Comic Store In Your Future – To Change Or Not To Change?

Rod Lamberti of Rodman Comics of Ankeny, Iowa, writes weekly for Bleeding Cool. Find previous columns here. And it's time to write about change.

Comic Store In Your Future - To Change Or Not To Change?
Alpha Stock Images Nick Youngson Creative Commons 3 – CC BY-SA 3.0

Change has happened – though have things changed for the better?

Former Editor in Chief for Marvel, Axel Alonso, was fired years ago and replaced by C.B. Cebulski. I know of no one who claims Marvel is now better in any way. A lot of past hyping under C.B. Cebulski too often did not live up to the hype. Cebulski updated the announcement that an upcoming Marvel comic would sell a million copies, stating he never said which Marvel title would. Well, none did soooo… The overhyped Marvel limited series Spider-Man by JJ Abrams and his son finally recently concluded. It ended with not much interest here.

I did a double-check of my recent ordering for Marvel because it is so low. DC is cutting back with their new comic releases, so I expected our Marvel ordering to go up or at least stay the same. That is not the case. I just had another person trim Marvel titles off their pull list. Miles Morales: Spider-Man is the one lone Marvel title to see an increase in sales for us. The video game helped Miles out. Wolverine is a reliable seller. Too many X-related titles have diluted the X-Men and their fellow mutant team titles in terms of sales.

Covers. Marvel loves their various covers for each issue. They have done it for so long I believe retailers have gotten numb and used to the tons of different covers released by Marvel. Often people now buy Marvel for the cover art alone. Amazing Spider-Man #55 with the Gleason cover sold out quickly and is in demand. People who care about what is between the covers? Far fewer. Ordering Marvel titles is quite the challenge. We still have issues on hand of Amazing Spider-Man #54 and #56. Will another future issue of Amazing blaze off the shelf because of the cover art? I have people who will decide they want a specific cover of a Marvel title after it comes out. I may have plenty of two other covers of the same title, but the third cover is the one everyone wants. Most of the time, it sells out, and then if I cannot order any more, I have disappointed customers. Too often, when I order new comics, it just states on the website "Image Coming Soon." That is less than helpful. I usually have no idea what character the Star Wars action figure cover variant will have until it actually arrives.

DC fired co-publisher Dan DiDio, who was with DC for 18 years. DC has trimmed their new titles, which I am fine with, but what worries me is AT&T does not seem to be pushing or showing much support for DC comics. I have also noticed more and more order thresholds for variant covers, such as one variant for every twenty-five copies ordered or even one copy for every two hundred copies ordered from DC. This is something Marvel used to do much more than DC. DC's announcement about who was taking over the Superman titles from Bendis was met by readership here with a collective "who"? People were hoping it would be Mark Waid. Batman is still our number one selling title. That said, the rest of DC does not seem to be going in a positive new direction. Layoffs are always sad to read about. Did your job and did it well for years? Through no fault of your own, we are letting you go because we hope to make even more money.

Marvel and DC appear to have lost enthusiasm. They currently do not seem to have people excitedly hyping their upcoming comics. C.B. Cebulski has faded out hyping Marvel, and of course, Dan Didio was let go. Both companies seem a little directionless like they are still recovering from 2020.

I get a lot of people asking about other comics than by the big two. Currently, the most requested comic is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Last Ronin title. I had people call this week thinking the second issue came out; no, it is currently pushed back to February. I had a kid come in recently, and he bought the last copy of the first issue: second printing off the shelf. I wanted to ask him how did you know about the Last Ronin title? Kevin Eastman, co-creator of the TMNT, has an amazing fan base, and from what our customers tell me, he treats his fans very well.

Transformers are gaining in popularity. The crazy crossovers I never thought I would see have people talking. Transformers/My Little Pony went from "what the?" to our readership saying, let us check it out and then buy it. Even Transformers and Back to the Future currently have a limited series together.

In the day and age of constant relaunching and cancellations, My Little Pony is still going and still selling well for us. When it first came out, and people had it on their pull list for themselves and/or their kids, I thought it would quickly be dropped over time. I was wrong, and am happy to be wrong.

The Walking Dead Deluxe is popular. It is a reprint of the original issues in color. The reprints manage to outsell a lot of other titles here.

We still get people asking for the Simpsons, but sadly, still no new Simpsons comics. Our back-issue bin went dry of Simpsons comics and the spin-offs.

Things keep changing, though at the same time, after years of writing these columns, not a lot has changed. I still see a comic industry that I feel should be doing a lot better.

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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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