Farewell, sweet prince

This is the end of the Savage Critics.

Really, this is entirely because I am a complete idiot; in about sixteen different ways.

To start with, I've always been the world's most unreasonable collaborator.  I expect people to do shit exactly like I want it, but I'm not very good about expressing what that exactly is BEFORE I expect the thing.  In practice, that's almost barely workable in my physical stores, but it's never ever worked with anything even slightly open like the internet.

Savage Critics started back from the old CompuServe days, where I would read an entire week's worth of comics, and give one word (or up to a sentence, maybe) reviews.  I was young, and (well, I thought) very clever, so making snap judgements publicly seemed entertaining to me (at least).  Once gated communities like CompuServe became passe (well, until Facebook, at least), I thought it might be cool to do the same thing on the internet as a stand alone blog.  It was the Wild West back then, and this was an early blog (I think Tom Spurgeon called it "foundational" at one point?) of commentary and criticism.

I had a decent run, I think, of doing the snap review thing -- a couple of years where I was mostly weekly, but eventually I started to flag.  I thought I could bring in Jeff Lester to make up for me flaking, but in reality that mostly meant trying to offshore everything on to Jeff.  And then we added Graeme, and it became the same thing even more.  Even Graeme's lovely wife Kate got sucked in, redesigning the site, and ending up with me thinking "Ah, she's handling all the backstage stuff forever, right?"

Even our big expansions, where I tried to invite lots of wonderful, active, smart bloggers to come be part of this "brand", it was mostly me trying to avoid work myself -- if I have 7 guys each posting weekly, then I can post a lot less, right?  Hell, this continues to this very day where the utterly fantastic John K (UK) basically single-handedly keeps this thing running with real content.  All I ever do is say "Hey! I wrote another TILTING".  Even the weekly shipping list thread?  It has my NAME on it, but its been written by my manager Doug Slayton for like the last three years.

Most recently I tortured the awesome Thom Venier (who redesigned the general Comix Experience site) with a lot of unreasonable demands to get Sav Crit off of Wordpress and on to something that wasn't spam injected and gross and horrible.  He has done, in my opinion, not only an excellent job, but did so way above and beyond anything I deserve, trying to do stuff that only ever existed in my mind, and wasn't on the "old Sav Crit" site for probably a half-decade.  I was an ass to him about a lot of it, and I apologize here publicly: I am sorry Thom.

My main goal was to preserve the decade or so of content -- there's some EXCELLENT writing on here... virtually none of it mine.  And its here, and all of the tags and everything are all still there, so its at least somewhat searchable.  Long-time internet searches are probably going to be fucked up now, but hopefully the search engines will find things again.  (Seriously, Type "Jog" into that side searchbar, and get lost in dozens of excellent pieces!  Or go read the thrilling "The Case Against Dan Didio" -- the categories, the tags... you should be able to find lots of cool stuff)

So I apologize for being a shitty leader, and not at all appreciative enough over the years to Jeff Lester and Graeme McMillan.  To Kate McMillan.  To Abhay Kholsa and Jordan Smith and John Kane.  To Sean Collins, Chris Eckert, Joe McCulloch, Tucker Stone, David Uzumeri, and Douglas Wolk.  To Doug Slayton.  To Thom Venier.  To all of you I am really sorry.

And you, dear reader -- there are still scores of you who have followed this thing through thick and thin.  All of our regular commenters -- esp Peter, Thelonious_Nick, MBunge, John D,  Davids O, and T, Corey (Ottawa) and Chris Hero.

To me, Savage Critic is NOT Comix Experience, but the nature of the Squarespace account means it has to have the branding on it, but that totally shreds my last bits of interest in being "Savage".  There's a place for snark, but a commercial businesses site is kind of not that place, and so I'm going to call this blog here and now -- I've saved all of the past content, and I'll keep paying for the domain name as long as we keep the store going so as to keep it alive, but this is the functional end of Savage Critics.

I intend to build a NEW blog for Comix Experience in the next few days (before next week's new comics announcements, for sure), so we can continue to post the shipping lists, and any news of note, and I'll put that URL here as soon as I build it, and I hope those of you who have fun sharing your "What looks good to you?" answers each week will continue to do that there.

The new Comix Experience blog (with shipping lists, etc.) is here: https://www.comixexperience.com/news/

Again, thank you everyone I named above, as well as everyone that I didn't, and I really do sincerely apologize for my failures of leadership over the years.

Ah! Back for a minute at least!

So, look, we're REALLY sorry for the yo-yo on the site (it goes up, it goes down).  As far as I can tell we got hacked at some point and each attempt we've made of clearing out the databases for whatever malicious thing that is there keeps undoing itself, so we're clearly missing something.  I am already several hundred dollars in the hole in trying to fix this on previous occasions, so I am thinking that we maybe have to give up on wordpress, and figure something else out, or otherwise reset the existing site in some fashion, but what I'm trying not to do is pour more money into what has never actually been a profitable website! My special apologies to John K (UK) and Abhay Kholsa who are all kinds of wonderful for putting up with my lack of communication (usually because I don't know what's actually going on!!!).  John, especially, more or less single-handedly keeps this thing running while I've been distracted by other things.

I want to keep the site up, and I especially 100% want to preserve the YEARS of posting here, because, y'know, there's almost no legacy left of the "early" comics internet!  If there's someone out there who really strongly knows wordpress and how to de-hack us (like, we couldn't even set up a redirect page to say "we know there's a problem, we're trying to fix it!" because the site is somehow generating its own redirects to seemingly random-ass websites), AND can do it for cheap (ha!), please get in touch with me.  I'd prefer to stay here than deal with the hassle of a migration, I think?

Either way, we ARE aware of the problems, and we ARE trying to fix it; I believe that by February '17 we'll get this fixed, either by fixing it here, or by migrating somewhere else.  I have Top Men on it. Top Men. In the meantime, we're back in business for the moment, at least until we get taken down again -- John K might even start posting stuff again?

Thanks for continuing coming here!!!!



Aug 2015 GN of the Month Club Update!

www.graphicnovelclub.com is the place, and this is the August 2015 update.  There will be links here you can't follow if you're not a member, just saying.  And at least one that you probably should follow! See it under the cut!



Hello Awesome Comix Experience Book Club member!

Ah, our first month has come and gone – I hope you all enjoyed ILYA’s “Room For Love”! I see a few pick-up customers have still not picked up their copy. You should have also received a phone call. Your copy is safe and sound for whenever you are ready for it.

Now things begin to really kick into high gear, so here is your August news!



We’re growing at just the pace that I have been hoping, and at midnight on 7/31 we had 235 paid members – that means we have just ninety-nine more to go to reach our goal of 334. It is only a double digit number now, woo! Please feel free to tell your friends and neighbors!

Hand in hand with the membership increase, comes a fresh wage increase for the staff. As of their next paycheck, no one will be making less than $13.75, a full $1.50 over SF’s current Minimum Wage of $12.25. That’s entirely on you, so thank you one and all.

Again, I remind you that after we achieve our membership goal, every 25 members over and above that we gain will yield a 25 cents per hour raise for every staff member as well. I take zero profit from the book club! There is no limit on this, and my most fervent hope is we can drive the club membership high enough to have the awesome Comix Experience staff be the highest paid comic store employees in the world!

The Kid’s Club has hit 40 members, if you’re curious about that – tell your friends about that one as well (http://www.graphicnovelclub.com/kids.html.html). It makes an excellent gift.



Just a reminder that we bill on the FIRST of the month each month. So, if you joined on August 2 or later, your first billing won’t come until Sep 1, and your first book will be the SEPTEMBER book.

As is typical, a few credit cards didn’t successfully charge (usually because expiration date changed), so please keep an eye on your email – I sent you a personal note as well as whatever was automatically generated by the payment company. The next billing attempt for delinquent cards will be on 8/4, then there will be a final attempt just a few days after that after which your subscription will be cancelled.



As I sure hope you all knew, we had ILYA in person from England to launch “Room For Love” last month – he was generous enough to do a workshop on comics creation in the back room of the store that seemed like it went over very well. We are discussing doing more “professional” workshops in the future.

We had our first Book Club meeting as well, and we liked the results well enough to make it public to any viewer and it can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrz4v_KwyIE It is about 1:45:00 long, and you can feel free to share that link to your friends if you think it might encourage them to join the club. Future meetings should be relatively similar (though not always with creator live and in-person) – but we will be keeping most future meetings private and not available to the public.


YOU CAN JOIN IN when we have the meeting – you just need to have a Google+ account we can invite. You do not need to have a @gmail address in order to have a Google+ account. Join G+ at https://plus.google.com. Unless you tell me otherwise, we are directing all invitations to events and such to the address that this mail is coming to.

We are using G+ rather than Facebook because of their video meeting tools and integration with YouTube, etc. – you’ll be able to ask questions from anywhere in the world as our meeting is going on, and we think that’s pretty neat.

We also have a G+ closed and private Community which is located at https://plus.google.com/communities/114465333092610147099 -- this is a place where we can discuss the book each month. There is a very excellent thread going right now on “Room For Love”, and the value of the community goes up with every person who participates. If you can not access that group, please let me know and I will provide what meager support I can to get you going.




“Room For Love” was somber and sober and a hothouse personal drama, so for August we’re going almost exactly 180 degrees in the opposite direction with something a little bit irreverent and silly and packed full of superheroes: “The Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl v1: Squirrel Power” by Ryan North and Erica Henderson, set squarely in the Marvel Universe.

To reassure you (?), our plan is to only very very rarely feature super-hero comics (certainly less than once a year), but “The Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl” is both fun and funny, and those are pretty rare combinations for the genre, and while this is a “Marvel” comic, it has the sensibility very different then the kinds of things you’ll see in the Marvel movies or TV shows yet being absolutely true to the psychological heart of Marvel Comics. We think you’re really going to…. Go Nuts for it! (ow)

Now, we know that there are a few of you that are already buying “The Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl” as a serialized comic and might not want this collected edition, so we’ll make it a free swap with any of our runner-ups listed below. Just send an email with the title “AUGUST SWAP” to brian@comixexperience.com with what you’d like as your alternate, before August 15, and we’ll get you taken care of.

“The Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl” is currently scheduled to arrive to us on August 19th, so you should expect to receive your copy the week of August 24th. We will be having our August Book meeting on (wait for it) Wednesday September 2nd at 8 PM PST. Author Ryan North will be appearing via video call to answer your questions about the book. I am hoping that Erica Henderson will also appear on the call, but I don’t have final confirmation of that as of yet. That meeting will be live-streamed at https://plus.google.com/events/cbtu5opo2u5f9qadvc4b64r8hkc

All members of the club will receive a copy of “The Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl v1: Squirrel Power”, but if you’re not an Adult club member, and would like to purchase a copy, or if you would like additional copies, please order below!







Ooh, our August pick for the Kid’s Club is an amazing one! The incomparable Craig Thompson brings us “Space Dumplins

Family is the most important thing in the whole galaxy for Violet Marlocke, so when her father goes missing while on a hazardous job, she can't just sit around and do nothing. Violet throws caution to the stars and sets out with a group of misfit friends on a quest to find him. But space is vast and dangerous, and she soon discovers that her dad is in big, BIG trouble. With her father's life on the line, nothing is going to stop Violet from trying to rescue him and keep her family together in this incredible adventure from a truly master cartoonist.

We are hoping to have author Craig Thompson LIVE and IN PERSON on a weekend in September (“Space Dumplins” ships 8/26) for the kids, and then to stay after and do a signing for the adults, so hopefully look out for an announcement very soon.

All members of the KIDS club will receive a copy of “Space Dumplins”, but if you’re not a Kids Club member, and would like to purchase a copy, or if you would like additional copies, please order below!





In picking the best graphic novel of each month, we create a pool of nominees (most months we have between four and eight options), then the entire staff votes on what wins by a ranked point system. While we can only have one winner each month to send out, we thought it might be useful to you to hear what our alternates were – we really really like these books too!. These were our runner-ups for August 2015!



“Bowery Boys: Our Fathers” by Corey Levine, Ian Bertram, and Brent McKee

When his father is framed for murder, immigrant Nikolaus McGovern rallies a motley crew of street youths in a rip-roaring coming-of-age adventure based on the period history of antebellum New York City! Against a backdrop of rampant political corruption, vicious street gangs, nascent labor reform, and ardent xenophobia, can Niko and his friends triumph in a life-or-death battle against their oppressors—or will they succumb to the engines of socioeconomic progress?

This is a truly beautiful book, and a lush period piece.






“The Lion of Rora” by Christos & Ruth Gage and Jackie Lewis

In the tradition of Braveheart and 300 comes The Lion of Rora - the true story of Joshua Janavel, farmer-turned-freedom fighter, who Napoleon called history's greatest military tactician. Janavel and his fellow Waldensians battled to save their people from tyranny and persecution, the first case in European history in which subjects of a ruler rebelled to defend their religious freedom. Their fight inspired the Protestant Reformation and, in turn, the American Revolution.

One of the best things that comics do for me is to show me places and people and history and bring it alive in drama that keeps me compelled but also vividly in a character’s head – I know more life in the 1600s in Italy than I did before, and I truly admire Janavel and the Waldensians. Really great historical fiction!





“Nanjing: The Burning City” by Ethan Young

After the bombs fell and shook the walls of Nanjing, the Imperial Japanese Army entered and seized the Chinese capital. Through the dust of the demolished buildings, screams echo off the rubble. Two abandoned Chinese soldiers are trapped and desperately outnumbered inside the walled city. What they'll encounter will haunt them. But in the face of horror, they'll learn that resistance and bravery cannot be destroyed by the enemy.

This is a heart-wrenching tale of war, loss, and defiance, and a very somber piece of historical fiction.





“The Surface v1” By Ales Kot and Langdon Foss

What if everything you ever imagined could come true? Welcome to Africa, 2034. The West and the East are moving in and three hackers are searching Tanzania for the place that can change the world: the Surface. When they discover it, love, imagination, and survival go on a collision course as things change beyond their wildest dreams! Welcome to the universe of a mind-bending, action SF epic.







Hey, this has nothing whatsoever (yet) to do with the book club, but I thought readers like you might be interested to know we have Author Chuck Palahniuk coming to sign copies of FIGHT CLUB 2 #1-4 on Saturday August 29th starting at 11 AM and going all day long! He is an incredibly awesome guy that tells some crazy stories, and we could not be more excited! We’ll have some more information on that up at www.comixexperience.com/chuck.html in a few days.


Thanks again for all of your support, please email me at brian@comixexperience.com with ANY questions, comments, thoughts, pleas, dreams, or visions!



Brian Hibbs

Head Cheese, Comix Experience

Ow, sorry, timewarp!

Backstage problems here at SavCrit, and everything that was posted in the last 97 days just got deleted. The GOOD news is it is in service of getting rid of the damn spam (though, that will still be a bit more time, but it IS being actively worked on) It is possible (?) that John K and Jeff and Abhay all wrote things in Word first, and can restore their posts, but I'm not going to bet on it.  I know I sure as heck didn't! Still, happy thoughts, right?

I am SO close to being done with the main parts of back issue project at the new store that is soaking virtually all of my time (I just started pricing "SUperman" this morning, just eleven more long boxes to go! Though only three of those are bagged & boarded this second...), and once I've squared away the last few bits of things that exist there, my next major goal is resuming regular reviews from me here at the Critic.  Third quarter sometime, but don't be shocked if it's closer on the Sept side than the Jul side.

Anyway, regular content returning from me Pretty Soon(tm), and I really want to thank Abhay and John (Especially!) for holding down the fort for me here. And I really miss Jeff & Graeme, too, but the need more than someone who was treating this as a secondary interest.

GUILTY, but, like I said, things are changing.  This timewarp is just a sad and stupid manifestation.



I know, the site is a little borked, I know!

Comments be broken, there's spam, and so on... I'm trying to get it addressed, but I'm just drowning from overwork with the second store.  Some things should be happening VERY SOON that should make things a little better, and there are a few other changes coming that (I don't think?) are really my announcements to make, so I won't.... But, really, I'm just asking for patience until my schedule clears up a little -- I'm a little past halfway done with the BASEMENT O' DOOM! then, after that I actually plan to return to reviewing things again.  But that might not be until summertime?

Trying hard to suck less!



An Apology

I've been very quiet the last couple of weeks. I started a new thing, which I'll formally tell you about soonish, and that's soaked a bunch of time; then I got the BookScan numbers which soaked a bunch of other time; and then 2 weeks ago I cracked a tooth, which lead inexorably to "Oh, you need a root canal, ha!", and so I've been in blinding pain for most of the time.

Yeah, whine whine, just telling you why I've been quiet, and will be for a little while yet to come. (Like, the root canal's second appointment is in a week, then the crown the week after that, then it's off to ComicsPRO, and.....)



The Digital Bits

You may recall that when we started the digital store here, I promised that I would keep things transparent and out in the open about our results. So, here ya' go. Clearly, iVerse/Diamond Digital is, at best, "people's second choice" -- ComiXology has won the day. Further, at least for now, the iVerse/DD store is missing a few keys players, like Marvel and DC, so it's hard to say if they COULD catch up.

I thought (and still think, actually), that I have one small potential advantage from a lot of sites: we're a well-established "brand" for reviews, and seamlessly connecting a store to that would seem like a bit of a no-brainer. The problem, of course, is that coverage here is very similar to what sells in the DM -- it's 70% or better for Marvel and DC, so there's not as many direct links as I would have liked.

(What, I have to tell you to buy Saga?)

So, anyway, here's what happened: in 2nd Quarter, we mad, after the split with the publisher and iVerse/Diamond, $21.92 from selling some 20-odd comic books. More than that were downloaded for free (like Saga #1!).

In the 3rd quarter, we sold exactly 3 comics, and made ourselves $2.95.

Somewhere in there, the store blew up due to something on the Diamond or iVerse end, and the store was down for "some amount of time" -- maybe a month, even. It got fixed in the fourth quarter, but not without a wholllle lot of testing by iVerse folks. In the course of that testing (as well as testing things like with Top Shelf's Double Barrel was actually up), and for something else that looked hella promising, but never followed through on, I made another $12.31 from various people testing various things. Not one cent of that $12.31 was from a consumer sale, however.

So, in year one, I grossed $37.08. Wow.

In exchange for all of these micro transactions, I had to pay PayPal an astounding $14.19 in fees (and that's much less that in would have been, if I didn't switch over to "micropayments")

So, my net was $22.89 in year one. Not bad for something that doesn't cost me any inventory or anything, but San Francisco minimum wage is current $10.55/hour, and I spent at least 20 hours of my life dealing with various things to do with the store and infrastructure, so HARDLY a productive use of anyone's time, really.  Esssspecially because that net amount? We split it evenly among SavCrit writers.  My personal share was under $4!

I'm, of course, hopeful that the store will continue to generate more money as time wears on (honestly, there was one test they did there which could be paradigm shifting.... but that was months ago, and the follow up hasn't happened yet [maybe at ComicsPRO, next month?]), but, as of right now "it isn't worth the time I've invested so far".

Either way, if you like this site, we always appreciate you supporting it -- if you buy a comic from our digital store we get (as you see) a small cut, but it's a cut nonetheless for something that, we hope, you were going to buy anyway.  You could also clock on the little "buy us a beer" button off the the right over there, and make a direct donation to us, if you wanted. So endeth the ad.

Time to go help Ben with his homework!!



Shop Update: Double Barrel Achievement Unlocked!

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App Hey, everybody.  Jeff here with a double reminder that:

(a) Double Barrel #5 is out today; and (even better)

(b) all issues of Double Barrel are available for purchase from the Savage Critic store!

As regular listeners to the Wait, What? podcast know, Graeme and I are huge fans of this two-talent monthly anthology from Top Shelf.  Each new issue is $1.99 and usually features approx. 1oo+ pages of great comics and enjoyable comics crafting essays.  (Issue #4 is only 81 pages.)  But since Top Shelf drops the price on the previous issues, you can get issues #1-4 for at $0.99 a pop.  There are two main recurring serials: Zander Cannon's Heck, about a modern-day adventurer who uses his house's portal for Hell as a business opportunity, and Kevin Cannon's Crater XV, a sequel to his Far Arden graphic novel, about a washed-up cantankerous sea dog who gets immersed in arctic high seas adventure.  (Don't worry, I hadn't read Far Arden when I started in with issue #1 of Double Barrel and it didn't trip me up at all.)

So my quick notice here is sort of a two-fold plea:  for those of you who've picked up Double Barrel on our recommendation, I hope you'll consider purchasing the latest issue through our digital store. I know it's a bit of a hassle to flip between two different comics apps (Comixology and iVerse's Comics Plus viewer) but it would throw a small bit of change in our pockets.  And if you still haven't picked up Double Barrel--take the time, energy and the dollar and get the 122 page first issue.  It's great stuff, and both Cannons, Zander and Kevin, are more than just brave and daring adventurers in this digital wilderness: they're also top-notch cartoonists and storytellers.

Unfortunately, Double Barrel wasn't available in our shop from day one, and it took some emails and communication with the hard-working staff at Top Shelf (Thank you, Chris Ross!) and the people at Diamond Digital to make sure we had access to us.  Making this available was important to everyone involved--it certainly was important to me because I think Double Barrel is a great, affordable read (even more so now that previous issues are less than a buck!) and a possible outlier of the future of digital comics that can work in tandem with direct marketplace shops.  I hope it's an experiment you will be enough of a daring adventurer yourself to investigate...and I hope you consider investigating it through our shop.

The Digital Store

Wholly unbeknownst to me, the store looks to have been down for some amount of time.  Maybe months, I'm not sure. (That sounds sad, but I don't buy digital comics, and no one mailed me to say "its not working!" -- I just hadn't notced I wasn't getting regular paypal notices of purchases any longer).  BUT.. it's working again now, after, lord, nearly a week of back and forth of figuring out what went wrong.  You can find the store right here -B

Byte Me!

Hey, remember a few weeks ago when I said "There's a big announcement coming!", and then I had to walk that back a little? Well, hey, it's here, below the jump! So, like first off, I'm just going to lay this out person-to-person. You understand that I am a retailer, and I sell things for a living, but I don't sell here at Savage Critic. I (and my wonderful cohorts) tell you what they think, whether that's good or bad or indifferent or [Schrodinger's Cat]. While I'm working up to a good and/or service, I'm going to speak to you how I like to be spoken to: largely focusing on ones/(my) Perception of The Truth, rather than trying to Sell you on anything.

People think of me as anti-digital, I guess; though that's really not accurate at all. It's more that I'm against any kind "Everything will be 100% better with digital" thinking, because I don't think the "problem" with the comics market is access and availability, but, rather that we're a niche market, not a mainstream one. Even at our highest highs (boy, isn't Walking Dead doing pretty super?), we're still at just a small fraction of the viewers of that TV show.  WATCHMEN is past a million copies but, I think, short of two... while maybe something on the order of 15+ million people paid money to see it in a theatre, and hell, probably 3+ times that have watched it on DVD or streaming or cable or something else.  Meanwhile, it's extremely unlikely that the "Before Watchmen" books will sustain 100k+ sales, and it wouldn't shock me if some of the involved titles bottom out below 50k.

We've been through "The grass is greener!" more than once, most recently with the bookstore market, and, guess what? We can still count the number of million copy best sellers... well, probably not on one hand, but it certainly isn't a large club. And that's in a population of 250+ million people.

Comics are an acquired taste. THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. Hell, I think we're smarter and sexier because we know comics and "they" don't, but "they" are a long long long way from even beginning to embrace us.

Further, I truly think that comics that are created for paper are inherently better ON paper, because physical space is an important part of how comics "work". I especially think that panel-by-panel viewing thing that cmX has is the absolute work of the devil -- the gutters are exactly where the magic of comics fundamentally lies, and you can't remove that panel border and have it still be comics, exactly. I truly think that comics belong foremost as a print medium, and I think that most of the audience agrees, which is why we're running entirely counter-cyclical to any "normal" digital trends in this medium.

Having said all of that, it is obvious and clear that some people disagree, whether it is from honest cognitive disagreement, or "well, that would be nice, but there's no place within 100 miles that sells any form of comics" or, just, "fuck, I don't want clutter any more". What *I* think about the "purity" of the medium really means fuck-all, doesn't it, when there ARE obviously some number of people that want digital.

cmX has a retailer participation model, but I've actually read the contract that you have to agree to, and I thought it was flatly one of the most lopsided, unfair, and kind of blatantly evil documents I've ever read. Others surely disagree, and there are certainly some retailers who will say that they're generating large sums with no overhead. But I'm totally unwilling to do so under the contract cmX offered.

So, that brings us to Diamond comics partnership with iVerse to bring digital comics directly into retail stores. Most of Diamond's focus has been on a kind of "do you want fries with that?" digital copy upsell in store. Hell, maybe that can even work -- though I have a hard time picturing it, and, besides, the physical print market is already niche enough that physical retailers would be, I think, largely foolish to even raise the possibility that customers in their physical stores might migrate to digital (not that I think they WILL, as a mass) (but the REAL problem is that if the "wrong" 10% -- the heavy users who buy most of the comics; the cats who buy 20+ comics every single week -- shifts their business, the entirely possibility of much of the physical market kind of disappears for the other 90% of the participants, whether they want it or not)

All I know is that I'm sure as hell not going to promote digital within my individual physical sales environment. I think that's plainly counter-productive to my physical print-based business.

The internet, however, is different. I'll be surprised if even 1% of my regulars read this blog posting, or even an aggregation site's picking up on the "story". But there are hundreds, thousands, lots! of readers reading these words who will never set foot in my store for the simple reason that you're nowhere near me whatsoever. SOME of you are interested in digital comics.

And so for you few and proud and awesome!!!, I've very proud to announce that because I'm one of the very very few people who has both a Diamond account, as well as an internet review site, boom, now we're selling digital comics.

Yeah, didn't expect that, didja?

We're selling digital comics through iVerse's program, but as you see from that URL and site, that's branded as SavCrit, and ComixExp; and all sales are pretty much under Diamond's Terms of Sale, with the main exception of the split. As it is set right now, I get one third, Diamond and iVerse get one third, and the publisher gets the last third. I don't know how Diamond and iVerse are splitting dollars, but even in a crazy unfair world, I bet Diamond is still preserving most of the profit slice they normally get, while having almost no overhead at all.

(I'm losing 33% of my gross profit on publishers that cap in print at 50%, and 40% of my profit on a brokered publisher like Image, where it's 55% off. But the upside is zero inventory expense for unsold copies.)

I know that there's going to be a vocal contingent of people who will say "yeah, but I use comiXology, and don't want a second system", and I feel you, I really do, but y'know, in this app based world I kind of have to file that one under "white people problems" -- switching between apps really isn't hard.

I don't expect anyone to really just go and "graze" at the store, instead what we'll do is, when we're reviewing a book that we also have for sale, there will be a hotlink to that book. I wish this happened a different week (Onomatopoeia, and order form this week!) so I'd have a proper review up at the same moment to show you how it works in practice, but pretend as I reprint this one from last week:

PROPHET #24: Ugh, now THIS is comics! Man, I don’t even know what this bit has to do with anything in the first three issues (same character, wholly different scenario), but I also don’t care, because it’s such fun science fiction, AND we get some wonderful artwork from Farel Dalrymple. I think I’ve said this before, but this reminds me of nothing less than HEAVY METAL from the 1970s, amazingly inventive and lavishly illustrated science fiction that may or may not make a ton of sense, but who cares because the passion just drips off it. I think this is truly EXCELLENT work.

Something like that, anyway -- I may not link the review summary word now that I see it looks kind of ugly. Either way, it's meant to be unobtrusive and not all "Buy!"-y

There are drawbacks to iVerse & Diamond Digital -- the first being that the back library  is, right now, only a few months behind. The second being a fairly small number of publishers represented -- Ape, Arcana, Archie, Bluewater, Boom!, Broadsword, IDW, Image, Top Shelf and Viper. More, we presume, will be added as time goes on.

Also, I'm told that while you can buy comics using Firefox, you'll have to READ THEM (if you're doing so on a browser, rather than using the app) on a different browser for now. That kinda sucks.

All of "my" (1/3) share of the digital sales will be split evenly amongst the SavCrit participants while we test this -- so if you've always wanted to support the site, but have felt like you didn't want to do a direct Paypal donation or something (though certainly feel free to do that, as well), now you can buy comics and understand that it keeps Graeme and Jeff doing podcasts (and maybe even written reviews again, wouldn't THAT be nice!), or John one step closer to that high powered telescope, so he can watch EVERYthing that Howard Victor Chaykin does, and so on and so forth.

Oh, the last thing is that I, like Mark Waid before me, intend to be fairly open about the success and / or failure of this initiative. I suspect that once a year I'll pop in with a "this is how digital is doing" post.

Well... that's about that, I think? Please feel free to offer comments in the thread below, though I doubt I'll be able to answer any tech questions whatsoever.

So, what do you think?



A BIG announcement!

You know how a few days ago, I promised "a frickin' GIANT announcement"? Well, it turns out that I can officially announce at this moment in time, exclusively to this site, and in front of God and man....

...that the Giant announcement will take place sometime in the future!

Find me at a bar and we'll laugh at how things are unfolding, and, yeah, something IS happening (I'm sworn and promised) but maybe not for a few weeks, or maybe even a few months, depending.

Sorry to get your hopes up!!


New Comix Experience website!

In other news, we've completed a refresh of the Comix Experience website, which was pretty long overdue, I hate to say. In addition to it just looking visually fresher, there's a fair chunk of new content on the site for you to examine -- in super-particular I've put up an additional 26 Tilting at Windmills, and you can also find a scan of the ultra-rare Comix Experience 5th anniversary magazine, yay!

Spend a few minutes tooling around, let me know what you think?

Much love to my Mom, who did the rebuild! THANKS MOM!



Burble Burble Burble, Hibbs fufills a promise to review

I said I was going to review, so here's a few quick hits. I've been spending a lot of time this week on the back end of the site, you'll notice some of the real estate has changed. That "uncategorized" number will shrink over the year as I go through the older, blogger-era posts (sheesh, we have nearly 2000 posts here at this point!), but the tag cloud will really only be utilized properly going forward from here.  

If you have any mechanical/aesthetic suggestions for the site, now is the time to do so.


Putting that aside, what stuck with me in the last two weeks?


PUNISHERMAX #14: I wrote up #13, but #14 compels me to speak again. Jason Aaron has found this astonishing sweet spot to tell the origin of the Punisher that neither directly involves 'nam nor that fateful day in Central Park. I had thought that all veins of the Punisher were as mined out as could be, but Aaron has found a genuinely new place to get us into Frank's head that feels resoundingly realistic to this reader. What's great is just how well Aaron has mastered the language of comics here (ably aided and abetted by Steve Dillon) -- at least I'm assuming that all of the awesome scene transitions and juxtapositions are in Aaron's script. The story is centered around what must be Stock Punisher Cliche Story #1: Frank's in Jail! and yet at no point am I thinking "Damn, been here before". This is possibly the weirdest recommendation coming from MY lips, but I think that this book is one of the five best appearing on the stands "monthly" these days, and, certainly and BY FAR the single best title that Marvel is publishing today from a perspective of craft. This is seriously bravura work on this storyline -- Eisner level work, in spite of the character -- and should be selling 4 or 5 times what it is currently. Flat out EXCELLENT.


FEAR ITSELF: FEARSOME FOUR #1: Is really everything that Graeme said in his review, but, damn it, he didn't bring up the fact that half (or so) of the issue is drawn by two wicked awesome illustrators: Michael Kaluta, and Simon Bisley. And each of those sections are gorgeous looking (for wholly different reasons). I mean, talk about two tastes that don't even remotely go together -- soaring, delicate fine linesmanship of Kaluta bouncing against the explosive putrid grunge (and, hm, I mean that in a good way) of Bisley. There's a third artist involved (Ryan Bodenheim) who looks like the same artist that drew the last Howard mini (or was it a one shot? It blurs) in that strange small-bill version, but Kaluta and Bisley are drawing the "real" Howard (mostly). I wonder if it is now more important or less important at Disney HQ that HTD properly looks like Donald? Serously, there could not be a more jarring looking book that makes no visual sense of any kind, but you have to admire the king size stones of an editor that's commissioning pages from such disparate sources and thinking for a second that it might work. It's really and truly an AWFUL comic to try and read, but as a curious-ass artifact of how comics are made? I'll say GOOD. This is something ten years from now you'll kick yourself for not having this issue.


GHOST RIDER #0.1: For a "and this is how Ghosty becomes a chick!" comic, I thought this was remarkably entertaining (even though the chick-ing comes in #1, I think, and this is just a way to get Johnny Blaze to not be Ghosty any longer) (is it just me, or is this a really short second run for JB?) -- even though I wouldn't want to hazard a guess if the series to follow this might be any good or not, since it won't be about these characters. I had low-to-no expectations here, and, yeah, I thought it was a low GOOD.


KIRBY GENESIS #1: As you will recall I was so-so on #0, but I thought this one was a tremendous comic. Part of it is that the Kurt Busiek that is writing it is the "Astro City Kurt", and the choice is made to squarely focus on the human character. I know that Jack Kirby's worst ideas are probably more compelling that many guy's best ideas, but I'd generally suggest there's a reason that most of these concepts on display didn't go anywhere. I mean, the market has had a few chances to decide it didn't want Silver Star, right? I really didn't care much about the JK characters running around, and yet I still thought that KIRBY GENESIS #1 was the best comic I read the week of 6/15 because of the human heart centering it. So, yeah, a strong GOOD.


AVENGERS #14: plot-wise, I dunno, it's really just a bunch of punching, but I thought that Bendis was really smart here by counter-pointing the big stuff with the little-insets-of-oral-history-interview technique that I've previously thought was kind of cloying. This time it worked pretty well, as Romita JR really does excel at the two-big-guys-punching stuff -- it is just wonderfully kinetic -- while the insets let the pacing to work out so that it isn't a 30-second read. I don't find a Worthy-fied Thing nor a Red Hulk at all compelling, and I kinda moaned when the new Avengers Tower came crashing down (plus, like, how does it have force fields that can protect the people inside, but not protect the building itself? Buh?) since that just seemed so cliche, but this was a rare issue of AVENGERS that I thought was (if on the lower end of) GOOD.


OK, I have to get back to editing old posts, and getting ready to go into work... what did YOU think?




Why am I starting to feel old?

Internet time is compressed and strange, and it is a whole lot of new all of the time, and so when things last it feels a little weird, doesn't it?  

It was ten years ago today that I started posting openly to the web using the Savage Critic name -- that was on comixexperience.com, and something broke that I hadn't noticed until a week ago, and I don't know how to fix it and anyway, that site will be revamped (and hopefully properly restored) sometime in June-ish, so sorry you can't go back and look at Public post #1 at this very second.


I had posts on Doug Pratt's long-gone Comics & Animation Forum on CompuServe (Wheeee, dial-up connections!) under the name maybe 4-5 years before that, but since that was only for CompuServe members, and, anyway there's no way to search those to day that I know about, I don't know if I can count any of that ? Either way, I'm one of the older (f not oldest) "named" internet comics commentators. Rich Johnston changed names 3 or 4 times since then; I believe I predate Johanna's Comics Worth Reading... who else am I missing?


Things were different then -- this whole name thing started from me doing one-sentence-or-less reviews for pretty much every single comic that shipped each week. It was on a bet. I'd lose that bet today (there's more new material than I have hours, in an average week of 2011). I had an awful lot of one-word reviews as time went on, I recall.


Now, The Savage Critics is  collection of voices -- you probably don't like how often any of us post, but since I think total donations to the site last year were like $20, maybe, so I'm not so sure that you really get to complain, hoss -- and I want to thank all of my co-voices over this last public decade. Most especially Jeff Lester without whom which there's probably no chance you'd be reading ANY of this (what did I know from setting up websites?), and who is something like 9 3/4 years of talking about comics on this site. Plus he's been leading weekly (!) podcasts for longer than I want to think about, and everyone should love Jeff....


...love him....all....night....long....


(Wow, I could hear him shudder, all the way from over here!)


I also want to super-thank Mr. Graeme McMillan and the lovely Kate McMillan (who keeps control of the site for me) -- I think it's actually Graeme's world of comics, and we just live in it... I mean, seriously, is there a website you don't see a post from G on at some point? I'm not wrong, am I? He's the only man who is on Robot 6 AND Blog @ Newsarama, right?


And I want to thank in no particular order the rest of my fellow Critics through the years: Jog and Abhay and Tucker and Douglas and Sean and David and Chris and Johanna and Diana and even the late and lamented Dick Hyacinth who made three lovely posts and then never said another word since, or even responded to email. We miss you, Dick! ET phone home!


And, I guess this is the place in the speech where I thank you, The Readers? I mean, clearly, I like the sound of my own voice, but if other people didn't say "Hey, I kinda like it, too", then I'd be a lot quieter, I think. So, thank you, the silent ones as well as the ones who take the time to comment, I wouldn't bother if I didn't  think I entertained you.


So yeah ten years, here's to another ten and whoo-freakin'-hoo to comics, right?



OK, I think we're back this time!

I *think* all of the backstage drama is now over, and we should be good to go from here out. Because of the @#$@%@ at the old hosting service, we seem to have lost the last week's worth of posts... but I'm going to see what I can do to get them back up here via Google Cache, as I have time throughout the day.

UPDATE: Sadly, we lost any COMMENTS to the blog in the last 9-10 days, and all of the pictures/video got broke -- but all of the text content is back up at least.

I also suspect that everyone needs to update your RSS feeds AGAIN, but, honestly that should be it.  Wish us luck!!


Brian catches up on 2/24 and 3/3

One more bit of housekeeping: when we switch, sometime later this week, to our new hosting provider, the site will go black again. Kate says “about 3 hours”, but I’m going to say “up to 24 hours”, just to be safe. Once that passes, however, we should be good to go for the long run (he said, his fingers crossed) Plinking out things I’ve missed over the last two weeks…

FALL OF HULKS RED HULK #2: Maybe it is me (it often is!), but if I were buying a book called “Red Hulk”, I’d expect to read a story about, oh, dunno, the Red Hulk maybe? I might even hope that it would tell me something (anything!) about the character. But it doesn’t. this comic is instead about Thundra. Which, like, fair enough, calling it “Fall of the Hulks: Thundra” might have not sold at all. The entire FOH storyline makes me think of LOST, season 2 — where they really didn’t have any idea what they were doing, and they just kept piling on mysteries hoping that the mystery itself would keep you interested. In my case, it sure ain’t, and I thought this was pretty AWFUL

THOR #607 SIEGE: Huh. Did, like, they tell Gillen to write this, and then not tell him anything about the story that was going on, whatsoever? I mean, it is bad enough that there’s a bunch of stuff about Tubby that directly contradicts what is happening in SIEGE EMBEDDED (not that, in and of itself, that’s a horrible thing, but you’d think that some editor, somewhere would say “Hey, hold on…!”), but I have dire and epic problems with the portrayal of  Loki here — Loki is shown DIRECTLY killing and imprisoning his fellow Asgardians. Uh, yeah, no. That’s not Loki — Loki always works through catspaws, leaving himself completely blameless. Assuming that anything of Asgard comes out at the end of this storyline (and I imagine that it must if only because there is a movie coming out soonish), how is Loki not going to be executed for his actions here? Also: the title character doesn’t appear in his own comic, hurrah! I also thought this was pretty AWFUL.

Flash forward a week…

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #33: I find it fairly funny that Brad Meltzer, who is reasonably reviled in certain circles, is turning in the best scripts that anyone has managed so far on BUFFY. I’ve been, for the most part, enjoying BUFFY, but it has been fairly clear to me that the TV writers bounce around from “Only sorta getting” the rhythm of a comics page to outright “not getting it”. Meltzer DOES clearly “get it”, and the emotional beats and humor here is all really aces. VERY GOOD.

CROSSED #9: In which Garth Ennis proves, once again, despite being able to see into the sick heart of mankind’s limitless darkness towards itself, is actually a big ol’ sugar-bear softie in the inside. Aw, a happy ending, with walking off into the sunset and holding hands and everything. AWWWWWWWWWWW. I’ll go with GOOD.

FIRST WAVE #1: Just looking at the book itself, I thought this was a fairly solid and straight ahead creation of “Earth-Pulp” that worked very well — I’ll give it a GOOD; but I’m dumbfounded that DC isn’t giving the audience a chance to decide whether or not they like this approach before also launching DOC SAVAGE and SPIRIT *monthly ongoings* that both start next month. Really? Isn’t that basically what completely cut the legs out from under the Red Circle titles? When a series title has shown multiple times over the last decades that it has a hard time finding and attracting and keeping an audience, the solution is to bundle them together as a “line”? Even though the basic qaulity here seems a lot stronger than the Red Circle stuff, I can’t for the life of me imagine any of these books now taking off or doing better than, say, 5k-ish by month #6; nor do I think these will have legs in collected formats either. Too bad, this is a fine start, but you can’t over-saturate the audience before they’ve even decided the like the original product…

KEVIN SMITH GREEN HORNET #1: Same basic problem here. Launching a new GH, by Kevin Smith would seem like a rational move — but it’s deeply irrational to launch like FOUR more series from the premise before the ink is even dry on the first one. This issue sold better than I had thought that it would (I even had to reorder), but the expansion plans for the title already have me reconsidering my orders for the next issues — people might want one GH book… they don’t want five. I thought this first issue was fairly EH.

GIRL COMICS #1: Maybe it is just me (and, again, it probably is), but this really read to me like Marvel had commissioned too much material for STRANGE TALES, realized it, then commissioned even more work to fill out a second mini-series. That’s probably NOT what happened, but it is how it read to me — STRANGE TALES frontloaded most of the really terrific stuff in issue #1, and the quality dropped precipitously after that. This is ST #4, and except for the AWESOME Collen Coover introduction, just felt like a waste of talent and pages to me. I left it feeling extremely EH, and I’m not really looking forward at all to issue #2 (or 5, heh!)

JUSTICE LEAGUE CRY FOR JUSTICE #7: I’ve several problems here. The first is that, structurally, this thing is a mess — we start the story with Congorilla and Mik-Star seeking vengeance, and then maybe coming to the conclusion in the middle that “vengeance” isn’t at all the same thing as “justice”, and we end the series with Ollie throwing that all away with an act of murder. You can debate the value-or-not of that act (but I’ll pass), but thematically, this is just a muddled mess.

Then we can take issue with the “women in refrigerators”-style killing of innocents to simply deliver shock in the lowest-common-denominator kind of way, but David and Tucker covered that ground pretty damn well. I can’t add much other than “a city dead and his arm bloweded off ain’t enough, you got kill the guy’s daughter, too?”

But I honestly think my biggest problem is that you have a majorly Gardner Fox-style problem (your specific powers set off the bomb), and they didn’t go for the Fox-ian solution? SWITCH BOMBS, DUMBASSES. That’s JL 101, damn it.

There’s also let’s-make-Prometheus-a-non-joke-again, then-kill-him-off-on-the-last-page, or The “Wait, how’d Ollie defeat the guy who can shoot faster than the FUCKING FLASH can run?” or the “Wait, where’s Diana’s magic truth-telling lasso?” or… well, color me frustrated.

As I’ve said, now that Robinson is past this and the BLACKEST NIGHT tie ins, I’m really liking his “main” JL run so far, so maybe we can collectively write this off as some sort of editorially-mandated bad dream or something, but, damn, this was really CRAP.

ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS #5 ULTIMATE COMICS NEW ULTIMATES #1: I honestly don’t understand how these two books relate to one another… or why they’d publish two books that seem to if not contradict one another, at least not support the other… or why they’d try high profile launches with good-artists-who-can’t-keep-rational-deadlines… or, to top it all off, TO SHIP THEM IN THE SAME DAMN WEEK.

What the FUCK is wrong with you people?

I thought “Avengers” was pretty EH and “New Ultimates” was reasonably OK, but when they invariably miss their next shipping dates, and the audience decides that they’ve had enough and they can’t figure out the continuity and, hell, what did we see in the “Ultimate” line in the first place? well, don’t come crying to me, chums.

I mean the majority of the books that I talked about this week are prime examples of Why Is The Audience Shrinking? and don’t the publishers see that? Don’t they GET it? I’m not very smart, but I can watch, in my own store, as the audience slowly leaks away, skulking off in the night, because they’re just sick of the behavior of the publishers… and it JUST DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY, HONESTLY.

Publishers make me cry.

As always, what did YOU think?


Arriving 3/10/2010

Some housekeeping: If you were signed up on the RSS feed from the old (blogger) version of the site, you need to sign up for the new RSS feed from this iteration (Wordpress) — thanks to Jeff for noticing this. I don’t use RSS, so it’s all mysterious to me.

Question: How current do you want my reviews to be? If I post on Wednesdays, I can include some/all of that week’s books, but I’m worried that a significant chunk of you haven’t read those books yet?

Here’s this week’s shipping list, below the cut



What looks good to YOU?


…and we’re back!

Our current hosting provider decided, for some reason, that basic Wordpress scripts were “using too much memory” and took us down. Without warning, naturally. Said company has a phone line featuring 20 minute waits in line to talk to someone who merely reads you back the email exchanges.

Said company has reps who, when they call you, don’t leave the toll free number to call back on.

Said company suggested we upgrade to a hosting plan that would be roughly 14x what we currently pay.

Said company took more than 3 days to restore this blog after we complied with thier instructions.

Said company? Not going to be our provider by this time next week.

So, no, it wasn’t you. It was them.

Sorry for the hassle!