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Your Friendly Neighborhood Comic Shop: If I Were the Emperor of Comics... (Part 4)

Written by Matt Johnson on Wednesday, August 28 2013 and posted in Columns

Your Friendly Neighborhood Comic Shop: If I Were the Emperor of Comics... (Part 4)

Matt Johnson discusses whether comic stores selling toys and games are good or bad for the industry.

Destroy, rend, crush, smash…. Oh, why hello.  I didn’t see you there.  Welcome to my palatial estate.  It is only just that I be given such a magnificent domicile.  I am an Emperor  and… hmm, you interrupt a god/king?  What was I doing?  Oh, nothing much, just putting an end to variant covers and collectability in comics.

You need another ruling from your Emperor?  Fine, fine, I decree that all of the comic universe will stop playing with their toys.

Have you noticed that over the last ten years or so, the explosion of toys in comic shops?  Have you noticed the number of games in comic shops?

Before I'm attacked by the angry mob, I am NOT against Gaming or toys.  I have a lot of “action” figures myself, though most are not played with on a regular basis and are really more along the lines of small, inexpensive statuettes.  I'm also a fan of tabletop gaming.  I have a group that I get together with a couple times a year and we spend nearly an entire day gaming.  So, PLEASE consider this as I continue.

Why is the comic industry in need of games and toys to succeed?  The majority of the Previews catalog is collectibles and trinkets, not comics.  I want to see a comic industry not propped up on superfluous items, but standing on its own two feet.

At my shop, we don’t sell Magic cards or have more space or employees devoted to gaming and toys than we do to comics. Now, we used to be a coffee shop and the argument could be made we had more space devoted to that then we did comics but we needed the sales of the coffee to get the comic side of the business off the ground and become self sustaining.

We’ve ordered in toys and a few games from time to time, but we’ve also never had a huge amount of space dedicated to that.  However, nearly every shop in the country seems to be a hobby shop and not a comic shop.  Why is that?

I believe that the industry cannot support JUST comics anymore.  I wish it wasn’t like this but the allure of more profits and the reduction of losses from less profitable (Comics) ventures creates this symbiotic (parasitic) reality.

If you can do something well, do IT well.  When I shop for beer, I don’t buy it from a grocery store; I go to an independent seller.  In my home town, I go to Ingersoll Wine and Spirits, because the people who work there know what they're talking about.  They know the difference between an IPA and a Pale Ale, not to mention the difference between Sierra Nevada, Summit and Stone’s different IPAs and Pale Ales.  They try the product and they can recommend what is good and what is not.  Hell, if you get to know them well enough, they can tell me by what I have bought in the past what other beers I like.

Why is the comic book industry not like this?

I don’t want to go to Walmart to get my comic books.  I want to go to a shop that has comics and can make recommendations to me out of a wide variety of many companies, types and styles the best of what is available.  Plus, I want the stores to get to know me well enough to know what I like and what to avoid.

When someone comes in to my shop, I want them to leave happy.  I also know that when they come into my shop, they are coming in for COMICS.

So, when I mandate that we stop playing with our toys, I don't mean customers, but retailers.  There is nothing wrong with shops stocking both, but you better know both products well enough to sell it.  Otherwise, you're no better than Walmart or any other store.


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About the Author - Christian

Christian is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Christian is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.


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