Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Calling All Cerebus Collectors!

Sean Michael Robinson:


Paper to Pixel to Paper Again is on hold this week, as I'm swamped with Cerebus in Hell? related work, namely, preparing the first four one-shots, working with the printer scheduling Cerebus in Hell? #4's delivery date and final details, and writing and fielding long bag-related faxes from Dave.


So, sometime after the first one-shots appear, Aardvark-Vanaheim will be soliciting a trade to collect the mini-series of Cerebus in Hell? all under one cover. And that trade will include a signed Cerebus in Hell? Christmas card (as the plan currently stands), included in a bag that tightly hugs the trade and keeps the card in place.

Cerebus in Hell? TPB Christmas Card Mockup

Well, it turns out that matching a trade paperback to a snugly-fitting preexisting bag is a tougher chore than you might think.

How snug can you make it to ensure the contents don't shift? How loose can you make it for easy packing, and to ensure that books that are trimmed just a bit large can still fit? And where's the mid-point between these two positions?

Marquis, our Cerebus in Hell? printer, kindly made up some dummies for the project, i.e. blank versions of the book with correct paper and binding, trimmed to a size that I guessed would be perfect for the supposed dimensions of the bag, and sent them along to Dave.

Too tight a fit. 

So, now they're off to Alfonso Espinosa, who will (hopefully!) use his hydraulic cutter to shave slices of the book off until he arrives at the perfect size.

Last week I sent a fax to Dave suggesting that, for the sanity of all involved, we try a completely different path instead. Why not a heat-sealed bag, standard in the book packing world?

Hello Dave,


Not to beat a dead bag, but--

My suggestion on the heat-seal bag is this--Marquis (or their bindery) will most likely have access to a broad range of heat-seal products and size, so it's possible (I can ask them now if you'd like) that they could do it at any trim size at all. Because the heat-seal bags are also heat-shrink bags, so the fit isn't an issue. They just put it in whatever" one-size up is, with card, and stick it in the heat shrink whatever-it-is, and then it's done.

That's my understanding of it, anyway. I've never used or seen the industrial versions of this, only the hand-held, one-at-a-time versions. 
Once I hear back from you (a quick "NO!!! Is great :) ) I win forward your fax to Sandeep and Alfonso.

Dave's lengthy response (excepted below) came back within the hour.
Hi Sean!

The problem with heat-seal in any form is “collector psychopathology”. If you're selling a book in a plastic bag with an autographed Christmas card the most psychotic collectors (which is who you are selling to, your primary market) will use the fact that they can't have the whole thing in pristine mint as an excuse not to buy it. It's in pristine mint if all three elements, the book, the bag, and the card, can be retained in perfect condition. If the bag is heat-sealed you have to “de-mint” it (in fact, actively destroy it yourself) in order to access the book. And if you leave the book and card in the heat-sealed plastic (psychotic collectors know from experience) the bag will shrink over time, de-minting the book and the card.

That's a later issue: what do you use to seal the bag? Unless it's resealable—and designated as such, resealable in such a way that the sticker or whatever it is can be unsealed and resealed as many times as you want without losing its own pristine mint quality then you have the same problem: a psychotic collector won't buy something that can't be unsealed and resealed repeatedly without damaging the seal. And they're going to err, mentally, on the side of “it doesn't look as if it can be resealed” (i.e. because of bad experiences with permanent seals that they HOPED were resealable and proved not to be: if they see a seal on a package they anticipate an unhappy experience and use it as an excuse not to buy whatever it is).

Alfonso has the Golden Age bag marked as resealable but I'm not seeing it (I'm not a psychotic collector myself but I do understand their psychology).

This is why I'm starting on this in April and trying to go one step at a time. I'm guessing that every step of the way I'm going to have to explain psychotic collectors and why we nave to do things my way. If the Christmas card fits snugly into the bottom of the bag WHERE THE PSYCHOTIC COLLECTOR SAW IT WHEN HE BOUGHT IT and can be put there smoothly and easily and the bag resealed into the same state it was when the psychotic collector unsealed it, then the psychotic collector will have had a happy experience with our package and the next time that he sees a CIH? collection with an autographed card in it, he will know that it's possible to keep it in pristine mint condition and will purchase it with confidence.

If that doesn't happen: if we force him to destroy or damage his pristine mint package in any way, he will have an unhappy experience with our package and probably won't purchase any future book-and-card combo if he sees them in a shop. OR will at least have a persuasive argument for himself not to do so.

And fit's not just collectors, this holds true for speculators as well. They will be more apt to buy 3 if they know it's going to stay in pristine mint condition which they will know won't be the case if the plastic bag is heat-sealed OR sealed in such a way that it can't stay in pristine mint condition.

You might want to post this to AMOC and see if we can't get verification from psychotic collectors that that's the case...


So! Collector types! Speculators! I know you're out there, and we need your opinion!

If you saw a lovely Cerebus in Hell? trade paperback with an enclosed signed Christmas card, would your interest in such an item be affected by the type of bag it's packed in? By the way that bag is sealed? What type of bag would be ideal, or does it matter to you at all?

Thanks in advance for your input!

Edit: I thought this was some interesting insight into the thought processes that are involved in creating a worthwhile package on all levels. Is this thing aesthetically interesting? Is it functional? Does it cause unintentional rage and/or regret in its target market? I think the Cerebus Archive Portfolios are excellent examples of the higher end of this calculus, making a package that serves as many purposes as possible while remaining a worthwhile object.


Dominick Grace said...

I prefer my books NOT sealed in plastic of any kind, so I can look at them before buying, but I don't think i count as a "psychotic" collector, as I actually read what I buy, as a rule, anyway. However, I get that if there's something like a signed extra thingie in there, you have to do something to ensure it doesn't get lost. Sooooo, I guess I would not really care what kind of plastic it was sealed in, though something resealably ziplocky seems like a nice idea. Bet that would cost more, though....

Paul Slade said...

Maybe a reclosable cardboard box with a plastic window in it would be more practical? I'm thinking of something like a slightly studier version of this design:

Or do boxes cost so much more than bags that this simply wouldn't work from a financial point of view?

Sean R said...

Hey Paul,

yeah, the price point changes dramatically. A cardboard box like that would likely triple the shipping weight and packing thickness, making the economic calculus really not worth it...

Anonymous said...

Why not a removable glue blob on the inside back cover with the card attached to it? The first 12 or so issues of a series called "Munchkin" (based on the card game) were successful in doing that.

Also... does this mean there won't be a giant phone book of the whole series? That is what I personally want to buy.

--Bob Oldman--

jonbly said...

I do not care about the bag. Unless you do something stupid and start printing Cerebi on the bag itself, in which case I hate you so much that I have to buy two copies.

Tim P said...

15 years ago, I was one of those people who would buy two copies, one to store, one to open. Now, I just want a great product to enjoy, and lowest cost (I have a mortgage. On a side note, it would make the book and card even better if there was a retrospective on previously issued Christmas cards.

Paul Slade said...

I love the idea of something documenting every Cerebus Christmas card - most of which most of us have never seen. Not worth publishing on its own, I'm sure, but it'd make a great bonus feature for a CIH? collection.

UK magazines use the glob of glue approach for their cover-mounted CDs all the time, and this can work very well. Getting the glue itself right is absolutely crucial, though, as some globs will come off nice and clean and others either leave a sticky residue or (Gahh!) rip the paper beneath when you try to remove them. Probably the truly pyscho collector would;t want to risk it.

How about just inserting the Christmas card loose inside the book and flagging its presence up on the cover in some way? One possibility would be bagging the book in regular mylar and putting a sticker on the bag.

Eddie said...

What about something similar to what the kickstarter bookplates were shipped in? If I'm remembering correctly, those were resealable. Or is there a problem with finding something similar that would fit a graphic novel? Is there an issue of cost vs logistics?

I wonder if anything similar has been done before with graphic novels.

Any comic shop owners want to chime in?

Jeff Seiler said...

Personally, and you all knows how I feel about, er, what I think of Dave, but I think he's being a bit overdramatic about this. If, as I glean from these faxes, the idea is to bag the book and the card together, then who gives a flying you know what about the bag? Either you leave it bagged, unopened, and it's mint (or, rather, "mint"), or you open the bag and throw the bag away.

It's. A. Bag.

Now, if the idea is to sell an unbagged TPB with a bagged Christmas card, then I think you use a ziplock baggie glued to the inside front or back cover, or (maybe) the outside back cover.

OOOORRRR (stay with me here), you make the back cover the autographed Christmas card, bag the TPB, slap a sticker on the front of the bag (or a blurb printed on the cover) advertising it as signed, and charge an extra buck for your trouble.

OOOOORRR (still riffing here), you go with my suggestion from a couple of years ago, Dave, and just advertise that the autographed cards will be numbered out of 50 and randomly inserted in whatever fashion you decide on using for all of the cards.

If, on the other hand, this actually IS rocket science, then please excuse me as I go wet myself.

Jeff Seiler said...

Sean, did Dave send you my corrections for CIH? #1 & 2? I didn't proof CIH? #0, but I can if you want me to. Obviously, I'm still waiting on 3 and 4.

Travis Pelkie said...

No, your primary market is actually retailers. Other than those of us who pre-order, they're the ones you're selling to. If you're putting out a book that people can't open and look at ahead of time, the casual reader isn't going to bother, and if that's the case, the retailer won't bother.

I mean, how are you going to package it so that you'd keep the bag, book, and card all mint, anyway? (Obviously that's what we're trying to figure out here....)

Are you talking about, essentially, pre-bagging the book in a standard-type mylar type comic book bag, like what my retailer uses to bag and board the comics they put on the racks and in the back issue bins?

Sweet lord, Jeff is the voice of reason. JEFF!

Besides, the way Diamond has been going lately, the chances of the book not getting banged up during shipping are slim to none in the first place. Mint comics are pretty much a thing of the past....

All that said, I'd suggest either scrapping the Christmas card idea (which is nice, but I don't know how viable it seems, given this info), or possibly making it a "variant" version of the book -- the standard one is just the trade, while the "variant" one is the one specially bagged with the card (same book, though). Your print run is probably going to be too low to make this viable, but it's a thought.

Anonymous said...

I'd ditch the card idea altogether. As someone who wouldn't be concerned by keeping the bag "mint", but who wouldn't want to just throw away the card, but who has no way of properly storing the card, I'd be at a loss as to what TO DO with the card after opening.

What's being sold here, a book or a smorgasbord of miscellany?

Personally, I'd like the book.

-Benjamin Hobbs

Culpa Direct said...

I hear the Immersion set will come with marbles and a scarf!

Sean R said...

I sent these comments to Dave via fax and received this reply, requesting I post it here.

"Sincere apologies to all. I asked Sean to post my comments on the CIH? package for informational) purposes only. I discovered, when my computer was temporarily)y disabled, that not having Internet access -- that is, not participating on AMOC on a daily basis -- improved my quality of life dramatically)y. Not having e-mail er Internet access and never having had email or Internet access, I'm just not “built for” the Internet 'tone' of discussion. If there's something you think I need to know or something you want to tell me or if you have a question for me that you really, really, really need an answer to or some proposal) you want to make. I am ALWAYS (repeat) ALWAYS able to be reached at 519-576-0610. There is roughly three m1nutes of recording space for each message and if you have a complicated message, you are welcome to leave as many messages as necessary to exhaust what you have to explain/wantt me to react to.

If you're better on paper, I am ALWAYS (repeat) ALWAYS able to be reached at Box 1674 Stn. C. Kitchener, Ontario, Canada N2G 4R2.

I'm the on)y one who reads the mail. If you don't want your letter read on the Weekly Update or referred to, just write that at the
top of your letter.

I am also ALWAYS (repeat) ALWAYS available by fax on the same basis. makes it possible for anyone to send an e-mail in the form of a fax. This is how I communicate with Sean Robinson and this is how this message is being relayed to him. Sean can explain the ins and outs of it better than I can. So, Sean, if you can do that here, please?:
Fax number is 519-576-0955.

Right now, none of my STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND research involves Wikipedia fact-checking. That was what started my experiment with posting to AMOC: check what I needed to check and then post something to AMOC if I had the time. And if the 'tone• wasn't completely offensive (a rare occurrence), that evolved into “ignore the “tone” because it is just the way people “sound” on the Internet. Uit is always oing to be there so just ignore it, type for an hour and forget about it.” Just try to do good PR.

If, or rather, hopefully, WHEN my SDOAR research goes back in the direction of fact-checking, I'll try going back to Plan A, probably just scrolling through to wherever Margaret's last Notebook entry is and see if I can find something interesting to say about it.

I realize that you all have grown up with the Internet and its “tone” is second – if not first – nature to you at this point. I really gave it it an honest try for an extended period but, for me, at age 60, it really is a “quality of life” issue. Again, sincere apologies to all!

Dave Sim" allows free fax sending. I receive faxes via a paid (and cheap) service

Sean R said...

( I posted this here because it was me sending the comments that prompted it, but this is Dave's broader explanation for his AMOC absence! Hope this placement makes sense.)

Barry Deutsch said...

Not that my opinion matters, but that seems like a very sensible reason for Dave to decide to be off the internet. I'm glad if Dave's happier.

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

The idea of combining an extra item with the book seems very complicated. Wouldn't a better idea be to give the Xmas cards directly to selected 'Cerebus-friendly' comics stores (e.g. Page 45, Escape Pod Comics etc) and simply let them bag them together with the book. That would reward the stores that actually do try and help Aardvark-Vanaheim.

Matt Price said...

Would Diamond be willing to do something like, "Order 5 Cerebus in Hell trade paperbacks, get 5 signed Christmas Cards" and not worry about packaging them together? The shop gets them in a separate envelope and can package them together in whatever way makes sense for them?

CerebusTV said...

Always keep in mind, as the former head of Homeland Security put it, that we Americans believe if it's worth doing, it is worth overdoing.