oniomania (O-nee-uh-MAY-nee-uh, -MAYN-yuh) noun
Compulsive shopping; excessive, uncontrollable desire to buy things.
Top Management and I do not have opulent tastes. We are, however, gluttons. Not so much for food (well, not usually), however. Books and CDs, on the other hand…oy. We may indeed have a slight case of oniomania, if it’s, in fact, possible to have a slight case of oniomania. We are slight oniomaniacs. We live in a slightly oniomaniacal fashion. We live slightly oniomaniacally.
We try really hard to buy books and CDs new when we can, in order to support the artists who created the works. When it comes to certain authors—Charles Dickens, say—we don’t worry too much about it because, you know, I think he’s doing just fine financially right now.
We certainly do buy a lot of stuff used and make enormous use of our marvelous local library, and even occasionally the UVa library, since life as freelancers tend to leave finances somewhat…tension-filled, shall we say? We tell ourselves that that’s apropos for writers.
But when we can, we buy stuff new as much as usual, just to show some love to our fellow creators. Oh, sure, it’s a drop in the bucket but if enough people make the effort, right? So with U2, f’r instance, it doesn’t make a lot of difference but, hey, with The Replacements or Dinosaur Jr it just might make a noticeable spike. "Say…why are we doing so well in the Blue Ridge Mountains these days?" I can imagine the fine folks in Minneapolis wondering.
This is also why we’re such sticklers about not making copies of officially released albums or accepting them from well-meaning friends. Neither of us are, alas, in a position where we get much mileage out of royalties, but we get some, as I’ll discuss in a moment, and we very much hope someday to get more. Much, much more. Oh so much more. Oodles and boodles more. [Besides, making copies for others is, well...you know...stealing, even when it’s done by a well-meaning friend. But more on that another time.]
So. I received my bi-annual (or is it semi-annual? I can never remember and I’m way too lazy to look it up right now) royalty statement today from DC Comics and as usual the unexpected windfall allows to us buy…well, not a new house or a Lamborghini, but at least a couple of pizzas. And I’m not complaining, mind you—as my former boss used to put it, you already got paid for the work and you weren't expecting anything more, so it’s basically free money. And, hey, a couple of pizzas, man…that’s a guaranteed good time.
But what makes this particular gift so unexpected and so pleasant is that it’s for foreign publishing. Not that I got nothin’ against good ol’-fashioned ‘Murican publishing, by any means. But here in the States, you pretty much print a comic and it’s done. Unless it’s later collected, it’s basically out-of-print after a few weeks. Such is the transient nature of comics.
I have had several things collected, so it’s not all that unusual to get tiny little royalties for them. Not surprisingly, the story I’ve made far and away the most money on (enough for nearly a dozen pizzas, maybe) is also easily one of the two worst pieces of writing I’ve ever done. Well, and gotten paid for, that is. Just horrible. Horrible, horrible, horrible. Nice artwork, though. And it might have been slightly better if I hadn’t had to write the first half the week before Max was born (when Top Management was already a week past her due date) and then finish it the week after Max was born (when I had even less of a clue about both writing and parenting than I do now). Oh, and if I hadn’t had to toss my original ending because it was too good. Seriously. Long story of interoffice politics and, actually, they made the right call, much though it bummed me at the time. Beautiful art, though. Really gorgeous. Much better’n my writing deserved. But then that’s true of even my best stuff. Tim, Brian, Jim, Phil, Rick and all the rest--thanks, fellas!
But that’s not what was in this latest statement. This statement was pretty entirely made up of the reprinting of some of the Gotham Adventures books I did with pal and brilliant artist Tim.
And where were these little gems reprinted? The usual places: England. India. Russia. China. Egypt. Lebanon. And Indonesia.
Much as our nation’s most brilliant jazz musicians often found more receptive audiences in Europe and Asia, so too must I go abroad to be hailed as the genius I (and, alas, only I) recognize myself to be.
I mean, how cool is that? My Batman is in Russia and China and India. It was already in England and Canada, from being printed the first time, and most of it’s been reprinted in Mexico and Argentina. Sometimes France and Germany and Spain and even, if I recall correctly, South Korea (I may not be remembering correctly, however, since Batman doesn’t actually translate very well into Asian cultures, interestingly).
But Egypt? And Lebanon? I mean, I’ve now had my work printed in virtually every one of the biggest and most important countries in the world.
Or, as Top Management put it:
Germans love David Hasselhoff.
But Indonesians love Scott Peterson.