This week’s new comics post is more about the further adventures of local comics shops, and the future of the industry, than it is about this new series by Eddie Gorodetsky, Marc Andreyko, and Steve Sadowski. It’s no secret that retail has been in trouble for several years now, and 2017 was exceptionally difficult for brick and mortar. And where that hits us hardest is at our friendly neighborhood comic book stores.
On a personal level, my shop of choice here in San Francisco is in very real danger of closing up this year. Mission: Comics and Art is a beloved shop in the Mission district, but as these posts on their website explain, Facebook likes and favorable Yelp reviews can’t pay the bills. At a community outreach meeting this past weekend, I was surprised to learn how much of their sales had been attributed to Image Comics. Declining interest in that publisher, along with well-documented struggles from Marvel Comics, seems to have been a major factor in a 17% dropoff in sales during the calendar year.
And this news led me to thinking about my own investment into Image Comics. Since their resurgence in the last decade or so as a publisher devoted to exciting, intelligent, creator-owned books (took me a while to discount the testosterone-fueled mess that was the Image of my youth), Image Comics has published some of the best series on the stands. Lately, however, for every Saga or Descender, there are a half-dozen half-ass titles that try to get by solely with a clever concept, slick design, or interesting character.
You know, like something that might sell to Hollywood.
This week is a perfect example. Three #1 issues from Image, each of which has merit, but none of which feels wholly formed or particularly well crafted. The aforementioned book by Gorodestsky, Andreyko, and Sadwoski, The Further Adventures of Nick Wilson, is the best of the three. But even then, it smacks of something these guys are going to try to sell to a TV studio. Hell, Gorodetsky, who came up with the story, is, first and foremost, a television writer (Two and Half Men and Mike & Molly being two luminous credits on his résumé). Nick Wilson is a depowered former superhero who now makes a buck pretending to be someone else and hiring himself out as a Nick Wilson impersonator. The dialogue is sharp, and the art is solid, and, admittedly, if developed, the story could be infinitely more watchable than Hancock.
Days of Hate, by Ales Kot and Danijel Zezelj, tells the story of two lovers torn apart in the aftermath of an American Civil War. One woman has been driven to work with the new police state, while the other has been “radicalized,” driven into working with a guerrilla underground to oppose the white supremacy. It’s a loaded concept, and one obviously ignited by current events, and I want to really like this book. But after one issue, the dialogue seems stilted, the art rushed, and the characters little more than reaction-magnets for a polarized society. That’s not a good start. But, I guess, if you’re just trying to convince Netflix…
Ice Cream Man, by W. Maxwell Prince and Martin Morazzo, sounds like a great idea. A horror anthology series with a creepy-ass ice cream vendor as our Wicked Something coming through town, serving up bizarre tales of chill and dread. And the story in this first issue is, indeed, appropriately disturbing. But the art is amateurish and, dare I say, almost storyboard-y, and the iconographic use of Mr. Main Street USA is well, a little trite. We already have American Horror Story. But, hey, if you’re just looking for a job on their writing team…
Okay, so I’m not blaming Image Comics for the crap sales at comic shops over the last year. I was maybe venting a bit. Comic shops have something for everyone, I’m convinced, and the truly great stores will help you find exactly what you need. Any proprietor worth his or her salt will steer you to the books – Image or otherwise – that you’ll be happy to pick up every month, and which ones can be saved for industry execs. And for that to happen, we need to keep going to our local comic shops.
If you’re in the Bay Area, or simply want to help a great local comic shop, check out Mission: Comics and Art’s Patreon page, and learn how you can become a supporter.