Bleeding Cool has pointed out that tomorrow's Black Mask Mystery Box is going to be one of the hottest items for Local Comic Shop Day, alongside All-New Wolverine. And we ran a video unboxing the whole thing from a mystery retailer…. But how come it hasn't come through Diamond? What happened to the We Can Never Go Home hardcover for Local Comic Shop Day?
Well, ComicsPRO member, and member of the committee that formed Local Comic Shop Day, Bret Parks of Ssalefish Comics asked Matt Pizzolo and Matthew Rosenberg what was up. And exactly what went down…
What made Black Mask decide to participate in Local Comic Shop Day?
Pizzolo We were super excited as soon as we heard about LCSD. We're big fans of Record Store Day, so something like that for comics seemed really exciting. It felt like the perfect thing to celebrate how comic shops are the central point for the entire comics community.
Rosenberg I worked in a comic shop for a few years so I have so much appreciation for what shops and staff do. I always want to go above and beyond to support shops and do what I can to get people excited about their local comic store.
How would you describe the importance of actual comic shops to the publishing plans for Black Mask?
Rosenberg I couldn't be making comics if it weren't for comic shops. None of us could.
Pizzolo Comic shops are the lifeblood of this medium. The comic shop retailers are the champions of books, they are the first to know what's cool and share that info with readers. So everything we do is framed around doing what we can to support comic shops and trying to publish exciting books that will earn their support.
What made Diamond unable to distribute the WCNGH hardcover and secret boxed set?
Pizzolo There was a logistics issue in the supply chain for We Can Never Go Home, and the box set was just too limited and unique an item to fit into the normal Diamond system. Diamond did bend over backwards to get the Space Riders hardcover into the system for LCSD and we super appreciated their efforts, but when we saw that WCNGH hardcover was at risk we committed to making it happen by any means necessary.
Was canceling those 2 items ever an option?
Pizzolo Well cancelling was the only option given to us, but I discussed it with Rosenberg and we agreed that we would make it happen. We made a commitment to stores and readers and we were determined to see it through.
Rosenberg For all of us who make We Can Never Go Home having this hardcover was a huge goal. When LCSD made it possible we were thrilled, so losing that chance was not in the cards. Personally I am one of those people who views "it can't be done" as a fun challenge. Unfortunately Pizzolo is too, so every time someone would tell us it was impossible we would just redouble our efforts. We are a bad influence on each other, for sure. Between our designers, Diamond, the printer, and everyone else we got a lot of "not possibles." But I am so thankful to Black Mask for being just as stupid and stubborn as I am. It's awesome to be doing hard work like this and have your publisher right by your side.
Who actually distributed them to participating stores and what was the process for that?
Pizzolo It was mainly Rosenberg and me with a lot of help from his girlfriend Claire and support from the guys at Rick's Comic City in Nashville.
I flew out to DC where I met up with Rosenberg when he took the bus down from NY. We picked up a truck and drove to the printer in Richmond Virginia where we picked up something like 7,000 pounds of books and pallets of empty boxes for the box set. Then we had to haul it all to the hardcover bindery in Nashville. But the way the truck was loaded, all the books were on the left side and all the empty boxes were on the right side. So we were totally lopsided! Rosenberg named the truck Tippy Hedren and we were pretty terrified it would tip over on the 10 hour drive to Nashville. I was clutching the steering wheel so tight my hands hurt whenever I let go. It was a bit death defying, but once we got on the road there was no way to turn back. We made it to Nashville and got the hardcovers, then holed up in an airbnb, built the box sets and shipped everything out direct to the stores. And to my knowledge every shop who got their order in before cutoff received their books in time.
Rosenberg I have driven around this country a lot of times in a lot of bad weather, with awful drivers, in sketchy vans, and that was among the scariest drives. But Tippy Hedren was a champ, even though we probably fried her transmission and crushed her shocks.
Once we were in Nashville we did 17+ hours a day of building box sets and packing books for 9 straight days. It gave me a new respect for Diamond. I drank a lot of chocolate milk, got a lot of papercuts, made a lot of trips to FedEx, and listened to 6 seasons of 30 Rock and the first season of The Flash while I worked.
Was it worth it?
Rosenberg If people buy the books it was.
Pizzolo We tried to make something really special for the stores and readers and collectors, I hope we succeeded and people dig the books.
Does Black Mask have plans for next year?
Rosenberg I just got home. I'm going to focus on sleeping for a bit.
Pizzolo Definitely planning to participate in LCSD again and think of even cooler ideas, but maybe not to do it all ourselves next time.