By Beau Smith

There are just a few days left in 2003. I have to admit I’ve never really enjoyed this week of year much.

Not because I’m all misty eyed that another year is gone or that I didn’t get everything accomplished that I set out to do.

Nope.

Another year is gone. So what? Ya can’t stop time so just shut up and quit cryin’.

Goals accomplished. Everyday I wake up and I’m not dead or in jail is my main accomplishment. The other goals either get done or they don’t. Time shoves ya along and what ya don’t get done now ya try and finish the next day.

The reason I don’t like this last week of the year is because it’s when the media, and anyone else that thinks they pass out the news, starts doin’ these terrible, time wastin’ “Best of”, “Top This and That Of The Year” Lists.

I’d just as soon somebody do an “Uncle Fester” on me and put my head in a vice.

The thing that make these pissy little lists so irritating is that most of em’ just have things that have come out in the last 3 months on em’.

I think the folks that makes these lists up must have an attention span that’s as long as the pecker on a mosquito.

The only way to escape these lists is to not turn on your TV, Radio or read any print. It’s hard to do. Now with the internet the lists are shoved on ya faster than dollars bills in a stripper’s g-string. And we all know, that is the act of decent guys whose wives don’t truly understand em’.

Another thing that you’ll be seein’ a lot of this week are the questions or lists where some “expert” or no talent celebrity will be asked what they see happenin’ in 2004. Like these fools have some kinda’ crystal ball? Hell, most of the time they don’t have any balls at all, let alone a crystal one.

I have to admit? I’ve participated in these lists myself. Mainly because It got the company I was workin’ for some free ink or because there are a lot of ninnies out there that need to hear what I’ve gotta say.

Beau Smith: Cowboy Warrior King
Art By Flint Henry

Sometimes you’ll see some of these “experts” predict something right or at least get close. Well, even the blind pig finds the acorn on occasion. Ya gotta remember? the comic book business has more people unqualified for their jobs than just about any other business? other than film critics.

There’s no way these lists are gonna stop. The media needs space fillers. That’s just what these things are. Like a hot dog? ya gotta stuff em’ with something.

What I’d like to suggest are more realistic thoughts and statements from these “experts”. Have em’ talkin’ about things that just might happen? or even better? things that would happen if people would listen to guys like ?say? ME!

Let’s look at a few things that could happen in 2004 if the stars were right, if Karma was Karma, and most importantly? if folks bent to my iron will:

Todd McFarlane: As we all know, Todd has turned his back on comics in the last few years. Why? Well, there could be lots of reasons. He might’ve decided that if he can no longer be the king of comics? then torch the kingdom. He could’ve just lost interest in comics and gotten more interested in makin’ toys. It’s obvious he doesn’t have much interest in entertainment/films/TV, because he hasn’t made any deals in long time. I mean deals that really end up on a screen? anybody can “Make Deals”, not everyone can make those deals come to life. Then again, that could be because he doesn’t really do comics anymore? that’s what Hollywood wants. Then it could also be that he just had one idea, Spawn, and that ride is over.


Beau & Todd.
Big Balls and Costly Balls.

If Todd wanted, he could put a major shot back into the arm of comics. If this business can continue to open doors back open for Rob Liefeld and his invisible comics, then I know they would welcome Todd back. Thing is, and this is the tough part, Todd would have to listen to someone to do a project that would make a difference. I know Todd; he cannot come up with a really good idea on his own. He needs creative help. By this I mean as far as a story and an idea. Ya give him a germ of an idea then he can run with it. But he cannot run the whole thing himself. This ain’t the 90s. Folks want a story and just not pretty art. Todd would also have to let his ego and pride stay in his pocket. He’d have to be a team player. Todd could be the Brett Favre of comics if he so wished, but he would have to depend on the team to get him across the goal line.

I would suggest he do something with DC. DC always treated him right when we did the Batman/Spawn crossover . I think him hooking up with an Image/DC project would be his best bet.

Why not Marvel? There are too many folks there with a hard on of hate for Todd. Yeah, they might put on a smiley face for the public, but behind the smile is lazy eye with a knife in hand.

The main deal breaker though is this? Does Todd even care about comics anymore?

I don’t think he should just flat out draw a DC character for them. That helps no one but DC and hurts his own company Image. It should be a crossover where both publishers have equal gain. When ya see the main guy/owner/artist from a smaller company comes over and does a Marvel or DC character, and not have a crossover deal with their own company, that deal is dipped in dog shit and someone is tellin’ em’ it’s a fudgsicle.

Marvel: 2004 could be a really great place for Marvel to start winning back the fans, the retailers and the distributors. I’d like to see the dealmakers at Marvel and DC get together and start makin’ some deals with each other. True? they are in competition with each other? tooth and nail? but if either one of em’ wants to be king of the jungle, then they are gonna have to work together to make sure there is gonna be a jungle to lord over. A skimpy loin cloth on Tarzan don’t get ya laid if there ain’t no Janes in the jungle to look at it.

I feel this could really start to happen in 2004. I think there are guys at Marvel and DC now that are aggressive enough and smart enough to wanna make something happen.

DC Comics: Look at all the above stuff on Marvel and DC workin’ together. DC has one leg up on Marvel right now? well? two? first one being that DC can make a hit out of a second string character or even better, a new unknown one. Marvel just can’t seem to make this happen. DC has a great trade paperback business going and Marvel needs to pay attention. Marvel has a deep pocket of characters to draw upon. They need to get to reprinting? and I don’t mean just things from the last 5 years.

DC needs to pump some potent fluid into the regular Batman and Superman lines. The Loebs/McGuinness Superman / Batman series is great, but the other monthly Superman and Batman books are paper sleeping pills.

The same goes for other DC icons? Aquaman and Wonder Woman. We’re not talkin’ about workin’ on brains and splittin’ atoms here. These characters are lacking personality. Maybe some editorial change is the true need.

Retailers: Let me say that there are some really good retailers out there in the direct market. I’ve dealt with some of them for close to 17 years. They wouldn’t still be in business if they weren’t doin’ it right. There are some new retailers that have taken lessons from the old masters and added a new aggressive edge to the way things are done. They are the ones that have come into the game with use of the internet as their backbone. They exploit everything that publishers give them and run with the ball givin’ a stiff arm to any problems that try and derail em’ from the goal line.

Then? there are some retailers that are deservin’ of a spot in the unemployment line. They are the ones that never put 100% into what should be their livelihood. They are the ones that still run dirty shotgun shacks where even rats are afraid leave droppings.

These guys need to clean up or clear out.

There are still retailers that don’t bother to know their product or customers. You can’t sell one if ya don’t know the other. The need for common sense business tactics is a requirement. As a retailer, they are the “go to guy” for the customer. A good retailer should build trust with their consumers. Trust to lead them into products that they will enjoy, come and buy again and trust them to show them even more.

If more retailers would focus more on common sense sales tactics in 2004 there’d be higher sales and more retailers takin’ it to the next step to success.

Let’s look at some broad strokes, Marvel and DC are gonna be the main source of keepin’ the retail lights on. Now don’t y’all start your, “I sell mainly Indy comics!” whine and dance. I know that there are some of ya out there that do a great business with the more independent stuff. That’s great. I love it. I wish there were more like ya. I started out at one of the best indy publishers ever, Eclipse Comics, I’m now with IDW Publishing. Although we’re no longer a small press company, we work it like we are.

Back to the point? for most retailers, Marvel and DC are gonna pay the bills. Where a retailer is gonna make their real money is off the publishers below the Mason/Dixon line (Marvel and DC)

Older readers (college and above) are not gonna grimace at payin’ a higher price for a one shot, very limited or graphic novel publication from a smaller publisher. For more adult reading? and no? I’m not talkin’ about porn? I’m talkin’ about non-traditional, non superhero, kinda stuff. Non-traditional comic book buyers? outsiders? are not gonna blink at payin’ a higher price for a product that they know from outside entertainment. That would cover TV/Film related comics. Without gettin’ into a bunch of math, there is more money to be made on these kind of books.

The thing a retailer has to do in 2004 is qualify those customers that will enjoy those kinda books and then sell em’ to em’. Be salesmen. Take pride in knowing you can give your customers what they want. To know that the money you’re takin’ from them is not only well earned, but a very even exchange for the product they’re gettin.

In 2004? retailers? learn to sell.

Internet News: This is something that can start in 2004. The internet news sites? like Silver Bullet Comics, and many others, can begin to be THE place for not only the fastest news, but THE place for true feature articles on comics and creators. Let’s face facts, the print magazines aren’t gettin’ the job done. They are micro word bytes of smartass nonsense. There is more news and info on the guys that work at the magazines than the true topics of comics and the people that do em’. It’s not gonna take much to out do the print magazines. I’ve already seen and read online articles? and I mean feature articles…that are top rate pieces of journalism.

If nothing else it might make these print magazines become less lazy and self absorbed. It might even raise the bar and make em’ a better product. This is something that the readers of comics really want. They don’t get it enough. It would haul so many more people to these sites. Comic book readers aren’t stupid. They deserve better.

So these are just some of the things that MIGHT or COULD happen in 2004.

Then again? beer could be free, Eva Mendes would be my girlfriend and I could be runnin’ all of comics.

Don’t bother tellin’ me the odds?.

As always, if ya need me, I ain’t hard to find? ya hear that Eva?

Your amigo,

Beau Smith
The Flying Fist Ranch
P.O. Box 706
Ceredo, WV. 25507


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About The Author

Beau Smith

Beau Smith is a writer for Comics Bulletin