So I went to my LCS1
last week, all excited and eager to check out two long-awaited comics: Archenemies #1 and Warren Ellis Black Gas #2.
They weren't there. Oh, it would've been fine if they somehow hadn't been set back for me by mistake. I was more than happy to just buy a copy off the shelf. No problem there, no sir.
But they weren't there. And I don't mean, they weren't there because they were all sold out. No, what I'm here to tell you is, they weren't there because my LCS didn't order a single copy
for the shelves.
Now, I should point out before I go any further, that this is not a diatribe against my LCS owner, because he's a great guy and he's got a business to run, and I'm fairly certain that if he believed he might sell a few copies of Archenemies or Black Gas, he would've ordered them.
Diatribe, no. Lonely voice crying for help in the wilderness, yes.
A new book from a major publisher (Dark Horse) gets not a single copy ordered for the shelf. That just seems wrong. "But hey," you're probably saying right about now -- or possibly, now
instead of the first time I said now -- "maybe you live in Podunk, Iowa, and it's just too small a market for anything outside of Marvel and DC. "
"There you go again," I would say in response. "I knew Joe Kennedy, and you, sir, are no Joe Kennedy."
And then I'd remember what we were actually talking about and say, "But I live in Little Rock, which I refuse to refer to in print as Little Rock, Arkansas, because after having eight years of Bill Clinton as President, I think the world should have a pretty good idea of where Little Rock is by now."
And then you'd say, "So? "
And I'd say, "Please, somebody, anybody -- help me get out of this tangential BS loop and back on topic..." And a couple of minutes later, I'd say this:
The greater Little Rock area has a population probably close to 300,000. So while it's not a New York or LA or Chicago, it's not exactly Podunk, either. And yet, of all those 300,000 people, evidently not one can be expected to walk into my LCS and buy a copy of Archenemies or Black Gas off the shelf. And because they can't be expected to, they won't get the chance to, because there won't be any copies on the shelf to buy.
Not ordering any copies of Archenemies doesn't entirely surprise me, because even though it is Dark Horse, it is a new title by a relatively unknown creative team. But Black Gas? Come on, we're talking Warren Ellis
here. That's Mister
Ellis to you and me. The guy has written more brilliant comic books in the last ten years than (pause as I search for a meaningful metaphor and come up empty) some really big number. Seriously. Here's the guy who pushes and pulls and prods and pokes to keep us just on the edge of our comfort level with what to expect from our monthly funnybooks, who invents decompression and then, after it's become de rigeur to write for the 6-issue trade, he hits us with Fell, where we get 16-page, complete stories every month. And he's got his name in the title of this book: it's not Black Gas, it's Warren Ellis Black Gas.
And a guy who probably knows better than anyone else what will sell in Little Rock and what won't, doesn't think he can sell one single copy of Warren Ellis Black Gas off the shelf.
The story in Black Gas is scary. But this little slice of cold reality pie is much, much scarier.
1Local Comic Store. At least, I assume that's what I'm talking about. But I guess it could also mean Libertarian Communications Specialist, in which case all I can say is, run for your lives.