ELAYNE RIGGS: Forward into the past

Elayne Riggs

Elayne Riggs is the creator of the popular blog Pen-Elayne on the Web. She was a founding member of Friends of Lulu, an organization dedicated to increasing the involvement of girls and women in comics, as readers and creators. She is married to inker Robin Riggs, with whom she shares two cats, and has odd love/hate relationship with Hillary Clinton.

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4 Responses

  1. Martha Thomases says:

    If you look at your history, it was the non-returnable model that allowed the flowering of different kinds of comics we saw in the 1980s. Because publishers didn't need to over-print for newsstand sales, they could make a profit at a smaller print run and experiment with different kinds of stories. We would not have had American Flagg or Cerebus without non-returnable product. Lots of other businesses make a success without returnability (grocery stores, department stores, etc.) Retail is a gamble, not a guaranteed return.

  2. Robin Riggs says:

    That just goes to show what a different beast the direct market was 25 years ago. When everything from Marvel and DC was comfortably selling six figures every month it was a lot less risky for a retailer to take a chance on experimental new titles. It's been shown in recent times that when the publisher takes some of the risk off the initial sales of a risky book as DC did with 52 that it can not only allow the weekly format to succeed when nobody expected it to but it can also generate average monthly sales equal to the X-Men of 20 years ago. Returnable comics would be another way to take some of the risk off the back of the retailer and allow them to experiment.Cap #25 sold around three hundred thousand copies but lots of people that went looking for it on the day couldn't find a copy. How many would it have sold if Marvel had put a million returnable copies in the stores?

  3. Martha Thomases says:

    Cap #25 was available on newsstands, I would guess, and comic book stores can order from newspaper and magazine distributors on a returnable basis. The discount isn't as good, but their risk is reduced.

  4. Mike Gold says:

    Robin, there's a big difference between DC and Marvel. 25 years ago, it was still quite rare for a routine issue of a monthly book (as opposed to a first issue or an event like Crisis on Infinite Crises) to sell 100K. But your point's the same.As for how many copies of Cap-25 would have been sold if it were returnable, they were trying to keep the stunt a "secret" — telling just about no one but Wizard. Ahem. I know a lotta retailers who are pissed off about that, and I know a few who aren't.