Mike Raub, long-time comic fan, retailer, broadcaster and podcaster, passed away tonight after a long illness. He was 68.
Mike was the original podcaster here at ComicMix from 2006 to 2008, later creating Get The Point Radio, all while moonlighting from his day job as the director of AM programming for Cox Communication. If you listened to radio in the 2000s, you probably heard Mike on the dial on one station or another.
I first met Mike at the age of 15, at a meeting of the fledgling East Coast Comic Book Retailers Association, when he and his first wife Lori ran The Dream Factory in Connecticut, which he owned and operated from 1985 to 1994. He impressed me with his energy and passion in a field not exactly lacking in extroverts.
He was born in Marion, Ohio and turned into a hardcore comics fan at a very early age, writing letters and creating fanzines. He later studied radio broadcasting at Ohio State University.
We were very lucky that he combined his love of comics, pop culture, and broadcasting for us for so many years.
Our deepest condolences to his wife Kai, his children Matt, Max, Mark, Mickey, Mike, and Sammy, and to his hundreds of friends and thousands of listeners.
I was having lunch with www.getthepointradio.com’s Mike Raub yesterday and we were deep in discussion about our favorite topic, what the hell is wrong with the planet and why we are the only ones smart enough to realize it. Before long we were ranting about the lameness of most mainstream comics and the various attempts the sundry marketing departments make to boost sales.
As always, this discussion came to the point where I started in on my favorite seething rage, which, in short form, goes like this: “Screw this variant cover shit; it has nothing to do with getting people excited to actually read the comic book.”
Variant covers became amazingly popular among comics retailers and a handful of wealthy consumers some 20 years ago. In fact, while packaging some books for Image Comics, I wanted to publish a variant cover printed on chewable bubble gum. Image vetoed that one; I strongly suspect they got the joke and had an understandable aversion to biting the hands that feeds them.
But as I was about to babble on and on, I came to a quick stop. A 25-watt light bulb (LED, of course) went off over my head. Indeed, I had an epiphany! It dawned on me there are at least three types of comic book covers being published today: the regular cover, the variant covers that are celebrity-drawn and/or way too cute for words, and the blank cover variant.
You’ve probably seen a few of them. Ostensibly, readers are supposed to get an artist at some convention to draw the cover for you, often in exchange for a stipend. Maybe you’ll just get autographs. Fine. Audience participation is cool. But variant covers generally go for a premium, or in exchange for purchasing X number of comics. What does this mean?
It means many comic book publishers have figured out a way to soak the reader for an “exclusive” that, in fact, costs the publisher next-to-nothing to produce.
That, my friends, is a business model.
Mind you, I may have been the first to publish a blank cover. It was DC’s Wasteland #6, and we did that because the printer screwed up massively and put the wrong cover on the issue. They reprinted it with a blank cover; my idea, as I wanted to alert the reader and the retailer that this was something different. I designed this cover, but I didn’t get paid for it for three reasons: 1) I was on staff, 2) Publisher Paul Levitz knows sarcasm when he hears it, and 3) the damn cover was blank!!!
Same thing with these contemporary blank variants. They are blank! You, the reader/collector/dealer, are spending money for nothing.
And your chicks for free.
To paraphrase Yakov Smirnoff, Comics – what a business!
Someday, somebody will try to sell a comic book based upon its merits and not rely on stunt marketing to do the heavy lifting.
Well, it’s convention season once again. This statement doesn’t mean as much as it used to, when there actually was a convention “season.” Now it pretty much runs from the beginning of spring (Glenn was at WonderCon and will be posting his pictures sometime before next year’s show) and ends the following March at San Francisco’s MegaCon… give or take.
My schedule includes Chicago’s C2E2 next week, maybe Heroes in Charlotte in June, San Diego in hell, Baltimore in August and New York in October, held each year at the only spot in all Manhattan that is inaccessible to humanity. For me, it started last week at one of my favorites, New York’s Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art, a.k.a. MoCCA Fest.
Being in our back yard, ComicMix was well represented: Vinnie Bartilucci, Glenn Hauman, Adriane Nash, and Mike and Kai Raub. Traditionally, Martha Thomases is in attendance but this year the she was in Japan at the time and the commute would have been a bitch.
I enjoy MoCCA because there it covers the widest spectrum of self-published, small-published, and web-published “independent” comics. If your thrills are limited to capes and masks from the Big Two, this event would either bore you… or transform you, opening your eyes to all sorts of really interesting stuff people do with our coveted medium. So if you’re into comics, it’s certainly worth a try.
If you could bottle the enthusiasm in the room, you’d have enough energy to replace Chernobyl. By and large, these people aren’t getting rich, although some make a living and others would like to eventually. They’re there out of their love for the comics art medium and to employ our unique storytelling concepts to communicate their stories. Each time I’m there, and I think I’ve been to eight or nine of their shows, I come away renewed and rejuvenated. So up yours, Ras Al Ghul.
Despite the quantity of behatted hipsters, this isn’t necessarily a young person’s show. Fantagraphics, perhaps the leading bookstore publisher of these sorts of efforts, was well-represented, as was Abrams and other staid outfits. While trying not to be overly creepy in my contacts with the younger folk, I also hung out with fellow geriatrics including Craig Yoe, Denis Kitchen, J.J. Sedelmaier, and Paul Levitz.
It comes as absolutely no surprise that of all the shows I attend, MoCCA routinely attracts more women per capita. Well, having made that statement I might have just put the kibosh on that, so let me say there isn’t as much semi-naked cosplay as I see at capes shows. I suspect that this is because the show is all about your desire to express yourself and tell your own story and not so much about who was the Avenger villain who crossed over into Amazing Spider-Man #214. (No, no; don’t Google that – I pulled it out of my ass.)
A high-point was when Vinnie, Glenn, Adriane, Mike, Kai and I semi-inadvertently all wound up at the Popeye’s Fried Chicken across from the venue. There was a point when ComicMix had actually taken over the joint. I’m glad to say that we didn’t spontaneously burst out in rousing song – MoCCA isn’t a science-fiction convention.
As it turns out, this column is sort of a crossover. My friend and fellow columnist Denny O’Neil was also there, and he will be waxing poetic about his MoCCA experience tomorrow, same-Bat-Time, same-Bat-Channel.
It was an interesting party. Held in a Mason lodge, I got to hang out with The Point’s Mike Raub, former ComicMix columnist and book writer and moviemaker Ric Meyers, and Adriane Nash, the one woman condemned to be both a ComicMixer and an employee of arrogantMGMS. And a whole bunch of old friends, about 72 of which used to be in the comic book retail business.
It’s not that I would be friendless if not for the comics racket. Since I spend a healthy amount of time in politics, social services, broadcasting and more dubious endeavors, I know a few folks who couldn’t tell the several dozen current Spider-Men apart – and politely couldn’t care less. They humor me nonetheless.
But it is safe to say most of my enduring friendships are comics-related. I’ve known Mr. Raub for, damn, three-dozen years. Glenn Hauman and I met when he was a “small” child hiding in DC’s darkroom, back when the Earth was still cooling. John Ostrander and I have been buddies since before Watergate; we met through Chicago theater connections and were both herded into a corner at a party in those ancient days because, as comics fans, we “had something to talk about.” Ah, those days when geeks were treated like… geeks.
The list goes on and on. I’ve had the privilege and honor to work with my friends and that has worked out wonderfully more than 99% of the time. There are maybe only two or three people I regret working with – I’ve mended fences with others; creative egos are a mixed blessing and I’ve got one that’s louder than a Sousa march. There’s only one person in comics I actually wish to murder; I’ve spent less time and energy in broadcasting and that list is both longer and older.
So this comics donut shop, to paraphrase Chico Escuela, has been berra berra good… to me.
I’m all backward-looking because this Saturday is my birthday – I turn real, real old; I mean, Mel Brooks old – and seeing all these old friends in one room was a heady event.
Despite its massive expansion (says the man who refers to the San Diego convention as the “black hole of media shows”) and the generational differences and the public’s near-acceptance of geekdom, there remains a closeness in the comics community that, to my experience, is unparalleled elsewhere. Even people who truly hate each other are on a first name basis.
I highly recommend it. This is one hell of a donut shop.
“The Comix4Sight.com benefit for comics veteran John Ostrander has raised $31,322.00 thus far,” committee co-chairperson Mike Gold revealed today. “And we still have more than 100 great pieces of original art, signed books and prints, and manuscripts to auction off!”
“Contributions are continuing to pour in, even after the benefit at the Chicago Comic-Con,” program coordinator Adriane Nash stated. “In the past several days, we’ve received material from Paul Gulacy, Jason Owen, golden age great Fran Matera, the cast of The Simpsons, and so much more.”
“The auction held last week at the Chicago Comic-Con raised half the current total in about two hours,” Nash continued. “We wouldn’t have had time to present everything if we had all night.
“Details about the upcoming auctions, including a full schedule of sales, will be posted online at www.comix4sight.com beginning Wednesday August 19th. As we’ve stated, we will donate any excess revenue to other comics professionals suffering from major vision issues or to The Hero Initiative, whose help and assistance has been critical to our success,” Nash concluded.
A 27-year veteran of the comics field, Ostrander is undergoing a series of operations and medical treatments to fight off blindness and glaucoma. “The response from the entire comics community has been overwhelming,” Gold noted. “The cost of these John’s procedures has been through the roof and are only partially covered by insurance.”
The Comix4Sight.com committee includes Nash, Gold, writer Gail Simone, and getthepointradio.com’s Mike and Kai Raub. Auctioneers included WGN-AM radio news director Charlie Meyerson, artist Hilary Barta, comics/movie attorney Ken Levin, and yours truly. Monetary contributions are also gratefully accepted by check or through PayPal at Comix4Sight.com. Individuals and corporations interested in making contributions should send them to:
Mike Gold and Adriane Nash
304 Main Avenue, #194
Norwalk, CT 06851
Now there is a magazine coming that will tell you which of all the OTHER magazines on TWILIGHT you need to read, plus we introduce you to a man who turned his daily walk into a book and movie deal, there’s some cool stuff out of E3 and yes, BIG NEWS about us (sneak peek below)…
And (as we will tell you) you can now enjoy THE POINT 24/7. Updates on all parts of pop culture, special progarmming by some of your favorite personalities and the biggest variety of contemporary music on the net.
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN LIVE FOR FREE or go to GetThePointRadio for more including a connection for mobile phones including iPhone & Blackberrys
Every day at Comic-Con International, Mike Raub and his skilled crew will broadcast live from the ComicMix booth (#2308). Stop by and watch the master! Maybe you’ll be interviewed! Maybe he’ll make you a star!
Here’s the plan:
Wednesday, July 23, at 7:00 PM
Thursday, July 24 at 3:00 PM
Friday, July 25, at 4:00 PM (Hey, I’m signing at that time!)
Starting today, you can subscribe to the ComicMix Radio podcast via iTunes or RSS. Just click on either of the links in the last sentence, or go to the iTunes store and search the podcast section for ComicMIx, and you’ll get Mike Raub and company three times a week, even if you’re not at home to click the button.
Best of all, you can download it to your mp3 player, and have it with you all the time. And those of you with iPhones (including most of the ComicMix staff) can listen to the podcast while reading our comics on the phone. A total experience for the most dedicated and discriminating fan.
So subscribe to our podcasts via or RSS — you’ll be glad you did.
Our readers aren’t the only ones falling for ComicMix‘s new format. We Phase I-ers are really excited over Phase II as well; that handy-dandy Latest News search box has made doing these weekly wrap-ups easier than ever! And the powers that be aren’t done tinkering yet! Here’s what our columnists have offered you this past week:
Wow, it’s been some week for ComicMix, and we appreciate all the kind words of support and terrific reviews we’ve seen so far! Please let us know where you’ve seen our comics discussed, we don’t want to miss any feedback! In the meantime, here’s your weekly wrapup of our regular columns:
As you can see, Mellifluous Mike Raub‘s Big ComicMix Broadcasts are now all accessible right from our front page, so no need to recap them here any more; just scroll down on the right sidebar and there they are! In fact, it just so happens that all of the above columns can currently be accessed from our section entitled "More Comics News" at the bottom of our front page, mixed in with our news items. Can a separate column archives be far behind? Well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it?