[Groop]State of the Comics Union (was Question for ME)

Ruben Arellano rarellano@shaw.ca
Sun, 16 Dec 2001 23:10:22 -0800

I've got to agree with MisterElie.  

Although to put a little perspective on things, I think one of the 
reasons that stores have backed off of huge backissue stock is that 
there are just so many titles to keep in stock.  You can't expect a 
store these days to keep the same selection and representation of back 
issues as they could have in the 60s or 70s.  When I used to go into 
some shops asking for some obscure Aragones appearance (say, Wild 
Animals #1), they would laugh and say "If I kept stock like that, I'd 
have no room in my shop and no money in the bank".  Fair enough.  

But, on the other hand, here's the story with my local comic shop.  I 
basically go there out of convenience because they're the closest.  I 
was one of their first customers when they openened up, and I've been a 
'loyal' customer for over 10 years, not buying huge volumes, but at 
least a couple of titles each month.  I go in every few months and pick 
up my stock.  Well, just about every time I go in, they've missed some 
issues they were supposed to set aside.  Their answer is usually, "Oh, 
sorry, we can try to get that in"... which they don't ever.  I can't 
just tell him "All things Sergio Aragones", because he will never pick 
out those issues, so these days I just say "Groo & Usagi Yojimbo", and 
if I"m lucky I'll get 3 out of 4 issues, and I have to go to the net to 
pick up the rest.  If it wasn't for his other specialty, toys & stuff, I 
don't know how he'd survive with customer service like that.  It's 
gotten to the point where I dread going in to pick up my stock, because 
then I have to hunt around to fill in the holes.  I wish I had an 
alternate place to go....

It's easy to say that kids would rather play games than read comics, but 
I think that is mainly due to marketing.  The gaming companies actively 
market to new and existing customers all the time.  The comics biz fell 
behind because they took for granted that the kids would keep coming 
back.  I mean, look at Harry Potter, there's proof that kids can still 
go bonkers over reading material -- it just has to be right for them.  

Man, you'd think i was trying to make up for lurking so much,

MisterElie@aol.com wrote:

> I have to agree with Ruben.  I came in to comics relatively late.  I 
> was 16 and was intrigued by the fact Superman was going to die.  Would 
> you believe the very first time I walked into a comic book shop was 
> the day Superman #75 came on sale and I thought I could simply walk in 
> that day and buy one off the rack---such naivete!  Anyway, I grew up 
> with parents who taught me comics are for kids and adults only collect 
> them to sell them.  Once I started reading them I discovered that 
> either: A.) I have a childlike sense of entertainment, or B.) comics 
> grew up.  Almost 10 years and 2,800 comics later, I've come to the 
> conclusion that I'm grown up yet I love comics and I'm not going to 
> get rid of them.  Most comics are not really for kids anymore.  I 
> think that's why Marvel stopped using the Comics Code Authority - the 
> audience has grown up and the comics had to grow up as well to keep 
> its audie! nce.  Even the ones that still use the code are pretty 
> mature - checked out the Batman titles lately?
> But the comic shops are trying to get kids into their stores.  They 
> realize kids spend money without thought of the cost, and parents need 
> a place to go to get their kids holiday presents.  That's why they've 
> slowly been decreasing their comics stock and increasing their gaming. 
>  Kids want to play games; not read comics.  
> We live in an area where there are 2 "comics shops."  One of them 
> sells comics and adult magazines.  The comics are arranged in a rather 
> disorganized way (ex: Batman #500 is between the latest issue of 
> Wizard and an X-Men cover variant).  They have a large back issue 
> selection, but I haven't figured out how they are organized.  The 
> other "comic shop" has a very organized back room containing the 
> latest new issues of comics.  I've never seen the worker in that room, 
> he is usually in the front with the kids organizing card games and 
> selling model kits.  I've been there when the lights in the comic book 
> section are off.  We don't usually go to either shop, rather we get 
> our comics by mail and our back issues through the web because we are 
> rather apalled by the apathy shown to us by workers at the local 
> comics shops.
> Is it any wonder adults don't go to these places?  Any wonder why the 
> industry has problems?  If you want a successful comic book shop, just 
> look at who your customers are.  When I go to a con, I see lots of 
> kids and teens going for the gaming, but the adults are going for the 
> comics.  Having sensible and logical store layouts aside, what should 
> that tell comic store owners to stock their shelves with?
> By the way, I don't want you to misunderstand me, I love comics and I 
> think there are some incredible stories out there right now.  I have 
> also had some almost-magical experiences in comic shops in the past. 
>  I think the industry could regain some of its former glory if only it 
> was represented by more retailers with as much pride in their product 
> as the people who create the comics and the consumers who buy them.
> Oh well, I'll step off my soapbox now and watch the Cartoon Network.
> Elie