The Cage, as one of my fave new customers refers to the shop, has a pretty basic set-up; as you come through the door, there’s a wall of comics to the right. First up, there’s all the new things for the week, starting with the small press stuff, like Image (though it’s hard to call them a small press these days), Archie, and Dynamite, then you have DC, and finally Marvel.
The next section features everything that was left from the week before; it’s a little chaotic, but usually we’re down to about a shelf of Marvel, a shelf of DC, and the whole random rest of the world. The last section has the stuff from two weeks ago. Lately, this has been mostly Marvel and small press (Marvel fan that I am, this bums me out), but there’s always a little bit of everything left.
I often find this the most interesting part of the store; why hasn’t anyone spent their hard-earned money on these books? What wasn’t good enough about these titles? Did I just order too many? Why did Diamond send me so many extra copies of the horribly-titled Ladycastle? Did no one working on that book ever listen to a Prince b-side compilation?
There is some pressure to being in the Week Three section; the next stop is the back issue bins way over on the other side of the store. Now, I love the back issue bins, but at that point, the book is more or less a specialty item. While there are a few much-appreciated bin browsers who frequent the shop, mostly that area gets visited by people who want specific back issues they missed along the way. The odds of leaving the bins before convention season or a dollar sale aren’t exactly spectacular.
This column will focus on the books in that third section; I’m not exactly mining for sales here (well, maybe a little), so much as meditating on why books might end up there and wondering what I can do to find new homes for worthy things.
Item of Interest #1: Kamandi Challenge, #1
DC has struck on something cool here; it’s a 12 issue series, and each issue features two stories from two different teams of creators. Each story ends in a cliffhanger, and it’s the job of the next creative team to find some way out of the trap. It’s basically a game of Exquisite Corpse, using characters from one of Jack Kirby’s wildest creations as inspiration, and the first issue does a good job of highlighting what it might be like if a series were to inhabit a stream-of-consciousness created by 24 different people. Also, all of this might say something about Kirby’s creative process; if it takes 24 people to replicate the way you imagine stories, are you a genius, a madman, or both?
Item of Interest #2: Thanos, #3
This book has been a lesson in shopkeeping for me; I thought I ordered too many of the first two issues, but when a customer came in looking for them the other day, I discovered they’d sold out. Why then, would there be a half-dozen copies of issue #3 on the wall at this point? It’s a great team (Jeff Lemire and Mike Deodato), and this story was the strongest of the three with more action and a great ending. It could be that people are leery of Thanos, just the way they seem to be leery of all things Marvel right now. Or maybe the book is just experiencing the inevitable decline of most new series.
Item of Interest #3: The Dregs, #1
Honestly? I’m not sure I even like this book. It has a horrifying, gruesome beginning (the basic premise of the story seems to be that someone is killing homeless people and then serving them in restaurants; what???), and I nearly quit reading after the first few pages. I tell myself that I like horror movies, but I usually find a convenient excuse to quit watching as soon as the first frightening thing happens. Even halfway into this issue, I wasn’t sure the art was enough to keep me interested, but then it took some kind of turn. Suddenly the main character is channeling Raymond Chandler (he’s a homeless drug addict who carries around a copy of The Long Goodbye), and he’s either hallucinating or finding clues to a crime that is so discomforting that it feels a little weird to keep reading. For what it’s worth, I did in fact read on, and I keep thinking about what might happen in the next issue. Do I really want to know? I guess we’ll find out when issue #2 shows up.
Posted by Shopkeeperic