The Comic Pimp: Issue #31

Sun, April 18th, 2004 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
James Sime, Columnist

WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD BOOKS

It's no mystery that I'm a big fan of what they've been doing over at Wildstorm for the past few years. In the two and a half years that I've been pimping comics for a living I've been fortunate enough to throw in-store events with many Wildstorm creators to promote their books. The Isotope's famous Warren Ellis Scotch Tasting coordinated with the launch of "Global Frequency," the Ed Brubaker Armwrestlethon was how we promoted the "Sleeper" trade paperback and we've been happy to feature other Wildstorm creators like Joe "Wildcats 3.0" Casey and Micah "Stormwatch Team Achilles" Wright.

In my eyes, the Wildstorm star spent the previous few years really shining with a line of smart, progressive comic books that provide more than just your standard comic book fare from a line-up of some of the best writers and artists working in the industry today. The entire Eye of the Storm line is known for high quality comics that stimulate your brain and aren't afraid to challenge your preconceived notions of what is possible in the superheroic genre. And from my personal experiences, the family of creators the people behind these books are a bunch of terrific individuals. It's always exciting to see so many people so pumped up about their work under the Wildstorm banner and since the launch of the line I've made it a point to let my customers know how ass-kickingly good books like "Wildcats 3.0" "21 Down" and "Sleeper" are.

But everything isn't sunshine and blue skies in the land of Wildstorm.

This last week we saw the cancellation of both "Wildcats 3.0" and "Stormwatch Team Achilles" with a one-two punch to the gut of comics for intelligent adult readers in a time when many companies and labels are reducing their adult oriented books in favor of more "all ages" output. Now I've got nothing against comics for the pre-teen or even the post-teen crowd, in fact, I'm happy to see these companies make an attempt to appeal to new readers, but it broke my heart to see two of the best books on the market for the post-drinking age crowd go the way of the dodo bird.

But that's the thing about the comic business. It's one part comics, and one part business. And sometimes it just doesn't matter how much as I enjoy these books. And sometimes it doesn't matter how much the Isotope customers also appreciate the titles. And sometimes it doesn't matter how many times I've easily used Wildstorm titles as an introduction to modern American comic books to new readers. And sometimes it doesn't matter how often these titles were successful at getting these readers to return to my shop time and again to pick up more Wildstorm books and ask what else they might like reading.

Because the sad truth is that, nationally, these books just haven't been selling very well and that's why they were cancelled. Sad as it might be, quality books don't always sell.

But it's not for lack of comic creating musculature. The people behind these books aren't a bunch of soft momma's boys; these are artists and writers who have spent some serious time getting buff at the comic creating gym. And while the quality of the Eye of the Storm books may vary somewhat, it's pretty obvious from reading any one of these comics that these creators know their way around the artistic free weights. These aren't a bunch of rank amateurs and they aren't a bunch of fat Elvises who are well beyond their prime. Far from it. The Wildstorm staff is some of the industry's best and brightest creators who are at the top of their game, making smart, challenging comic books that ought to be on the top of millions of pull-lists the world over.

But once these lean, mean comic creating workout fiends get out of the creative gym and into the Diamond catalogue and store shelves it hasn't been exactly pretty. Instead of dominating the comic market with their great comics and forcing their numerous competitors to play catch up, the Wildstorm team has been getting the comic market's equivalent to a harsh beat-down at the hands of roving bands of bikers and brutal curbings by the skinheads. Because make no mistake, when you're talking about competing for limited shelf space at shops and going up against everything else on the market (not to mention everything else that's out there trying to entice away a consumer hard earned money) you're not talking about a game… you're talking about a fight. And like it or not, in the two-fisted barroom brawl that is today's market for the consumer's entertainment dollars, our friends at Wildstorm have been getting their ass kicked.

But it doesn't have to be like that.

The intention of this column is not to add insult to Wildstorm's injury. Quite the contrary. This week we're going to look at what went wrong with this promising line of truly ground-breaking books, marketing-wise and from a retailer's standpoint. Because there's something to be learned here for Wildstorm and other publishing entities as well. Because it's time we find some solutions so that next time terrific books like "Wildcats 3.0" and "21 Down" and "Stormwatch Team Achilles" won't have to be marginalized in the market.

We're going to be looking at three ways that the Eye of the Storm family dropped their fists and got cold-cocked for it. But most importantly, we're going to pump Wildstorm up with fresh new ideas on how to reach that target audience that's out there that they haven't been reaching. And we're going to cast on eye towards some simple, cost effective methods that Wildstorm could use to put their marketing foot up the backside of the industry. And if that isn't enough to get our Eye of the Storm combatants out there kicking ass and taking names, we're going to examine a new marketing strategy that will leave their competitors in the dust and turn the Wildstorm line into a tractor beam for the industry's attention and the customer's money.

Because it's time to give the Eye of the Storm a little Eye of the Tiger.

Advertising: the Pleasure of your Company

One of the major problems with Wildstorm has been the overall lack of company advertising. Sure we've had creators like Ed Brubaker going hog-wild tearing up the messageboards, the blogs, and the news feeds in order to get the word out about his "Sleeper" series. We've had creators like Micah Wright in the Internet trenches nurturing his online community and preaching the gospel about Wildstorm and his "Stormwatch Team Achilles." We've even had one of the most creative promotional stunts I've ever seen with Wildstorm Editor-In-Chief Jim Lee leading his staff on a crazy fun messageboard tour of the comic industry.

Those are all great things, and certainly are the reason that Wildstorm has made any kind of impact whatsoever on the comic scene these past years, but with books like "Wildcats 3.0" and "Stormwatch Team Achilles" not finding their audience in today's market, it's obviously not enough. Three people doing marketing for an entire line of books would certainly be plenty, however these three people we're talking about here are also busy doing the monthly grind and actually making the comics in the first place. That can't possibly be as effective as having one person who makes it their job to push the entire line. Because without a company-wide marketing strategy and push, it ends up looking like a couple vocal creators and one big stunt, full sound and fury signifying nothing. Because aside from a few individuals, as a company Wildstorm is one of the quietist companies of all.

Now I know that Wildstorm doesn't do their own advertising anymore. That was taken over by the DC marketing machine once the line was purchased. Now certainly DC has done an excellent job at promoting Wildstorm Editor In Chief Jim Lee's recent run on "Batman" and his up coming run on "Superman"… but why they haven't bothered to take either of these opportunities to help spread the spotlight onto the Wildstorm line is absolutely beyond me. This is a line of books that he obviously loves, and Jim Lee is a damn popular creator. I think his fans would be willing to at least stop and see what other things he's up to, aside from "Batman" and "Superman"… if only someone was willing to tell them.

Also I'm aware that DC is reluctant to run in-house ads across its various lines, which is a shame. The Wildstorm books could have greatly benefited from some in-house ads in either the main DC line or in the Vertigo line. That's starting to change and I'm happy to see that those walls are starting to come down somewhat, as recently "Sleeper" ads have started appearing in my "100 Bullets" issues.

But honestly I don't blame DC here. Their marketing department has certainly got their hands full with all the other lines that they publish, Wildstorm is 3000 miles on the opposite coast, and to DC's credit they absolutely know how to nurture their big event marketing. So well so that I've got to thank them for getting people who haven't bought comics in ten years into my store looking to get their hands on those Jim Lee "Batman" comics. By the same token, I don't blame Wildstorm either… but I do think it's pretty obvious that the DC marketing machine either isn't interested or doesn't know how to get the Eye of the Storm books into customer's hands. And there's really nothing wrong with that. It just means that if they aren't giving your enough or the right kind of support… you've going to have to do it yourself.

And if you're going to do it yourself, you might as well go all-out and do it to the hilt. But more on that later…

Trade Dress for Success

You know what I'd like to see from my friends at Wildstorm? A strong and simple company trade dress for their line. Trade dresses sell comics. They make the issues look sexy all lined up next to each other and if a fan likes a book and wants something similar, a good trade dress is an obvious indication that a book may have a similar attitude, if not a similar theme. A sharp, creative trade dressing on a line of comics makes a line pop off the shelves. And I would really like a consistent cover design or motif that unmistakably says "this is a Wildstorm Eye of the Storm book" from twenty feet away.

Consistency sells comics, and it works for a single series and across an entire line. Currently "Demo" has what I think is the strongest overall cover look, but it was last year's "Teenagers From Mars" that made itself some serious money at my store, due in no small part to the striking cover design. It didn't matter where you went, you could still spot that book from all the way across the store. I even had customers spotting the new issues of "Teenagers from Mars" from out in the street and yelling "Teenagers! Fuck yeah!" much to the neighboring businesses annoyance, probably.

I can't say it enough. Trade dress. Consistency. Trade dress. Consistency. Trade dress. Consistency.

One of the most effective subliminal sales techniques that I use at my shop is featuring several issues of the same comic along my countertops, all lined up next to each other. That stops people dead, and more often than not, I see people flipping through books they never heard of before simply because they are featured and they're a lot of them. It doesn't matter what the book is, customers are drawn to a run of a book when they see there are several issues featured and available for them to take home with them. This works particularly well with non-comic readers who have no opinions one way or the other based on company or creator names, they just pick up what looks good. A nice trade dress and overall look makes this technique wildly successful.

Although I think many of the actual covers themselves tend to be some of the most boring in the industry, the strong and simple trade dress of Marvel's Ultimate line is one of the best in the industry right now. Not because I like big bars of color covering up the artwork, but because it gives the line a strong distinctive look and they end up making a bold statement on the store shelves. Because of the actual covers themselves it can be difficult telling one issue of "Ultimate Spiderman" from the next, but the trade dress is unmistakable, and you can't help but notice that "Ultimate X-Men," "Ultimate Six," and "Ultimate Fantastic Four" are part of the same family.

Don't get me wrong, I loved the wildly creative covers for "Wildcats 3.0" by artist Dustin Nguyen and super designer Ryan Hughes. Loved them. Consistently these were some of the best covers on the market. But because each one was different there was no consumer recognition and those beautiful, creative covers ended up hurting sales on the series. More than a few times I had customers tell me they missed an issue or two of "Wildcats 3.0" because they never saw it, and as a retailer that's something you never want to hear. Particularly after you've gone through the trouble of featuring several issues of the book together in the most prominent spot in your store month after month. I've often wondered how many more casual "Wildcats 3.0" readers ended up missing an issue or two and just gave up.

Judging by "Promethea" and "Planetary" standards I might look like I don't know what I'm talking about here, but from my experience readers who follow those series from Alan Moore and Warren Ellis respectively tend to be the type of consumers who are slightly more rabid in their devotion, and are willing to spend a little more time looking for their books. Joe Casey may well be one of my favorite authors, but he just doesn't have the following that Warren Ellis or Alan Moore have.

Yet.

Now I understand that a homogenous company-wide trade dress can definitely be a little creatively limiting, but the cover is there to do one thing and one thing only. That's sell comic books. And if a homogenous, company-wide trade dress is what is going to get people looking at all the books you want them to sell, then a homogenous, company-wide trade dress is what is needed. Now maybe this is the comic book retailer in me that makes me say this, but whatever can be done to more effectively sell comics should be applied at all times. Particularly for good books like "Wildcats 3.0" because those are the kind of comics that put food on my table, gas in the tank of my car, scotch in my glass, and suits in my closet. It doesn't matter if people want to pick up the book because it's cover is sexy, as long as what you put inside is quality, they're going to come back looking for more. And make no mistake "Wildcats 3.0" was definitely a book that you wanted more of.

While I'm talking about covers has anyone else noticed how many brown-orange covers or dark blue-black covers we've been seeing lately? Yuck. We need some covers with more pop, and I don't mean in the holographic, die cut way either. Just more colors that you can see from across the room.

Y'know what? If it were me in charge of the Wildstorm line, I'd hire super designer Ryan Hughes to do the company's entire trade dress. Because there is no way that in his hands that the trade dress wouldn't look distinctive. And sexy.

And who doesn't want their comics looking sexy?

Penetrating the Market

And then there's the single most important factor of all … market penetration.

Because no amount of smart advertising, no roster of hot creators, no thought-provoking award-winning ground-breaking comics, and no fancy trade dress will make one iota of difference if stores aren't stocking the books. The harsh but simple truth is that you simply can't build an audience if the consumers can't find the product. And even the fine folks at Wildstorm will tell you that for the Eye of the Storm line this has been the biggest stumbling block of them all.

And it's not just Wildstorm. It's every comic book being published. Getting some penetration into the ever-insulated direct market has to be one of the most difficult and frustrating aspects of all for publishers, creators, and brands like Wildstorm. Even top selling comic publishers like TokyoPop who routinely dominate the youth market at major book store chains have a difficult time getting comic retailers to order and stock their books in their stores.

Like it or not, we retailers have both limited shelf space and limited funds when it comes to ordering time. And more importantly, because of the non-returnability of unsold product in the direct market, there's only so much any given retailer is able to risk on new or unproven properties. Comic retailers are the ultimate speculators, because that's exactly what we do, we buy comics on spec and hope we can sell them. If we can, our businesses get to stay alive for another month and we get to do the whole routine over again next month. If not… well, that's just too damn bad for us.

With every unsold issue symbolizing a hemorrhaging of valuable, hard earned cash and representing a very real risk to the future of the business, comic retailers can be pretty conservative when it comes to ordering, stocking, and shelving comic books. But despite these risks, it's not impossible to get new or unproven comics onto the shelves of the comic shops. Because there are two perpetually true factors going for any new or unproven comic book property. The first factor is that the comic reading audience is a fickle one. Comic fans are always on the move, sometimes they're looking for the latest hot book so that they aren't left out of the cool new thing, sometimes they're voracious readers and they just need something new to burn through, and sometimes they're looking for the next new thing that gives them that feeling in their gut that they got when they read something great like "Heart of Empire" or "Avengers/JLA" or "Blankets" or "Batman Long Halloween" or "Preacher" or "Elektra Assassin" or "The Losers" or "White Trash." And the second factor is that retailers are the penultimate speculators and it's our job to anticipate the ebbs and tides of consumer whim, and order appropriately. The better the orders on the hot new thing that everyone wants can mean paying for unsold product, providing the best service for your customers, and in the end, business success.

There are some who believe that Wildstorm's Eye of the Storm line was doomed from the start, due to it's 90's Image boom pedigree and the creative decision to produce a line of adult-oriented superhero comics for adult readers, but this couldn't be farther from the truth. No title in the comics market is a poisoned brand, as proven by the popularity of the unearthing of worn out 80's properties, or the smart re-envisioning of obscure b-list characters from decades past ("The Losers" is a great example of this). And few comics suffered through more years of bad comics, ugly costumes, and silly marketing stunts than "Spider-Man" "Batman" and "Superman" have… only to become market leaders with the right creative teams and smart marketing. And it's impossible to ignore that it was adult-oriented superhero comics for adult readers that brought Marvel back to the market-leading domination that it saw for the past three years and built the career of several of the industry's most popular writers.

But even so, the market penetration isn't there. Despite great reviews, handfuls of rabid Wildstorm fans, and some really hard working creators who are willing to jump through flaming hoops to spread the word about their titles, Wildstorm still has difficulty penetrating the market. Many retailers remain indifferent to the woes of Wildstorm and continue sitting on their hands where the Eye of the Storm universe is concerned, not ordering a single copy of the Eye of the Storm line or only ordering copies for their pre-order customers.

So with all these factors against them how does a company like Wildstorm build an audience of their books when the consumers can't find their product? And how the hell do they achieve market penetration?

Well, let's find out, shall we…

Kicking Comic Market Ass, Comic Pimp Style

What's that you say, comic stores that aren't ordering or stocking Wildstorm books? That's just crazy talk! Something must be done so that these great reads can be shared by comic readers everywhere… but when you consider how careful retailers have to be about hemorrhaging valuable, hard earned cash which keeps the lights on and the door open, how do you convince these retailers to order any copies at all for their shelves?

You've got to start pimping those comics like they've never been pimped before. Now I've got some ideas on how to do just that, and let me warn you, they're not the conventional ways either. These ideas might be a bit radical, they might be a bit of extra work, they might get the fans in an uproar and make a few retailers cry and complain, and they sure as hell will chap the competitors' asses a little bit… but it would work. And it's exactly what I would do if I were running the Wildstorm offices.

Because if your books aren't selling well enough to sustain themselves and it's pretty obvious that your potential customers are having trouble finding the books, then you've got to get radical to make sure that they do. You've got to throw out the old time playbook and get down to some serious guerrilla marketing. And that's exactly what we're talking about here.

Now before I tell you what Wildstorm's Eye of the Storm books are, I'm going to tell you what they're not. They are not books that have no potential market. They are not books that are made by unpopular creators. They are not books about subjects that people are bored of. And most of all, they are not books that no one cares about. They are none of those things.

What the Wildstorm Eye of the Storm books are… is exclusives. For every store that carries these titles, racks them on the shelves, these are the exclusive books that their competitors aren't carrying. Exclusive, exclusive, exclusive. Let me give you an example. Let's say you are here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Let's say you want to check out "Sleeper" season two and you're worried that the store you work nearby maybe isn't going to have it. Or maybe you were thinking about picking up "Ex Machina" when it comes out but forgot to pre-order it from your regular store, and you know they don't order Wildstorm books for the shelf. Well, I can't tell you where those book aren't going to be, but I can absolutely tell you where you will be able to find them here in the San Francisco Bay Area… and that's at my store here at 1653 Noriega St. We're open from 11am until 7:30pm Monday through Saturday and 11am until 5pm on Sundays. I'll have plenty of copies of both and I'd be happy to sell them to you.

(chuckle) You see? Exclusive!

With that in mind, if I were Wildstorm I would worry less about the stores that don't carry the books and start actively campaigning to reward the stores that do. And when I say reward the business partners you already have, I mean reward them so much that they can't think of another company that they love more. The simple fact is that you can never go too far when it comes to rewarding the hell out of your business partners.

And I'll tell you as one of those comic retail business partners, one of the best rewards you can give me is free advertising. Every retailer on the planet loves free advertising, and if you've got a line of well-promoted comics that the customers are out there looking for you owe it to yourself, your business partners, and to your fans to show them where to get those books. Now let me tell you something you might not be aware of, as much as retailers love free advertising they hate seeing somebody else getting it instead of them. And that's precisely where a company like Wildstorm can find the leverage to break into these other stores.

There are a number of different ways to do this, and here's one of them.

Diamond has this monthly order form and in it there are usually some incentives offered if a retailer can meet a certain order number or percentage. The idea here is to get me to order additional copies of a given book in order to get the cool prize. Sometimes these exclusives are shiny covers, sometimes they're free comics, sometimes they're signed and numbered original art. I like incentives, it's cool to get some free stuff that I can give to my customers. They dig it and so do I. Why not set up a retailer incentive that goes like this:

For every ten shelf copies a retailer agrees to order of a given Wildstorm title they could mark a retailer incentive line. For every twenty copies they could mark another. This gets them a Wildstorm Bonus Pack including a xerox of an upcoming comic that the company wants to promote and give retailers a sneak peek at, and either a regular postcard or a "gold class" postcard. Incentives like this happen all the time and they come through our friends at Diamond along with the regular weekly shipment. The postcard, to be filled out with the store's address and mailed to Wildstorm, would be each store's entry into the "Wildstorm Retailer Brotherhood" or something equally nifty sounding. If you wanted to you could also include a small Wildstorm Retail Brotherhood window sticker as well.

Depending on which color card was returned these retailers would be put into two different categories in the Wildstorm database, and these stores would be listed on the Wildstorm website, or maybe in the back of the books. Every week the Wildstorm website could feature one of the "gold members" on it's front page with an endorsement from the Wildstorm staff, or perhaps even Wildstorm Editor-In-Chief Jim Lee himself.

Ah, that gets the retailers starting to listen, doesn't it?

This is an easy, low cost method for pumping up orders and for getting retailers to start thinking about the books, but it's only a start. Advertising stores that stock their books was already done by CrossGen Comics, and I think it was a great idea. However CrossGen required you to agree to carry five shelf copies of everything they publish including trades, and that represented some serious cash investment for some retailers. This idea has a lower entry point, investment wise, and therefore stands to be much more effective in the long run. Because, don't forget, your end goal here is to get every single store on the planet to carry the Wildstorm line.

The best part about incentives like this program is that for the retailer they are absolutely free (with the exception of a stamp in this case) and it is an Opt-In promotion. That means that I don't have to do it unless I actually want to. And by including the extra step of getting the retailers to mail the postcard in, the reality is that I'm not going to do it unless I really want to. But if the rewards are great enough, you can bet your bottom dollar I'm going to want to!

Now granted, the system isn't perfect. You have no way of knowing how many pre-orders that retailer might already have, and perhaps that retailer who checked that incentive box is telling a little white lie. But it doesn't matter. You did get them to agree to picking up either ten or twenty copies of the book which isn't half bad anyway, so what if a couple guys lie? The rest of them will be telling the truth, and either way you'll have already gotten better orders because of it. If the retailers fail to return their postcards that's okay too, because they had to meet order minimums to get that card in the first place and their orders are already in.

But a little free advertising is just the tip of the iceberg. What about if the 10 shelf copy level postcard got you got entered into a monthly lottery and you had a chance at some free, autographed Wildstorm comics? How about some original art? And what if the 20 shelf copy level postcard got a chance at some truly exclusive Wildstorm comics that nobody else could get? Shades of the speculator market I know, but still…

Or what about a "Wildstorm Summit?"

Now I probably shouldn't be just giving away my as-of-yet never attempted in-store ideas, because in all likelihood someone will rip me off and get all the fun and glory for doing it, but what the hell… here's a free one for you. Back in late November I had an idea to do a huge Wildstorm in-store here at the Isotope. I figured since I was doing so many events with those creators anyway that it only stood to reason to do something huge with all of them. The idea was to pack in as many Wildstorm creators as we could get for a weekend long event to promote the entire line, throw a party one night and do wave after wave of signings during the day. My plan was to also include a live web-feed press conference with the Wildstorm family and give each creator a chance to talk about their books personally to the entire planet. And best of all the press conference keynote was to be with Editor In Chief Jim Lee himself pitching each book and explaining why he chose those particular books and those particular creators for his line of books.

I was going to call it "The Wildstorm Summit." It was going to be simplicity itself to pack my shop full, get comic fans online to tune in, and to get some major, major comics media coverage for months to come. Not to mention the truckloads of books that we'd shift out the front door of the Isotope or how much mind-blowing fun I'd have throwing something like that. And if you think for a minute that it wouldn't pump up Wildstorm's numbers you're just kidding yourself. The Wildstorm Summit would definitely go a long way towards putting the "hot" back in the Wildstorm line.

Man what a great promotional event! To be perfectly frank, this isn't something that I think isn't going to happen either. The only reason this isn't on the Isotope's 2004 schedule already is that Mister Lee is hard at work doing "Superman" comics and he didn't think it would be possible to meet his deadlines and do the conventions he's scheduled for and go to the other in-stores he'd already booked for 2004 and do the Wildstorm Summit. And that's absolutely understandable, personally I'd rather he get his books out on time and do the event another year. So why the hell did I just spell it all out for all the world to read? Because this column is about getting the Eye of the Storm a little Eye of the Tiger, and the Wildstorm Summit is all about Eye of the Tiger.

Remember those gold class postcards, the ones that you get for agreeing to carry 20 shelf copies of the latest Wildstorm book? Yeah well those get you in a pool, and a chance to get your very own Wildstorm Summit at your store.

Now those retailers are paying attention!

This whole promotional campaign that gets some retailers all these cool exclusive books, awesome free comics, original art from some of the industry's best creators, and possibly even one of the biggest comic store events of the year is bound to piss off those stores who refuse stock the Wildstorm books for whatever reason. And knowing how touchy some retailers can be, I'll probably catch some heat just for writing this column and suggesting it in the first place. But you know what? That's too fucking bad. It's an Opt-In promotion and it's nobody's fault but their own if they aren't willing to make the risk of ten measly copies.

But we're not done yet.

Because I'm pretty damn sure that the stores that don't order Wildstorm titles do order Jim Lee "Batman" and "Superman" comics by the pound. So I'm going to make another suggestion, even though it probably would never happen because frankly, Jim Lee is one of the nicest people in this entire industry, and I can't see him doing anything that might possibly hurt a retailer's feelings. But if I was Mister Lee I would only do in-store appearances with members of that "Wildstorm Retailer Brotherhood." And if you wanted to take it one step further perhaps you could have those exclusive Wildstorm comics be Jim Lee comics too. And maybe that original artwork that shops can get… yep, that's Jim Lee too. No Wildstorm on the shelves means no Jim Lee.

And of course all of this has to be vigorously promoted so that the comic shop customers of the world know full well what the Wildstorm Retailer Brotherhood is all about. And so that they know what they're potentially missing out on if their retailer isn't ordering copies of the books for their shelves. No exclusive books, no original art, no free stuff, no Wildstorm Summit, and no chance to hang out with Joe Casey, Dustin Nguyen, Micah Wright, Whilce Portacio, Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Justin Gray, Jim Lee and the rest of the Wildstorm family. If nothing else, those retailers are going to re-think their ordering policy on Wildstorm books when customers start pouring in the door asking questions about the Wildstorm Retailer Brotherhood. And sure as I'm sitting here drinking my glass of Knockando 21 year old scotch whisky, you'd have those retailers who've been ignoring the Wildstorm line all this time banging down Diamond's doors to get some copies of the next new book.

Talk about turning up the heat on the line! A year of this and the Wildstorm guys would be whipping ass on the comic market's equivalent of roving gangs of bikers and skinheads in no time. We're talking about mopping the floor with them, making time with their women and playing whatever the hell Wildstorm wants on the jukebox all night long.

Yeah, you've got the Eye of the Tiger, baby. Eye of the fucking Tiger.

Why the hell would I devote so much time and energy to this topic?

As you may have noticed, this week's column is several days late and nearly three times the size of a regular Comic Pimp column. Despite being primarily about a couple books that have already been cancelled and most likely won't be returning in a similar form anytime soon. Despite being a couple comic books that I'll not be making any more money on whatsoever in the near future. I still stayed up past my comic pimpin' bedtime to write all this down because I felt it was an important topic to really get into and address this week.

Now I might just have a little bit of retailer tunnel vision but I honestly believe that no store on the planet has done more business with the Wildstorm line than my store has. Featuring the issues and graphic novels has been good for business and great for the people who shop at my store. Also I've done many in-stores with members of the Wildstorm family, including one of the most radical, fun, and over-the-top in-stores ever with an armwrestling Ed Brubaker. Each one of these events with Warren Ellis, Micah Wright, Joe Casey and Iron-arm Brubaker have been a blast and absolutely terrific for business, and I plan to do several more in the not-so-distant future, including the "Ex Machina" launch with Brian K. Vaughan this June (you can bet you'll be hearing more about that!)

So as a comic retailer I've got a vested interest in seeing this line of cool, groundbreaking comics thrive, but more than that I give a damn because I'm also a comic reader. And as a comic reader I've got an interest in seeing the Wildstorm line prosper because these are some motherfucking good comics that I want to continue reading.

So before I let you go today, I'm going to suggest you read some good motherfucking Wildstorm comics. Do yourself and your bookshelf a favor and take the time to check out what the Eye of the Storm line has to offer. Click these links and check out the glowing reviews and then go run out and pick up the books at your local comic shop. You won't be disappointed.

21 DOWN tpb (STAR19938) $ 19.95

POINT BLANK tpb (STAR20028) $ 14.95 SLEEPER VOL 1 OUT IN THE COLD tpb (STAR20357) $ 17.95 SLEEPER VOL 2 ALL FALSE MOVES tpb (APR040358) $17.95 (in stores June 23rd!)

Share your appreciation for Wildstorm's comics, critique the Comic Pimp's wild marketing plan for the future of the Wildstorm line, or just preach the gospel of smoking good comic books on the Comic Pimp Forum.

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