There’s been a lot of chatter this past week concerning the state of the comic book marketplace following a column written by one prominent retailer. And let’s face it, forget about comic books, retailing of any sort is an extremely difficult vocation in 2023, following on the heels of a global pandemic and lockdown that disrupted regular buying patterns. Everybody wants to move on and pretend that nothing happened, that everything is back to normal, but it isn’t—the time that will take is a lot longer, if it ever happens. By this same note, I can recall similar conversations as this one taking place all the way back to my entry into the business in 1989. No doubt, they were going on before that, particularly in the 1970s and the 1950s, and so on and so on. For whatever reason, the comic book field has a stronger pull towards its own mortality than other areas. We somehow delight in predicting the demise of the very thing that we enjoy so much. Maybe that reveals a poor sense of self-worth or something, but also, in any endeavor, if you bet in favor of failure you’re going to be right sooner or later. Nothing lasts forever, entropy wins. Still, those folks who were predicting the demise of the field ten or twenty or thirty years ago would no doubt be shocked to learn that it is still here. The diversity of material new and old that is readily available today is astounding, and shows no genuine sign of abating. What is likely happening is that the market is changing. And change is almost always scary. But it doesn’t have to be the end, it just means that some things are going to be different now, and it falls to us to adjust to those changes. People hoping that the comic book industry will somehow revert to being the way it was when they were kids are definitely in for disappointment, but I feel confident in saying that the medium will survive. It continues to grow in all sorts of interesting directions. But the days of a spinner rack in every Mom and Pop Candy Store are likely gone forever—mostly because that type of store no longer exists. This all comes back to a slogan that I’ve been threatening to put onto a T-Shirt for many years now, but have never actually bothered to do:
One other note on Paty: her first Marvel credit is a nifty one! She drew "I Can't Love Anyone!" (written by Steve Englehart as "Anne Spencer") in 1972's My Love #19, and its final panel ends with this note: "A few words about the artist: Paty (rhymes with 'Katy') is a long-time Marvel fan who always decorated her fan mail with pictures. We asked for a whole story, and got this romantic result. We love it, and hope you do, too!" Interestingly, the first two boys named in the story are "Dave" and "Steve"...
Well, what exciting news. Is there an email address I can send the address to, rather than having it out on the internet?
I honestly didn't guess on the reasons behind the quotes because I figured someone out there would get all 20. But honestly, they all felt like good life advice, and mottos to remember.
Would you also be able to share the answers to the ones I didn't get? I've spent literal hours and multiple approaches to find the answers to them.
Funny enough, I was looking at the Golden Age of Marvel Comics collections just this morning! I'm building up my library of Marvel collections, focusing on the Silver Age for now but I'm doing a little "side quest" for some Timely books.
Currently have the two Golden Age volumes, an old ('90s?) hardcover set of Cap 1-10, a Marvel Comics #1 h/c—the Decades with Torch/Namor is on its way, hope to pick up Marvel Firsts WWII this week and if I can get my hands on a used copy of the All-Winners Masterworks with the two Squad appearances, I feel like that should cover me. Am I missing any biggies? :)
Hope you’re keeping well. Is Avengers Inc. over with #5? I’ve been enjoying it so far.
All the best,
I never realized you were involved with the Golden Age of Marvel Comics collection, Tom. As a kid, that book was just about my only direct contact with comics from that era, and it really worked to make the Golden Age seem like a vital part of Marvel lore that was simultaneously very important and intriguingly bizarre.
Which makes me think of a question for you: when *you* were a young'un, were there any inaccessible old comics that you longed to read because they seemed especially important to the books you liked? And what did you think of those stories when you finally did get to see them?
Speaking of retailers, is there any feature or service that you’re especially happy to see when walking into a new comics shop? I like when comics shops have a wide selection of TPBs, so that it feels a little more like a bookstore. I’m always happy to see stores hosting monthly book clubs, too. Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks as always for the great newsletter!
Happy Thanksgiving Tom!
Your Golden Age collection made me think of this question:
Were there any stories/ideas/characters etc. that you had in childhood or young adulthood that you were able to fulfill later at Marvel? A sort of “Childhood dream come true” type of thing?
Oh, my word! That John Buscema story was brutal and incredibly sad. It broke my heart.
Oh a more upbeat note: I'd never seen that Avengers: The Origin cover before. Wonderful! Made me laugh out loud! :-)
If ever make a COMICS: DYING SINCE 1935 tee shirt put me down for a 3XL in green.
In regards to:
"And that reminds me; in an earlier Newsletter, there was a reader who didn’t think they’d be able to get the new MS. MARVEL series, and whom I told I would assist in this venture. They were supposed to get me an address as well, but I never received one. Well, those books are almost all here now, so if you want ‘em as discussed, please get me your particulars and I can see about getting those out to you as well."
The commenter was Dewey (https://substack.com/profile/3435188-dewey) on issue #71. https://tombrevoort.substack.com/p/71-sea-change/comment/21955524
And you asked for their address on #72. https://tombrevoort.substack.com/p/72-im-the-x
I hope that helps.
Hi Tom, I guess when you were planning the Captain America run that became Ed Brubaker's, you evaluated what came before it. So what did and do you think of the Marvel Knights iteration of Cap? I remain very fond of the John Rieber issues, although, currently rereading them, they are very much of their time (Not meaning 9/11 references so much as the pacing and the pseudo-realistic aesthetics)
I've always wondered why comic sales figures are such a closely guarded secret. I'm not saying I care to know them but it seems with just about every other media, you can find accurate sales figures if you want to.
Comics, like movies and music, will survive in one form or another. I think Marvel, unlike some movie studios and the music industry, has handled the evolution of digital comics better than most. I do miss the days of going to the comic book store and spending $125 a week on comics (mostly Marvel), but sadly finances forced me to embrace the digital format. Marvel Unlimited is also truly amazing.
First off, thank you for this newsletter! I appreciate that it's a wonderfully enlightening look at the craft of comics—and a refreshingly honest peek behind the curtain.
Pierre's question about font got me thinking of something I've wondered about for years. Apologies in advance if you've already answered this before (or if you might not be the right person to ask): back in the early to mid-nineties, why was the font/logo for all the Spider-Man titles changed from the classic Amazing Spider-Man look to something that was, if I recall, similar to Sabretooth's font/logo?
Thanks for your time, Tom!
Speaking of SS. Do you have any insight into the Silver Surfer fireside graphic novel vs the two issue Silver Surfer Parable? Having done no research on it (beyond knowing the first was meant to help pitch a movie?), the graphic novel feels like Lee and Kirby playing tug of war with the character. Parable almost seems like Stan getting a redo with Moebius. Just curious if you know more or have your own opinions on the two. (Apologies if you've written about this subject before.)
Hope you’re well. ! The John Buscema story was a rough read, I give John tremendous credit for overcoming that criticism.
Would that happen nowadays? As in, how would that issue with art be addressed?
And I might be in the minority here, why was SS such a personal character to these great creators?