At the end of this month, I will be setting my shop’s order for comics shipping in May. We received this information digitally in mid December. We received our ordering catalogues earlier this month. During that time, we’ve gently probed our customer base, getting a feel for what books people are most looking forward to. We’ve taken a few orders and gotten the shape of a few orders. In a few weeks, I’ll enter in our initial orders. In some cases, I will be setting my orders for a series’ second issue before the first hits the stands. In others, I will be setting orders for the fifth before the first issue comes out. This is a pretty stupid thing, asking someone to guess at what people will love before they have a chance to experience it. But whatever. The industry is what the industry is, and barring massive sweeping changes, or the influx of (let’s say) a few billion dollars, things aren’t going to change. Books will have to be ordered as they are, with a huge gap filled with guesswork. Thankfully, the somewhat-new final order cut off policy many of the companies have adopted has helped make the process infinitely less stressful.
See, back in the day (and by this I mean roughly 3-5 years ago) the initial orders you placed for a book were fairly concrete. Barring a change in the book’s contents, you would not be able to adjust your numbers for that book. You might have been able to increase your order on certain items if extra stock was available or printed, but a decrease? Forget about it. This meant that if you ordered 100 copies of a first issue and 90 copies of a second issue, only to discover the series was selling around the 60 copy mark, you would be stuck with your bullish order until you remaindered them in quarter bins. Nowadays, a retailer can adjust their orders on a large quantity of their single issue comic book orders, including all of the companies in the front of the catalogue, alongside recent additions (or soon-to-be-added) companies like Oni Press, Dynamite Entertainment, Boom! Studios and Valiant.
Quantities from those companies can be adjusted right up until the moment companies need to set a print run. This week the list includes single issues shipping on February 6th. This means that shops are now taking a look at the last few months, and gauging what they will get for shelf. It also means that if you want a big book coming out at the start of February, this weekend is the absolute last time you can let your retailer know you want those books. Sure, you can chance asking them for copies of something later, but if your shop is cutting things close to the bone, you might be fresh out of luck. Even if your shop is proactive, and will have shelf copies of bigger books, it always helps to let them know what you want in advance so that they will have more shelf copies for others. Think of it as “helping the industry grow” by making sure more product is available for others.
Anyway, all of that pre-amble exists to introduce a new weekly look at some of the bigger books that are hitting their cut-offs. We hope it will serve a dual purpose of getting retailers to look at their numbers, and get customers to make sure they’re getting all the books they want. Onwards!
This book is probably the most urgent item on this list. Issue 17 is when Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino take over the book and make with a very soft reboot. For all intents and purposes, it should be called Green Arrow #1, but for some strange reason, they’re sticking to their guns and continuing with old numbering. This is bad for a couple of reasons. If you want the long version, you can head over here and read my response about four questions down. The short version? A new number one just sells better. Retailers can quantify it as something different and add people to the new title with general ease, and readers can easily identify the beginning by simply letting their eye fall over the issue number. The fact that this issue is #17 means that everyone who wants the book has to be vigilant. It means that retailers have a five day window in between the point where issue 16 made it to the stands (this past Wednesday) and when they can adjust their final orders (this coming Monday). That is the prime selling window, five days. So retailers, if you want to make a big deal about this book (and you do – that creative teams will rock this book), then get your hustle on. And readers, if you want a copy, tell your retailer. Tell them before Monday. Or better yet, tell them today. I’m not 100% sure when DC sends off their numbers, but I know Marvel sends them on Fridays – and you don’t want to miss out on this new start.
Lemire: Whenever I get one of these characters, I try to read everything and anything I can with them before. I want to know what’s been done and what elements I like and what excites me. I’d read all the Grell stuff when it was coming out when I was a kid, and so I reread that whole run, and I felt like that was the closest to what I wanted to do. It was the most realistic and grounded, and it made Oliver Queen this hero of the people. He didn’t use trick arrows or any of that stuff. He was more of a hunter of the night kind of guy. That really appealed to me. And the other thing I really hooked into, again, was rereading all the Denny O’Neil/Denys Cowan “Question” stuff. Those people were really the things I looked to when I was getting my grounding and my story underway.
There have already been a couple creative teams on Green Arrow since its relaunch, and with all respect to the creators who have already been on it, I feel like it was a book that didn’t really have a voice. It hadn’t found its direction yet. I really wanted to steer it in a new direction. My first issue, #17, is a fresh start for the character and the title.
SNAPSHOT #1 (Image Comics)
They broke the god damn earth in half.
Back when they were both relatively new to the American comic book industry, Andy Diggle and Jock created a series called The Losers for Vertigo. In part, it was a modern take on the old DC property. In reality, it was a big budget action series that didn’t have to deal with things like budgets or time constraints. Each arc hit like a freight train, building to a climax that included, amoung other things, physically breaking the earth. After that, the series wrapped… because where do you go from there? A little while after that, they joined forces to tell Green Arrow’s origin in Green Arrow: Year One, which in turn, inspired a lot of the island action that you see on the current Arrow TV show.
Anyway, with Snapshot, Diggle and Jock are reunited again. It’s a four issue series about a guy who works at a comic shop who is thrust into a world of madness when he finds a cell phone full of snapshots of murder victims, and it’s going to be great. If you ordered light, bump up your numbers. Tell people about the Arrow connection if that’ll sell em. Don’t if it won’t. And readers, if you’re into high action with great characters, buy this book.
WINTER SOLDIER #15 (Marvel Comics)
It will be the first issue after Ed Brubaker leaves the title, which means two things: you lazy retailers out there will want to drop your numbers, because you won’t do a damn thing to move this book post Bru. As for the good retailers, I would like to implore you to keep going with this book. Either match your numbers for Bru or exceed them, because the incoming creative team is dynamite.
Jason Latour and Nic Klein are still relatively “unknown” in the industry - Latour is known more for his work as an artist (which you can find within the pages of the Django Unchained adaptation, as well as some recent BPRD and the upcoming Sledgehammer 44 mini with Mike Mignola). Last year, he proved he had writing chops with the release of a series called Loose Ends, a gorgeous slightly oversized series of southern crime books that buzzed with style and character. Sadly, the series has yet to conclude (living up to its name, maybe?) but that has no bearing on the man’s skills as a writer. He’s a great storyteller who is just crazy enough to make a gritty, pulpy book like this work, and he’s absolutely going to make it his own. In addition to this, he has Nic Klein on board as an artist. You might recognize that name from Dancer or Viking, two brilliant series from Image that featured his artistic skills. If you’re not familiar, you can check his work out here. You will be quite glad you did.
- Be aware of the new Fearless Defenders book coming out from Marvel. It’s Cullen Bunn’s new book following up on threads from Fear Itself: The Fearless, featuring an all female cast of awesome superheroes. Bunn’s work is some of my favourite (The Sixth Gun is still one of the best independent reads on the shelves right now) and this series has a great hook, as Valkyrie goes around finding a new team to take down big, awesome threats.
- Boom! Studios will be cerealizing the Paul Jenkins/Humberto Ramos fairy tale album Fairy Quest soon, and it is a thing that you will want to see with your eyes.
- And Garth Ennis will be returning to the crime genre with a book called Red Team. It’s the launch book from Dynamite’s new line of crime comics, all of which sound quite interesting. If you’re a fan of the man’s war books or Punisher Max run, you could do worse things than check this book out.
- This one isn’t a book, so much as a cry for help. Can you think of a good name for this column? I want a good name for this column. Hit the comment section or twitter and help me out.
And with that, we call it a day with this first edition. Quite a bit longer than I thought it would be, but whatever. Now go and buy or sell some comics, you damn honkeys.