Too serious about comics.

The Sunday Pages #24

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Now that SDCC is over, the news is pretty thin on the ground, so it’s a pretty short roundup this week as we instead look at what’s going on elsewhere. For example, comicsgirl’s Sandman re-read, Big Head Press’ La Muse, the state of London Back Issue sales and, once again, the articles we’ve written elsewhere.

From the “Neil Gaiman did it first” files, here’s a link to Comicsgirl’s Sandman retrospectives. Since I appear to be about the only person on the planet who hasn’t actually finished reading Sandman yet (I’m waiting for Absolute Vol. 4!) I haven’t read all the posts yet, but the ones that I did read were great, as is the blog in general. (JH)

Big Head Press’ brilliant online comic, La Muse, finally finished its 220-page run last week. A printed version of the comic is due towards the end of this year. It’s a good read, although it does read a little like some liberal fantasy at times (and I say that as someone who largely agrees with the politics) there’s a nice narrative, some decent and original sci-fi/superhero ideas, and it doesn’t get too preachy with the environmental and socio-political messages. I’ll be buying a copy when it gets printed, and let’s be honest – you don’t need me to sell it to you, it’s already free – for now. (JH)

Over at London Loves Comics, Dom muses on the present state – and potential future – of comic marts in London. Bristol aside, I haven’t been to a comic mart in years (used to go to a handful in Liverpool with my Dad in my younger years), so perhaps Dom is better-placed than me to comment, particularly if the events are as poorly-attended and maintained as he makes it sound; and I certainly agree with him that a lot of comics dealers still cling to the antiquated notion that they have to be grumpy and insular towards anyone who doesn’t go to their weekly Heroclix meeting. But I wonder how right he is when he says that such events have no place “in a world of cheap reprints and Ebay bargains”. Sure, if you’re looking for a specific back-issue, then eBay (or a shop’s well-maintained back issues database, although no-one actually seems to have one) is the place to go. But it’s less useful if you genuinely want to just flick through some dusty back-issues (say, if you run a comics blog with a feature dedicated to reviewing one old issue a week and you’re rapidly running out of different titles in your own collection) – and shops such as Comicana (the only one in London that really deals in back issues any more) can only get you so far as well. One of the things I look forward to the most about Bristol each year is the chance to dive into boxes and boxes of cheap back issues – and once you get past the stalls that charge you two quid for bagged-and-boarded issues from the last five years, there’s real gold to be found in the 50p bins. Outside of an annual convention, monthly marts are pretty much the only place to find such things – and so I find it comforting that such things still exist. Then again, the fact that I rarely get off my arse and bother to go to them (I have a similar problem with car boot sales – love them to pieces, can never actually get there) means I’m probably part of the problem. But I’d hate to imagine a world where you couldn’t browse a load of dingy stalls and walk away with an armful of crap that cost you less than the price of a pint and that you would never have thought to have gone to the effort of actually hunting down - and so, while the execution could perhaps stand to improve, I think that the humble mart definitely still has a place in this world. And a surly but knowledgeable dealer who charges you 10p for an issue of X-Force is surely better than an opportunistic “collectables” seller who thinks an issue of Justice League Quarterly is worth two quid “because it’s got a low number”. More on that sort of behaviour another time, though… (SP)

In more of the link pimpage we do so well around here, I had an article go up on CBR entitled “Marvel #500s” which, spurred on by Uncanny X-Men #500, examines each of Marvel’s previous issue #500s as well as explaining why they’re rare and what the next one might be. Also, you might have noticed a new Comics Daily feature article entitled “How many times has Jean Grey Died” – well, you can also see a companion post I made exclusively on Livejournal community Scans Daily to accompany the piece, featuring all-new and unseen material not present in the article! (JH)

Written by James Hunt

August 10th, 2008 at 11:25 pm

2 Responses to 'The Sunday Pages #24'

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  1. I hope the mart does survive, but I’m really not sure the demand is there any more. Like you I love sifting through the old 50p bins for bargains, but can the dealers really make a living off 50p and 25p boxes? I don’t think so. Yet the bargain bins are the only stalls getting any significant business at the marts these days.

    It’s not only a mart issue, as you point out there aren’t many comic shops offering back issues any more – frankly I don’t know how Comicana stays in business devoting so much of what is already a tiny space to back issues.

    The fact is that the market is not the same as it was in the days before cheap reprints and e-bay. There will always be people wanting to own pristine copies of silver age comics, but outside of this top end I can’t see selling back issues as anything but a very small sideline for most comic book stores. Somewhere like Gosh which devotes a small area downstairs to back issues probably has it about right.

    Dom

    14 Aug 08 at 12:19 pm

  2. I know how Comicana stay in business. Idiots like me who spend £2 an issue on Incredible Hulk back issues because they want them NOW instead of getting them on eBay for 20p each. *slams forehead repeatedly into wall*

    That said, I expect being it’s the massive prices combined with being pretty much the only game in town for back issues is what keeps them afloat at all. Between Orbital and FP, I can’t imagine many people choosing Comicana for their weeklies.

    James Hunt

    14 Aug 08 at 3:17 pm

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