News & Letters December 2010

Welcome back to the All-New, All-Improved Page 45 News & Letter Column! Punctual, friendly and accessible to all.

“Stephen’s no longer hosting it, then?”

Welcome back to the Page 45 News & Letter Column.

Bastards.

Here’s our first caller, a Mr. Richard Fortey from the publisher Simons & Schuster, responsible for introducing me to JESUS ON THYFACE and thereby solving half my Christmas presents this year in one fell swoop. 

Hi Stephen

Just wanted to thank you for your review but also pass on the thanks from the creators of the book – they’ve officially thanked you, well blessed you, on their FaceBook page:

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Jesus-on-Thyface-Social-Networking-for-the-Modern-Messiah/118221661563280

R

Truly Page 45 art bless-ed. Thank you, Jesus. I changed my Facebook status immediately. Can you put in a good word with your Dad? Only I’m not convinced that simply blocking Satan from my Bookface is actually going to do the trick in the hereafter. Talk about shutting the stable door…

Dear Tom,

Someone just sent me the link to your review of my book WALKER BEAN, and it made me so so happy. I’m trying to make the next one better than the first, so I hope you’ll enjoy it. I love how much attention you paid to the details of my book. Just knowing SOMEONE cares is all that is needed to keep going.

I hope you have a great weekend.

Aaron [Renier]

Aaron, you’re very welcome indeed. Tom’s been evangelising about the book ever since it first appeared, spent a lot of time making sure his review did your book justice (it did), and now that it’s back in print (and Page 45’s Comicbook Of The Month) we’ve been power-selling it like crazy to individual customers and schools etc. I think I might have even snuck it into a local prison library!

More letters in a second, but the biggest news this month is that on week ending Saturday 18th December (our financial week finishes on a Saturday) Page 45 broke the four-figure mark for weekly web sales for the first time. By Wednesday the 15th…! Goodness knows what the final weekly figure looks like but that’s pretty good going less than two months in for a small, independent retailer so thank you for spending, thank you for blogging, thank you for linking to our store, and thank you for any mentions on Twitter. All very kind. Each and every one is very much appreciated.

What I’m particularly loving is how the website is also driving new people into the shop. One guy announced he’d come from Northampton, home of Uncle Alan Moore, simply because he’d seen our site and wanted to know what the shop looked like. Err, it looks like the website! One woman, a Muslim totally new to comics came in the first weekend because she’d seen Joe Sacco’s PALESTINE reviewed by Mark on the site and wanted to read it for herself. The next weekend she brought in a friend who’d come all the way from Leeds to show him the shop.

“Ask this gentleman anything you like and he will show you around,” she encouraged him (strangely misidentifying my true social standing in the process). What a brilliant new ambassador! If you’re reading this, dear lady, you made my calendar month with either visit.

Though actually neither of those items is the biggest news this month. The biggest news is the Page 45 exclusive edition of Timularo reprinting D’Israeli’s Timulo strips from DEADLINE MAGAZINE. Our first printing with its unique cover set outside this very shop was strictly limited to ten copies, signed and sketched in at no extra cost (ten quid!). I posted a link on Twitter and it sold out within a single minute. A single minute. Jonathan was remotely viewing the website from home at the time and saw the stock disappear POINK! POINK! POINK! in swift succession. [Note: our stock system doesn’t really have sound effects… Asst. Ed.]

Now, I know what you may be thinking: “I’m not following you on Twitter! I missed out, you bastards!”

Firstly, umm, follow us on Twitter…?

Secondly I have not yet Tweeted about the following, so if you are a loyal member of our Mailshots or check in on the website often enough to read this Letter Column first, you will have advance notice of this:

1. There will be a second printing of the Page 45 exclusive edition of Timularo expanded to 45 copies shortly (45: see what we did there?) which, ridiculously, D’Israeli has agreed to sign and sketch in once more. Different colour scheme to differentiate it from the first run, and a brand new selection of individual sketches. But strictly limited to 45 copies and although we will of course request a third printing when those run out, this new printing will be the very, very last one that comes with original sketches. The last edition sold out in less than a minute because quality comics sell at Page 45. I’d seriously pre-order, if I were you, and you can do so – as you can for everything else – by sending an email to page45@page45.com saying “Please reserve me a copy of [insert title] and email me as soon as it’s in!”

2. We also now have copies of D’Israeli’s self-published ODDS AND SODS (FOR COMICBOOK BODS) collection of commissioned art and rare strips like the one based on Picasso’s Guernica in stock and although there isn’t a Page 45 exclusive cover edition, they are all signed and sketched in at no extra cost. LINK.
 
I just want to take this opportunity to thank D’Israeli for all the craft, graft and sheer inspiration he brought to providing Page 45 with its first-ever exclusive edition of a graphic novel. That it was something of the much sought-after calibre as the wit-riddled Timulo strips… Well, I can’t tell you how proud we were of having that book on our front-of-store plinth. For all of one bloody minute…

Coming soon by Warren Ellis & D’Israeli: SVK! Now all we need is a reprint of their LAZARUS CHURCHYARD.

Here’s Mark’s Dad:

Hi Stephen,

Thank you so much for your e-mail and the information about your new website.  Thank you too for attributing so much to Mark, he would be very honoured, pleased and humble to think that he was able to have so much influence.  You will have already had a card from Pearl.  She needs a little help with computers but once I got her going she was able to view much the website and appreciate, as I do, what you and Jonathon have done, including Mark’s caricature.  I can just see him smiling at it as he would!  Give our thanks to Jonathon too, please.

Sorry it has taken a while to get back to you.  I must admit, I put you on hold for a while, then I had to have a hip replacement which put me out of action for a while. I couldn’t drive, had crutches, a raised toilet seat, etc.  I am afraid age is catching up with us.  I was fine till I retired – perhaps I shall go back to work!

Though I miss the patients, it is nice to look at the weather and decide to stay in if it is wet or even snowing, play golf on a nice day or have retail therapy and lunch.  I do hope you are all well and though I can imagine business is a bit thin in this weather, hopefully it will pick up when the thaw comes.  Give our regards to Dominique and Tom. We will drop by sometime soon.

With kindest regards,

Don

Business is actually pretty sweet, Don. We are in awe of our customers coming in looking like Frosty The Snowman during this veritable Ice Age. To some of you though: wearing that carrot was a step too far.

Also, readers please note: there’s no VAT attached to comics. It’s reading material and although Thatcher contemplated putting VAT on books it was swiftly made obvious that taxing news and education was political suicide even for her. So when VAT rises to 20% on January 1st 2011 it will have no affect on the price of comics and graphic novels. Yay!

Customers now:

Your new website is superlative.  Absolutely gorgeous yet functional.  A pet hate of mine has always been websites that dazzle you with their beauty and then do fuck all useful when it comes to actually purchasing things.  If I want to stare at something without understanding it I’ll go look at the cover of the Daily Mail.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eBT6OSr1TI

Alexandra Willsher

Hahahahahahahahahahaha! Best link I’ve ever been sent, and the best song I’ve heard all year.

Although there is Grant Morrison (We3 etc.) starring in My Chemical Romance’s Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na): LINK. It really is him! Oh, and the bleeped out word is “drugs”, a commodity I suspect is readilly familiar to the following correspondent who wrote in with the subject line, “Two questions and an aperçu”.

Dear Stephen and fellow alleged sentients, (preferably one who isn’t stricken by the same viral debility as myself)

1:  What’s new? (Apart from the gorgeous but strangely quiet website, that is).

2.  What can you do for me? As I know you like clues, I am happy to furnish the following details:

Please can you locate and secure the following comics for me:

Amazing Science Fantasy issues 3 & 4 (assuming you were successful in finding issue 1, as previously requested, or at least maintain a reasonable hope of doing so).

Scarlet
issue 2

Regards,

Andrew [McGuire]

P.S. I’ve just checked and found out that Amazing should be Strange.  But then, isn’t it always?  (I am the first to admit that the reverse does not necessarily follow, and in indeed feel obliged to adduce that, of the many acquaintances who would readily bestow the latter attribute to me, I am unable to think of a single one who would honour me with the former).

Anyone who can fit “aperçu” into a Subject header is a superstar.

I don’t know how much more activity you want than a weekly review column, monthly previews and one form or another of entertainment blog a week. The Forums are go, but join our Twitter if you’re addicted to information. Although “information” is perhaps stretching it.

Brian Manton commented:

These weekly reviews are much easier to get through than the monthly.

One thing I miss is the external links to interior art or interviews that often accompanied entries.

Are these sort of links likely to return?

I find myself clicking the links after certain comics, forgetting that it leads to the shop page with the same review I just read. (perhaps that link should be renamed “shop” or “buy”)

That’s a good point, mate. This is exactly the sort of feedback we’re looking for.

Our Previews still contain those sorts of links to help you decide if you want to preorder (heartily encouraged), but the Prime Directive of any website with a shopping cart is to avoid linking to outside sources for fear of diverting your hard-earned money from our voracious till. Dominique tries to load interior art for important books as soon as she can but sometimes our reviews come in earlier. It’s something we’d like more of.

I did make an exception for WHORES OF MENSA because I very much liked the trailer. You can find that preview ink within November 2010 Reviews week four.

so … is the weekly-reviews-on-the-website going to completely replace the monthly-roundup-in-your inbox ? Or is there a magic option whereby I can sign up to go on receiving all your lovely reviews in one big bumper issue by email? somehow the email seems easier on the eye – and I liked being able to look at the whole lot in one go. 

not that i’m set in my ways you understand …

jo

You’re not alone in missing the great big all-in-one monster. One reader commented that it was easier to pretend they were working when browsing an email rather than a site. But reducing the size of the Mailshots from 10,000 words to some 500 has meant twice as many people open them and there’s a much reduced risk of one of my actual reviews setting off a spam filter or a profanity alarm (“Jesus Christ” is a big one for both – a bit problematic in terms of networking for a modern messiah). Surely it can’t be too much hassle to click on four links, man?

On the other hand you’ve hopefully seen that we’re still sending out Mailshots twice a month as always: 1) every time we publish a previews 2) at the end of each month for reviews just to jog you. The difference is that instead of having to wait a whole month for a book that came out at the beginning of December (and so not even knowing about it until after Christmas) you can just pop along to the website and see what we’ve reviewed each week.

Also, neither are held up any longer by my completing a letter column like this, and when there’s urgent news like the Mark Millar signing at Plan B we can just rattle that off as an entertainments blog – as I did.

Now, I have of late had to nudge a few customers with an email which read like this:

Subject: Bing bong! Comics now fossilized!

This is your annual wake-up call!

On excavating Nottingham city centre your comics file was found several strata beneath the local drug addicts. Could you purchase perchance? Thank you!

Stephen

Some very good-humoured responses like…

Stephen

I trust no-one was injured in the excavations and that Lord Lucan was discovered tucked beneath an old copy of the Hotspur…

Hit me with the figures, m’friend, and let’s get it sorted…

Love

Tony

It’s good to see we’re not the only ones benefiting from the Page 45 website:

Is volume 3 of The Killer out yet? Getting old, memory is now a sieve 🙂

If so can I have that and Grandville Mon Amour please. In fact can you put me down for these as when new books of it turns up.

A friend from NYC is in London about to go shopping at Gosh and has just asked me for some recommendations, oh he’s going to spend a load of cash as I pretty much listed the CBOTM stuff I have got recently 🙂

Thanks

Marcus

We are fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. (Zen saying)

Photos : http://www.flickr.com/photos/marcusc
Blog : http://marcusbrain.blogspot.com
Music : http://www.last.fm/user/fmwt

Marcus is one of our most prolific visitors to the Page 45 Forums, and I wasn’t being sarcastic when I wrote that I’m delighted that his friend was shopping at Gosh! Had we launched on time my very first blog, written in advance, would have paid homage to Josh @ Gosh! in London opposite the British Museum. After Christmas I may even shove it out there anyway but we’ve kept the entertainment blogs to a minimum before Christmas so as not to let the important notices disappear into the Archives.

As to KILLER vol 3, no, no sign of that yet, but do try the same writer’s BULLET TO THE HEAD as previewed here: LINK.

GRANDVILLE MON AMOUR has been in stock for over a fortnight and is currently in our Spotlight section, whilst our current copies of the first GRANDVILLE hardcover are all signed at no extra cost.

Calm now my foreshortened aide-de-camp [one’s campness should always be aided] while I inform those Page 45 Pop Culture Gawds that their mysterious and ever so slightly dry ice exuding box has troubled the postman to arrive at our door.

No, the llama may not chew the corner, you know better than that.

So.

Yon eagle has well and truly landed O merry lads, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Now to hide it from my starving family.

They think they need shoes!

Shoes!

I ask you.

Indeed.

It’s a brand new sparkly world of interwobble tomfoolery.

I think I’ve deduced that I might want …

Vertigo Resurrected #1

Could I have that please?

Toodlewhatsit

Mme T

Mintyweb madness, Madame Trellis!

Consider Vertigo Resurrected. Wait, which one? There had been three VERTIGO RESURRECTED #1s so far. The reviews of the second two go up on Wednesday, here’s the first.

Tattybye.

Hello again Stephen. I know it’s still November, and I’m really sorry to be a nuisance, but I can’t log onto the website (which probably wouldn’t worry you too much, except that this means I’m unable to get drunk and Buy More Product).  Can I therefore leave my response here? Please say yes. In anticipation thereof, here is, more or less, what I wanted to post:

Firstly, thank you again for your kind words about my writing.  If only you knew how I’ve tried.  But anyway, the competition (no, not other would-be writers, but the one you set last month) Soft Cell indeed. How ironic that this should be the answer to a question which is all about the hard sell.  And do you really imagine we’re unaware that in posing this question, while ostensibly promoting your distrust of subliminal advertising, you were nevertheless planting the phrase Buy More Product in our minds, and thus, ever so subtly, extolling us to … Buy More Product? 

Run out of time, luckily for you.

A M

Yay! I caught a break. And oh yeah, I do plan these things meticulously.

Hi

I was in store and mentioned the following [online] Serenity comics so here are the links. Credit for finding the second one goes to my friend Richard Jackson (I don’t think he’d want me to take all the credit lol).

http://www.myspace.com/darkhorsepresents?issuenum=13&storynum=1

http://www.usatoday.com/life/comics/2010-11-08-serenity08_ST_N.htm

I personally think the second one is better than the Shepard’s tale but I’ll let others judge that. Anyway hope you enjoy reading them.

Regards,

Jonathan [Nunn]

Cheers for taking the time and trouble, mate.

Item! Congratulations to customer PC Gareth Houghton on his commendation. Saved the life of a guy hanging himself from Lady Bay Bridge (he was actually hanging at the time). He’s mates with another PC Gareth who helped us out with a little… ‘problem’… we had a few years ago. Cheers to the pair o’ yers.

Item! All our copies of Ellen Lindner’s Undertow are sketched in and they are the most beautiful of sketches. Loose portraits in two colours. <swoon> J-boy is working on a review.

Item! Many thanks to Diamond UK for making us their first-ever Comic Shop Of The Month, and in December too! http://twitpic.com/3bwsup <ker-ching!>

Item! Announcing the reprint of Dan Clowes’ last-ever EIGHTBALL as a book called DEATH RAY. I hope this is the right link: Drawn and Quarterly.

Item! I know I’ve now talked about this in our December Previews, but we’re infering from DC’s recent announcements r.e. HELLBLAZER that they are letting the old editions all go out of print in order to make way for a complete overhaul of the line, repackaged as thicker books with a new trade dress and actually reprinting the lot in numbered editions.  Numbered editions! Finally they’ve got the message. Blessed relief after all those gaps. You couldn’t even read Ennis’ run in its entirety.

Item! A big thank you to my ex-house-monkey Ossian Hawkes for sacrificing his personal copy of BEASTS OF BURDEN so that a mail order customer could give it as a Christmas present. Getting a copy of the new printing to Ireland in time to be given away to someone else for Christmas would have been cutting it ludicrously fine.

Ossian has always been an absolute star. When he married Kate they held a ceremony outside in a wood because Kate likes fairies, but it was so windy (rustling trees can make a lot of noise!) that I had to bellow my reading like Brian blessed Blessed. I’m usually a total disgrace at weddings [“You’re a total disgrace full stop!”] having before now drunk my present to a bride and groom before giving it to them, and presented rings to a groom and groom during their celebration with the rings in one hand, a glass of champagne in the other and a lit ciggie dangling from my mouth. But I can at least project. More importantly Ossian and Kate’s three best men, Paul, Luke and Jeff, performed the funniest speech I have ever heard in my life. It was like an episode of The Goon Show or I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again. Most of it was extemporised too, because they’d only written it an hour in advance.

I’d like to reassure said mail order customer that the copy is in prime condition because my ex-house monkey washes his hands each and every time after he flings his own poo round the room.

Item! This was once new in from John Porcellino of KING-CAT fame when I thought I could get this letter column out early December:

Hi Everyone,
 
Just wanted to let you know a few things:
 
–The newly updated SPIT AND A HALF website is up now, with over 30 cool new zines, books, and comix recently added, so please check it out at www.spitandahalf.blogspot.com, and do us both a favor–  buy some comix!
 
–There are still some handpainted “King-Cat” mugs and dishes available at http://www.goestores.com/storename/thomassedwards/ViewDept-266496.aspx.  Need I mention that they make great gifts for that Special King-Cat fan in your life?
 
–And information on more artwork of mine, including some very affordable handmade fridge mag
nets, is available at: 
http://www.facebook.com/?sk=messages#!/album.php?aid=44040&id=1808283852
and
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?id=1808283852&pid=620668#!/album.php?aid=43684&id=1808283852

Hope all is well, thanks everyone!
 
John P.

King-Cat Comics and Stories

Spit and a Half Distribution Co.

P.O. Box 18888Denver, CO / 80218 / U.S.A.

website:  www.king-cat.net

Item! And I know everyone is still recovering from the manic joy that is Thought Bubble in Leeds (next year, next year we will attend) but here’s another event for next year:

Writing East Midlands’ Alt.Fiction, the East Midlands‘ leading event in science-fiction, fantasy and horror. 25th-26th June 2011. Ink it into your calendar now: http://altfiction.co.uk.

Recently added FAQs:

Q: I’m local, I’m reading one of your reviews, I love the sound of the book and I want to buy it now. Much easier than trying to remember it when I’m in the shop, but I don’t want to pay postage to have it sent to me.

A: Please select “pick up in store” as the shipping method. It’s then already yours and postage-free for when you want to come in and collect it!

Q: I see you are now posting reviews on a weekly basis. When do they go up?

A: Ideally they’re blogged in the Page 45 News Reviews early on each Wednesday evening. So far so good!

Q: Sometimes you blog without that blog appearing immediately or at all on Page 45 website’s front page!

A: True, that. This isn’t an automatic feature. We have wrestled control of it for ourselves so that we can prioritise which blogs fit in our maximum window of five. Sometimes Stephen may just be wittering on about some asinine occurrence that takes his fancy so it’s hardly leading news. Or we may want to keep something important up longer. If in doubt, just click on the Page 45 News icon and everything blogged will indeed be revealed.

Item! Couldn’t find the Page 45 advert filmed earlier this year within the maze of Cerebus TV? Missed the witless posho here pontificating as if he had a clue what he was talking about? There’s been a development I knew nothing about (in addition to the somewhat skewed Latin):

Subject: Forget the Queen’s Speech, Listen to Stephen the Semi-Legendary Holland this Christmas!

Hi Sir Stephen / all,

One always to choses to reflect on the year just gone this time of year and it was most certainly not a “anniblus horribus” (or even a number 49 bus but I digress)

But rather than me make a speech about it, I thought why not have Sir Stephen Semi-Legendary Holland take the honours ?

Yes the Page 45 advert is now available to watch in full and on its own all as way of wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a big thank you for everything,

So throw your web browser over here, and you can even watch Sir Stephen the Semi-Legendary Holland while eating turkey (and drinking wine), if so you should so wish…

http://cerebus.tv/P45

A big thank you to Max Southall for making this all possible

And to all a Merry Christmas and a good night,

Robin Barnard

There’s something at the very least ironic about the subject header, don’t you think?

Once again, thanks to Robin, Max, and to James Holland & co. for the soundtrack. Jonathan thinks he’s found a way of embedding this permanently within our website. I’m afraid.

Okay, so.

Every year we make a point of thanking you for your custom. Even for your attention if you read our reviews and then buy those comics elsewhere. We don’t mind at all, we’re just grateful you do us the honour of reading and then buy those prime comics so that the best creators can make a better living and perhaps create more often rather than having to take day jobs instead which distract them from their craft.

But this year we opened a second shop. It’s called www.page45.com and there was no guarantee you would like it. In terms of paid man-hours, contracts and hardware it cost us an exorbitant amount of money, before you figure in all the additional evenings and weekends Jonathan and I put in to constructing and populating it times-wise.

It was even more of a gamble than opening Page 45 was in the first place on a budget of a mere £30,000 but we knew that it had to be done to continue moving forwards. Whenever we’re thanked on the shop floor for recommendations or taking the time to show people round, I respond with something like, “Our pleasure. We understand, and that’s what we’re here for. There’s no decent information on comics out there.” It’s either elitist, self-serving nonsense or thumb-sucking men-children who’ve lost their dummies and scream. Neither, to my mind, represents an attractive introduction to comics to the average person on the street.

Now I like to think that the information is out there in the form of our website, there is much, much more to come next year and, in addition to thanking you for your regular attention and custom, can I just thank you from the bottom of whatever passes for my black, black heart for embracing www.page45.com as well. Please continue to promote it whenever it occurs to you, but shop with your local bricks-and-mortar retailer if you have one you enjoy.

Use them or lose them. Seriously. Not every retailer can afford a website like this.

Lastly, ever since I first read Jonathan’s review of HELLBLAZER: INDIA, I thought that as a key piece of Page 45 history in and of itself, it really should be spotlighted. The synchronicity is extraordinary.

Jonathan, it seems, was always meant to be here working alongside us.

And I’m really rather grateful he is!

You’ll see what I mean: LINK

 – Greazon’s Seatings from Stephen, Dominique, Tom and Jonathan x

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