Issue #1

[James Simes]Hi, I'm James Sime, proprietor of San Francisco's award-winning Isotope - the comic book lounge. I pimp comics for a living.

It's a job I take pretty damn seriously.

There is always a lot of talk that the direct market is broken, that the comics aren't getting into the people's hands and that maybe the comic stores should just go the way of the dodo bird.


Now there's nothing wrong with comic books in the grocery store, or at the local 7-11, and no one is happier to see a big fat section of graphic novels in popular books stores like Borders or Barnes and Noble than I am, the more exposure comics get the better. But no grocery store or corporate bookstore will ever take the place of our comic stores. Comic stores are the lifeblood of the industry as a destination retail experience, as a one-of-a-kind environment in which the art form can thrive and as a nexus for our culture.

Comic books are hip. You know it and I know it, Hollywood knows it, TV network executives know it, Entertainment Weekly knows it, hell, even my Mom knows it. Right now, awareness of the medium is at an all time high. Those who don't read comics are getting the message, and all the eyes are on us. The people want to know what we've got going on and they want in on the action. If we're going to make the most of all the attention our industry is seeing, we're going to have to start kicking ass. Being a good retailer is no longer good enough. It's time for the collective retail community to step up to the plate and swing for the fucking fence. Comics have "grown up" and now it's time for our retail establishments to follow suit.

Comic retailers have a tremendous responsibility to our industry because we are the face of this industry to the public. How our stores look, how we present our product, and even how we dress is going to tell every single person who comes into our stores what kind of industry we're part of. That's a responsibility that I think about every day before work when I'm slipping into a suit and getting ready to pimp comics like they've never been pimped before.

The time has come to start converting the masses and we're not going to do that by being the same old Simpson's styled stereotypes. When these new-found fresh turnouts come wandering into their local comic shop looking for those comic books that they keep hearing about, I want them to find the kind of stores that offer them the unique and exciting environments that they can find no where else. I want them to find the kind of stores that defy their expectations and dazzle their minds with all the possibilities that comic books have to offer. I want them to wish their favorite bars, record stores and coffee houses were half as cool as their local comic store is.

Isn't this what we all want?

Comics are stronger, smarter, and better than any watered-down mass-market recreations could ever be. We all know it. The comics industry is rife with creativity and it's time for the face we put on the industry to be as creative as our comics are. The stores of the future are going to tap into the public's hunger for an amazing environment and will make them hunger for more. The stores of the future will blow their minds with everything the industry has to offer and we will make them beg for more. Our stores and our industry will grow strong as we convert the faithless, inspire the weary, bitch-slap the heathens, and bring righteous truth to the masses.

Retailers like me are setting the bar higher than it's ever been set before and the time for evolution and revolution is now. The eyes are all on us and we're not going to waste this golden opportunity for the medium we love to take over the world.

All our opponents are on the ropes. Hollywood and the videogame industry have become so over-bloated with production costs that they can't take chances. Television has degenerated into a thousand and fifty channels of the same damn thing. They need us, and it's obvious to anyone who is paying attention that the entertainment conglomerate is our bitch.

It's time for us to strike and we're coming at them with both barrels blazing. The comic stores of the future aren't going anywhere, except all the fucking way to the top. We're suiting up, and we're ready to play with the big boys. We will take everything beyond its preconceived limits because we're the new breed of comic retailers and we're going to put some fucking backbone into it.

It's time for some comic pimping.

THE COMIC PIMP is a weekly column in which we pull back the wizard's curtain to reveal the philosophies and behind the scenes workings of retailer James Sime, proprietor of San Francisco's award-winning Isotope - the comic book lounge. We're going to be looking at the importance of the retail experience as a whole, the most effective methods for bringing new readers into the industry, and how the Isotope goes about setting up our popular and much talked about in-store events. THE COMIC PIMP will be tackling hard industry issues that no one else is from both sides of the retail equation, discussing how retailers choose which books to stock and support and offering creators simple, cost-effective methods for promoting their books in comic stores nationwide.

And you damn well know I'm not going to write a column without doing some serious comic pimping!

"Hawaiian Dick: Byrd of Paradise" TPB from Image Comics

By B. Clay Moore and Steven Griffin

136 full-color pages $14.95 (JUN03 1250).

In stores this week (9-12-03).

"Hawaiian Dick" is like nothing else on the market, hard-boiled 1950's Tiki-Noir with a touch of island mysticism thrown in for good measure. Steven Griffin's full-color artwork is beautiful and B. Clay Moore weaves a gripping mystery full of sexy island girls, vengeful Polynesian zombies, ancient island culture, murder, and good old American know-how. The collection contains the original three-issue mini-series and so much more. Topping out with a massive 50 extra pages of "Hawaiian Dick" goodness, Image bends over backwards to ensure you get the maximum bang for your buck.

I've been eagerly awaiting this book and decided to have a Blue Hawaiian while I read it. An excellent combination!

Steven Griffin's artwork explodes from the page in a tropical storm of brilliant color. I only wish he didn't do his art completely digitally. A page of "Hawaiian Dick" original art would be perfect hanging on the wall of the Isotope!

Even the chapter breaks are sexy in this book!

Immediately following the main portion of the comic, Moore offers readers a prose glimpse into the first meeting of main characters Byrd and Mo, along with pages upon pages of "Hawaiian Dick" strips that most readers haven't ever seen before.

The character design section is filled to over-flowing with Griffin's early efforts along with an interesting series of emails between the creators as they craft the designs to perfection.

Griffin's cover gallery section shows just how much work that went into creating "Hawaiian Dick." These excellent DVD-style extras offer a fascinating look at the creative process behind the book, as well as making you really feel like you're getting a great value for your $14.95.

For a truly interactive experience, Moore and Griffin also include an adult beverage section with classics like Trader Vic's Mai Tai recipe and Hawaiian Dick Cocktail Contest winner Meriko Borogove's fantastic Bruised Kidney for a Hawaiian Dick.

A comic with great cocktail recipes? You just don't get much better than that!

"Hawaiian Dick: Byrd of Paradise" is truly a glorious read! It's books like this that made me trade in my cocktail shaker for a comic store and I'm damn glad I did. Highly recommended!

For more on "Hawaiian Dick" visit the official Web site

To keep abreast of everything James Sime and the Isotope, go to: http://www.isotopecomics.comOr visit the Isotope Virtual Lounge at: http://forums.delphiforums.com/IsotopeLounge/

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