Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

September 13, 2010

How To Spend $100 At A Funnybook Sale In Less Than A Minute

imageI know sales aren't really news, and that it's dubious as hell to take time out of the news day to talk about the attempt to sell comics published by one of your advertisers, but I hope you'll indulge me here. I turned on the computer yesterday to get football scores because the networks provide fantasy football information now and it takes them about 14 minutes to grind through the entire schedule. In doing so, I see the announcement note from Chris Staros for this sale.

You always pay attention to sales from Chris Staros because Top Shelf had the most important publisher sale of the last 25 years -- their initial one to save the company, which became a model for such efforts and was a practical symposium on the state of the market at that time. This one is nothing like that. As far as I know, and that's reasonably far, there are no dire consequences attached to this attempt by the publisher to move some books. Still, like any publisher that has to manage cash flow and warehouse space, and for any agency that works in comics where there's such a scattered disconnect between comics and comics readers that every effort to sell something might be the only way you get something in the hands of that particular reader, all such endeavors have their place of importance.

What struck me enough to want to write about it, though, is how much good stuff could be scooped up for a modest (in comics-buying terms) investment. I rifled through the list quickly to see how I could spend $100 and this is what I came up with after about 45 seconds and then a tiny bit of pruning. It's only a sample list, but... well, you'll see.


Alec: The Years Have Pants -- HARDCOVER $49.95 $25.00 (US)
This was my book of the year (archival/collection division) from 2009, and I think within its pages are some of the best comics of all time. I can't imagine any adult comics reader not wanting this in your personal comics library unless Eddie Campbell is that one cartoonist you're allergic to like kids are to broccoli (we all get one gimme like that) or you'd get mad reading it waiting for him and Danny Grey to change into their costumes already. I mean, maybe you wouldn't like it as much as I would, but $25 for all those comics is just stunning.

Far Arden $19.95 $10.00 (US)
A surprisingly affecting adventure comic book that for the improvisational method of its creation has a strange, furtive rhythm unlike anything you'll read a year on either side. Plus the creator's name is Kevin Cannon, which is one of those names that only cartoonists seem to have.

The Ticking $19.95 $10.00 (US)
Micrographica $10.00 $3.00 (US)
Two by the great Renee French. The Ticking was a huge step forward in the always-amazing image maker's ability to use that visual power in an extended narrative. Micrographica is more of a lark -- it's French drawing really, really small -- but the important words there are "it's French drawing." She's one of the few cartoonists I'll buy anything she does sight unseen.

Carnet de Voyage $14.95 $10.00 (US)
This isn't as much of a discount on this book of Craig Thompson's travel journal as some of the other selections, but I know a lot of people that for whatever reasons never got around to buying it. At the same time, I know a lot of young cartoonists who bought it in a hurry after being floored by Blankets, and I think it's one of those surreptitiously influential comics of the last several years.

Super Spy (Vol 2): The Lost Dossiers $12.95 $5.00 (US)
Matt Kindt is a unique talent, and a thoughtful author. I think he's also at the point in his career where everything he does should at least be read and considered and mulled over.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Vol III): Century #1 $7.95 $5.00 (US)
Well, if you're buying $100 in comic books you're going to want some pulp in there between the art books and the autobiography, and this is one of the best series in comics right now for just that purpose. Plus I find Mina Harker super-funny.

Sketchbook Diaries (Vol 1) $7.95 $3.00 (US)
Sketchbook Diaries (Vol 2) $7.95 $3.00 (US)
Sketchbook Diaries (Vol 3) $7.95 $3.00 (US)
Sketchbook Diaries (Vol 4) $7.95 $3.00 (US)
I like these oversized comic book collections of James' work, although it's available in a fancier format and, of course, on-line. That's a nice chunk of his diary work for $12.

Please Release $5.00 $3.00 (US)
Not the punch in the face that Swallow Me Whole was a for a lot of readers, but a fine pick-up if you left that one wanting more. I remember being taken with some of the formal flourishes here.

Tales of Woodsman Pete $7.00 $3.00 (US)
Lilli Carre is a potentially significant talent and this is a solid book in and of itself, not just for its place in what one hopes will be a long career.

Regards From Serbia $19.95 $3.00 (US)
Aleksandr Zograf's comics aren't for everybody, as his work can be difficult for certain readers to engage, but I'd pay $3 to have him sit and a bar and tell me stories, so this collection at this price is kind of a no-brainer.

Hutch Owen (Vol 1): The Collected $14.95 $3.00 (US)
Hutch Owen (Vol 2): Unmarketable $14.95 $3.00 (US)
I genuinely love Tom Hart's Hutch Owen comics, to the point I'll read pages out loud. There was a time back in 1994-1996 when I believed everyone else would one day join me. To have this many pages of it for that price, yow.

Dear Julia, $12.95 $3.00 (US)
A very pretty comic from the illustrator Brian Biggs, one of those creators that never quite found purchase in the barren late 1990s alt-comics landscape. I actually like the comic books more than I did the collection, but it's hard to look past that price point.

The Man Who Loved Breasts $4.00 $1.00 (US)
Jack's Luck Runs Out $3.50 $1.00 (US)
Two comic books, because you should always buy comic books if you can. It is worth owning Robert Goodin's comic book just to have it on your coffee table where your friends will laugh when they see it. And who wouldn't want to stare at multiple pages of crazy-ass color work from Jason Little?


So that's that. A huge pile of fascinating funnybooks, including one of the great works in comics, for the price of about nine weeks of following a mainstream superhero "event" comic. The thing is, you could definitely go a number of different ways here -- you could easily swap out Essex County for The Years Have Pants and Jeffrey Brown for James Kochalka, and then go apeshit on Owly collections and have a fine set of books in no time. All of the European stuff they've been doing is up there. There's an Actus book I totally blew by on my initial run-through for like 85 percent off!

And that's my point. You have to admit we live in a pretty amazing era for comics when even the discount sales hold holy treasures and multiple ways to climb the mountain. Spend $100, spend nothing at all: this is one more reminder of how great it is to be reading this art form at this time.
posted 4:00 pm PST | Permalink

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