Budget for Good Books: Comics Out October 27 & More Bluewater Bashing

It’s wonderful when there’s a week where the budgeting is easy, because there are two things out I want to buy, and together they’re just under $15.

True Things (Adults Dont Want Kids to Know) cover
True Things (Adults Don’t Want
Kids to Know)
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I was thinking about that figure, though. I’m using it because my inspiration started it, but for me, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. I can see why $10 would be futile to use, because even single-volume manga and graphic novels cost more than that in most cases, but for me, I’m more likely to draw a line at $20. So I think I’ll start using that dividing line. Although, like many shoppers, if there’s something I want, I’m very flexible about sticking to it.

So my must-buys this week are first, True Things (Adults Don’t Want Kids to Know), the latest Amelia Rules! book ($10.99, Atheneum). I’ve already read it, but only in a black-and-white preview that doesn’t show off Jimmy Gownley’s art to advantage. I know I’ll enjoy the full-color version.

The other purchase I’m making is the Beasts of Burden/Hellboy one-shot (Dark Horse, $3.50). I loved the Beasts of Burden book, and the crossover is a neat idea, with characters with enough similarities to provide plot ideas, but different enough for freshness and creativity to get involved. The hardest part will be deciding which cover — sensibly, they’re both the same price, and both are astounding, by talented artists (Jill Thompson, Mike Mignola), one from each property.

If I hadn’t already bought the first xkcd collection, Volume 0 (hee hee, $18, Breadpig), I’d be buying that instead — but from Amazon, where it’s a third less. And it’s been available there for two months now. The comic shop system may not make a lot of sense for webcomic collections, no? Direct website or convention sales are often much more effective to reach that audience.

Browsing, Not Buying

Lost Encyclopedia cover
Lost Encyclopedia
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A new section to comment on things that I will not be purchasing, but I want to comment on. First up, the Lost Encyclopedia (DK Publishing, $45). KC was really interested in this … about two months ago, when the TV box sets were out and he was paying a lot more attention to the show and its ending. I know licensed works can be very difficult, but in such cases, timing is almost everything, and it seems to me that they blew their window. Then again, maybe sales will pick up for the holiday season.

Next, there’s a new Queen & Country novel: The Last Run (Bantam, $26). I have three shallow thoughts about this:

1) Wow, hardcover fiction is that much these days? (I sound like those people who don’t know comics still exist, don’t I?)

2) Gee, that’s a really generic title. Apparently, it’s intended to describe Tara Chace’s last mission. I found that out by going to Amazon, where it’s selling *really* well. Who knew there was still life in the franchise? Which leads me to

3) I miss the comic series, which used to have a really great combination of writing and excellent art from talented co-creators. But apparently print is the focus now for Tara’s stories. I’m not interested in them in that format, though, because I don’t read spy fiction. It all blends together for me. The art made her special.

Last, I don’t want to turn unethical publisher Bluewater Productions into my perpetual punching bag (even though they are the most-cited publisher in my PR: What Not to Do feature), but I noticed that their release list from both this week and last was dominated by duplicates. This week, they’re shipping #2 and 3 of The 10th Muse: Lost Issue, two Female Force publications, and three Fame “autobio” comics (#5, 6, and a double-sized “flip edition”). Last week was yet another Fame (#7, showing that they can’t even keep their numbers straight), and two issues each of Tony & Cleo and Vincent Price Presents.

This is a big warning sign and a very bad idea. Serial comic purchasers don’t like being taken advantage of by having to shell out for two installments at once, so they may not buy either. Retailers like it even less, since sales drop without some spacing between the entries. And how are they supposed to find double rack space for this stuff? Admittedly, with the celeb-focused Fame and Female Force comics, that’s less of a problem, since those interested in reading about Justin Bieber may not also have ordered the David Beckham issue, but that doesn’t cover the two (maybe three — is the Price book serialized or an anthology?) story comics.

The reasons for this market flood I can only speculate on. It may be the case that they badly need income, so they’re pumping out publications. I don’t track their release dates, so they might be rushing books out to avoid being tagged as late and having to adjust orders (which would likely go down). Perhaps it’s just incompetence. If they’re gang-printing to save money, they may not have anyone paying attention to release patterns or be willing to hold completed books for a more sensible schedule. It could be accounting-related, trying to get inventory off the books before tax season or some other reason. There are any number of possibilities here, but I don’t know of any good ones.

3 Responses to “Budget for Good Books: Comics Out October 27 & More Bluewater Bashing”

  1. alexis ohanian Says:

    Thanks for giving xkcd: volume 0 a shoutout! You may not know this, but doing so probably helped us (breadpig, the publisher) sell a few more books, the profits of which went to make the world suck less! We’re funding RoomToRead.org literacy programs and entire schools in the developing world: http://breadpig.com/2010/10/08/laos-the-kengthan-incomplete-primary-school/

  2. James Says:

    What I’ve heard Rucka mention in interviews is that this book is intended to serve as a bridge to a second volume of Q&C, because Tara no longer has the capability to work in the field. I think the main sticking point in the relaunch of Q&C is that he wants to get Nicola Scott to draw the first arc of the 2nd volume and she’s busy with DC work right now. I don’t think that print (as opposed to comics) has ever been the intended focus for Q&C and I’m not sure why one would think that.

  3. Johanna Says:

    That’s neat to know, thanks. I hope we do see more Q&C comics some day. I thought print had become his preferred format because, out of the last four Q&C stories, three were novels, not comics. I’m glad to hear that’s not the eventual plan.




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