Comic Store In Your Future: Turn And Face The Strange


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

The only constant in life is change. Things change. One has to adapt to change. Businesses need to change to keep up with the times.

Sometimes experimenting with changes may be good. We just repainted and had new carpet put in the store. I figured since we would have to move everything back in we would try a new floor layout. Move things around. See some products placed in new areas and if sales would improve. The checkout was near the entrance. I moved it towards the back of the store hoping to improve our ability to interact with customers and a better chance to spot shoplifters.

Did everything go to plan? No, originally I had plan on having the changes done around October 1st, the anniversary of the store. I also thought the talks on the lease would go on longer. They were pretty quick this time. I moved up the timeline due to there being an empty storefront next door to us currently. Our landlord let us use the empty storefront for storage. Makes moving a lot easier by going next door instead of renting a storage unit or using a friend's garage. The storefront may be empty till October but I did not want to take that chance.

Change needs to happen. Even if something is tried and it doesn't work at least it was tried and a lesson is learned. I have tried plenty of things and the results haven't been what I wanted. What makes it all worth it is when we try something new and it works well.

DC You was not a hit for DC. DC Rebirth was.

Valiant is having success with X-O Manowar currently. The pre-selling for the first three issues was a hit. A new idea. It is selling better than the previous X-O Manowar series. Sales in store are growing on the title. Which of course is great.

Marvel seems to think relaunching is still the way to go. Nick Spencer has taken to Twitter to defend the practice. It is a way to keep a series going even though sales are not there for the book. Yes, typing that line up seems crazy. It doesn't sell so let us start over again with the same character and same creative team.

Years ago after a character's title was cancelled Marvel would take some time to let the characters be missed and to get a new creative team that would be a hit with the fans. Giving the fans a chance to miss a character. Thor's return after Disassembled was a hit.

Marvel seems stuck in their mindset. Their old means of artificially inflating sales with relaunches and variants isn't working anymore. They did it so often the well went dry. I still don't understand when Marvel says non-Star Wars limited series do not sell but most of their main superhero titles are basically limited series due to all the re launches.

And reusing the Marvel Now slogan from years ago was just lazy. Lack of creativity. Lack of even trying.

This isn't me trying to bash Marvel. It's me saying try new things. Be creative. Marvel has some of the most recognizable characters in the world thanks to their movies and being one of the longest lasting publishers.

It is a glaring issue when millions know the characters but such a small amount of people check out their comic. Which is not a problem just limited to Marvel.

Spider-Man has a movie coming out this year. Amazing Spider-Man is bleeding readership here in store before the movie. That's insane.

What would I like to see with Marvel?

The hard luck Peter Parker returns. Not the rich one with international Parker Industries. I know he downplays his wealth but a rich guy not spending money on himself isn't what the average person can relate to. The Spider-Man doing the right thing even though the media is attacking him, missing a date due to being Spider-man, or even missing time to be with his family because he wants to do the right thing is the Spider-Man I miss. Having trouble making the rent and worrying about expenses is closer to what the average reader can relate to then someone owning an international business.

Iron Man. My goodness, Tony Stark has been written badly for years. The last few years of trade collections for Iron Man I couldn't give away. It's like Marvel had a mandate to see if they could repulse people from reading Iron Man.

I could go on with each of their mainstay characters but I will just say this. Currently the writers on Marvel books are not getting the readership fired up. Or fired up in a good way. Marvel also currently lacks popular artists. That is why artists don't move the needle for Marvel.

Try some new ways of doing things, Marvel.

Just remember, I write about Marvel because I care. I would like to see Marvel be the company I believe they can be.

Some of my favorite comic storylines are Marvel stories. There needs to be a popular writer/artist team that makes some popular storylines. Not just another first issue. Not just another quick sales bump thanks to having another first issue by the same creative team on the same character to watch sales bleed off even faster than the previous volume did.

Previous volumes of a series mean little to no interest by readership. People want the current series. Not vol 3 of Captain America issue 5. Marvel back issues are now the number one publisher in our dollar bin.

Along with launching so many titles over the last few years Marvel now has the most cancelled titles during that time. Though Marvel often times stealth cancels their titles making it even more of a pain. Many times someone will come in asking why the next issue hasn't come out yet. Then I get to watch the look of disappointment on their face as I explain to them that Marvel simply ended the title they were reading. No thanks for reading our product statement from Marvel. Almost like a no prize. A no cancel!

For a project maybe someone would like to count and list how many and which Marvel Comics have been cancelled over the years. Here are all the titles that come to my mind. Some have not yet ended but will soon. And no I am not googling everyone one of them to see which issue they ended at. All New Inhumans, All New X-Men, Avengers World, Cable & X Force, Cyclops, Elektra, Black Panther: the Crew, Daken Dark Wolverine, Fantastic Four, Fearless Defenders, Gamora, Generation Hope, Hercules, Inhumans, Karnak, Kingpin, Nova, Powerman & Iron Fist, Mockingbird, Mosiac, Nighthawk, Nova, Patsy Walker aka Hellcat, Silk, Spider-Woman, Red She Hulk, Red Wolf, Secret Avengers, Slapstick,Solo, Squadron Supreme, Starbrand and Nightmask, Star Lord, Thunderbolts, World of Wakanda, Uncanny Inhumans, Uncanny X Force, Uncanny X Men, Wolverine, Wolverine Best There Is, and more.

That is a lot of cancelled books. All by the same company. Plus, those are only the ones that come to mind at the moment. There still are a lot more. Some of these titles actually helped push people away from their favorite characters. Wolverine Best There Is was very much disliked here instore to put it mildly. Marvel at times seems to not know what readers would like

Who other than Marvel thought it was a good idea that the Black Panther could have three ongoing titles at the same time?

How else are we trying to change here in store? We have another computer now other than the POS computer (the cash register basically). That computer will be for internet sales. We have plenty of stores selling Magic cards in the area and Magic cards after they are released often times are at their most valuable. After some time most of the cards drop in price. So it becomes a race to sell them. I would also like more higher end items in the store online for sale. We have had a lot of luck so far this year selling online so I hope to increase that even more. Having expensive Magic cards in store sitting in the case usually means just watching them devalue.

As a business we also will need to adapt. Force of Will the card game was a great money maker  for us. Then it suddenly flamed out.

Ordering comics is a game of adapt in itself each month.

Some good news this year so far. Diamond has improved their shipments. Less shortages. Less whole titles failing to make it to us. Less hurting our business.

More new faces. More new customers. Though getting customers because stores have closed isn't my ideal way to get new customers.

2017 is cruising along. The rest of 2017 should be interested. We will keep changing and adapting and hope Marvel does.

About Rich Johnston

Head writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world. Living in London, father of two. Political cartoonist.

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