Sunday, August 22, 2004

Brian Hibbs vs. Peter David

...well, not really; as Peter David says, "I don't feel like I'm in a pissing match with Brian." But they are having a spirited debate on retailers, comics activism and why is it so difficult to find Fallen Angel in comic shops these days?

It started with a passing mention of Fallen Angel in Brian's Tilting at Windmills column on Newsarama:

Do you want to know why it is so hard to launch new books into the market? Why we need “comics activism” for She-Hulk or Fallen Angel? It’s precisely because we get weeks where there are 9 X-Men books and 5 Batman titles, and that is when those books ship. Of course, that’s also the week that someone at DC thinks it’s a grand idea to ship two of the struggling “Focus” titles. “Uh, but why doesn’t this sell?” they then ask.

Then David responded on his blog:

...pundits look at troubled sales and cynically wonder when DC will stop publishing the book, proclaiming that there’s lack of fan interest. But fan interest is irrelevant when there’s lack of retailer interest. The first, best tool in generating increased sales is positive word of mouth. But word of mouth doesn’t get it done when the books aren’t there for purchase. Under ordinary circumstances, browsing customers will spot Fallen Angel on the stands, say, “Oh, I’ve heard good things about this, I’ll check it out,” and buy it. That can’t happen when retailers don’t bother to put so much as a single copy out.

Then Brian responds on his blog:

Now, let me get the “bad part” out of the way. I carry FALLEN ANGEL, and I do so beyond subs. I don’t believe I have sold out of more than 1 of the 14 released issues. And our sales have steadily eroded until they are down to, for the last 5 issues, 1 copy preordered by a sub, and 1 rack copy sold. I’m still ordering 3 copies, mind you, even though I have pretty good proof that last copy is not selling and is a waste of my $1.13. That’s the kind of store I try to be. We ordered 1 copy of the trade. Haven’t sold it.

And Peter David responds again:

My point--and I did have one--was that in recent months the book seems on the verge of overcoming all of that as more and more reviewers rave about it and more and more readers start seeking it out...only to discover it couldn't be found, and there's apathy in some quarters about getting it for willing readers. While the non-ordering habits of some retailers is certainly not the only reason Fallen Angel has been a tough slog, I hardly think those same retailers could be exempt from comment or criticism simply because there's a lot of books out there they have to deal with. Because I'm the one hearing from the fans who are complaining (and by the way, will someone PLEASE swing by Brian's store and buy the copy of the Fallen Angel trade he says he hasn't sold yet? Whoever does, I'll toss in an extra something cool when you send for the bookplate. Thanks.)

Oh, and his first post, Peter David made this offer to fans:

I am going to produce a limited edition Fallen Angel bookplate, which artists Dave Lopez and Fernando Blanco are doing the art for. I will autograph the bookplates, which can then be affixed to the title page of the trade paperback. Any retailer who has copies in his store, send me a self-addressed stamped #10 envelope to PO Box 239, Bayport, NY 11705, and tell me how many you need. I will send you up to five (if more postage is required, I’ll cover the difference). If you need more than that, send me some sort of written proof that you’ve ordered that many. I will also make these available to fans, since I don’t want to freeze out people who order via Amazon.com or whose retailers simply won’t carry it. Likewise send a SASE, and include a copy of your receipt. (If you don’t have the receipt, send a photocopy of the cover or a picture of you holding the book(s), something.) Hey guys, you could do worse for a holiday gift for your girlfriend or spouse than a signed trade paperback of a well-reviewed series featuring a strong female protagonist.

...so if you have a copy of the Fallen Angel trade, this sounds like a fun offer. As a kid, I remember when David took over Hulk, and he noted that Hulk was only receiving three or four letters each month from fans. So he made the offer to personally respond to every fan who sent in a letter about the book (I wonder what I did with mine)?

So this isn't the first time David has gone out of his way to promote his work and please his fans. That's reason enough to check out Fallen Angel, if you can find a copy.

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