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Also this post is perhaps a little self-congratulatory as well.

§ August 7th, 2019 § Filed under retailing § 8 Comments

So longtime tolerater of my site Thelonious Nick asks in the comments of my previous post:

“Just out of curiosity, what sorts of things do visitors from an adult day care center end up purchasing? Is it different than what the average customer buys? Or do they mainly browse?”

What the Thelonious One is referring to was a tweet I made the other day, where I said this:

“Had a nice visit from folks from a local adult day care center, who called and asked if I could open early to accommodate their group. Went very well, and they should be coming back on a regular basis!”

Okay, I know that’s a little self-congratulatory an’ all, but hey, what is Twitter for but tooting one’s own horn a bit, oh and also commiserating with our friends about our impending doom, but mostly it’s to talk about how great I am.

Like it says there, the gentleman in charge of this group of folks from the adult day care center gave me a call to arrange to visiting time prior to opening hours, which was fine…and apparently the intention is to make this a regular thing, about once a month or so, which I’m all for. It was quite a few folks from the center who paid a visit, along with a handful of chaperones who took plenty of pictures of them holding up the comics they were buying, or just looking around the store. It was a pleasant visit, everyone was nice and polite and I’m of course totally open to their return.

As to what they buy…well, first nearly all of them bought something. Even one of the chaperones bought something for himself. Mostly inexpensive comics…I have dollar boxes and plenty of cheaply-priced back issues, so there was no shortage of choice for those with limited budgets. So, lots of books out of the bargain bins, some of Marvel’s recent $1 reprints, a handful of ’80s superhero books priced to move (like Iron Man, even a Funko Pop. One of the older members of the group asked after Dennis the Menace comics, which I had plenty of, a fact that made this gentleman very happy. I did have another person splurge a bit on that recent Amazing Spider-Man #25.

So all in all…no, not a high dollar transaction total, but it weren’t nuthin’, and the comics they did buy made them happy, and they all seemed to enjoy their outing to the store. As I mentioned to someone else on Twitter, as a person with a mentally disabled sister, I am particularly willing to help out those with special needs. I know things aren’t necessarily easy for them or for the people who care for them at times, so I’m glad to help in my small way.

Nick also asked if it was any different from what my regular clientele buys, and…no, not really. In fact, one member of the group was one of my regulars, and likely the person who encouraged his friends and caretakers to make this trip. He would generally come in and buy inexpensive comics with his favorite superheroes, and this really isn’t any different from any of my customers who just have a few dollars to spare but still need some four-color fun. That’s why I always make sure to have inexpensive comics for sale, even cheaper than the new monthlies…not everyone is there to buy my Strange Tales Annual #2 for $225.

So big thanks to that center for bringing their charges to my shop…it was a completely fine experience and I look forward to hosting them again.

Please buy “Eyeballs and Dollars,” my new fantasy role-playing game.

§ August 2nd, 2019 § Filed under retailing § No Comments

I know I still have a post full of questions from you folks that I need to get to, and I will, but let me address a few of these from the most recent installment of ProgRuin.

First off, Thelonious Nick wonders

“…Why have an awesome variant cover that lots of people will want to pick up because it’s so awesome? Why not just make that your main cover?”

I’ve wondered that myself, on this very website more than once. The one specific instance I’m recalling is that a Star Trek comic of some sort had a 1-in-10 ratio variant that was a swell photo of William Shatner as whas-his-name, Captain Sheridan or whatever, and how that made for a spectacular and eye-catching cover. I don’t recall if I said “why didn’t they make that the main cover…what’re they afraid of making money?” but I should have if I didn’t.

And yes, a lot of the variant covers are quite awesome and I’ve love to be able to sell them in vast quantities to customers, and even take some home myself. But for some folks, part of the appeal of the limited variants is the fact that they are limited, and even a great cover might languish on the shelf if it were readily available, rather that being some rare gem that you’re lucky to get your mitts on. Anyway, I don’t know…it’s not like artists and publishers and such aren’t trying to make every cover attract attention and grab eyeballs and dollars. But the very existence of a rare variant could also result in the “grass is always greener” attitue…”why settle for this regular cover any common person could obtain? I want that special cover or nothing!”

Anyway, it’s a fine line to walk sometimes.

• • •

Allan Hoffman picks my brain with

“What are your thoughts on DC’s upcoming acetate covers?”

Well, it’s fine, I suppose…it’s the “regular” cover, and I’m going to have to guess if this will mean extra sales or if everyone’s burned out on the whole “gimmick” thing. I mean, if they look nice, I’m sure they’ll sell. At least they don’t cost more, which is the big problem with the recent “cardstock cover” variants, all of which cost a buck more and have been a big flop with my customers for that very reason. Since the acetate comics will be shipping with those pricier cardstock variants as well, I’ll likely be shifting by new comic budget away from one and toward the other. Which I’ve been doing anyhow, after seeing how those cardstock covers have been doing.

• • •

Hooper had this in the hopper

“I’m surprised they haven’t started selling collections of variant covers. I’d totally buy a nicely packaged colkection of the Lego Covers or that run of Darwyn Cooke variants.”

…and I planned on responding with this very book but Turan beat me to the punch in the comments there.

Occasionally there’s some kind of collection of variants…if I recall correctly, Marvel did a freebie reprinting all the hip-hop covers. And this isn’t quite the same, but Marvel’s doing something called Marvel Monograph, the first of which featured the cover art of J. Scott Campbell, and there’s many more to come with other artists.

In regards to the cover on that DC book, Hooper…there was a direct market variant, naturally enough, featuring Frank Cho’s art:

…so, y’know, there are options!

That Lego thing still burns me up.

§ July 31st, 2019 § Filed under pal plugging, retailing § 5 Comments

So occasionally my pals Chris ‘n’ Matt will put out the call for questions for them to answer on their War Rocket Ajax podcast, and this time, instead of breaking their wills with my usual Frank Miller’s The Spirit-related inquiry, I asked them:

“What are your thoughts on the vast proliferation of comic book variant covers?”

…and you can hear their response in this very episode (just under the wire at the one hour twenty-five minute mark).

You can hear what they said there, and I don’t disagree with any of their positions…and there are a few positions one can take on the whole “variant cover” thing. Yes, it’s good to offer customers a choice…if one cover doesn’t catch his/her eye, maybe another will. And it gives artists more opportunities for work, in an industry that’s often short on opportunities and, well, money.

But as Matt says, it’s probably not good to build a business model that depends on the sale of multiple covers to the same person, but in a way, that’s what I’m doing when I’m ordering them for the shop. Multiple covers are a way to push those numbers up…maybe not by much, maybe I’ll order 5 each of Unicycle Tragedy #18 if two covers are offered, instead of just 8 copies if only one cover were available, because yes, there is a percentage of customers who’ll buy one of each. Or if an incentive cover is avaiable…if there’s a variant that’s availble to purchase if you order 25 copies of the regular cover, and my order is at 23…well, maybe I’ll justify the extra expense.

So we’re not talking about big adjustments in ordering on a case by case basis, usually. But an extra copy here, an extra two copies there…it begins to add up, both in my expenses and in the publishers’ income. Every little bit helps them, and may actually help certain titles reach their bottom lines.

One clever use of variant covers was in the ’90s, when Marvel started to offer two different covers for the second issues of new series (of which they had several starting up at around that time). Traditionally, when a new series started, retailers would order larger numbers on the first issue, then cut orders on the second with expectations of a drop-off in sales. Marvel’s issue #2 variants countered this a tad, by offering different covers, which would encourage retailers to up their orders a bit in anticipation of, again, some folks wanting to own both versions.

Of course, that was back around the beginning of the end of retailers wanting to have lots of copies of the eary issues of new series around for future back issue sales. Now there still may be a drop-off with issue #2, but #1s are being ordered so close to the bone (given that there’ll be a new #1 for the same series sooner rather than later, killing back issue demand for the previous series) that just doing variants on everything is pretty much the only way to encourage any upward bumps in numbers.

Chris brings up that he would prefer that the covers actually reflect the contents of the book, and, yup, I’d have to agree. Though to be fair, that’s been a problem even without variant covers. How many Amazing Spider-Man covers during J. Michael Straczynski’s run were just “generic Spider-Man action pose #4” or whatever? Yes, I mean, sure, Spider-Man’s inside the comic, so at least the cover is that accurate, and they weren’t bad drawing by any means, but they revealed nothing about the story inside. Nothing telling the reader “hey, dig this crazy story that’s in this issue…can you believe what’s going on here on the cover? Better buy the issue and find out what’s up!” They weren’t all like that, of course, but enough of them were.

But the variants can be a problem, too, like the covers featuring characters that aren’t in the actual comic, but just on there to promote a coming event or movie or whatnot (like the current Carnage variants) or the covers featuing concepts people actually showed interest in buying ’til they saw the contents didn’t refect the image on the front (I’m looking at you, DC Lego variants).

And don’t get me started on when a specific variant beomes “The Hot One” for no real good reason whatsoever and people start calling the day before release for it. Which, of course, is usually too late to order more.

I mean, yeas, sure, many of the variant covers are nice looking, and folks put a lot of work into them. It can just be frustrating ordering these, and also adds an unnecessary level of consumer confusion to a product that’s already facing an uphill battle in obtaining and maintaining a customer base.

Thanks to Matt ‘n’ Chris for responding to my question.

This is a whole lot of typing about new comic shipments.

§ July 25th, 2019 § Filed under retailing § 6 Comments

Now the way it’s supposed to work is that weekly new comic shipment from Diamond would arrive on Tuesday, giving you ample time to break down the order, sort and count the comics, call in damages and shortages, and then do the pulls for your comic saver or whatever. And then, of course, get all the new product out on the shelves that evening (or maybe the next morning, as you’d like) so that everything’s good ‘n’ ready when you swing open your doors on Wednesday.

Unfortunately, stuff happens, as it did this week. As my business depends on getting my comics, obviously, I keep close tabs on the tracking information for each of the packages, starting Monday evening when said tracking starts getting updated. When everything’s going smoothly, my packages should arrive at a certain distribution hub near Los Angeles, before being sent to my local shipping station a few miles south of me, where, if things go to plan, the tracking should say “On Delivery Truck” or even better, “Out for Delivery” sometime Tuesday morning.

Well, this time around my packages went from that one hub near Los Angeles to another hub near Los Angeles, and I know from experience, if that happens, then it’s not going to the local center until the next day. Meaning, of course, no comics for your pal Mike on Tuesday…they’re a’comin’ sometime on Wednesday.

I did vent a bit about it on Twitter, mentioning the shipping company by name, which, I should have remembered, will alert whatever keyword-searching process they use and they immediately replied with “we’re very sorry, how can we help?” Alas, that help didn’t extend to getting my packages to me on time or even explain why my packages were delayed, but they looked like they were reaching out to help publicly, and I guess that was the important part.

Sorry, that sounds like I’m a bit annoyed. Well, I am, but mistakes happen, and it’s not the end of the world. But it did mean I didn’t get my comics ’til about 20 minutes before I opened on Wednesday, and was put in the absolutely swell position of having to tell customers, walking in the door with money to spend on new comics, “sorry, come back later.” To be fair, everybody was cool about it and they know it wasn’t my fault, and most everybody came back as they were able. Ended up having a pretty good Wednesday, in fact.

But I was stressing hard, powering through the comic sorting and putting some on the shelves while leaving a sufficient number aside so I can do my copious comic saver pulls. And doing it all as fast as possible. Me, the guy the doctor told to “take it easy” and “don’t stress,” so I don’t end up with, oh, you know, more hemorrhaging in my eyes. Particularly now that my eyesight is greatly improved.

So ultimately, I had all the new product counted and (what I didn’t keep aside for savers) out on the shelves by about half past noon. Comic savers were done in the mid-afternoon. All while I was running the shop and selling comics. This was not the slow and easy comic-selling lifestyle that the brochures promised.

Ah well. Luckily I’ve been at this for a while so I know how to make the best of the situation, and it helps that my customers are all so understanding. But really, I hope I don’t have any more problems. …Well, I mean, I will eventually but maybe I could have a week or three without ’em.

Before the day-early deliveries on Tuesday started, getting the comics Wednesday morning was the norm. It would of course depend on whenever the delivery truck arrived…we had the same driver for years at the previous place of employment, and he would often come very early, giving the (usually) three of us plenty of time to get that order sorted and counted and pulled. Though sometimes we’d have a substitute driver and, oh, hey, here are the new comics at 4 PM, thanks.

Near the end of my tenure there, our regular driver had retired, and our shipment arrival times were all over the map. Tuesday delivery was in place then, but still it was nice to get the books early so we could get it all done and, you know, call in the shorts/damages while someone was still in the office at the distributor. So, the alternative plan was put in place…since I drove by that store’s local UPS center on the way to work, we’d just have the shipping company hold those packaes there for pick up, where I’d grab ’em, take them to the store, and we’d work our magic on them. We got them at a consistent time every week, and we were able to properly plan our workday.

Used to be, in ye olden tymes, that our distributor, back when it had a warehouse in Los Angeles, would deliver the comics themselves, often arriving very early in the morning. And sometimes former boss Ralph would drive down to L.A. himself to pick up the comics, thus avoiding any of the misrouting issues that your pal Mike had this week.

And then long before that, we’d have the “regular shipping” comics and then the “air freight” comics, where select titles would arrive outside of, and earlier than, the normal shipping schedules, but now we’re getting to well before my comics retail servitude, so perhaps let’s leave it there for now ’til I can bend Ralph’s ear for more details.

So anyway, that was my day. Worse things happen at sea, I know, but late comic shipments are no fun. At least they showed up, versus just disappearing entirely, which has happened to me before, too. Not a recommended experience.

“This popular pet is the number one threat to your comic book collection!”

§ July 22nd, 2019 § Filed under death of superman, retailing, television § 4 Comments

So over thge years I have heard many, many times from folks who wanted to sell me comics that the items they were offering were “in mint condition, still in their bags.” And of course, while a comic bag certainly does offer better protection for the funnybook contained within than no bag at all, it’s obviously no protection from bending, stabbing, being set on fire, being chewed on by the pet llama, whathaveyou. (And no, even the addition of a backing board to your comic’s security may not be enough to help.) I’d say the vast majority of comics I’ve received “still in their bags” are nowhere close to mint.

Basically, what I’m saying is that it takes more than just sliding a comic into a bag and/or board to preserve its condition. It takes proper handling, storage, and distance from the previously mentioned pet llama. You can keep a comic inside a bag all you’d like, but that’s not a bulletproof container. And it’s not going to magicallly undo whatever damage you did to it prior to its placement in a bag.

This is all a roundabout way to talking about the comics pictured above, Superman #75 and Adventures of Supermnan #500 (and, by extension, other comics packaged by the publisher inside sealed opaque polybags like these). When it comes to pricing/grading these for in-store sale, there’s no real way to gauge the condition of the comic therein if the polybag is still sealed and, from all appearances, still new-looking and intact.

Emphasis on “looking.” Like the standard clear plastic bags used for comic storage, these polybags won’t protect from bending or creasing or the like, but if they are sealed, you aren’t going to be able to directly check the comic for any damage done. I mean, you can kind of feel along the spine and maybe along parts of the cover (working around the various trading card and poster inserts and such, of course) and determine if there is any phyiscal harm. But, again, without visual confirmation, it’s hard to nail down a grade.

So long as the exterior of the bag looks new, and if the item is sealed (and no damage is immediately detectable within the package) I generally just mark these as “MINT – SEALED.” In a way, it’s like Schrödinger’s Comic…so long as that polybag stays sealed, we have no exact idea what’s going on in there. It’s not ’til we open it up that the reality is solidified and we get a comic that’s, I don’t know, actually in FVF or whatever.

Now it’s possible the polybags themselves could do harm to the comics inside eventually. I’m pretty sure that’s not archival material used in the packaging, there, but on the other hand…I opened my personal copies of these when they were new, and just kept everything, comics and inserts and all, still inside those opened polybags and then inside one of your standard comic bags…and far as I can tell, no damage done by those wrappings yet. And if you remember that overflowing case of Adventures #500 I got a while back…people who’ve bought copies of thoese from me and opened ’em up didn’t find any problems.

If you’re really concerned, I guess you can just store the comic and its polybag in separate bags. As I somewhat recall, in the ’90s during the real heyday of publishers prepacking their comics in bags with goodies like trading cards and pogs and such, the price guides, of which there were many at the time, had to set down rules as to what would preserve the collectibility of these items. I think it was Overstreet which put its nickel down on the comic still being considered “mint” or whatever so long as the opened bag and contents were all present. And I think our attitude at the shop at the time was “okay, fine, but sealed copies are still going to sell for more than opened copies,” and lo, it is still true to this day. I don’t have my current copy of Ovewrstreet right in front of me to see if they still hold that position, if in fact it was them.

Anyway, just something I think about every time I get these in collections and have to price ’em up. I’ve written before, somewhere and at some point, about how a lot of those Superman #75s were purchased by folks who didn’t normally collect comics, so I suspect a large number of them had been stored improperly and damaged, or just outright discarded, over the years. There may not be as many sealed copies of this still around as we assume, so getting them at all is welcome. And they do still sell.

• • •

In some brief non-Death of Superman news, it was announced over the weekend that the DC Universe streaming service’s Doom Patrol series has been renewed for a season 2, to be produced in conjunction with Warner’s forthcoming streaming service HBO Max. The story says the new season will show simultaneously on both services, so that, along with the news of the DC Universe exclusive Young Justice series also getting a renewal, that this streaming channel will continue to be its own thing. The fear was that DC Universe would be folded into the HBO Max service, and sure, that could still happen eventually, but it looks like it’s still operating on its own for now.


§ July 8th, 2019 § Filed under retailing § 4 Comments

[SPOILERS for The Walking Dead…the comic book, not the TV show or video games or action figures]

So I’d raised my orders a bit on The Walking Dead #193, after being blindsided like everyone else by the events of #192, in which the main character, the focus of the series, the guy who’s been in the story since that first issue, was killed off. When word on #192 got around, folks started popping by the store, calling, emailing, all asking for that #192, sold out immediately because most folks probably just ordered what they were going to order and that was that. No reason to bump up orders, but with #200 approaching I’m sure retailers had in the back of their minds the forthcoming necessity to puzzle out the vast array of variant covers that were sure to be offered.

Anyway, #192 sold out, I raised my order on #193 assuming some spillover in demand, plus the additional sales boost of a new printing of #192 that would be available at around the same time.

And then #193 came out, but not until after the news stories were released that Tuesday, just before New Comics Day, that surprise! The Walking Dead was coming to an end with that very issue.

Now I suppose that retailers were informed that our orders on #193 would be returnable was a vague hint that something special was happing, but my assumption was that the issue would be a follow-up on the main character’s death, and Image wanted folks to bump up sales to take advantage of the sudden increased interest in the title. No clue this was going to be the end of the series, especially given issues past #193 were solicited in the order catalog (a trick I didn’t like with Malibu’s Exiles, and didn’t much care for it now).

I do get the creator’s reasoning, wanting to preserve the surprise, to not want everything showing up on the coomic rack to be “safe” and “predictable.” As a comics fan, I can appreciate that, and even admire the commitment to one’s artistic expression. As a comics retailer, I just look at all the people coming in and calling and emailing and asking for the long sold-out issue and wondering how much money I could have made if I’d known this was the final installment of a popular, long-running series with a huge public profile.

Okay, in fairness, I don’t know that I would have ordered that much more, but I would have bought more than I did. And a significantly non-zero percentage of the people coming in looking for #193 are only going to be interested in first printings. Throwing a different “commemorative” cover on the reprint may help, which it did with the second print of #192, but I had several folks turn their noses up at the very idea of setting for the later editions. I know there’s no predicting whether or not 1) real world news outlets would cover it, and 2) if anyone not already buying comics would care, but I think for The Walking Dead I may have taken a chance.

Oh well, What Can You Do? Again, I’ve no problem with the decision to end the series…I have half a notion that of all the things that have “THE WALKING DEAD™” slapped on it, the monthly comic book series probably made the least money with the most effort, so if that were the case quitting that to focus on other product lines may be the best move. (Then again, the “If Daryl Dies, We Riot” lanyard likely isn’t the money-maker it once was either.) Plus, there’s enough material already extant, packaged in the extensive trade paperback line, which can be (and has been) repackaged in multiple formats to continue selling and reselling. I wonder how long it will be before the inevitable “all your favorite The Walking Dead stories…now in COLOR!” announcement comes along? I’m sure they say “no” now, but wait ’til the income flow dips a bit.

The larger point, and one I’ve made before on this site, and almost certainly will again, is that it can be hard ordering comics. You never know what’s going to be hot or not, until it’s the day before New Comics Day and everyone’s calling for copies of, oh, just to pick a random comic, Marvel Comics Presents #6, a series that barely sells on the shelf and is usually ordered accordingly and thus there’s no way to fill demand. And there’s a second printing coming but that’s not what the demand is for. It’s for that slabbale, eBay-able First Print. Hey, don’t get me wrong, if that’s how you want to enjoy the hobby, more power to you. I’m sometimes just caught off guard by what market forces deem “The Hot Item of the Week!” and it can be a little challenging.

I know there are websites and apps and such that try to inform collectors what the Next Big Deal is, but planning your store orders around that sort of thing may pay off once in a while, but could also require you to expand your storage space to accommodate more unsold product. Betting on “sure things” is not a reliable business model. I already went through 1990s comics retail once, and that was enough. It’s fine taking ordering risks, but I prefer to do so based on information I have, and on what my store can handle, rather than on the assumption that this first appearance, or that variant cover, is going to be picked as the week’s golden ticket, with demand above and beyond reasonable expectations. Thankfully, a number of my customers have been giving me more advance notice on what comics they want and how many of each (I mean, beyond just regular pull lists) and that’s been helping a lot.

So in conclusion…probably could have used more The Walking Dead #193. But that’s okay…everyeone’s moved on to calling and emailing about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #95.

Not what I was expecting.

§ June 19th, 2019 § Filed under retailing § 5 Comments

So if you follow me on the Tweeters (and why would you…er, wouldn’t you) you probably saw this entry where I point out a couple of comics of note that recently came into my possession. Namely, the original Avengers #1 and the original X-Men #1, soon to go up for sale!

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have them around (as well as the second isues of both, also acquired)…it’s early superhero Marvel, about as “key” as a “key” book can get, and they’re not in…half-bad condition. But the thing is…I’ve had ’em before. I’ve seen plenty of copies of both of these over the years. Not saying I don’t appreciate them or having them around, but I always like it when I find something brand new to me…not necessarily rare or expensive, but something elusive. Something I’ve never seen in person before. Something like this Barbie and Ken comic from 1962, based on the toy doll line:

That’s issue #2 of the five-issue run from Dell. I’ve seen pictures of them, but have never actually held one in my hands. Far as I can tell, given the state of my still-healing eyes, it’s nicely illustrated, and Barbie has very much a “doll” look to her, natch:

Don’t know if there have ever been reprints of these on better paper at some point, but the art could use a better showcase than decaying old newsprint.

But still, amongst the ’60s war books and Superman issues and those early Marvels, it was certainly nice to discover this unexpected treasure.

I’ll say it was a surprise!

Gonna party like it’s 1989.

§ May 22nd, 2019 § Filed under batman, collecting, retailing, this week's comics § 2 Comments

So I haven’t said a whole lot about new comics and mags lately, mostly because, due to current eyeball issues, I can’t really read comics and mags at the moment. As such, I’m building up bit of a backlog of recent goodies at home, on top of the backlog I already had, for me to attempt to plow though once my peepers are in order. Therefore I’ve been trying to be a little pickier about what I set aside for myself, though sometimes I can’t resist a certain special something.

What I definitely don’t need to be taking home for eventual reading are those magazines with articles and interviews about comics past, like Back Issue…a fine publication, but it just takes me forever to get 1) to them, and 2) through them, so I try to make sure it’s got something I really want to read about…especially right now, as who knows when I’ll finally have good enough vision to properly absorb them.

That said, they just got me for two issues in a row. The previous issue, #112, had a special focus on “nuclear heroes,” with a cover and feature on DC’s Firestorm, a character whose comics I very much enjoyed throughout the 1980s. I always like learning more about the comics I read as a somewhat-younger Mikester, so that’s how they got me there.

Issue #113, the one pictured above, came out this week, with its focus on the 30th anniversary release of the first Tim Burton Batman film, and all the Bat-hoohah and goings-on in the comics industry at the time. As some of you may recall, because I keep bringing it up, there were two major events I had to deal with shortly after I first entered the world of comics retail way back in September of 1988. One was “The Death of Robin,” and the phone calls and large number of walk-ins we had involving that. The other was, of course, that very Bat-film, and the huge explosion of interest in comics that ensued.

I talked a lot — and I mean a lot — about this film and its impact on the business about a year and a half back (here are links to that particular series of posts: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 — and that is a whole lot to take in, but at least check out Wayne’s anecdote at the end of post #9. Trust me on this). But anyway, this issue of Back Issue is hitting the double-nostalgia chord with me…not just learning more about the Bat-comics I read at that time, of which, like most comic fans around then, I read a bunch. It’s also reminding me of a simpler time of comics retail, when I was just a teen, or barely out of my teens, manning a register and shuffling around comics and, okay, it’s not that different from what I do now, but I’m also paying the bills and placing the orders and just plain keeping the doors open. Not like back then, when I just had to focus on ringing up custmers and talking about comics and reading comics without also worrying about owning an actual business. I miss those days sometimes…but overall, I prefer what I’m doing now.


§ April 3rd, 2019 § Filed under eyeball, question time, retailing § 3 Comments

Going to keep this super-brief (no, really, I mean it this time) to give my peepers a rest, so let me just answer a couple of questions.

Allan wrenches out the following

“*looks at Mike’s twitter feed* Is…is that the same shirt you wore for your previous eye surgery? Do you have a lucky eye surgery shirt?”

He is of course referring to this photo, which is probably about as stoned-looking as you’ll ever see me, since the anesthesia and other assorted chemical-goodies they doped up with really threw me for a loop this time.

…Anyway, yes, that is indeed the same shirt I wore for the previous two operations. I was instructed to wear a “loose-fitting, short-sleeved shirt” and that was the loosest-fitting, shortest-sleeved shirt I had available. Also, it’s kinda oldish and worn out, not unlike its wearer, so I wouldn’t mind if, say, blood or eye-juice got squirted on it.

In response to my “new shelf at the store” post, philfromgermany imports the following question:

“The wall display look amazing. Are these mostly for trades? Do you leave the new books on the wall for a week or longer before filing them away?”

The big, long wall rack is for the periodicals (though I do have a couple books up there)…I tend to leave stuff up there for a month before filing them away, though I have enough space to keep some items up for longer if I wish. (For example, I’ve been keeping all of Doomsday Clock up there, and until just recently I had every issue of the new Uncanny X-Men series on the new comics shelf as well.) In general, the week’s new releases are on the top two rows, and the previous month’s (or so) books are on the bottom four.

The trade paperback shelves (which I was adding to with that bookshelf I just built and took that picture of) are on the opposite wall, though I have a three-leveled table near the front center of the store where I try to put all the new weekly TP and graphic novel arrivals. After that they get moved to the big bookshelf (that looks sorta like the comic racks) where they’re displayed front facing, then eventually movied to the regular bookshelves, spine out. Though some books of particular interest are kept on front-facing display (like Saga or the Star Wars books).

Matthew wonders

“Do you have a quarter/dollar/clearance section for back issues and trade paperbacks? If so, how do you decide what goes in it?”

I do! I didn’t take a picture of it, but I have a small table up near the register that holds a few long boxes of bargain comics (usually stuff acquired for cheap…or just dumped on me…in collections, or excess leftover stock, or material I just don’t think I’ll be able to get a premium back isue price for at any point in the near future). On the three-leveled table I mentioned previously, I have a section of bargain trades and graphic novels, usually items I got on clearance from one of my distributor’s regular discount sales.

OKAY ENOUGH QUESTIONS, Mike’s Eyeball needs to rest. I’ll be back Frieday…IF THE EYEBALL WILLS IT.

But seriously, buy lots and lots of comics from me.

§ March 29th, 2019 § Filed under retailing § 8 Comments

So one of my tasks at my shop last week, which I needed to get done before my next (and hopefully final) eyeball surgery next week and would have to restrict certain types of strenuous activity, was assembling and installing a new shelving unit to hold more graphic novels. Now I figured the hard part would be building the actual shelf in question, which isn’t so much “hard” as it is “time-consuming,” but still, I DOOD IT:

I believed the easy part would be moving the preexisting shelves and insterting this new one between them. Well, as it turned out, when I had the Gigantorack built for the new comics, along with another similar rack for graphic novels, the graphic novel track and the other bookshelves were all bolted to the wall by the builders. As such, it wasn’t simply a matter of just taking some books off to lighten the load and then shoving everything over, but getting them unhooked from the wall first…which took some doing since I didn’t have the appropriate or correctly-sized tools to remove the fasteners they used. (I mean, it couldn’t just take a screwdriver, that would be too simple.)

Anyway, it’s done now, with the assistance of a helpful customer (since me using any kind of tool is usually an invitation to disaster or perhaps self-maiming). I now have more space for graphic novels and trade paperbacks and thick comics or whatever you want to call them, though I’ve already made good progress abhoring that vaccuum and getting those shelves filled up via the subsequent refiddling of the stock.

This does tie into something I’ve been thinking about of late, which is the matter of space. I’ve been spending the last several months getting a lot of those boxes of old comics in the back processed and priced up, with lots more to go, requiring me to find places to put them. The three large metal shelving units I have behind my counter hadn’t had their topmost shelves utilized, so I finally threw some boxes on top there and began the giant game of Tetris of resorting and reorganizing and relabelling all those bins, both behind the counter and on the floor.

Well, by “Floor” I mean “the two wooden tables that also hold back issues, but are accessible by the customers. Now is probably a good time to put up a picture so you can see what I’m talking about:

When I first opened, I didn’t have anything on the bottom part of the tables. I hadn’t even really filled up the tops of the tables…I used half of one table to hold comic supplies. Now I’ve expanded the back issues to occupy those bottom sections…mostly “Misc. Publisher” slots rather than individual titles, which I try to keep up top. So there’s like “Misc. Image,” “Misc. Dark Horse,” etc. I do have a number of magazine boxes underneath as well which are more a mix of boxes for individual titles (like Mad or Savage Sword of Conan) along with, like, “Misc. Marvel Mags” and that sort of thing.

The part of the table on the far left of the picture is my “new arrivals” section, where recent acquisitions (either from the back room or from colections) are priced and put out, where they’ll hopefully sell before I have to film them away in their regular sections. Those get flipped through all the time, so I do more quite a few out ofthere…my back-issue oriented customers know to poke through those boxes on a pretty regular basis.

This is a very long way of me saying that “thinking about space” has been a preoccupation of mine of late. I still have room to expend in the back issue bins…I’ve got space on the shelves behind the counter still, there’s plenty of slack in the boxes on top of the tables, and I can probably fit more boxes underneath that one table if I decide to stow the comic supplies elsewhere. But once all those spaces are filled — then what?

I could move to a larger location, which I’m not anxious to do…a lot of work was put into making this store look nice, with new flooring that I don’t beleive would come easily with us. Plus, I like how close I am to local conveniences, like, say, the post office, which is a two minute walk away and facilitates the amount of mail order I do. I could knock out part of one of the back walls…the back room is divided in two

The perpaps preferable option is doing some interior remodeling…the back room is essentially divived in two, and if we knocked out part of the divider wall between the front and the back, I could use half the back room for more retail space, while still having the other half for storage. It would take some work and some definite rearranging and some new flooring (since the floor in the back is all concrete) but you know, it’s not impossible.

But this is a long ways off, I think. Or maybe not, given the amount of back issues that have been processed for sale lately. It’s not an immediate concern, at any rate, but it is something that I always have to think about. Unless you guys suddenly rush in and buy lots of stuff from me…that’ll leave me with plenty of growing room then!

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