Category: Comics

With Further Ado #88: Nimble Innovation

With Further Ado #88: Nimble Innovation

I wish this was an April’s Fools story, but it is not.

In Mike Gold’s column here on Monday, Brainiac on Banjo, he talked about how comic shops, like so many other businesses, are struggling during the surreal new reality that the Coronavirus has unleashed. It’s a scary time for these entrepreneurs.

But we need to keep business issues and life-threatening issues in perspective.  We’re just a few weeks into it. Public figures are now contracting the virus, and many of us now know real people who have contracted it. I have two friends fighting the good fight against COVID-19 in the hospital right now. One’s outlook is pretty grim, I am afraid.

So my heart aches in so many ways. The prospect of a collapse, or at best a terrible shakeout of Geek Culture is one the scary things of which I am fearful. USA TODAY even noticed. They started a recent article with a look at a fanboy turned retailer in Pennsylvania:

YORK, Pa. – Brian Waltersdorff has been strolling the aisles of Comic Store West in York, Pennsylvania,  since 1986. He was the store’s first customer.

Fast forward 22 years, he found himself buying a portion of ownership into the store. This past January, he bought out his partners for sole ownership of his childhood comic book shop. 

“First-year businesses always have problems. I didn’t think it would happen (here),” he said. “But here we are.” 

Waltersdorff is one of several comic book shop owners across the country who are battling an unprecedented level of uncertainty caused by the coronavirus outbreak

The restrictions on movement have been catastrophic for him – as they have for most small business owners. However, the comic book industry is navigating a different sea of change: its main supplier has completely shut down its distribution chain.

 

Comic Shops, have, for the most part, been run and owned by strong-willed entrepreneurs who have financially skated near the edge. Likewise, publishers and companies that create Geek Culture ephemera have done the same.

In that column this past Monday, Mike Gold wrote, “Only a very few publishers are owned by massive mega-corporations such as AT&T, Amazon, and Disney. The rest are owned by very hard working Mom ’n’ Pop cockroach capitalists who depend upon these shops.”

TwoMorrows Publishing wrote candidly about how tough it is to sell magazines when your distributor and retailer outlets are closed.  So they are offering a 40% sale to keep the lights on. Continue reading “With Further Ado #88: Nimble Innovation”

Spotlight Interview with Ian McGinty and Eliot Rahal, creators of the new OGN, Robot’s Tale

Spotlight Interview with Ian McGinty and Eliot Rahal, creators of the new OGN, Robot’s Tale

Hey folks!

Welcome back to another spotlight interview.

This time we bring you an interview that we did with comic creators Ian McGinty and Eliot Rahal. They are the creative team behind a brand new Original Graphic Novel called Robot’s Tale. It is based on the music of the band Dance Gavin Dance and being published by Z2 Comics.

Ian is an artist who has worked on the Invader Zim movie and done work for Boom! Studios on the Adventure Time comics and Bee and PuppyCat. He also illustrated Poppy‘s Graphic Novel Genesis 1 which was also published by Z2.

Eliot is writer of such comics as Hot Lunch Special and Midnight Vista from AfterShock comics. He has done a bunch of work with Valiant Comics and besides this Dance Gavin Dance book is currently working on Bleed Them Dry from Vault comics.

We had a great conversation about this crazy story that they are creating. The audio recording has a lot more organic conversation, but we transcribed some of the most important parts below.

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Pop Culture Squad: We are very excited about this book you are doing with Dance Gavin Dance called Robot’s Tale. Before we get to what goes on in the book, why don’t you tell us how you guys got brought together on it?

Eliot Rahal: That’s all Josh Frankel. I know Ian has been doing work for Josh as Z2 for quite some time. I met Josh about a year and a half ago at New York Comic Con through a mutual friend. I immediately loved this man. He is such a unique person.

Ian McGinty: He is an insane human being. I don’t even know how to describe Josh, but he is a nutso person in the best way possible.

ER: He is great. How Ian and I got placed together is that I had been in conversation with Josh for over a year, trying to find a project, and this one lined up and he asked me to do it, and then he lined up with Ian’s schedule and here we are.

PCS: I have seen Robot’s Tale described as bat-shit crazy. So, what can we expect from this book? Continue reading “Spotlight Interview with Ian McGinty and Eliot Rahal, creators of the new OGN, Robot’s Tale”

Brainiac On Banjo #079: The Future of Comics?

Brainiac On Banjo #079: The Future of Comics?

In these disease-ridden times, it is quite natural for us to be preoccupied with matters of life, health, and continuity. But it is equally logical to assume that someday this will pass, and most all of us will be around the celebrate.

Well, I hate to be a buzzkill, but on that much anticipated day… that’s when we step into deep pile of fresh economic bat-dung. Lots of people are going to be hurting bad for money – I’m writing this on Sunday, so I can’t check out my retirement fund, and that is a relief. I suspect almost as many are going to be hurting for jobs.

This hurts all of us, but it likely will be devastating to Mom ’n’ Pop stores, cockroach capitalists, and to self-employed folks of all stripes. In other words, I’m talking about the network of maybe a couple thousand (on a good day) comic book stores. Therefore, I’m also talking about the future of the “smaller” comics publishers, their staffs, writers, artists, and the related backroom activities like distributors necessary to keep everything moving. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #079: The Future of Comics?”

New Number Ones For the Week of 3/25/20

New Number Ones For the Week of 3/25/20

Hey There Folks!! This column is designed to bring you reviews of new comic book series that came out this week. We will try to focus on independent and original series for the most part. This week we have three books for you. They are from Albatross Funny Books, Dynamite Entertainment, and Source Point Press.

You will usually find the books that we review in this space on our month list of New Number Ones. You might want to check over there to see what you can expect for the rest of the month.

The books this week are all continuations of other stories, but eminently worthwhile. As we all adjust to the new reality of a COVID-19 world, this column may undergo some changes but we will bring you debut reviews as we can.

This week we will bring you our thoughts on four books: Grumble: Memphis and Beyond the Infinite #1, Killing Red Sonja #1, and Viking Queen: Sleepers in Shadow #1 

Check out the reviews below in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “New Number Ones For the Week of 3/25/20”

Weird Scenes 082: What Goes Around… Goes Around… And Around…

Weird Scenes 082: What Goes Around… Goes Around… And Around…

Instant Karma’s gonna get you / Gonna knock you right on the head / You better get yourself together / Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead…

Welcome to our first edition of Weird Scenes Inside The Covid Mind…

Yin: According to published reports, crime is down about five percent; of course, your results might vary.

Yang: On the other hand, domestic violence is up 10%. Add that to the ridiculous increase of gun sales – what, you’re gonna shoot Covid-19? – and we might have a whole ‘nother problem real soon.

Wha?: The term “coronababies” is a thing. If you think diapers are hard to get right now, just wait until November.

Hmm: If we make it through this relatively intact, and keep a pleasant thought, we will have the internet to thank. It doesn’t prevent the stir-crazy, but it does mitigate it.

Feh: Bailout for Boeing? Well, I try to be loyal to my landsman companies, but these profit-over-lives money worshippers deserve to go blooie – even if they swear on a pile of Boeing 737 Max 8 parts that they won’t spend a penny of it on stock buybacks. I should point out that when the government bailout terms were near completion two days ago, Boeing’s stock skyrocketed. 33 billion dollars to the greatest gathering of corporate assholes in America – the airline industry – while the Blue states are given Green Stamps. And when it comes to buybacks… Continue reading “Weird Scenes 082: What Goes Around… Goes Around… And Around…”

Spotlight Interview with Comic Creator and Artist Craig Rousseau

Spotlight Interview with Comic Creator and Artist Craig Rousseau

Hey folks!

Welcome back to another spotlight interview. This time we interviewed comic creator and artist Craig Rousseau!

Craig has worked for a bunch of comic publishers including Marvel and DC. He is well remembered for a long run on Impulse with DC and he is the co-creator and artist of the Perhapanauts with Todd Dezago.

Craig and I talked about the new books he has coming out including Killing Red Sonja from Dynamite Entertainment and a re-release of Kyrra: Alien Jungle Girl from Scout Comics.

We also reminisced about some of his other work and talked about what his art process looks like today.

It was a great chat. I hope you enjoy it.

Below you will find the audio recording of our conversation. We also transcribed the majority of the interview for you, but there are still a couple things that you will only find in the audio.

 

Interview with Craig Rousseau on 3/10/2020

Pop Culture Squad: Thanks for doing this. Let’s talk about Killing Red Sonja from Dynamite. How did that gig come about? What can you tell us about the story for that particular book? I believe it is a five-issue series?

Craig Rousseau: I believe that it is six, but I could be wrong. So, it actually it came about because I’ve worked with Nate Cosby in the past. He was my editor over at Marvel way back when, and every now and then, I would do a cover or a pin-up or a couple of pages for him over at Dynamite. And I said, ”Hey, if anything ever comes up, I would love to work with you again.” Originally, he was looking for an artist to do some samples for Red Sonja/Vampirella, and quickly, we realized, that I was much more attuned to drawing grumpy old men and weird monsters and not so much hot chicks in bikinis.

PCS: Or onesies?

CR: Yeah! So, after a few quick samples, we kind of switched gears, and he said “I think we have something else that might work better for you.”  That is when he pitched the idea of Killing Red Sonja. Which, I thought, was a lot of fun and really much more my wheelhouse. Continue reading “Spotlight Interview with Comic Creator and Artist Craig Rousseau”

Press Release: Diamond Comics Distributors Stops New Comics Shipments Beginning April 1

Press Release

 

CORONAVIRUS EFFECTS ON DISTRIBUTION

As everyone knows, the world faces ever-increasing challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Its effects on the comics & collectibles and tabletop gaming industries have been felt far and wide. We are hearing from thousands of retailers that they can no longer service their customers as they have in the past, many of them forced to close by government action or resort to in-person or curbside delivery. Even those still open are seeing reduced foot traffic in most cases, a situation that seems likely to worsen with time.

Our publishing partners are also faced with numerous issues in their supply chain, working with creators, printers, and increasing uncertainty when it comes to the production and delivery of products for us to distribute. Our freight networks are feeling the strain and are already experiencing delays, while our distribution centers in New York, California, and Pennsylvania were all closed late last week. Our own home office in Maryland instituted a work from home policy, and experts say that we can expect further closures. Therefore, my only logical conclusion is to cease the distribution of new weekly product until there is greater clarity on the progress made toward stemming the spread of this disease.

EFFECTS ON DIAMOND COMIC DISTRIBUTORS

Product distributed by Diamond and slated for an on-sale date of April 1st or later will not be shipped to retailers until further notice. For the time being, however, we have been able to develop procedures with our teams at the distribution center in Olive Branch, MS to safely continue fulfillment of direct ship reorders for the retailers who are able to receive new product and need it to service their customers. It’s unlikely that orders will be filled on the same day they are placed, and these plans are subject to change if at any point we no longer feel that we can safeguard our teams while fulfilling orders.

Product distributed by Diamond UK and slated for an on-sale date of March 25th or later will not be shipped to retailers until further notice. Further updates with regard to reorders and other Diamond UK-specific information will be communicated directly to their customers as information becomes available.

EFFECTS ON ALLIANCE GAME DISTRIBUTORS

Product distributed by Alliance has been shipping from our Fort Wayne, IN and Austin, TX warehouses. Both are closing at the end of the day on Tuesday, March 24th, in the interest of employee safety and to comply with direction from local governments. Any orders not shipped by that time will not be processed until further notice. Your dedicated sales team will still be working remotely and will help you with any orders you’d like to place today or questions you may have.

OUR SHARED PATH FORWARD

With these changes in our distribution strategy, we will work with our publishing partners to develop programs that will address product already in the pipeline and what will happen when we resume distribution. We know that during this time you will face many challenges, and we will direct our energies toward addressing them, rather than fighting on increasingly numerous fronts to get product out.

For those retailers who remain open in various forms, I encourage you let loose your own creativity. For the time being, you will be able to replenish your perennials from Diamond and/or Alliance, but you should also remember the stock you already have in your stores. If your doors remain open, it’s likely you will have customers who will continue to seek diversion from events of the world. Special sales, promotions, and even eBay can help you bring in cash during this trying time. Product for which you’ve already paid may well hold some of your answers. There have been many solid suggestions offered about how to help our retailers, and we will bring many of them together in future communications.

Besides the industry’s most immediate needs, we have been and will continue looking toward the future, when we see stores reopening, bringing staff back onboard, and getting customers in the door. We are looking at issues like debt accrued due to this crisis, what reduced ordering means for your discount tiers, and the availability of credit to help stores through and after this difficult time. We don’t have all those answers today, but we understand the many issues you are facing and look forward to addressing them as partners who all have an interest in the long-term health of the industry we love so much.

As I mentioned in my last update, this industry has been one of the greatest joys of my life, from my days as a collector to a retailer to today. I and my Leadership Team have made these decisions knowing full-well the effect they will have on all of you, as well as our publishing partners and our own team members around the world. At the end of the day, the safety and security of our teams and yours, along with the many customers we all serve, is paramount. I again thank you for your ongoing patience and support.

Thank You,

Steve Geppi
Chairman & CEO, Geppi Family Enterprises

The Comic Industry Adapts to Coronavirus Reality to Survive

The Comic Industry Adapts to Coronavirus Reality to Survive

The world is changing rapidly due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic. Almost daily, we are receiving new news that changes the status quo.  Schools are closed across the country. New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and many more are under stay-home orders. Non-Essential business are shuttered in many states. That includes comic shops.

Today, Governor Larry Hogan issued the order for non-essential businesses to close in Maryland, the home of Diamond Comic Distributors. How does that order affect the already severely wounded comic industry? We will find out.

Comic Publishers React

We have seen public statements from several comic book publishers over the past few days reacting to the anticipated drop in orders and revenue due to the fact that most of the country is following the #StayHome orders for the immediate future. They have implemented programs to make more comics returnable, and reduced the or postponed shipments of books that have been anticipated. Below is a list of what we know at this point. Continue reading “The Comic Industry Adapts to Coronavirus Reality to Survive”

Everything We Read This Week – 3/18/20

Everything We Read This Week – 3/18/20

Welcome back to Everything We Read This Week. This is the place that we make our weekly trip through this week’s pull-list. It features mostly spoiler-free brief analysis and commentary of each book.

This week we read a bunch great comics.  We encourage you to go out (or order in) and find the comics you like, and remember, Read More Comics!!

We reviewed books from DC Comics, Boom! Studios, AfterShock Comics, and Image Comics this week. As always, we hope you might find what we say interesting enough to try some of these comics. Don’t forget we welcome comments on these and any other comics that you read. Feel free to leave a comment and get the conversation moving.

Also, Don’t forget to check our hotlist of new books debuting this month over here.  There are a couple on this list.

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 3/18/20”

New Number Ones For the Week of 3/18/20

New Number Ones For the Week of 3/18/20

Hey There Folks!! This column is designed to bring you reviews of new comic book series that came out this week. We will try to focus on independent and original series for the most part. This week we have four series for you. They are from AfterShock Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and Marvel Comics.

You will usually find the books that we review in this space on our month list of New Number Ones. You might want to check over there to see what you can expect for the rest of the month.

This week we will bring you our thoughts on four books: Artemis & The Assassin #1, Spider-Woman #1, Starship Down #1, and X-Ray Robot #1 

Check out the reviews below in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “New Number Ones For the Week of 3/18/20”