Spider-Man was “Back in Black.” I’m going back on track and going to try and keep this updated as often as possible. 🙂 Hope you all get a chance to check out some good books. 🙂 Have a nice day and be kind to one another. 🙂
Sorry I abandoned you all for so long. I got a job and it did not allow me the time to write. Not to worry. I’ve been laid off and now I don’t have to worry about such things. On the other hand, I have to worry that I don’t have a job. LOL. I’ll be back and get this thing on track ASAP. Peace for now.
At the beginning of the year I decided to interview some of the managers and people working at my favorite LCS (plural). This came to be due to the fact that I had gone to a big shiny store that had shoddy customer service. I won’t mention said store. Instead, I’m going to talk and, hopefully, help promote the stores that I do like visiting and have been very welcoming upon my entering their doors.
Last issue of this column I featured a fairly new store. This time around I feature a store that has quite a history and has been in Southern California for more than 30 Years! I wanted to interview them because I like their service, and their sales.
If you’ve ever heard of Crenshaw in Los Angeles, I don’t suspect that you would associate it with comic books, much less superheroes. However, If you drive south on Crenshaw, just past Manhattan Beach Boulevard, you’ll find to your left Geoffrey’s Comics. Located at 15900 Crenshaw Boulevard, Suite B, Gardena, CA 90250. I caught up with the owner and manager of the store about a month ago to talk about his plans for 2011, Independent and Creator-Owned Comics, and the state of the industry.
CC: OK. So, we’re talking to…
CC: And you’re the owner and manager of the store?
GP: Yes, I am.
CC: When did the store first open?
GP: My dad first opened it in 1978.
CC: Were you born at the time?
GP: No, I was not born yet. I was born in 1982 and [my dad] had owned the store for 3 or 4 years. It had been kind of a dream. He lived in the back for the first couple of years. Set up a bedroom so he didn’t have to pay rent for living as well as for the store. It would often make $2 or $3 the whole day when they first started. Because, in [the 1970’s], there wasn’t much of a market for comic books. I’m trying to remember the first year that Superman The Movie came out, but, I think, it was [ maybe same year] that the movie came out. And, even after that, it’s not as if comic books suddently got really popular.
CC: When did you become involved in the store?
GP: Well, I mean, anybody who’s been shopping here for that long remembers me running around the shop. Just at the store because my dad had a job where he could take his kid to work. So, it worked out prett well for me. I would just come to work with him. I would dress up as Superman. Run around the store and do whatever I wanted to.
CC: OK, what about as an adult?
GP: In a more, business-sense. I have always worked at the store. Since I was 10 or 11 I started to take a minor interest in the store, but I took over running the store [about] 6 years ago. During my last year in college. As I finished up college, I just started doing this.
[Another thing to love at the store: Music. As I interview Geoffrey, Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody is playing in the background of the store. They alwas have a great selection of music playing. Be it oldies, R&B, Rock, contemporary, etc. +1Up points in Awesome]
CC: What do you think are the biggest challenge between your store and an electronic or online store?
GP: I certainly don’t like it. I don’t see it as too much of a competition or stuff like that. They’re not going to carry books that are out of print. Some people don’t want to wait for a book to order. Or, you’re saving $5, but you need to pay for shipping unless you order a certain amount. I don’t know if they do single issues, like floppies. I don’t think they do. I think it is just a competition in Trade Paperbacks (TPs). And TPs have taken a little bit of a dip, and it’s probably because of that, but I still think, for the most part, the people who are going to come in here and buy their new comics or buy their TPs. [Comparing us to them,] they probably don’t have to move product as quickly as we do. For example, having to move the new issue of Uncanny X-Men. About 50% of our business is people that come in here more than once a month.
CC: You also get collectors. Your website lists the largest collection of Silver and Golden Age comics in Southern California.
GP: We definitely do that. I always think of it as a separate business because eBay is a really good place to sell all [those books.] Online is how we sell [them.] In terms of percentages, of the old books that we sell, probably 95% of them are sold online. Not many people come in here to buy them. The core business is new comics and TPs. Old books are definitely a good percentage of what we sell but they are so, drastically, different in the way we go about them.
CC: Pirating. We have to deal with piracy nowadays. Probably for the last 10 years.
GP: It’s certainly been going on longer, but it’s been more prominent in the last couple of years. Where people just say, “Oh, I read my comics online.” I’m probably just ignorant of the way it all works.
From here we talked a bit on how people download comics illegally. Also, the difference between reading a comic on your computer and having one in your hands.
GP: That’s definitely something, it’s how I am, and I have to accept to not everyone is. My friend just sent me a link where one of our favorite authors is releasing a book online, one chapter at time. It’s one of my favorite authors. If he sold me a book, I would read it in a day. [However,] because it’s online I can’t do it. I feel completely emotionally unattached to something when I’m reading it on a computer. A computer is something that sits around and you waste a lot of time on. It’s not something to sit down and study. I feel that, the pschology of how you use a computer normally, bleeds in when you’re reading something on it. For example, you putz around on the computer when you’re watching TV. You’re just used to being distracted when you’re on a computer.
CC: With that being said, tell me about day and date Digital Releases.
GP: I hate it because it is competitive with my business. I also can’t just bring a proposal to Marvel and say, “You shouldn’t be doing this,” because they’re making money on it. I think, for the most part, the people that come in still will come in. … I still would like to get to the point where people buy comics for entertainment and literature. Once there’s no separation between Graphic Novels and comics, I will be happy.
Last year, as reported by somebody somewhere (no research), digital prints outsold hard copies of books. An artist, who shall go unnamed because of the heat he caught for it, asked, “Why can’t we have something like that for comics?” He wasn’t advocating the end of print comics. He was simply asking, to paraphrase, “Why can’t comic books have this kind of reach to the public?” So, Geoffrey and I discussed it a bit.
GP: Comic books would be nowhere near the popularity that they are without comic book stores. Even the greatest bookstores have, maybe, only a couple of shelves and we have 15 bookshelves. We, by no mean, have everything; we could have another 3 bookshelves with the cool indie books, but we don’t. It’s mostly mainstream.
CC: Why is that? Why don’t you have as many indie books?
GP: They just [don’t sell as well.] One of my favorite indie books Echoes, by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Rahsan Ekedal, just came out and the writer on his twitter said ” Here’s all I’m going to say, if you like books like Echoes, buy them. Or, there won’t be books like Echoes.” One thing that [Brian Michael Bendis] really hammers away on his twitter, which is really cool, is pre-ordering his books. When you come in and you tell a comic book store, “I’m going to buy this. Here’s some money.” Only the worst businessman in the world wouldn’t take that money. You’re guaranteeing, you’re saying, “Here. This is coming out in two months. I’m going to buy it.”
That’s the kind of thing that is kind of hard to take a gamble on. But, if I have a bunch of people coming in saying, “Hey I want tobuy this.” Then, I’m assuming there’s twice as many people who want it, but didn’t ask. So, if you pre-order a book, you’re telling me that you like and you’re telling me that there are people who don’t bother asking, but also like it. Any business in the world, they should know this; for every question you get, for every complaint you get, there are ten people with the same questions and complaints that don’t bother. Every time you get are asked something or someone voices a complaint, you really need to pay attention because, most places you go to, normal guy goes to them, “Oh, that was a terrible experience. I’m never going back there.” They don’t write a note, they don’t say, “Hey, why don’t you guys have this?” They just move along [and] never come back. Or, even worse, they find somewhere else to buy it.
CC: Now, you know that in terms of Customer Service. One thing I never do is try to use the store like a library. What are your thoughts on people who do that?
GP: This is what I’ll say, because I have thought about this, Borders and Barnes & Noble have couches everywhere. And all they have is reading material and they never come by and say, “Hey you need to pick this up or leave.” And they have got to know more than I do because they’re multimillion dollar companies. Obviously, they’ve figured something out. Maybe, if [we] let people read the first chapter, they’ll buy the whole book. That’s what we’ve kind of done here with the lounge. How much does that really hurt you [in terms of sales?] It’s mostly the people that wouldn’t be buying anything, anyway. It’s not [as if] my regular customers come in, read, and buy nothing at all. It’s the people who come in and read, can now sit down and read. Another great thing that it does is it provides a place for people who are with someone. If you’ve got a girlfriend or you’ve got kids, [they] can sit down and watch the TV. That person isn’t being pushed out of the store. There are a lot of benefits for it. The real shark-businessman in you is saying, “Uggh! They’re not buying anything I want to get them out of here.” But, it really doesn’t hurt you. They’re not taking anything away from you.
CC: Last year, for your 33rd anniversary, you had a signing with Mark Waid. I saw a long line going around. I was here since the early, cold, morning. Do those help?
GP: [They] certainly [do.] I’ve noticed a couple. The thing is, it is very specific. We had Mark Waid signing his new Captain America: Man Out of Time book and his new book The Traveler for BOOM! Studios. I think our sales on those have been signinficantly higher even for future issues that he wasn’t here to sign. I think people picked up the one and enjoyed reading it. There are 3 book from BOOM! that are in that same Imprint that Stan Lee is working on and The Traveler sells a lot better than the other two. The Traveler sells better than Starborn and Soldier Zero. Almost twice as much as the other two books. We sold about 30 number 1 issues which is unheard of for an indie book. There are five top publishers, according to Diamond. We put the other 3 (Dark Horse, Image, and IDW) in the first rack to try and get more people to check them out. I don’t know if that necessarily works.
CC: Let’s talk about price. Marvel’s books are pretty much all $3.99.
GP: They said they were going to drop it soon. [However,] they’ve been very cryptic as to which books and to how much. Am I happy about it being $3.99? Not really.
CC: Did that hurt sales? or Pull lists?
GP: The problem is [Marvel] did it at the time that the economy took such a downturn. Now you have two variables and you can’t say which did what. Even the heaviest comic buyer, or above average comic buyer, who buys more than five titles every week. If I had to buy them, I couldn’t buy five books every week. No one was complaining about $2.99. If you bought five books it would have been $15.00, now you’re paying $20.00. Comparitively, a movie you don’t own after watching and it costs $10.00, the cheapest. There’s no explanation for their price hikes, but people go crazy when comic book prices go up.
We went on a bit of a rant about books in general but got back to comics after a couple of minutes.
GP: People bring ’90s garbage all the time.
CC: I think that whole decade was just [expletive.]
GP: Everything has drastically improved in comic books.
CC: That’s how the [independent book] came out because they were doing grittier storylines, better art, and more complex characters.
GP: [They were doing] stuff that didn’t have superheroes in them.
CC: Which gave rise to more graphic novels. Nowadays, those indie ones are not selling that well.
GP: The cream also rises, too. There are some indie books that sell well Johnny The Homicidal Maniac, by Johnen Vasquez — the guy who created Invader Zim –, it’s very good book, a very adult book. Only seven issues and, honestly that book came out 15 years ago, people still come in looking for it. And Scott Pilgrim, that’s an indie book. It made a movie. We’ve sold more of those than we’ve sold of any Marvel Trade Paperback, EVER! But, the problem with that statistic, you could say, “Scott Pilgrim has sold more than every Marvel Trade Paperback.” It would be true, probably, except for the fact that Marvel TPs also sold individual issues and if you add them all together, it did not outsell that. We probably sold about 40 copies of the last volume of Scott Pilgrim. That’s heavy because its a $12 book. We usually don’t sell that much of a product that is that expensive. It’s Manga-style. But it’s great. That’s why it sells. It’s a fantastic book. People are going to be coming in and buying that book 10 years from now. They’re not going to be coming and buying X-Men Legacy #X.
CC: Maybe at the Dolla Bin. By the way, do you lose money with those?
GP: Yes. There are two types of books that make it into the $1 bin. A guy will come in with a long box and I’ll say, “I’ll give you $20.” We’ll put them all at the $1 bin and not all of them are going to sell. Or, it’s a book that we order too much of and we’ll put it in the $1 bin.
CC: I mean, you have New Avengers #6 and Avengers #6.
GP: That I’m losing money on. But, if someone comes in and sells me their collection I’m making money on that. Yeah, every Avenger #6 I’m losing money on. But, as of now, I’ve lost all the money. If someone’s coming in and buying it, at least I lost a dollar less.
CC: For the people that don’t know, tell us, what are Geoffrey Dollars?
GP: Every time you spend $10 you get a coupon for a 99 cent comic and it is called a Geoffrey Dollars. Geoffrey Dollars are to get people back in the store.
CC: Toys. I’ve seen some toys at comic book stores. Not a lot. Do those help in terms of sales?
GP: Well, what we do is, almost exclusively, buy our toys from warehouses filled with toys. That’s why our toys are priced $4.99 or $5.99. I don’t find people are willing to pay $19.99 for a toy very often. I don’t think the comic book sales have dropped too much, for us, but sales on everything else has taken a dive. Everybody who has a job has $4 to buy a comic book, but, if you lost some hours, you don’t have $20 to buy a toy. Sales, nationwide, are down, but the difference is Trade Paperback sales and statue sales have just plummeted. I can’t order them anymore, really. Most of these I’ve had [for a while]. We just sold a Spider-Man and, the same guy, bought this Thor, too. Those are awesome. The same company, [Sideshow Collectibles,] just produced a statue of Colossus on that scale. Colossus is my 2nd favorite X-Men. So, I thought, “I shouldn’t buy this because it’s a bad business decision. If I don’t sell it, I’ll just take it.”
As he’s finished saying this, I notice a giant box with a Thor figure on every side of the box. It was big. It looked incredibly cool, too.
CC: What do you look forward to in 2011, both for the store and in comics?
GP: I’d like make more money than last year. I know that sounds really selfish, but, I’d like to make more money. Fear Itself, Flashpoint, and Death of Spider-Man.
CC: Name 5 independent books that you would recommend.
Geoffrey Patterson’s Picks:
Perry Bible Fellowship
Bob The Angry Flower
We discussed a lot more with Geoffrey as the day went on. We talked for roughly 3 hours, except my recorder decided to punish me and stopped working. Nevertheless, it came back to life when asking some questions to one of the customers.
I spoke to Roderick, one of Geoffrey’s customers, who’s been shopping there since he was a child, and here’s what he had to say:
“First off, they put themselves in the shoes of the buyer. They’re knowledgeable. If you go to a website, there’s no one talking to you about a variant cover. I can come here and sit down and read a book. You can’t go to a website and do something like that.”
I also spoke to Eddie, an employee at Geoffrey’s, and asked him to recommend some indie books.
1) The Walking Dead
Geoffrey also spoke highl of Axe Cop, Thor: The Mighty Avenger, and Powers. I really hope that all of you get to check out this store and give them a try. You want an incentive? OK. Go this Saturday, March 5th as they’ll be having a sale. Here’s the flyer I “borrowed” from their facebook page.
My apologies to Geoffrey for taking so long to publish this. Also, my thanks to him for letting me do the interview. Help out your Local Comic Shops. These guys have great books, cool discounts, and, above all, fantastic service. Thanks for reading 😀
Oops! Almost Forgot. Be sure to tell Geoffrey which indie books you like so he has them ready and remember to pre-order your books. Peace on Earth!
Overall: I give Geoffrey’s a +1Up in Awesome!
Here Come The Monsters!
Uncanny X-Force #4 Review
Rick Remender: Writer
Jerome Opeña: Artist
Dean White: Color Art
Esad Ribic: Cover
VC’s Cory Petit: Letters
Marvel Comics – $3.99
Uncanny X-Force has become an unlikely choice for me. I was never a great fan until the previous volume and I didn’t buy it. I simply read it at my local shop. However, the art and coloring first attracted me to the book and now I’ve stuck with it and I find this book to be incredibly cool.
The first arc reaches its conclusion in this book. Relax, I haven’t spoiled it yet. The moment the team has been working towards takes a turn for the weird and the worst, too. An unlikely hero rises, again, from the least likely involved team member. The plot progresses a little too easily into the book and it feels almost false. However, upon reaching the last two pages of the book you realize that the tragedy that occurred before everyone’s eyes was real. It also means that a possibly innocent life has been taken in order to save millions in the future.
The very last page in the book speaks volumes, even without any dialogue. The moon returns to its silent state and our heroes depart to a new adventure. The coloring is perfect. There is no need to exaggerate in color or design; there is no need for words, no screaming, and no crying. Wonderfully written, incredibly well drawn, and so fantastically colored is this book that it makes you think whether or not its titular characters are such cold-blooded killers as they paint themselves to be.
I know there’s a lot of talk about Big Two vs. Creator-Owned comics. I myself like a lot of creator-owned titles. However, there is still the possibility that Big Two can produce some incredibly good books. Uncanny X-Force #4 – The Apocalypse Conclusion is proof of that. I recommend it.
There’s a New Girl in Town
Morning Glories #6
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Joe Eisma
Covers: Rodin Esquejo
Colors: Alex Sollazzo
Letters: Johnny Lowe
Image Comics – Shadowline Productions – $3.50
Morning Glories has been a great story from the beginning not only because it makes you want to know what happens next but because what happens next never disappoints. Nick Spencer takes the reader into what seems to be a time traveling story in the latest issue. The great thing is that the book doesn’t feel to have hit a plateau; instead, more and more layers seem to be added to the foundation of what looks to be a great creator-owned comic.
Joe Eisma’s art complements Spencer’s writing as we continue to wonder who the mystery woman is. The best part about the art is that we want to know why she hides behind every possible angle. What are her motives and how does she fit into the story?
All new characters need an interesting origin and Julie Hayes does not disappoint. Tragedy brings Ms. Hayes to Morning Glory Academy and that makes her a bit of an odd team player. The other team players became tragic only after or due to entering MGA; Julie had her tragedy occur before. But is it all connected? As we’ve learned from the previous arc, not everything is what it seems on Campus at MGA. One of the most outstanding pieces about this book is that Spencer and Eisma have achieved to teens involved in some form of science interesting! No superpowers, or none really public, no crazy genes, yet, and no other-worldly beings. They prove that great storytelling, cool art and human beings can still make for a great comic book.
Overall: 4 out of 5 Cosmic Points
REVIEW: Wolverine and Jubilee – Limited Series Issue #1 of 4
Writer: Kathryn Immonen
Artist: Phil Noto
Lettering: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover: Oliver Coipel with Morry Hollowell
Disclaimer: Some spoilers could not be avoided. Sorry.
CURSED Part 1 of 4
Wolverine and Jubilee have always had a great relationship in the Marvel U. However, Kathryn Immonen puts that relationship to the test with the new Wolverine and Jubilee miniseries. It’s not a new idea, but it is a new take on these two characters. The story seems pretty solid and well put together, but not exactly perfect. However, the same cannot be said for the art. The covers are cool and slick; I’m a great fan of the Variant. Nevertheless, this is the beginning of the book and I do hope it gets better and with my two favorite X-People and Immonen writing, how could it not?
Jubilee has been turned into a vampire, as seen in the previous “Curse of the Mutants” storyline, and she’s still angry. Her anger is focused towards herself, as is the case with most teenagers, and also towards those who would help her but continue to keep her captive. Wolverine, as usual, assumes a father-like role and allows Jubilee to be freed from her cage, literally. Next thing you know, after a night out on the town, Jubilee is found amidst a pile of dead bodies. Wolverine comes to the rescue. As I said, the concept isn’t new, but the other players in the book are what make the concept stand out, as do the other factors; will Jubilee find herself in a new relationship with new problems and actually be able to recover her powers? I hope so.
As I stated before, the story is far from perfect. Jubilee is a 22-year old character and in this book she states she’s still “seventeen.” I truly hope she gets to grow up more in this book and put all the nonsense regarding her insecurities as a teenager. The character must be allowed to grow and expand in her own universe and life. Instead, it seems that minority character, yes I’m going to play that card, continue to be stagnant and even the bar scene seems slightly stereotypical at the beginning. In other universes, and the cannon Marvel U, she’s led teams, led missions, fought alongside some of the best of the X-Men. At some point, she was one of the BEST of the X-Men. If this miniseries is to restore some of her glory days in print, and maybe even her own series, fantastic. However, if the point is simply to kill her or drag her back into the shadows then Marvel needs to think of some new ideas in that House. (Again, I’m someone who likes the book.)
The only outstanding things from the art are the covers. I think the pencils are pretty cool but I’m not fond of the coloring. Some of the characters have NO EYES. How does that happen? How does a multi-million dollar publisher of comic books not notice that? And if they did, how do they allow it to happen? Armor appears in this book and she has no eyes. Is it because she’s Asian? At another point in the book, both Jubilee and Wolverine seem to have no eyes. Emma Frost seems to have been plastered upon a background of her office; she’s been outlined and looks like a carton cutout. The book has a bit of a sterile look throughout that I cannot shake out of my mind.
Overall, I think the book could improve. I love the characters and I like the story, but I really hope they haven’t finished working on this and have all issues ready to be released if the art all looks like this. I’m not saying the techniques are bad or the people working on it are bad. I’m saying that I don’t like the look of their work on this book.
Overall: I give this book 3 out of 5 Cosmic Points.
Galaxy of Comics Interview & Review
I left home around 1pm to make it to a cool local comic store named Galaxy of Comics (GOC). It’s a 2 hour trip by bus, train, bus, bus to make it there for me. It’s located at 17306 Saticoy St. Van Nuys, CA 91406. What first attracted me to this store was that they were having a signing for Joe Benitez’s Lady Mechanika #1. To make a long story short, I thought his art was great, the store was far but I was willing to go, but I ended up having to work that day. The Owner and Manager, Warren Jaycox, was great and told me he would hold the comics for me. (I got a Campbell Cover and a Variant Limited Edition Cover. He also had another signed Campbell Cover that I ended up buying for my friend.) The store is fairly new; Yesterday was the celebration of the beginning of their 3rd year of being open. So, Congrats to Galaxy of Comics on their 3rd Year! I wish them the best.
In order to capture some of the essence of the store, I asked Warren if he’d let me interview him. (See previous post about LCS here.) He said that it would be OK as long as I got there early enough. Whenever I hang out with my friend Sly, we visit comic stores and other places around LA. After leaving GOC, the last time, my friend said this, “I liked GOC better. [Warren] was really nice and he had some good discounts.” And he did! I like the fact that Warren uses both Twitter and Facebook in order to offer discounts to his customers.
I covered a few topics regarding comics in my interview and conversation with Warren and I hope that you enjoy it. Here it is.
CC: You’re Celebrating Your Third Year of being open. Congratulations! And you have signings today?
Warren: We have Howard Chaykin who’s done everything under the sun for Marvel and DC. And Indy stuff, as well. And he’s been in the industry for years and years and years. Then we have J.T. Krul, who’s worked primarily with Aspen and DC Comics but he’s been around for 5 or 6 years and he’s fantastic. We’ve had him a couple of times. He’s great, every signing he’s been great.
CC: So, how does it feel?
W: To be an owner?
CC: Yes, and to be open for this long.
W: It is awfully nice to be open for this long. Especially in the middle of a recession. It’s nice. It’s a tough business; don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. It is great.
CC: Time consuming?
W: Very time consuming. I was just talking to a friend of mine and I frequently interchange and mistake the word home and work. You know what I mean? It’s, “Oh I gotta buy groceries for work! Wait, for home! I gotta buy groceries for home. Or I’m gonna go to work and go to sleep.” [He laughs] I’m always here.
CC: It’s a tough business because you have so much to compete with?
W: Well, it’s a tough business for several different obstacles.
CC: I think your competition is mainly online.
W: Amazon, eBay, those don’t help.
CC: How do you compete? That’s one of my main questions. I recently saw Store X online selling Volume 1 of Comic P for $XX.XX. How do you compete with that?
W: Well, you don’t. When it comes to [the store], you get a certain crowd that likes to come in and like a shop like this because they like not just the store or the products but the customer service. Customer service can be just as simple as, ‘How are you? Did you read this?’ You get a good sense of what your customers like. You can kind of go from there. The online thing is very sterile. Just, “[I clicked] and I bought something.” That’s great but it doesn’t give you the experience of coming into a store like this, seeing friends, etc.
CC: Your windows look great, by the way.
W: Thank you. [Scott], who does our art classes in the back room, he does our windows. He’s fantastic.
CC: How do you get people to come in? How do you get new people? How do you keep the ones you have?
W: Little things like that, sometimes. Our windows to increase the amount of the exposure of the store. We’re on the corner so someone going through this intersection would have a hard time not seeing us. Some of it is word of mouth. People come in and they haven’t read comics in 5, 10, sometimes 20 or 25 years and they want to get thrown back into their childhood. Also, social media like Twitter and Facebook.
CC: You also do discounts?
W: We do. We have a pull list. We give you a discount on your pull list for a certain number of comics. We have a Fantastic Four Sale. One of them died this week so we’ve put our TPBs and HCs at 50% for the week. Small things like that to get people interested. (At this time the store was already sold out of bagged Issue #587 of Fantastic Four)
CC: Do the signings draw a big crowd?
W: They can do a big crowd, too. You really need to be very vigilant on the online social media aspect of it as well as word of mouth. Letting your customers know 2 or 3 weeks in advance. Speaking of that, we’re also going to be ramping up the exposure on what we’re trying to do for FREE COMIC BOOK DAY (FCBD).
CC: Awesome. That’s the first Saturday of May? (May 7th, 2011)
W: First Saturday of May. It’s a national event. Most stores do it, some stores don’t.
CC: Some stores don’t? [I was shocked!]
W: Yeah, I know a couple of people who don’t. Well, it’s FREE to the customer. It’s not free to us.
CC: So you have to pick which books you want to give to your customers?
CC: I imagine that’s a big gamble for you.
W: You know what? It’s really not. I remember my first FCBD. I was really nervous and thought I ordered too much. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do. We did a sale along with it to help cushion some of that expense. Now, I look back and go, “What was I thinking? I should have ordered 2 or 3 times of what I did. And a bigger sale.” There are a lot of benefits to FCBD.
CC: My friend really liked your customer service last time I visited.
W: When I set up the store – I used to live in Northern California, backwoods Northern California, and there was one store for a 30 to 40 mile radius and the guy had no idea, no idea how to run the store and he was just there. He was only there because there wasn’t another store for 30 to 40 miles. It’s just kind of sad – and I didn’t want [mine] to be that kind of store. I want to [have] a store where you can come in and say, “Oh wow, I haven’t read comics in 20 years. Tell me what’s good” or “My kid wants to read comics. What’s good? Tell me what he should read.” That’s how an industry like this stays alive; through good customer service and a store that people want to come into.
CC: Great. Now, some publishers are doing day and date releases for some of their comics on print and digital formats. How do you feel about that?
W: I don’t know. Can I pass on that question? [He laughs] I only say that because I honestly don’t know how that is going to work. I have seen and heard both sides of that argument. I follow a lot of artists and writers on facebook and, [sigh], all of them are all over the map. I think it might be a little bit of both. I think that, there’s the possibility that, it’ll increase readership and it might increase circulation for some of these books because it gives out that awareness. There’s also the possibility that it might be detrimental to [print]. We’ve seen what’s happened to the music and film industries. They haven’t gone away! They’ve had to change. I don’t think we’re going to see how this is all going to turn out until 5 to 10 years from now. I don’t think it’ll become accessible until they become more affordable.
CC: That’s how I look at it, as a consumer. For example, some of those day/date releases are the exact same price as the print issue. However, I don’t get anything. I only get to read on their apps or online, but I don’t own anything. Instead, I bought it here.
W: Can you go back and read it?
CC: Yes, as long as you have your account with them, I guess. There’s no set term or period of time.
W: That gets rid of the collectability.
CC: I like the collectability.
W: There’s something to the tactile experience.
CC: Definitely. (Sorry, we got a little off topic and made the issue about me). I think your biggest competitor is piracy. Any type of illegal downloads. How do we fix that? Can it be done?
W: I don’t think that it can be fixed. I don’t think there’s anything you can do about that. Again, you’ve seen what’s happened to the music and film industries. I don’t think it’s the kind of thing that you can fix. I think it’s the kind of thing that you can head off to a certain extent. You’ve seen how quickly movies come out in DVD, now. It’s just out there so quickly. I don’t know, maybe the next thing is comics online in the manner of Netflix.
CC: Which is what ComiXology is trying to do, I believe.
W: Yeah, I’ve heard about that.
CC: A lot of shake ups already this year in the industry. The CCA is practically gone.
W: I didn’t even realize the CCA was still there. When Marvel dropped it, I just kind of figured that it was going to go away. As soon as DC and Archie dropped it – and that’s a big thing, Archie dropped it? Wow.
CC: Well, their stuff is all ages. I don’t think there’s anything…
W: Yeah, Archie kills the Archie Universe. [He laughs] Or Archie Zombies. Hey, I think we got something there. Archie Zombies. Well, the CCA has been obsolete since the 70s, I’m shocked that DC didn’t do it right away. Marvel’s been operating without it for almost 10 years now.
CC: OK, what do you want to see in comics and with the store in 2011?
W: Archie kills the Archie Universe. I don’t know. I’m a pretty difficult comic book writer. I like some artists and writers and I dislike some other ones. I want to see some good stories and good art. It would be nice to go back and read all the books that I used to be into. It’s an advantage that, if you own or work at a comic book store, you can read everything you want. At the same time, you realize (he whispers) there’s a lot of crap!
CC: OK, last thing. Give me 5 independent or creator owned titles that you’d recommend.
W: Oh, my god. Freakshow #1 from Ape Comics came out this week and I was really impressed with the whole book. I don’t really consider this “indy” anymore but The Walking Dead is still fantastic, just as good as it has always been. I hate to be the “art guy” because I don’t think their stories are particularly great or anything but almost anything from GG Studios The One, Gore, Mediterranea. Beautiful artwork. It’s just gorgeous. The story is a little odd in most of them. I thought maybe they were Italian or French. The other one is from Humanoids Publishing, they haven’t done much in comic books but they’ve done graphic novels, Whispers in the Walls. I think there’s just one issue left; it’s very compact. It’s very good. That’s a great little indy. They print kind of oversized but this is comic-book sized and it’s a great comic book.
CC: Well, congratulations and Thank You!
W: Thank You!
Again, you can find Galaxy of Comics at 17306 Saticoy St. Van Nuys, CA 91406. I recommend this store. I like their service, they help me save some money when buying comics, and they cool things like signings with artists that I didn’t know about before or ones that I really like. I wish Warren and GOC the best.
Now playing: Disturbed – Inside the Fire (Live from Deep Rock Drive)