A couple of weeks ago, as he was going through Diamond comic book's final new comics delivery, comic book retailer Aaron Haaland of A Comic Shop in Orlando, Florida, put out a rallying cry. He stated that he was willing to take any new comics from any publishers or creators still out there, who wanted to send them and sell them to him. Since then he has been running live shows and live sales from his store, and encouraging other stores to do the same. "The direct market was built by retailers, we are a bottom-up industry, this is who we are, this is punk rock, punk's not dead, comics are not dead. It was never really about the comics, it's about you. They care about you. I know you care about your customers. Go live and engage. All mid life crises are cancelled. That's the cancel culture." Also "we are power bottoms" but most seem to prefer the earlier phrase. So Mid Life Crisis Cancelled it is.
Aaron Haaland is rather energetic and infectious – in a good way, that is. He used to run A Comic Show videos on Bleeding Cool and we certainly have missed him. Maybe this is a perfect time to bring him back. Since then Haaland has put out a number of battle cries on Facebook. Including telling us all "If you can sell new comics at a profit, certainly you can sell old comics at a profit too. Get online, get on the phone, and sell all the old comics you have. Do like I did, cancel your midlife crisis and learn how to best use new technologies…and sell comics. Then you'd have no excuse not to have your Diamond bills paid off when the printers restart, and a viable Diamond can ship new comics to viable stores, and then we can ALL go back to what we are all here for: to make the fans say "shut up and take my money" so all y'all get PAID! Everyone from the creators imagining this stuff up to A Diamond packer placing a box on a pallet needs us to be the best damn comic sales people we can be! This is our generation's testing ground! Use this time to sharpen your selling swords."
A Mid Life Crisis in Infinite Stores
I mentioned to Aaron that lots of store owners can't even get at their stock to sell stuff right now, as lockdowns and shutdown vary from territory to territory. Haaland answered in bombastic form. "I've been closed two weeks by a stay in place order from the state. Even with that they can drive to their store, grab their pull boxes, computer, label printer, scale, and boxes. Use their cell phone to FaceTime their subscribers, some are suffering while others are bored with a work from home income and would love for them to ship them their books. Any store can sell their gift cards, bonds, or paid orders on t-shirts! Let's sharpen our swords."
Jesse James Criscione of Jesse James Comics in Glendale, Arizona, and another longstanding friend of Bleeding Cool added his own take. "Stores can't sell their product at their store, then they need to take it home. There's always a way. We need to teach these stores, that are saying they can't, that they can."
While Edward Greenberg of Californian comic book chain Collector's Paradise told me "the stay at home order means I can't compel employees to work or ask customers to come to the store. The owner can stay there and do calls, shipping, whatever." With Aaron Haaland sharing his top tip "I just have a Walmart bag with socks in it as my alibi riding shotgun…for if the cops pull me over." And previously showing us where he may have got that bag. "I risked a Walmart trip, and my side quest was rewarded with all the bubble wrap we need to ship out the online comic sales from last week."
It is also worth pointing out that Diamond Comic Distributors now shipping existing back stock to retailers' home addresses rather than just their business addresses is another opportunity for some comic shops to keep ticking along. The next live selling show from A Comic Shop will be tomorrow on April 9th. Danny from the store says "despite the Stay-in-place order, A Comic Shop is dedicated to still bringing everyone great books to enjoy while you work from home, or to help take your mind off of these stressful times. So with that being said, we'll bringing you all two additional shows on Saturday, so that we can hopefully fill the void that Diamond has left us all with. We'll be adding more shows to the schedule as we figure things out, so please keep an eye on this event page for details. And again, thank you to everyone for the love and support, we couldn't do this without you all, and while Aaron seems to be full of energy, it's you all that refuel him everyday to allow us to bring this entertaining content and the great sales (that keeps me, Danny, fed)." And Aaron has a message for every comic book collector looking at their want list.