Thursday, September 17, 2020

Business finding a way through COVID


When retail shut down, Ed Greenberg (top left, above), and his three Collector's Paradise stores found a way through. They improvised, adapted, and overcame, and found NEW ways of doing business that are now permanent for them.

Read the inspiring business success story at ICv2.

photo: Courtesy Collector's Paradise

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

50 Years of Conan comics, and Roy Thomas' $50


Writer Roy Thomas was there for Conan the Barbarian #1, and 50 years later, he's here for King-Size Conan #1. Read all about how Marvel Comics landed the Conan license 50 years ago, and how Roy was willing to take a $50 haircut to get it over at Newsarama.

Jim McLauchlin

Art: Steve McNiven and Ive Svorcina, courtesy Marvel Comics

Saturday, July 25, 2020

The Oral History of Carol Kalish

Carol Kalish in 1987. Photo: Jackie Estrada
I was working in a store that sold a lot of comic books, among other things, in 1991, when a new issue of Comic Buyers Guide hit the stand. I was amazed to see page after page of full-page memorial ads for Carol Kalish, who had apparently just passed away.

I didn't even know who Carol Kalish was at that time, but the gesture impressed me. So much, tha a few decades later, I decided to put together the Oral History of Carol Kalish. Please give it a read over at Newsarama.

Jim McLauchlin

Friday, July 24, 2020

Love in the Time of COVID

Credit: MLB.TV

“Welcome to the Major League Assholes Game of the Week Club (MLAGOTWC)!”

That’s the group text header from a friend of mine. He’s got an idea: There’s five of us, we’re all baseball fans, and we’re tired of the condition that is 2020. Baseball is starting, and he wants us all to pick just one game a week that we’ll all agree to watch and Zoom in together. We’ll enjoy, we’ll talk baseball, we’ll laugh, we’ll cry. We’ll have a moment. We’ll find camaraderie.

I am not sold.

Ask my wife and she’ll tell you: I like sports too damn much. She’s so tired of hearing whistles on TV. She’s been hearing them for 20 years (and we’ve only been married for 18). I’ve done my tours of duty with the kid through coaching Little League baseball, YMCA basketball, city league flag football, and she’s seen the trials and tribulations. Sports is canceled? She’s okay with that.

I’m okay with that. I’ve taken the position that…I love sports, but life is more important. Us v. COVID-19 ain’t Yankees v. Red Sox. Pick all the sides you want, root as hard as you want, and the outcome ain’t gonna change. The “sport” this is closest to is Christians v. lions, and the virus is lions. Your rooting interest has no sway here. Sports are unnecessary at this point.  People will get infected. People may die. I will not be party to this. I ain’t watching. I will not watch bloodsport. Deathrace 2000, I am not your consumer. Major League Baseball will do just fine without me. MLAGOTWC? Kiss my ass. I ain’t playing.

I believed this up until about five minutes before the first pitch of the Minnesota Twins’ 2020 season. The messages came in from MLAGOTWC, from earlier time zones. It’s a polyglot group: Phillies fans, Mets fans (I’m required to say “long and lamenting” here), Angels fans, Cardinals fans. The chatter starts. I feel a pull. I sign up for the damnable first-taste-is-free MLB.TV 3-day trial. I’m watching the Twins against the White Sox. I know it’ll be different. Cardboard cutouts of fans in the stands. How will this feel?

It feels…shockingly okay. When the Twins jump out to a 4-0 lead, it feels GREAT. I’m hearing the familiarity of Dick Bremer on play-by-play. I’m digging on Justin Morneau on color, giving the great perspective that only a former player can. I’m loving the micro-game of EVERY pitch in every at-bat, speculating on what this guy’s two best pitches are, and what he’ll throw when he’s up 0-2 in the count versus behind 3-1. I’m in rapture; in the moment. By the 4th inning, I wish I was scoring the game (yes, I’m that guy).

Photo: Jim McLauchlin

But the at same time, other group texts pop in. MLAGOTWC is there, and two others, too. I’m watching a game on the back porch on an iPad, but also chatting with 11 other people across three groups. This is also the condition of 2020. Even without COVID-19, this is how we “consume the product.” We’d do this “normally.” In our pandemic world…maybe this becomes more vital.

One of my friends chimes in that I should write about this moment, before it passes. I take this for what it is: Sagacious wisdom. So here we are. Because I came in unsold. I think maybe, now I’m sold. Because this is part of how we heal. Community brings us together, and we find it wherever we do. It’s on the block and in the neighborhood, it’s in family or God, or whatever works for you. Maybe it’s in baseball. That’s where I got it tonight. Tonight it’s baseball, Max Kepler, and 11 good friends on three text chains.

Twins win 10-5 and I stand up and cheer on the back porch. My wife inside, in the living room, rolls her eyes. Whatever. She’s watching Ghost Bouncers or some crap.

I hope and pray COVID-19 doesn’t hit MLB. I hope and pray even more that if (when?) it does, they have the damn brains to shut things down. I love baseball. But I don’t want to see people die for it. Is it possible? Sure. Inevitable? I don’t know. But on July 24, 2020, I found some healing. I found that community again. Find your own. It’s a good thing. Ride it as long as you can.

Twins v. ChiSox again tomorrow. Randy Dobnak v. Dallas Keuchel. Let’s go. MLAGOTWC, I’m in.

Jim McLauchlin

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Mike Richardson on book trade volume, comic store impact

Mike Richardson, courtesy Dark Horse Comics
Dark Horse Comics CEO Mike Richardson notes that Random House has helped get 200 of his company's books back in print, but comic book stores are still the gateway. Read all about it HERE at Newsarama.

Jim McLauchlin

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Dan DiDio a lot to say in 18 years

Dan DiDio, courtesy DiDio
Dan DiDio spent 18 years as a VP and/or Publisher at DC Comics. He saw a lot, and now says a lot. Check out part 1, part 2, and part 3 of a wide-ranging interview with him at Newsarama.

Jim McLauchlin

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Denny O'Neil, done considerable

Denny O'Neil was a friend, and a great man. He passed away on June 11, 2020, but was working and teaching to his last day at age 81, even though he might not have known it at the time. Remembrance I'd like you to read over at Newsarama.

Jim McLauchlin