I stopped collecting comics long ago.
Too expensive, not enough bang for the buck, trade paperbacks are better, blah blah blah.
Mainly I just window shop from time to time, and occasionally support an indy comic or two.
But the other day, like a recovering alcoholic, I fell off the wagon, if only briefly, thanks to a certain comic shop in Times Square.
Midtown Comics, located in New York City, near the headquarters of the "Big Two", Marvel and DC, is quite possibly the largest comic book shop America has to offer. So it was going to take a monster store of this caliber to re-ignite my old addictions, in the comic book capital of the world no less.
Anyway, on Friday April 11th, 2014, after a long day at the office, I stopped by Midtown, which typically keeps its prime shelf space fully stocked with new product from Marvel, DC, Image, and Dark Horse, with a small "ghetto" section in the back lightly filled with independent comics, smaller publishers, and borderline porn.
That's pretty much the arrangement of every comic book shop in New York, but Midtown focuses more heavily on the "Big Two" compared to other stores like Jim Hanley's Universe or Forbidden Planet, which experiment with a larger library of indies, including books from local creators thanks to the city's thriving indy scene.
So imagine my surprise, when I spot no name self published comic "OVERRUN" stealing prime shelf space from the likes of Marvel and DC, polybagged and boarded like it was more important than everyone else:
That's three full stacks at about 40 issues per stack.
Recognize the writers or artist? Neither do I.
I'd never seen Midtown lavish this kind of attention on complete unknowns, what's going on here?
I was intrigued by the cover art, but at $8.99 a pop, with no way to rifle thru the pages, it was too expensive for a casual impulse purchase, so I snapped a picture on my phone to check out the online buzz when I got home.
Two days later, I head back to Midtown and discover, to my horror, that HALF THE STOCK HAD ALREADY SOLD.
That was enough to make me buy more than a couple, especially since the print run was only 250 copies, half of which seemed to be stocked by Midtown Comics, with the other half in England, home of the creative team. Just before the clerk rang up the register, a staff member came over and told me "Hey, no more than five copies, limited stock", but a jedi mind trick convinced him otherwise. I didn't think Midtown's clientelle bothered with indies, so I was shocked to see the retailer micromanage the purchase count per person.
But not too shocked.
First, the art is stunning. This is an indy comic? The production value is amazing. It's J. Scott Campbell with a dash of Joe Madureira, mixed with the artist's own considerable talents. The artist is Paul Green, a name I won't forget.
I had my doubts about the premise. A ragtag group of unemployed video game characters band together to protect their digital world from a "zombie" outbreak.
Sounds like a bad Cartoon Network pitch.
But somehow, it works. I think mainly because the writers play it straight, mixing Wreck It Ralph with a dose of horror, sex appeal, and mass genocide. Those last three elements won me over.
So yeah, it's a fun book.
And it's also on fire.
On friday, April 11th, 2014, Midtown Comics had three full stacks of "Overrun" in stock, roughly 120 copies total. Four days later, tuesday April 15th, 2014, there were only THREE copies left:
Keep in mind the book is $8.99 US dollars a pop! That ain't cheap. It's unfortunate the preview book didn't get wider distribution, but hopefully the finished book gets picked up by a major publisher. Image Comics comes to mind.
Either way, the creative team deserves high praise.
"Overrun" is written by Andi Ewington and Matt Woodley, with art by Paul Green.
Check out the official website and trailer: