Thursday, December 17, 2015

Best of 2015, Part II

We Can Never Go Home #1 by Hood, Kindlon, and Rosenberg (Black Mask)
"We Can Never Go Home #1 from Black Mask, by Matthew Rosenberg & Patrick Kindlon. Art by Josh Hood.

This is a fun story of marketing working out beyond anyone’s dreams. Black Mask Studios started with a few books, the main one being 12 Ways to Die written by one of the members of the Wu Tang Clan. It was fine, but not my cup of tea. And it didn’t sell. They had a few other books that didn’t really do anything. I never gave them much thought. I would order a copy or 2 and hope to break even on them.

One day in the mail there’s a copy of We Can Never Go Home #1. Ok. That’s interesting. I threw it in my bag to take it home and read when I had a chance. Now the reason I say interesting is that most previews I get are PDFs. Which is fine. Cheap and easy, but that’s also how I look at it. Its not a ton of effort to mass email something. I am not a big fan of reading on the computer. I’m old school. I like a comic in my hand to be read on the sofa. It also depends on when I see the email (if I see it at all.) “Hey look at me. I’m some guy you never heard of. Read my book on your screen!” Meh. Maybe I will, more likely I’ll forget and move on. It’s not like I don’t have a million things to do and comics to read as it is.

But they sent me a physical copy. It ended up in my stack. Interesting cover. Ok. When it came up I dug in. Solid art (which is good for some of these things. Quite often the effort is there, but they need refining.) I’d never heard of Josh Hood, but he has caught my eye now. So I start reading. Two kids. A popular girl and a nebbish guy in high school. OK. I can relate to that. I keep going. Interesting characterizations. Interesting situation. Then an ending I didn’t see coming. And the feeling of ‘More please.” Which doesn’t happen often enough. Too often I’ll read a book and go, ok. I read that. I love the “What happens next! I want it now!” books. I don’t want to oversell the ending. It wasn’t a super mind blowing twist or anything. But it was a solid story with an ending that created the desire to see what happens to these two.

So I email the writer, Matthew Rosenberg. To say thanks for the advance copy and say that I am upping my order on it because I know I can hand sell this. As a thank you, I got a bunch of signed posters and stickers. Just a ton of effort from him.

But then something else happened. I sold out. And Diamond sold out. Hmmm. Always a problem. I can’t sell what I don’t have. And I didn’t up my order on #2 and I sold out of that. But wait. What’s this email? It’s from Black Mask saying its sold out from Diamond and they have copies left that they will send me for less than Diamond and free shipping. Well. That is often a problem. Sure I can order direct from a small publisher, but the shipping will often equal what I was saving off of the cover price making the whole thing kinda moot. But they were willing to go above and beyond to get me this book.

So Mayday comes along. It’s also from Black Mask. I’ll give it a try. Issue #1 was good. Push it in the store. Young Terrorists same thing. Clandestino. X’ed. Now I am a big Black Mask supporter. They stepped up huge on Local Comic Shop Day with 2 exclusive hardcovers and a special box set. But I had to order them direct from them because the Diamond shipping window was closed. No problem. I trust you guys. Just about sold through. And the We Can Never Go Home HCs were all signed. Then they put out the first trade at $9.99 for 5 issues. Excellent. Just about sold through the big initial order I made.  I just placed another order for more of the Space Riders TP (sold out at Diamond) and more We Can Never Go Home to fill in the issues I am missing.

All because they sent me an actual advance copy of a book."

Colin McMahon, Pittsburgh Comics

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