Wednesday, February 28, 2007

WonderCon this weekend!

FLYING COLORS still has save-a-few-bucks advance tickets available for WonderCon this weekend at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

It's going to be HUGE this year with all the Hollywood happenings, advance looks at summer movies---and oh, yes, comics, too! I want to invite you the one panel I'll be a part of during the con. Here's the scoop:

SUNDAY MARCH 4 11:30AM Room 228
Comic Retailer Roundtable--- Join moderator Dan Shahin (Hijinx Comics, San Jose) and fellow retailers Joe Ferrara (Atlantis Fantasyworld, Santa Cruz), Joe Field (FLYING COLORS, Concord), Brian Hibbs (Comix Experience, San Francisco) and Ryan Higgins (Comics Conspiracy, Sunnyvale) for an up to the minute look into the realities of modern comic book retailing. Special focus will be placed on recent industry changes and how retailers are adapting and planning for the future.

That may sound like a mouthful, but I've been a part of these things at various industry events for years and they really can be quite fun. If you've ever wanted a "peek behind the curtain" of comic book retailing, this panel should be right up your alley.



Saturday, February 24, 2007

WonderCon is 21!

WonderCon, Northern California's largest comics & pop culture convention, returns for its 21st annual show March 2-4 (next weekend!) at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Since my former WonderCon partner Mike Friedrich and I sold the convention five years ago to the hard-working folks at Comic-Con International, WC has exploded in popularity. I couldn't be happier about that. It's a relief for me not to have the huge task of helping to organize a major convention anymore, and the great team at Comic-Con has taken our good-sized regional event and turned it into a major happening on the comics' calendar.

Along with tons of cool stuff for sale at the show, a number of Hollywood happenings are in store for WC fans and attendees, including advance looks at ucoming movies like FRANK MILLER'S 300, SPIDER-MAN 3, and others.

We still have advance tickets for sale at FLYING COLORS, so our suggestion is to pick up your weekly supply of Comics & Other Cool Stuff at FLYING COLORS (New Releases' Day is Wednesday!), then save a few bucks by getting your WonderCon tix from us.

(I'll be there for a short time on Friday afternoon and then most of the day Sunday. Join me and some of my comics' retailing friends for a panel at 11:30AM Sunday. The topic is "The Future of Comics' Retailing", moderated by Dan Shahin of Hijinx Comics in San Jose.)

The photo shown here is from WonderCon in 1995 at the Oakland Convention Center. That's me on the left---along with artist Dick Ayers (SGT FURY, etc.), the late artist Gil Kane (GREEN LANTERN, SPIDER-MAN, HIS NAME IS SAVAGE,etc.), the late DC editor Julius Schwartz and writer/editor Jim Shooter (former Marvel editor-in chief, also of VALIANT and DEFIANT). So there I am---at that time in 1995, I had all of about eight years professional experience in the comics' world, along with some of the most experienced and talented people the comics' biz has ever seen. I did a rough estimate that the other four gentlemen in the photo with me---at that time had combined for nearly two CENTURIES of professional experience in comics! Yow!!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Free Comic Book Day TV Ad on YouTube!

Produced by Adams Digital Video, here's the new TV ad for Free Comic Book Day 2007! This ad is available for use by all participating FCBD retailers in all 50 states and more than 25 countries around the world. Interested retailers can get the scoop by reading the video info on YouTube or by going to the Diamond Comics Retailer web-site.

Another big Free Comic Book Day will be happening at FLYING COLORS on Saturday May 5th. We'll be announcing our Special Guest soon, so please bookmark this page and visit regularly.

Peace 'n' Comics!


Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Business of Comics

Over the last 16 months, these blog entries---these "Views From FLYING COLORS"--- have covered a lot of territory. I've shared a lot of comics-related news, some musings about music, baseball and life in general.

The last time I checked, I'm reaching about ten thousand unique visitors to this blog and to the FLYING COLORS COMICS' site. That's close to triple the amount of readers of this site before I started blogging. But with all the different topics I've covered, the one I haven't written a lot about is my role as the president of ComicsPRO , the retailer trade organization.

So since I know there are probably a fair number of my fellow comic book retailers reading this, I'd like to put in a pitch for every comic book retailer to join ComicsPRO. The group currently has about 90 retailer members in 30 states. Some have joined because ComicsPRO offers preferential rates on credit card processing, a health insurance plan and a number of other financial benefits.

The primary reason to be a part of ComicsPRO is for the voice it gives ALL storefront comic specialty store owners. For all the yakking we do with the fans who visit our stores every day, comic retailers are somewhat famous for not being joiners. Every retailer goes about doing his/her job in their own particular way, but few retailers take the time to participate in the larger goings-on in the comic book industry.

ComicsPRO has three main objectives:
1) To help reduce the costs that all retailers incur (that's the credit card plan)
2) To nurture and mentor new comics specialty retailers in an effort to grow the whole market
3) To speak with a single unified voice on in important industry topics

Last week, ComicsPRO members from Northern California met at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco to sign up new members and talk about some of the concerns that confront all comics' retailers.

The business of comics' retailing is not easy. For many, unfortunately, it's a lifestyle rather than a living. Very few comic book retailers are wealthy. There aren't comfortable retirements in this business. We do this because we love what we do---we love to share our enthusiasm for the very powerful comics' art-form, we love being on the first wave of pop culture.

There are times, though, when retailers' concerns are not heard in a cohesive way. The comics' market dynamics have changed a lot in recent years. The continuing focus of ComicsPRO is to make sure that specialty retailers are a big part of the plans of publishers and other suppliers. By extension, that means ComicsPRO is advocating for every fan's favorite shop.

ComicsPRO will be meeting in Las Vegas in April to communicate face-to-face with publishers and other suppliers in the first retailer-directed trade show in the comics' biz in many years. If you're one of the many comics' specialty retailers reading this, I hope you get on board by joining ComicsPRO and I hope you'll attend our Las Vegas meeting in April. Joining ComicsPRO is something powerful and positive you can do for your business today.

Peace 'n' Comics!


Monday, February 12, 2007

GRAMMY Awards in Review

Some random thoughts after watching (most of) the GRAMMY Awards on CBS last night:

* There's something oh-so very wrong with the music business when TONY BENNETT, upon receiving his award for his duet with STEVIE WONDER, thanks TARGET. That's right---TARGET, the department store chain that is apparently a big player in the music business. I'm not sure which is lower---all the winners thanking their lawyers or Bennett thanking corporate America for absconding with the American music business.

* As much as I feel the DIXIE CHICKS won their awards last night more for their out-spokenness about the War in Iraq than about their music, I couldn't be happier for Dan Wilson, one of the CHICK's co-songwriters and the former front-man for an honestly excellent group, SEMISONIC.

* Loved the bit with with SMOKEY ROBINSON, LIONEL RICHIE and CHRIS BROWN, representing the last 40 or so years of R&B. And a clearer delineation of where the music business has fallen down can't be found--- SMOKEY's still lovely voice on his classic "TRACKS OF MY TEARS", then LIONEL's still strong vocals and piano on "HELLO" (although I wish he would have sung the Commodores' hit "EASY"), followed by CHRIS BROWN, who with a a lot of dancers worked up quite a sweat before he actually did any singing. We've gone from the substance of classic voices to the style of lots of movement on stage, but an almost total lack of melody.

* Saw on the crawler at the bottom of the screen that JERSEY BOYS and producer/songwriter BOB GAUDIO won a Grammy for BEST MUSICAL SHOW ALBUM. Libby and I saw the San Francisco company performance of JERSEY BOYS earlier this month at the Curran Theater---and it is a killer show! Something like 90% of the cast not only sing, dance and act, but also play musical instruments.

* Another forty years from now, people will still know "TRACKS OF MY TEARS" but it's doubtful they'll remember any of the songs nominated at the 49th Grammy Awards' show. During some stretches of the show last night, I found the music much better on the TIME/LIFE "Classic Soft Rock" infomercial than on the Grammy show.

* Another thing about the old stuff on the infomercial: It's clear to me that style didn't account for much of anything back when radio ruled the music business. There were some downright stop-a-clock ugly people making hit records in the '70s, while love it or hate it, the music business today is ruled by style.

* You haven't been humming any of this year's Grammy winners today, have you?

* Although someone please tell those old guys from AIR SUPPLY to button up their shirts. Seeing that is almost as bad as their sappy songs...

* Loved seeing the POLICE open the show, but I really wish they would have done just about any other song than "ROXANNE". Guess it would have been too much for them to do something like "WALKING ON THE MOON". Coming soon: an over-priced, over-hyped POLICE reunion tour at venues better suited for NBA games than concerts.

* And aren't we all feeling just a little bit better that JAMES BLOUNT and his totally insipid tune "YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL" got shut out last night? Somewhere that song is already being used to torture the innocent.



Wednesday, February 07, 2007


BRENDEN THEATERS in Concord and FLYING COLORS Comics give you the opportunity win tickets to see SONY Pictures' soon-to-be-released Marvel Comics' movie GHOST RIDER!

Between now and February 16th (GHOST RIDER's opening day), simply come to FLYING COLORS and fill out one of the registration forms at the counter. We'll then draw TEN winners names for pairs of tickets to see GHOST RIDER at the Brenden Theater in Concord.

Ride on!