Find out what The Laughing Ogre, a Columbus, Ohio LCS, is doing to bring in customers!
Every day seems to bring more worrisome news for comic retailers across the country. With gas and oil prices rising or reports of historically low comic sales figures, local comic book stores are finding unique ways to drive sales and bring in new customers.
The Laughing Ogre in Columbus, Ohio came up with an innovative way to promote both mainstream comics and local comic artists at the same time. Last Wednesday, the store held a special promotion in which local artists provided free sketches to customers who purchased a copy of FF #1 with a blank cover.
Store manager Jeffrey Stang explained the inspiration behind the event. "We get blank covers in all the time. I know people love them at cons. They buy them and take get their favorite artist to do a sketch on them. I figured why not get some local artists in and give them exposure while doing something for the customers."
The store was able to secure commitments from eight local comic book artists: Andy Bennett, Craig Bogart, Tim Fischer, John Lara, Michael Neno, Justin Ryan, Uko Smith, Tom Williams and David Willis. On the day of the event, the artists sat at tables throughout the store and drew sketches, mainly of Fantastic Four characters, throughout the day. Occasionally, the artists received requests for popular characters such as Wolverine or Batman. Some artists handled even odder requests. Andy Bennett drew a picture of Godzilla and Cthulhu doing shots of liquor, while David Willis sketched pictures of the Fantastic Four dressed as Batman as well as My Little Ponies.
The event helped to push sales of the new Fantastic Four series. "A lot of people who don't usually pick up the book got it just to get a free sketch," said Stang. It also brought in new traffic and including people who had never been exposed to comics before.
The artists were enthusiastic about the event as well. The Laughing Ogre provided copies of the artists' published work on their tables and gave them time to interact with customers. Artist Andy Bennett, whose published work includes a story in the IDW anthology Lifelike, believed the event was a great success, despite an unexpected hailstorm hitting the area in the afternoon. "Those who did brave the weather were friendly and excited," said Bennett. "Everyone was receptive to having us attending artists vandalize their comics! It's always nice to see an event bring people into a comic shop who would ordinarily never think to stop by."
All in all, Stang considered the event to be a rousing success. Not only did The Laughing Ogre sell a large amount of FF issues, they also sold a significant amount of small press comics and built their customer base as well. Stang was enthusiastic when asked if the store would hold a similar event in the future. "Definitely," he replied. "However, we'd only do one or two a year. Otherwise, the artist's hands would get tired."
Written or Contributed by: Christian Hoffer