Friday, August 24, 2012

The New Reprints Part IX: The Archives and Masterworks


The New Reprints: A Voyage of Discovery to the Golden Age of Comic Books

Part IX: 1990s until Today: The Archives and Masterworks

This project will be presented in twelve parts. Unfortunately, I can’t change the order, so later posts will appear first. Please try to check this out in order! And your comments are important. Please post how you became aware of comics and their history!

  1. Introduction/Comics in "real" books.
  2. 1960s: Reprints from the Comic Companies: 80 Page Giants & Marvel Tales!
  3. 1960s: The Great Comic Book Heroes
  4. 1960s: The Paperback Era
  5. 1970s: The Comic Strips AND the Comic Book Strips! 
  6. 1970s: DC from the 1930s and the Origins at Marvel Part I
  7. 1970s: DC from the 1930s and the Origins at Marvel Part II
  8. 1980s until Today: Horror We? How's Bayou! The EC Age of Comics
  9. 1990s until Today: The Archives and Masterworks
  10. How The West Was Lost
  11. When Comics Had Influence: Public Service, Education & Promotion
  12. Journeys End, What We Leave Behind: A Century of Comics
Thanks to Nick Caputo, Kid Robson and Mike Vassallo!
So let us continue our voyage to and from the 1960s and discover the world of comics once almost forgotten. Our expedition is mostly into the world of reprints that were available OUTSIDE the newsstands and comic book stores but we will have a few detours on the way.

At the beginning of the 1980s I had given up on modern comics. Since I could not go forward, I see now that I was looking back. There was no Amazon then. When I bought the EC archives, I did it by mail order, buying them directly from Cochran, bypassing the comic book stores.

 Finally, I was finding the Golden Age.


Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
T.S. Eliot

It began slowly.

DC comics began to see the potential in reprinting Golden Age comics. In 1987, DC published a hardcover book, “The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told.’’ It was sold in bookstores and featured five stories from the 1940s and six from the 1950s. It also included my favorite Superman story of all time, “Superman’s Other Life” which was published before DC had its “imaginary tales.” In a tale drawn by Wayne Boring, Batman gives Superman the first High Definition TV and it has a video of what would have happened to him if Krypton had not exploded.


Soon the “Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told” would be available in bookstores. This volume would have six stories from the late thirties and early forties, and five from the 1950s. Both of these volumes would be successful enough to have sequels. In fact, there was also a third book for Batman called, “The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told.” While the early Batman stories were not without charm, they were certainly without great artwork but the stories were still fun to read. There was also “Greatest Flash Stories Ever Told” with mostly stories of the Silver Age Flash, but there were four with Speedster Jay Garrick. Oh yes, there was also “Greatest Team-Up Stories Ever Told,” which had five Golden Age stories.


In 1990, DC published “The Greatest 1950’s Stories Ever Told.” This book was put together using great imagination and great variety. It featured stories of Superman and Batman, of course, but it also featured Congo Bill, Blackhawk, King Faraday, Tommy Tomorrow and even a romance story. So I figured I’d use a scan of the greatest team since Superman and Batman:

 
Also that year, DC published, (at last!), “The Greatest Golden Age Stories Ever Told.” FINALLY!!!!!! A book full of the Golden Age!!!! Roy Thomas remembers the order of releases as Golden Age book followed by 1950s. He could be right. The order in which I bought them may not have been the order in which were published. It had the obligatory Superman, Batman and Wonder Women stories, all great, but it also had Boy Commandos, Wildcat, Hawkman, Kid Eternity (who?) and three hundred pages of fun. And it had ads!!!! The volume had an introduction by Roy Thomas, who explained the history and importance of the Golden Age characters and not once mentioned anything about Marvel.



In late 1987, Marvel’s first Masterworks hardcover books, available in bookstores, were Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four.These, of course, were Silver Age not Golden Age books. The first Golden Age reprints were Simon and Kirby’s Fighting American and Boy’s Ranch. They were published in 1989 and 1991. The comics were originally published by Harvey, not Marvel, but apparently, Simon and Kirby retained the copyright.

  
 
What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make and end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.
                                                                                       -- T.S. Eliot

Then, one day, in 1990, walking on Queens Blvd, near Continental Ave, in Forest Hills N.Y., I discovered a new comic book store that had two books in the window that I had never seen: The Archive Editions of Superman and Batman! Their stories began in the 1930s! And they both said, “Volume I.” There would be more! Hot socks!

I remembered the 80 Page Giants! But these new color archives were all about the Golden Age. I was ecstatic. I finally got the comics I had wanted for thirty years. It was indeed a wish come true.

The Superman stories were from Superman Comics, which meant they are actually a year later than the first ones that appeared in Action Comics. Eventually the Action Archives would come out. The Batman Archive actually stories from Batman’s beginning in Detective Comics. The volumes cost $50 and there were no discounts.


     
The books were thick, 250 pages for Superman and 290 pages for the Bat.  Jim Steranko, an expert on the history of comics, wrote the introduction to Superman. I couldn’t wait for the next ones to come out. Throughout the decade, DC would publish archives featuring great, and not so great, super-heroes of the Golden Age: Flash, Green Lantern, The Spectre, Black Canary and many more. DC was the owner of many characters that started out at other companies such as Blackhawk, Captain Marvel (Shazam!), and Blackhawk, but they too got their archives. Now, at long last, I was able to read the comics of the Golden Age.

DC soon published archives of the Silver Age characters as well as Will Eisner’s the Spirit.


The prices now for these books have today gone to $70 and the page count has gone down about 10%. DC has also published bigger Omnibus editions of the Silver Age characters, Green Lantern, Kamandi and Challengers of the Unknown.


And the end and the beginning were always there
Before the beginning and after the end.
And all is always now.
T.S. Eliot

DC would publish rarely seen Golden Age stories in “Comic Cavalcade” and “Rarities.


Cavalcade featured many of the familiar characters of the DC Universe, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Arrow, but a pair appeared that I did not expect.

Rarities gave us stories from World’s Fair comics (which later became World's Finest) such as:
 

In the late 1990s, aided and abetted by Kitchen Sink Press, DC released, in separate volumes, the Daily and Sunday Superman and later Batman comic strips. These were wonderful stories, created for both children and adults. The Superman dailies and Sunday start off with his origin, in more detail than they ever put into the 1930s comics. See Batman Sundays in 80 page Giant section.




Eventually, DC got around to the World’s Finest Archives and the first comic I had ever read:



Marvel occasionally reprinted some Golden Age classics including Marvel Boy in Marvel Super Action #4 and Venus Weird Wonder Tales #'s 16-18. 

The Marvel Boy story reprinted in Marvel Super Action also appears in the Marvel Masterworks of Atlas Heroes.

Venus is now being reprinted in the Masterworks also.

Below we see the Sub-Mariner from Giant-Size Invaders #1 and The Torch from Giant Size Avengers #1






















 When Marvel reprinted the Yellow Claw in the back of Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu they changed some  of the dialogue and images to match the then current continuity. Woo now works for SHIELD instead of the FBI.

Marvel’s first Golden Age reprints, done in 1990, was hardcover copy of Marvel Comics #1, from 1940. This was a thin volume, in color, reproducing only that comic. It cost $17.95.

 
Marvel published a beautiful, black leather bound volume, “Fantastic Firsts” in 1994. It came with a colorful bookmark, which I also show below. It contained the first appearance of Marvel's most successful characters of the 1960s on glossy white paper. Wait, wait, that’s right...they are still reprinting Marvel Tales! Ant-Man had his first two origin stories printed, (Tales to Astonish #27 and 34) Dr. Strange has his first story (from Strange Tales #110) and not his origin story from issue #115. The Silver Surfer is treated just the opposite, his story is from Silver Surfer #1, not Fantastic Four #48. The Sub-Mariner section featured stories from his first appearance with the FF, in issue #4 and in FF Annual #1. Each story featured a preface and epilogue by Stan Lee.

Once again the book contained nothing from the Golden Age. For Cap, Subby and Torchy, these were not Fantastic Firsts, but Fantastic Seconds.



 Above is a scan from Fantastic Firsts (The FF page 12) and to your right a scan of the original page (not a reprint)  from FF #1. I scanned that page for Mark Evanier's great book on Jack Kirby!
 



A similar book, Famous Firsts: X-Men was released a year later. Complete with bookmark! It contained the stories fromX-Men Uncanny X-Men #1-12;  Incredible Hulk #181 (Wolverine); Giant Size X-Men #1, (Nightcrawler, Storm and Colossus); Uncanny X-Men #129 (Kitty Pride); Avengers Annual #10 (Rogue); Uncanny X-Men #244 (Jubilee); Uncanny X-Men #256 (Psylocke); New Mutants #87 (Cable); Uncanny X-Men #266 (Gambit); and Uncanny X-Men #283 (Bishop).




In 1998, Marvel published a two volume set featuring the Captain America stories from his first 10 Golden Age issues. The fillers were not included. For all you folks who missed Hurricane and Turok, the fillers and text stories were to be included when Marvel, in 2005, began releasing Captain America Masterworks.


Marvel would later release these stories in two trade paperbacks, called, "The Classic Years." The first one had a very funny looking Hitler on the redrawn cover. I think they used Oliver Hardy as the stand in.



It would take Marvel almost a decade to come up with a book similar to DC Golden Age reprints. In 1998 Marvel published “The Golden Age of Marvel Comics." There were two volumes. These wonderful trade paperbacks had great stories of the very famous, The Torch, Captain America and the Sub-Mariner and the not so famous, Venus, The Vision and Black Knight. These were fun books because they also featured a lot of lesser known characters as well as famous ones.


Marvel finally began regularly publishing Golden Age Masterworks in 2004 and Atlas Era Masterworks in 2006. These included Marvel Comics/Marvel Mystery Comics, Sub-Mariner, Daring, USA, and many others.Sadly, at the beginning the printing and coloring in many of these books was erratic and  inaccurate. They went through stages of good and bad. This was evident in the Marvel (Mystery) Comics Masterworks Volume One. The colors did not represent the originals, they were dark and blotchy. The volume was great to have, but a disappointment.

Thank gosh (and a guy named Cory) that currently the printing of these books is now outstanding. I first noticed it with their big $100 thick omnibuses. It took time but they really got it right.
 
Let’s take a look at the first Masterworks editions, and compare them to both their originals and to their comic book reprints. There are tags on top to show you where they are from. A BIG THANKS to Bob Bailey for supplying pictures of the originals.

For the original Human Torch we have a photo of the original comic, and his reprints in Fantasy Masterpieces, Masterworks, Omnibus, Marvel Comics (1990); and Golden Age of Marvel Softcover.  Note that he is always blue EXCEPT in Fantasy Masterpieces.

 


For Cap, we have his appearances in the Great Comic Book Heroes, Jack Kirby Visionaries, The Golden Age of Marvel, Captain America Masterworks Vol I, and lastly his two volume set from 1998. Note the handle of the bomb detonator goes from red, to green to white.

The Sub-Mariner's origin was presented in the first Marvel Mystery Comics Masterworks AND in the first Silver Age Sub-Mariner Masterworks in 2003


Speaking of reprints, the origin of the Sub-Mariner, as it appeared in Marvel Comics #1, was a reprint! It was originally printed in advanced copies of Motion Pictures Weekly, a comic book your grandparents got when they went to the movies in1938. So no one got this at the theater. In some reprints Namor's mother is pink, in other blue. So I wondered what she was originally. Well, Motion Pictures Weekly was in black and white!


First up, to your left is Invaders #20, to the right is the Marvel Comics reprint.



Marvel Masterworks is on the left, the GREAT omnibus is on the right.






Here we have the original, one top, and the masterworks (left) and the Omnibus on the right.

 By the end of the 20th century, the distinction between bookstores and comic book stories often blurred as bookstores added “graphic novel” sections and often added comic books to their magazine sections. Comic Book stores added a great many volumes of popular fiction and culture.

In 1999, Marvel would produce several Golden Age reprint comics: The Human Torch #5b, Marvel Mystery Comics #1, although the stories were taken from several different GA comics and featured many stars such as the Whizzer, Captain America and the Angel; and All Winners Squad #21, the sequel to, so to speak, of issue #19 that appeared in Fantasy Masterpieces in the 1960s. It would take 8 to 12 years for these stories to appear in a full blown Masterworks.








Roy Thomas explains two interesting things in his Torch introduction. First, the reason why there were two “#5” issues. Second, he explains how complicated it was to get the Torch and Subby together. But this was the beginnings of the one universe concept at Marvel and it began with the second issue of Marvel Mystery.

Roy also explains how the first All Winners story was reprinted in Fantasy Masterpieces.

ALL WINNERS #19— the Fall 1946 Timely/Marvel comic book you hold even now in your pulsating hands, in a manner of speaking— was first re-presented, albeit rather badly, in FANTASY MASTERPIECES #10 (August 1967).
           In other words, it's now been more than a decade longer since the '60s reprint than it was between the original 1940s comic and that issue of FM.

The above may not exactly be a classic science-fiction "time paradox," but it sure plays havoc with my mind.

           A note about that reprint:
   In 1967, we had to destroy a copy of ALL WINNERS #19 (valued at $2800 in mint condition in a recent edition of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, but worth quite a bit less then) in order to wash out the color, touch up the art, and re-color the story. As the 26-year-old associate editor with just two years in the industry, I was the one who prodded Stan Lee into printing that story; he didn't remember it, and why should he? (I'm also the guy who first started hyphenating the name to "All-Winners Squad," and I'm proud, do you hear me— proud!)
    Alas, our methods were so primitive then, and time pressures so all-pervasive, that the art in those early reprints doesn't begin to do justice to that in the original comic.
More: the colorist managed to reverse the colors on Miss America's tunic and cape. Like, it's the tunic that should be red and the cape blue, rather than vice versa.
(Errors have a way of birthing more errors. In 1997, because of FANTASY MASTERPIECES #10, Miss America was similarly miscolored on the cover of THE GOLDEN AGE OF MARVEL trade paperback. Not that the sky is going to fall in because of it.)
     I also noticed in 1967 that the Squad didn't • really have a logo. The cover logo had simply been pasted onto the splash. In an effort to give the group a solid foothold in the Marvel Universe, I had someone letter in "THE" before "ALL WIN­NERS," and "SQUAD!" after. And I wrote "All-Winners Squad," added hyphen and all, in a blurb on the cover of FM #10. However, Stan had so totally forgotten that the group had ever had a name that he changed the word "Squad" to the ill-fitting "Magazine," so that the arrow/burst read:
"The most colossal collectors' classic ever reprinted! Captain America, Sub-Mariner, The Human Torch, The Whizzer and Miss America... the almost legendary ALL-WINNERS MAGAZINE in a 43-page action packed action epic exactly as it appeared in 1946.
      Not really.

A Whopping Big Point:

The Marvel Comics/Marvel Mystery Comics Omnibus is terrific, the colors are right and the printing is great. In fact, in last few years, the omnibuses, the Masterwork hardcovers and trade paperbacks have gotten better and better... and a bit more expensive. And the credits and the quality of the reproductions are constantly being updated. I know because I have been a small, miniscule part part of it.

A little detour: While it is always nice to sit down with a Masterworks or Omnibus and read one story after another, printed well on good paper, it’s nice to read the original comics too. However, in the 1970’s, due to economics, paper shortages and gosh knows what else, the printing quality deteriorated on the Marvel books. Of course, 40 years of aging paper doesn't help much. Simply, many looked bad then and worse now. So with some comics, such as Tomb of Dracula or Howard the Duck, the reproduction is so good in the Omnibuses, I don’t want to read the actual comics.

Often here are bonus features of original art and alternate covers.

The Omnibuses often, but not always, have the letter's columns and the introductions previously printed in the earlier Masterworks. By mere coincidence here is a letter's column for Silver Surfer #14, 45 years ago, with my letter in it!
 
Also, they work hard on giving us little surprises as they improve their product for each generation. For example, if you get the trade paperback of Spider-Man Masterworks #1, you get the following two treats: the original artwork from first Spider-Man story AND pictures of the bullpen from Marvel Tales #1.



In the 1970s, one comic in particular, in the 1970s, was a problem. Deathlok, appearing in Astonishing Tales, used many different fonts to set the mood of the story. Often, they would use colored ink over the fonts. With the bad printing it was hard to read. It was great to get the Masterworks and breeze right through.

From original comic, Astonishing Tales #33

From the Marvel Masterworks


We now have entered a new era. Many comics, from many closed companies are being reprinted. This includes the magazines from Warren, who published Creepy, Eerie and Vamperella. We are getting a look at a lot of comics that faded away. In the mid 1970s Warren published Blazing Combat. It was reminder of the War comic by EC. These comics got almost no distribution but they are here for us to see.
  

Marvel and DC also have published big thick black and white reprints of the Silver Age stories in “Showcase” and "Essential" comics. Here is the Aquaman page that we first saw in the 80 Page Giant section as it is reproduced in Showcase. 
  


And the end and the beginning were always there
Before the beginning and after the end.
And all is always now.
T.S. Eliot

Marvel not only presents their super-heroes, but has returned to their 1960s beginnings with great stories from Tales of Suspense, Tales to Astonish, Journey into Mystery and Strange Tales. Earlier Marvel published editions of Iron Man, Sub-Mariner, Thor etc, but did not include the back-up stories. I had feared that the wonderful anthology stories of the late 1950s and early 1960s would be left out of the Masterworks. Now, in separate volumes they have been reprinted.

At this point, my search for the Golden Age stories takes an ironic turn. I will be writing the introduction to one of the four “special” Marvel Masterworks: Tales of Suspense, Volume IV. This volume, along with Tales to Astonish Volume IV and the yet to be Journey into Mystery and Strange Tales final volumes, contain the last anthology stories before the Marvel Age. And it will have some of the first stories of that era. These four will be the bridge, the link between the two ages. So, in a mysterious, Steve Ditko way, I have become my own link between the Golden and Marvel Ages of Comics. As T.S. Eliot wrote, “In my end is my beginning.” 

Here are some ORIGINAL images, along with their black and white proofs and their color reproductions from Tales of Suspense, Volume IV due out in September 2012.

 












In 1994, A small trade paperback series produced “Golden Age Greats” with editor Bill Black presenting reprints. He included interviews with the creators, covers, features on the publishers and the characters. As an example, in the Best of the West there was an interview with Dick Ayers, a color picture, and a reprint of the Ghost Rider reprint, and most importantly, a Dick Ayers Checklist. More on that in my next chapter, "How The West Was Lost." We got to read Catman, Rocketman, The Cat and even Phantom Lady. More and more I was getting the comics I had always wanted to see.




In this new Golden Age of Reprints, John Romita and Walt Simonson also have Artists editions, similar to the one Wally Wood has, but drawn two decades later Romita's artwork is smaller than Woods.




                            






Saddle up, partners, the westerns are next:

How The West Was Lost





12 comments:

  1. It must be a great feeling to be connected to such a classic series as The Silver Surfer by having had one's name printed in it. Just think, Barry - you're part of comics history. I had the same feeling when my name was listed in the credits of a couple of Masterworks volumes back in the early '90s.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Barry,

    I really enjoyed your recent post on reprints in hardback and paperback. I kind of have mixed feelings on the collected editions. I loved DC's Greatest Stories, the Marvel Masterworks, and I cannot forget the Marvel Fireside series. I am kind of surprised you omitted the Fireside series. Most fans really enjoy that set. At first I thought you were mainly focused on just the books that reprinted the Golden Age, but some of the books you mentioned also reprinted just Silver Age stories. I also thought of a few other books that kind of paved the way for the ones you mention. Secret Origins of the Super DC heroes from 1976. Shazam! From the Forties to the Seventies from 1977. The Great Comic Book Heroes from 1965. A Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Comics from 1981. I would also like to mention the Collected Works of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century from 1969 and Flash Gordon in the Planet Mongo from 1974. The last two reprint comic strips, but I think they relate to your post.

    My mixed feelings come from the fact that I love the industry reprints work from the Golden and Silver age. A lot of those stories the average reader would never be able to enjoy if they were not brought back in a cheaper format. I just do not like seeing a collected edition just a few months after the storyline has ran through a title. In some ways it seems as if the industry cannibalizes itself with those actions. Not to mention the fact that it hurts the retailers. I know change is a part of every industry. I just know quite a few fans that will not pick up a monthly title because they know it is coming out in a collected edition pretty soon. I think it also takes away a lot of the fun reading a story from month to month. Waiting to see what happens. It also takes away from digging through the back issues trying to complete a certain run. I have a feeling you will be covering that very topic in your last chapter. Thanks again Barry for another great post.

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  3. James, I am at first confused by your statements, because I have included all the books you mentioned. You wrote “ I would also like to mention the Collected Works of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century from 1969 and Flash Gordon in the Planet Mongo from 1974. The last two reprint comic strips, but I think they relate to your post. “

    They are certainly mentioned and scans are shown in Chapter 5.
    http://forbushman.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-discovery-of-golden-age-part-5.html

    and you mention “Secret Origins of the Super DC heroes from 1976. Shazam! From the Forties to the Seventies from 1977. The Great Comic Book Heroes from 1965. A Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Comics from 1981” Well, I show those in chapters 3 and 4, including the Smithsonian book, in chapter 7.

    You then mention, “I cannot forget the Marvel Fireside series. I am kind of surprised you omitted the Fireside series.”

    Are you kidding?

    Those are in Chapter seven, part two,

    http://forbushman.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-discovery-of-golden-age-part-7-dc.html

    Right above the Smithsonian book.

    That aside, these are NOT blogs about current day products or reprints. This is how I found out about the Golden Age of comics, through comic book and bookstore reprints.

    You wrote, “At first I thought you were mainly focused on just the books that reprinted the Golden Age, but some of the books you mentioned also reprinted just Silver Age stories”

    No, these are about Golden Age reprints and where I expected to find them, not Silver Age, unless I was expressing some disappoint. That is, after the DC Secret Origins book, I was disappointed that Origins and Sons of Origins for Marvel contained NO Golden Age stories.

    We can discuss new comics in the twelfth chapter. But did you know that 55% of the sales for the comic book industry comes from these reprinted trade paperbacks, the comics only do 45% of eh sales.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Barry,

    Sorry I said you had forgot about the books I had listed. When I posted I was only going by this recent post and how you had covered the books of reprints. I have read so much of your work over the past month that some things have kind of ran together. Some things I have completely forgot. From now on when I post I will go back through your past posts. Just to make sure I am completely covered and I do not look foolish. Like I do right now. Once again that is my fault and I apologize.

    I understand that the reprinted collections have become a big part of the industry. I understand how the industry has to change through the years. There is just a part of me that cannot fully embrace books that reprint material from less than ten years prior. Much less material that was released just a few months ago. That is just me. Just like I will never embrace the digital age of comics. If I cannot hold it in my hands; I do not want it. Now I will go stand in the corner.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I also wanted to add that I realize this is about the history of comics.Not about new material being released. Primarily about the Golden age and history of comics. Touching on the Silver Age. When you talk about being relieved that the companies were finally releasing Golden Age stories in collected editions. I was just drawing the comparison where once upon a time there were not a lot of reprinted collected editions. Today everything is in paperback or hardcover. That is not necesarily a bad thing. It is just hard for me to get behind new material making it into a collected format just months after it was released in monthly form. I know numerous retailers have told me that they are frustrated because that has become the norm of the industry. It hurts their monthly and back issue sales. I do not know enough about the business to say which one affects their profit margins more. I know in the early days of selling the direct sales business was the fact that the retailers kept what they did not sell. Then they sold the old issues as back stock. It seems like they have hurt the retailers in different ways with this business practice of releasing new material so soon in collected form. Oh well. I will go back to my corner now.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi James,

    Let me tell you a secret. Although this blog is in 12 parts, I kind of think of it as one long blog. It tells one story, how I slowly discovered the Golden age of comics, and how slowly I was able to get to read the actual stories. So I kinda see this is one big thing rather than 12 parts.

    It just confused me when you mention five or six books that I did mention, but that’s okay, they’ll be no test afterwards.

    I agree with you I don’t like digital comics, but I am wishy-washy on the prospect of turning new comics into trade paperbacks, and let me explain why. It might be necessary for the industry to have their product available in regular bookstores and Amazon. Comics are not selling in great quantity in the new comic book stores and this is a way to reach readers. So I really don’t mind it. But I’m also with you on digital comics, or kindles, or any sort of electronic reader. I like holding a book, a magazine, or a newspaper. But I realize the world has changed. I bet there were people who didn't like talking on the telephone. And when I see the honeymooners I see that there were people who listed watching TV.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Barry,

    What is so bad on my part is that I posted on one of your other blogs and did the exact same thing. I have read the entire story so far. Twice to be honest. I just read a lot of different comic sites. In the last month I have also devoured every thing I could find that you have posted. I guess at times my simple, little, brain absorbs more information than it can process. Especially with us already discussing where I had posted once before without going back through everything. It seems some fools never truly learn. I also try to keep my posts short and to the point. There are just so many things I try touch.

    I touched on the rush to put out completed editions within a few months of the individual issues being released. I touched on the financial aspects and I also touched on an aspect that I thought would be perfect for your "What We Have Lost" post that is coming soon. Buying the completed edition does away with reading the story a month at a time. That was the way we read them in the old days. Anxiously waiting each month for the next chapter. I also touched on digging through the back issues looking to complete different runs. Digging through back issues is one of the best parts of this hobby. The thrill of the hunt. Words cannot express how much joy I have found in all of my years of collecting by just digging through back issues. How much I enjoy digging through the discount boxes. That is an experience that is such a big part of the hobby that I am afraid often gets overlooked. I am also glad that you had given detailed accounts on those books that I had originally feared had been omitted. They are great books and I would hate to see them lost to the passage of time. You do such great work on here Barry. You give the gift of knowledge to a community that desperately needs it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think James's point, Barry, is that if these collected editions weren't published so soon after their recent monthly presentation, then more people would buy the monthlies. However, because people are waiting for the collected editions to come out, they don't bother purchasing the monthly comics. In other words, it's the collected editions which are hurting monthly sales of comics. As buying the books works out cheaper than buying the individual monthly comics, they'd perhaps be better trying to sell the comics than compete against themselves with the books. I know there's more to it than that, but it's an interesting proposition.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Kid and James,

    I understand the point. And I agree with it. But somewhere there are bookkeepers and accountant sitting and saying "there are a lot of people who won't go to comic book stores and buy these comics monthly" we want to reach those people and the only way to do it is by trade paperbacks in bookstores.

    When I was a kid, books came out in hardcover and 10 months later or so they were released in paperback. This gave the hardcover books a long enough time to sell. It's the same sort of thing, except for some reason they want to put them into the bookstores as quickly as possible. What surprised me, was recently reading the industry reports that show that, and I mention this, more income comes from the trade paperbacks and the comics.

    I am assuming that over the years they have tracked their results and found out that this was the way to maximize income. I didn't say that I agreed with it. A reality too, is I bet that is comic books become more digital, less and less will be sold in the comic book stores. And there may only be digital comics translated into trade paperbacks in the future. The concept that DC or Marvel or dark horse actually even cares about sales in the comic book stores may not be realistic. They want to maximize their income at anyone's expense.

    ReplyDelete
  10. It would be interesting to know just what percentage of book sales comes from those who don't and wouldn't buy comics anyway, and what percentage comes from those who would buy comics if they weren't waiting for the collected editions. The former would have to outweigh the latter by quite a margin for it to worth going down that route.

    I wonder if the comicbook as we know it will even exist in ten years time.

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  11. James, is there any way you could send me your email? I want to send you something. If you list it here I would take it down as soon as I got it.

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  12. Barry,

    Kid expanded on what I was trying to say in my post. One of many reasons I am also wishy washy on the collected editions. It is a complex problem and I am not sure there are any easy answers. I can go along with the collected editions. I will never go into the digital age. If it comes down to the fact that I can only get new comics online; I will just work harder on my back issues. I read your articles and it always gives me a ton of things to think about. I try to explain them, but sometimes I am really not able to expand on my ideas for lack of space. Your posts always have my wheels turning. That is a big reason why I have been so drawn to your work. I wish all of the comic book "historians" were as detailed as you. I also like your passion. I can tell how much you love this hobby.

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