South Philly Comics Closes As Local Media Spotlights Area Shops

As the comics industry continues to suffer from sluggish sales, South Philly Comics is closing its doors on September 3rd. The store will hold a funeral for itself on Sunday, which has prompted a story in local media outlet BillyPenn that offers an interesting perspective on what some might call the unique quirks of the comics business, and what others might call a distribution monopoly caught in the stranglehold of two corporate dinosaurs with no motivation to innovate.

South Philly Comics Closes As Local Media Spotlights Area Shops

BillyPenn's story covers South Philly Comics owner Johnny Foster's less-than-specific reasoning for closing shop: "I just know. I have a very intimate relationship with my store. I feel it." But it also describes efforts with varying degrees of success by five other local comics stores, who report either flat or growing sales, to build their customer base, and talks about some modern point of sale systems being employed to help shops manage their non-returnable stock.

"That's one of the hardest parts of being a comic retailer," says Brave New Worlds manager Rob LeFevre, one of the two shops that reports general sales growth in the article instead stagnation "You can't be swamped in merchandise you can't sell."

Speaking of which, the article also describes the Diamond system as a monopoly that "strip[s] bargaining power from comics shops all over the country," and even references Marvel's lenticular cover controversy, which has led multiple retailers to defiantly refuse to carry the variants (and a few who have made it work as well).

"You can never be rid of Diamond," says Ariell Johnson of Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, which has reported constant growth since opening in 2016. "They're a monopoly. Even if we're not getting the best terms, there's nothing we can do. If you want single-issue books [from big publishers], there's no other option."

Those familiar with the industry have come to accept the status quo, but it's always a little bit jarring to see the rules of the industry, so heavily slanted to favor giant corporate publishers and push most of the financial risk onto retail stores, reportedly plainly in a non-comics-specific media outlet. Isn't anybody in comics afraid an adult will see it and ask what the hell is going in here?

Check out the story on BillyPenn, and if you're in the Philadelphia area, you might learn about some new shops you'd like to visit. If one of those shops is South Philly Comics, you've got one day left to get there.

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Jude TerrorAbout Jude Terror

A prophecy once said that in the comic book industry's darkest days, a hero would come to lead the people through a plague of overpriced floppies, incentive variant covers, #1 issue reboots, and super-mega-crossover events. Sadly, that prophecy was wrong. Oh, Jude Terror was right. For ten years. About everything. But nobody listened. And so, Jude Terror has moved on to a more important mission: turning Bleeding Cool into a pro wrestling dirt sheet!
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