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All Citizens Are Urged To Stay Safe And Remain Calm

What, no, it’s nothing to do with the weather outside (where the snow is rapidly accumulating and I may or may not make it back to my hotel tonight). It’s to do with the gut-level clench of fear fighting against cautious optimism when John Allison goes from saying (in regard to his characters) as Bad Machinery wrapped up:

Think of this as a Doctor Who-style regeneration in progress. Your friends will be back.

to saying (in regard to his broader shared universe of Tackleford) as the Bobbins revival is close to concluding:

People sometimes ask me why there’s Bobbins, and Scary Go Round, and Bad Machinery, “when they’re all just the same thing.” The answer is, so that I can work out where the line is between these projects, so I don’t have to remember too much, so that I can divide it all up semi-neatly. This last Bobbins story is what happens if I take out all those dividing lines in my head, just so you can see what it looks like. It’s a mess. I’ve started to get emails from people asking for clarification on certain “historical” characters, which suggests to me that it’s time to stop. Time’s pretty much up for the “Tackleverse”, which is why I did it – this is the end of the road for a lot of the characters.

I hope you enjoyed the experiment as much as I have – it’s gone in directions I didn’t expect. At the start of April it will be time for something new.

I am the last person to suggest that Allison (or any other creator) ought to be catering to my whims. If this is the end for many of these characters, I will mourn their departure just as I eagerly await that which April will bring. It’ll be sad, and I know exactly how to react to this — by hunting down people whose obsessive need for continuity have driven Allison to this and wreaking a horrific vengeance. If I have to exist in a world without teen mystery-solvers, fish-men, serial entrepreneurs that speak of themselves in the third person, Devil Bears and Space Owl, then I’m making sure that they won’t enjoy the fruits of their cursed inquiries after filthy continuity.

In all seriousness — if this is the end for Tackleford, let us all take a moment to raise a pint of the best heavy or rough scrumpy (regional) to what may be webcomics longest-running shared universe¹. Things change, after all. We’ll be okay.

Unless Carrot comes a bad end — that happens, I’m going on a spree.

  • Following up on the recent post regarding Raina Telgemeier crushing all who dare approach with her mighty sales figures: I’d wondered if the sales of the Sisters/Smile box set was incorporated into the Bookscan numbers compiled by Brian Hibbs. Hibbs was kind enough to chime in with a clarification:

    Boxed sets have separate listings. Even though I cut this data out of what I present, Bookscan entries are tracked by ISBN, and the box set has a different one.

    Translation: Telgemeier sold more books than the numbers indicated. In fact, due to the limitations of Bookscan, Hibbs would have us know that she sold a lot more:

    Also worthy of note is that SISTERS sold AT LEAST 2 million copies according to the NYT — I can only present Bookscan data that I have though.

    Remember, that’s in four months, and more than ten times the numbers indicated by Bookscan; I knew there were undercounts from the Nielsen data, but never knew how large they were. To put it another way, for more than a decade, the top-selling ongoing comic book from a major publisher in any given month has probably sold on the order of 100,000 copies² in the last four months of 2104, the total number of copies of the top selling book each month amounted to approximately 837,000 floppies sold; if you bought all four of those books, the total cost to you was probably not too far off of the Sisters cover price.

    In as apples-to-apples a comparison as you could make, Telgemeier outsold that wisecracking webslinger, brooding vigilante, most popular mutant of all time, or scrappy set of survivors of the zombie apocalypse by a factor of two and a half to one if you combine their efforts, or at least six to one compared against single titles. Oh, and that was before we consider Smile and Drama (one of which sold steadily through the year, one of which bumped up in the last quarter). Next time some aging fanboy bitches about the comics industry pandering to [fill in the blank], share that little factoid and watch his head explode.

Spam of the day:

Touche. Great arguments. Keep up the good work.

Will do.

¹ Okay, okay, it’s the recently-concluded Walkyverse. Work with me, people.

² There are some outlier books in the back third of 2014, with some one-shots, special events, and zillion-variant-cover tricks, leading to some unusually large numbers.

I for one have been enjoying this circular blackhole of the Tackleverse pulling in all kinds of characters. John seems to need a fresh start every so often but no matter how he describes it he seems to eventually find a way back to his overall body of work.

The biggest thing I take away from that post is the combination of “Bringing back Bobbins was one of the most fundamentally idiotic things I have ever done” and “I hope you enjoyed the experiment as much as I have.” I may disagree with the first point (though I’ll defer to his judgement), but there’s a great example to other artists in here about how to approach what you percieve as failures.

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