Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bone, Shadow Spinner, and Chocolate

I've mentioned before that I used to collect comic books. I've also mentioned that I've worked in comic book retail. One of the things I used to do was place all the comic orders. On one side, that's a pretty easy thing to do: You look at how many copies of, say, X-Men are selling each month, and you order that many copies. On the other side, it's incredibly complicated, because you have to be aware of what's going on in the series or if there is anything special planned so that you can anticipate any spikes in sales. You also have to know how well your back issues on the series are doing so that you can know if you need to order any extra copies to have available as back issues. There is a constant balancing of meeting the current demands of the store vs investing in the future value or hotness of an issue or series. Most comic book stores go out of business due to do over investment. It just doesn't matter if an issue goes from $3 to $30 in two months and you have 100 extra copies in the back if you don't have 100 people lined up to buy those copies. Most comic shops just can't take those kinds of risks.

Unfortunately, I've worked for people that didn't understand that.

At any rate, I was pretty good at picking good investments in comics, especially when it came to new titles, which was the hardest thing to do. That's where a lot of comic shop owners really messed up, too. A lot of them, in order not to miss some new series that makes it big, will order every single #1 issue every single month. Several of them. Just in case. Most of them, though, are just expensive toilet paper, and you spend way more covering your butt than you do off any individual series that makes it big. But, as I said, I was good at picking those, and I never picked a new #1 that wasn't worth looking at. Meaning, I never singled one out and said, "This is one you ought to get. It's going to be good," and ended up wrong.

Which is not to say I didn't have some times when I didn't take my own advice. My biggest regret is not buying this:
Bone came out at one of those points when I was pretty maxed out on my comic collecting. I'd seen some of Jeff Smith's work previously, though, from when he was doing comic strips in a college paper, and I knew he was good. So it was decision time. To add a new series into what I was collecting, I would have to drop one out, and I couldn't decide on which one to drop, so, reluctantly, I passed on Bone. However, I highly suggested that the owner of the store invest in Bone. The response was, "Why aren't you buying it, then?"

I should have bought it. That issue, 20 years later, is worth $300. The print run was so small that six months later, it was worth $50, and, a year later, $100. I should have bought it, and the store owner should have listened to me. In fact, he told me at the six month point on Bone that he highly regretted not listening to me. But those things happen. By the way, Bone is one of the best comic series I've ever read, and it was, wait for it, self-published. Yessiree, Bob, it was self-published.

That's why some store owners won't pass up #1's, because, unless it's a new X-Men or Batman or something, the print runs tend to be low, so, if it gets really popular, the #1 becomes relatively more valuable than the rest of the series.

And what does that have to do with anything? Well, for one thing, I just like to talk about comic books sometimes. And Bone was self-published. Jeff Smith went over to Image for a while, but he didn't like how that worked out and ended up going back to self-publishing.

However, what that really has to do with is that I just finished Shadow Spinner! Yep! Tiberius is now the star of his very own 50,000 word book! Hopefully, I will have figured out CreateSpace's new system and have it all formatted and stuff tomorrow so that I can order some proof copies. What's the big deal about proof copies? Well, like a comic book #1, they have a really low print run. So to speak. Well, considering that they limit you to only five proofs, it is really low.

And you still might be thinking, "What does this have to do with anything?"

Remember the Great Chocolate Contest and how I mentioned that there might be an extra special prize? Well, there will be an extra special prize. I will also be giving away one signed proof copy of Shadow Spinner as part of the prizes for the winner of the Great Chocolate Contest. Add that to the best chocolate in the entire world (that I've tasted), and you have, like, a no lose situation. I mean, if you win, you can't lose! Wait a minute... Never mind...

Both prizes might not go to the same person, or, then again, they might. It's all going to depend upon the entries and how good they are. However, Briane Pagel, because of his dislike of physical books, is automatically disqualified from winning  the proof copy, so that's good for all of you, because he's been letting it be known that no one else needs to enter since he's intending to win. (That sounds like a challenge to me!) Even if he does win, he can only win the chocolate, which will mean that someone else would get to win the book. Of course, there are all sorts of other things that could end up happening with that, too.

Remember, all short stories are due to me (email would be great) by February 6, the two year anniversary of The House on the Corner (and the 43rd anniversary of me). If you want to post them on your blog, do that, too! Let me know, and I'll link people over to it.

I'll have more info on Shadow Spinner and its current serialization coming up soon.


  1. Heard of Bone but never read it.
    I don't do the print books either. I've only purchased to in the past three years and I've been getting rid of my massive library of physical copies.
    Congratulations on finishing your series!

  2. I know my nephew loved Bone - I think he always asked for a graphic novel of it for his birthday's of Christmas.

    I love print books, I'm sitting just in front of about a thousand or two as I type this... it's my favorite place in the house. They comfort me.

    I'm plugging away on my story. Don't let Briane sway you by his enormity of words. It's like a spell he weaves, very tricky.

  3. I've never really been a comic book fan. I have a few Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly comics because I'm a Whedonite but I love to hear stories of self publishing success.

    Oh, and congratulations on having finished Shadow Spinner!

  4. I always wondered what Bone was about. A magic bone?

  5. Congrats on finishing Shadow Spinner. Not really into comics - used to read English comics as a kid and someone used to send me the Superman comics from the US. As for the chocolate competition, not a writer, so won't be entering, I am interested to know what you consider the best chocolate you have ever eaten.

  6. Congratulations on finishing your series. I hope it sells a million copies, sir!

    I'd never heard of Bone, but the whole number 1 issue thing has sucked me in more than once.

    I stopped collecting comics over a decade ago. I'll never go back...they just take up too much space and look frumpy. I'd rather invest in gold. The price goes up much faster and is easier to liquidate.

  7. This is the first time I've ever been pre-disqualified. Quite an honor.

    I suppose when I announce myself as the eventual winner, I have this coming. I'm like Babe Ruth, going on national TV to announce that he's joining the Miami Heat in order to take down Johnny Unitas' campaign on behalf of Thomas Dewey, only to see the hockey puck smash into the lights and knock them out in a hail of fireworks as I shoot Osama Bin Laden. I'm all clear, kid, and ready to blow this thing and go home. Do you suppose that I've had a bit too much caffeine today? Possibly. POSSIBLY.

  8. Alex: You should try it out. There's a particular scene in one of the issues that made me laugh harder than almost any other time in my life. Top 3, probably.

    Rusty: Well, I haven't seen his story, yet, so I'm not being swayed. I think he's just trying to scare away the competition.

    M.J.: I can't help but love comic books, which is why I have to stay so far away from them at this point in my life. :(

    PT: It's the character's name. Actually, there are three of them: Fone Bone, Phony Bone, and Smiley Bone. And it's actually a bog ole fantasy story with a dragon and a lot of humor.

    Jo: Maybe once the prize has been awarded, the winner will let us all know if s/he agrees with me about the chocolate.

    Michael: Yeah, unfortunately, I agree with you about the comics. I have way too many in storage. But it doesn't make me not love them. And, if I sell a million copies of, well, anything, maybe I can collect some comics again.

    Briane: Only from winning the book. The chocolate is still potentially yours.

  9. Hey there,

    I see some books of yours that I can add to my classrooom library. Glad I found this site. Hope you find the time to pop by my blog as well.

  10. It's impossible to predict what'll go big.

  11. Holly: Thanks for dropping by, and I will certainly drop by your place!

    Ibdiamond: Maybe. But there's never been anything I've said "this is going to be big" that didn't become big. Granted, there have been some things that I thought were crap that made it big anyway, but, then, I wasn't calling those.

  12. Congratulations on finishing Shadow Spinner!

    I didn't know Bone was self-published originally. Jeff Smith certainly made a success out of that.

  13. There was this family that owned a comic shop while I was growing up who were so cool, I visited often and started a Dark Horse collection. Strange how a card game I got there is the only thing worth something now (ever played Groo?). :)

  14. I have a comic book collection that I started back in the 60's. I have about 3 of them I think. I used to have about 6 but I don't know what happened to the rest. I guess I never was able to get into serious collecting, although I wish I had some of the older valuable ones.

    When I was a kid I used to collect stamps. One of my dreams was to one day open a store for stamp collectors. I don't think that would be a very good business now as I think there are very few serious stamp collectors out there. Want to buy a stamp collection anyone?

    A Faraway View

  15. TGE: He did. I need to look and see what he's been doing since he wrapped that up.

    David: You might have some valuable Dark Horse issues. Dark Horse isn't as big a deal now as it used to be, but there are still some key issues over there. (I may have some Groo cards somewhere, but I never actually played it. I don't think those are worth anything, though.)

    Lee: Yeah, stamp collecting is just not a thing anymore. I did collect some stamps fro a little while when I was a kid, and it was pretty cool, but, mostly, it was because my mom kept getting me stamp collecting stuff. I'm not sure exactly where that stuff is anymore. If your comics from the 60s are in any kind of decent shape, they are probably worth something. Maybe not a lot of something but something.