Monday, January 30, 2006
Here is the list:
Detective Comics #816
Gotham Central #40 - FINAL ISSUE!
Green Lantern #8
JSA Classified #8
Legion of Super Heroes #14
Rann Thanagar War Infinite Crisis Special #1 (pictured at right)
Seven Soldiers Bulleteer #3 (of 4)
Swamp Thing #24
Y The Last Man #42
Captain America #14
Doc Samson #2 (of 5)
Fantastic Four #534
New Excalibur #4
Sentry #5 (of 8)
Supreme Power Nighthawk #6 (of 6)
Uncanny X-Men #469
X-Men The End #2 (of 6)
Red Sonja #5
What a haul, and at mostly $2.99 each, it makes me a nervous girl!
Sunday, January 29, 2006
I think the evolution of the industry has shown that many more women are reading comics today then ten years ago, and that this trend is not showing signs of slowing. I don’t know if it is because more of us women are “out of the closet” in letting the world know we read comic books too, but the advent of the internet and more specifically the blogosphere makes it clear that females are here to stay.
I love my blog, and I can’t imagine not having it. I like to focus on the positive, and that will always continue to be the whole point of having an active site. I just can’t resist the need to try and feel out both sides of the story and try and find solutions, rather then just saying my peace and letting the chips fall where they may. Maybe this is part of my female nature or maybe my parents just did a great job of teaming up to raise me, but I think that taking control of a situation and finding solutions is way more important then dwelling in the boiling pot.
Women are the more deadly of the species by nature. Maybe it is the fact that it is harder to read our true intentions, but that is where the great potential for dialogue comes in. We analyze things to our core, and keep them deep within ourselves. That is our way. The fact that so many women are out here expressing themselves is fantastic. It means we aren’t secretly planning to put poison ink in your books. It means we want to talk and evolve.
Men, we appreciate you in so many ways. We like the way you tell a funny story, and care when we cry. Your beautiful smile and hopeful eyes entrance us. We like that you have an opinion and that you listen to us as well. I can’t imagine life without both sexes, as shown in Vertigo Comics' Y The Last Man. What a sad place this would be without both.
We all have our roles in life to play. Let’s do our best and enjoy the emotions that come with our differences. It all comes down to respect in the end. Respect.
Men, on the other hand, were the gatherers and providers, so it is in their nature to guard their job territorially. With the advent of women in the work force, it has taken some getting used to for both sexes. As someone who has worked full time for over 17 years, I understand the push and pull of this. I also understand that having both sexes in the work force has diminished some of the higher paychecks while equalizing responsibilities and rewards.
I know that my father has always taken his job as the man of the house very seriously. He once told me “If I can’t get it done, it’s not going to happen. The buck stops here”. I believe that and follow that rule to this day. My dad knew then that he was ultimately responsible for making me into the fruitful adult I am today, and he cared for my sister and I like no other. When he farmed, we were there with him and we learned responsibility and caring. If our animals weren’t fed, they would die. If they didn’t have clean bedding and nutritious food, they would get sick. The buck definitely stopped there.
My mother, on the other hand, worked outside the home from the time I was five to the present. She is a very successful woman, and she still found the time to come home and cook dinner and make sure the hearth was tended so to speak. I didn’t appreciate it then, but understand completely now. She was given a role reversal and ran with it. Though my dad has farmed successfully his entire life, and worked very hard, she also felt responsible for our ultimate care. To achieve this, she worked a lot of long days, and has just recently throttled back a bit.
The bottom line is that man and woman together worked to raise their family the best they could. The way they went about it was different but the ultimate result is the same. To this day, I respect my mother and father equally and thank God each day for their love and care, but I know that if it came down to it, my mother would kill for me and not regret it for a minute. It is the nature of a female.
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Let me take a moment to explain.
In the aftermath of the blog explosion of women, including myself, expressing their opinion about sexism in comics, there has been an after thought pointing to women themselves having issues to work through. Michael from “Tales to Mildly Astonish” has an interesting and controversial blog entry where he states his peace.
I found the link over at When Fangirls Attack (http://womenincomics.blogspot.com/), the coolest new blog sight on the internet. Presented by Kalinara and Ragnell, the blog stays neutral, but makes sure to keep current on issues that reflect the topic of said site. It has been a revelation to say the least, and I am hoping to jump on the bandwagon sooner then later.
But I regress.
Men and women have always approached life in general differently, so it is no surprise that there are areas where there will always be disagreement. Author John Gray put in perspective in his best- selling book “Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus”. He condensed it by putting us on different planets on thought and showing where to meet in the middle to attain a level of relationship success otherwise thought to be unattainable. The guy gets it, and it made him wealthy and successful. Now we just need to take what he knows and apply common sense to the fanboy versus fangirl scenario.
Let me start by painting a picture. Fifteen years ago, long before I met my husband, I would go solo to my local comic book shop. I had just started collecting again after not being able to afford it during college and getting started in my career. My mission was to find the Wonder Woman and Justice League issues I had missed during that period and I was pretty relentless. The town has three comic shops owned by the same gentleman, so I knew I had to pick through each inventory.
The employees at the shop were for the most part great about helping me attain my list of books. I have built relationships with the owner and employees that last to this day and feel very comfortable in any of the stores there. The problem I had was with my fellow collectors.
One day I was looking through the Justice League back issues while a couple of guys were checking out the “D” and “E” section. Being lonely and desperate for conversation, I asked them what they were looking for. I got a one word answer “Detective Comics”. Okay. I asked them if they were regular collectors. Again I got a one word answer “yes”. In one last ditch attempt at human contact, I asked them if they knew any other good places to look for the books I was searching for. “No”, I was told. Well, at this point I gave up on these two fellas and went back to looking.
The sad fact is that this wasn’t an isolated incident. I can’t tell you how many times I tried to make polite conversation only to be rebuffed. I tried this several more times with other collectors, including a woman who told me she was just putting up with her boyfriend’s habit, but wished he would spend the money on something practical- like a speed boat. Heh.
Until I met my husband and he moved to my town nine years ago, I was completely unable to bond with the comic book collecting community. The minute I showed up with him, I was roundly accepted and my inquiries were answered with full sentences. To top it off, these guys told me that they didn’t remember ever seeing me around, because if they would have seen a “pretty girl” like me they would have remembered. Argghhh!
Today, I know the local collectors pretty well. I still haunt the same shop, and have the weekly routine down like clockwork. My husband is well respected as a “comic demi-god” of sorts for his knowledge and contacts. I am very proud of him, and my heart swells when he is acknowledged. I just wonder why I never got the same chance from the locals that he did. Theories, anyone?
Friday, January 27, 2006
I haven't read my comics, but I paged them, and it looks like a great reading week. I am especially interested to see what happens in Wonder Woman and New Avengers. I also look forward to seeing how Bendis wraps up Daredevil.
Weigh in for the week:
Loss for the week: 2 lbs.
Total Loss 2 lbs.
Well, at least I am in the ball game!!
Take care and have a great night!
Monday, January 23, 2006
At any rate, here is my list of good stuff for the week!
Revelations #6 (of 6)
Adventures of Superman #648
Green Lantern Crops Recharge #4 (of 6) - (Hey Ladies- it's Kyle time!!)
JLA Classified #16
Wonder Woman #225
Pact #4 (of 4)- super, duper late- can't even remember what is going on here!!
Witchblade #94- Sadowski art!
Amazing Spider-Man #528
Black Panther #12
Daredevil #81- Bendis and Maleev's last issue
Defenders #5 (of 5)- another late one
New Avengers #15- see right for pic.
Pulse #13- the birth of Luke and Jessica's baby!
Ultimate Fantastic Four X-Men Special
Ultimate Spider-Man #89
Cannon Hawke #5
Fallen Angel (IDW!!) #2
Red Sonja Vs. Thulsa Doom #1 (of 4)
I am running late tonight because I went and worked out tonight. I am dragging butt for sure after that!
Take care all!
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Isaac Mizrahi, a well-known and respected fashion designer was interviewing celebrities on the red carpet for the E! entertainment network. He knows several female actresses and has a "best gay friend" vibe that puts them at ease. What wasn't expected is how he talked to these ladies when he interviewed them.
Isaac asked Teri Hatcher is she was wearing underwear, and it ran from there. After that, he asked other ladies if they had said underwear on, and the answers were varied, if a bit uncomfortable. He also asked Eva Longoria what she had going on for a shave in her pubic area, which was a bit hard to watch. Eva handled it like a pro and got the subject changed after a few awkward pauses.
The main event came when Isaac interviewed Scarlett Johansen. When he asked her about who made her dress, it was going okay, but then he grabbed the bottom of her breast and told her he was checking for how the dress was constructed for future reference. Scarlett laughed and played it off, but God only knows what was going on in her head! E! played it the next night at the end of their news broadcast, as well as the other snippets mentioned and called it Isaac's great moments.
My question is this: Since when is it okay to grope a woman's breast in that scenario? I have heard the "oh it's okay because he is gay" reaction more then I can admit. I honestly don't know if Isaac is gay, and if so, what does it matter? Does that mean that his intent was pure so he should make a habit of it?
Scarlett looked very shell-shocked, and her reaction was to play it off. I commend her for her calm response. I think I would have slapped him at the very least. What would he have done if Scarlett would have grabbed his "package" and said it was for the fabric?
At any rate, the situation is said and done, but in my mind it is another example of how things that aren't neccesarily right are accepted so easily in modern society. Isaac obviously didn't think it through, and his hand wasn't slapped afterwards, so why change that behavior?
Also, why weren't male interviewees subjected to the same once-over that the females were? What would, say, Harrison Ford, have done if Isaac touched him inappropriately or asked him if he was wearing underwear? Food for thought.
What are your thoughts on this?
Last year I entered and won the Gold's Gym "Get In Shape" contest in my age category. I did very well keeping fit and keeping the weight on until August 2005, when I started having excruciating abdominal and back pain that wouldn't go away. I had to cut back my workouts, and eventually gained back five pounds. Cut to October when I found out I had several large fibroids that were the source of the problem. I gained another 10 pounds from stress eating and not working out at all since then.
My hysterectomy was December 2, and it has been tougher to bounce back then I want to admit. Because they had to go in abdominally, the recovery has been longer then I had wanted. The good news is that this last week I feel like I turned the corner health wise, meaning that I finally felt pretty good. My biggest problem is just being worn out easily and having a bit of tenderness and swelling in my stomach area.
Bottom line: It is time to start working out, and what better way to do it then join a team of four people and participate in the club's team competition version of Get In Shape? The great news is that I kept off 20 of the pounds I lost last year, so I didn't go too far backwards, putting me in good shape to be on a team and look decent in the after pictures if I do the work and dieting required. The bad news is that my doctor hasn't cleared me for the kind of resistance training I need to gain back lean mass so I am relying on mid range cardio and light weights for my exercise.
What is exciting about my team in this competition is that my co-worker Rick is a past winner like me, and is captaining our team. His beautiful daughter Kristen and his friend George round out the team. I like being in a group situation in a fitness scenario because it means we can all rely on each other for motivation and fellowship. It should be great, and I will bore you by keeping you aware of our status.
Thursday was the weigh in so I will be checking in weekly to let you know my weight loss and progress. I'm not going to spill my starting weight yet, but will fess up eventually.
The bad news in this is that I haven't read my comics yet other then Infinite Crisis #4, which I loved! I have just glanced at the others, so I am hoping to spend tonight doing some reading. I would love to do a review or two, and get back into the swing of things, so that is my goal.
Take care and have a wonderful Saturday!
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Moore has given readers a solid, female friendly read. The lead characters Francine and Katchoo are three dimensional and accessible. They have been through the best and the worst, with the readers safely on the other side of the page, but not far from their hearts.
When I talk to other women about great comic books, Strangers in Paradise is always the first out of my mouth. The male characters are important, but not the focal point. Moore has made the book a mirror for our lives, and as a reader I have become very attached to these characters.
It will be a sad day when I go to the comic book shop knowing that the issue will be ending the series. Hopefully Moore has lots of goodies up his sleeve to keep readers entranced for many years to come.
At least he is giving us time to prepare both emotionally and spiritually!
Monday, January 16, 2006
Action Comics #835
All Star Superman #2
Batman Gotham Knights #73
Birds of Prey #90
Green Lantern #7
Infinite Crisis #4 (of 7)
JSA Classified #7
Legion of Super Heroes #13
Seven Soldiers Mister Miracle #3 (of 4)
Freshmen #5 (of 6)
Noble Causes #16
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #4
Generation M #3 (of 5)
Marvel Knights 4 #26
Marvel Knignts Spider-Man #22
Punisher Vs. Bullseye #3 (of 5)
Spider-Woman Origin #2 (of 5)
Uncanny X-Men #468
X-Statix Presents Dead Girl #1 (of 5)
Red Sonja #4
Strangers in Paradise #79 (pictured!)
Lots of comics, but lots of good ones too!
I hope you all have a wonderful week. I will be back tomorrow with more thoughts.
Saturday, January 14, 2006
"Since I am fresh off of a comicon experience, I thought I would note a few fanboy behaviors that I find hinder my ability to enjoy the conventions I attend. Basically, this is a convention "Don't" list.
1. Having a creator sign more then 20 comics at one setting is tacky and reprehensible to the other fans behind you in line. I know you are a fan and want to have quality face time with your favorite pro, and if having several comics to sign helps you not be so nervous that is great, but more then 20 is completely uncalled for. A good rule of thumb is that more then five minutes is too much, unless the pro in question is sketching for you. I will never forget the guy in front of me with two short boxes- his 8 months pregnant wife was forced to stand in every line so he could get all his comics signed. Every time I see him at cons I want to kick his ass. Everything in moderation, Man!
This hasn't changed for me one bit. I still find my head feeling like it is going to burst when I see someone make a creator sign more then 20 books. This is pretty universal, I would imagine.
2. Digging through one long box while your bag is piled on another one at a retailer booth is big sin #2. Get a back pack or shoulder bag at Target so you don't need a short box or paper bag. When I want to look at a booth and I can't get to the boxes, I will leave. I may even tell you to move your ass if you being rude enough.
Can't add anything there. Still too true!
3. Body Odor. I know this is going to get me into trouble, but please don't perpetuate the myth that comic fans all live in their parent's basement and don't get dates by being one of the unwashed masses that file through. I have actually been made to gag by some of the people surrounding me, simply because they didn't think enough of others or themselves to wash up before coming to a public event. Be hygienic, which includes brushing your teeth, and you may find you have a better time as well.
Okay, this is one we have been over time and time again. I am begging now for some soap and water! My hubby and I have a friend that comes over from time to time. He doesn't shower regularly and when he leaves, we have to "febreze" spray over the section of the couch he sits on. Topping it off, we have been blunt with him about his odor, and he still doesn't care. What gives?
4. Pushing and shoving. I am a 5'5" female who has been shoved out of the way by fanboys to get to a retailer booth. For God's sake, all you have to do is say "Excuse me" or "Could I get to that box please", and I would move so fast it would make your head spin. Pushing me out of the way just pisses me off and makes me want to go get my hubby, who, trust me, you don't want to see angry.
I got shoved at a con in Portland last Fall and I am still upset about it. Manners please!
5. Quit bragging for five minutes! I like to talk about meeting creators with other fans as we are waiting in line. It is fun to compare notes and usually leads to talk about their titles and what we enjoy about them. But... Please refrain from bragging to me that you are such a unique person that the pro in question just had to spend time with you, cuz I won't buy it. I am thrilled you know someone, and think it is cool, but the minute it turns to bragging, I start to wonder if you are overcompensating for something (if you know what I mean).
Oy vay. I won't add to this, as it speaks for itself.
6. Rubbing up against me. It only happened once, but I knew exactly why you did it, you pervert! You don't want me to go get my hot-tempered Irish husband!
Next time, I am going to kick your ass in front of all your friends and not feel remorseful. There is no excuse for this EVER.
7. Not really a fanboy complaint, but: Creators that show up late, even though I know they had a hotel in town the night before. Learn to handle your alcohol, and get to bed for a few hours if you know there are fans that are coming to see you. It is common courtesy.
As I have already ranted about: too much alcohol equals unproffesional, offensive behavior. Monitor it.
Anyone else had any Comicon drama they would like to add? I have had great con experiences for the most part, but there is always that one bad egg who has to ruin for the rest of us!"
I never attended a comic show until I went to the Fall Portland Con with my husband in 1997, so I have always had a partner in crime so to speak. The first show we went to, we met Alex Ross, Kurt Busiek, Brett Anderson, and Marv Wolfman, so the bar has been set high from show one. I am rarely let down by a creator experience or in finding a comic book I have been looking for. I am a lucky lady, I think.
Friday, January 13, 2006
How does this apply to the comic book industry, you may ask? I am very curious about something. If there are creators out there that have a rock star mentality, does that mean that lurking out there are comic book groupies? Also, are they just women, or are there men as well? What drives these people, and what is the prime point of satisfaction therein?
I have been at cons where there were two really gorgeous guys in line for Phil Jimenez. They weren't conventional readers, but had specifically attended to meet Phil. I was listening to some of their comments, and one included a mention of Phil's posterior that I won't repeat here. Also, I was in a line for Michael Turner and overheard a couple of ladies talking about how "hot" he was, and how shy he seemed. They were hoping to talk him into dinner afterwards. Those are examples of overhearing innocent conversations.
What I want to know is if there is such a thing as a comic book groupie and if so, I want examples, as I am very curious about this phenomenon.
I know the question is controversial, but after making musician-like comparisons, it is only fair to give any potential "super fans" their day.
Also, today is special because it is my husband Jim's birthday. He isn't too thrilled, as it goes as a person gets over the 30 mark, but I still want to make the day special for him. Happy Birthday Jim!
Take care all! I will be back with a thought provoking question later.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Enjoy the day! I will be back tomorrow with some strange, but hopefully thought provoking entry.
P.S. Ragnell has a cool thread over at her blog Written World. http://ragnell.blogspot.com Go check it out and let the lurking be undone!
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
I have witnessed first hand a creator at a small con who definitely was treated like a rock star by both the show coordinators and his handlers. He was extremely polite and professional to the fans, and that was all good and well, but he could afford to be. At his right was his right hand man making deals and shooting down fan boys a little low on cash. At his left was another business partner, who was the “controversial one”. Also, I found out that this creator stayed at a different hotel then normal, even though it was quite a bit more expensive. He also requested a rental car and his posse had to make the trip as well. The hands-down topper was that he received a different lunch then the usual “make your own sandwich”. Okay…
I understand that if your asking price is higher, and your level of fame is greater, it is within your realm to do these things. You have made yourself into a commodity rather then an individual and that is good business sense. I applaud that by all means.
I just don’t understand one thing. Each month when I look at the Wizard “Hot 10 Artists list” I get completely pissed. At least half of the people on the list can’t make a deadline to save their ass and it feels like we are rewarding them for that bad behavior. Why is that?
Also, why does the comic industry seem to always pick from the same small pool of creators over and over? Why is it so hard to break in? Why does it help so much to “know people in the industry”? Who is making those decisions?
As fans we can dictate our favorites by our pocket books. I know that I will be voting that way when The Ultimates Volume 3 comes out. In my humble opinion, Joe Madureira doesn’t deserve it. He very publicly left the industry without finishing his “Battle Chasers” project and expects to be welcomed back with open arms? Why did we go with Mad and not find some new talent? I believe it is the rock star mentality at work.
Another creator in question to me is Rob Liefeld. This guy has more lives then a cat. He is infamous for never finishing what he starts yet we keep inviting him back? What does that tell the artists of tomorrow? What kind of standard does that set?
Let’s use our dollars to dictate to the companies what direction to go. I know it sounds cliché, but it is true. If we don’t buy the book being produced, we can send a message. I understand that when a person has a run on a book, it is hard to drop it. I have over 350 issues of Uncanny X-Men in a run, and it is damn difficult for me to stop collecting, so I can empathize.
I also wonder what Editorial can do or chooses not to do in working with these creators. If you know the writer or artist can’t make a deadline and you still want to hire them, wait to solicit the book or make the book bi-monthly. Managing the deadlines and production at a comic book company is one of the most important jobs there is. Support that person, and work with them to keep things on schedule. Let there be “fill-in” artists. God knows there are plenty of good people looking for work.
One case I appreciate is that All Star Superman is being solicited on a bi-monthly basis. We like Frank Quitely’s art, but we are also aware that he can’t make a monthly book work. To be more upfront about it is very important to me. Also, DC appears to be trying hard to make Infinite Crisis and its tie-ins stay on schedule. Not only is this crucial to the schedule, but it will maintain fans in the long run. The ultimate test I see is keeping “52” on a weekly schedule. That will speak volumes to me as a fan.
To the creators out there: I appreciate what it is you do. I am not downplaying your job at all. I just want to improve things for all of us so that we can prosper and keep the industry going for years to come. When I read that you treat your job with a disciplined approach, it makes me want to support you even more. On the other hand, I don’t want to read about how the new Play station Portable kicks ass if you are behind on your book.
Fans: I think it is wonderful to be excited to meet creators at shows. I also know that it is fun to interact with them online. It is a great validation of sorts. I understand perfectly- I almost wept with joy when I met Joe Staton. We need to be careful not to put our creators on a pedestal that lets them break the rules and not give us the product we so enjoy.
The bottom line is this: creators who have worked hard should enjoy the perks, but like any other industry out there, they need to remember where they came from. As fans, it is our job to encourage them or correct them, and the best way to do that is with the almighty dollar. Without creators, we would have nothing to read, but without readers, there would be no reason to make comics in the first place.
I was reminded of this one time only "Marvel Hunk of the Month?" while having a brief conversation with my husband last night. John Romita Jr. was the lucky/unlucky winner of said satirical award much to his chagrin.
I wonder what would have happened if this would have been turned into a regular feature or if the male readers would have been outraged? Food for thought.
Monday, January 09, 2006
100 Bullets #68
Desolation Jones #5
Green Arrow #58
Wildcats Nemesis #5 (0f 9)
Ghost Rider #5 (of 6)
New Thunderbolts #17
New X-Men #22
She-Hulk 2 #4
Son of M #2 (of 6)
Ultimate Extinction #1 (of 5) pictured!
Ultimate X-Men #66
X-Men The 198 #1 (of 5)
It is a super hero and vertigo filled week for me it seems. Thank you to everyone that read my four part diatribe, I really appreciate the comments. I will be back with more rants in a few after I feel a bit better.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
5. “Invite and deal quickly with complaints. Word travels quickly, especially over the electronic networks such as Internet. Have people monitor the on-line services and response to any complaints or problems quickly. “
We have gone over this before, but it holds very true. Respond to complaints and learn from them. Don’t just pass readers off as rabid fan boys and get a big chuckle. Be very afraid, comic book companies. If you don’t watch your butt now, the future is bleak. The internet is a hurtful, harmful entity if used for wrong. Take control of things and turn lemons into lemonade.
That wraps up the secrets of business success portion of things. Thanks to Steppingstones.ca for the use of their secrets. Now for my final thoughts.
One thing I didn’t address well is a very good point that has been brought up on other blogs. Don’t act like there aren’t problems in the industry. Also, don’t act like you are marketing to all audiences because that is a flat out lie. Super heroes of both sexes wear tight, revealing outfits for a reason. We can take that any way we want, but we need to acknowledge the sexuality of it all Using codes is a help, if they are understandable. Can we find a universal one? I don’t know, but we need to try. I am not talking about censorship; I am talking about being helpful to kids and their parents when looking for a book to buy. Vertigo and Max are a step in the right direction. Retailers understanding the rating or the type of book is crucial as well.
Another subject is sexual harassment and favoritism towards males. I hate the thought and fact that the comic book industry is treated as a casting couch of sorts. It doesn’t matter where you work- it isn’t cool to grope or verbally abuse anyone for any reason. You know if you are guilty and my message is SHAME ON YOU. Get your sh*t together and be a responsible adult. I know that it is harder to do the right thing sometimes, but try.
The use of alcohol and partying at comicons is glamorized and touted as cool. As a social drinker, I am not condemning it, but I don’t want to make it seem like it is required either. As someone who has been in awkward encounters with a drunken person, I can’t accept it is right. I can’t count how many times I have read about situations that have ended badly or embarrassingly that didn’t have to. Monitor yourselves, and if you see a friend getting out of hand, speak up.
Last message: if you are in a position of power, use it for good not evil. Don’t make people do unethical or uncomfortable things to get a job. Hire people based on talent and dependability. Also, check your conscience- it is the most powerful thing you have.
It is time for comic book companies to use the wisdom given by successful people in the business section at the book store. Entertainment is the name of the game, but it needs to be treated like a business and customers need to be valued. Take it from someone in business with qualified experience- you will die out without these tools.
3. “ Install a no-hassle program. Examine every aspect of your business, and remove all barriers and obstacles, e.g.
Remove all negative signs – no credit, cash only, etc.
Build a sincerely friendly, caring atmosphere
Make it easy for others to do business with you.”
This might not seem to fit the comic book industry at first reading, but it makes a great point. My favorite line is ” Examine every aspect of your business, and remove all barriers and obstacles, e.g”. How true is that? In business, we have to remember that the customer is our boss. Flat out, if the industry wants to cater to a certain demographic, let customers know. As a blatant example, Hustler doesn’t want to interest small children and women. It wants men of a certain age and a smaller percentage of women to buy its products, from the magazine to the adult store extras. I really think that if comic books focus is men of a certain age, the industry should be more open about it. Hey, we put big boobies on the cover to get GUYS to read the book! The old cloak and dagger doesn’t cut it in this day and age. You would think that with the introduction of Vertigo and Max it is already known that there is a certain market being targeted. Why not is that way with other books?
“Make it easy for others to do business with you.” We are missing that boat in the comic book industry for sure. It is a pain in the ass to buy product. If my store decides not to order something I want and I miss the deadline on my Previews, I am out of luck. What kind of comfort level is that going to give me? If I want to read a new book from a certain author, I can likely walk into Borders and buy it. If they don’t have it, they try and special order it. If I miss a comic book for whatever reason, chances are I can’t find it or have to scour the internet looking for it. That just plain sucks, folks. Why if it is so hard for us, do we expect casual fans to do the same thing? It just isn’t logical.
4. “Nobody talks about “good” service. You need to exceed customers’ expectations. Here are the five main things customers are looking for when it comes to service:
Reliability – the ability to provide what was promised, dependably and accurately.
Assurance – the knowledge and courtesy of employees, and their ability to convey trust and confidence.
Empathy – the degree of caring and individual attention provided to customers.
Responsiveness – the willingness to help customers and provide prompt service.
Tangibles – the physical facilities and equipment and the appearance of staff.”
Wow, that’s a concept. “You need to exceed customer’s expectations”. I have to do it at my job, why is the comic book industry any different? Let’s take it a step at a time, okay?
“RELIABILITY- the ability to provide what was promised, dependably and accurately.” Because comic book creators are considered “artists” they are allowed to miss deadlines. We all know who is chronic about it and instead of kicking their asses out of the industry and hiring people who can deliver, we cater to their bullshit posturing. What kind of crap is that? At my job, if I can’t perform the tasks assigned, I will get fired. It is plain and simple. If my name is Joe Blow and I know that it takes me six weeks to draw a book, I need to be upfront with my editor and have him solicit that way or else have my work done prior to solicitation. Quit coddling the “rock stars” and get performers. It will get Mr. Hot Crap’s attention or he is gone.
“ASSURANCE- the knowledge and courtesy of employees and their ability to convey trust and confidence.” Get someone who is good at public relations and marketing and make them the public face of your company. Keep Sally Crabby out of the forefront, and for God’s sake, don’t let the company’s biggest PSP addict give the big interview. It isn’t sincere and it alienates big time. More importantly, give your employees the knowledge and courtesy tools. Don’t assume they have them.
“EMPATHY- the degree of caring and individual attention provided to customers.” I don’t see it, folks. To me, it is "buy my stuff if you want, I don’t care". Some comic book shops fight this and do a great job, like Excalibur Comics in Portland, Oregon for example. It is one of the best examples of how to market comic books that I have ever seen. These folks care and take care of their loyal customers.
RESPONSIVENESS- the willingness to help customers and provide prompt service.” I don’t know if I can even go here. This is more comic book shop related, so it is a gray area. I do know that shops are the first line of defense. Can we have training devoted to making these places more mainstream friendly? My mother is afraid that every comic shop she has been in is a fire hazard. Why not hire regional representatives to do training and work with owners and employees? This is what my industry does, and it really helps on every level.
"Tangibles – the physical facilities and equipment and the appearance of staff.” Man, talk about VITAL to the industry. If you are involved in comic books at any level this is the most important commandment in general. You are the first line of defense, and if you are not professional and clean, it helps perpetuate our hauntingly horrendous myth of stinkiness and sloth. Get some new clothes, keep them clean, bathe, and wear deoderant. Also brush your teeth for good measure. I can't stress it enough.
Friday, January 06, 2006
2.” Foster a positive image and concept among your employees regarding the company and its products and services. Train your people to say the right things. Teach your employees never to say anything negative about your company, even among themselves, and not to badmouth the competition either. This factor is becoming more important as staff respond to comments and questions in electronic networks. “
Holy crap, we really don’t get it do we? The comic book industry thrives on controversy, plain and simple. Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada gleefully tore down the “Distinguished Competition” in their quest for comic book domination. It alienated the hell out of me, and I quit reading most of their titles. I get enough controversy at work and in my personal life. I don’t need it to trickle into my valuable free time.
Let’s take this one a sentence at a time and break it down, shall we?
“Foster a positive image and concept among your employees regarding the company and its products and services”. Well, since most comic book employees are not in the office, this one is tough. I have seen Marvel and DC editorial circle their wagons, but outside staff are on their own. I am sure that policy is dictated to them in the effect of “don’t reveal the story and art, and pump up the book and our company”, but beyond that I don’t know. At my company, we sign confidentiality contracts that stipulate that there are things that remain trade secrets and tricks of the trade. Also we are encouraged to keep mum or be very positive about our organization. Why would a comic book company be any different?
“Train your people to say the right things. Teach your employees never to say anything negative about your company, even among themselves, and not to badmouth the competition either.” See Jemas and Quesada above. They were/are the boss and they are leading the charge. I know that one thing I have always admired about Paul Levitz at DC is his discretion. He seems like a good businessman to me. Quesada has taken a more positive approach since Jemas’ exit and I appreciate that as well. One thing I know from experience is that behavior starts from the top. Employees will take what they see and mimic it as correct. Training is important and crucial in today’s competitive market.
“This factor is becoming more important as staff respond to comments and questions in electronic networks.” There is more drama drummed up on the internet in regards to comic books then anywhere else. I would like to see the comic book companies take a more direct approach in both damage control and public relations. The occasional press release and free copy of a comic book are all good and well, but get in there and sell. If you are a disgruntled employee, take the high road and look like a class act when possible. If you are in management, take the lead.
A step further is that as fans, we need to remember the lurkers who are not comic book readers who may be checking out what we are saying. What kind of image do we want to project?
Today I want to focus on successfully selling comic books both to the mainstream and to the female population. Using the secrets of business success as documented here: http://www.steppingstones.ca/artman/publish/article_63.shtml, I want to build some theories based on business principles. Let’s take it one principle at a time and get some brain storming going, shall we?
“You must have a good product or service to use word-of-mouth marketing strategies – otherwise, you will just be spreading bad news. The message is that electronic marketing or using the information highway won’t help you be successful if you have a poor product or service. The place to start is to ensure that you have quality to sell.”
Wow, we’re starting off with the most basic of principles, aren’t we? The product must be good to sell it. Okay, what this means is that the product should have some mainstream appeal. Superman is a very well known icon- why do people buy t-shirts but not comics? Is it that the book is targeted incorrectly or is it that the stigma of comic books and/or their readers the problem? I have read Superman for years, and feel that at its best it has very broad appeal. The stories are compelling and the art work is the top of the line so what is the problem?
Theory A: The lack of mainstream advertising. If you want to buy a comic book you have to find a comic book shop or track down the sad looking rack of comics at the book store or grocery store. There isn’t any television or radio advertising. The buzz is mostly seen in a magazine like Entertainment Weekly, which features comics and trades periodically.
Theory B: An inability to tie in movies to written product. Where are the gleaming displays of comic book movie tie-ins? If I were to walk into a store and find a display with comic books, coloring books, t-shirts, party wares, and the like, that would be striking to me. Where is that? The tie-ins with fast food are all good and well but getting a cup with Spider-Man’s face on it isn’t the same as getting a piece of reading material.
Theory C: The stigma of reading comic books. Face it kids, we like to think we are an elite group, and sharing is hard for us. It is easy to perpetuate the myth of being stinky, comic shop guy types if we don’t want to do a little self promotion. Bragging about your years of intense Elektra fandom is one thing; pointing out the merits and sharing your excitement is a whole different deal. Sorry, but being a comic book fan doesn’t make you smarter then anyone else, it just means you have to try a little harder to get the message out.
Theory D: The marketing of books is targeted towards males of a certain demographic. I am sorry if you disagree, but when I see a cover of big boobies thrusting towards me, I know it isn’t for my benefit. It doesn’t alienate me, but it doesn’t entice me either. As a 39 year old woman, I have to work to keep informed about what comics are out there- it isn’t built for me.
Next principle please!
Thursday, January 05, 2006
I work in an industry that is extremely male dominated. In the last twenty years, women have made headway, much like in the comic industry, but there is a long way to go.
I entered the agriculture industry 17 years ago as a customer service representative. Before even a month had passed, I had two male coworkers tell me that a woman could only go so far in our business and that the best I could hope for was a management position of some kind. Yes I could buy stock after two years, but that was more to coddle me, they explained. Okay. Super.
In the mean time, I am having to deal with guys like the one I used in the example from yesterday. "Little Girl, go get me a guy. I need to work out my vaccine program" was a common refrain. Or "You are way too young and pretty to know this stuff, go get your boss". Again, super.
Being a stubborn type, I stuck it out and worked hard. I learned quickly and before long, I knew that this was the job for me. I just had to overcome the rampant "old boys network" somehow. This was just a warm up for what I encountered that first summer when I went to my first learning seminar out of town.
Myself and four co-workers were picked to go on a three day, three night trip. I was very thrilled because there was a test at the end, and the boss was going to pay the high score $100. I studied like mad and got on the plane.
The first night we met up with other sales personnel from all over the country. There was a 6:1 man:woman ratio and it showed. The first night I got blatantly hit on at least a dozen times. I was single and green, so they thought I was easy pickings. Thank God I was raised that attention does not equal affection, so I stayed out of trouble and studied hard. The sad thing is that the next two nights were a repeat of the first, and the things that were said to me were so appalling that I won't mention it here.
The sadder thing is that for years after, every time I went to a conference or meeting, I got hit on mercilessly. Worse still is that I couldn't get taken on faith for my brain power- the guys couldn't get past my average good looks. The worst meeting was one where there were three women to 100 men. I cried every night in my room because mean and hateful things were said when rejection was given. It wasn't until I got married 5 1/2 years ago and gained some weight that I was taken seriously. Hmmm...
Back on the home front, it has been an uphill battle as well. In an industry that set it roots on male bonding and the infamous "good ole boy network", I have had to "lose my sex" and be so damn good at what I do that it doesn't matter. Ten years ago, a couple of my male co-workers still didn't think I could go higher then the managerial position I was in. Today I am a board member and manage multiple departments.
Do I still encounter sexism? Every day. But it gets better as I get older. Something about aging and having the experience under my belt has kicked in. Also, I follow Martha Stewart's advice "Women in business don't cry". I used to do that a lot, and it was embarrassing. Now I suck it up and state my opinion in the same forthright manner as any guy I may encounter. It works for me.
I still struggle for certain things that I need for business success. Getting a name in the industry is a challenge, and making sure the pay is equitable is always a concern. It is like the old saying about Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire- "Fred was a great dancer, but Ginger did it just as well and backwards".
The picture I included in this blog is me in Spring 1996. I liked to wear power suits and tried to maintain a thin, pleasant appearance. I have since ditched the blond hair- my hubby found out how much it cost, and decided brunettes are better. Too funny. At any rate, this was the image I tried to portray, and looking back at it now, I just have to laugh. I tried so damn hard! Now I stick with a more severe appearance and wear pants, but back then I loved suits.
My point in all this is that in every industry there is sexism. I have worked my guts out for the past 17 years and I have achieved a lot. I had to figure out how to get past the preconceived notions and the comments and make it work for me. I like what I do and wasn't about to let some random guys chase me off.
I can understand that in some cases it isn't worth it. I have had fellow women in the industry run screaming for the door at the lack of mercy given and I don't blame them. It is all about choice and the commitment to change things from the inside out.
Later I will be back with some attempts at comic book industry related solutions. One thing I do want to say in closing is that I understand the sensitivity of the issue, but as someone who has been in the trenches for years, feel I can speak for woman kind in an informed manner.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Next there is the sad announcement from Lea Hernandez quitting comics. That link is: http://www.livejournal.com/users/divalea/270448.html. A big thanks to Kalinara (http://kalinara.blogspot.com/) and Ragnell (http://ragnell.blogspot.com/) for bringing it to my attention.
The bottom line is that unfortunately - big drumroll - women scare the hell out of men so rather then try and figure us out, for the most part they take the safe path and just guess. Now, I am not pointing the finger at all men, so don't get up in arms too quickly. I work in a male dominated industry and was raised in a mostly male environment so I have seen it my whole life.
Rather then go into a big discussion tonight, let me give you an example of what I dealt with at work about seven years ago. I work in an animal health distribution center. I was raised on a farm and have a bachelor's degree in animal science. I am not a genius, but I know my stuff. I have worked for my company for 17 years now, so I had been in the game for a decade. The office consisted of my male boss, several male warehouse staff members, and pretty much all women in customer service and accounting. That's the set up.
An older farmer came in and wanted to buy medicine for his cows. I walked over to the counter and asked very politely if I could help him. The response I got was a rude and gruff "Missy, go get a man to come up here to help me." Okay. Super. I went to see what my boss was doing, and he was at lunch. The only men in the building know a lot about inventory control and warehouse management, but not a thing about animal health. Conundrum.
Here is where I had to improvise. I asked one more time if there was any way I could help him. "Now listen girly, go get a fella up here pronto" the customer replied. Now I was pissed. I went and got a guy out of the warehouse, he wrote down the customer's questions and brought them out to me. I answered them via this poor co-worker, and back and forth until the deal was done. Without so much as a good bye, the customer stormed out, secure in his manhood and superiority.
What is the moral of the story? This manly fella thought he was in control. The truth is that I input the order into the computer, and as I was entering each line item, I added an extra 5% on top of retail price. Smart male bonding SOB paid an extra $100 for his manhood.
Whenever I have to deal with a man in other similar situations, I think back to that day and smile. It may look like I am eating crap and being cut down to size, but I am maintaining my dignity in spades.
More to follow tomorrow.
My husband, on the other hand, thinks another Wolverine series is gratuitous, and liked it better when Wolverine's past stayed a mystery. For his thoughts see: http://thecomicasylum.blogspot.com/2006/01/memories-worth-forgetting-marvel.html.
What do you all think? My verdict is in before the finished product, so great is my faith in Dillon. His work on Preacher is landmark- the characters required no thought balloons in his presence.
Don't be afraid of furthering a marital spat- we have agreed to disagree on this issue, as we have on so many comic book related issues in the past. It is a safe zone!
For the Newsarama article see:
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Here it is, another new year full of promise and comic book intrigue. I can hardly wait! Also, I am floating around on a cloud, having been proclaimed one of the "Favorite Nine Ladies Blogging" over at http://www.comictreadmill.com/. Go check out the great 12 Days of Christmas theme taking place over there.
Here is my list for the week, as exciting as it is!
- Aquaman #38
- Day of Vengeance Infinite Crisis Special
- Detective Comics #815
Gotham Central #39
- Jonah Hex #3
- JSA #81
- Outsiders #12
- Seven Soldiers Frankenstein #2 (of 4)
- Swamp Thing #23
- Teen Titans #31
- Y The Last Man #41
- Witchblade #93
- Doc Samson #1 (of 5)
- Iron Man #5
- New Excalibur #3 (pictured)
- X-Men The End: Men and X-Men #1 (of 6)
Thank God the list isn't as long as it has been as Jim and I are suffering from post-Christmas pocket book! Take care and have a great week!
Monday, January 02, 2006
Since there is no Diamond list today, I was going to start on my new "best and worst" lists but I can't find my paperwork. I knew Jim and I shouldn't have cleaned our house for company! When I find it, I will be cooking with gas!
One thing I wanted to mention is that Batman Gotham Knights #72 was a fantastic read with no hype letting us readers know beforehand about it's splendidness. It is a one shot story about Bruce and his parent's past that fascinates and warms the heart. If you didn't pick up this great one issue read, give it a shot. It is a late Christmas present to the readers.
Have a wonderful day and I will see you tomorrow with the new comics list!
Sunday, January 01, 2006
10. New Ion Series by Ron Marz.
After a touch-and-go year wondering what was going to happen to Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, our answer is here. Kyle gets his own series this summer and it should be a good one. Having original Kyle GL writer Marz on the book seals the deal.
9. Ms. Marvel Series.
Finally Carol Danvers gets her due. Kurt Busiek revived interest in her character when he and George Perez rebooted Avengers, and Brian Michael Bendis put her in Alias as a good friend to Jessica Jones. Now Carol gets her shot at a series for the first time in many years.
8. Passion of the Clerks Movie.
This isn't strictly comic book related, but I am looking forward to Kevin Smith returning to his roots with a movie about the guys who started the ball rolling. My hubby and I are big fans of Smith's previous work and are looking forward to checking it out on opening night.
7. More "Showcase Presents" Volumes from DC.
Very much like the Essential volumes that Marvel has presented to readers in the past, DC has jumped on the bandwagon with a similar format for their old school titles. I bought the "Superman" volume and loved it. I am looking forward to the Justice League and Teen Titans volumes as well, and have heard good things about the Green Lantern one that came out. Keep 'em coming, DC.
6. Volume 2 of Lions, Tigers, and Bears.
I loved the first volume of Lions, Tigers, and Bears dearly. It was the first credible all ages book I had seen in quite some time, and it really resonated with me. This year Image will be releasing a second volume, and I can hardly wait. Mike Bullock and Jack Lawrence did an amazing job the first time around, and to be able to read the same book my nephews can read is a true gift.
5. PVP #25.
The anniversary issue we have all been waiting for. With guest strips by some of the biggest names in the business, it should be fascinating to see what kind of spin is put on these lovable characters. Brett Sienna and Jade Fontaine are one of my favorite comic book couples, and the realistic feel of their relationship never ceases to amaze me. Creator Scott Kurtz gets it.
4. X3 Movie.
As a huge fan of the first X-Men movies, it is with great excitement but also extreme trepidation I await the next installment. Brian Singer moved on to Superman, so Brett Ratner is helming this film. The bits and pieces of film and photo I have seen have been pretty good, but I will make my final opinion once I see the finished product.
3. Fallen Angel at IDW.
I loved the series Fallen Angel when it was at DC. Peter David really had me with a great concept and a thrilling storyline. After it was cancelled, IDW Publishing picked it up, and I am relieved. I saw the first issue,and loved it. I can hardly wait to see what the future brings for this book I love.
2. One Year Later/52.
A daring concept by DC. Weekly installments of a book for a year that cover what transpired between the present and one year later in their books. DC is bringing out the talent and the time to make this happen. It is either going to be the coolest thing we have ever seen or the worst. I can hardly wait to see what happens.
1. Emerald City Comicon 2006.
Seattle's two day comic convention is taking place at Qwest Field Events Center and includes a plethora of talent so splendid it inspires giddiness. Jim and I have paid the table fee to be an exhibitor there, so The Comic Asylum and Comics Fairplay will have a presence. If nothing else, it is a place to hang out with friends and meet other bloggers!
Seriously, we are very excited to be part of such a great independent show. It is the premier comicon in the Pacific Northwest, and the wonderful thing about it is the small but big mentality. The lines get long, but you can get through them and still have time to spend your money on great deals. For a look at the site go to
http://www.emeraldcitycomicon.com for details.
That is my list of things to look forward to in 2006. We will have to meet back here at this time in 2007 and see how my predictions worked out. Could be fascinating for sure.
Take care and have a wonderful new year!