You can save the comic book industry!

The coronavirus has essentially made clear the American comic book industry stands now on a precipice as the main distributor of new comics, Diamond, has suspended deliveries til whenever this all gets safe again which at best, is going to be July. If we’re lucky! Diamond are laying off staff, while nobody knows what’s going to happen as this week is the last week any new comics will definitely be published and shipped to shops. Thing is many of those shops won’t be able to sell them as they don’t offer an online buying or delivery service, so you can pretty much say those shops will not survive this.

I’ve seen several major crashes in the comics industry. By far the worst was in the 1990’s where shops crashed like ninepins as the speculator boom faded away, then the crash in the late 2000s ended up being a blip. This however is worse.

So what can you as a fan do? Some shops like Gosh and Page 45 need to be singled out because the world is a worse place without them, and because they provide a wide selection of comics outwith the spandex stuff but in this time, if you can, support your local shop. There might not be new comics to buy but this might be the time to see if they can dig out back issues for you, or pick up a trade or two. Anything to keep money flowing otherwise that shop you rely on for your weekly fix is gone and it ain’t coming back because the post-coronavirus world is going to look different to what it was only a week or two ago.

Good luck to all shops out there. It will be hard, some of you will go but as long as the community sticks together then that number will be smaller than it could be as long as people support them by buying what they can, when they can. I’m going to help by throwing out some recommendations in another blog of stuff to buy, but please use your local shop where you can.

Comics, the Coronavirus and Me.

As many who follow this blog know, I’m back selling comics after some years away, and after a  battle with stroke and cancer I’ve relocated to Glasgow to sort of regroup til my future becomes clearer. Things were going OK and the comics are too, and they were fun. So much fun I was working towards doing them full time.  This year would be the year I hopefully did that and give Scotland the back issue dealer it needs…

Along comes the Coronavirus and BOOM! Conventions are canceling til the autumn at least and the entire industry is under threat. The real shame is that the physical act of buying comics is growing, and (without getting too big a head about it) I’ve played a part in showing up here it can be done, and done with reasonable prices rather than charging 70 quid for Batman #91.

At the minute I’ve got a job to fall back on but this puts the kibosh in maybe transitioning to full time, plus it shafts my helpers. However have a thought for those doing it full time who quite frankly, are fucked. If this had happened in a month we’d have the cash from a couple of huge shows to bide us over, but we don’t.

So, the comics industry in the West of Scotland, and the UK is on a knife-edge which means I’ll be blogging more about stuff that’s popular, so more comics, Glastonbury and the good stuff. However I do ask that if you enjoy it to chuck what you can to my KoFi page here. I don’t want to seem like a grifter but every little will help, and I’ll give you what you want!

The Comics Journal review of Doomsday Clock

The aftershocks of Doomsday Clock grind on with the 3 Jokers (oh fuck off Geoff Johns) and the critical fallout for something that creatively had the value of a roll of toilet paper. Just when you think it’s all going away, along comes The Comics Journal and R.C. Harvey’s review of the series.

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It’s a good review in that it doesn’t tear the book apart. Seeing Harvey despair of the writing as the series drones on is worth a read but it’s a curiously positive review, and I present it here purely to provide some shade to my own opinion of it as a steaming heap of shite.

Comics in the 1980’s

I’ve been scouring the internet for video or film footage for a while now, and every now and them, in amongst the ‘geek’ videos telling you how great <insert shite Marvel/DC comic here> while desperately hoping for that big TV deal you’ll get a gem. This is one of those gems.

This is a compilation of stock footage from the 1980’s, though some may well be 1970’s with the Neal Adams footage, and it’s a joyful flood of nostalgia as these days of comics are gone now to be replaced by a more corporate version. Enjoy this look into the past…

A tour of the London comic mart

I’ve spoken about the sad decline of the London comic marts over the years to the point where all that’s left is the Royal National show held in one of London’s moderately awful hotels. Marts are traditionally one-day events where it’s all about comics, and mainly cheapish, affordable comics as well as your hot collectors’ books. The show had fallen on hard times, and things were generally in decline with the show being a shadow of the days when for the first hour as a dealer you’d literally be taking money hand over fist before things calmed down for the rest of the day.

A recent video, however, shows signs of life. I’ve not been now in five years and if this video is representative of where things are then things are better with more comics dealers and a returned focus on the medium rather than modern ‘Comic’ conventions which have next to fuck all to do with comics. This though is encouraging, and hopefully we’re seeing a revival of comic marts in not just London but across the UK.

RIP Russ Cochran

If you’re a casual comics fan the name Russ Cochran will never grace the same ‘geek’ documentaries or films that lay homage to Stan Lee or Robert Downey Jr, but Cochran is quite possibly one of the most important figures in comics who sadly died this week.

Cochran’s massive contribution is carefully caretaking, and releasing the work of EC Comics in formats which do the work justice. The giant hardback box-sets are the easy sign a comics fan is not just an historian but a lover of some of the best comics ever made.

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Cochran was a comics fan who loved EC Comics, as well as the work of Carl Barks who started the entire idea of releasing comics in carefully curated editions with serious academic as well as artistic intent to preserve them for current and future generations.

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These editions were, and still are, massively expensive but Cochran also released EC reprints in a variety of formats more affordable to the average fan.

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Cochran’s contribution to comics as a medium and its fandom is immeasurable. These comics will teach you storytelling, design, scripting, everything and they’re great but for many in the 70’s and 80’s these were how people learned their first steps into the industry.

My dream is that before I die to have a full set of EC’s comics. I’ve got around a shelfload, with the Mad books being some of the most well-read comics I own. Thanks to Cochran making these things available maybe one day I will.

Jack Kirby’s Fourth World

Jack Kirby was a genius, and his run of Fantastic Four is still one of the greatest runs of any sort of comics.

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After Kirby left Marvel for DC, the prospect of Kirby creating a world from scratch was thought to be the sales coup of the century, but for a variety of reasons, his ‘Fourth World’ failed to set sales figures alight at the time. As an aside, if any superhero comic had those sales figures today they’d be the best selling titles of any publisher.

Those four titles, Jimmy Olsen, Mister Miracle, The Forever People and The New Gods, dropped enough concepts and characters to supply a creator or a publisher, a lifetime, but this was just a few years of Kirby’s life which is astonishing. There’s a lot out there describing what happened but this video is the clearest, most concise explanation of the story of Kirby’s Fourth World…