Reading anything good that’s been out awhile? Let’s talk …
By MENACHEM LUCHINS, owner, Escape Pod Comics, Huntington, L.I.
Last week, I saw Diamond’s monthly sales figures. As will come as no surprise to anyone, Marvel destroyed the competition, garnering almost 50 percent of the market share and sales.
Thinking out loud on Twitter, I responded. But, as I do, I kept thinking about it. I threw together some more pertinent points and personal shop anecdotes in my head in preparation for turning that rant into a Meanwhile… piece for this week.
Then I did something I haven’t done in a really long time. I read a great big stack of recent comics. I mean a STACK. From Friday night until nightfall on Saturday I read something like 50 comics, all from the last two weeks. Now here’s the interesting bit: Because my wife was looking to start something new, my entire stack was devoid of #1s, one-shots, and specials, as she had them and was slowly making her way through them. Everything I was reading was from the middle of a story — a second issue or a 68th, it didn’t matter.
Reading these books, I realized that while some of these titles sell quite decently or are masterfully done, you don’t hear about them that much. So much attention on the Internet is devoted to new books that even great books that were once the talk of the town barely get a nodding mention in any substantial way.
Even acclaimed books like Lazarus and Saga (Image) are lately more often brought up to discusses their writers’ new books than in an article devoted to them alone. (Though check out our Greg Rucka interview, here. — Dan)
Comic reading, however, is not a concurrent sharing experience the way that, say, professional sports are. No one gets to scream “spoilers!” about the World Series or ask that their friends respect their wishes and not post about the Super Bowl to Facebook on the day of.
In fact, who doesn’t love seeing a friend on social media discover a classic or favorite series and post about it. You eagerly await them getting to your favorite part, or most hated character so that you can feel it with them, almost like it’s your first time again.
But it’s not only “old” comics like Sandman or the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire run of Justice League. It doesn’t have to even be a wrapped-up series like Fatale or Locke & Key. Part of the joy of sharing comics is helping people discover stuff they love and, if you’re lucky, discovering people who love the same stuff as you. Part of what keeps a successful title successful is that people are excited to talk about it with their friends. We often refer to this sort of thing as “hype” and it can sometimes come off as forced or fake, but a true desire to share or discuss something you really enjoy is usually apparent, even over Twitter where much else is lost.
The fact is, I get to do this far less than I would like, as I can only stock so many copies of the 14th or 50th issue of a book when shelf copies sit and sit. Some companies make this easier with their trades, with $10 first volumes or good printing schedules, but I have found that as, for example, Saga, grows to five volumes, less people are picking up the first one. It’s not that they haven’t heard of it, but Wytches or The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, each with only one trade, are a lot more tempting.
It’s hard for me, then, to try and push Manifest Destiny when someone has countless new issues to “try out.”
But that doesn’t stop me, and it certainly shouldn’t stop you, who have less financially invested in suggesting books to your friends. Let’s work against the constant desire for the “next hot thing” with some serious discussion, and push for the comics that are coming out, have been coming out and need our support to keep coming out.
To take this to a darker place, I could mention all the books that have been cancelled or held back due to lack of interest this year — books that started with hype and applause and then just… fell off the radar. But I’d prefer to stay positive for once.
So, let’s hear from you: Sound off below in the comments — or respond in the social-media thread where you saw this — with a great, ongoing comic that you feel people are missing out on and let’s discover great books together.