You see, you and me, we don’t have the clout, the cash or the staff to see done the things that should be done — forcing comics into these new sales points, getting the right work in front of the right people. All you and I have is the direct market, because that’s all the major companies are interested in supporting.
So it behooves us to bolster the failing direct market system if we want to continue selling comics in the current paradigm. And I’d like to, because I’d like to continue paying for my house and stuff. And that means changing the comics store culture.
That means getting rid of the talking Jar Jar Binks stand-up in the doorway. It means racking the T&A stuff somewhere else. It means focussing more on graphic novels than back-issue bins. It means displaying your comics in the window, not the bloody toys, and making your standalone floor displays out of comics and graphic novels, not those stupid pewter figures for pretending to be sodding elves in role-paying games with. It means talking to customers, not just standing idly by or peering over your till with an air of false superiority. It means talking to the people who work in and run the shop, telling them what you think works, telling them what you want to read. It means call-out sections where you rack by creator, and all the comics shops I know of that have tried it have discovered that it works very well indeed. Because people who don’t come from the comics-store culture will walk into stores and look, not for a title, but the new Neil Gaiman, or the new Alan Moore, or the new Frank Miller.
Ellis and Larry Young’s writing of the period are very much the foundation of a lot of today’s indie sales methods — and some of the concerns are exactly the same.
How much has changed? How much hasn’t? What do you think?
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.