The incredible true story of how I managed to spend one nickel shy of four bills at the comic book store this week!

Things have been a bit wonky since comics went on vacation back in April and May. Since they came back, they’ve been unreliable – many companies put out dates for when their books will arrive in stores, but those dates were knocked askew by the coronavirus, as so much of the world was. Then DC decided to take their ball and go to Pasadena, and their books have come out erratically as well, with the added bonus of no one actually knowing what’s coming out week to week because the places on-line that tell you what’s coming out are often, well, wrong. All of that led to the perfect storm of Wednesday, 2 September, when I walked into Greg’s Comics (no relation) at the corner of Alma School Road and Guadalupe Road in Mesa, Arizona, and spent three hundred ninety-nine dollars and ninety-five cents on comics that came out this week. That’s $399.95. It’s the most I’ve ever spent on comics in one week (although, sadly, not the first time I’ve broken $300), and I thought it’d be fun (for you, maybe, if not for me to relive it) to see how it came to that.

Let’s start with the single issues. I don’t buy a ton of single issues anymore, but I still get some. This week Marvel’s latest attempt to make Black Widow a thing showed up, and I bought issue #1 because I always like buying #1 issues, plus this is by Kelly Thompson, and I dig Kelly’s work, so that made it easier. I was not about to buy the J. Scott Campbell cover, so I got the one by Kim Jacinto:

Action!

This is, what, the third or fourth Black Widow series of the past decade? I’m sure it will totally stick this time.

I also bought the latest issue of Die, the final issue of Gutter Magic: Smoke and Mirrors, and the first issue of Spy Island. This is where things start to get a bit wonky. Kieron Gillen gives Stephanie Hans time to do entire arcs of Die, so this issue wasn’t delayed, but the entire arc was partly because Hans broke her leg, I think (she broke something) and because the entire arc was delayed by the pandemic. But it was solicited in July for a 2 September release, so no weirdness there. Gutter Magic was delayed a bit, but I’m not sure what the deal is. The third issue was solicited in April, and then the fourth in the May/June Previews, so technically it didn’t miss a month, but the May/June stuff should have come out in August. It wasn’t delayed too long, and smaller presses don’t always give release dates in Previews, so I’ll say it was fine. Spy Island was solicited back in February and was supposed to come out on 1 April. That didn’t happen, of course, but instead of just shipping it when comics started up again, Dark Horse resolicited it in July for 2 September. So technically it came out on its release date, but it was the second release date.

So, so far I bought four single issues at $3.99 a pop. Greg’s Comics gives us 20% off on all purchases, and Mesa has an 8.3% sales tax. So $3.99 x 4 = $15.96 x .8 = $12.77. Add the sales tax and it’s $13.82. So far.

It’s about damned time!

Now let’s look at the smaller trades. I got Breathless volume 1, Immortal Hulk volume 7 and Ice Cream Man volume 5. Ice Cream Man was offered only in the May/June Previews for a 2 September release, so that’s fine. The Hulk volume was also offered in May/June for 2 September, but it was resolicited – originally it was in April’s Previews for an 8 July release. So the virus messed with that. Black Mask, meanwhile, is terrible about things coming out on time, so Breathless was offered in February, which implies a release date some time in April. I get that that was impossible, but it couldn’t have come out in May or June? They never resolicited it, either, so I guess I should be happy it found its way to my retailer. Breathless and Ice Cream Man cost $16.99 and Hulk costs $15.99. If we take the 20% off and add sales tax, we get $14.71 for the first two and $13.85 for the third. So $13.82 + $14.71 + $14.71 + $13.85 = $57.09, and I’ve barely started!

Then we’ll detour to the magazines. While technically not comics, Heavy Metal #300 has a lot of comic strips in it, and Back Issue #121 is all about comics. Heavy Metal was offered in May/June, so presumably it’s on time (which would be shocking for Heavy Metal), but Back Issue was offered in March, so I have to assume it’s a bit late. Heavy Metal is $9.99 and Back Issue is $9.95, but my retailer charged me the slightly lower price for both of them. So for both we have 2 x $9.95 = $19.90 x .8 = $15.92 x .083 = $1.32 + $15.92 = $17.24. So far I’ve spent $74.33.

All the non-Conan barbarians you can shake a stick at!

Now we get to the big ticket items, and boy howdy, did things add up. 2000AD shipped its Slaine: The Horned God Collector’s Edition this week, and that was $24.99. They solicited it in March, so it should have come out in May or possibly June, but 2000AD is another publisher notorious for being late, so maybe it would have come out in September anyway! They did, however, resolicit it in July, so it’s probably “on time.” The comics within are 30 years old – what’s the hold-up, 2000AD?!?!?! IDW’s fancy hardcover of Godzilla: The Half Century War came out this week, because of course it did. I already own this, but I couldn’t resist the James Stokoe art in a hardcover and slightly bigger than the single issue size. It was solicited back in March, but of course, it was delayed … right until 2 September, when it joined my gigantic pile of comics. That costs $29.99. Again, I already own this. So that’s $21.65 (for Slaine) and $25.98 (for Godzilla). I’m up to $121.96.

I mean, it’s Bisley!

Then we get the three (3) 40-dollar books. DC dropped two of them, despite not being on their list that they release to various web sites. In May/June, they solicited Flash: Savage Velocity, the first trade of the post-Crisis Wally West run, and the second Booster Gold trade, and gave the date for both as 1 September (DC petulantly releases their books on Tuesdays now). I wrote those dates down, but didn’t check my old order forms and DC didn’t list them, so while they were both on time, they still came as a bit of a shock. Marvel, meanwhile, decided their delayed Gallery Edition of Daredevil/Elektra: Love and War, featuring the Daredevil graphic novel and Elektra: Assassin by Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz, should be shipped this week. This was solicited in October 2019 for a late March release date. Guess what, Marvel? Comics were still coming out on 25 March, so this could have shown up then, you know. But no, you had to hang onto it (more comics from 30+ years ago, I might add) and instead of giving it to us in May, June, July, or August, you had to drop it on 2 September. Again, I already own these comics as well. But damn, this book looks wonderful. Anyway, that’s $119.97 x .8 = $95.98. Add sales tax and that’s $103.95. Add that to my total and it’s $225.91. Woo-hoo!

Perhaps the dumbest superhero name in comics!!!!!

And then … Marvel came through again. The Black Widow Omnibus was solicited the same month as the Daredevil/Elektra book, in October 2019, for a 25 March release date. In November 2019, they offered the Cloak and Dagger Omnibus for a 13 May release. Both of those dates were months ago, and again, these comics aren’t being produced right now, they’re just sitting around the Marvel vaults, presumably buried underneath a stadium-sized pile of money and creepy photos of Scarlett Johansson and Olivia Holt, so they could have easily released them at any time over the past few months, but no, they decided to ship them on the same day. And they both cost $100. Yep. Maybe they thought nobody would possibly buy both of them? Screw you, Marvel. They both look pretty awesome, though. That means it’s $173.28, and that gives us our grand total of $399.19, which means I didn’t quite calculate perfectly, but it’s close enough for government purposes.

WIDOW SMASH!!!!!

So there you have it. A perfectly innocent pre-ordering system clogged up so that everything arrived on one day, and the costs rose quickly. Of course, if you pay attention to my posts (I know, why would you do that?), you know I routinely spend over $100 every week, and often over $200. So this wasn’t as shocking as it might have been. I was a bit surprised, but not too much (we play a game at the store with me and another customer where we try to guess how much we’ll spend – we only get to look at the the other’s piles of books, not check prices – and this week the other dude guessed $320, my retailer guessed $350, and I guessed $375, so I “won,” technically, although as my retailer points out, he always wins), and, I mean, the collections have a crap-ton of stuff in them. As I always say, I rarely spend money on anything else, so while this was a huge week, it’s not like I had just spent $100-$200 on prose books that week (which I could do without even trying too hard). I just thought it would be fun to check out the way I reached that ridiculous number. Let’s hope next week isn’t quite as crazy!

15 Comments

  1. Der

    If someday you are tempted to unload any duplicate comics Mr B, you know you can count on us!

    Damn, I used to do those big hauls once in a blue moon. The joys of being single and not knowing what “saving for retirement” means. A few friends and I saved money all year long, then on november/december contract amazon prime and sent a lot of stuff to the aunt of one of my friends(she lives in Texas, we were close to the border) and in those times I could spend those 400 dollars easily

    Please do a review of Immortal Hulk, everyone says it’s great, but I just don’t trust Marvel to do a great comic right now(plus, if it’s really great then I’ll just wait until they do one of those omnibus)

    1. Peter

      Immortal Hulk is really, really good in my opinion. It does a pretty exceptional job with continuity – it adds a lot of flavor to the book whether or not you know a lot about Hulk history (I don’t) without being cumbersome. The themes are a little pretentious for a comic about a green rage monster at times and the tone can also be a little didactic, but it’s very well done.

    2. Greg Burgas

      Der: I’ve been reviewing Hulk (I might have missed one or two trades), and to echo everyone, it really is terrific. I didn’t love volume 6 simply because they wanted to get to Xemnu and they took the entire trade to do it, but now that he’s here, I’m looking forward to volume 7. It’s as close as Marvel has had to a horror book in years, and the art is really excellent.

      1. Der

        oh yeah! I don’t know why my brain didn’t register your “What I read..” posts as reviews. For some reason I remember that volume 6 review. I heard the series will end soon or something, I ‘m going to start saving to buy that series

        1. Greg Burgas

          I got curious, so I went back and looked, and volume 6 came out when the site was being wonky and eating some of our work, so my proper review of it vanished and I just wrote a few sentences about it. Perhaps the weird circumstances made it stick in your brain!

  2. Der, I can tell you that from what I’ve read of Immortal Hulk (the first 20 or 25 issues, I can’t remember the last volume I read), it really is a fantastic, horrific comic. A few “missteps” here and there (I’m probably being overly critical of bits) but overall it’s a great book. I read it from the library, but I’m hoping down the line there will be a big ol’ Omnibus of it.

    And Burgas, I must defend 2000AD as a publisher. They were one of the few publishers still putting out books regularly (less strict regulations in the UK and/or better newsstand distribution there, I think?) during the pandemic. Most of the books were released digitally on the dates they originally were supposed to come out (or close to), and I’m guessing a lot of the “delay” of the print editions coming to America has more to do with customs and international shipping rather than the publisher not being on time. (I really need to get to reviewing some 2000AD stuff since they’re so nice enough to have me on their mailing list!)

    On the other hand, that’s a big damn surprise that Heavy Metal 300 actually came out on time. WTH happened there?!

    Also, now I’m very wary of what’s going to happen when I get to the comic shop, because I didn’t have a chance to get there during August. Gulp! (I guess out of what you’re getting, I’m just getting the Heavy Metal and the DD/Elektra, so maybe my pulls won’t be as cray-cray!)

    1. Greg Burgas

      Travis: I don’t know – 2000AD always seems weird to me. Their stuff does come out, I guess (unlike all those Heavy Metal trades!), but it either comes out really slowly or, like, two weeks after the cut-off date. It’s bizarre. So I guess I should be nicer, because even though the delivery seems wonky, it does show up!

  3. Peter

    Ever since my store opened back up, I’ve been a little afraid for their ability to survive, so I’ve been splurging a bit and picking up some extra stuff whenever I go. Not quite this magnitude, though! I would be tempted to double dip on some stuff in nice, fancy hardcovers, but I have so many comics in my to-read pile still. Hit some back issue sales in the last few months (actually, often looking for uncollected “Comics You Should Own” – Elementals, The Spectre, Sandman Mystery Theatre…) and now I have piles upon piles of stuff I was looking for as well as hundreds of additional issues from series I wasn’t seeking out but which I threw into my bag because they were only a quarter a pop.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Peter: Hey, that’s cool of you. My retailer claimed he was fine for those six weeks, and he’s been good since – he does a lot of business on eBay, and he’s that rare shop that still has back issues, so people really want what he has. That’s keen that you’re helping out!

    1. Greg Burgas

      Eric: Not too often – my size hasn’t changed too much in recent years, so I wear shirts as long as I can!

      Well, I’m not going to read the DD/Elektra book or the Godzilla book, because I’ve already read them. Those omnibuses … I probably won’t get through them until they come up in my alphabetical reading, because they take so long. I got through some of the giant Conan ones but gave up because I couldn’t keep up, and I’m about halfway through the Solomon Kane one that came out a few months ago, but I don’t know how long that’s going to take me. These new ones are so variegated that I’ll probably just leave them out and dive into them now and again. I’m super way behind on magazines, so who knows about those. As for the rest (the single issues, the two DC trades, the three smaller trades, and Slaine), I’ll probably get those done by the end of this week. I’m hoping this coming Wednesday will be a significantly smaller haul so I get some reading breathing room, but we’ll see. The two DC trades will take me the longest, but I don’t think they should take me longer than a week to read.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Carlos: No, sorry – it Daredevil: Love and War, the one Miller did with Sienkiewicz about Wilson Fisk and his wife. I wasn’t too clear on that, sorry. Did you think the Miller/Sienkiewicz one AND Elektra Lives Again were collected with Elektra: Assassin? Because yes, that would be even more worth it than this one! 🙂

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