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Saturday, August 06, 2005
Up Too Late Observations
One of the conversations that actually did take place while I was away was some angst over the state of comics retailing. The problems under discussion seemed to be two-fold: there aren't enough good stores, and there aren't enough stores period. Not only is it hard for people seeking something other than front of Previews material to find stores that carry that sort of thing, it's fairly difficult for many people to find comics at all.
Which led me, in my usual contrary way, to this thought: communities largely get the comics shops they deserve. That is, the kinds of comics fans in any given geographic location largely determine the kinds of comic shops, if any, that tend to pop up there. There's a reason, for example, that when I go into any random comic shop in LA, I can find about four or five dozen statues of female super-heroes, but no Oni, AIT or Viz titles, much less the latest Ralf Konig book. Hell, half the time your lucky to be able to find the comics those statues are based on. If you can't find anything other than the stereotypical, over-crowded, dirty, basement-dweller shops in your town, what is it about your community that only that type of shop has been able to survive.
So, while I would dearly love to be able to order as many copies of the latest Chris Ware, James Kolchaka or Bryan Lee O'Malley work as we do of Superman/Batman or the latest X-Men cross-over, the demand for those works in our area simply doesn't justify such an expenditure. We've had to do a lot of hand-selling and encouraging of the customers who show an interest in works from non-premier publishers in order to build sales to the point we're at now. Luckily, most customers we've hand-sold too tell all their friends, so we are able to build momentum for quality works, but it's a slow process.
And while our shop may be far from perfect, I take comfort in knowing that anyone who criticizes the way we do things must never have seen our now out-of-business competitors. Because they don't know how good they've got it with us.