing around in the comments. We’ve made a cunning little table, calculated the dollar totals, and highlighted the superhero books in yellow. (Click for a readable version.)
Sales Clip 2

What’s immediately interesting is that only 8 of the books on the chart are superhero books. Transformers are a gray area, admittedly, but if you include them, it’s still only 10 or 50%. (And, honestly, The Boys is about as much a superhero book as BLADES OF GLORY is a sequel to ICE CASTLES, but it certainly trades on the superhero audience so it stays in the yellow.)

Far from being dominated by Marvel and DC, the chart includes titles from Image, Tokyopop, IDW, Dynamite and even Gemstone. One of DC’s books isn’t even superhero — it’s manga. And the titles that dominate the chart? WALKING DEAD and FABLES. Marvel’s tally includes ANITA BLAKE, which is already closing on six figures in print (through both channels.)

Like we said, this isn’t completely scientific. These are total estimated sales, and NOT, as far as we can make out, the 2007 sales to date. But we look at the charts enough to know that a list of actual year-to-date bestsellers would be just as diverse.

DIVERSE.

Say it with us.

DIVERSE.

We are quite sympathetic to the very real plight of underfunded comics shops that live on tiny margins. They cannot afford to take a flyer on ordering 20 copies of the Comics Journal. They need to move books. But if this chart is any indication, diversification is a way to do just that.

Okay, let the comment storm begin.

UPDATE: John Mayo of ComicBookPage.net was kind enough to supply the ACTUAL best sellers for 2007 through July which I’ve included as a clipping once again. (Sorry my html isn’t good enough to post it as a table.)

OOPS LIST DELETED PENDING NEGOTIATIONS

This list is MUCH more Marvel-centric than the inaccurate one posted above — only 7 books are non-superhero. It’s still a not insignificant showing, however. At least from where I sit.

Aside: I just don’t get all the Fantagraphics hate in the comments. Maybe it’s just because I see all their books at the office, but stuff like I SHALL DESTROY ALL CIVILIZED PLANETS, Krazy Kat, Popeye, HOUSE, PERCY GLOOM, Love and Rockets repackaging, the Ignatz Line, BLAB!, Monte Beachamps new Devil postcard book — it’s not for everyone, but the quality speaks for itself and hardly “drivel.”

ALSO OF NOTE: PW’s monthly graphic novel bestseller listing, which takes into account BOTH Bookscan and DM numbers is also out this week.

1 COMMENT

  1. Hmm, I run a small independantly owned comic shop in the UK and we stock all of those titles (except Megatokyo which we carry to orders only). I’ve never understood why a lot of comic shops have rows and rows of over-priced back issues which don’t sell and then claim to not have the room to stock cash cow Tpbs and GN’s like Watchmen or Preacher.
    But then again most comic shops have never heard of “A Contract with God”. Sigh.

  2. No storm here, I completely agree with you. Now all the publishers need to do is make those diverse books more returnable (at least in “pamphlet” form) so retailers can afford to take a chance on them, and we’re back on the uptick.

  3. I’m not so sure this chart is pertinent to the issue of a store carrying books by Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterly, PictureBox, etc. The 20 titles listed are still very mainstream-oriented even if they are not strictly superhero books. Most of them are from very large publishers and a handful of the non-superhero titles are tied to Disney, SquareSoft (videogames), big budget films or bestselling novels. That’s a far cry from the more experimental material being published by Fantagraphics or those others I mentioned.

    Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore Fantagraphics, D & Q, PictureBox, and so on, and I purchase quite a few of their books and comics. I’m just not so sure I see a link between a store – comic or otherwise – moving copies of “Walking Dead” or “Fables” and a store moving copies of “Percy Gloom” or “My Most Secret Desire.”

  4. Grrr… I wrote a lengthy comment on this which the site seems to have eaten. Bloody thing.

    Anyway, Matt is right. This list shows that there’s money to be made in stocking other mainstream genres. Those twelve non-superhero books comprise three horror books (all of which are WALKING DEAD), three Vertigo books (two of them FABLES), two Transformers titles, two Disney books, a DC quasi-manga digest, and a Marvel licensed property from the fantasy/action crossover genre.

    But Eric’s complaint was that sensible retailers ought to be stocking Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly, not merely that they should go beyond superhero comics. And while the list is diverse, it’s nowhere near THAT diverse.

  5. I’m of the mind that alot of what makes Walking Dead what it is is what it takes from the superhero tropes and how it uses it to tell it’s story. Fables is no different really.

    I am most impressed with The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, it’s the least superhero of all the books on that list.

  6. Paul and Matt are correct to point out that the non-superhero titles in this list are pretty mainstream by any usual measure, but I think it’s important to recall how much different it was just a few years back. I am going from my memory here–always a dodgy proposition–but as I recall, in the 90s, anything that wasn’t superheroic was fundamentally apart from the mainstream. Even titles that were close to superhero titles like Concrete were considered out of the mainstream. So to see a chart where half of the top books are not superhero books is quite encouraging. It would be surprising if any of them had been objectively “alternative,” but the fact that the readership that shops in comic stores is as willing to buy non-superhero trade books as they are to buy superhero trade books is an encouraging evolution.

    That said, I couldn’t care less how a given store chooses to stock their store or not. If a store is located in an area where there are a lot of potential alternative comics customers, and that store only stocks Marvel/DC, that simply creates an opportunity for some other entreprenuer to come in and reach the unserved alternative market.

  7. Who the hell orders twenty copies of the Comics Journal? Our shop in this college town sells it well, but it can’t move twenty copies of it. Maybe twenty copies of All-Star Batman with both shitty covers…

  8. Paul O’Brien: The next time your comment gets eaten, try hitting the back button. I’ve gotten back lost comments that way before… most of the time. Then I just copy then before I hit the post again. Sorry about that. I know how it feels.

  9. Paul and Matt, I agree that all the non superhero books are genre books. However I don’t think SOME retailers make much of a distinction between non superhero genre books and indie books. In fact I’ll never forget the comment of a retailer on a private fofum who said, and I quote, “ANITA BLAKE is selling very well for an indie-type book.”

    I guess that’s the kind of education that needs to be done, not necessarily selling tons of NINJA by Brian Chippendale.

  10. Maybe we need some sort of friendly retailer outreach program. You know. Something that is informative and helpful, without making shop owners feel ashamed for not knowing where to place their bets, as it were. Does that sound stupid? It just popped into my head, and I thought I’d throw it out there. Ok, I’m off. I’ve got work to do.

  11. I think there is a gray line between some super hero books and “other” books. We need to look no further than number two on your list. Watchmen might involve super heroes but only as much as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a medical drama.

  12. A catalogue that has been consistently two years out of date. A huge cast of talent that appeals to a niche of a niche audience. A huge offering of the most poorly written and drawn porn in the history of porn. Petty lawsuits that are pretty much just pissing matches which they attempt to finance with donations from their readers. Yeah, they have the right to be annoyed when a store with a population base of 33,000 people doesnt know or possibly care about their wonderful product.

    The stores photos on the website make it look like he is trying – a nice little store, clean, organized and reasonably well lit. So he doesnt carry the latest issue of “Rear Entry” or the “Boffy the Vampire Layer Collection” I think I can probably forgive him and besides if Eric went back and asked to special order “Finger Filth,” the owner of the shop could probably get it for him along with all those other wonderfully pretentious Fantagraphic properties.

  13. There is an elephant in the room here you all seem to be dancing around. Namely, 99.9% of retailers were/are superhero fanboys. That is why most comic stores suck.
    And Craig, I have no love for Groth and Co., however yours is a common stereotype of Fantagraphics. They publish CRUMB, if for nothing else we should all be happy they are around, even if we dislike them as people.

  14. The position I really take umbrage with is the one that suggests that folk are buying the wrong comics.

    I’d also suggest that we don’t know what the Diamond retailer breakdown is. If Amazon or some of the other large retailers are buying from Diamond then it likely skews the numbers. They could have bought half or more of that preorder number.

    I maintain that it’s unrealistic to expect the LCS to be able to sell the same comics as large online businesses (Amazon, B&N, Mile High, Bud Plant, etc.)

    And we’re of course conflating again as we’re really talking about trades here and not the pamphlets. The pamphlets are overwhelmingly DC/Marvel/superhero and are overwhelmingly sold in comic shops.

    I’d speculate that a substantial number of trades are not sold in the comic shop which is not engaged in online retailing. And those comic shops who do not substantially discount their trades are likely to lose even more of their business.

    So yes I absolutely agree that there is interest in non-DC/Marvel trades. But I do not agree that this automatically means that the local comic shop is going to be able to sell them. For me and quite a few folk I discuss with online it’s not even a superhero issue. It’s a discount issue. We don’t buy the expensive books at the LCS because it’s too expensive. And this is reflected by the LCS who either don’t carry the books or buy a single copy which usually sits on the shelf. Because they’re aren’t that many who are going to spend $50/75/100 when they can save 40-50%.

  15. Are these trade totals for the year to date? If thats true then that means Walking Dead Vol. 1 tpb averages like more than 8000 a month in the Direct Market which i dont think is true.

  16. Yes, it’s my understanding that Amazon does indeed buy some of their trades from Diamond. Or to be even more specific that they have in the past.

    Specifically, I’m talking about DC Archives and Marvel Masterworks.

    Without the crack.

  17. Word to the HM, but isn’t there some truth that sales in bookstores are to people who walk in thinking they might want some entertainment in print,
    whereas sales in comic shops tend to be to people who walk in thinking they want some superheroes.

    I know, for me, who still spends most of his money on superheroes, one day in high school I was buying superhero books and finally noticed some of the indy stuff and was like, “Hmm… I wonder…” but I was still primarily interested in superheroes whereas I edged over to some indy stuff and some non-super stuff.

    Whereas in a bookstore your mind is, I think, a little more open. You just have to edge to comics IN GENERAL and look for one that fits your taste. And for a book reader that probably won’t be superheroes.

    I’m not sure what my point is here, other than to say I think there might be some logic in a comix shop’s GN choices.

    My other point is that TRANSFORMERS definitely counts as superheroes. Definitely.

    My last point is that the art in Anita Blake was the most unbearable goth stuff since KILLROY WAS HERE and I don’t understand why anyone bought it whatever genre designation you give it.

  18. Please see my post in the The Righteous Anger of Chris Butcher blog comment thread and come back. I’ll wait.

    Back already?

    Let’s take Snoid’s comments one step further: There’s a *bigger* elephant in the room that we’re all dancing around. Namely, 99.9% of comics READERS were/are superhero fanboys. That is why most comics readers suck.

    Doesn’t feel good, does it?

    Look, there’s a reason why super-hero comics are the dominant form the medium takes. Super-heroes can’t be done well AND cheaply in any other media. Horror can. Romance can. Mystery can. Porn can. (Science Fiction can’t, but we’re used to the bad rubber masks, so it’s more acceptable)

    Fantagraphics will NEVER be a top 5 comics company, because much of it’s product is by it’s very nature experimental and, well, indy. That’s the way it SHOULD be. If Fanta suddenly found itself publishing 5 of the top 10 comics each month, the company would change, and would end up putting out more and more stuff like those 5 books, and less and less experimental stuff.

    Remember when Marvel was the maverick? Super-hero stuff was nonexistent as a genre to Marvel before FF #1, and remained the minority for a bit before they saw that it sold like crazy, and Stan and Jack (and Steve and…) came up with more stuff like what was selling.

    Don’t like the fact that super-heroes dominate the charts? Stop buying them cold turkey. EVEN IF YOU LIKE SUPER-HEROES. Spend that money on other comics, from other companies. If your store won’t get them for you, change stores. I’ll bet you can find one that will get them for you. No matter what a store owner LIKES, they will not turn away a guaranteed sale.

    Yup, it’s the old “Put your money where your mouth is” gambit.

  19. Heidi,

    Those sales numbers are incorrect. At least, some of them are. Walking Dead Vol 1 has NOT sold nearly 58,000 copies through the direct market through July based on the Diamond sales data. Per ICV2.com, Walking Dead has sold 10,895 units through July. Sales by month were:

    Jan 1,812
    Feb 1,364
    Feb 1,449
    Mar 1,525
    May 1,803
    Jun 1,526
    Jul 1,416

    Certainly, this is consistent and impressive, but nowhere near the volume indicated in your post. I believe the article you cite is drawing its data from the same source.

    Joe
    TalesOfWonder.com

  20. Rick Rottman said: “So Heidi, have you had time yet to actually go the 4 K R A Z Y K A T Z website? … They even have a list of the comic books arriving tomorrow…There are a lot of non-superhero books on that list. The list looks to be quite diverse.”

    I’m pretty certain that’s the entire A-Z Diamond shipping list and that it isn’t necessarily reflective of what that particular store will be getting.

    But even so, at least visitors to their web sites will see the names of those unfamiliar titles.

  21. “Let’s take Snoid’s comments one step further: There’s a *bigger* elephant in the room that we’re all dancing around. Namely, 99.9% of comics READERS were/are superhero fanboys. That is why most comics readers suck.”

    Word.

  22. After further analysis, these numbers are meaningless due to their errors. Watchmen sold 12,711 during the time frame stated, not 48,000 copies. Also missing from the list is the 300 HC, which sold 22,567 (higher than the correct numbers for the #1 and #2 title on this list) through July, but is not mentioned at all in this list. Nothing meaningful can be drawn about the diversity (or lack thereof) of the direct market based on the figures as presented.

    Joe
    TalesOfWonder.com

  23. No, its not a general misconception or a stereotype that Fantagraphics sells painfully bad porn and uses that money to finance its lower selling lines. Its a reality. There would at least be a bit of respect if they actually put some effort into it or at least translated some of the better European adult books.

    Fantagraphics does publish Crumb and Peanuts and Love and Rockets. Yep thats good, but the vast majority of their titles do not sell enough to even warrant being carried in most comic stores because the demand is just not there. Generally stores will go out of their way to order items that people ask for if they are not in stock. Its pretty easy to do.

    In order to successfully carry Fantagraphic books you need a huge population to draw from otherwise you have a bunch of books sitting on the shelf that you have good money tied up in that could be working for you. There is no point in spending 20% of your time as a store owner nurturing a product line that provides 1% of your total sales. Maybe you could build that up to 3% but if that same time and money were used for not selling out of the latest Walking Dead trade you would make more money in the short and long term. And money is what it all boils down to.

    Fantagraphic books generally dont sell well not because of lack of availability or accessibility but because of lack of demand.

    There are lots of bad comic book stores but not because they dont carry Fantagraphics books. Its not because the owners are superhero fans, its because they are not good business men. The bad stores generally disappear because they are bad stores or last until someone better comes along.

  24. To Brian Jacoby:
    You ask a lot of us my friend!
    You know, one thing that the experimental and indy world just has not been able to match for us that superhero books deliver is this:
    your monthly dose of drama.
    I guess Strangers in Paradise did it, but it’s rare.
    I think a lot of comics readers just like keeping up with a story at regular intervals, but most experimental stuff is more one-shotty or comes out irregular or “regular” equals every four months, which isn’t often enough.
    We need a more experimental Dave Sim to come along.
    BR
    P.S. I started reading Jaka’s Story last night. I’m sorry, but that guy just hypnotizes me, even if his worldview is totally sick.

  25. “Let’s take Snoid’s comments one step further: There’s a *bigger* elephant in the room that we’re all dancing around. Namely, 99.9% of comics READERS were/are superhero fanboys. That is why most comics readers suck.”

    Shame on you. Comic readers get enough shit from civilians, they dont need to be hated by people on the inside. I guess every artistic medium has it’s snobs.

  26. “Namely, 99.9% of comics READERS were/are superhero fanboys. That is why most comics readers suck.”

    I don’t think they suck just because they don’t purchase Fantagraphics books.

    Maybe the Clint Eastwood approach would help. Clint would alternate between his bread-n-butter films, and more offbeat fare. From “Bronco Billy” to “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” then from “Bird: The Charlie Parker Story” to “The Dead Pool.” Movie-goers liked the DIRTY HARRY films, and took a chance on other stuff, but Clint would return to Inspector Callahan … it may have been playing it safe, but it worked.

    Perhaps Fantagraphics could try a few titles that are closer to mainstream tastes, in addition to the more offbeat titles. Years ago, Dennis Kitchen refused to do superhero material, although many people suggested that it might bring more attention to the other quality material published by Kitchen Sink. Although I admire Kitchen’s resolve, the question eventually becomes — why are you publishing this material if you don’t want anyone to read it?

  27. Okay, this is gonna be risky, but here goes: my B&N, where I godfather the GN section, is very diverse. A few years ago, Manga was 70%, Marvel and DC around 20, and comics lit and general books making up the balance. Yes, we have TWO high schools a few blocks away. But we also have tourists, literate locals, and college students. Currently, Manga’s share has decreased, partly from theft, partly to Civil War.
    my Bestselling comics title is a $20 remainder hardcover of the Complete New Yorker Cartoon Collection. GN? Probably Watchmen.
    Is Morrison’s Doom Patrol superhero or comics lit? I don’t care, as long as I can find it on the shelf when recommending it to a customer.

  28. “Heidi,

    Those sales numbers are incorrect. At least, some of them are. Walking Dead Vol 1 has NOT sold nearly 58,000 copies through the direct market through July based on the Diamond sales data. Per ICV2.com, Walking Dead has sold 10,895 units through July. Sales by month were:

    Jan 1,812
    Feb 1,364
    Feb 1,449
    Mar 1,525
    May 1,803
    Jun 1,526
    Jul 1,416

    Certainly, this is consistent and impressive, but nowhere near the volume indicated in your post. I believe the article you cite is drawing its data from the same source.

    Joe
    TalesOfWonder.com”

    You don’t understand how this works.

    What Mayo did was take all the graphic novels in August’s top 100 and totaled their sales for as long as they’ve been on the market, not just 2007.

    300 is absent from Mayo’s chart because it was absent from the top 100 GN list in August.

    Walking Dead’s sales figures come in at 58,000 because that’s how many books it’s sold since it was released.

  29. Craig, I’ll give you the porn issue, however the rest of your first post is stereotype city. I’m not asking anyone to carry something they can’t sell. Really I’m not. The best store I’ve been into, sold everything, but still the bread and butter was superhero stuff. I get it, the fanboys want what they want, period. And your wrong if you think the fact that most store owners are/were fanboys doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that so many stores suck. Yes they are bad business men also, but I have had enough of them tell me they order what they like to not think that being a fanboy doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that their store is a shit hole.

  30. I dont go to comic shops that only stock Marvel and DC. bluntly, it’s a waste of time. why bother? I do buy some Marvel and DC comics (Marvel publishes Criminal after all), but most of their material is not aimed at me.
    I’d rather buy comics at Books-A-Million which at least stocks tons of Magna (and they also stock Drawn and Quarterly and Fantagraphics).
    I dont blame a comic shop for carrying lots of Marvel and DC (those readers come in on a weekly basis – which keeps the cash flow flowing)
    but there’s a reason that bookstores carry Manga and Drawn and Quarterly, etc = they do sell, but they sell differently than superhero weekly comics.
    Yes, I know shops were “alternative comics” (not just “indys” ) are the difference in an ok and a good living.
    and yes, most comics shop owners aren’t good business owners, that’s both a positive and minus!

  31. “You don’t understand how this works.”

    Right back atcha…

    The article was stated as sales year-to-date. Heidi has corrected the information on the front page, which is far more accurate and germane to the discussion and certainly paints a different picture. Besides, your release-to-date comment would be incorrect as well as Watchmen has certainly sold well more than 48,000 copies since its release…

    Joe
    TalesOfWonder.com

  32. There are more straw men here than at a Wizard of Oz convention, but to point out the biggest one, no one at Fantagraphics or D&Q would ever say their books deserve to be carried for any reason other than that they’ve sold for people through the years and should continue to do so for people that want to sell them. Not a ton, although they both could probably point to accounts that kick ass with certain books, but a respectable amount. They want to be a part of your store’s overall sales, not the focus.

    It wasn’t long ago (20 years) when every comics shop carried every Fantagraphics title because that’s what comics shops did. I used to buy Love and Rockets in a town of 10,500; they sold three or four copies. Not as much as Uncanny X-Men, but worth putting in the order for them. It wasn’t Irradiated Pre-Pubescent Frank Stack’s Amazons that broke the system the first time. The difference between a comics shop and a spinner rack is that a comics shop *can* carry a variety of material that may only sell one or two copies or a few thousand nationwide but that adds up to a full and satisfying shopping experience. That’s the nature of all retail establishments that sell portable entertainment.

    No company is going to suggest that someone base their stores around selling comics with a small audience. No one wants a store to be closed. That’s a lost account.

    As a group, the stores that sell a variety of material have done surprisingly well over the last 20 years. In fact, I can only think of one of the 40 or so alternative comics mainstay stores that has gone under since 1990. Can you say the same percentage-wise of superhero focused stores? Most if not all of the top stores right now carry a wider variety of material than the bulk of accounts tend to carry. Instead of defending the right of a greater industry coherence around mediocre accounts, some of you might better spend your time demanding an industry that makes it easier for more exceptional accounts to be developed.

    It should be a goal for the comics industry that every person who enters a comic shop asking for anything receive an accurate answer immediately and, if in print, have the option of getting that book within 14 days.

    Why would some on the alt-indy sign of things occasionally get a little upset. Well, alternative comics companies are probably sick of having been told their stuff had no appeal, and that comics shops met the full demand of comics in America, only to watch their sales multiply by a factor of four and five times when they started working with bookstore distributors and bookstores. There was obviously a huge, fundamental misjudgment of demand. They’ve earned the right to be wary.

    Eric was sad that the person didn’t seem to carry alternative comics, and miffed that they didn’t know about a perennial top ten company in their own state and that they bagged a new comic. He hasn’t demanded companies carry books like his, or suggested they be the focus of a store, or suggest the guy run his store to please his employers, or any of the number of things claimed for his original argument. He hasn’t even filed a brief in nerd court, and his arguments aren’t any more forceful or culpable for the length of these threads.

    Also, I don’t think they even have an Eros editor anymore.

  33. Their stores are shitholes because they built them that way not because they read superhero comics. Do you think their are no Indy stores that are a blight on the industry? There is no relationship between the two. If they order only what they like then they wont be in business very long unless they like a lot of everything. It just doesnt work that way.

  34. “Do you think their are no Indy stores that are a blight on the industry? ”

    The only one I’ve been to, that I would call a Indy store is here, http://beguiling.com/home.htm, and is a shinny example of what all stores should be like. I would think their bread and butter is superhero stuff tho’.

  35. Alex and Rich:

    Did you read past the part you quoted? Y’know, the part that said, “Doesn’t feel good, does it?”

    I *don’t* think most comics readers suck. Just like you shouldn’t think most comics stores, or their owners, suck. I haven’t met “most comics readers” just like no one (except perhaps Eric Hitchcock at Diamond) has seen “most comics stores”

    Of the comics readers I’ve met personally, I find them to be, on average, more intelligent, better spoken, and friendlier (yes, friendlier!) than the customers of the many other entertainment products I’ve been a retailer of over the years.

  36. Tom, Eric wasnt sad or miffed – the quote the is “What a fucking tool.”

    Stores do need to carry a broad selection of comics but some stores are not able to as the demographic is not there. Did Eric ask if it was possible to order any of the titles he wanted? Its unlikely from the tone of his note but probably not. Is the owner of that store now more or less likely to carry Fantagraphic books if he see’s Eric’s blog? Maybe Eric should send some samples to the store so the owner could try them out and see if there is any demand.

    Since the store in question has been there about a year or so and obviously no one has asked for Fantagraphic books in that period of time –
    its just possible that there may not be any customers for them.

  37. I misunderstood your intentions. I’m glad you were being sarcastic. I still think all computers (or websites) should have a “sarcastic font.”

    I’ve been to my share of comic shops over the last 30 years and I have to use a Woody Allen movie quote to sum up my thoughts (he was speaking in regards to orgasms) “my worst one was right on the money.”

    Some stores are geared towards being all inclusive, others take pride in their large selection of T-shirts or 32 sided dice, no matter how you boil it down, comic shops full of things that I love. Maybe not everything I love but what’s there is great and until comics are selling print runs in the millions, be happy we have ANY local comic shops.

  38. Craig, calling someone a fucking tool is the kind of thing you do when you’re miffed — which means being offended and annoyed and disgusted — at/by them. Which he was because of the racking thing. He totally separated the lack of alternative/indy books under the descriptive sad right there in the original statement.

    Did he ask if he could order the material? No. Nor did he offer to start working there, or offer to come out and give a free seminar, or send samples or even leave a business card. That’s not the point. Eric wasn’t filing a brief in nerd court that this guy needs to defend himself against hammer and tongs where all of Fantagraphics’ public profile needs to come up on the table to discredit Eric for making some “charges”. He’s relating an experience!

    Eric’s sole criticism on the lacky of indy/alt books was that it was sad that person didn’t have a certain type of book in stock, not that it couldn’t be ordered, not that he must order X percent, not that this store wouldn’t one day be different, nor all of these weird prescriptives that keep being put in his mouth.

  39. See, there is no sadness, miffed or anything else. It is an offensive comment and it was aimed directly at a retailer who did not carry his product. period.

  40. Ahhh, the internet!

    Where people who have no idea what they’re talking about can argue endlessly with someone who does.

    And then call him a tool.

    Classy.

  41. People you need to chill out. Unless people stop the crazy I will close this and all related threads. Seriously, I’m always amazed at what a hot button issue this is. We’re not saying “WE’RE TAKING AWAY YOUR BELOVED COMICS!” we’re just looking for our own beloved comics.

    Sheesh.

  42. It’s been years since I’ve posted here so I’ll take this opportunity to say, Heidi is a total hottie. : )

  43. “There is an elephant in the room here you all seem to be dancing around.”

    It’s funny you should say that, because in 1986, a man named Mike Membe was on holiday in Kenya after going to comic con that year.
    On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Membe approached it very carefully.
    He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant’s foot and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it.
    As carefully and as gently as he could, Membe worked the wood out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot.
    The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments.
    Membe stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away.
    Membe never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.
    Twenty years later, Membe was walking through the San Diego Zoo with his teenaged son.
    As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Membe and his son Tom were standing.
    The large bull elephant stared at Membe, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man.
    Remembering the encounter in 1986, Membe couldn’t help wondering if this was the same elephant.
    Membe summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Membe’ s legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.
    Probably wasn’t the same elephant.
    Now, the whole point to that is, is… oh crap, I did have a point. What was it. I’ll come back later when I think of it.

  44. “Perhaps Fantagraphics could try a few titles that are closer to mainstream tastes, in addition to the more offbeat titles. Years ago, Dennis Kitchen refused to do superhero material, although many people suggested that it might bring more attention to the other quality material published by Kitchen Sink.”

    The funny thing about the above statement is that we publish Peanuts, the most popular comic strip in this history of western civilization. We publish Ghost World and Palestine, two of the best-selling graphic novels over the last ten years. In the last year we have published books by Dan DeCarlo, Peter Bagge, Edward Sorel, Walt Kelly, R. Crumb, Linda Medley, Los Bros Hernadez, etc. — all acknowledged greats of the field and strong sellers with broad appeal. In other words, we’re doing exactly as you suggest.

    Meanwhile, the moment Denis Kitchen started listening to his critics and started chasing more mainstream properties like THE CROW and CADILLACS & DINOSAURS, he bankrupted his company.

    Spurgeon hits the nail on the head when he says: “alternative comics companies are probably sick of having been told their stuff had no appeal, and that comics shops met the full demand of comics in America, only to watch their sales multiply by a factor of four and five times when they started working with bookstore distributors and bookstores.” What this means is, over the last five or six years, the direct market has hardly been an accurate barometer of demand for indie titles. This has been unequivocally proven over the last five or six years, at least in regard to Fantagraphics titles. Citing the Diamond charts as accurate benchmarks of consumer demand is like going into a Hot Topic and concluding that nobody in the world wants to wear white.

    Mr. Bartlett, I want to thank you for your criticism regarding my retracted comment and subsequent apology, especially supported as it has been by such shining examples of courtesy. Way to lead by example.