Ask the Professor 33 — Catching Up

Yes, as usual, the Professor has been slacking off on the questions (for the whole semester, in fact), but now that the grading’s almost completed, it’s time to dip into the mailbag. This first question is from ‘way back in January:

Professor I am wondering what you feel is the best way to get your self published indie title into stores? I ask because I am working on a title that is going to give 100% of all profits to cancer research.
I am also wondering if you have any tips on attending comic book conventions? Like how many of a title do I print and what types of things stand out to people and make them want to stop and purchase?

The classic way to get your comic to stores is to take it there: go to the Yellow Pages (or the online equivalent), make a list of every store in town, and take the book around to them. The “cancer donation” bit might help a little, although it’s the same old story: readers will buy your book if they flip through it and see a reason to like it, and if not, not. Of course, this assumes that you already have a first issue printed; until that happens, it’s all theoretical, so get that done first; you can’t know whether people will actually spend money on your book until you give them a chance to.
The problem with conventions is the cost: between the transportation, table fees, lodging, food, etc., almost no indie publisher with a single book makes anything at conventions. However, they’re still valuable for the networking: meeting other creators and listening to their advice, showing work to publishers, and just getting the book out and seen might be worth the expense. If you’re low on funds, local conventions are best: there’s only the table cost, and if you know other local creators you might be able to split even that with them. Of course, there’s less schmoozing opportunity, but at least you’ll go less into debt. As for number of copies: print as few as possible; it’s a lot better to do a new printing than to end up with hundreds of boxes of unsold comics being used as a coffee table in your living room. If the thing actually takes off and you do five printings, those early ones will zoom in value, and get you free publicity (yes, the odds of that happening are about the same as you winning the lottery — which would take care of your convention expenses — but hey: dreams are free, right?).

Next, from late February, we have this:

I was wondering about Canadian price variants. Is there a list of all the comics that were published by marvel and DC during the 80’s where these infamous cover price variants. Also what is the rarity of the issues to their US counterparts? Any help would be great! Thanks for your time.

The Professor has to confess that he’s never thought much about Canadian price variants — wrong border country to be asking an Arizona shop about, dude. Almost every comics company (Archie, too) had ’em, though — in the early ’80s, when US comics were 60 cents, they were 75 cents, for example. Yes, since Canada’s a smaller country, they’d have lower print runs than the main versions. One problem is that, since the monetary units were the same (unlike in the UK, where the cover used “p,” for “pence,” instead of the cent sign), they’re hard to spot, much like those Marvel 30/35-cent variations in the ’70s; you have to know the “real” price versus the variant one.  The best advice the Professor can give is to do what he just did — google “comics Canadian price variants” — and see what you can find. Considering at least one comics seller is listing high-grade Star comics (like Wally the Wizard) with the Canadian variants at $40- $50 each, there’s either (a) an actual demand for these, (b) a number of overly-optimistic sellers, or (c) a lot of sucker buyers out there. The Professor would advise looking at the online sales sites of some Canadian back-issue shops, where logic would dictate that the prices would be much more reasonable.

About Phil

With 40 years of experience in comic reading, collecting and reviewing, English Professor Phil Mateer has an encyclopedic mind for comics. Feel free to ask Phil about storylines, characters, artists or for that matter, any comic book trivia. He will post your questions and answers on the AABC blog. His knowledge is unparalleled! He is also our warehouse manager, so if you are looking for that hard to find comic book, ask Phil!
This entry was posted in Comics History. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *