"WHEREVER I MAY ROAM/A DAY IN THE LIFE"
May 5, 2007 marked another Free Comic Book Day. This year it was matched with a big movie release: Spider-man 3. This started a new trend of Free Comic Book Day being on the first Saturday in May, and matched with a big summer blockbuster comic book movie. Now, for a little bit of time I had a new helper named Richie Miller. He was my go to guy for testing video games and keeping me in the loop for new video game trends. He along with Roy and a few others helped me with this year's Free Comic Book Day. As with past years, the food donations continued to grow even more. The free comics this year were: Archie, Simpsons, Umbrella Academy, Battlestar Galactica, Mickey Mouse, Transformers, Legion of Superheroes, Tokyopop, Astounding Wolfman, Amazing Spider-man, Sonic and more.
August 2007, Marvel came out swinging with a collaboration from Stephen King. His famous Dark Tower series was set to be adapted into comic book form. Peter David and Jae Lee were working together on this project. The Dark Tower series was set to be a series of mini-series to tell the tales from the novels. The first one to release was the Gunslinger Born. Each issue had to be personally approved by Stephen King himself at the beginning as this series was his baby. If Marvel was trying to get new readers to come into comic book stores, this worked. Stephen King fans started showing up clamoring for this series including some customers who then tried other comic books and of course some who just showed up for Stephen King material. Regardless, it was a new source of revenue for the comic industry and was a huge hit for everyone after the comic sales slow down we had been seeing.
Also in August, part 2 of the 1 2 punch from Marvel was World War Hulk. After being sent out to space by the Illuminati, Hulk has found his way back to Earth wanting revenge on those who sent him away. This was a sequel to the popular Planet Hulk storyline, New Avengers Illuminati and even parts from Civil War. Marvel was on the road to an event each year which would eventually give people "event fatigue". Most years were set up to be the crossover event and then in between them were the books setting up for the next event. Fatigue hadn't set in yet and people were excited to see Hulk not hold back. Written by Greg Pak and drawn by David Finch, it has a lot of big epic feeling fights between Hulk and others. Unfortunately like a lot of crossovers, this did kind of fall flat at the end of it with it's quick and simple solution.
Also in August 2007, DC started Geoff Johns next part in his "Green Lantern Trilogy". The Sinestro Corps War started a huge all out war epic for the Green Lantern Corps. This story was huge with lots of ups and downs. The Green Lanterns were in for their biggest battle yet. When you finish the first part of the story, you will see Sinestro's inner circle and it's major. Remember that I had mentioned the Anti-Monitor from Crisis on Infinite Earths. He was the "Big Bad" in that story. So if it took multiple heroes from across the multiverse to stop him, just how much trouble would the Green Lantern Corps be in against him? Well this series would show you the answer to that. Now I don't want to ruin this story for anyone, but just take my word for it, this is a MUST READ for any Green Lantern fan. Of course, all of Geoff John's run is a must read as well.
August 9-12, 2007 I decided to try something new to increase sales and get some advertising going. I decided that Chimp's Comix was going to do it's first booth at a convention. I chose Wizard World Chicago to give it a try. Prepping to do this, I purchased a 10 foot by 10 foot booth space (which was super expensive in my opinion). I started setting up a trial booth here in the store and knew that I needed something to display wall books. I spoke with Travis Nichols and he built the wooden legs many of you see our wall books on now or that we use for Free Comic Book day. I also hand made the signs (seen here) to stand at the tops of the legs to try to draw attention to our booth. I realized a lot of people are standing around waiting in lines to get their comics signed and since cell phones and games weren't what they are now, I thought about how many times I had seen handheld video games being played. People were carrying around Gameboys, DS and PSP systems all the time. I had never seen any booth selling video games at a comic convention prior to this so I thought this would be a good idea to bring games people could purchase and play that weekend. Now since that year, I see video games all the time at cons but never before I did this.
I wanted all of us to have Chimp's t-shirts and had to do this on a budget. I drew up these superheroes as chimps and since zombies were super popular at this time, I made alternate versions that were zombified. These were printed off and ironed on t-shirts for us to wear. Some of them brought enough attention that we had a few people ask us if we were selling them, we were not. We made our trek up to the convention and got set up the first day which was usually known to be slower since it was opening night of Thursday and most people showed up on Fridays. After we got set up I realized we were put in a very rough spot on the floor. I brought good back issues for the walls and bins and the handheld games. We were placed beside a booth with 100 long boxes that were all $1 books and across from a booth that was only half off trade paperbacks. This made it difficult to stand out as we were smaller and didn't have discounted product. We split the day in halve so that each of us could enjoy the con as well as work it. The team was myself, Travis Nichols, Richie Miller and another friend at the time. After Friday, I realized super quick this may not have been a good idea. Starting on Saturday, I started to put our comics on discount (which eventually grew even higher later that day and on Sunday). The video games were selling pretty decent though. We didn't sell out of them but did sell quite a few handheld systems and games to attendees. Once it was all said and done, after discounting the product drastically, I had broken even. I didn't lose money, but also got rid of some really good books just to give it a try. I've always said since then that it was a learning experience and that if I did it again, I would probably only take discounted stuff.
September 2007 Lorwyn released for Magic the Gathering. Oh Lorwyn....
This was a rough point for Magic locally. After the success of the Time Spiral block, Lorwyn fell horribly flat for us. Sales were extremely down on this set and continued through the rest of the block and the next block. Sales were so low and Friday Night Magic attendance was at an all time low that I was honestly afraid that Magic the Gathering may have been ending. Most Friday Night Magics were not firing after this set came out. It seems crazy looking back on it now. Mainly because if you look at sales of Lorwyn at the time it was low which is usually a sign of a set people aren't intrigued by. Now if you look at the prices of some of the singles from this block, so many of them are crazy expensive. It seems Lorwyn found it's place after it went out of print.
November 2007 Amazing Spider-man One More Day begins....
Now like Lorwyn for Magic sales dwindling, it was time for my Marvel sales to do the same. The controversial end to J. Michael Straczynski's Spider-man run had begun and boy was it controversial. In this "forced" conclusion (as stories have come out that editorial forced Straczynski to write this), Aunt May was dying. Spider-man goes to Dr. Strange to see if there is a magical way to save her. He also speaks with Beast of the X-Men to find out if there is a scientific cure that the doctors at the hospital didn't know about. He searches high and low for a way to save her life and when he has hit rock bottom and is realizing he can't save her, Mephisto shows up to offer him a "deal".
Now for those of you out there who don't know who Mephisto is, he is basically Marvel's version of a devil. His offer is simple (and kinda weird), if Peter and Mary Jane agree to have their entire relationship undone and rewrite history so that they were never married, he would save Aunt May's life. Mary Jane pulls Mephisto off to the side and negotiates to add in that Mephisto will make it so that Peter never revealed his identity in Civil War. After a heartfelt conversation, Peter and MJ decide to take up this offer thus undoing a lot of Spider-man History.
Now this was super controversial for several reasons. Marvel had been apparently trying to get Peter single again and felt (these are what was reported at the time as statements allegedly made internally at Marvel) that the readers couldn't relate to a married Spider-man. (That's a tad insulting) I loved the fact that I had a book I could read with a married superhero. It showed that characters could grow and age, and I didn't see why they felt people couldn't relate. Most superheroes at the time were single. Just Superman and Spider-man were married at the time and Spider-man was the first one here as it happened in 1987. Apparently higher ups at Marvel had been trying to undo this since the 90s and felt that they couldn't have them get legally separated or a divorce as they didn't want their hero to be a bad influence to kids. WHAT?!?!?! This is Spider-man, he is supposed to be one of the most relatable superheroes out there. One of the most grounded in his personal life. Now of course the readers can't relate to being married to a supermodel, but as most of the comic book clientele was from teenagers through adults, how was this going to make Spider-man look bad to a kid? Divorce is a common thing nowadays. Kids see it in the real world so seeing a superhero go through that could be pretty relatable. And finally, since they felt they couldn't separate them or divorce them, they also felt they couldn't kill her off. These were what was being said at the time.
Now I prefer myself some married Spider-man stories as you can get a great superhero story and show a loving relationship. This is one of the MAJOR reasons I love the series Invincible by Robert Kirkman (co-creator of Walking Dead) at Image. It has a character growing up from being in high school and learning his powers to eventually getting married and having a child. This book has character growth like Spider-man had at one point. Invincible however had a story to tell and after all of the growth the series ended instead of just rewriting history. We all understand that Marvel needs to keep Spider-man being published and Invincible was creator owned so it can have bigger stakes, but Spider-man was the closest to this we had been getting from one of the big two (Marvel and DC). So after hearing that they couldn't undo the marriage in any way they thought as that would look bad on Spider-man, they have him make a deal with Mephisto. Now think about this for a minute. We can't kill her, she's a good supporting character. We can't have him get a divorce as that would look bad on him. We can't have him get a separation as technically he would still be married on some level so he wouldn't be really single. Our readers can't relate so we have to do something. Hey, I have an idea! Let's have him make a deal with Mephisto! That's such a great idea! Wait...
Remember Mephisto is Marvel's "Devil" character. So making a deal with a "devil" is better than these other options?! This had serious long term backlash. Many of Chimp's customers dropped the book and have never picked it up again, myself included. For me personally, I prefer all of the Spider-man books I read growing up where he was married and had to juggle being a superhero, a day job and a married life. Now, they had already taken away Peter & MJ's baby during the clone saga and now their marriage. So Spider-man can't have growth and we have to retcon history to go back to basics. This upset A LOT of Spider-man readers worldwide. Now Marvel had their single Spider-man and had to lay the groundwork for the future readers of Spider-man as most of the classic ones jumped ship.
Brand New Day...
Yes it was. This was the beginning of the new status quo for Spidey. No longer having ever been married and a lot of history has been changed here. For some readers, Dan Slott's long run was a good read but for others they would never experience it. Sales on Spider-man books plummeted here after One More Day. A few of the readers that had jumped on in the past few years prior to this stuck it out and we did get some new readers to the title. We were still selling less than we had been on his titles and to this day our numbers are still currently lower than what they were during the Clone Saga or even Straczynski's run.
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End Part 9...