The Righteous Anger of Chris Butcher

Mild-mannered Chris Butcher chimes in on Eric Reynolds’ adventures in retailing:

Well of course! I mean, just visit the comic book store in question’s website! Totally looks like a thriving, well-run establishment to me. That’s totally the ASSUMPTION that I would make, if it came down to Eric Reynolds (20+ years in the comics industry ) versus a store owner that didn’t know Fantagraphics or Drawn & Quarterly still published comics, that store is obviously thriving. And knowledgable too, apparently. Just like I wouldn’t expect a store with a luggage department to have the luggage I was looking for, or the SHOE INSOLE DISPLAY to have only one shoe insole for men amongst 30+ for women, or for the employees to know about their product, I think it’s fucking snobbish to expect a comic book store to carry comic books I want to buy, or to at least know about comic books.


Chris also chides us for not chiming in more, which sadly we didn’t have time to do at the moment of posting. Suffice to say that the idea of a comics shop that doesn’t know Fantagraphics and D&Q are “still in business” seems to speak, at the very least, of a very poor product knowledge. While not all small retail establishments can carry as wide a mix of products as every publisher might hope, nowadays, limiting yourself to just the DC-Marvel-verse is limiting the kind of customers you will draw. It’s true. See just referenced Paul Levitz interview.

Comments

  1. matterconsumer says:

    If customers aren’t coming in and asking for it well that’s a fair indicator of a lack of interest.

    I don’t have a problem with retailers not carrying product that doesn’t sell.

    I think of a comic shop that carries quite a number of alt comics. Sort of a museum and undoubtedly would get high praise by the Fantagraphics folk. But it’s just a museum as the same books have been there since publication.

    Yeah availability is an issue. When you have something that folk want to buy. But guilt tripping retailers and readers becomes tiresome.

  2. Rakarich says:

    OK, this is getting ridiculous now. I thought this was done and put to bed. Heidi if your going to allow this beating of a retailer (Who I believe has NO IDEA these comments are happening) you should do an interview with the guy and allow him equal time. Let’s face it, (intentional or not) this feels like a smear campaign against a guy who is just trying to earn a buck. It feels like the feelings of the owner of 4Krazykatz is being ignored and his store is the sacrifcial lamb.

    If you read the store’s website, there is a link at the bottom that shows the store had a write up in the local paper. The owner (who is the same person Mr. Reynolds posted about) is interviewed and he speaks of his background training in film. With that, his passion is (I am guessing) the other half of the store… independant foriegn films.

    I still see this as a lost opportunity. Make lemons out of lemonade type of scenario.

    Doesn’t anyone remember to heed to old saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything”?

  3. Rakarich says:

    * Lemonade out of lemons :)

    Sometimes I type too quickly.

  4. matterconsumer says:

    Well, sometimes we have to say things that aren’t “nice”.

    Constructive criticism.

  5. “Heidi if your going to allow this beating of a retailer (Who I believe has NO IDEA these comments are happening) you should do an interview with the guy and allow him equal time”

    ANY RETAILER THAT DOESN’T KNOW AND FOLLOW “THE BEAT” DESERVES WHAT’S COMING TO THEM AND ARE A BLIGHT ON THE INDUSTRY.

  6. Tom Spurgeon says:

    I think Heidi should be forced by law to fully interview anyone talked about in the comments section of her posts.

  7. Why didn’t Eric Reynolds respond to the situation as an opportunity to educate a comic book retailer? I guess that’s the thing I really don’t understand. Walking away from the situation only to write a snarky blog post seems kind of lame. If he really cared that this particular retailer stocked Fantagraphics books that is. It appears to me that he missed a perfect opportunity to talk about his publishing company.

    I went to the store’ webpage and from the photos in the gallery, they carry independent books. They are also not just a comic book shop. They stock over 1,200 foreign movies. Also, from a newspaper article linked to on the site, the store did not get their name from a Fantagraphics comic strip as Reynolds declared in uppercase glory on his blog.

  8. matterconsumer says:

    I’m curious about her “anti-blight” powers…

  9. matterconsumer says:

    Rick, it’s more fun to be aggrieved.

    Something about defending the 1st Amendment…

  10. “Doesn’t anyone remember to heed to old saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything”?

    I think that defeats the whole purpose of the internet, which thrives on flame wars :)

  11. While I appreciate a book store store that carries a wide variety of product and educates the public about other products that might be on the market, ultimately a comic book is a business.

    A comic book store is not a non-profit organization for promotion comic books.

    If a store chooses not to carry a product it could mean that they are an uninformed store and passing on possible customer sales, or it could just mean that there is a lack of interest sufficient to carry said product.

    Next you’ll be pissed off that McDonald’s doesn’t have corn dogs and cotton candy as part of their product mix, as they might be neglecting a random customer that prefers to consume such a product.

  12. I have ALWAYS been pissed that McDonalds has never offered corn dogs and cotton candy.

  13. Freakin’ McDonalds. I have to go all the way across town to get my cotton candy fix, just cuz they don’t know enough to stock the stuff.

  14. Thank you Jason, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  15. matterconsumer says:

    McCotton Candy. It could draw me in.

  16. pynchonoid says:

    If this retailer doesn’t know much or anything about Fantagraphics, maybe Fantagraphics should reach out and help, instead of demonizing a retailer who may represent an opportunity for Fantagraphics to increase sales.

    In business, you don’t typically blame a customer for not knowing about a company’s offerings, you seek to educate customers in order to increase your revenues. You don’t generally want to blame and criticize the people you expect to provide your revenues and profits.

    Maybe Fantagraphics should just ditch its retail channel and sell direct, if retail is such a source of frustration. ;)

  17. Tom Spurgeon says:

    The message board cognoscenti have spoken: this Fantagraphics company is doomed to fail!

  18. While I sympathize with Reynolds, I don’t think I can fault the store’s owner too much. I recently took over a comic shop (one of a small chain) and the realities of ordering from Diamond are kind of startling. The fact is that when filling out that order form, I have to order what I think will sell, not only out of consideration for the customers who go there but for the stores’ owner, who of course pays for this all up front and counts on his store managers to order comics we think will actually sell and keep his business running. If money and space weren’t an issue, I’d order one of every book in the indie publisher ghetto section of Previews, but if it comes down to ordering, say, five more copies of X-Men, which I know people want and will have an active life in my back stock, or a few copies of Black & White Relationship Drama, which may never have another issue and could very easily collect dust on my shelves for years to come, I’m going to go with the X-Men. I do what I can to point receptive parties towards things like Fell, Optic Nerve, Criminal, Persepolis, and so on, but the simple fact of the matter is we stock what we think (or hope) will sell. And it’s sad, but that almost always means another issue of, I don’t know, Wolverine over Castle Waiting.

    (That said, it is kind of weird that that retailer didn’t know those publishers even still existed).

  19. matterconsumer says:

    “The message board cognoscenti have spoken: this Fantagraphics company is doomed to fail!”

    I seem to recall Fantagraphics using this as a fund raising opportunity recently. Actually, it was Fantagraphics plus the First Amendment…Not even Marvel could boast of that two in one.

    “(That said, it is kind of weird that that retailer didn’t know those publishers even still existed).”

    Agreed. Some have posted information from the store’s website which calls this claim into question.

    It would be really unfortunate if the Beat were snookered into this. She’s always struck me as trying to be fair and honest.

  20. “Let’s face it, (intentional or not) this feels like a smear campaign against a guy who is just trying to earn a buck. ”

    “Smear campaign”? Seriously? Eric Reynolds posts a funny anecdote about a lousy shopping experience, you guys are treating it like he ran over the retailer’s cat while Chris Butcher shouted Yo Mama jokes at him.

    If I made a post about a Thai restaurant that gave me bad shits, would you all leap to its defense? Because- because I might hurt the waiter’s feelings? But I forget this is comics, where up is down and black is white.

  21. Tom Spurgeon says:

    I’m thinking Eric’s big mistake was working for Gary Groth instead of Joss Whedon.

  22. matterconsumer says:

    Yep. Buffy has the real buff that folk want.

  23. Jason said:
    “Next you’ll be pissed off that McDonald’s doesn’t have corn dogs and cotton candy as part of their product mix, as they might be neglecting a random customer that prefers to consume such a product.”

    That’s nothing like this situation. When you walk into a McDonald’s, you know what they serve and what their set menu is. Only a fucking idiot walks into a McDonalds wanting cotton candy. Maybe it’s more like walking into a Kroger grocery store and asking for Pringles, and getting a blank stare from the manager because he wasn’t aware “they still made those curvy lil’ chips”. I think most of the outrage shouldn’t come from whether or not the retailer carried indie comics, but that he wasn’t even aware they still existed. I’m not a comic retailer, but I’m at least aware who are and aren’t still in business even I don’t care about their company. I know AC Comics is still around. You know, those folks who publish Fem Force. FEM FORCE. I’d hope that the shittiest record store clerk in the world at least knows that a few indoe companies exist even if they don’t order it for their store.

  24. “I think most of the outrage shouldn’t come from whether or not the retailer carried indie comics, but that he wasn’t even aware they still existed.”

    Actually, it’s pretty cute that anyone would be outraged at all. That makes me laugh big ol’ comics-sized, onomatopoetic laughs. It may be good for a retailer to know of the mid-range publishers out there. It may even be good for a retailer to stock some of their product. It may, further, be sad that awareness of Fantagraphics’ work slips through the cracks with some retailers.

    It seems appropriate to say, “Oh, that’s a shame.” Or maybe, “Hmm, I hope Fantagraphics takes this opportunity to realize they good use better press.” Or even, “Well, different strokes for different folks. Maybe I should order online.”

    But outrage? Anything that involves a heightened blood pressure seems far and away an inappropriate response. I mean, really. Outrage?

  25. The hypothetical Kroger grocery manager would know about Pringles because his store sells a lot of it. It’s a product his customers want. Though Fantagraphics or Drawn & Quarterly publish some fine comics, neither puts out a book that a lot of people read.

  26. What if no one asked the hypothetical Kroger grocery manager about the Pringles in the first place?

  27. The Beat says:

    Yes, too bad no one ever heard of Peanuts or Chris Ware.

    Seriously, this thread is devolving into a Hannity and Colmes parody.

  28. matterconsumer says:

    Chris Ware is mostly limited editions. Once they’re gone they’re gone.

    Most folk have heard of Peanuts. The Fantagraphics folk can verify one way or the other but one suspects that more Peanuts volumes are being sold through bookstores/Amazon and their ilk than comic book stores.

    And of course most folk are looking to buy the whole Peanuts series…

  29. Yeah, those Fantagraphics guys are in rough shape. Just the other day, I caught Gary Groth peddling xeroxed Acme Novelty Libraries out of his mom’s basement. . . I threw him a couple of bucks so he could buy himself a warm meal.

  30. I think most people knew about the Peanuts before Fantagraphics started reprinting old strips. And the reality is that most people haven’t heard of Chris Ware.

    What do people think when they look at the Diamond top 300 list and only see one or two Fantagraphics books at the very bottom of the list? It means retailers aren’t ordering their books. Why pick on just one retailer?

  31. snoid says:

    After reading this and the other comments, I ask you is there anything in comics as hated as Fantagraphics?

  32. The Beat says:

    Limited editions, eh? Like ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY which has sold 100,000+ copies?

    I think everyone needs to get a grasp of the facts here. ANL, Peanuts, PERSEPOLIS, MAUS, FUN HOME and AMERICAN BORN CHINESE have all sold thousands and thousands of units. They have sold far more units than the average Ant-Man or Birds of Prey trade paperback OVERALL.

    The average GET FUZZY collection has sales that Marvel and DC only surpass with Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman.

    As I wrote here earlier today, BONE has sold over 2 million copies of various editions.

    And don’t get me started on NARUTO, BLEACH, FULL METAL ALCHEMIST, etc etc etc.

    Mainstream comics is just that — humor, kid’s comics and even literary fiction that appeals to all kinds of readers of all ages.

    I haven’t had a moment to look at the website of the store in question, but if he wants to appeal to a certain kind of demographic, that is certainly his right. In a college town where indie CD sales are possible, indie comics sales are MORE than possible — the audience is essentially the same.

  33. Pringles!

  34. matterconsumer says:

    Just go over to the Fantagraphics site and see what’s actually in print for Chris Ware. Those ACME library editions are largely out of print.

    At any rate, Fantagraphics is from time to time not hesitating to hold out the hand and ask for money.

    I don’t usually equate that with financial success. Or let’s put it somewhat differently. Whatever they offer which is successful is mitigated by other factors.

  35. matterconsumer says:

    That anecdote I provided earlier about the comic shop was in one of the hottest indie music college towns in the US. Maybe it holds in your hot college indie town. Demographics differ.

    Maybe your comic shops sell manga. The ones I visit do not.

    But the bookstores certainly stock it…and I would suspect that the manga that you mention did it’s bulk in bookstores.

  36. Tom Spurgeon says:

    After reading this thread, I’m mad at Eric, too.

  37. Mark Coale says:

    someone does need to get ahold of this store’s owner.

    Right now, he has “THE STORE ABOUT WHICH THE INTERNET IS BUZZING!” and should be marketing his store as such.

  38. “In a college town where indie CD sales are possible, indie comics sales are MORE than possible — the audience is essentially the same.”

    Dear The Beat, this is exactly what I was saying. It’s a shame the retailer didn’t know about Fanta, but it is in no sense an outrage. What can be done? Education, maybe. Pointing out to others how a businessman might be a moron for being unaware of a potentially healthy consumer base doesn’t really help him (or, probably, that potentially healthy consumer base). It does, however, serve to entrench the already elitist mentality of far too much of the broadly literate comic fandom. Indie cred being the socially bankable commodity that it is.

  39. Malus says:

    mattconsumer:”If customers aren’t coming in and asking for it well that’s a fair indicator of a lack of interest.”

    No, it’s not. It’s more an indication of the tastes of a given retailer’s clientele; a clientele that retailer has cultivated by how he merchandises his store. Period.

    Heidi hit the nail right on the head. Books like BONE and NARUTO have racked up sales (largely thru bookstores) that few Marvel & DC publications can even come close to.
    So what type of material truly appeals most to the AVERAGE fella or gal walking in off the street?

    The reality is that superheroes are the PERCEIVED mainstream.
    And that’s because most comic shops don’t carry or promote material beyond superheroes to amount to shit.
    Yes, there are exceptions.
    Maybe even a few hundred exceptions.
    Out of several THOUSAND comic shops.

    And the bottom line is things would be a lot better for everyone (consumers, retailers and publishers) if more shops would at least put a few indy-centric catalogues on the counter for customers to look through. Just expose more people to the non-hero stuff and -in SOME stores-more of it will sell.
    It’s a simple solution and it costs virtually nothing. And frankly, I think any retailer who doesn’t AT LEAST do that much is doing a half-assed job.

    “We order what sells” PFHHHHT!
    I’ve been hearing that bullshit line for over 20 years.
    Those retailers are just catering to their fellow long-underwear club members and most of them have little to no appreciation for what this art form has already achieved.
    They have no idea what MAUS is, but they know what issue of X-MEN Wolverine lost his adamantium in.

    As long as a retailer is making even token efforts towards exposing their customers and POTENTIAL customers to some of the OTHER great stuff comics has to offer, then that’s great. Even if it’s just a few catalogues on the counter.

    But if a shop stocks nothing but superheroes and snorts at the very existence of everything else, then they’re doing their customers, the industry and the art form of comics a great disservice in my opinion.

  40. matterconsumer says:

    Malus, I mentioned a real live indie comic book shop which has quite a number of alt comics which are likely to never sell. I’m sure that they’d love to sell those comics.

    A bookstore and a comic book shop are usually two different animals. Putting manga into the comic book shop isn’t going to necessarily sell it. Because the manga buying customer is likely hanging out at the Borders.

    The Borders of course having completely different clients than the indie comic shop.

    I’m reminded of TwoMorrows who has sent out a bunch of their products free to comic book shops to practically no avail. It’s not some sort of retailer conspiracy.

    Retailers who want to stay in business have to attempt to stock product that will sell.

  41. Nathn says:

    “Maybe it’s more like walking into a Kroger grocery store and asking for Pringles, and getting a blank stare from the manager because he wasn’t aware ‘they still made those curvy lil’ chips’.”

    Ha. Actually, for this store it sounds more like: walking into Kroger’s and finding out that ALL THEY CARRY is Pringles. (Sure, they’ve got plain, cool ranch, salt and vinegar, and nacho cheese, but it’s still just Pringles.)

    “Though Fantagraphics or Drawn & Quarterly publish some fine comics, neither puts out a book that a lot of people read.”

    Unless you want to be really generous about what constitues “a lot,” then neither do DC or Marvel.

  42. Alan Coil says:

    Matterconsumer is right about some books being museum pieces. If a book isn’t sold in the first week or two, it most likely never will. My LCS has several Manga that have been on the shelf for years. They ordered a Naruto book and it sat on the shelf for months.

    “We order what sells” is truth. It is unfortunate truth, but still truth. Book stores can order more copies of a book and stock them because they can return them to the publisher/distributor after a time. Comics stores are stuck with the issues forever.

    As one reviewer alluded recently, many comics cannot even be used as toilet paper because the pages are too glossy.

  43. Eric Reynolds says:

    “Why didn’t Eric Reynolds respond to the situation as an opportunity to educate a comic book retailer? I guess that’s the thing I really don’t understand.”

    Rick, that’s a fair question and the simple answer is that I had about two minutes to spare in the store, and was on vacation with my wife, not making a sales call. I had no intention of blogging about it, even, until I happened to think about it one day about four days after I got back. It was an impulse post.

    Alan, how does a shop owner know what sells from a publisher if he doesn’t know said publisher is in business? “We order what sells” is not truth. If every shop owner knew exactly what he could sell, and ordered everything he possibly could sell, every shop in America would be operating at a maximum profitability and there wouldn’t be any books on any store’s shelves, because they would all be sold. It also would eliminate any need for returnability, which I believe just about every comic shop owner in America is clamoring for.

    And actually, many comic shops can and do order returnable books from wholesalers like Ingram and B&T.

  44. Nathn, when I said that although Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly publish some fine comics, neither puts out a book that a lot of people read, I was referring to the top 300 list that gets published every month.

  45. matterconsumer says:

    Which still doesn’t address the point that customers will ask for something if they want it. Granted not all customers will do this but even a relatively dull retailer will pick up on the customer searching for a product and failing to find it. And asking the question, “Looking for anything in particular?”

    As far as I can determine I’m the only person who buys the TCJ in a city which has between 30-40k college students. The magazine is in a prominent position and doesn’t sell. I have a copy on my pull list and one copy is out there. For a while there was another person who would purchase a copy. So the store would stock a total of three copies for a period of time. But no additional sales and there are years of that unsold single copy in the back issue bin.

    I could buy it elsewhere and save money doing so. My purchase of this magazine and some others which are in a similar situation keep them stocked in the store. But it is sort of a sick joke as no one has of yet appeared interested in buying them.

    So I go easy on the retailers.

  46. Eric Reynolds says:

    “customers will ask for something if they want it.”

    But that’s only true if they’re already a customer.

  47. matterconsumer says:

    “But that’s only true if they’re already a customer. ”

    Or they could discover something online and decide they want it, go to the comic shop which doesn’t have it, and then request it.

    Or they could just order it online…

  48. Rakarich says:

    I guess the real question isn’t “why aren’t all comic shop owners aware of Fantagraphics (or any other small publisher)” … but rather “why isn’t the buying public aware of Fantagraphics”?

  49. Once again, the “top 300″ is only through Diamond and has been pointed out a lot of retailers are ordering indy books through Baker & Taylor with better discounts so their sales don’t get counted by myopic comic fans who only care about what sells through Diamond as if they owned stock in it.

    Can this guy not even find his way to “F” in Previews? It’s even at the beginning of the section! That means he probably never orders anything from Oni so does that mean he can’t sell Scott Pilgrim or Local because everywhere else they sell pretty well? It also means he’s never bothered to sell a copy of JTHM or Lenore from Slave Labor, or maybe he thought they were out of business since they’re right behind Fantagraphics in term of indy publisher longevity?

    If you don’t even bleeping know that one of the longest running publishers is still in business (name one besides DC or Marvel that’s been around as long) then you probably should get some criticism from said publisher, especially if that same company is home to Robert Crumb (had a famous and POPULAR documentary FILM named after him), Chris Ware, Charles Schulz (Peanuts doesn’t only sell in bookstores you know), George Herriman (the cartoonist who created the character the guy’s shop is named after!), Dan Clowes (a “film buff” might even have heard of Art School Confidential or Ghost World), Gilbert Hernandez (the guy had one of his comics, for cryin’ out loud but he doesn’t know the publisher of Love and Rockets is still in business?), etc.

    Wasn’t it Warren Ellis who said most comics shops were the equivalent of walking into a video store and seeing nothing but nurse porn? I’ve been to several stores that don’t carry The Comics Journal because “it doesn’t sell” even though I WOULD BUY IT (so much for only ordering “what sells”) and they seem all too happy to eat several copies of Wizard, Beckett and plenty of other shitty magazines with a much shorter shelf life along with untold number of comics that will NEVER sell even for 25¢!!

    It would help if most of the people here would actually read Reynolds’ original post instead of going into instant Internet Debate Mode. Then again maybe it’s just Harland Ellison, Peter David, Shannon Wheeler, and everything else Gary Groth has ever pissed off posting under various pseudonyms though if that were really true this thread would be like the Rick Olney/Gail Simone threads ; )

  50. Touching on a few points from upstream. It does strike me that a video store with 1,200 foreign films, or a store doing sales in indie CD’s and located in a college town is exactly the sort of store that could move some well selected indie comics from Fantagraphics, D&Q, Top Shelf, IDW, Dark Horse, etc.

    That this retailor is unaware of these books strongly suggests that he views the comics part of his business as an adjunct and simply goes with what is safe and easy.

    That he is friendly and customer service oriented also suggests that he might welcome having his eyes opened to the possiblities, by being shown sales figures for some of the titles Heidi mentions.

  51. Malus says:

    matterconsumer:”Or they could discover something online and decide they want it, go to the comic shop which doesn’t have it, and then request it.
    Or they could just order it online… ”

    Yeah, why bother having comic shops in the first place?

    So if my local video store only rents B-grade sci fi films and doesn’t care enough about movies OR its customers to even make the other genres visible, even with a poster, then I and every other person who doesn’t love crappy B-movies should just go find what we’re looking for online.

    And if my local grocery store only sells carrots, I should go online and find out all about corn, then go back to my myopic grocer and “request it .”

    It just doesn’t fly.

    I was a retailer for six years and I managed to make a decent living servicing the dedicated superhero readers AND the rest of society that just wanted to walk in and buy a damn CALVIN & HOBBES trade.

    YES, the superhero product constituted over 75% of my sales.
    But I’m very proud of the remaining 25% that I managed to attract and cultivate. I still hear from many of them, and as far as I know they all still look forward to their favorite indy books and trades.

    The store that most of them now patronize keeps a decent selection of non-hero trades in stock, and in fact that product accounts for at least 20% of THEIR business. This is the same store that, 10 years ago, didn’t stock a single indy book or trade paperback of any kind.

    These days I visit that store whenever I’m in town, and I almost always hear the same thing: “We never imagined this stuff could sell so well for us.”

  52. The Top 300 list is for the periodical comics format, and both D&Q and Fantagraphics would seem to have their greatest strength in the squarebound book material. They do have books that show up on the Top 100 GNs list at times… even though (unlike Marvel and DC and some other publishers) they are not exclusive to Diamond for the direct market, and thus these Diamond-generated lists will tend to undercount them.

  53. (I do think there’s nothing wrong with a store specializing. Complaining about a superhero store not carrying non-superhero books sounds kind of like complaining that a comic book store doesn’t carry Jackie Collins novels. In an underserved market, it’s a bit of a shame if the only direct market source is a superhero shop, but I’ve spent enough time in mystery bookstores and other specialty shops to consider it a valid retail attitude.)

  54. matterconsumer says:

    Malus, try to understand my point.

    More and more folk are buying online because it’s cheaper. And there can be higher product availability.

    No one here is suggesting that stores don’t carry indie comics. Only suggesting that one carries what one can sell.

    And yeah Calvin & Hobbes used to be a pretty easy sale. But how many Journal of Modok Studies can you move?

    It’s all about your customers. Or perhaps you have a mind control device that you’re not mentioning :)

    And Joe, if you’d ask your LCS would likely order TCJ for you. Or is the plan to be an ongoing frustrated non-buyer?

  55. “If you don’t even bleeping know that one of the longest running publishers is still in business (name one besides DC or Marvel that’s been around as long) then you probably should get some criticism from said publisher.”

    Or even better, maybe some friendly publicity from said publisher. I mean, sure, criticism’s waaaay easier, but whatever floats your boat, I guess.

  56. “If you don’t even bleeping know that one of the longest running publishers is still in business (name one besides DC or Marvel that’s been around as long)”

    Archie. Last Gasp. Rip Off Press. (And I think Aardvark-Vanaheim predates them in actually publishing comics, rather than magazines about comics, although I could be mistaken.)

  57. Gee – all this debating kinda harkens me back to those glorious days of yesterday ( circa 1994 – 1996) when Diamond would host MONTHLY MEETINGS afor retailers at all their warehouses so that both parties could go over EVERY SQUARE INCH of the Preview catalog and talk about the PRODUCTS that RETAILERS WOULD BE SELLING.

    That’s how I got into the game of carrying Fantagraphics & Drawn & Quarterly in the store I once managed in North Hollywood – because JESSE McCANN, I, and several other LA area retailers got together on a monthly basis ( over pizza and pepsi ) to discuss the PRODUCTS that RETAILERS should be carrying in their stores- and THEREFORE I WAS INFORMED about them.

    Face to face discussion and class handouts. Not this internet crap to ween these retailers what they should carry in their stores.

    ~

    Coat

  58. matterconsumer says:

    Sorry, Aardvark-Vanaheim does not predate.

    But your good point remains that other publishers had a prior existence.

  59. If we’re talking about how long folks have been publishing comics, then I’m pretty sure that Aardvark-Vanaheim does predate; they started publishing Cerebus in 1977, and checking some resources I see that while they started publishing TCJ in 1976, I don’t see any sign of them publishing comics before 1982. (If we’re talking about publishing things that would later include comics, we can count many publishers such as, say, Random House.)

  60. Eric: “It also would eliminate any need for returnability, which I believe just about every comic shop owner in America is clamoring for.”

    I don’t think so. What retailers want most is deeper discounts. Returnability means A) smaller discounts and B) More work – in having to remember which books came out 3 months ago and physically package them up and mail them (which costs time and money they’d rather not spend).

    Returnability is great if it doesn’t cost them anything (or very little) and especially something like a new weekly comic series where they have to order 12 of them before they know how it’s going to sell. It would probably also be good on the first few issues of a new series, just so they can order lots and find it’s upper most sales level. But after that, the series numbers aren’t likely to go up unless a new popular creative team jumps on and they typically have previous sales numbers to guess with in those situations.

  61. Eric Reynolds says:

    Rak said “I guess the real question isn’t ‘why aren’t all comic shop owners aware of Fantagraphics (or any other small publisher)?’ … but rather ‘why isn’t the buying public aware of Fantagraphics?'”

    Not really, because the buying public is aware. We sell a pretty disproportionate share of books outside the direct market: probably between 60/40 and 70/30 these days.

  62. Eric Reynolds says:

    Jamie, I believe many retailers can buy our books from returnable distributors like Ingram or B&T at about the same discount they get from Diamond. Retailers who are reading can correct me if I’m wrong. Either way, most retailers can get a better discount from a number of sources than Diamond gives them, including straight from us.

  63. Eric: Yes that is true. B&T has become a source of books for the DM – because it costs less or about the same and there is returnability.

    IIRC Diamond offers 45% off, minus 3% reorder penalty (which makes it a little less than 42%) then charges shipping on the books, which can bring it down to 40% or less.

    B&T is a flat 40% with free shipping and returnability.

    Plus there is the feel good factor of giving Diamond some competition. Which is a plus for those who much enjoyed the times of multiple distributors competing for their money by offering better discounts and services. Some folks really want to encourge that to happen again.

    Stores probably should be using a bookstore distributor anyhow. Last time I checked, Diamond doesn’t carry Tin Tin or Asterix books. Nor do they carry a lot of comic strip collections like Calvin & Hobbes, Farside, etc.. And some Manga books (if they sell them) come from bookstore distributors quicker than the DM. Not to mention prose books by a number of popular comic writers.

  64. Rakarich says:

    The thing I wonder about is… It’s been about a week, has Fantagraphics contacted the retailer yet (to make the sale) or is posting on the internet taking up all of the free time? ;)

  65. My only point in bringing up the Diamond top 300 list is to show that there are a lot of comic book retailers that aren’t ordering Fantagraphics. I normally don’t put much stock in these monthly lists, but that’s because people insist on using them as a gauge to show what customers are buying each month. These lists don’t show that. They only show what retailers are ordering each month. They don’t show what people are actually buying.

    With that in mind, it’s apparent that a lot of comic book retailers aren’t ordering books published by Fantagraphics. Why then pick on this specific retailer? Because his shop is in the same state as Fantagraphics? Because his shop is in a college town? Do college kids attending a state college have money each month for $10 – $20 art comics?

  66. Rick Rottman said:”Do college kids attending a state college have money each month for $10 – $20 art comics?”

    If by “$10-$20 art comics” you mean a LOVE & ROCKETS trade paperback, then yes, any college with an art department will have at least a dozen or more students who will regularly spend money in your store.

    That’s why a disproportionate number of “diversified” stores are found in places like Athens, GA (Wuxtry’s), Nashville (The Great Escape) and Berkeley (Comic Relief).

    I would never open a shop in a non-college, non-metropolitan area and go whole hog with the independents. That would be suicide.
    But I’d certainly maintain a small section of “the other stuff,” no matter where my shop was.

    Otherwise, I may as well be opening a video store that rents only action flicks.
    It might succeed, but it wouldn’t be a full-fledged movie store.

  67. Have all of you people who talk about what “most comic shops” carry ever BEEN to “most comic shops”?

    No?

    Then please stop using that phrase.

    I pointed out in the Beat’s original blog post that I carry a bunch of indy stuff. There are 3 other comics stores in town, and as much as I don’t agree with many of their operating practices, they all carry SOME level of indy comics. That’s 4 different stores, with 4 different business models, 4 different approaches to merchandising, 4 different clientèles, all carrying at least some indy stuff.

    I can say most comics stores *in my area* are indy-friendly. I can’t speak for the rest of the country.

    Neither should you.

  68. Torsten Adair says:

    1. I, a B&N employee, peruse Previews to see what books are on the horizon. When I spent $100 a week at Big Planet Comics, I would special order 20+items a month.
    2. Joel and the other Big Planet stores GET IT. His Bethesda store is a textbook. Manga and comicstrip books up front by the door. Kids titles by the resister. Marvel then DC in the front, and indies and adult (carefully covered) titles in the back. One small back issue bin, a few glass cases, and a bench for parents with a few magazines. ALL in a strip mall with a ten foot store front.
    3. Any smart retailer can expirement with returnable product. Put up a display, track sales for three months, and transfer reorders to Diamond if that saves money.
    4. The retailer should be reading Previews cover to cover. Smart retailers should be reading everything trade related.
    5. Where is there a top ten list for Graphic Novels? Heidi? Calvin? PW does all sorts of other lists. Or can someone post BookScan data? Until then, bn.com gives rankings.

  69. “They ordered a Naruto book and it sat on the shelf for months.”

    I love that! I have an image of a store owner boldly claiming “Ok, We’re going to have to start branching out into this manga stuff!” Then buys just one copy of Naruto, which never sells, then declares “Well, that didn’t work out.”

    Probably not what happened, but that’s my image.

  70. rododom says:

    John Byrne (a great man that many of you crusaders have mocked) clearly beleives that superheroes done RIGHT are the future of the comic book industry…not some black and white adult drivel.

    The industry needs more great men like John Byrne.

    God I love that man!

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