Word escaped today that Bob Wayne is celebrating 25 years at DC Comics today. Yowsa. Allow me to entirely take over the front page today in praise of the old bastard.
So, let me first say this: the Direct Market has never ever had a better friend, ever, than Bob Wayne. More than any other person I can think of, Bob understands the strength and the power of fans selling directly to other fans. He also, and I think this is at least as important, most of the dangers and pitfalls of the same, and he's done a stellar job of navigating those two shores
A lot of lot of words have been expended about Paul Levitz's DC comics (I think we can all see VERY clearly how much and how fast DC's corporate culture has changed since he was forced out), but I think that Bob is at least as important to the company.
Bob, you see, is very much like the DC characters he sells -- well, at least their pre-New52 versions -- he has a pretty unshakable moral sense of doing the right thing, and of protecting all people under his charge equally. That's a rare thing. Especially in marketing.
Bob's got a great staff, too, don't get me wrong -- I know he's not the only smart, caring guy up there, but I'm going to be a sad panda when Bob eventually retires (which is probably going to be pretty soon, I figure -- his 58th birthday was this year), because Bob knows how to fight the fights, and where the bodies are all buried.
Y'know, I was arguing with another retailer a week or two ago and he said something like "You are listened to too much by the industry", and I immediately flashed to Bob and laughed -- I think I have maybe a 1-in-3 Win record with Bob, and I have the decades of bruises to show for it. But that's fine: Bob's smarter and always better informed than me, and the fact that I was able to win a third of our battles makes me feel like a better fighter over all.
What I love about Bob is how he'll remember every mistake you've ever made, but he won't actually hold it over you. Most people play every card they have, but Bob likes to keep his. The acerbic bastard.
And while he'll tell you exactly what he thinks (often more bluntly than people want to hear) -- he won't tell you anything you're not allowed to know. Comics is sometimes very loose lips-y, but Bob, never Bob.
Someday, I remain hopeful, Bob will write a book of his experiences at DC, and in the geek business, because I tell you now, I'm going to be the first person in line to read that baby, yes.
But until then, there's been 25 important years that Bob has protected and nurtured and grown our business, and, because I intend to still be here (I'm a smidge younger than Bob) I kind of hope he'll have 25 more.
I'm not cruel enough to wish it, but I still hope it nonetheless.
Happy Anniversary, Bob!
Before I get into talking about this week’s books, let me say I am fairly happy about Marvel and DC’s announcements on pricing – DC is moving their entire line to $2.99, while Marvel will (at least, it isn’t that clear) not be debuting any new books at $3.99 – that’s a step in the right direction. However (and there’s always a “however”, isn’t there), I’m slightly unconvinced that, in and of itself, this will directly increase sales revenue (and, in fact, in the short term at least this will lower it) because I do tend to suspect that the Big Two have succeeded in Breaking The Habit for a large number of customers unless and until the two publishers fix the other two problems facing the periodicals of their respective universes at the same time. To whit:
1) Cutting back on the unviable line extensions
2) Increasing the density and importance of the books they publish.
The crisis isn’t one solely of “price” – it is really more of “value” – and in order to lure back the lapsed there needs to be a marked increase in the perceived value of the books they publish.
I almost wish they hadn’t decided that January was the month to do this because the first quarter is traditionally a weak one to begin with, and when we couple decreases there with the product-weak fourth quarter I’m still expecting a large number of store closings this winter. We’ll have to see if this is a “too late” move or not…
Meanwhile, big congrats on Bob Wayne being named Senior VP of Sales at DC – Bob is the best friend the DM has, and I count this as a smart and solid move for the marketplace. Yay, Bob!
With that out of the way…
ALAN MOORE NEONOMICON #2 (OF 4) :Yeowch, that’s pretty hardcore, isn’t it? I can’t say I enjoyed it, though the Craft is fine; I was just as disturbed that the comic seemed to just abruptly stop in the middle of a scene. OK, I guess.
BOYS #47: the scene I guess many of us have been waiting for for several years now (well, I was – this bit is more interesting to me than most of the Vought stuff, really), and, man does Hughie take it badly. This comic made me feel worse than even the horrific rapes in NEONOMICON, though this was certainly an honest, human reaction. VERY GOOD, if horrible.
CBLDF LIBERTY ANNUAL 2010: What a swell package of comics! And for a good cause, too – BUBBADUBBADUBBADUBBA, indeed! VERY GOOD.
CHAOS WAR #1 (OF 5): I’ve pretty consistently liked Hercules, but this really struck me as too self-indulgent and plothammery. It’s like “Not enough people are buying the comic about a character I love, so I’ll make him like the most powerful character in the Marvel Universe for a few minutes, and that will show everyone!” Nice art, and it zipped along just fine, but ugh, don’t be so in love with your babies. EH
DC COMICS PRESENTS JACK CROSS #1: I don’t get who or what market niche these DCCP things are meant to fill – are they somehow getting away with reprinting these with no or low royalties because they’re not “trade paperbacks” per se? I dunno. But what I DO know is it is really really stupid to release Warren Ellis work in a “permanent” format, and to not put his name on the cover anywhere, nor to print anything whatsoever on the spine of the book. AWFUL, from a marketing perspective; the comics inside are OK
KLAWS OF PANTHER #1 (OF 4): “Seriously, would someone please buy Black Panther comics? Pretty please?” The dialogue was annoyingly… well, poppy, maybe? Modern? I dunno, but that’s not how a Wakanda Princess should be talking I don’t think, and the weird nature of the “supporting cast” is oddly off putting as well. I liked the art, though I kept thinking it was a mutated Shawn McManus as I was reading it. But this is kind of symptomatic of what I was saying above about too many (& Inessential) books above – literally zero preorders for this, and, so far, zero rack sales too. I’ve FOCed #2 down to zero because of that – there’s (roughly) $2 a copy I’ll never get back, sigh. If a character/take doesn’t work, you really need to give it a year or two break off of the market (EG: ATLAS) before trying again. Also: surely one can write a BP book without resorting to stupid old Klaw as the antagonist? Ugh. Severely EH.
METALOCALYPSE DETHKLOK #1 (OF 3): It loses a certain something by not being animated (and with a soundtrack – the song sequence failed, utterly), but not epically. I do think the Milestone-Scratch-Out would have been better for the profanity (and like the “Metal sound” they use on the show) than the @#$% stuff, but ah well. OK.
ULTIMATE COMICS THOR #1 (OF 4): I was pretty much digging the contemporary scenes, but then it wandered off to Nazi Germany and I got bored. Nazis are pretty passé – especially because Ultimate-Universe Nazis are meant to be pawns of the Skrull… I don’t know, for some reason I pulled ULTIMATES v1 off my bookshelf last week and was reminded just how shockingly powerful those books were, and the current direction of the line seems so lame and tame in comparison. Still, I liked those first 10 or whatever pages… OK
UNCANNY X-FORCE #1: My big shock of the week was just how much I liked this, especially given that I don’t care that much for any of the individual character. Pretty much the first time I’ve EVER liked Deadpool, and the Wolvie/Fantomex scene is nearly worth the price of admission by itself. Nice job, folks – VERY GOOD.
WOLVERINE #2: And a second surprise here – I thought #1 was alright, but I quite liked the second installment here. I don’t think people who like Wolverine are going to like it all that much, for a variety of reasons, and I especially think it’s the wrong direction for a Relaunch, and the Start of a Line of Wolverine Family Titles (ugh), but it is certainly sincere and trying for something different. GOOD.
I’ll have another post if I ever finish BEST AMERICAN COMICS; plus I still haven’t gotten to the new PARKER book yet – too busy with Ben’s bday, re-racking the store and a few other projects, but soon, soon…
As always, what did YOU think?