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Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--You Can Sell More Comics

Column by Steve Bennett

Published: 02/06/2009, Last Updated: 11/30/1999 12:00am

Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  This week, Bennett mourns the death of independent comics.

Well I really should have seen it coming but as we all now know Ka-Blam, who I wrote about last week, has formed a distribution arm ComicMonkey claiming “No Benchmarks, No Thresholds, No Minimums, No Fees.”  Now this might seem suspicious but I swear I didn’t get the memo from my informed source until after the column was posted, so what at first might smack of collusion is in reality just another wacky coincidence.

 

Retailers should definitely check out their website and while informative I still have questions, like, in today’s wobbly economy can a new distributor (and we know several are being launched) attract enough comic book shops to create a sustainable venture?  Or even better, are there still enough comic book shops out there actually willing to get back into the business of selling comics other than Marvel or DC.

Because we used to, but we also used to sell manga so I’ll understand if there are stores out there who believe his development can’t benefit them, but they’d be missing an opportunity to sell more comics.  And over the years I’ve written this column that’s the one question I’ve been asked most by retailers, though usually it’s been phrased more along the lines of “stop wasting our time with stupid stuff like Mark Merlin/Prince Ra-Man: Supernatural Investigators Of A Certain Age* and just tell us how we can sell more comic books already.”

I usually answer this with a succinct “you can’t”, not with your current resources and the products our vendors have been sending us.  I know selling Marvel and DC keeps your lights on but you can’t argue with the unfortunate math I keep bringing up; you only have x number of customers and they can only buy x number of comics.

No matter how many new #1’s Marvel puts out (though it’s certainly, well, interesting, Marvel is putting out an adaptation of Pride And Prejudice; I can’t wait to see the Lizzy Bennett / Wolverine variant cover) it’s not going to generate new customers for you.  Chances are your current customers aren’t going to buy any new (and by “new” I also mean ‘other’, i.e., not super-heroes) comics and there’s no way to make them.  But new comics can bring in new customers.

Now it’ll mean taking a chance (and I realize it’s always easy taking a chance with somebody else’s money) and making an effort (and I know you’re plenty busy already) because you’re going to have to let your potential new customers know you have these comics.  And that’ll mean updating your store’s MySpace page, putting advertisements in your local free paper, targeting universities or the local military base, etc.

I can’t promise you that I’ll work for you or your store, but it can work; I know, I’ve seen it happen.

I was snowed in last week but finally made it into Super-Fly Comics & games this week; as I walked in co-owner Tad Cleveland was putting away the holds for the third printing of the variant cover of Amazing Spider-Man #583 that we had just got in while fielding calls from people who wanted copies of the fourth printing.  This, I don’t understand.  And I finally got a chance to read Final Crisis #7 and found it to be a “failure” only inasmuch as I really don’t know how many more superhero comics you have to read after this one.

And I wish I could take credit for it but this idea is all Tad’s; Marvel, instead of raising the price of certain titles why not switch to a cheaper paper stock?  The paper quality was only raised to placate collectors back in ancient times when the floppy was the "final" edition of the material, but now that most of them also buy the trade I’m guessing they’d accept an inferior grade of paper for the pamphlets in exchange for keeping the price point down.

I don’t know if any of you noticed but on January 30th Cartoon Network discontinued the Toonami Jetstream anime streaming channel on their website, cutting off their last tie to the defunct "Toonami" brand and (quite possibly) last ties to anime as it reinvents itself as a "tween" channel and ads more live action programming.  On the plus side they’ll be doing an adaptation of the well done Necessary Evil comic, but on the downside it looks like I’ll never get see those unaired episodes of Zatch Bell Jetsteam was running.

* DC should stop pretending their graying audience is interested in the antics of a bunch of young adults and repurpose a couple of their b-list characters to appeal to them.  Plus imagine the opportunity for ad sales from accounts like Rogaine, Viagra and whatever other prescription drug is currently being sold during the nightly news.

The opinions expressed in this Talk Back column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.

 
 
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