7.11.2006

Why Lee's Reigns Supreme

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Lee's Comics 24th Anniversary Sale. The event was held in both the Mountain View and San Mateo, CA locations. I arrived early in Mountain View and had a leisurely wait at the deli next door. I sat outside in the sun, sipped my coffee and perused The Metro, a weekly Bay Area paper that I sincerely miss since moving to San Diego. I watched Lee & Company set up the outdoor tables and prepare for the event as a crowd started to form a half hour before opening. It was just an amazing sale.

After receiving my free Lee's Comics pen and free package of comic bags, the chaos ensued. About 10 long boxes of recent books for a mere .24 cents each! Graphic Novels? How about another 10 long boxes, and they were buy one, get *two* free! I spent about 45 minutes outside on these attractions, before having to leave to meet some friends for brunch. Due to the time constraints, I never even made it into the store (though I'd been the Wednesday before and had a chance to preview some of the clearance items so I didn't feel too bad), but from what I could see there were dozens of customers and even more goodies! 24% off on wall books and back issues, 24% off of already low priced clearance items.

Lee is consistently eager to provide these types of events and that separates him from most retailers. He views this as a win-win opportunity all around. It allows him to clear some floor space, purge slow moving inventory, and generate an influx of quick cash that he can redistribute into other areas. Simultaneously, it provides a wonderful "thank you" to his customers, allowing them to get some real bargains, try some books they might not normally, and even though this can lead to future sales, we're always grateful for the opportunity and don't view it as a lost leader.

Lee mastered breadth and depth of inventory long ago. He perfected customer service ages before others recognized it was crucial. The "long view" of the industry has allowed Lee to really understand and cultivate customer loyalty with events like this. He just gets the concept of the "lifetime value" of a customer.

Nobody does it like Lee's.

Ok, on to the books! So for a mere $46.41 (that's including tax and my free pen and bags), I was able to pick up *all* of the following. No reviews (though some entries do have some quick notes), but just allow the sheer magnitude of these books to wash over you! Feel what a wonderful and inexpensive experience this is, to have the chance to explore all of these titles for a mere 40 bones.

Single Issues

Jack Cross #1 & 3 (DC): You can really feel Warren Ellis practicing for Fell here. Nice oblique Planetary references, a look at psychological motivation, and expressive art from Gary Erskine. Will probably pick up some more issues of this title that I overlooked.

Berlin #11 (Drawn & Quarterly): I own the first trade of Jason Lutes' masterpiece about artisans and travelers inhabiting pre-war Germany. This is a real find for .24 cents.

Fragile Prophet #1 (Lost in the Dark Press): I met these guys at the last Alternative Press Expo (APE) in San Francisco, where they were debuting their first book, Video. This was an interesting read about a child who has a real world developmental disorder known as Fragile X Syndrome.

Batman/Danger Girl #1 (DC/Wildstorm): Ok, I admit it. This is a total guilty pleasure. Hokey, tongue in cheek story with beautifully sexy art from Leinil Yu.

Batman: Jekyll & Hyde #1 & 2 (DC): Surprisingly insightful mystery from Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee that really hones in on the psychological duality inherent to man. One minor quibble, anyone that's worked a day in law enforcement will tell you it's blood "spatter," not blood "splatter" at a crime scene. Come on guys, Bats would know better. Will probably pick up the rest of this 6 issue mini.

Grimjack: Killer Instinct #1 (IDW): I remembered a vague interest for Grimjack back in the First Comics days, when they had some interesting properties like Dreadstar and Nexus. This, however, should have stayed at Lee's. Rips off everything from Star Wars, to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to Sandman.

Team Zero #1 & 4 (DC/Wildstorm): Hey, I'll try anything written by Chuck Dixon.

Captain Gravity & The Power of the Vril #3, 5, 6 (Penny-Farthing Press): Despite that title being quite a mouthful, this series grew on me. It's got a real retro, Rocketeer, Indiana Jones, Nazi villain sort of flair which is really complemented by Sal Velluto's art. Last time he was working was, what? Justice League Task Force or Black Panther or something?

The Cisco Kid #1 & 2 (Moonstone): Ok, I really am a sucker for a well done Western, which this was not. Rips off everything from Clint Eastwood to Charles Bronson, and back to some other Sergio Leone "Spaghetti Western" tropes. Some interesting and experimental Dennis Calero art, and lots of typos, like "brinstone" instead of "brimstone" in the indicia. Yes, in the indicia, come on.

Small Gods #1, 6, 7, 9, 10 (Image): I was *totally* captivated by the 4th page or so of the first issue. Very engaging take on cops who have pre-cognitive abilities and how that would play out socially. Wonderful back up story that just tugged at my heart and made me want to support this title. I'll be seeking out the issues I'm missing of this under-the-radar-screen book from Jason Rand. The most pleasant surprise in this lot so far.

Rex Mundi #10, 11, 14 (Image): I hear good things about this book, so I'll give it a shot!

Gloomcookie #2, 23, 24 (Slave Labor Graphics): I've talked to Serena Valentino at cons, but never actually tried her book. My pals tell me if I'm buying and enjoying Ted Naifeh's Courtney Crumrin series, then I should be eating this up.

Little Star #2 & 3 (Oni Press): A recent mini from Andi Watson, I liked some of his earlier work, and then just kinda' tuned out... we'll see if that was warranted.

The Goon #11 & 12 (Dark Horse): More goonie goodness from Eric Powell, I might have these issues in a stray trade somewhere, but for .24 cents they're good giveaways for people, even if I already have the content.

Batman: Gotham Knights #64, 67, 68 (DC): I had about the first 30 issues of this book because I thought the back up feature was such a wonderful idea. The stories are never *that* impressive, but it's a nice way to keep tabs on the Bat-family.

Green Arrow #52, 53, 55 (DC): This is what I call bathroom reading. When I need a nice entertaining quick read, I can just grab one of these and see what's going on with the Emerald Archer. Judd Winick scripts are a plus.

Manhunter #1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 (DC): Marc Andreyko and Jesus Saiz's story received critical praise, but was a very poor seller for DC. This is exactly why sales like this are grand, for like a $3 investment I can pretty much read the entire canon and get caught up.

Captain America #2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 (Marvel Knights): Remember what I was saying about being able to cheaply read an entire run of something? This is that series with the Cassaday art, yeah *those* Captain Americas!

Trades & Graphic Novels

Silent Dance (Slave Labor Graphics): I've read something from one of these writers before and enjoyed it, art definitely passed the casual flip test.

Kane: Volume 5 (Image): I've pretty much given up on Paul Grist's Jack Staff, so I thought I'd switch gears and give his cop drama another shot.

Son of Superman (DC/Elseworlds): Howard Chaykin. JH Williams III. Any questions?

Trenches (Top Shelf), The Masterplan (Top Shelf), Big Clay Pot (Top Shelf): This is, again, precisely why sales like this are so wonderful. I've always wanted to try more work from Scott Mills and here is the chance to do it, you're essentially getting 3 trades for the price of one! What better chance to get fully exposed to someone's work. It's just such a no risk, no brainer.

Thanks Lee!

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