Welcome to the super-early, pre-surgical edition of Wait, What?  Jeff is heading in to deal with a minor health condition (that rhymes with pygmy scones) which will kind of make our usual Monday mid-day drop time a bit on the impossible side.  So pull up the player of choice, kick back with the following show notes, and try not to think of one of your hosts squirming in discomfort on a hospital gurney somewhere.  (Cheery, right?  Seriously, don’t worry about me: I’ll be drugged to the gills.) (I hope.)
00:00-9:19:  Greetings from Jeff “Whoville” Lester and Graeme “The Graemetown Massacre” McMillan, who feel like they haven’t talked in a while…because they haven’t!  It’s a fine jumping off point for a bit of pre-comics talk about human intimacy, Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance, the atrophying of conversational muscles, Twitter changing from stars to hearts, Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon, The Journalist and the Murderer, and other potentially depressing ephemera.

9:19-26:43: Yes, ephemera!  Not like good old live-forever-and-can-never-die comic books!  Graeme has been thinking about the latter and he’s got stuff to blow our mind with.  He’s been looking at sales figures and he’s got some very interesting insights to share with us, including how Star Wars comics are essentially the fourth largest comics publisher in the direct market, how much money DC is seeing from issues of Prez (with help from the info assembled by Alex De Campi, Printing costs and other behind-the-scenes info from Jim Zub).  Discussed:  DC You and profit, Snakes on a Plane, the Batgirl of Burnside, The Dark Knight Returns and the prestige format books, how to craft a book that is both safe and has the potential to go wide, and more.
26:43-55:46: In the course of talking about books from the Big Two that take some risks, Jeff brings up the first issue of Vision by Tom King, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, and Jordie Bellaire.  Graeme has thoughts about it too, some of them relating to the recent first issue roundtable we did with Matt Terl on the website, Impressively enough, we manage to keep the end of the issue unspoiled but otherwise consider it pretty much ALL SPOILERS, ALL THE TIME. but Discussed: tradewaiting, slow burns, second issues sales, a mission statement framed via a semantic argument, Mr. Spock in American Beauty, an almost comical reluctance by Jeff to bring up Alan Moore, the “return” to Marvel’s 70s diversity, our own struggles with comic book cynicism, and more.
55:46-1:03:52:  Graeme wants to talk about Ms. Marvel #19 by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, which was so satisfying for Graeme that he kind of feels…done with it?  With everything happening at Marvel, there’s probably never been a better time to talk about Jumping Off Points (well, okay, except for maybe the New 52), and so that’s something we kick around the old sonic playing field. (I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but you may get a lot more out of the first two minutes of the conversation if you’re aware that Jeff is confused and thinks Graeme is talking about Captain Marvel but is trying to hide it.)  Discussed:  Alan Moore leaving Swamp Thing, the post-Morrison years of Animal Man, and more.
Loki1:03:52-1:09:21:  A mention of Al Ewing reminds Graeme that in approximately two months all of Mr. Ewing’s work on Loki will be available on Marvel Unlimited, and this is a seventeen issue run that Graeme very much recommends.  Discussed: whether or not one should read Gillen’s Journey Into Mystery (and Young Avengers) before reading Ewing’s run, Mighty Avengers as a victim of Marvel Eventitis, and more.
1:09:21-1:19:00: “Marvel Unlimited is such an amazing resource,” says Jeff, before going on to talk about how his mad month-long buying spree on Comixology has him reading purchased stuff instead of all that (amazing!) all-you-can-eat stuff.  Will Jeff disclose how much he spent? Can Graeme find a gentle way to tell his friend has a problem? Discussed: how much Graeme spent at the comic store; the first week of Jeff’s experiment of foregoing floppies (and his store discount) and buying digitally; the issues Jeff bought this week, which leads us to…
1:19:00-1:27:20:  “Hey, so what’d you think of Unfollow, then?” Graeme asks, which gives us both a chance to talk about how much we enjoyed Unfollow #1 by Rob Williams, Michael Dowling, and Quinton Winter.  Vertigo has had a pretty strong batch of first issue launches recently,  but this is so far the strongest.  Discussed:  Survivors Club and Stephen King’s It; The Sheriff of Babylon and Jacked; Dowling’s beautiful art; Mark Millar and Grant Morrison; and more.
1:27:20-1:30:33: Jeff wants to talk about the first issue of Platinum End, by the Death Note/Bakuman team of Ohba and Obata and very much in the vein of the former than the latter.  At the time of recording, it hadn’t seemed like a lot of people knew that you can buy each chapter digitally for ninety-nine cents at the same time as its Japanese release. You can get it at Viz; you can get it at Comixology; you can get it on Amazon for the Kindle.  As Jeff puts it, “If you want to see what Mark Millar is going to be ripping off two years from now, check it out.”
mon lush
1:30:33-1:35:11:  Graeme wants to know if Jeff’s picked up Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda.   Is it, as Graeme calls it “the ultimate Image book?” We go on to discuss it, along with Sarah Horrocks’ piece on Bitch Planet, Graeme utters the phrase, “I don’t even like fantasy, and this book is stunning to me.” (At the time of recording Jeff hadn’t, but he did not long after based on what Graeme says here and was pretty impressed… as you can see here.) The first issue is 71 pages for $4.99, it looks beautiful, and as Graeme says (and I go on to agree with in my piece), “Marjorie Liu is bring some really impressive fucking chops to it.”
1:35:11-1:39:51:  The other first issue?  The new James Bond book, Vargr, by Warren Ellis and James Masters.  SPOILERS:  It sounds pretty good…certainly better than Jeff’s take on what might happen.
1:39:51-1:43:58:  We’ve both read Klaus #1 by Grant Morrison and Dan Mora. Considering it’s a comic book about Santa Claus, you would think Graeme would love it, right?  Did he? Didn’t he?  You’ll find out but you’ll hear a lot more about it from Jeff who refers to it as The Game of Thrones Christmas Special.  (Which it’s really not, but come on, that would be AMAZING.)
1:43:58-1:48:10: If you did read the first issue roundtable, you’ll know both Jeff and Greeme were pretty underwhelmed by the first issue of Paper Girls by Brian K Vaughan and Cliff Chiang. So along comes issue #2 and….we happily eat ourselves some crow.  Discussed: Whether Brian K. Vaughan is doing Lost even though he worked on Lost, or whether Brian K. Vaughan is doing Under the Dome even though he worked on Under the Dome; FULL SPOILERS for plot developments in the issue; Jeff compares the second issue of Survivors Club versus the second issue of Paper Girls, and an eensy bit more.
1:48:10-2:11:16: Just to finish up talking about books we discussed on the roundtable…Jeff is a few issues behind on reading Batman and Robin Eternal, but Graeme is still reading it and, remarkably enough, is onboard!  Discussed: the delight of a monoplot; how long this weekly book lasts; how long it takes before the “everything changes!” trick wears thin; Batman comics written by Scott Snyder’s clique and Batman comics written by people outside Scott Snyder’s clique; Pete Tomasi and the Curse of Pete Tomasi [Note: not officially referred to out loud as the Curse of Pete Tomasi], the Justice League Darkseid War one-shots, and issues #40-45 of Justice League which we revisit because Jeff picked them up after Graeme talked about them last time.  (Seriously, we talk about them a lot.)
2:11:16-end: Closing comments! We try to figure out what’s coming up next…which is confusing in part because next episode is our Secret Convergence of Infinite Podcasts episode.  Graeme won’t be here (he’s on episodes 1, 3, and 5 of the crossovers) but Jeff will be joined by Chico Leo, Gary Lactus, and Paul O’Brien, discussing “The Worm Turns:  Characters, Comic Books, and Creators We Used to Love But Now Hate, and Vice-Versa.” Our special thanks to the kind crew at American Ninth Art Studios for their continuing support of this well as our special thanks to the Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy…and to all 114 of our supporters on Patreon who make all this possible. Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! MattTumblr!  And, of course, where, as of this count, 114 patrons make this whole thing possible!
Okay, so check out the first comment if you need a link to cut and paste into the player of your choice, and, hey, maybe even drop us a note if you want?  That might be…nice?  Either way, as always, thank you for listening!

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12 comments on “Wait, What? Ep. 188: Romancing The Stones

  1. LAndrew Nov 9, 2015

    That SCoIP episode sounds like it’s gonna be a heap of fun!

  2. Matt Terl Nov 9, 2015

    Excellent work as always, fellas.

    The discussion about Prez’s numbers just reinforces to me how little we know about the digital sales. If Prez sells (say) 2,000 copies digitally, that’s a SIGNIFICANT difference (especially since digital sales presumably eliminate the printing costs per issue).

    Digital sales are also never out of stock, so if we were entering, hypothetically, an election year, and if you wanted to run a sale on the book then, you could conceivably collect a whole new round of income on already-sunk-funds … provided that you finish publishing the book. It’s similar to the old idea of doing singles as a loss-leader for the trade, only you don’t even have to collect and/or print the trade.

    Basically, it seems like there are a bunch of ways that digital could spin that whole conversation, and not having any of that info really cripples any armchair analysis or projection we could do…..

  3. Tom G. Nov 9, 2015

    To fuzz up your math a little more on Prez, Commercial printing is predicated on keeping the presses running all the time. As such, the more you print the cheaper the per unit cost. I strongly doubt a major client like DC would be paying individual rates per title. Their printing costs are probably spread across the whole line, thus bringing actual printing cost per book for Prez down a bit.

    Also, in regards to jumping off points, I took all the books ending for Secret Wars as an opportunity to jump off buying print issues for Marvel and switch over completely to Marvel Unlimited. I was tempted to pick up a few of the All New All Different #1’s like Aaron’s Doctor Strange, but there’s nothing like being pushed away for five months to teach you that waiting a few months more is no big deal.

    • Rob G Nov 12, 2015

      Like Tom G (no we’re not related), I too am taking ANAD Marvel as a perfect jumping off point and waiting to read the books on Marvel Unlimited.
      Upon reviewing the latest Marvel Previews, I was unimpressed by the quality of the artwork and disappointed with the coloring (they must have blown the budget on Secret Wars). The colors look bland and muddy. I think ANAD is meant to have an “indie” appeal, but to me it comes off as amateurish. I don’t recognize most of the writers and artists. I think ANAD is Marvel’s way to cut costs. Maybe I’m just not the target audience anymore. It’s all very depressing.

  4. Matthew Murray Nov 12, 2015

    Prepare for too much writing about things I don’t know enough about.

    Re: Prez
    Some of this could be wrong, but I did used to write about this stuff regularly, and the numbers Graeme said didn’t seem quite right.

    8,931 (Prez #4 sales on Comichron) x 2.99 (cover price) = $26,703.69

    You said in the podcast that DC get 60% of that, but that’s not true. (Graeme also mentioned $17,802.46, but that would be the amount if DC got 2/3s of the cover price)

    DC discounts their books at various amounts ranging from 35% – 57% depending on how much a store is ordering (

    We’ll go with 50% as the average discount, because we really don’t know what this is going to be like across all stores. I think it’s probably a bit higher. So $1.50 goes to the retailer and a $1.49 is left over.

    Jim Zub (in one of your aforementioned links) says that 16.7% of the cover price goes to Diamond. That seems really high! Another site ( says that Diamond buys books at 60% off cover, and then sells them to retailers at a lower discount (Mark Waid says about the same thing: DC probably have a different deal, but let’s go with this as it’s less than what Zub said and 10% of cover seems way more reasonable for Diamond to take. (I’ve heard this is actually 5% or so, but I can’t source that now, and it could be 5% because most DC books at sold at 55% off cover). So Diamond gets $0.15 per issue, leaving DC with $1.34 per issue.

    Retailers: $13,396.50
    Diamond: $1,339.65
    DC: $11,967.54
    Total: $26,703.69

    Okay, now we go to printing and work for hire rates. I don’t have better numbers than Zub (though DC probably gets better printing rates), or de Campi, so let’s use them.

    Printing: $7,144.80

    Script: $80 per page x 20 = $1,600
    Cover: $600
    Line art: $200 per page x 20 = $4,000
    Colours: $120 per page x 20 = $2,400
    Letters: $20 per page x 20 = $400
    Total for content: $9,000
    Printing + content: $16,144.80

    Money Prez is “making”: $-4177.26

    And that excludes editorial costs, etc.

    However! Advertising does play a part too. Here’s DC’s advertising costs:
    How many pages of ads are there in each issue of DC. I looked at the Future’s End issue of Grayson (the only recent DC comic I think I have…), and saw 12 pages of ads, though two of those were for DC produced action figures, so let’s exclude those. There also could be deals involved with these…

    Anyway, those say that a full page ad costs between $70,966 – $95,900 depending on how many months are purchased. This is also based on 2,500,000 copies sold (I think?), though I’m not sure how many DC comics total are sold each month.

    Anyway, I’ll use the $76,720 per full page ad amount that is listed as it’s the second highest. Yes, this is random and arbitrary.

    10 pages of ads x $76,720 = $767,200

    But of course, that’s for DC as a whole (I guess?). Prez sells terribly! The 8,931 issues of Prez make up 0.0036% of the 2,500,000 listed for advertising.

    So, 0.0036% of $767,200 is $2761.92.

    So including my guesses for advertising, Prez is “making”: $-1415.34 (still excluding editorial costs, etc.).

    International sales are maybe….20% max, maybe more like 10%, digital sales are probably also about the same (though there are additional costs associated with both of those). If we include those numbers Prez is probably breaking even at least (for this issue).

    Blah blah blah blah blah.

    • Jeff Lester Nov 14, 2015

      Matthew: we owe you double! Once for writing such an amazing post, and once for not noticing it ended up in our moderation folder and sat there for *two* days.

      We are terrible but you are great!

      • Matthew Murray Nov 14, 2015

        Haha, I did notice, but figured you would get to it soon enough.

        One correction (based on a correction from de Campi’s page that you linked to), low end color is $80 per page. So that could save DC about $800. Not enough to really do anything though…

  5. Paul Spence Nov 13, 2015

    Thanks for the Platinum End recommendation. I picked it up on Comixology and I have signed on for a subscription. I also appreciate the discussion/review of Monstress. I will have to check that one out. Thanks for brining this type of material to our attention.

  6. Matthew Murray Nov 14, 2015

    In regards to the DC You stuff not selling well, I think (based on nothing but my own reactions) part of it really has to come from the fact that DC has spent years alienating the types of readers that these series would appeal to.

    Apparently the new Starfire series is pretty fun and female positive, but after years of seeing how the character was written in Red Hood and the Outlaws, how many people are going to trust DC to use the character in that way? You can’t just suddenly say “We’ve changed” in regards to the types of books you’re releasing and expect people to believe you immediately. Once bitten, twice shy and all that.

    • daustin Nov 16, 2015

      Plus, even if they’ve toned it down, it’s still waaay too racy and cheesecakey for me to get for my 8 yo daughter, who loves Starfire from both incarnations of the Teen Titans cartoon.