After.

§ May 4th, 2015 § Filed under free comic book day, sterling silver comics § 10 Comments


Turns out I was doing a lot of worrywarting about nothing, because my first Free Comic Book Day at my new shop turned out just fine. Sales goals I wanted to reach were reached and surpassed, lots of comics were given away, and lots of people came away from my shop very happy.

We stayed at the shop ’til about 11 PM the night before getting everything set up, so there wasn’t a whole lot of prep needed Saturday morning. I arrived at the shop about an hour before opening time, and there was already the beginnings of a line waiting outside, which I took as a good sign. As soon as I did open the doors, the store filled up fairly quickly, and the first picture on the page from yesterday’s post was taken just a couple of minutes after the day began. The first couple of hours were the busiest, with the store packed full of customers, though business generally remained steady throughout the day. The one time of the day there were no customers wasn’t until in the last hour we were open, and even then that only lasted for a couple of minutes before the next wave of folks hit.

So, I’d have to say, this was a very, very successful day. I have to admit, I had a few restless nights prior, worrying about how it was going to go, but it all worked out great.

As it turned out, my actual orders on the FCBD books were just about right. I probably could have ordered more of some titles, but for the most part the titles I thought would move more slowly and ordered less on did in fact move more slowly, and the ones I ordered tons of were grabbed by everybody, which was okay because, after all, I ordered tons of them. My big fear was that I would run out of everything and just have a stack of Secret Wars #0 at the end of the day — “Um, please help yourself to our one free comic” — but at the end I still had copies of about eight or nine titles on the tables, so latecomers still had a good selection of books to carry away. I do have leftovers, which is fine…those will work as in-store giveaways or donations to libraries, and stuff like Secret Wars #0 will still be in demand from customers for a while yet.

One thing I heard a lot during the day was several people telling me this was their first visit to the shop, so that was nice. I know a thing to do is to tour several shops in an area, seeing what each was offering for the big day, so folks who hadn’t been by before had extra incentive to stop in. Most of them seemed pretty pleased with my store, which was very satisfying. Plus, I heard from a handful of folks that this was their first time at a comic shop ever, so how ’bout that?

At one point pal Nat (who as I noted the other day, was there giving away copies of graphic novels he’d written, and whom you can see in the third photo) noted how it’s been said that comics shops had a dearth of women and children as clientele…and then gestured toward the customers who were in the store at that point. Customers who were almost entirely women and children.

Stopping by the shop was old pal Mathew Digges, late of Awesome Hospital, who dropped off a little bit of that comics-making fortune he’s acquired, as well as gifting me with a print copy of The Creep Crew which he’s doing with Dylan Todd and Pete Toms:


It’s pretty great. This is the kind of thing a Big Comics Publisher would pick up if they had any sense. You can (eventually) read more about it at TheCreepCrew.com.

Um, let’s see…anything else? I did have to chase off one shirtless burnout on a bicycle rambling on and on about Hermann Hesse, of all things, who was bothering customers out in front of my shop who were trying to go through the bargain boxes I had placed there. He rode off, bravely mouthing off at me once he was across the parking lot. Eh, whatever, dude…I own a comic book store, so I win.

Oh, and yes, for those of you wondering: the local high school was having its prom that same day, thus explaining where those nattily-dressed youngsters in the last photo came from.

I also had my worries about customer flow through the store, since this was a much smaller space than what I was used to, and I had to move fixtures around to make space for FCBD tables. However, people had no problem getting around, and while it was crowded, there didn’t seem to be too many traffic jams in the store. I occasionally had some long-ish lines at the register but that never appeared to interfere with in-store movement.

I do wish I had taken a little more care in noting the original positions of my fixtures, because now that I’ve moved them back, I don’t think they’re in quite the previous places they were. I mean, we’re talking maybe inches off, if even that, but that’s enough to distract me. And by “distract me,” I don’t mean “drive me completely crazy,” why would you even think that. That’s not true at all. AT ALL.

So anyway, Free Comic Book Day was a huge success for me. I think I’ll do it again next year, I guess.

Thanks to all the customers who dropped by, and thanks to my girlfriend Nora, my dad, pal Nat, and pal Dorian for helping out. I couldn’t have done it on my own. Well, maybe I could have, but then that would be a picture of me real-dead at the top of this post, instead of fake-dead.

During.

§ May 3rd, 2015 § Filed under free comic book day § 8 Comments

Before.

§ May 2nd, 2015 § Filed under free comic book day § No Comments

Well, let’s see how it goes at the new place. I’ll report later, if I survive.

Also, once again I managed to cajole pal Dorian into doing his Free Comic Book Day reviews.

Everyone out there have fun and get yourself some free comics!

Sure, I’ll just link to my store’s website three times in the body of the post.

§ May 1st, 2015 § Filed under free comic book day, sterling silver comics § 7 Comments

I thought I was going to have a longer-ish post about tomorrow’s Free Comic Book Day event here, but now that I’ve sat down to write it…well, it’s not like I haven’t churned out piles of words about Free Comic Book Day over the last few years.

There are a few minor differences in how FCBD is being handled at my shop versus what I was accustomed to at my previous place of employment. For example, at the old job we had a large area at the store devoted to in-store gaming, with lots of large tables. It was easy enough to rearrange the tables into Free Comic Dispensing Units through which to file the customers. The retail area of my current store is probably about the same size as that gaming area, and that has several fixtures in the way which is going to necessitate some rearranging to allow for FCBD table set-ups. I did a little measuring over the last couple of days, and I should be able to move things around to allow for FCBD traffic while still permitting access to product I’m actually trying to sell. The alternative is to set up tables outside for free comic giveaway, but then folks would be less likely to come into the shop and actually buy things, which brings me to my next point:

As has been pointed out, by me in past discussions of FCBD and by others, the comics given away on Free Comic Book Day aren’t actually free to retailers. It is a small cost per unit, but when you order a lot of units, it can add up. At my old position, I would order literally thousands of dollars in FCBD comics. I didn’t order quite as much for the new store, as I noted previously, but as a smaller store that’s still in the process of getting started, it remains a significant investment.

Putting that much money into FCBD was okay at my old job, though, because we always made our money back and then some by having in-store sales to encourage purchases. But then, that store is decades old and has a much deeper stock than I have now. It’s not as if I have nothing at the new shop…over the past few months I’ve managed to fill up the shelves with graphic novels, and I’ve expanded my back issue selection quite a bit. Plus, my expectations of what I would consider a successful business day for FCBD don’t need to be as high as they were at the old shop…my overhead is a lot lower, after all, so I’m hoping sales on the stock I do have will encourage sufficient interest to cover costs. I also intend to debut some bargain boxes at the event, so that will be some new goodies for my customers to poke through while also reducing some extra backstock I’ve already acquired.

This all sounds like I’m solely concerned with MONEY MONEY MONEY and, well, yes, I’m still getting this store off the ground, so “in the black” is going to be preferred to “in the red.” But even if I don’t break even on this, the important thing is getting these FCBD comics into the hands of customers…not just to expose people to different comics they might not have tried out before, but as a promotional tool for this shop, to let people in the area know, or at least remind them, “hey, if I need comics, I know where to go!”

Most of all, I hope Free Comic Book Day at my new store continues to be fun. It was always great to see huge crowds of people getting really excited about comics, and I’m certainly looking forward to maintaining that tradition at my new shop.

So, if you happen to be within, say, a 500 mile radius of Camarillo, CA, come by my store…say “hi” to me, to my girlfriend, to pal Dorian, to my dad, and to pal Nat (who will be giving away copies of Licensable Bear™ and The Factor graphic novels)! We’d all enjoy seeing you!

…So this post ended up being longer than I expected. It never fails!

Probably the last person I’d ever expect to dress up as a character from the comics.

§ April 30th, 2015 § Filed under low content mode, pal plugging § No Comments

Still in kind of a low content mode here at the site, but I’ll be checking in with a longer-ish post tomorrow about a certain free funnybook event that may be happening this weekend.

In the meantime, here’s pal Dave dressed as his favorite comic book character.

I didn’t bother to link to the Jared Leto Joker pic, since I’m assuming it’s already been inflicted upon you.

§ April 27th, 2015 § Filed under sir-links-a-lot § 10 Comments

Turned out I had the wrong link to Bully’s Ambush Bug Birthday post in last Thursday’s entry…it should have gone here, so go ahead and visit that link in case you were wondering why I was sending you to one of Bully’s Star Wars entries. Not that you shouldn’t be reading those, too.

Best wishes to Ty Templeton, who recently experienced a heart attack and reports on his own recovery in the Mighty Ty Templeton Fashion. I don’t talk enough about his work here, but I’ve been a fan of his since Stig’s Inferno (read it all here, legally, for free!), and if you can get your hands on a copy of 1987’s Amazing Heroes #111, that’s one humdinger of an interview with the man there.

Also, Cartoon Brew posted a bunch of the character one-sheets for the forthcoming CGI Peanuts movie, in case you wanted to know what real-ish hair on Snoopy and Lucy looked like. I actually am looking forward to seeing what they do with this film, and as someone who managed to survive the 3D Viewmaster Peanuts dioramas, I think I can handle the CGI versions. I do have to say I’m not a big fan of the taglines on the posters, but it’s marketing, so What Can You Do? “Dust a Move,” indeed.

And in other news…I can’t wait for Dark Knight III to come out, which is a sentiment I’m sure I share with many of you out there.

Too Much Whitespace Theater Presents…

§ April 23rd, 2015 § Filed under charlton, pal plugging § 5 Comments

Dino #10 (June 1975):


Wow, there’s like room for almost another cover in there. Wonder what happened…artist drew pic at the wrong dimensions? Didn’t want to lose the mini-Dino insert at the edge of the cover (necessary for easy rack identification if comics were overlapped on newsstands)? Given that it was Charlton, just plain nobody cared? Who knows? But it certainly grabbed my attention, so that cover definitely did its job and who am I to question it?

In other news:

  • The latest “Nobody’s Favorite” from pal Andrew is a comic you haven’t thought of in years.
  • BobH has been presenting a lot of old Comic Reader covers on his Twitter feed of late…lot of great but forgotten pieces on those old ‘zines.
  • Oh crud, I missed Ambush Bug’s birthday, but Bully the Little Birthday-Rememberin’ Bull didn’t forget!

I’m probably about a week and a half too early for this post.

§ April 20th, 2015 § Filed under free comic book day § 1 Comment

So reader Jon asked the other day:

“…Is your store participating in Free Comic Book Day?”

…And the answer is “yes indeedy,” my store (being Sterling Silver Comics, located in the still-beating heart of Camarillo, CA) will certainly be participating in Free Comic Book Day. I’ve been involved in every Free Comic Book Day since it started being a thing, and I’m not going to let a little thing like quitting a job I held for a decade or nine and opening up a brand new store in another town get in the way of my putting gratis funnybooks into the beckoning hands of a demanding public!

Self-promotion aside, I do have minor concerns about my debut FCBD at my shop, primarily about how much FCBD stock will be needed. At the old job, after several years of providing FCBD for that customer base, I knew just about how much I needed of everything. At the new store, well…I am less confident about how much I needed to order. Basically, I more or less based my orders on the amount of in-store traffic I get at my shop now versus the traffic I would get at the other shop. “I do about this much business at this location, which is a certain percentage of that business I would get at the other store, so I’ll order about that percentage on the FCBD comics.” …Well, that wasn’t exactly my strategy, but that was one tack I pursued in the ordering process.

“Just order thousands of everything, Mike!” Well, sure, that’s be nice, but as has been stated far and wide in the past, not just by me…the comics aren’t free to retailers. At the piece by piece price, it doesn’t seem too expensive, but when you get the entire bunch billed to you on the same invoice, particularly when you’re inclined to go as big as you can, the cost can be quite the eye-opener. There are only so much resources to go around, especially since retailers are getting their regular weekly shipments in the meantime. And for a small store like me, just starting out…even with coming up on 30 years of experience in this industry, busting the budget ain’t a smart thing to do at this point in time.

Now, it’s not as bad as all that…I got a sizable order in of the “free” books, and both preplanning and some dumb luck managed to get them in on an invoice that wasn’t too out of line with my usual invoice costs…and I’ve been bulking up on some titles with later, smaller reorders, the cost of which not even being a patch on that initial FCBD total. Ultimately, I should have plenty of comics to go around. Maybe. I hope.

I’ve done a little advertising for Free Comic Book Day, along with some posters in some strategic locations directing folks to me on that special day, so we’ll see if that gets more people in my doors. Plus, there is no telling the unpredictable pull of the word “FREE” and how many more folks will be lured in by that magic promise. I very much expect this to be quite the learning experience…I doubt I nailed the exact number of books I’m going to need on the very first try, here. At the very least, it should give be a baseline for next time.

Also, I should mention that pal Nat is going to be present at the shop that day as well, giving away and signing Licensable Bear and The Factor trade paperbacks, which is quite swell of him. My dad, my girlfriend, and even pal Dorian will be helping out for Free Comic Book Day, too, so even if nobody shows up, at least I won’t be lonely.

But do show up! I’ll be glad to see you and give you free comics!

Please don’t hotlink these gifs.

§ April 17th, 2015 § Filed under swamp thing § 14 Comments

So this week, I made one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made in regards to my comic collecting hobby.

…I decided not to buy some comics that featured Swamp Thing cameos.

Yes, yes, I know, I was shocked, too. Somehow or another, my Swamp Thing Sense™ began tingling as I was unboxing the week’s comics shipment, causing me to glance through this week’s batch of DC’s “Convergence” event. And, sure enough, the majority of Convergence installments this week did feature a tiny spot drawing of Swampy and a lady friend (more on that in a moment). The gimmick was that as the Bad Guy of the event was explaining the crossover’s premise to the the folks involves, you saw little portals into the various multiversal cities drawn into the event. And in each issue that pictured this array of windows, one of the portals contained an image that looked a little something like this:


That was from the Supergirl: Matrix issue, where it’s very clearly Abby standing there next to Swampy.

As opposed to this pic from the Aquaman installment:


…where that definitely isn’t Abby, or this one from Superman: Man of Steel:


…where that could be Abby, maybe, in poor lighting.

Now, given the premise of the series, it could be that the portals are presenting various versions of Swampy and a lady-pal from multiple universes, but…well, the only issue from this week’s Convergence tie-ins I was planning on getting for myself was the Green Lantern: Parallax one, and I think that’s going to have to be the representative illustration of this particular sequence for me. I was tempted to grab one of each of the tie-ins that had Swampy in it, but realized that I was going to need those copies for the shelf for my customers, rather than just hoarding them all in my own collection. So, there we go, an actual grown-up decision made for the benefit of the business rather than my own fanboyish need for completeness.

That’s not to say I won’t be getting both covers of each issue of the forthcoming Convergence: Swamp Thing mini-series. I mean, c’mon, let’s be serious here.

Herb Trimpe (1939 – 2015).

§ April 15th, 2015 § Filed under obituary § 7 Comments


My earliest experience with Herb Trimpe’s work, at least as far as I was aware, was this issue of Marvel Super-Heroes #100. I was mostly a DC kid at the time, but I also liked buying extra-sized anniversary issues, which this was. The artwork was a lot more…grainy and lumpy and odd-looking compared to the seemingly more polished DC Comics I was reading, partially because of John Severin’s inking (a name I did know thanks to his work in Cracked). That’s not meant to be a negative description…the comic certainly captured my interest.

I became more familiar with his work as time went by, particularly after my entrance into comics retail. He was a good and dependable artist who worked on Hulk comics far longer than I’d realized, including the first appearance of Wolverine, and lived quite the eventful life even after mostly leaving the comics industry. (If you follow any link here, read that last one.)

Of interest to folks who may recall Trimpe’s ’90s work is this entry in Brian Cronin’s “Comic Book Legends Revealed” column, which Brian wrote directly in response to my long-held belief that Trimbe was asked to change his classic art style to one more closely emulating the then-popular “Image Comics” style. Read that article to hear the truth of the matter straight from the Trimpe’s mouth. (HINT: I may have been incorrect.)

So long, Herb.

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