Archive for May, 2009

Star Trek: can a movie save Nerdville?

May 20, 2009

One of my first blog posts was about how Star Trek was my gateway drug into being a full on geek. Now that it has started and is looking like it’s going to be the next Iron Man, a light fun summer geek-flick that crosses over there’s a question that needs to be asked, are these types of movies good for comics or bad?

The natural answer is that they’re good for the comics industry, but I don’t know if it’s that obvious.  A lot of the mainstream reporting that I’ve done on the issue ends up demonstrating that there’s no real bump from a successful comic book movie, at least not for local comic book shops.  Last summer I got a job working part time at Elfsar Comics & Toys in Vancovuer, and despite the success of both Iron Man and The Dark Knight movies sales continued to decline throughout the year and despite being voted the best comic book store in Vancouver year in and year out, I was let go because business has just kept falling off.

Now trades in book stores such as Barnes & Noble in the United States, or Chapters up here in Canada, continue to sell well.  I’ve seen figures that suggest that Amazon ships a decent volume of comics, and everyone and their dog has been selling Watchmen books since the first trailers hit the internet, but what about issues?  What about the bread and butter of the local comic book shop, the monthly bagged and boarded issues?

When I started reading comics we got them at the local Red Rooster, which was kind of a western Canadian version of a 7-11.  They’d be on the spinner racks and I’d get any X-Men titles I could find, some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issues and even a Betty & Veronica if I had the money.  These days comics are hidden away in speciality shops that are increasingly having hard times.  Most comic shops in Kelowna where I grew up where comic & shops.  Meaning they’d be a store that sold comics, but also sold RC models or baseball cards or Warhammer shit.  Eventually I had to drive to Vernon for my weekly books because there was nothing good in town.

The fact that every week I was driving two hours to get comics means that there is definitly something lacking in the current distrubution model.  Let’s face it a lot of comic book shops feel like you need to know the secret handshake and origin of Krypto Superman’s dog, to fit in.  Free Comic Book Day, at least how I’ve ever seen it done, is too insular to really bring in new readers and ends up being just a way for the same old customers to get free shit.  Elfsar in Vancouver uses it to raise money and gather food for local charities, but is that helping grow a new market?  I guess if the homless have cans of soup, maybe they’ll buy comics but I think that’s a stretch.

I did not intend to get to the point where I declare all of us fucked, and say claim that comics is going to die.  However we are in a bad spot right now.  As the economy, raising prices of books and a generally shrinking audiance all combine to drive local comic book stores out of business then there’s less money for the companies.  Eventually Marvel and DC will notice that they make far more from the movies and toys than they ever did on the comics and we might find the medium shrinking more.

At the end of the day I doubt I’d go back to driving two hours a week to get my comics.  If the good comic book stores around Vancouver go out of business, or get pushed to the suburbs where rent is cheaper, I might not follow.  No matter how awesome Iron Man 2 is.


News and bits 5/16/09

May 16, 2009

Busy is as busy does. Or something like that. So here’s a few cool stuff to keep you entertained:

Check out the covers to Ultimate Comics Avengers #1 and Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1. Great stuff from Pacheco and DelaFuente. Oh, and from the looks of it, FURY’S BACK

Kevin Smith is writing Green Hornet and Batman: The Widening Gire. No, he’s not back to writing the script for the Hornet movie: he’s writing the Hornet COMIC. With fantastic designs by Alex Ross (check ’em here), this is Smith’s way of putting his version of the Green Hornet (and Kato, as you’ll notice) out there before Seth Rogen’s Green Hornet movie comes out.

Batman: The Widening Gire, on the other hand, is Kevin Smith doing his ultimate take on the Dark Knight, like Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers (and for that matter, Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams) did back in the day. It’s twelve issues with Walt Flanagan (Batman Cacophony) on art, and promises to introduce a new character who’ll later star in an ongoing written by Smith.  Read all about it here.

Both projects look pretty spifftacular (yes Spiff, that was for you): from the sounds of it, Smith’s got a pretty full plate, comics-wise. I didn’t like Smith’s characterization of Batman in his latest series, Batman Cacophony, very much, but he wrote a great Dark Knight when he cameoed in Green Arrow. Plus Smith can write some awesome comics when he’s on his game (again, Green Arrow).

-Captain America hits milestone after milestone: first is Captain America #50, a special issue focusing on Bucky’s many birthdays over the years. After that, Cap goes back to its original numbering to celebrate issue #600. The story details of that issue are hush-hush, but we know it’s about the one year anniversary of Cap’s death… and something major might be going down. Brubaker writes, of course, but there’ll also be stories by former Cap writers Roger Stern and Mark Waid. There’s also this mysterious image

Yup. Pretty sure that’s the Heroes Reborn Bucky. Man, talk about wild. Anyway, then there’s Cap #601, which is special in itself because Gene “The Dean” Colan is drawing it! It’s the man’s first work in years and frankly, I can’t wait. I mean, yeah, I stopped buying Captain America a looong time ago, but there’s too much going on to NOT get intrigued.

-Who’s the Character Find of 2009 (as one person at the amazing DCU blog called him?) Dex-Starr, the Red Lantern cat! Read all about how he came to be here. Kudos to Geoff Johns and Shane Davis for not being afraid to insert of humor in all the epic “War of Light” stuff going on in Green Lantern.

Alan Cumming (shaddup) is going to be the Green Goblin in the Spider-Man musical. Crazy.

Anyway, time for that announcement I mentioned earlier: there are going to be some changes around here. I can’t even guarantee we’ll have the same name when this is over. Stay tuned.