Tagged: Joker

Brian Hibbs: Speculeeches vs. Actual Readers of Comics

Brian Hibbs: Speculeeches vs. Actual Readers of Comics

There’s a return of an old pestilence upon the comics landscape. Brian Hibbs of Comix Experience is sounding the warning alarms. Reprinted with permission. —CM

Once again there is a speculator-driven comic coming out this week that forces us to limit sales or change our natural way of doing business.

This week it is YEAR OF THE VILLAIN: HELL ARISEN #3.

Brian Hibbs: Speculeeches vs. Actual Readers of Comics

Here’s the thing: unlike last week’s BATMAN, where there were a good number of potential people-who-bought-earlier-issues-from-the-rack, my point-of-sale system shows me that virtually none of you bought copies of #1 or #2 from the shelf — this comic was a massive flop. And so, really, the only reason for most of the phone calls and such we’re getting is because we’ve got a bunch of greedy people trying to buy it from us for $4, and flip it for $40+.

I can’t countenance this as a retailer (seriously folks, we’re not suckers), and so I have to try to deflect you all. This week our plan is this: if you’re not already subbed for YOTV:HA (and you aren’t), THEN IN ORDER TO BUY #3, YOU HAVE TO BUY #1 & 2 ALONG WITH IT. We’re only interested in facilitating the reading of a story.

Let me go one step further: I’ve owned a comic book store since 1989, and I’ve worked comics retail since like ’85. I’ve heard this same record many many times before: In point of fact I’ve personally watched the comic book industry ALMOST BE DESTROYED MULTIPLE TIMES by speculators and greed — through the B&W boom, through the 90s spec crisis, and it’s happening again right now. People trying to “flip” comics are making it so PEOPLE WHO ONLY WANT TO READ THEM CAN’T DO SO.

It’s not right; and it’s certainly nothing I’m willing to participate in.

Please listen: if you are buying comics with the goal of flipping them for a greater price you are HURTING the comics medium, you are HURTING small businesses, you are HURTING creators and publishers….. and, more importantly, I DON’T WANT YOUR MONEY TO DO SO.

Seriously: Fuck the fuck off. Go shop somewhere else. You don’t like comics, you’re not good for comics, and your money is worthless to me because what I, and every other, comic book retailer needs are ONGOING READERS. Your spending $4 today is dwarfed by a regular stable purchaser spending that every single month. On the non-returnable comics that form the backbone of the Direct Market your ONE TIME purchase is genuinely HURTING comics and comics stores who then have a harder time figuring out how to serve their regulars. Your purchases are WEAKENING the market, and so you are not welcome in our doors.

When I opened in 1989, there were 24 comic book stores in San Francisco, and now there are (barely) 8 — that two-thirds went out of business largely because of these bullshit speculator games that hollowed out the actual readers market, despite the local economy BOOMING beyond all rationality in that time.

You suck. You destroy the thing you claim that you value. And Comix Experience simply won’t stand for it (nor have we, consistently, for the last thirty years!)

And more than that…. honestly? You’re an idiot. I sell comics for a living, and I watch these variant flash-in-the-pans and they NEVER (ever) hold their value. There are a small cartel of folks who are using public-facing apps, and trading back and forth between puppet accounts to MAKE IT LOOK like there’s demand for these comics featuring “Punchline”, but as a guy who has been selling this stuff for decades: this moment is 100% false and manufactured. We’ve yet to have a SINGLE reader show the slightest amount of non-fiduciary interest in the character, and any comic that “every knows is going to be worth money” never ever is a month or three after it drops.

Maybe “Punchline” will be an interesting character, with an involving storyline that leads to dynamic story-telling and tales for the ages. I sincerely hope so. But speculeechs driving up the price before anyone has ever read a single page of content is a massive red flag that “Punchline” will end up no better than “The Joker’s Daughter” (which was also white hot for about 45 days in 2013, and now no one would give you a dime for her eponymous comic)

Don’t be a sucker. Don’t help destroy what is left of the periodical comics market (idiot!) And don’t think you’re welcome in our stores. We’ve been there, we’ve done that, and we’ve had it proven again and again and again that you are the stone cold enemy of the Medium of comics.

Right now, you have a LOT of people trying to sucker and shake you down and get you to buy their comics because so many of them see a Hollywood Play, and are willing to use speculators and the worst excesses of the “Collector’s Market” to try and leverage that play. They too, are the enemy. Don’t fall for it! Don’t support them!

If you have any issue with any of this, take it up directly with me. I can always be reached at brian@comixexperience.com. Leave my staff out of it, please — this is a top-down statement.

-B

Brian Hibbs
Head Cheese, Comix Experience
San Francisco

Wayne D. Chang: Judging “Joker” on Its Merits

Wayne D. Chang: Judging “Joker” on Its Merits

There are several ways to look at Todd Phillips’ 2019 movie Joker. It is obviously grounded in DC Comics’ vast history, however it is not what most comic book aficionados would consider a “comic book” movie. Yes, it is set in Gotham City. Yes, there are references to Arkham Asylum as well as characters like Thomas Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, and even a young Bruce Wayne. However it would be grossly unfair to judge this movie as a Batman movie or even consider it in the same frame of mind as the introduction of the Joker in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman or Christopher Nolan’s 2008 The Dark Knight (and hinted at the end of Christopher Nolan’s 2005 Batman Begins). Both movies featured The Joker as the villain, and there was a clear relationship between him and Batman, but as I suggested, this does not appear to be a typical comic book movie.

For the record, I have not actually seen “Joker” yet. I am basing this op-ed piece on what news is currently available, video clips, trailers, etc. This piece may be flawed, but it is my opinion, and you are welcome to take exception with it if you choose to do so.

We see Arthur Fleck as someone akin to Arthur Miller’s “Willy Loman” in Death of a Salesman – a man of little perceived significance and yet to come to terms with who he is. Arthur Fleck is the kind of guy who gets the crap beat out of him in viral videos. He is a stand-up comedian who has had more bombs than Dresden. From what we see of him, there is a slow progression into madness or at the very least, we see him come to terms with his madness and rebirth as the Joker, something more than a stage persona. Arthur Fleck has accepted this as who he is as he becomes visible to a wider audience thanks to an appearance on “Live with Murray Franklin.” The fact that “Murray Franklin” is played by no less than Robert De Niro lends a gravity to what could have been a simple comic book movie, but even saying that is doing a gross disservice to Joker. The movie is a love note to Martin Scorsese’s 1982 masterpiece The King of Comedy.

Joker is as Warner Bros Publicity has stated, “a cautionary tale.”

So far Joker has enjoyed unprecedented critical acclaim and response from international film festivals, however it has also endured pre-judgment from comic book fans who are quick to dismiss it as NOT a comic book movie. A friend of mine was excited to see this when the teaser first hit social media, however recently he said he wouldn’t bother seeing it as it was not in his estimation a legitimate telling of the origins of the Joker as generations of comic books, TV shows, cartoons, and movies have portrayed it. There was Alan Moore & Brian Bolland’s timeless Batman: The Killing Joke (from which Joker seems to draw inspiration). There is also the older story element of Batman chasing a man in a red hood who falls in a vat of chemicals. Being immersed in chemicals apparently rendered this man’s hair green, his face white, and his lips red giving Gotham City the Clown Prince of Crime, The Joker. While the red hood was not integral to the Joker’s origin in some cases, Batman was, and in the case of  The Dark Knight, the Joker existed as a response to Batman establishing a symbiotic relationship.

A lot of dissatisfaction from comic book aficionados seems to come from the basic question of “Where’s Batman?” It is bad enough that adaptations of stories sometimes play fast and loose with established mythology, and some fans seem quick to voice that they’re not going to see Joker. I confess that I was one of these fans, however after deeper consideration, dismissing Joker as not a Batman movie would be just the same as what happens to Arthur Fleck in the movie – dismissing him as insignificant. Joker appears to be a frighteningly intimate portrayal of a man’s descent into madness and embracing it as others have not accepted him or his true nature. As such, I could easily see how this could and should receive massive amounts of critical success, however it is not what I would consider or accept as a comic book movie or a Batman story. Perhaps this version of the Joker would appear in an adaptation of DC Comics’ Crisis on Infinite Earths, and that certainly would be interesting, but I have reservations about that. It would be better to judge this as a character study.

The Point Radio: KILLING JOKE’s 30 Year Trip To Animation

In the wake of Comic Con, so many fans were talking about just one thing – BATMAN:THE KILLING JOKE and the new R rated DVD release. Cast members Kevin Conroy,Tara Strong & Ray Wise join us to talk about their respect for the classic story and how it was transformed from page to screen.

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The Point Radio: Donal Logue Thrives In GOTHAM

Donal Logue is Harvey Bullock in the new Fox series, GOTHAM and he has a lot of say about it,  including how this compares to his previous roles and what it’s like to be part of a story where everyone already knows the ending. Plus, it’s the 60th Anniversary for The Guinness Book Of World Records, with a ton of new wacky entries and some old ones that may never be broken. Ever wonder how it all began? We go right to the source to answer that and more.

THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE on ANY mobile device (Apple or Android). Just  get the free app, iNet Radio in The  iTunes App store – and it’s FREE!  The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE  – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Dennis O’Neil: Batman’s Toys and Storytelling

batmanAll right, everyone quiet down and take a seat. I’ve been asked to remind you about the pep rally and don’t forget that finals are week after next. Now, where were we…

Today we’ll begin with a brief review of the material we covered last week. You’ll remember that we began by discussing what Batman’s mortal enemy – I refer to the Joker, of course – called Batman’s “wonderful toys.” We mentioned the Batmobile, the Batplane and that line-shooting device, the technology of which would surely be revolutionary though Batman seems to take it for granted. Putting the shoe on the other foot…the Joker, who does not appear scientifically inclined, mixes up some sort of disfiguring goop that can be passed off as over-the-counter cosmetics – in itself, no mean feat – and then smuggles it into retail packaging throughout the city. His point is to distress the citizenry and apparently he succeeds.

I explained these wildly improbable events by suggesting that the screenplay which encapsulates them is a hybrid of funny animal/funny person cartoon shorts, the likes of which were movie theater staples when I was a nipper and can sometimes be found on television, and crime drama: call it badge opera, if you like. The critter on the screen, human or otherwise, has what he needs when he needs it and we don’t care where he got it, only how he’s going to use it. Outrageously, we hope.

But, for a moment, consider: Could the script have been written in such a way that the anomalies are explained? Well, don’t expect me to write it, but the answer is a qualified yes.

I choose to believe that the very bright guys behind Hollywood computers are capable of the kind of mad ingenuity the job would require. In fact, they and other scriveners do something like it every day.

Let me remind you of a basic: art, which includes storytelling, involves a process of selection: the writer determines which incidents, real or imagined, will best tell his story and those are what he shares with us. He has to determine how deep into the story he wants to go. Go too deep – put in too many trivialities – and he risks boring his audience; put in too few and the thing might not make sense. Do we care where the hero bought his trusty .45? Probably not, so don’t bother to distract us with the sales slip. But if the plot requires him to shoot the sweat off a bumble bee at 100 yards, maybe we’d better have some idea of how he acquired that skill, lest in wondering where the skill comes from we lose interest in the hero and his world.

It seems to be a matter of degree, doesn’t it?

Ol’ Nobel Prize-winning Papa Hemingway had opinions on this matter and they’ll do to end this session.

Know what to leave out.

Write the tip of the ice-berg, leave the rest under water.

Is that the bell already?