Comic Store In Your Future: 2019 Was the Year of Hype – What Will 2020 be?

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

What stuck out for me during the year of 2019?

The most recent memories are how many people wanted to sell collectibles to us in the last month of 2019. People with comics and Magic were hoping we would buy from them. My employees and I tell people that call wanting to sell to us to email a picture of what they have or a picture of some of what they have. People that do not email us may not be too concerned about actually selling. Sending an email is also supposed to help cut back on people who are trying to sell stolen product (emails now usually have a person's real name). It also saves a trip to our store if it is not material we are interested in. Most people did not listen to us and show up anyway. One person had Turok #1 from Valiant as part of the comics they wanted to sell. No one had any comics that were of interest to us. People brought in New 52 comics. New 52 material, other than Batman, does not sell for us. We had people bring in Magic cards that we can sell, though with the end of the year so close I told them to come back next year. Why?  Unsold product at the end of the year is taxable. No need to spend a grand or more extra on material that is taxable in a few weeks.

What got my attention was for the economy supposedly doing so well, there were a lot of people wanting to sell. Usually when people need more money is when they want to sell. I do not remember so many people in one month wanting to sell to us in the history of the store. 

2019 for me was the year of hype. From Marvel's unknown comic that was supposed to sell a million copies that never happened to DC's "big" Superman reveals his secret identity to the world, again. Where there was hype, sales seemed not to follow. Marvel's Annihilation titles, DC's Infected titles and Year of the Villain tie ins and one-shots did not get people excited.  DC's last big crossover, Heroes in Crisis, ended in 2019. It underwhelmed readers. It was like after Marvel's Secret Empire crossover left people unsatisfied, DC said hold my beer! Here's Heroes in Crisis! We brought back Wally West to make him creepier than a Nazi Hydra agent Captain America!  Where was the new hot talent in 2019?

2020 could be a very tough year for Image. Spawn #300 was a needed boost for Image after Walking Dead ended. Walking Dead under-hyped its ending without letting retailers know it was ending and even having retailers order issues after the final one in order for retailers not to know it would end in advance. I did think the solicitations looked very odd and thought something was up. Though I thought they would at least have the Walking Dead go to issue 200, I was wrong.

There were hits, of course. Absolute Carnage the main title did well. Though of course Marvel over produced spin-offs for it. Batman Beyond suddenly came to life sales-wise for us. The Question, the Deaths of Vic was a surprise hit. Doomsday Clock #12 closed out the year for DC. Marvel ended the year with the Rise of Kylo Ren being a much in demand book.

My Little Pony after years of the same number of people having it on their pull list at our store, one person dropped it. Stability on a comic title is a rare thing. Sonic the Hedgehog's title is picking up thanks to the upcoming Sonic movie. I miss having an ongoing Simpsons title and have had multiple people in asking for one. We sadly do not have a single copy of the Simpsons comics. With the release of Rise of the Skywalker Star Wars movie, the Star Wars fandom started to make a rebound from the divisive Star Wars the Last Jedi movie. I noticed our sales with Star Wars merchandise took a big hit after the Last Jedi.  

It was also the year people wanted second printings over first printings. I had people coming in asking for a second printing of a title when I still had the first printing on hand. They did not buy the first printing, they just wanted to flip the second printing because it was going for more money at the time.

2019 was all over the place for us. Back issues were in demand for us. Nine years ago, when we first opened back issue demand was very weak and stayed weak for years. My concern is part of the reason back issues are seeing so much demand is we have many people finding what they want in comics printed decades ago instead of comics being printed now. There is demand for old comics, that is of course why Marvel and DC are reprinting older comics. I have people buying comics of their favorite character or characters because they love the character or characters, though they struggle to read through the newest issues because they do not enjoy the creative team on the book.

For 2020, I'm hoping to see new creative teams on certain books to at least give various titles a chance to grow in readership. We would love to see some hot new talent in 2020.

As for what will happen in 2020? Only time will tell. We, of course, hope for the best.

Marvel Comics Begins Iron Man 2020 In October

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.

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