1/25/05 - One year ago today, I got the bright idea to launch a website (I used the photo at right as a teaser placeholder) that provided a change from the normal comics website.  No hype, no commercials, no self gratification.  Just a site that like minded people could go to and get my general views concerning comic collecting, the current state of the hobby, and anything else that I fancied.  Frankly, I didn't expect anyone to give a damn about my views.   Regardless, I was going to post my rants on the web because honestly, I thought it would be a lot of  fun.  But like any grand plans, and the enthusiasm to match, things don't often go as planned...

I should back up a minute and explain.  I never would have started this site if it wasn't for a fellow co-worker who was leaving the military and going to work with the company that now hosts the AWE4ONE.com domain.  He showed me how easy it was to set up a website and, most importantly, how relatively cheap it was to do so.  Always fascinated by new technological challenges, I was sucked right in as easily as a kid to a candy shop.  Actually, the thought of being able to access my e-mail on my own domain anywhere in the world was the real kicker but the website was a nice touch.

So on 25 January 2004,  I officially launched the website with a comic featuring my favorite all-time cover, DC Special #6.  This was the first of what I envisioned to be a "Book of the Day".  I'd sort through my collection, pull out a comic, make the proper scans, and write a paragraph or two on how great it was...each day.  In the last year, I've written 22 Book of the Day articles and there are 365 days in a year.  You do the math.  And the first nugget I learned about maintaining a website became evident, it takes a lot of time.  Not an enormous amount really but enough time to take away from other, more important, aspects in life such as family, work, and relaxation.  I knew pretty early on that my goals for the website weren't realistic but plodded along regardless thinking I would find the time.   Never did find it.  I'm now content posting a couple times a week.  

Other things I've learned over the last year:

-  Always back-up your files.  At least twice a month at a minimum.  When my computer crashed last summer, I lost all web files and scans on the hard drive.  All gone.  Had to download all existing files from the website just to start from scratch again and in the process nearly lost the files on this site as well.  Too much time is spent building a site to lose it all in the space of minutes because you didn't spend those same minutes creating back-ups.

-  Ensure you keep all software current with the most up-to-date versions.  The fact I took my bulletin board down is a prime example of what could happen by not doing so.  There are apparently too many sad, miserable, dateless and happy with their Pump-Up Peggy dumbasses out there with nothing better to do than screw with your website.  

-  Some concerned regular readers have indicated I've gotten bitter towards comics since starting the site.  That's probably a true statement.  Don't get me wrong...I love comics and the hobby but recent events have soured me to a certain extent.  I've been especially critical of Marvel.  Since last summer, Marvel has consistently gone from title to title and effectively destroyed the continuity that most old-time readers such as I hold so dear.  All in the quest to squeeze additional revenue from the fans.  Gwen slept with Norman Osborne?  Spider-Man now has organic webshooters?  The Avengers imploded?  The Fantastic Four met God and he's Jack Kirby?   Not in the universe I'm familiar with.  Also, the way Marvel rosily spins their circulation numbers to deflect the fact of a continuing declining readership is laughable.  Who do they really think they're fooling?

The revelation of rampant comic pressing in the hobby compounded with CGC's apparent attitude of jumping on the restoration bandwagon also grates at the very core of my collecting psyche.  That collectors are willing to sit around and willfully be manipulated by this blatant cash grab just reinforces, sadly, my belief that this hobby has been taken over in some respects by those more concerned with the monetary value of their collections than the collecting aspect of this hobby or the stories in the comics themselves.  I think it would make anyone who cares about this hobby a little jaded.

-  People spend more time on your site when you haven't posted anything new in a couple of days.  Don't know why and not sure it's a good thing but a fact nonetheless.

-  Search engines are your friend.  Make sure to subscribe to as many search engines as possible.  I've received the majority of new readers over the last year by search engine hits.  The most "hit" topic?  A virtual dead-heat between  the Miamicon program and my CGG grading adventure.  My recent rant on CGC has been getting some serious hits lately as well...

So there you have it.  A year gone with hopefully many more to come.  I have some interesting topics planned for the near future to include more Books of the Day, a couple upcoming comic shows reports, and a rather lengthy look at Diamond and Mark Jewelers inserts.  A very heartfelt thanks to all for both supporting this site and sending me e-mails telling me your likes and dislike.  I have no way of knowing otherwise.  I've made some wonderful friends over the last year through this website and am looking forward to making many more this year.  Hope your collecting year has been as fruitful as mine...

1/9/05 - Yesterday, I posted my monthly look at Marvel's Direct Market circulation numbers and, as has been the case since I've started these, the numbers continue to fall.  I thought it would be beneficial to see how low the circulation has fallen over years vs. months.   So I've gone back to April 1997's circulation numbers for all publishers and compared them to titles either still being published today or comparable titles featuring the same character that resulted due to relaunches.  Why April 1997?  This was the first month circulation figures were released through Diamond after Marvel ceased distribution via Heroes World.  Ideally I wanted to go back a decade to Nov 1994 but couldn't get a set of good distribution numbers.  So without further ado...the list...

November 2004 - April 1997 Direct Market Sales Comparison

Thirty four (34) titles.  Of which, 9 have gained readers and 25 have lost.   That's a pretty grim scenario considering most of these comics have either been hyped or relaunched since Apr 1997 in the hope of bolstering their numbers.  It seems, at a minimum, to confirm relaunches don't necessarily translate to long term increased sales.

Some other observations...

Total Circulation Top 200 Comics:

November 2004: 6,184,360 copies

April 1997: 8,772,400 copies

Difference: - 2,588,040 copies (30% decrease)

# of Titles Selling Over 100,000 Copies:

November 2004: 7

April 1997: 22

# of Titles Selling Over 50,000 Copies:

November 2004: 31

April 1997: 54

# of Titles Selling Over 35,000 Copies (This used to be Marvel's cancellation threshold):

November 2004: 56

April 1997: 83


So there you go.  I don't have much to add to these numbers as they speak for themselves.   Here's hoping that someone in Nov 2012 doesn't compared numbers and find the same reductions.  If comics in their present form even exist in 2012...much less 2007...


1/8/05 - The November 2004 Direct Market comic circulation figures were recently released and the numbers still spell serious trouble for Marvel.  On the surface, based on yearly comparisons, Marvel comic sales were up nearly 9% vs. November 2003 sales (3,076,159 in '04 vs. 2,826,410 in '03).   

November Marvel Direct Market Sales (Numbers from ICv2.com)

Comparisons with the month previously are slightly higher.  Marvel sold nearly 240,000 more issues in November 2004 than October 2004 (3,076,159 vs. 2,836,280) and their total product gross rose from $8,685,879 to $7,862,432; an over $820,000 difference.

These numbers are misleading though.  A major factor for the increase is Marvel's Top 4 selling titles didn't ship in Oct.  Add in the fact one of those missing titles, Ultimate Fantastic Four, double shipped in Nov and those 5 issues themselves account for an additional 500,000 copies not reflected in Oct numbers.  Overall Marvel shipped 8 more titles than October (75 vs. 67 in Sept).  

Again, the numbers show Marvel is continuing to shed readers monthly.  We can expect the new Avengers #1 relaunch in Dec to sell very well.  Other than that, we should see how the numbers are dropping quite clearly over the next several months due to Marvel not having much scheduled to offset the dwindling numbers.  Should prove interesting...

Go ahead and think this over for a day.  Tomorrow, I'll be back with some comparisons on today's overall market vs. the 1997 market to chew on.  I'll let you know now...it's not pretty...

1/2/05 - A belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all! This was an especially good Christmas for me comics-wise as for the first time since I met my wife (14 years together/10 married), she gave me comics-related gifts.  The shock of this event is still reverberating around AWE4ONE HQs.  This was a woman that not only has never given me any comics-related presents, to include birthdays, but steadfastly refused to do so!  

Well I don't know what's changed but there they were Christmas morning, a Marvel 1602 Hardcover and The DC Comics Encyclopedia.  I haven't finished reading 1602 so I'll save reviewing it for now.  The DC Encyclopedia though is a delight.  If you're familiar with and enjoyed DC's Who's Who comic series of the early 80s, you'll eat this book up.  

Essentially the book is a "Definitive Guide" to all things DC to include characters, places, and even gadgets.  Each character has their own write-up but the detail is generic compared to the more comprehensive Who's Who descriptions.  Also, I was surprised at the amount of space allocated some characters compared to others.  For example The Demon, a character I've always regarded as 2nd string in the DC pecking order, has a full page spread whereas the Kents, who have far more history and importance behind them, are given a measly quarter page.  

These are minor quibbles though.  Overall the packaging of the book is extremely attractive and the Alex Ross cover is as always great.  It should serve as a great coffee table book or a nice reference tool for those unfamiliar with the DC universe.  As primarily a Marvel man myself, the book is going to come in mighty handy.  My wife picked well...

1/2/05 - You'll notice, or more likely not based on how much it was used, the Bulletin Board link on the left has been removed.  Not only have I removed the link but also the entire Board from the site due to it being hacked twice over the last month.  Some dirt bags with nothing better to do with their lives found loopholes in my Board software and hacked some Arabic crap over the title page with the latest intrusion occurring on 26 Dec.  I'm partly at fault here.  I've never been able to give the Board the attention required since it started and, as a result, haven't updated the software which may have warded off the hackers.  After the second intrusion, I decided it best to shut the Board down until such time as I could spend more time with its upkeep.  I'm not the kind of person to just give up so expect a new improved Bulletin Board in the future.  Just not in the "near" future.