Or: In Which I Tell a Comics Shop Owner How To Run His Business.
London’s oldest comic shop is closing. Not London UK, London ON. The Comic Book Collector is shutting down soon:
It’s the end of an era for longtime comic book collectors in London. The Comic Book Collector, which is the oldest shop of its kind in the Forest City, will close its doors for good on Thursday. “It’s just been slowly spiralling down as far as customers,” said Tim Morris, who’s the store’s third and current owner. Morris, who first set foot in the shop as a customer in 1984 and became its owner in 2001, said recent changes by one of the two biggest comic book companies are largely to blame for his store’s diminishing customer base.
As is so often the case, people are sad their shop is closing. And so is owner Tim Morris. He even took the occasion of another article, to lay the blame for the shops shutting down at least partially with Marvel:
One of the biggest factors in the sales decline, Morris says, is the proliferation of needless, low-quality books the last few years from Marvel Comics especially. “Marvel Comics has been doing a bunch of crap for the last five years,” he said. So where there was once a single monthly title starring self-reflective mutant antihero Deadpool, there are now four. “Give me one good Deadpool book,” Morris said.
There’s also a disconnect between the company’s comic universe and the cinematic one.
“(Fixing) continuity would bring a lot of people back,” Morris added.
He’ll have customers come in the store fresh from the multiplex who are confused because they don’t understand why the Hulk’s alter ego, Bruce Banner, is dead.
And Spider-Man is Hispanic.
And Thor is a woman.
I know this is an argument often heard, but as I was typing this up for K’n’B, a shocking, dangerous thought struck me.
Could the comic shop owner, when faced with such a horrific dilemma, perhaps go to his shelf of hardy perennial bestsellers and pull down Civil War, or maybe collection of Thor by Walt Simonson or even Thor by Jack Kirby? The folks making the new Thor movie say it is practically a love letter to Jack Kirby so maybe giving Kirby comics to them would be appropriate.
I don’t mean to make this Marvel vs DC again, but DC’s backlist is rock solid, and when you want to start somewhere, they give you a roadmap. Marvel has no such clear-cut “classics” but they have many, many collections. Surely when an elusive new reader comes in still out of breath from the wonders at the cineplex, a wily shop owner, rather than throwing up his or her hands and saying “Sorry, but Hulk is Korean now. I can’t take your money,” could say “Hey, if you like the Hulk in the movies you will probably like Planet Hulk. In fact I hear they used it for the new Thor movie!”
I know it isn’t this straightforward, and I’m sure Tim Miller has a lot more experience talking to actual customers than I do sitting here at my computer. And if you are set on people becoming Wednesday Warriors then, yeah, people who read the floppies are going to get a big question mark over their heads when they see everything is changed around.
But there have been many, many good Marvel comics with the traditional characters. And they are still for sale. There may be hope in that fact.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.