Yesterday’s piece on current retail issues in comics by Todd Allen drew a lot of attention and kicked off a lot of discussion. Some of it was in tweetthreading form, and with permission, I’ve gathered thoughts by retailers John Hendrick (Big Bang Comics) and Ryan Higgins (Comics Conspiracy), and commentator El Anderson. It’s Storified below. I also reached out to some retailers for comment and we’ll be running them in the future. Jake Shapiro of Washington DC’s Fantom Comics, a well known progressive comic shop that caters to newer readers, also weighed in with some comments, and a promise to write more for The Beat in the future.
There’s a lot more to be said about all of this, but let’s ponder it for now. (Art above from the cover to Marvel’s Civil War The Oath by Jeff Dekal.)
Your piece was 100% on point from my perspective. Fantom Comics is having one of the best years in its 11-year history (THE best year, depending on how you measure), and a big reason is all the things you pointed out—we sell a ton of trades, and we diversify our audience enough that we’re not nearly as Marvel/DC dependent as some other shops.Plus, the community factor is huge for us; we can’t fight progress when it comes to online retailers and digital distribution, so the only thing we have over Amazon is our community.With that said, the past month has definitely been a downswing. Part of it is the natural ebb and flow of retail, but in addition to the reasons you mentioned in your article, the election has had a particularly big impact here in Washington, DC. Many of our customers are people whose entire livelihoods are threatened by the looming Trump presidency, and we saw an IMMEDIATE downturn the week after the election.
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.