I guess this isn’t really news to most folks

In case it was unclear: the distribution and retail network for comics is broken like whoa.

I can’t argue with anything this guy says (except his particular taste in comics). Really, it’s a wonder the system hasn’t collapsed already.

In my opinion what needs to be fixed first is the entire market and how comics are ordered. I’ll use myself as why I am absolutely frustrated with comic book stores. I have been going to the same store since I was 15. It is now 10 years later and my once weekly pilgrimages have turned into once a month if lucky. What has caused this you asked? Many things. The first being is that the comics I want to read are always delayed or just due to creator’s laziness canceled, (see. Ultimates 2, Soul Saga, Battle Chasers etc..). So what does that make me do? Second guess whether I should pick up that number 1 or wait for the trade.

Next due to the low runs of some books they are canned faster than the newest Fox drama. I now invested all this time, money and emotional attachment to a story which doesn’t even end properly. Now what does any reasonable man do? Well he sits there and waits for the trade. Also need I also mention that on Amazon trades are usually 30% off the cover price and they ship to your door.

Now that pretty much sums up why I don’t even bother going to my comic book store. There are times when I do want the actual issues just to own a piece of comic history. Like when Buffy S8 came out I did my proper duty. I pre ordered from Previews. Told my comic book lady to make sure you get me all the issues. All of them I will come and pick them up. So when I go what happens, “oh sorry I sold out already.” Oh you did… Okay no biggie when #2 comes out make sure you get me my #1 2nd printing. Time passes, “Oh I got your #1, but sold out of #2.” Well needless to say you can see where this is going.

Another thing because of how screwed up Diamond is, if my comic book store doesn’t have the TPB, which in most cases it doesn’t, the ordering time from Diamond to the store is like one month. If the item is in stock at Amazon we are only looking at 3 or 4 days to get to my door.

I don’t know if I have sworn off comic book stores forever. I do walk every now and then but I rarely find myself buying anything. The thing about comic book stores is that they are supposed to sell comic books. If they can’t even do that properly then transforming them all into Internet cafes won’t even save them.

I want to support the comic industry as much as anyone. But you can’t ask people to put up with this aggravation purely out of a sense of duty. It’s frustrating that the market hasn’t already been forced to grow in a more customer-friendly direction.

[edit: I should add that I think adding cafés to comic shops is a good idea. The problems afflicting the system can’t be fixed that easily, but anything that makes a shop more welcoming can’t hurt.]

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Leigh Walton talks comics and maybe other arts. (RSS)
He also works for the very excellent publisher Top Shelf Productions (which does not necessarily endorse the views and opinions, etc, herein).


Header by me. Contains an interpolation of the final panel from All-Star Superman #1 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Speaking of which.

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