Monday, November 24, 2008

Dear Comic Book Marketplace: I Miss You

I finally cleared out my off-site storage locker (nearly 18 months after moving into our new home), and when I cracked open the most back-breaking of boxes, I was delighted to find 50-60 issues of Comic Book Marketplace. When I first discovered this magazine back in 1998, it was love at first and I tracked down as many of the previous issues as I could. Distribution to Toronto comic shops was spotty at best so eventually I got a subscription and eagerly awaited each new issue's arrival at my door. Towards the end of the run, I even had a letter to the editor published. As I recall, I was quite critical of the tone of recent issues and questioned whether CBM was heading in the right direction. As it turned out, my points were moot as the mag ceased publication with but a whimper a couple of issues later. It was sad, and no other comic book related periodical has come close to filling the void left behind.

What was so great about it? Well, it was the perfect mixture of information about the books themselves, and information about the market. Long gone are the days when I followed the 'values' of various book in the Overstreet guide. Still, I always found the Market Reports at the back of CBM to be interesting, as I'm always fascinated by trends and reports of what is selling above and below 'Guide'. In addition, various articles often made reference to the relative scarcity of certain books - and this always assisted me in determining how much to fork over. Michelle Nolan's columns, in particular, were a 'must read' as she always found the hidden gems and send me off in new directions. I always appreciated it when she noted her views of a particular book vis -a-vis its Gerber scarcity ranking. Will Murray's articles and interviews were top notch and every now and then a 'theme' issue would really grab my attention and add a long list of titles to my 'buy' list.

The editorial transition from Gary Carter to Russ Cochran was a bit of a rough one for me, as the focus shifted away from comic books and more towards newspaper strips and collectibles. I felt that the overall tone of the magazine was different and it became more educational and less fun. Cochran's replies to critical letters often came across as slightly patronizing. The relationship with Gemstone/Steve Geppi was evident, and the coverage of a coin collecting event (with a very tenuous connection to comics) was the tipping point. Still, it was the best mag out there and its demise was unfortunate. I'm not sure if there's even a market for this type of periodical today - but I know that I would be fine in line to subscribe.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Scott,

I enjoyed CBM as well and it holds a special place for me since it was the first fanzine that published an article I wrote. I was especially thrilled when got the cover spot in CBM # 84 (I believe) focusing on an article on Steve Ditko's Charlton work from 1969-1975. Gary Carter even used one of the images I picked out for the cover.

There was a change when Gary left the editorship. I really enjoyed his run. It was a nicely produced mag with a great array of articles. It is missed.

Best,

Nick Caputo

Hartley said...

Oy, I'd give almost anything to bring CBM back!! In a format which I have yet to see elsewhere, it provided such unique insight into the souls and legacies of Golden, Silver, and Bronze Age creators. Sure, it seemed to miss a beat here and there post-Gary, but was really picking up steam just when it got pulled.

Above all, I credit CBM with making me aware of genres, creators, characters I had not known about. As reference material it is almost unparalleled, save for "Alter Ego". Itself an amazing fanzine.

Remember how, as CBM was fizzling out, they tried to tell us "oh, don't worry, we are going to be replaced by something available online, and even betterthan CBM"? This turned out to be SCOOP! What a load of hooey!

Regards, Hartley
... who currently gets his fanzine fix from 'Alter Ego' and 'Back Issue"....

Ghendar said...

Quoted from the above blog post

The editorial transition from Gary Carter to Russ Cochran was a bit of a rough one for me, as the focus shifted away from comic books and more towards newspaper strips and collectibles. I felt that the overall tone of the magazine was different and it became more educational and less fun. Cochran's replies to critical letters often came across as slightly patronizing. The relationship with Gemstone/Steve Geppi was evident, and the coverage of a coin collecting event (with a very tenuous connection to comics) was the tipping point.

I was a huge fam of CBM and LOVED the Carter's direction with the magazine. Sadly, Russ Cochran killed it with his coverage of statues and more modern comics. RIP CBM. You are missed.

Anonymous said...

Russ had no connection whatsoever with anyone in the comic collecting field other than the yes-men at Diamond telling him what to promote so that Geppi could sell his product before the roof caved in on the entire field.. Being stuck in No-wheres-ville, MO. Russ did not have the connections with comicbook dealers/collectors/hobbiests. He was of another generation of collectors...not that theres anything wrong with that. His original art and contributions to the EC brand cannot be denied.It just did not have anything to do with (or was an interest to) the people interested in older comics.