Rod Lamberti of Rodman Comics of Ankeny, Iowa, writes weekly for Bleeding Cool. Find previous columns here. He writes, "Our Comeback will be bigger than our setback!" That is the slogan for Diamond Comics, formerly the only carrier of comics for comic stores. Stickers on Diamond shipments, posters with the slogan and T-shirts being sent to specific people, is how Diamond is supporting this.
Wizards of the Coast, the makers of Magic the Gathering, sent free booster boxes to stores that carry their product. Very helpful and nice of them. I am willing to bet that helped many stores mine included. Last weekend they supplied stores with exclusive cards that were available for free when a person bought magic products and/or a booster box. Reliquary Tower and MechaGodzilla, Battle Fortress were the two cards they supplied stores for free. Wizards of the Coast came up with this promotion. For many other stores and us, I would bet it was a hit. It indeed increased sales for us. Wizards of the Coast has also been sending online codes to stores to give out to their customers for free. Magic sales are quite healthy here. It was helped in no small part by Wizards of the Coast.
As for comic sales, we have had good DC sales simply because DC is putting out product. Marvel sales for us are lacking, mostly because of the small number of titles they have been putting out each week if Marvel bothers to put out any new titles at all. Marvel's whole upcoming, Wednesdays are for new comics variant covers are funny. This week once again, Marvel did not bother putting out any new comics, so much for Wednesdays being for new comics.
If Diamond Comics and the publishers want to make an actual impact for a comic comeback, then they need to try something more than the current "Our Comeback will be bigger than our setback." Image Comics is putting the "Our Comeback will be bigger than our setback" logo on some of their covers. The logo looks so small on their covers one might need a magnifying glass just to be able to read it. A number of people interested here in store about the Image covers with the logo? Currently zero. Though for us, Image was in a rut even before the virus hit. Spawn is the only title from Image that actually sells for us. Without the Walking Dead or Saga, Image is now a publisher we could order nothing from, and it would not affect our profits. With all the new material Image pumps out that often goes nowhere, it would not break my heart if Image quit publishing comics. I would love to see a refocusing and change in direction for Image. It will be interesting to see how much demand there will be for the upcoming Walking Dead one-shot due to there not having been a Walking Dead title for a while.
We may also get shut down again if a second wave hits of the coronavirus. Here in central Iowa, it looks like many are treating things as if there was no virus. I hope the various publishers and Diamond are able to put together a plan if another shut down happens. Hopefully, they are better prepared than they were for the first shut down.
For us, Magic the Gathering is selling even better than it was before the virus shut us down. I would encourage the various publishers to try different things. If one publisher could do an exclusive one-shot comic available when one of their comics or trades is bought would be a possible idea. Spend $25 or more on a publisher's products to get an exclusive comic. Buy a comic get a coupon to come back next month for an exclusive comic. To me buy $25 or more of a publisher's product to get an exclusive comic sounds like a great idea.
Comic stores are still shutting down, and the fallout from being forced to shut down due to the virus will most likely continue with more stores closing. A lot of money was lost during the shutdown. Currently, we are fortunate enough to not worry about having to close. We are looking at possibly re-hiring in July because that is the next quarter for payroll taxes. We are also hoping to get a better understanding of our customer's changed buying habits. Some of our customers still do not know we have reopened. At grocery stores and other places, people ask, are you guys open again? I have updated our website, flooded our Facebook page with announcements though a lot of people do not go online to check those things. To my knowledge, most everything here in central Iowa is open again. Some of our customers had extra money thanks to the stimulus money; some sadly did lose their job. Others simply may now be out of the habit of collecting comics. It will be a long learning process.
Let us see some positive change by the publishers coming up with plans to get new comic readers into comics along with lapsed ones. Stories of hope have filled comics for years, let us see a hopeful future for the comic industry.