In Hannibal Tabu‘s latest column, The Buy Pile, at CBR, he reported;
The retailer at Comics Ink made the case that “Pretty Deadly” #1 has superseded “The Monarchy” as the worst comic ever. The case that was made was that this comic combined “psycho babble, [being] pretentious, bad writing and meandering.” While it has only one issue to “Monarchy’s” twelve, it is remarkable in its rough hewn, unfinished looking art, drifting narrative and tedium. Said retailer tore a copy of the issue up in front of customers, stating there’s “nothing in there that makes you want to pick up the second issue.” That’s hard to argue against.
Image Comics took to Twitter.
Since Comics Ink in Culver City is tearing up copies of PRETTY DEADLY, in front of customers, here are stores in LA that might have copies:
— Image Comics (@ImageComics) October 24, 2013
The Twittersphere reacted as you’d expect.
— When Nerds Attack (@SDCCnerdsattack) October 24, 2013
— D.J. Kirkbride (@DJKirkbride) October 24, 2013
— Grieve Goreton (@tropicalsteve) October 24, 2013
— Andy Khouri (@andykhouri) October 24, 2013
Not so fast, Andy Khouri! I called Comic Ink, and spoke to an employee who passed me onto one Vincent More who was working at the store that night. And he told me;
Okay, I will try to clear this up a bit. I was there as the conversation did take place; I run the pull service for Comics Ink.
Speaking to Hannibal, Steve the owner of Comics Ink pointed him towards Pretty Deadly #1 as a suggested first read, to see what Hannibal thought of it. Once Hannibal finished reading, Steve brought out four books and laid them in order from left to right. The first was a Doctor Strange Masterworks volume by Lee and Ditko. Steve used that as an example of a comic containing psycho-babble but still being entertaining. I am blanking on what the second book was but this was used as an example of a pretentious book. The third book was The Monarchy #1 which Steve said was pretentious, full of psycho-babble, and had bad writing. The fourth book in the line was Pretty Deadly #1. Hannibal quoted Steve correctly on this. Steve also did say there was nothing in the book that would make anyone want to pick up a second issue. As for the tearing up a copy of the book I did not witness such a thing happening while I was at the store.
I will add that our customers rely on us to be as honest as possible about the books we sell. Sometimes that means being brutally honest. Our customers appreciate that. However, Steve did order high on the book, to give it a chance based on how well a number of new Image titles are selling for the store. And our customers know we will carry the book based purely on what its sales are at the end of the day, not whether any of us who work at Comics Ink like it or hate it.
This kind of honesty about the comics we sell is so common to Comics Ink that when Total Recall from Dynamite came out (I wrote that), I was not immune to taking my lumps, in similar fashion. I could take my lumps with a smile. I would hope the creators of Pretty Deadly and the folks at Image could do the same.
I think Image is overreacting by telling people to avoid Comics Ink; Eric Stephenson once shopped there years ago as do a number of current and upcoming Image creators and other people in the comics industry and other entertainment fields. Criticism is part of this game. Such an action by Image is demonstrating oversensitivity. This was one retailer’s opinion about one book in a week with plenty of titles. Many Image titles sell very well for us. Pretty Deadly may end up doing so as well. It has the same chance of any title to catch the attention of customers as any other book on the shelves. While our customers do seek our opinions about certain titles, they make up their own minds and buy the books they want regardless of what we say.
I hope this clears up the situation a bit.
I emailed Hannibal for his reaction, but haven’t heard from him yet. Whatever your take on Pretty Deadly (I enjoyed it and Hannah fucking loved it) ripping up copies may not be advisable – if that happened at all, which Vincent pours cold water on.
If nothing else, if a retailer ordered enough copies it’s fully returnable what they don’t sell. And online lots of people are paying above cover price, plus shipping, for copies…
UPDATE: Hannibal has replied, saying…
“While I didn’t share the retailer’s perspective on ripping up this particular issue, I acknowledged his right to spend his money in any way he deems fit. If that meant ripping it up, wiping his butt with it or setting it on fire, it was his money to spend and dispatch as he so chose.