In spite of all the gloom and doom you get from looking at sales charts, in reality the comics business is holding its own, mostly due to the perseverance and savvy of retailers such as those polled by Ada Price in this long piece for PW. The bottom line: Although times are tough, by being cautious, stores are staying healthy:

Despite the slow pace of economic recovery, owners and managers of comics shops contacted for our annual, informal survey of comics retailers said they are generally optimistic about the comics market, citing a good holiday season and healthier sales in January and February, in particular for kids comics. But the retailers also emphasized caution, citing the need to adjust to new consumer buying patterns and said they were closely monitoring costs; being highly selective about inventory and emphasized the need to continually hold events that will bring consumers into their stores.

Although being selective seems like a codeword for Big Two comics, this isn’t always the case:

“Quality sells,” Thornton emphasized, “there’s a flash in the pan, [we can] sell Blackest Night for three weeks, [but over] a year I can’t depend on it; Darwyn Cooke [I can] sell for two to three years.” Neal also mentioned Drawyn Cooke’s new Parker adaptation (published by IDW) and said the latest adaptation of the classic noir prose series did particularly well for them. Ayers and Dominquez both said Dark Horse’s Axe Cop sold well for them, with Dominquez adding he “sold hundreds of those.” Creator owned indie comics are doing well for Ayers, he said, because they “don’t have decades of continuity to jump into,” like many classic superhero comics. Dominquez also pointed to “classic American reprints”—the trend towards high quality collections of classic comics from the past—as doing “fantastic” for them, and pointed out Craig Yoe’s much admired collections (among them, The Complete Milt Gross). Neal also noted, “Fantagraphics’s variety of classic comics stuff, we do well with Peanuts and Popeye,” and he expects the new Fantagraphics’s Mickey Mouse will sell well. Gladstone said they have recently done well with Batman Inc. and the return of Bruce Wayne. Haaland said Batman Inc. “would be a hit if it came out on a regular schedule.”

It’s an excellent piece (if I do say so myself as the co-editor of PWCW) that should be read closely.


  1. Heidi: Your writer talked to Book People in Austin, one of the nation’s best indy bookstores, but NOT Austin Books and Comics, one of the best comic book stores in America for an excellent side-by-side comparison of how two strong businesses serve the same audiences uniquely? Hmmm…

  2. About selectivity…

    I have found myself more and more over the past year looking at the collections Marvel and DC offer more critically. I’ve pretty much stopped ordering hardcovers from them, unless it is an OGN, or something I think can be an evergreen. I’ve also skipped ordering a number of the paperbacks they produce of miniseries that I couldn’t sell as single issues in any appreciable quantity.

  3. Saipaman and Swampy: While Austin is a unique market in many ways, comparing comics retailers like ABC and Dragon’s Lair along side Book People just seemed from my vantage point to be a no-brainer and more interesting approach to take. Then again, we don’t live in NYC, aka “The Center of The Known Universe,” either, so we know nothing of any value outside that sphere…

  4. great article! deeply appreciated the props for YOE BOOKS and our book “the complete milt gross comic books and life story” from Gaston Dominquez,the CEO of Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles! coming from him with his incredibly great store that’s a wonderful compliment.