Friday, December 06, 2019 

Coral Springs comics and games store closes after just a few years

The Broward/Palm Beach New Times tells of a store in Florida for both comics and board games like Dungeons & Dragons that's closed after just 3 years or so, making it one of the shorter lived attempts to open a business. This particular article seems to put more of an emphasis on the board games industry, but is decidedly important for learning what could've gone wrong with the entertainment industry as a whole:
In a Coral Springs strip mall, Loot Comics & Games sits wedged next to a bakery, a barber, and a pain clinic specializing in back and neck issues.

Or, rather, it sat there: The shop closed for good November 22 after a three-and-a-half-year run. A hastily drawn sign on the door reads, “So long and thanks for all the fish,” a reference to the fourth book in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy. [...]

Putting aside whether opening a comic book store as a side gig more than 3,000 miles from your home is an insane idea, the fate of Loot is similar to that of at least one other shop in South Florida — Silver Dragon Tavern & Games in Kendall, which also closed recently. This, owners say, despite the fact that tabletop games such as D&D are exploding in popularity. Comic book shops in recent years have been closing at a rapid clip across the nation. Nykolaiszyn said he knows of ten that have shuttered within the past month, and a simple Google search pulls up pages of news posts reporting the demise of beloved gaming spots.
I trust they're aware of the valid reasons why they're on such a downward cascade, including - but not limited to - failure of artistic merit? If they're not willing to acknowledge that, they won't solve the problems. There's also cover prices to consider, and political/social justice pandering, and those too have brought down entertainment in the worst ways.

Now, since they chose to spotlight the subject of tabletop games, very well then, let's see what they say about the D&D franchise:
According to Wizards of the Coast, the company that produces the various books and ephemera vital to D&D, more than 40 million people worldwide play. Though the cliché is of nerdy middle-school boys playing in the basement — à la Stranger Things — 38 percent are women.
While it's always possible there was a decent amount of women who played D&D decades before, I'm wondering just how and why any are playing it today? If it's got anything to do with liberal feminism and the laughable belief women are literally required to play what Gary Gygax may have developed as a primarily boys' pastime, then let me just say I hope those who are playing aren't doing it because they deliberately want to do any kind of artistic damage to the franchise, recalling a report from the pretentious Kotaku claiming WOTC was going to tone down female sexuality/nudity in artwork (which runs the gauntlet of damning the game's original creator as a pervert), yet they seem perfectly okay with doing the same to men, which is a nigh hilarious double-standard. Even worse, as this item notes, WOTC themselves have come to the point of employing people who're obsessed with bizarre racial/sexual identities, a sad sign of how far counter-cultural types have fallen. In fact, if "counterculture" has been mostly comprised of punkish types over the past few decades, maybe that could explain how counterculture as we know it today got devoured by itself, as it gave way to the worst subculture has to offer. If to play D&D, it should be for the entertainment value of the finished product, plain and simple, not as a political statement.

One of the interviewees for the New Times article said:
Peter Kamenkovich, age 23, says he doesn’t think there’s a lot of crossover between D&D and MMG players, and despite his age, his guess is D&D appeals mostly to an older demographic.

“Not that there aren’t outliers, but D&D has a patience and concentration aspect to it that even I have trouble keeping focus with — for example, getting distracted with my phone between turns," the Boca Raton resident and Loot regular says. "In this day and age of instant gratification, if a child is raised on it, I think they'd find D&D a little boring and slow.”

As for why stores might be closing, Kamenkovich says it might be because public games tend to be somewhat rowdy, loud affairs and not always the best places to follow complicated tales.

“Sessions last up to five hours and essentially it's a story that you need to listen to and pay attention, while also having a bit of fun and laughs along the way,” he says. “That's why I think games are moving more towards online and private, in-house, play.”
I honestly figure that in itself is a better idea, but a shame if children today aren't raised to have the patience needed for simpler board games, because then, how can we expect the kind I played in my youth like Monopoly to do well? It's interesting they suggest the D&D audience is comprised of an older age bracket, because that only compounds the estimation the people at WOTC today are catering to a non-existent audience that won't buy the product no matter how pandering it ends up becoming to poor ideologies.
Another player, Walter Irvine, 35, noted the impact of Amazon on the businesses, saying “selling something in a physical store isn’t a great idea anymore.”
Yes, that's become apparent for a long time, and has undoubtably affected comicdom too. There was once a Sears department store in Philadelphia around Roosevelt Boulevard that closed down and the building was reduced to a shell, as it couldn't compete with Amazon's retail business. And I think there's only one comics specialty store left there now, Fat Jack's Comicrypt, one of the oldest of its kind, dating back as far as 1976. When you can get certain products delivered to your neighborhood, it makes a considerable difference in many cases.
Nykolaiszyn says his business plan was to create a bar and cafe where people just happened to play D&D. If he sold a few comic books and a number of miniatures – the often elaborately painted figurines players use to represent their characters – so be it, but that wasn’t the point.

“We almost made it,” he says. “Almost.”
But in what format would the comics be sold? Pamphlets with 20 pages or so of story, or paperbacks/hardcovers? If it was foremost the former and not the latter, no wonder they didn't make it. Selling just "a few" doesn't work well either, and suggests he didn't get into the business out of dedication to the medium.

Now, since we're on the subject of stores, here's another item from the Commonwealth Times of Virginia's university, which gives a more sugarcoated picture of what the industry is going through, starting with:
With the Marvel Cinematic Universe setting box office record after box office record, comics have never been more prevalent in media.
Sigh. That's taking an awfully rose-colored view, when as the first article stated, there are quite a few stores that have closed down, and comics may not be doing well even in online sales. Who knows how long the Marvel movies will continue to prove successful either? It continues:
With the rise of digital media, one might assume that the traditional print comics are a thing of the past. However, the average moviegoer might not realize that the comics industry is still bustling.

According to the comics data analysis website Comichron, the chief comics distributor, Diamond, made approximately $446 million through direct sales to local retailers.
Okay, but how much of that went to the Big Two, or, how much was made on brand new material rather than older reprints from past decades? And if specialty stores are closing, as the first article acknowledged, then again, how much of it is even selling through them? On which note:
With the convenience of Amazon’s direct home delivery, the average Avengers fan might wonder why they should bother with a local comic shop.
See, at least that's saying something. E-commerce surely plays a role in encouraging consumers to buy comics through the web, doesn't it?
“A good comic shop will have people who are excited about something that’s happening in comics,” Donovan said. “I’ve noticed stores with employees that say ‘nothing’s good’ don’t tend to last that long.”
What if this alluded to the superhero genre, where everything's going to the dogs? I think it's too easy to say the store employees would deliberately put down their wares, though I will say stores whose managers carry products that could be degrading or just plain bad in merit aren't really doing themselves a favor.
Velocity Comics manager Patrick Godfrey said the store’s readership has diversified and increased, thanks to longtime readers.

Our longtime customers have gotten their kids into comics. But the biggest growth in readership has come from a rise in female and LGBTQ readers,” Godfrey said. “As soon as books that appeal to those demographics are available to order, we make sure to order them and make sure they’re visible in our store.”
No kidding. But, which publishers do they look for, and what exact titles or genres? And above all, what's the artistic quality level of any of these books? I wouldn't be surprised if the women coming about find manga books like Sailor Moon more appealing than modern US superhero books, which aren't exactly appealing to anybody any longer. And when it comes to the children, I'd assume the parents encouraging them to read comics are turning to non-superhero books too, or at least stuff that isn't overly violent, among other troubling content.

To be sure, there are some areas where the business is doing better than in others, and this Virginia location has to be one of those. But as the former article at the very least confirms, far more have collapsed than risen, and the latter article's another example of sugarcoating reality, even as it does acknowledge the undeniable influence of e-commerce, which is surely gnawing away at the brick and mortar competition.

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Thursday, December 05, 2019 

Some more political tweets by J.T. Krul

If there's any far-left comics writer I can find spewing out dreadful rhetoric at the moment, it's Krul, who of recent's been doing work for Aspen, and occasional animation. In the past few weeks, he's turned out head-shakers like this one:

What about leftists who turned a blind eye to the sex offenses committed by Jeffrey Epstein? Isn't that a concern? Though if universities do count, how many culprits on campus were leftists, who, interestingly enough, are the opponents of new sexual misconduct laws at Harvard?

There's also this item, which appears to be in reply to one about Elizabeth Warren:

Nope. It's about her political platform, plain and simple, which even the Wash. Post admits. Did Krul think this when Sarah Palin was chosen as John McCain's VP candidate? Most likely not.

Some people also don't have what it takes to show gratitude for Trump's positive steps, like in economy and business. Krul's one of them, alas.

Even take steps that could jeopardize national security, and accept unlawful funding from George Nader? This is troubling indeed. If anything, Clinton owes some plausible explanations for her past actions.

Is he hoping Bolton does? If that be the case, tsk tsk. Bolton's already been on the right side of history when it comes to Iran, so what's Krul's point?

And Bill Clinton couldn't possibly be? Any chance he'd be willing to donate the money he's making on his books to Epstein's victims?

Any chance Krul'd be willing to take issue with Graham over his refusal to give backing to a special resolution on the Armenian Holocaust during WW1? There's a valid issue to be found in that subject, but Krul seems to lack what it takes to confront those kind of issues.

Says somebody who, a decade ago, was willing to do the script for a DC special denigrating Roy Harper, unreservedly.

I wish he'd stop with that absurd virtue-signaling, acting as though women, provided they support leftist politics, are the ones to immediately congratulate. Does he even care what's happened to Melania Trump of recent?

More boring anti-conservative swipes. Has he ever considered the possibilities Clinton accepted bribes, or Joe Biden in the Ukraine scandal?

But this is exactly why comics could be dying - because they're being exploited for rabid leftist platforms. Didn't Krul notice the harm inflicted by Marvel at the time of Secret Empire?

The diversity and not the merit or talent, huh? See, this is just what's gone wrong with western society today, and with mainstream superhero comics under awful editors like Axel Alonso. And Krul doesn't care that the Dem candidates are all representing dullsville.

So again, what a pity we have here a comics writer who's sullying the impact of whatever comics he's scripting today, forcing everyone to take his work with a grain of salt, and putting on shows of classic Orwellian ignorance.

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Screen Rant says Marvel's sabotaging their X-Men relaunch

Actually, they already did by rebooting with the millionth numero uno issues, but now, Screen Rant's willing to admit what other mistakes Marvel's made in the past few months:
Unfortunately, Marvel Comics seem to be unwittingly sabotaging the X-Men's success. The problem is that the comic book publisher has realized they're on to a hit, and as a result the X-Men range is once again expanding. Unfortunately, Marvel isn't doing a particularly good job of staggering the books - as noted by ISnowNothin on Twitter, the X-books double- or even triple-ship most weeks until the end of January. The week of December 18 is particularly brutal, with no less than five X-Men comics coming out on the same day. Each issue is priced at just $3.99, which means anyone attempting to follow all these books at once will have to pay out just under $20 - the week before Christmas.

It's not hard to see why Marvel has done this; they're operating by the most basic laws of supply and demand. Right now, there's clearly a demand for the X-Men, so they figure they might as well dine out on it. Unfortunately, this is a short-term strategy, because it essentially forces the various X-Men titles into a match of "survival of the fittest" that would make Apocalypse proud. The simple truth is that, at this kind of price, most readers are going to have to choose which books to prioritize - especially so close to Christmas. Hickman's flagship X-Men is probably safe, but all the other X-Men comics are effectively competing with one another on the day of their release. A more staggered approach would prevent this competition, and ironically probably result in better sales performance across the range. Marvel's strategy is pretty wrong-headed.
That just about sums it up. Besides the mistake of sticking with monthly pamphlets that cost $4 or more for little more than 20 pages of tale, they turn out too many spinoffs to boot. But, does SR think more spinoff books would really work wonders? Maybe if they used the same approach used with individual Avengers members who have their own books like Captain America and Iron Man (it certainly worked for a time with Wolverine back in the day), but if it's just dozens more team books, that only makes it more of the same, and the price tag doesn't help matters.
Making matters worse, Jonathan Hickman's X-Men franchise appears to be far more closely coordinated than is typically the case. Each one of the comics is exploring important concepts that were seeded through Hickman's Dawn of X and Powers of X miniseries, and they all link together in quite an interesting way. Major events from one book are having repercussions across the range; X-Force #1 saw Charles Xavier assassinated by an anti-mutant conspiracy, and the repercussions have been felt in every title. This means there's actually a risk readers will unwittingly miss a crucial issue, and as a result Marvel risk the entire range beginning to lose traction.
Xavier's demise in the first X-Force issue is [hopefully] already being undone in the 2nd. But, there's validity to the argument of too many spinoffs kept running like a crossover posing the risk of readers missing out on an issue, and winding up with a gap, just like in the old days. This wouldn't be so likely if most comics, serial or otherwise, turned to trade format instead, and then, you could justify spinoff titles more easily, since they could be kept self-contained.

And, if Hickman's not opposed to turning out so many spinoffs at all once, then he's part of the problem. I also can't see what's so "interesting" about a story taking a non-powered woman and turning her into just another mutant with whatever power they see fit just to slap the "mutant" sign onto her. The X-Men continue to be one of the most misused franchises in Marvel, with the Avengers faring no better.

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Tuesday, December 03, 2019 

The Tempest is reportedly Alan Moore's last GN

In this list of what the UK Guardian calls the best GNs of the year, the following is stated about Moore's latest entry in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen:
Alan Moore, the legendary creator of From Hell and Watchmen, has said that The Tempest (Knockabout), the conclusion to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, will be his last comic. He and artist Kevin O’Neill (who is also quitting the industry) have set their motley literary superleague against Moriarty, Martians and a boy-wizard antichrist in previous instalments, and here Bram Stoker’s Mina Murray, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and Emma Peel from the (British) Avengers must battle “Jimmy” Bond and a supernatural conspiracy. The digressions long since overtook the main story, but this wild metafictional romp is a fitting goodbye to two singular talents.
Well after the awfully extreme comments he made in recent years about the superhero genre, it'll be fortunate and for the best if he's departing the medium, along with the artist. He's hardly been the best influence on the medium anyway in the long run, and his increasingly leftist stances are making him far less appealing. So, I guess he'll be turning more to novels now, and if he leaves the comics industry behind, that's fine.

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Monday, December 02, 2019 

Piracy may be a problem, but what about bad storytelling?

The BBC has an article about comic creators who're complaining about online piracy:
A comic book writer's claim that the proliferation of piracy is "a real problem" has encouraged others in the industry to share their concerns.

Jim Zub, who writes for Marvel and IDW, tweeted that 20 times as many people read comics illegally shared online, than pay for digital or physical works.

Many other comic creators replied with their own experiences of pirated work.

For some, piracy brought personal and professional costs, while others suggested radical distribution changes.

In the thread, Zub said having work spread without being paid for initially created a "visibility boost" for the creators, but has now become the norm for an audience of "rapid consumption".

"I don't want pirate readers to think it's no big deal or victimless," he tweeted. "Content worth reading is content worth supporting."
True, but is the content being pirated entirely great from an artistic view? What if it's awful, like Dan Slott's Spider-Man material? Who in the right frame of mind wants to buy that? Or his Iron Man and Fantastic Four material? And who want to buy Brian Bendis' Superman material by this point? If you know where to look, there's plenty of truly revolting products out there - including, but not limited to - political propaganda and just plain sleaze, not worth plunking down money on. So while I admit piracy isn't great, at least it gives everybody and anybody a chance to see just how bad the stuff could be, and why it might've fared poorly in sales before.

They also mention a would-be writer who may have worked for Bleeding Cool in the past:
Joe Glass is an independent comics writer from South Wales whose titles are sold through Comixology, a distribution site for comics, and has sales figures "the publisher is happy with".

However, on one pirate site alone, Glass found that his LGBTQ+ superhero series The Pride and The Pride Adventures had been viewed a total of 16,843 times illegally.

This level of piracy hurts him and many other independent writers and artists, for whom money is "pretty tight".
I vaguely remember Glass as somebody who was reportedly antagonizing Richard Meyer over POVs he didn't agree with. I don't know why, but it sounds like an oxymoron if the audience he's presumably catering to doesn't want to spend dough on his product, the 100 millionth addition to some already cliched genres, and surely another example of "wokeness".
For a comics creator at the start of their career, working to the scale he is, Glass says piracy is a "stumbling block" to getting further work published, rather than giving him exposure.

"I tried to consider the benefits, but now I ultimately can't see it as anything other than stealing."

If every person to pirate his work had bought an issue instead, "it would mean enough payment to me and my whole creative team in full for the series, and a good step of the way into the next project."

"Instead, the next project is entirely reliant on getting picked up by a publisher who will help fund its creation."
Well if he was wrongfully attacking Meyer over petty issues like artistic dissent and whatnot, I have a hard time caring, even as I won't condone piracy. Plus, why does it seem like quite a few news reporters these days are suddenly getting into the writing/drawing business of a medium they may not have reviewed objectively? I just don't see the point.

I will say, in fairness, that if piracy is really such a big deal to them, then FWIW, they should abandon the practice of monthly pamphlets and just publish the whole book in a paperback/hardcover instead. And maybe limit digital content to only a handful of sample pages; maybe those where the word balloons haven't been added yet. IMO, that's how to really make a transition to professionalism, and I wish Stan Lee had thought of it serious decades before. But if they really must complain about piracy, at least acknowledge artistic merit does count in any event.

And then, the artist Jon Malin had the following to say:

Another creator said:

They could also be the very SJWs they're presumably trying to appeal to. Did that ever occur? Leftists who may support their particular beliefs, yet won't spend a dime on the writer's work in question, no matter how much it adheres to their twisted beliefs. In any case, if these would-be creators are attacking the audience for all the wrong reasons, they can't be surprised if little to nobody wants to purchase their work and would rather look it up online for free. To appeal to the masses, you have to keep a dignified image and maintain at least a little class. Otherwise, don't be shocked if they won't rush to buy your work when it debuts.

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Sunday, December 01, 2019 

Character survival depends on merchandise?

As bad as Gail Simone can be today from a political perspective, she did recently tell an interesting tale from a gathering she once had with DC staff for story planning:


So according to her, a prominent writer, whose name should decidedly be known, saw no value whatsoever in Lois Lane, denigrated all the hard work begun by Siegel and Shuster, and seemingly believed a character's existence depends entirely on merchandise. You can see why Sue Dibny and Jean Loring were taken down so repellently in Identity Crisis, along with Jack Drake, father of the 3rd Robin, who may still be gone from DC continuity, even as the loathsome roach of a miniseries is no longer canon. Come to think of it, you can see why Dr. Light was turned into a rapist, something most of Superman's rogues gallery are unlikely to be changed into (though if memory serves, the Toyman was turned into a child killer at the time the Death & Return of Superman went to press, and slaughtered Cat Grant's son). That sure doesn't sound to me like a dedicated writer who believes in basing storytelling on merit. And what did the rest of the contributors she attended with think of the idea of offing cast members simply because they're minor?

However, Simone takes an awfully naive view of another certain writer:

This is laughable when you consider what bad steps Bendis did take, denigrating Scarlet Witch, Tigra, Jean Grey and a few other Marvel women at the time he produced Avengers: Disassembled. What's more, he did irritate Super-fans some time ago when he all but phased Lois out of Clark's life. It may be one thing to jettison the son, contrived and cynical as it was the way they did it, but Lois clearly has a lot more supporters, much like Mary Jane Watson, who were right not to take kindly to any bad steps Bendis made to drop Lois from the cast.

And whatever Simone's standing on a famous Superman cast member like Lois Lane, her politics in real life drain the impact from what she's telling now. I'm as big a fan of Lois Lane as the next, but I can't feel much admiration for a would-be comics writer with politics as reprehensible as Simone's got.

Still, I hope one day we'll learn who the mystery writer was at the gathering, and why he lacks faith in any fictional character to use for building stories around. A fictional character's longevity can't depend entirely on merchandise, even as there may be action figures manufactured based on Superman's leading lady on the toy market.

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Saturday, November 30, 2019 

Tom Lyle, RIP

I'd almost missed this news, but Tom Lyle, a notable artist who'd worked with Chuck Dixon on the Robin solo series, passed away a week and a half ago at 66. Very sad he's gone.

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Friday, November 29, 2019 

French comics writer works with Filipino artists to envision a future Manila

Here's an article in the Manila Business Mirror telling of French comics author Benoit Peeters, who traveled to the Philippines to work with local artists to develop a futuristic vision of Manila in their artwork.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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