A Retailer, A Writer And An Editor Walk Into An Internet Message Board

spider-man

The Bleeding Cool forums. Famed as a den of iniquity the internet over.

But among the flamewars, insults and general baiting, there is also high drama. I’m talking about the love that dare not speak its name between Marvel Senior editor Steve Wacker, Superior Spider-Man writer Dan Slott and comic store manager Bob Justice, of Queen City Comics, Ohio.

Bob is not a big fan of the current Spider-Man comics. And as two issues of Superior Spider-Man landed in the top ten for October, we had the latest round between the three. And it was a classic…

Dan Slott: What’s even MORE amazing, we’re able to do that even though it’s widely reported that our sales are plummeting at Queen City Comics in Cincinnati. :-O

Bob Justice: At both shops since both guys at the main store who used to buy every variant gave up because there’s been too many, so I can cut 20% off my regular order and he gets to cut his even more!

Dan Slott: See? I told you.
It’s like there’s some freaky anomaly going on over there.

Like a strange, dark cloud that hovers over that shop.
Or a sentient, angry black hole of negative energy…
…that thinks everything sucks and everyone who doesn’t agree with it is some kind of “gutless”, “testicularly challenged” “idiot!”

Go figure.

Bob Justice: Not really, we just cater to people who enjoy reading comics, not just buying over-hyped, stunt plotted, variant covered collector’s items.

Dan Slott: Bob, really? A James Bond emoticon? Something tells me even YOU were hearing the Simpson’s Comic Book Guy voice when you were typing up that last QCCBob masterpiece. :-)

For 10 months (and double shipping that entire time), SSM has been Marvel’s best performing ongoing title. With a third of its run going back to press multiple times, three quarters of its run in the Top 10, and its collections placing in the NY Times & GN best sellers lists.

But the most telling trend? (And Bob HATES it when I bring this up. Watch his head spin.) SSM does equally well in digital sales. Stop and think about that for a sec. Are there “variant covers” over in the digital realm? Are people “collecting” digital comics and somehow virtually bagging and boarding them? No? So these are just people, month-in and month-out, digitally buying the book because they want to READ it. They’re consistently there for the story.

My theory for why digital sales for SSM are doing JUST as well in that market as they are for the REST of the DM (outside of Queen City Comics, of course): It’s a chance for readers to sidestep snarky store managers and just get their darn comics in peace.

(Wouldn’t it be great if the highest spike in digital sales came from the Cincinnati area and QCC regulars?)

Bob Justice: Mr. Slott,

I realize that Superior is the high watermark of your career and I applaud you for it. I have never insulted the actual writing on the book and have said on numerous occasions that I think you would be a perfect writer for Peter Parker if you were ever paired with an editor who had the first clue about the character. I’m not going to argue with your ego. It’s all you, the variants mean nothing, heaven knows you have no useful editorial support, precious little marketing, and inconsistent art work. Your genius has finally been revealed to the world and I look forward to selling just as many Silver Surfers as Superior Spideys. ALL HAIL SLOTT THE MIGHTY!

Steve Wacker: Bob, just to ask again… can you point to one person (not an anonymous screename as you usually do) that takes you seriously? I mean, Even among retailers you’re apparently considered a bad joke despite your lie that many of them turn to you for “secret advice.”

And don’t just do the thing where you brag about how many “likes” you have here as evidence. That will just make you look ridiculous again considering you’re–for lack of a better term–a grown man.

Bob Justice: Considering how fast you generally pop up, I’d say you are living proof that a person who posts under his real name takes me FAR too seriously.

PS – You do realize that if your Mini-Me hadn’t brought me up, I had no intention of even posting on this thread. I’m that freaking bored with your inane repetition…

And extracted from a longer fisking of Bob, Dan Slott:

You got me there, Bob. Superior Spider-Man is the ONLY COMIC BOOK IN THE UNIVERSE THAT GETS VARIANTS.
Nope. No other books get ‘em.
No way at all it kinda evens out w/ all the flagship titles.
And YOU’D know.
Because as YOU frequently remind us, YOU know how the industry works BETTER THAN ANYBODY.
And the rest of us here are “not the sharpest knives in the drawer”, “stupid”, “gutless”, “testicularly challenged”, “idiots.”
How do YOU, Bob Justice, suffer such fools? How do you put up with being the smartest person in all of comicdom when surrounded by such dolts?
My God, Bob. YOU! ARE! The SUPERIOR Comic Store Manager, aren’t you?! :-D

Except for an editor who produces the highest selling comics, the most critically acclaimed comics, and the most socially progressive comics for America’s #1 comic book company. Sure. Then you might have a point there under all of your snark.

Bob, reality check: Which Marvel books do you think get the most marketing? The books that CAN have movies and TV shows made by Marvel Studios, or the one that has its film rights locked up at Sony. Take your time on this one.
The weird thing is, with YOU, you think that ANY marketing for Spider-Man is too much.
Last year, you called me on the carpet for making ONE TWEET saying retailers might not have ordered enough of ASM #698.
You were GREATLY offended by that tweet and told me I shouldn’t have made it because it implied that retailers don’t know how to do their jobs.
In your mind, ONE TWEET was too much marketing. :-)
And when that book sold out TWICE and had to go back to press for a 3rd printing, you still insisted I was wrong. Classic Bob.

Sorry. That’s on you. I think Stegman, Ramos, and Camuncoli are the best artists in the biz.

Dear God you can be a jerk, can’t you? A real Grade A class jerk. What I wouldn’t give to see you act the way you act ON the internet to your customers or your employer. Please tell me that Geoff Hoffman, the ACTUAL retailer of Queen City Comics, sees some of the stuff you post online. Please.

Bob, I hate giving you advice– since you know everything– but I think someone needs to inform you that Spider-Man is a flagship character, the star of many movies, currently has a popular cartoon on the air, is on many lunchboxes, sells many action figures, and is the star of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And Silver Surfer isn’t nearly as popular. You might want to reflect that in your orders. I’d tweet that to you, but it might cause you to go into another online conniption.

*golf clap*

Bob, I congratulate you on your snarky retort.
And on your ability to consistently sell LESS of Marvel’s best performing title in your store over the past 10 months, when other retailers seem to do the opposite. You should be very proud of that. Please carry on.

He did.

Bob Justice: Really, Mr. Slott, I thought it was a nice mix or praise, sarcasm, and hyperbole. I don’t want to dislike you. Really. I don’t want to fight with you. I sell more Superiors, even after I cut the numbers, than the average for stores my size. I used to sell a lot more Amazings before OMD and your boss, but you’re great. Considering that the guy the balloon is based on is dead in your book and lots of people won’t buy the book because of that, it has to be you. You win. Just like when I took your advice about ASM #698 and had the only copies in town available at cover price post #700, I will bow to your expertise and not order as many Silver Surfers as Superiors.

PS – The problem with your tweet was you phrased it as though you knew what our orders were when the orders hadn’t been placed yet. There’s a big difference between announcing to the world that we screwed up and warning us that we could screw up.

PPS – As to marketing, I’m tickled pink if Marvel EVER lifts a finger to push anything outside the confines of our little band of websites and it’s own pages. As I said at the time, YOU did more to push Amazing #698 than Marvel did the previous 97 issues.

PPPS – Did you really get insulted by the ‘genius’ line? That was less hyperbolic than most of it… I mean, I liked your run on She-Hulk, but no one was giving you much credit then. Now, you are on a high profile book and people actually take you seriously as a top tier writer. Sorry, if I phrased that too over the top.

For those who would like to read more, click on Dan Slott, Steve Wacker or Bob Justice‘s Bleeding Cool IDs. And put your feet up.