You Can Prepare For Everything*

I have to admit that I’m pleased to discover many of you are also troubled by the attitude so often found in today’s comics; I’m sometimes deathly afraid I don’t so much have valid points as a bad case of “Grumpy Old Man.” And while I don’t want to belabor those points, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention…

One of the least ‘real’ things about superhero comics is of course the costumes, which is why I’m a little confused by the last two issues of the Helmet of Fate mini-series which took on the task of creating new versions of Ibis the Invincible and Sargon the Sorcerer. Not that anyone was exactly crying out for new versions of either character but, hey, I understand. A corporation has to protect the trademarks on its intellectual properties at all cost.

Back in the 40s both characters managed to fight evil while wearing stylish suits and turbans, so naturally the first thing to be done was to get their new incarnations into either standard super-hero gear or, worse yet, a half naked (what I imagine is supposed to be) “middle eastern” look. If DC was really interested in attracting a more adult audience they’d have both dress like grown-ups; I mean, would it have killed them to spend ten minutes leafing through the latest Esquire and picking out something nice for them from Hugo Boss?

January was a fairly quiet month at Dark Star and happily the weekly comic bills were also fairly small. But then comic book sales were fairly small because none of the major publishers were releasing anything major (and I’m not just singling out the extreme lateness of Marvel’s Civil War, still, while we’re here, why not take a swing at such an obvious pinata?). And while we appreciate having some time to recover from the holidays, we’d much prefer to sell more comic books.

So next year why not produce some high quality product specifically for January? And instead of more super-hero titles that won’t make it past their second anniversary (I mean if Firestorm, pretty much the perfect model of how one should do a post-modern superhero comic book, can’t sustain sufficient sales to continue publication I think your audience is trying to tell you something), why not do something different?

DC, take a page from the recent Seven Soldiers of Victory series of mini-series and pick a bunch of older characters at random that need their trademarks renewed and produce some one-shots by some of today’s top talents (everyone under exclusive contract has to do one, no excuses). Off the top of my head there’s Mark Merlin & Prince Ra-Man (an odd couple pair of roommates/supernatural detectives), Anthro (the teen caveman saga reimagined as One Tree Hill where the characters have a license to be nearly naked) and Automan (a kid finds an old retro robot in his garage and they have adventures which at no time involve the government and/or a evil corporation trying to kill them).

*except the weather

Last week I promised to report on Dark Star’s Midnight Release Party for Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born #1. We worked on the preparations for weeks; press releases were sent out, flyers were printed and distributed to all the local universities plus we handed them out in the store along with copies of Dark Tower Sketchbook to every customer for at least two weeks.

We clean, tidied, straightened, put up signs, hired a caterer, arranged for a magician to perform, set up a TV and DVD so we could show Stephen King movies and rounded up items to giveaway.

Then it snowed. Not badly you understand but steadily and all day, inch after inch for hours on end on top of skin-cracking cold. The streets of Yellow Springs were a mess and the main highway artery to Dayton (the nearest large city) was closed in both directions because of multiple car accidents.

We persevered, telling frequent callers that yes, we would be open, and the event was still on. But by the time I left around 9:30pm (I was scheduled to stay until 11pm but there didn’t seem to be much point to staying any longer) we had, maybe, four total customers.

Naturally I missed the good part. Before midnight quite a few customers braved the weather (and never did that cliche have more validity) and took advantage of both our sales and the 12:01am release date of Gunslinger Reborn. In short we did pretty well (under the circumstances), managing to sell a goodly number of the comic and all copies with the variant covers as well.

Would we do it again? Yeah, probably. We’re already thinking about having a Midnight Release Party for the next (last) Harry Potter, bringing up an interesting point: the publisher releases those books in summer. Maybe next time Marvel does something like this they could do the same.