Comic Store In Your Future – How We Sold Batman: Damned #1

Rod Lamberti of Rodman Comics writes weekly for Bleeding Cool. Find previous columns here.

The things a comic store owner deals with. I dealt with a Secret Shopper, unique people, pull lists, a comic book where Batman is showing his manhood, reading about Batman Damned #1 being sold by other stores, seeing people being upset that stores are making money off the comic, and selling said issue online.

Managed to pass the Diamond Secret Shopper again. Looks like the low unemployment is affecting the hiring of the Secret Shoppers now. The guy was very pushy and claimed to be looking for a Thor card set also but had no idea about it other than it was a Thor card set. So that was a waste of time trying to find, since he really didn't want anything to begin with. An actual customer who was in to buy comics was nice enough to let me know he snuck in a picture also. Diamond you need some new material. After all these years the Secret Shopper still has to follow the exact same script. Asking for two comics that are not to be sold until the next day.  This Secret Shopper was even told about the Secret Shopper program to try to get him to back off. His response, "They will never know." Groan. Diamond feel free to use the money spent on the Secret Shopper program on things like helping make sure what comic stores order is actually correct.

Have not received the secret shopper report yet.

Awhile back had three people come in at once. Two guys and a gal. The first guy left after about fifteen minutes and didn't buy anything. The gal kept asking me questions nonstop. I have no problem answering questions as long as they are legit questions. Asked if we have Lucifer #3 and after finding it for  cover price was told, no I am looking for the issue after that, and then after me finding the fourth issue and then being told no, not that one either, is a waste of time. She was in for over half an hour and each issue she asked about that I found, she had me put back. Throughout all this, it was easy to tell she was texting the guy that was still around. She got bored and went out to the car they came in and got on her phone. The store's phone rang and a lady claimed she brought her kid in and was ignored by the staff as they goofed around. Which was a red flag right there because I had been working each day the store was open that week. I simply asked "Oh, which day did this happen on?" A few moments of silence followed. Then "Monday, it happened on Monday." "We aren't even open on Monday," I replied and hung up. Then the guy still hanging around received another text. I don't know if she was trying to distract me or what, I knew it was her texting him so I went over and just started talking with him.  Asking what he was interested in. What I could help him with and so on. He knew I was just going to keep standing by him and talk with him so he finally gave up and left. Not sure if they were hoping to shoplift and were stopped from doing so or what. At least if they were trying to shoplift hopefully I screwed that up for them.

Pull lists are often a source of irritation. One thing people need to understand is unless the comics were prepaid for the ones on hold are not theirs until they actually pay for them. If I just held on to every person's unpaid for pull list for months I would be out of business. Stores don't get the comics for free or don't wait to pay for them until they are paid for. Once a month is the rule here for pull boxes. If a person is unwilling to stop twelve times or more a year then comic collecting isn't really for them. I have had people who have abandon their pull boxes and then ask for a job here. No, I take a lot of heck for past employees but we do have standards. If a person wasn't responsible enough with a comic pull box to return my calls letting me know they had abandoned their pull box then they are not going to be an employee here.

Comic Store In Your Future – How We Sold Batman: Damned #1

I called and talked with Jeff, former owner of Dragonfire Comics and told him, I bet you wish you had a comic store now so you can spend days answering questions about if you have Batman Damned #1 in stock? Batman just drives into the Batcave and strips down. DC is correct his manhood showing is not needed for the story. It is good to know Bruce felt the need to strip as soon as he is stepping out of the Batmobile. I understand after I pull into my garage I just toss my clothes off. Poor Alfred. Taking care of Bruce when he was a kid and still picking up his clothes after him. Nothing like the most in-demand book of the year being because Batman showed his manhood. DC's new go to? Followed it up with this week's Doomsday Clock.  What next? Black Label Superman North Pole. Superman arrives in the Fortress of Solitude and just strips down. Black Label Wonder Woman Paradise Island. Wonder Woman arrives on Paradise Island and goes native.

Batman Damned #1 over the weekend was clearing $80 online. Not bad for a comic that retails at $6.99.

Every store will deal with Batman Damned in its own way. I did read about Batman showing it all before Wednesday on Bleeding Cool. We simply took down a comic from the back issue wall behind where the checkout is and displayed the issue there and did not put any out on the shelves. That way people would know it was in, could still get it and we didn't have to explain to parents or a kid that it wasn't for them and get it back out of their hands if it was on the shelf. The Tuesday before it went on sale I did wonder if it being a bigger sized book like a magazine, that would cause it to sell less copies. Nope, it went mainstream so that was not an issue.  I was lucky enough to get more copies ordered before Diamond was out that Wednesday. Crossing my fingers that they make it next week.

How we handled it. Everyone who had it on their pull lists got one of course. Our regulars who decide they wanted one though did not let us know ahead of the release date and did not manage to get it the day it came out will get the reorder stock when it comes in.  Meaning my reorder should cover those that are regular customers that still want the comic.

Since we did not have any copies left I did not to need to worry about someone throwing a fit by buying it in the future. Magic Order #1 with the dead body showing his manhood, we still have bagged and boarded here. I put a few in our mature readers' comic mystery box for sale on our anniversary to get them out.

Some people were upset over Batman's nudity in Batman Damned #1. I remember reading an article about a parent who was upset her daughter read an old issue of a Batman Confidential issue that had Batgirl nude in the issue though it did not actually show anything that could be R rated.

Then I read this. And then this comment:

"It's crappy that Midtown didn't wait even a week to jack up the price by almost 200%.

And comic shop owners want to cry and bitch and moan when DC does something like the Walmart deal without them. Lol"

That comment makes no sense. If they kept selling them for another week at cover price they wouldn't have any left and would have left a lot money on the table. A business sells product at what the market will buy for it.

What does Walmart have to do with anything? They aren't selling Batman Damned. Our local Walmart is overflowing with Walmart comic exclusives.

So if nothing can be sold above cover price, my personal back issue collection is worthless? I bought them for cover price so I should not get more than what I paid for them?

Why is it some people say comic stores are never going to make it and a soon as one is seen as making a profit those same people get upset?

Do some people forget that comic book stores are a business?

Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling products (goods and services).

34 percent of small business owners said they do not have a retirement plan. That is terrible. Just work until one dies is not a retirement plan. People may resent business owners, though the fact is comic stores sell comics at a profit. If they don't they go out of business. Store owners work for the same reason other people work. To make money.

Have people not figured out why most people want to buy Batman Damned #1? Because they look at as a way to make money. People want to buy what they see as something of value. Others want the comic because it is hard to get currently.  No one is buying it for kids (at least I hope not).

Why are comic stores owners looked at differently than other people trying to make money? When people sell something they want the best deal they can get. I have yet to hear anyone sell their house they bought for say $200,000 and go oh no, the market says it is worth $250,000 but that means we would make $50,000 grand, that is wrong so we will just sell it for $200,000.

We sold two copies of Batman Damned online. Two people who had it in their pull boxes over the weekend decided they did not want it. The issues are currently hot and we have more due in Tuesday. One cleared $80 dollars and one cleared $70.  I also bought a set of the covers for the issue off eBay for $15.00 with free shipping and received them Monday and then sold them for $132.50 in a 24 hour auction. Before some people get all upset thinking that the money went directly to me and for some reason I do not deserve it, remember businesses have expenses. Most of that will cover our yearly $208 that we spend for getting our comics on a Tuesday that Diamond gets. The money left over for that will go to other expenses, such as the left over copies of Iron Man #1 and Fantastic Four #1. Also why should comic store owners not get bonuses if they are able to? Other people get bonuses at their workplace.

If people are watching each day after Saturday has seen the price for Batman Damned 1 drop. Like the Wal Mart exclusive comics odds are Batman Damned will be a big deal when it is new though people will lose interest and move on to the next "hot" comic.  Who remembers the All-Star Batman "potty mouth" issue where DC blacked out the cussing but, when it was actually printed the cussing could be seen through the black bars and DC had the issue destroyed and new corrected issues sent? That issue of All-Star Batman was in demand when it was new. Years later not so much.

Not selling Batman Damned while it is in demand would be foolish. Selling them to others who are just going to buy them for cover and then get over eight times what they paid for them that are not regular customers is idiotic. I learned long ago we are not going to get any new repeat customers that way.

Just as I stated with our pullists. People need to understand until they actually pay for it the comic book is not theirs. It is the store's. After a person buys a comic they can do whatever they want with it. Entitlement feelings be damned if they don't own it they can say anything on the internet but it still isn't theirs to do what they want with it. If a person buys a comic book and shreds it, so be. It is theirs to do as they please. If a comic store wants to shred all their copies of a comic they can.

Some people damn a comic store for making money. Even when some people buying Batman Damned are doing so to make money. Though for some reason that is alright because they do not own a comic store. Makes no sense. As I have often stated everyone gets to spend their money the way the want to. No one is being forced to buy a comic. There is no gun to people's head forcing them to spend money. The people online buying comics over retail have the same rights as the people that buy comics online below cover price.

One of my goals is as long as I live long enough I am going to retire with actual savings and a retirement plan. I am not going to sponge off others now or when I retire. Working to make money to make sure that happens.

Next week 8 years of Rodman Comics!

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About Rod Lamberti

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