A roundup of other news from the week, and some follow-up on other stuff:
§ The big, big news is that the Hastings retail entertainment chain will be going into comics in a big way, bother graphic novels, which they already carry, and now periodicals, including back issues. 147 Hastings stores — mostly in the Midwest, Sun Belt and Texas, will start up direct marketing accounts. The move follows the success of two test stores:
After the decision was made to pursue the comic industry, two test stores were chosen to see what impact a full comic presence would make in our stores. These stores would contain 32 feet of new comic releases, 32 feet of back issues, 44 linear feet of Manga and graphic novels, an expansion in action figures, role playing books, comic-related merchandise and supplies among other things. Almost immediately, these stores showed a double-digit improvement in comic sales, and a significant sales increase within the department in which the comics are featured.
After the success of these two large expansions, our team began to move quickly with two exciting versions of comic layouts within our chain. One expansion mirrors our two test stores, while the other smaller version contains mostly comic new titles and back issues with 16 linear feet each. Out of the 147 stores, approximately 27 will have our large expansion and 100 will have the smaller comic expansions by the end of the year. Along with these expansions, we have added skateboards and the accessories one would need to enter the sport in our 27 large expansions.
A couple of observations:
— since Hastings was in the business of carrying dying media like DVDs and CDs, it shows the fantasy economy of paper has some life in the old girl.
— A 147-store national chain of comics accounts will quickly become a big force with Diamond and publishers. Rich Johnston, breaker of the story, has been showcasing that exclusive covers from publishers Top Cow and IDW are already in the mix.
Very, very developing.
§ Some other retail stuff going on. Chris Oliveros makes a plea for a local indie bookstore:
Landmark Toronto bookstore THIS AIN’T THE ROSEDALE LIBRARY is facing tough economic times, as reported in this post by Rory Seydel, manager of our own independent bookstore. THIS AIN’T is particularly close to our hearts in part because they have carried and supported D&Q books and comics since the early 1990s, at least a decade before most bookstores in North America started creating “graphic novel” sections. Folks, we all have to step up here and do our part to support these stores, or else we’ll all be reading books on iPads and Kindles a lot sooner than we think. Except without a base of independent bookstores to hold together the foundation of a book industry, there won’t be any options to read books in “hard copy” formats anymore. And on another depressing level, when independent stores shutter their doors they’re often replaced by the likes of a GAP or Starbucks and their ilk, making our cities less interesting places to live in. Sigh, this is all starting to resemble the “future” that Seth has long complained about.
§ But on the GOOD side, Halifax comics shop Strange Adventures is opening a third store in Dartmouth . Add this to NYC’s Midtown Comics adding a third branch, and you see the iPhone hasn’t killed brick and mortar yet.
§ Speaking of iPhone, Robot 6 rounded up reactions to DC’s entrance into digital comics. A piece on CNet talked to Brian Hibbs:
One retailer in San Francisco sounded largely unfazed by the announcement. Brian Hibbs, proprietor of Comix Experience, said it’s too early to gauge how the day-and-date release will affect sales, if at all. “We can’t avoid day-and-date. It’s going to happen, at least as experiments. But there’s no evidence yet that they replace these are 1:1 replacement sales.”
Hibbs, who is also on the board of the comics retailers advocacy group ComicsPRO, noted that DC’s plan to funnel some earnings from digital sales back into brick-and-mortar stores represents an unusual path to trailblaze in online sales. “Think if we had the record companies doing that when digital music started selling. We might still have record stores.”
§ Also, from the first line of DC’s press release on their digital comics:
DC Comics, publisher of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern and Fables,
Oh, Wonder Woman. You’re the comeback kid now.
§ With the announcement that DC was going for day-and-date release with the biweekly miniseries JUSTICE LEAGUE: GENERATION LOST, it has announced issues 4 and 5 will be returnable to retailers.
§ Writer Paul Cornell has gone exclusive with DC.
§ Bleeding Cool reports that Jeff Lemire will soon get his own DC press release on going exclusive. Lemire has already had awards and acclaim as an indie comics guy, so it’s nice to see DC reaching out to new voices.
§ Also via Bleeding Cool, the whole story of how Darick Robertson took some time off from THE BOYS to draw the BUTCHER spin-off, and wrote some things on the internet that he wishes he hadn’t. But it all ended happily, and Russ Braun will fill in while Robertson is away.
§ Adrienne Colan, wife of Gene Colan, passed away this week — she was found dead in her home, and no cause of death has been announced. The Colans had been in the middle of an unfortunate and ugly story in recent months — Adrienne was under a restraining order to stay away from Gene after an attack left him in the hospital. While acknowledging the sad winding down, Clifford Meth remembers the good stuff, too:
The Adrienne Colan you met at conventions was the real McCoy. She was tough and funny and uncompromising; warm and intelligent and spiritual. And her sense of humor was splendid. I think that’s where we met—at that dark crossroads where everything was tragic-comic. Our friendship existed outside of my friendship with Gene; we corresponded for decades, sharing dreams and fears.
And I guess I loved Adrienne. Now that the end has come amidst ashes and tears, I owe myself that honesty. I loved her attention, loved sending her a new story and when she got something I’d written and dissected it (and me with it); loved that she was intellectually curious about everything I shared and painfully honest with me…and with herself.
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.