Tag Archives: books

My local comic book store is dead.

by Anthony Feinman

A few months back (September 2016), I stopped going to my local comic book store. It was by choice but more out of necessity. My car of 14 years was on it last legs and Julie and I needed to invest in a new one. So, in order to save up, I stopped buying my current titles. That didn’t mean that I stopped reading. It  just meant I stop buying. For a little while. Car are expensive!  I needed the extra funds  to go towards the down payment. If I had been younger, I would have moped and groaned that I couldn’t get my fix of what was going on in my hero’s worlds. However, these days since I am older and theoretically more sophisticated, I knew that I would eventually get back over to Acme (my local store here in the Bloomington/Normal area) and finish completing my collections. I gave it no mind. Let’s jump ahead a few months now…

Two of my closest friends decided to come down and visit us before Christmas. As I was working until early evening, they decided to come down early and visit my local comic book “watering” hole. Upon getting off work and meeting with them later, they informed me that Acme was no longer in business but had been taken over by a company that has a big market in the comic book stores up north in the Chicago area, Graham Crackers. My friend Andy complained that instead of spending hundreds of dollars, he e\was only able to spend $50. A huge downgrade for him. I was shocked! Not at the spending of $50 (or hundreds for that matter) but at the change in the store’s ownership. When did this happen? I had no idea that from the time I took a comic hiatus till Christmas my comic book store world had changed! I remember raising one eyebrow at this news (much like Spock from Star Trek) and thinking I should get over there and check out the changes. The boys (what I affectionately call my two closest friends) commented that all the cool action figures were gone and the merchandise had been greatly reduced. All during dinner, in the back of my mind, I thought I needed to get over there. Fast forward to January 9th, 2017…

I had a Monday off and Julie and I decided to try to go check out the newly acquired comic book store. No dice. They did not open on Monday. My thinking is that the owner must be related to Garfield. They must hate Mondays. We did put our greasy paws and noses up against the store windows to look inside the dark and unoccupied store. It looked like the layout had been changed. There was now a wood floor. That was pretty much all I noticed…

On a Saturday, January 14th, 2017, Julie and I finally made it over to our local comic book store. We first had lunch at the Jimmy Johns (some swell veg sandwiches) before walking half a block over to the newly changed store. I say newly as it is was still new to me even though the ownership could have changed the day after my last visit in September. As this point I will never know or care. We walked in and I felt like I was walking into a wannabe comic book store. Gone were the independents. Gone were the all the cool action figures and unique t-shirts. Gone were comic book companies like Dark Horse, Dynamite, BOOM. Gone were the endless books of back issues going back to the Silver Age of Comics. Gone was the Jim, the store owner who use to have to endure listening to fans ask him stupid questions about his thoughts on the latest movie adaptation or the latest run of some new comic book story line. And gone was my happiness. I can never walk into this store again and find my missing issue(s) of The Shadow. I will never again be able to walk into this store and find a rare hidden gem of something unique! The only comics this store now carried are from DC or Marvel only! BORING! My local comic book has died.

I will no longer be supporting the local economy. All my comic funds will be diverted out of town in either Peoria IL, somewhere up north or online. Graham Crackers. You suck.

The End.

 

WIN A COPY OF TEARS OF THE PROPHETS!

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It’s Official! Tears of the Prophets by Anthony Feinman will be released November 18, 2016. So, would you like to have a FREE, SIGNED copy? Sure you would! So, from now until November 18, 2016, in order to win your FREE COPY (plus maybe some other goodies as well) become a FAN of Ink and Feathers Comics by “LIKING” the INK & FEATHERS COMICS FACEBOOK PAGE. Then leave a comment  on the image your see in this post (the one above) that was posted on 10/16/16. Tell us why you like comic books and why do you keep on reading. THAT’S IT! On November 18th, 2016, we will post the winner and contact them for their mailing address. SIMPLE, HUH?

New and current fans are all welcome to participate.
One copy will be awarded to ONE LUCKY WINNER!

START LIKING AND PLACING YOUR COMMENT TODAY!

It’s hip to be square.

Comics are a big deal these days. Everywhere we look, pop culture tees, advertisement, both print, video and digital media, are bombarding the general populace. Plus, 2013 marks the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the best known super hero of all time, Superman. Of course, there have been other large milestones that have gone unnoticed. Characters like The Shadow and Doc Savage and other pulp heroes that spawned the current popular comic stars reached that 75th mark ages ago. But, in their own way, they were celebrated by the fans that cared. Dynamite Entertainment, just a few short years ago, obtained the rights to start printing The Shadow in comic form again which has been a huge success. So much in fact that the character has been guest starring in their other titles (Masks, Noir, The Shadow verses Grendel) and expanded the series into other ongoing books. Hence, the rights to Doc Savage were also obtained with a new series hitting comic book stores in December 2013. Sweet time for comic book fans to be introduced to the original characters! All this and more as the nerds and geeks have come to age to take over ruling the world. Businesses are jumping on the band wagon and commissioning their designers to make “comic book work” related advertising. Pop culture is very flush throughout our world. But how long with this resurgence last?

In the early to mid-nineties,  the comic book industry took a big hit due to distribution technicalities. We won’t go into too many details as anything dealing with the history can be easily Googled. The lapse in bad judgement actually caused Marvel (the company that owns The X-Men, Spiderman, Thor, Avengers, ect) to declare bankruptcy and needed a boost from a toy company. Small comic book stores around the county had to close their doors as the bottom began to fall out. Comic book companies soon had to deal with a monopoly of one company, Diamond, handling all the distribution. Magazine companies (Wizard) began buying up pop culture conventions and then raising the prices for vendors to sell their wares as well as fans to enter through their doors with grandiose promises of getting their favorite actors, artists, and writers to attend. A balloon that seemed to have over expanded itself was deflating. Strange how things have changed in the past two decades. Or have they?

Diamond is still the major distributor for comic books and pop culture memorabilia (boosting that sales have been increasing of late, See Diamond Reports), Wizard still holds the market for the largest comic book conventions throughout the country and fans are still being gauged to not only attend but dish out not $1.00 for single issues of their favorites comic books two decades ago but $3.99 or more. Have things really gotten better for the nerds or all we all just deluding ourselves into thinking it’s okay? And to add salt to the wound, digital comics seem to be OUT SELLING their print editions and the comic book companies are making their comic book print editions OBSOLETE by releasing trade paper back editions of a collected series almost IMMEDIATELY after the series hits comic books stands. What’s really going on behind the scenes and why aren’t more people crying “wolf’? Because, it’s all about making the biggest profit. It use to be about producing good work. Don’t get us wrong, there are some great titles coming out with phenomenal art and stories. Of course, these people want to get paid a decent wage for their time and effort. We know that business is business and the whole point of being in business is to make profit. But how far do you need to go so you can edge out the fans that are just starting? (See Who Knew?)

It’s hip to be square in 2013 with comics now available instantaneously via your android phone, tablet, desktop or laptop computer. Sure it seems print sales are picking up, at least according to Diamond with them now allowing comic book stores to return unsold issues. This new news is actually a good thing for small comic book shop owners who are now contending with surplus and overstock of unsold comics.  What we here at IF Comics want to know is how long with this new balloon last? Will the sales still see a rise after another ten years or will the fad fade again as it has done in the past. When will the general public be bored with new television series like Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D, Constantine, Gotham Central, Arrow, Flash, ect.? When is the shiny new penny going to wear out it’s shine and become tarnished by the new schmuck who wants it all? We hope the high keeps rising but we also hope that the people behind the scenes don’t pull the wool over their fans eyes and over saturate them too much. We’re already seeing it happen and it’s happening fast. Perhaps a little too fast. All for the love of money, merchandising, and fans?

Quality over Quanity

In today’s economy, we are seeing more and more companies doing promotion for sales, deals, anything they can think of to get people into their stores or to buy from them online. How does this affect us all as artists?

For the month of September (2013), Ink and Feathers Comics is running a promo for all our publications through Amazon.com. Look for any of our titles and you can see 90% of our graphic novels/books are priced at $0.99. We are saluting our past fans as well as trying to hook new fans to our work in celebration of starting up a fan page. Plus if its not obvious, we are finally digitizing our work. But, is the reduction in the price of our books devaluing their worth?

If you were to do a search online for comic, comic books, graphic novels, pulp, we guarantee that your search engine will give you millions of listings. How does one weed through everything to find something that is truly worth their time and energy? It’s not possible. Much like the observation that we made in a previous post about mainstream comic book conventions (see our blog about comic book conventions) , the number of options at their fingertips overwhelms fans. There is just too much stuff! Is the explosion of POD (Print On Demand) and Ebook publications killing art? We are all fighting it out in our little corners to get a piece of the pie whether it be for financial gain, feedback on work, or some kind of recognition from someone. So, does lowering our price to compete seem like a good idea? In our opinion, yes and no. Let’s examine the pros and cons on how we view things as they are mid 2013.

PROS

Low Prices draw attention.

Lowering your price or doing a free promo day(s) allows readers to choose to take a chance on your work, as it seems affordable. Just recently we did a free promo that allowed readers to download our first two ebook conversions, The Teddy Bear Conspiracies and Superlative Tales. As both books are tied to each other via a continuing storyline, our hope is that people will actually read the book(s) and give us feedback helping us determine whether or not we should truly continuing marketing and making work or hang up our hats. The great thing about having a publication available for download is that fact that now our work can be accessed by the ENTIRE world. Well, at least to those people that shop online. Before, we have only been able to do self-promotion within our own state. Now, we have the entire world at our fingertips.

Worldwide availability

Our books can now be downloaded by folks in Europe, Japan, Mexico, ect and it’s translated. Pretty cool! Anyone can find it and make a decision on whether to take a chance and buy our books. This does include our paperback versions as well. Marketing that was once limited to a population of 12,869,257 people is now global (Potentially in the billions).

Self publishing is easier to do than it was 10 or even 20 years ago.

When we started publishing, ebooks were nowhere near the efficiency or availability that they are today. If you wanted to self publish, most publishing houses required a minimum print run of 3,000 copies. If you don’t have the reach or money to afford a publicist, you are on your own with everything. Marketing is a lot of work. It requires time, energy, and a lot of patience. In the early nineties, scanners and computers were mostly limited to business and personal computers were still fairly unaffordable to most middle class families. It’s not like today where most everyone can write from a personal laptop or even a mobile phone.

Peer Grading

Fans make the decision as to what is good or bad rather than some high and mighty editor who believes he or she is king of their domain. Readers decide what they like if they have access to it.

CONS

Downloading a free book is too easy.

People tend to see the word “FREE” or $0.99-$1.00, fizzle out from the overload of adrenaline (I GOT TO HAVE IT!), and start downloading everything they see. There is no guarantee that these people will even get to reading what they have just downloaded as the temptation of getting things free or cheaper than usual can become overwhelming. (We ourselves have fallen into this trap and now have over a dozens novels that may take months for us to eventually get around to reading.)

Anyone can do it with the right software

Due to the advances in technology and the availability of desktop publishing programs, anyone, without proper training and editing, can pop out books in a moments notice. Since everyone can do it, there is now an over saturation of literature out there. Some of it good and would never have been seen by the general public due to being turned down by a publishing house that didn’t want to take a risk. However, just because you THINK you can write a book or draw a story or whatever, doesn’t exactly mean you are good at it. There are people who spend four years or more of their life studying and refining their craft in a university setting. Most tend to get a little pissed that some yahoo from the sticks pops out a book and is an instant success. How would you feel spending time and energy on something you went to school for only to be out shadowed by someone who has less training or little respect for the craft they have just now contributed to? We personally believe that it takes skill and training to use these tools properly resulting in professional publications. We personally get irked when we see or are asked by clients to make “stick figures” for their ad work or publications.

Peer Grading again

Since anyone and everyone can now do what a big named publishing house could only do 10-20 years ago, we are now saturated with art in all forms. Instead of an editor deciding what is good or bad, it is left up to the public. And there are haters out there. People for whatever reason due to jealousy or nothing else to do like to troll the Internet and try to degrade anything or everything they see. With the advent of being connected all the time through ones computer or cell phone, any form of art is now subject to immediate critique.

You are one in millions upon billions of people doing the same EXACT thing.

We are now all doing the same thing: creating and pouring our hearts in our work and wanting to share it with the world. The competition is staggering.

So the question is what’s good and what’s bad? We are now part of a society that is pouring out information, technology, and art at an alarming rate that it’s too over whelming for people to fathom and process. We are losing our identities as humans by limiting our interactions though our devices. Instead of remembering the pleasantries of “Thank You”, “Please”, and Respect, we are devaluing our society by not stopping and smelling the roses. We are all whipping material out and bombarding each other with our work in hopes of getting noticed. Is it working? We have no idea. Quantity is taking precedence of the quality. We are losing the value of art by overwhelming our readers/viewers. Is it a good thing? Not from our view.

We, here at IF Comics, try to value our work by doing our best. We are, by far, not perfect. However, we try to tell good, fun stories that we hope will entertain our readers. We are never going to make millions of dollars as we doing this for fun. But, we value the importance of the time and effort anyone and everyone who creates art in any form. If done correctly, your work will shine. Don’t devalue it by churning it out and bombarding the public. Take your time, do the best job, you can and people will see its value. Be respectful of others and their time and effort. We should all have a fair chance to be noticed. It’s still a big world no matter how small the digital revolution has made it.

View this additional blog and opinion by Laurie Stevens called What’s a Good Book Worth?