“I need you, but I hate to see you this way / If I were Superman then we’d fly away / I’d really like to change the world / And save it from the mess it’s in / I’m too weak, I’m so thin / I’d like to fly but I can’t even swim” — Ray Davies, (Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman, 1979.
You might have heard the news. It’s been bombarding El Casa de Oro all week, and it’s been blitzing the interwebs to the point where I’m thinking of upgrading my dial-up. But just in case you’ve been away chasing after the Perseverance Rover, I’ll make my journalism teachers happy.
This past weekend, AT&T sold control and most of their ownership of their WarnerMedia division to Discovery Networks, owners of the many, many Discovery “cable” channels, HGTV, the Food Network, TLC, ID, Animal Planet, the Magnolia Network, and the Discovery+ streaming operation. They call this stuff “reality programming” but, as we all know, reality is in the mind of the beholder. As far as I’m concerned, that million-dollar vaccine lottery is the only reality show.
AT&T had only recently bought what they now call WarnerMedia — Warner Bros, CNN, HBO, Cinemax, the Cartoon Network, TCM, TBS, TNT, and a bunch of other stuff. If you can read the six-point type, you’ll discover they own some publishing as well, such as whatever is left of Mad Magazine and the meandering DC comics. Ma Bell went into so much debt to do this deal that, upon reading the report, King Midas reflexively picked his nose.
After acquiring that Denali of debt load, AT&T came down with a severe case of buyer’s remorse. I’m sure the stay-home-or-die principle that governed most thinking humans these past fourteen months did not help one bit, but it wasn’t a very good deal in the first place. After all, what does AT&T know about running the Home Insurance Building of media (sorry; “I.P.”) companies? Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Publish and Perish?”
You know she’s Superman’s big sister / Her X-ray eyes see through my silly ways / Superman’s big sister, superior skin and blister / It doesn’t seem surprising nowadays… yeah! – Superman’s Big Sister, written by Ian Dury, 1980.
When the news about DC Comics pulling its stuff from Diamond Distribution broke last week, we here at Pop Culture Squad — meaning reporter/editor/bon vivant Bob Harrison — covered it, as did just about every other relevant outlet. It really is that important, so much so that I’m going to proselytize the poop out of it.
There was a time, oh maybe a decade or two back, when the rumor-mongers were aroused by their own prediction that DC Comics was going to buy Diamond Distributing. Of course, this was back in the days when we had a functioning federal anti-trust department, and before DC was consumed by the AT&T Death Star.
The Mayor and Corporation / Have declared such jubilation / ‘Cos the stork has brought / A son and daughter / For Mr. and Mrs. Mickey Mouse / Pluto’s giving a party / And before the fun begins / He’ll present a golden dollar / To the father of the twins — Mickey’s Son and Daughter, written by Tommie Conner and Eddie Lisbona, as recorded by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band 1967.
To no one’s surprise, last week The Disney Company “furloughed” 100,000 workers due to ramifications of the coronavirus plague, a move which is supposed to save The House of Mouse some $500,000,000 a month.
As horrific it is to at least 100,000 families, this is understandable. Disney makes movies, but most theaters are closed… for the moment. Disney operates theme parks, which also are closed… for the moment. Their many television operations are doing fine (well, ESPN not so much) because reasonable people are trapped at home.
I suspect their overall advertising revenue might be down some. However, I should note cable teevee revenue is less dependent upon advertising than it is on payments from cable operators, and streaming revenue is not particularly ad-dependent. Still, Uncle Scrooge doesn’t have quite as deep a money bin as he did last New Year’s Day.
You are most likely aware of many of the company’s jewels. To name but a few: the Disney movie and television empires, the Disney theme parks worldwide, ABC television, the Disney Channels (there are several), the Disney Plus streamer, Marvel Comics, Lucasfilm, The Simpsons, Pixar, Disney Radio, the Muppets, Narnia, the Disney Cruise Line, 80% of ESPN, half of A&E, half of Lifetime, 10% of Vice Media, and enough merchandising and licensing operations to warrant a seat at the United Nations Security Council. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #083: Why Mickey Mouse Only Has Four Fingers”
I mean to say that every day Is just another rotten mess / And when it’s gonna change, my friend / Is anybody’s guess / So I’m watchin’ and I’m waitin’ / Hopin’ for the best / Even think I’ll go to prayin’ / Every time I hear ’em sayin’ / That there’s no way to delay / That trouble comin’ every day • Trouble Every Day, Frank Zappa, 1966
People, including your feckless correspondent, have been predicting the death of the 32-page comic book pamphlet for many decades. It’s been an unsustainable model since the late 1950s, and sooner or later it was bound to catch up with reality. Us fans have been copping Sisyphus’s act for six decades.
Well, if you hang on long enough, most predictions kinda come true. This one hasn’t. Not yet.
Premature as they are, there have been conflicting reports as to when comics are going to resume publication and distribution, and how many comics shops are likely to be open – even with curb service. That’s putting the cart before the horse, but the comics racket has taken on the countenance of the buggy whip factory for a long time now. And, yes, they still make buggy whips, but I’ll bet you know far, far more comics readers than buggy owners. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #081: The Crack of the Whip!”
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?”
Welcome back to new month of New Number Ones!!
This is where we give our readers a preview of the exciting new comic book series debuting each month. We have compiled an alphabetical list with cover art and the official solicitation text from PREVIEWSworld. Check below for our PCS NOTES to find out what we just have to tell you some more about the new comics in question.
There are a bunch of new series of interest starting in March. Some very familiar titles are coming back, and there are a lot of new series from some of our favorite creators, by a diverse set of publishers. We are very excited to see what they have in store for us.
We hope you will take a look and think about giving these a try. We will bring you reviews of most of these debut issues as they come out, and don’t forget to use the comments section to let us know what you think of this list.
The other morning, my bff in comic books, Jim McClain (who is not part of Unshaven Comics, but exists perhaps as our ”big brother” in comic bookery), met me for brunch. As we’ve done in the past… we kibitzed about life, love, kids, and all things nerd. We dished and gossiped about Alley Folks we’ve rubbed shoulders with. We waxed poetic about what we liked, loved, and loathed across the Star Wars galaxy. Fun was had by all. Great conversation and amazing egg dishes aside, Jim was meeting me so that he might rid me of my comic book collection.
You read that right.
Every book I’d amassed since college had been piling up — some bagged and boarded, others less so — and I recognized that I’d not needed a single floppy copy for the better part of nine and a half years (the time in our home, which the wife and I are cleaning up a bit at a time to contemplate a springtime move). In the interest of no longer keeping treasure that could otherwise be of value back in the marketplace, I gifted to Jim two long boxes, seven or eight short boxes, and a tote-bag of comics.
Jim has already started sorting and valuing them. I wish him, and those who purchase from him, the best. There are a few real gems to mine there, too.
So, the real question then is why. Why was I so cavalier in gifting a collection away at a whim (for what added up to a delightful breakfast)? The answer is fairly straight-forward:
I’m still not over feeling played by the big two. Continue reading “So Long And Thanks For the Fish, Man #58: Comics, No More.”
Bitch, bitch, bitch. Sigh. It’s a living…
For about three decades, I’ve been bitching about how our friends at DC and Marvel have abandoned the storytelling racket and are drowning themselves in the pool of “Event publishing.” During that time, line average comic book circulations have plummeted by about two-thirds.
(Explaining The Stupid Math Trick: “Line averages” are compiled by adding up the circulations of each individual issue printed by each publisher during the year and then dividing the total by the number of different issues involved. Variant covers and extra printings confuse the issue, but, screw it, they’re cheesy hustles that only complicate the processes. I refuse to acknowledge a second printing unless the publisher tells us what the first printing was. If Marvel Comics printed only 750 copies of Amazing Fantastic Fury #7 and then celebrated that success with a second printing, the whole thing is as meaningless as a fart in a blizzard in the dead of winter.)
So why am I carping about this now? And, not to mention, again? As is their wont, Marvel and DC each issued their February 2020 catalogs. On the cover of Marvel Previews – Wolverine #1!!! Another stunning concept from the House of Idea! Oh, and it’s got at least 12 different variant covers – not counting those that might be done for individual retailers – and this includes a virgin variant (wait… what? Alex Ross is a virgin???), hidden gem variants, a party variant, a die cut variant, and an adamantium variant – which, by way of disclaimer, is not even made of adamantium.
To honor their own Event, Marvel is reprinting three previous Wolverine #1’s as well. Will all this hubbub restore Wolvie to his former sales glory? Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #063: Again With The Event Bitching?”
Director James Gunn Reinstated For ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy 3’ By Disney
Gunn was fired by Disney after old tweets that he’d already apologized for were dug up by alt-right “journalists” looking to weaponized Gunn’s words against him. Gunn quickly issued a renewed apology. The cast wrote an open letter of support and David Bautista went as far as to say he wouldn’t do the movie without Gunn.