Tagged: Comix Experience

Buddy Saunders: DC COMICS HAS LEFT COMIC STORES OUT

Buddy Saunders: DC Comics Has Left Comic Stores Out

Buddy Saunders is a giant among retailers. I’m honored to give him the first-ever guest spot at my column.

Michael Davis

DC’s planned limited release of titles beginning April 28th leaves too many comic stores out in the cold

by Buddy Saunders

I’ll tell you this up front. In mid-to-late May, a time more in line with when most stores can reopen, Diamond Comics, our longtime distributor, will resume shipping comics from all publishers based on fair-to-all release dates. Were Diamond to begin shipping earlier, many of our fellow comic retailers would be left out in the cold. We very much respect Diamond for making the good-for-everyone decision they’ve made. We are all in this together, fans, creators, publishers, retailers and Diamond.

I want two things. I want to stand with and support my longtime distributor. And I don’t want to receive and sell comics that many, maybe most, of my fellow retailers can’t get because their stores are shuttered through no fault of their own.

Diamond Comics has been our distributor for decades. I know Diamond’s owner, Steve Geppi, well. We first met many years ago, ironically at a DC brain-storming retreat at a Montauk resort on the tip of Long Island. Steve and I were there to help DC editors and creators figure out how to deal with the growing market threat posed by Marvel. Steve was then just another comic store owner like me with no thought of becoming a distributor. But some years later, when my then Texas distributor proved unreliable, Steve, along with Carol Kalish of Marvel, made my transition to Diamond silk smooth. There’s a neat story in that, but now’s not the time to tell it. Bigger fish to fry at the moment.

DC’s decision to begin releasing comics through two newly-minted “distributors” beginning April 28th is ill-conceived.

First, there is the matter of timing. Too many comic stores will still be prohibited from being open on April 28th, the first DC release date.

Second, DC’s new distributors, Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors, are in reality two of the nation’s largest new comic discounters, Discount Comics and Midtown Comics. No comic retailer should be involved in comic distribution due to obvious conflicts of interest. The only exception to that rule would be a stopgap measure undertaken if the current distributor were failing. That is NOT the case with Diamond. Diamond is solid and as reliable as ever.

Third, these two new comic online discounters have no experience as distributors. Even a vastly experienced distributor like Diamond isn’t perfect, but they are very good at correcting errors. Will the new guys do as well? The answer will come the first time retailers try to get support services such as damage replacements.

Fourth, why are these two new distributors necessary? Creating new distributors for a short-term fix doesn’t make sense. It makes more sense as part of a larger long-term plan. But were Diamond eventually taken out by this process, mid-to-small publishers would be up a creek, a circumstance that would very much benefit DC. Marvel tried something similar—becoming their own distributor—years ago. It didn’t work out for Marvel. Nor will it work for DC if that indeed is their thought.

Any such move, for whatever motive, is unnecessary given that very soon Diamond Comics will return to full distribution mode when the majority of comic stores can resume sales—most likely mid-to-late May.

Every comic store owner has to decide what is best for their store regarding distribution and release times, but greater consideration should be given to long term health rather than to short term gain.

Lone Star Comics and MyComicShop will wait for Diamond, a distributor that has earned our loyalty many times over. And we will wait until as may stores as possible can join us in resuming weekly comic sales. And when that time comes, we’ll have plenty of stock from every publisher, including all DC releases.

This from Brian Hibbs, owner of Comix Experience in San Francisco:

DC is asking us to ABANDON Diamond. Diamond and Steve Geppi specifically have acted as the “bank” of the Direct Market, saving and protecting the great mass of retailers again and again and again. Do I have some problems with DCD’s operation? Sure: I’d be an idiot not to—but on the balance they’ve done more to preserve DM retailers than ANYONE EVER, so “walking away” from them in this time of challenge is completely entirely a non-starter for me.

Brian Hibbs, Comix Experience

Last word from Buddy. Thus far I’ve spoken to only a few comic retailers, but those retailers are well established and significant. They favor staying the course with Diamond. I know a lot of retailers read my weekly Lone Star Comics email. Guys, gals, email me at buddy@mycomicshop.com and share your thoughts on this issue. Let me know if you are going to go with the DC plan or stay with Diamond. I’ll print some of your feedback, but omit names and addresses to ensure your ability to speak freely.

Oh, and you the comic fan, this affects you as much as any comics retailer, publisher or creator. Your two cents’ worth is equally welcome. Just understand, my plate is mighty full already, so it may be impossible for me to reply to every comment received—our weekly email goes out to many thousands of people!

—Buddy Saunders

Brian Hibbs: Speculeeches vs. Actual Readers of Comics

Brian Hibbs: Speculeeches vs. Actual Readers of Comics

There’s a return of an old pestilence upon the comics landscape. Brian Hibbs of Comix Experience is sounding the warning alarms. Reprinted with permission. —CM

Once again there is a speculator-driven comic coming out this week that forces us to limit sales or change our natural way of doing business.

This week it is YEAR OF THE VILLAIN: HELL ARISEN #3.

https://www.previewsworld.com/SiteImage/CatalogImage/STL145490?type=0

Here’s the thing: unlike last week’s BATMAN, where there were a good number of potential people-who-bought-earlier-issues-from-the-rack, my point-of-sale system shows me that virtually none of you bought copies of #1 or #2 from the shelf — this comic was a massive flop. And so, really, the only reason for most of the phone calls and such we’re getting is because we’ve got a bunch of greedy people trying to buy it from us for $4, and flip it for $40+.

I can’t countenance this as a retailer (seriously folks, we’re not suckers), and so I have to try to deflect you all. This week our plan is this: if you’re not already subbed for YOTV:HA (and you aren’t), THEN IN ORDER TO BUY #3, YOU HAVE TO BUY #1 & 2 ALONG WITH IT. We’re only interested in facilitating the reading of a story.

Let me go one step further: I’ve owned a comic book store since 1989, and I’ve worked comics retail since like ’85. I’ve heard this same record many many times before: In point of fact I’ve personally watched the comic book industry ALMOST BE DESTROYED MULTIPLE TIMES by speculators and greed — through the B&W boom, through the 90s spec crisis, and it’s happening again right now. People trying to “flip” comics are making it so PEOPLE WHO ONLY WANT TO READ THEM CAN’T DO SO.

It’s not right; and it’s certainly nothing I’m willing to participate in.

Please listen: if you are buying comics with the goal of flipping them for a greater price you are HURTING the comics medium, you are HURTING small businesses, you are HURTING creators and publishers….. and, more importantly, I DON’T WANT YOUR MONEY TO DO SO.

Seriously: Fuck the fuck off. Go shop somewhere else. You don’t like comics, you’re not good for comics, and your money is worthless to me because what I, and every other, comic book retailer needs are ONGOING READERS. Your spending $4 today is dwarfed by a regular stable purchaser spending that every single month. On the non-returnable comics that form the backbone of the Direct Market your ONE TIME purchase is genuinely HURTING comics and comics stores who then have a harder time figuring out how to serve their regulars. Your purchases are WEAKENING the market, and so you are not welcome in our doors.

When I opened in 1989, there were 24 comic book stores in San Francisco, and now there are (barely) 8 — that two-thirds went out of business largely because of these bullshit speculator games that hollowed out the actual readers market, despite the local economy BOOMING beyond all rationality in that time.

You suck. You destroy the thing you claim that you value. And Comix Experience simply won’t stand for it (nor have we, consistently, for the last thirty years!)

And more than that…. honestly? You’re an idiot. I sell comics for a living, and I watch these variant flash-in-the-pans and they NEVER (ever) hold their value. There are a small cartel of folks who are using public-facing apps, and trading back and forth between puppet accounts to MAKE IT LOOK like there’s demand for these comics featuring “Punchline”, but as a guy who has been selling this stuff for decades: this moment is 100% false and manufactured. We’ve yet to have a SINGLE reader show the slightest amount of non-fiduciary interest in the character, and any comic that “every knows is going to be worth money” never ever is a month or three after it drops.

Maybe “Punchline” will be an interesting character, with an involving storyline that leads to dynamic story-telling and tales for the ages. I sincerely hope so. But speculeechs driving up the price before anyone has ever read a single page of content is a massive red flag that “Punchline” will end up no better than “The Joker’s Daughter” (which was also white hot for about 45 days in 2013, and now no one would give you a dime for her eponymous comic)

Don’t be a sucker. Don’t help destroy what is left of the periodical comics market (idiot!) And don’t think you’re welcome in our stores. We’ve been there, we’ve done that, and we’ve had it proven again and again and again that you are the stone cold enemy of the Medium of comics.

Right now, you have a LOT of people trying to sucker and shake you down and get you to buy their comics because so many of them see a Hollywood Play, and are willing to use speculators and the worst excesses of the “Collector’s Market” to try and leverage that play. They too, are the enemy. Don’t fall for it! Don’t support them!

If you have any issue with any of this, take it up directly with me. I can always be reached at brian@comixexperience.com. Leave my staff out of it, please — this is a top-down statement.

-B

Brian Hibbs
Head Cheese, Comix Experience
San Francisco