I was really discouraged when Toys R Us went bankrupt not long ago. Yes, I did enjoy buying toys and figures and such there for years, but what really hit me was that comics like those from Alterna were reaching customers there.
Now, that was over.
I’ve recently been reading from several sources about another company, GameStop, and their experiment with selling DC and Marvel comics in a limited number of their stores.
All I can say is, go, GameStop, go!
I HEAR THIS IS HAPPENING
There have been several reports online that GameStop, a large chain of gaming stores, is running a trial in the form of 20 GameStop and 20 ThinkGeek establishments. Initial indications are that they’ll carry some Marvel and DC, but also some Oni Press comics utilizing a new spinner rack.
Well, one James Parker, who previously started Hastings, a large comics and collectibles chain, has landed at GameStop after that group went under. He sees comics as a good fit with the current trend of collectibles in the marketplace. Rather than dive in feet first, they’re running this test to see how it works.
I have to say that comics fans should check out their local GameStop and ThinkGeek stores to see if they’re part of this experiment. If they are, by all means, support it mightily, if you can!
WHY THIS IS A GOOD IDEA
I have often said that selling comics in venues outside the LCS is a great idea. It expands the reach of the industry beyond the more rabid fans among us to the more casual interests in the community.
If you pick up a comic and like it, well, it’s likely you’ll need a LCS to keep going or to get back issues. You can always find those through a variety of means, and once that happens, you could help your local comics shop improve or even thrive.
I always look at movies and TV shows as hour-long to two-hour-long commercials for the books. They may revive or introduce people to the characters. And their advertising will help shops everywhere because, hey, they’re selling things with those heroes in them!
The trick to this is that local shops have to find a way to advertise in coordination with this effort. If you know your local GameStop or ThinkGeek store is selling comics, as a store owner you should be promoting your shop. If it were me, I’d even push buying books at those stores, then say, if you like what you find there, come here next!
I remember the days when I would buy comics at my neighborhood grocery stores. They sold in the millions back then, and they cost only ten cents each. I know it can’t be quite that way again, but why not make a line of comics that doesn’t require buying decades of books to understand what’s happening? I know that Marvel was trying to do that with its Ultimate line, but they fell back into the old trap of continuity locks. DC did that with Impact, a line with the Fly and other heroes. Apparently, the more devoted among us didn’t go for either of them, so they didn’t buy them and they no longer exist.
But it could be worth another try!
THE BAD SIDE
I say, please reconsider that. There’s room for both kinds of comics.
Then, too, as I previously mentioned, Toys R Us began selling comics, and they went belly up. I think, though, that there were other problems with that chain that Alterna, try as they might, couldn’t fix. For instance, when a new animated movie came out, the chain would buy the related action figures by the boxful. If the movie bombed, they were stuck with tons of action figures cluttering up their aisles for months. How could they possibly know what would be a hit and what wouldn’t be? Hey, if you can answer that question, you need to be an industry advisor! I try to follow this stuff, and I am often stunned by what works and what doesn’t.
I’m sure there will be some GameStop folks who understand comics better than most in their company, and they’ll order wisely. I worry that that their store might ace out the local LCS with product ordered well and in good condition. I doubt that will be as big a problem as some think it will, though.
I’ve been to many a GameStop, including a local one or two, and they’re big on figures, including POPs. A friend and I went to one and discovered they had boxes with an ultra-rare Yellow Power Ranger in them, and we bought several for a family of collectors we know. We did keep one, I think, but let’s just say they sold out of every rare POP they had that day.
Could the same kind of thing happen with comics? Could a hard-to-find comic go wild in a local ThinkGeek, attracting fans who may not have frequented the store before? Could be, and maybe both industries would benefit from it!
Personally, I’m all for comics getting a toehold in every store they can. I’m all for dollar comics up to current stuff appearing in grocery stores, gaming establishments and anything else even remotely connected to the industry.
I’d love to walk into a store and see those dollar Image introductory comics for sale there. I’d buy several, that’s for sure!