August 18, 2011
I am often asked in the shop my thoughts on the “New 52” launch, here are some responses I gave to TimeOut Chicago magazine in a recent interview. These are from my perspective as a retailer rather than me as a fan.
1. To start with, does DC’s “New 52” initiative strike you as a good thing for the industry?
Yes. The world of comic book retailing is changing very quickly. When I was kid, moms didn’t know who Captain America and the Avengers were, now they are household names. The properties of DC and Marvel are more known and popular than ever. If the industry can plug into even 5% of these new fans, we will double the readership.
2. Are your current customers excited about it?
Very wide reactions. Reaction to the announcement started with anger and frustration, but quickly turned to curiosity and interest. Readers and collectors are very loyal to the characters, but will come along for a new ride, if it is grounded in the past history of the characters.
3. What titles are you excited about? More specifically: If you had to recommend, say, four new books, what would they be?
I am more excited about the consistent shipping schedule and commitment to on time books than any specific title. Customers are most excited about Action Comics and Justice League, with the big creator names on them. Scott Synder’s Swamp Thing and Jeff Liemere’s Animal Man are also generating a lot of interest.
4. Come September, do you anticipate it will bring new customers into your shop? Or just lapsed comic readers of old? (Or neither?)
I believe it will bring back “lapsed” DC comic readers. DC readers who left for Marvel and have been waiting to jump back on to some DC titles. And more importantly it will provide a great new place for new customers, who wonder in from the movies and a growing interest in comics, an easy place to start reading.
5. Have you ordered the books with optimism or are you being conservative with your orders?
We have increased our orders, but not so aggressively as to meet all the ordering requirements for return eligibility.
6. What do you think about DC’s policies around its release of digital comics—day and date, same price point (for the first month), etc.? Are you concerned that they’ll drop the price as time goes on?
Yes, I believe they will drop the prices.
Down loading comics is cutting into the sale of individual comic books and will continue to, at a great pace in the coming years. But down loading is also bring in many new readers who are buying the properties in other formats. Customers today, don’t want Daredevil issue #158, they want the complete run of Frank Miller’s Daredevil. Much as we now watch television shows by DVD seasons, not by an episode every Thursday. While the individual sale of comic books is shrinking, the sales of graphic novels and collections are continuing to grow.
7. Are you concerned about the tidal wave of digital comics wiping out print? Do you forsee many comics shops closing in the next year or two? Do you have a strategy (and if so, any details you’d like to share about it) for staying in business if monthly comics sales decrease?
I believe more shops will close, due to the economy and the large number of shops in existence right now. I don’t believe the sky is falling. The way people read comics is changing and as retailers and publishers we need to plug in to that new way of reading. Digital comics, television and movies are bring more and more potential customers into our shops, more than ever before! These new customers are looking for the right product and that product doesn’t look like the past.
8. Overall, what would you tell DC (if the execs were listening to you) about how they could keep the comics industry healthy?
Keep going. Keep developing new writers like Hickman and Brubaker. Keep the big name creators working. Keep Jim Lee drawing. Keep playing with the format of comics, while keeping the quality of the story and characters.
Look for ways that new readers can follow stories easily. Return numbering to graphic novels, so customers know which book to read next in a series. Continue to connect the comics world to the movies and animated releases.
This is a exciting time in comics. Our store is seeing more kids and young people experiencing comics for the first time. Watch a young reader experience a comic for the first time and you’ll notice that he or she doesn’t care if it is the newest release or a fancy variant cover. They are lost in the exciting world of the comic’s story. We may not sell comics the same way in the future, but there will always be readers looking for comics.
9. Finally, do you plan to have any events or sales policies in place come August 31? Midnight opening, returnable comics, etc.?
At this time we do not plan to open at 12:01am, but if First Aid Comic Customers demand it in the coming days, we may change that decision. We will have celebrations each Wednesday of the 52 New Releases as the #1s come out. Including a raffle for fancy variant covers.