Why 5 Kid Comics of California May Be Closing Down

When big publishers launch a new comic book, they have been known to include heavily tiered incentive covers for retailers who order 100, 500, 1000 copies of a certain comic, more than the comic store would ever be able to sell. But the may be able to sell the tiered covers for the price of ordering all those additional covers, so it makes sense. Comic books are not the only industry to work with such promotions.

They may however be the only one to deal with a medium that was intended to be rolled up and placed in a back pocket. now being treated as a collectable where the condition is paramount of importance, and being distributed worldwide with thousands of others of its brethren.

5 Kid Comics is a family owned and operated online comic retailer, located in Southern California. Or at least it was. In a letter sent to customers complaining about not getting their comics, and being passed from retailer to retailer, they explain what happened to them and why they may have to close. This is their side of the story.

I'm sure you're frustrated and looking for an update. So are we. Heres some more detailed information of what has been happening because we don't have much of an update because we haven't gotten one either. You can take this and do what you need to do. What we have said before we still say, your items are still on order. Whenever we get them, we will ship them. We have no idea when that will be at this point and we make no guarantee, as we never have, just that we ship weekly as they arrive. When they arrive, they ship, always have always will. Although these will be the last shipments because we are most certainly going out of business. Before this loss we had plenty of loss recently from people who simply do not know how pre-orders work, or just completey ripped us off and took advantage of a small business. It just is what it is. When you lose everything, you tend to be a bit more candid I suppose.

The final loss began with Diamond with releases from 9/26. We had 1000 Heroes in crisis and 1000 Punisher #2 on order, solely to fill pre-orders for 2 1:500 punishes and 5 1:200 heroes in crisis. Punisher only had 1 qualifying book for the incentive, while heroes in crisis had more, which is why we offered the Mattina bundle. They did not send us any variants for HiC at all, none. Just 1000 of the regular cover which is not what we ordered. Ok, we can work that out. The kicker was the 2 1:500 and 5 1:200 were just thrown in the box, loose on top the inner boxes. To say they were messed up is putting it lightly. They were reluctant to replace them, since they do not guarantee any condition. I wasn't letting it go because how much I had to spend to get them and how much I would lose if they didn't. They finally agreed and I had to pay for 2 day shipping so I could still get your orders out in a reasonable time. The only replaced 3 HiC, that's it. I demanded they take all 1000 copies back from each title because the loss was simply to great. We are talking thousands of dollars of 100% loss from 2 books! Thousands of dollars required to pay them for future purchases. Imagine an order of hundreds of titles! Long story short 1 of the 3 people I have to go through decided they would take the return.

Since then I hardly hear from them, any of them. They never sent a return and obviously that next week they did not send an order(10/3) nothing. The invoice that they sent for that week was short a lot and I reminded them that I needed to receive the return form because that would cover the invoice. No response. Daily emails and calls and no response. I finally get an automated email with an invoice for items shipping 10/10. It has 2 items on it, 2! And those were replacements from damages almost a month ago. I email and call again. I remind them that they still have not sent me a return authorization form for the 2000 books they said they would return, also that 2 invoices in a row since then have been totally incorrect and include virtually nothing that I have ordered. I included screenshots of all the stuff I have ordered, mainly the almost 2000 copies of TWD blind bags. They actually called me and said "Walking Dead day is Saturday, not sure if we can get them there by then" Why when I ordered them well before FOC even? I get no reason because I am talking to someone in their credit department who has no idea about how comics work, yet controls all my orders Then I got another automated email telling me I have a package shipping (which was when I updated last time saying there was a 23lb package on the way) that said it would be here Friday and didnt get here until Monday. I had no idea what was in the box because I never got an invoice. I assumed it was the 2 short invoices they sent me. It wasn't. It was 1 full case of TWD #92 only. Funny thing is our order for #92 was just shy of 1 case. What is going on?!?!?!

Since then all I have done is email and call the 2 contacts I have. I finally got a response from a manager of some kind. My account is now in the hands of someone else apparently, the 5th person in only a few months. When we started with Diamond they put us on "pre-paid" meaning you place an order and you pay for it before they actually order it. You have to do that 4x consecutively and then they move you to COD, meaning order as you please and pay when you pick up your order. We have been COD for awhile now but the person handling it has never gotten it right and when we try and drop a payment when we pick up, they cannot even take it because they have nothing showing we owe. So we always have to go and call so they can take payment. Sometimes they don't take our call for weeks or respond to emails telling them to run payment, until it gets to be too much money owed and then they are all over it before their boss find out. This has always been a nightmare and even worse trying to get someone to fix their mistakes. It's hard to run a business when you don't know your #1 expense and virtually have no control over it because their method of billing is also extremely ridiculous. So, back to the phone call I got. Since we have always been "pre-paid" according to them, our account has just been on hold until we pay for everything that has been ordered. I thought well finally someone is taking care of it. I was glad to pay whatever needed to be paid as I really need it here 3 weeks ago. "Ok, sure, it will be $27,650." As absolutely ridiculous as it has been with everything I should have not been surprised. I was. I was shocked and there is nothing they are willing to do to help me. Over the month of September I took just shy of that in loss. Total loss. We don't even do that in sales a month and I soaked every penny I had personally to stay alive this long so I could get the books on order. Every time Diamond shorts me or sends damage that they cant or wont replace, I go and buy that book from someone to get it for you. Sometimes that can be very costly, think Batman Damned. I also never charge that dumb secondary prices on the site when I book comes out. All of that is to provide a better service that everyone deserves for comics but basically doesn't exist anywhere online. In hindsight I guess that should have been handled differently.

Again, take this all as you will and do what you feel is the right thing for you. I had to let go everyone that did work for me and it is just me now and I am will continue to make every effort to get your books, but I will be closing down. I cannot manage the social media and because I get flooded with questions every day, I will be shutting those down. I do try and respond but if I have nothing to share I don't want to just anger everyone even more and it makes it even harder to see what hate everyone has for me when it comes from all these directions. You can still email here, but responses and updates will come as I get them.

To say that I am sorry is an understatement. To fail and not get everyone's books is beyond disappointing to me, when it takes everything I have and makes it hard to feed my family it becomes devastating. Thank you for the patience and understanding you have been able to give me. I completely understand any hate that comes over this. I do realize that you purchased from me and not Diamond and that all this could be irrelevant to you, but it's all I have.

This is one person's side, in a time of considerable distress, but it does underline some of the issues and judgement calls that comic book retailers have to make – and what can happen when it goes wrong.

Why 5 Kid Comics of California May Be Closing Down

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.