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More about that darned comic


We know you are sick of that Obama & Spider-Man comic, but not only did the mere announcement of the comic make a lot of news, but news of the comic selling out has also made headlines everywhere. Atlanta:

And Oxford Comics, purportedly the only Atlanta retailer to carry the comic, was swamped with comic book fans and political history collectors who quickly bought out the 1,000 copies at the store, owner Mike VanHouten said.

“There were lines of 50 or more wrapped around the building,” VanHouten said. “People were happy to pay $45. This is the biggest thing since the death of Superman.”

And West Palm Beach, FL, Detroit, Orange County, CA,
Greensboro, NC:

“We were hoping we could get a copy,” said Lena Harper of Greensboro, who came with her 8-year-old daughter and stood in a line stretching onto the sidewalk. “But we should have known to show up hours early, like at a movie premiere.”

We hear it sold through St. Louis down to Missouri, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Gallup, New Mexico, and Flagstaff, Arizona — and don’t forget Winona, Kingman, Barstow, and San Bernardino.

  1. Hello? Guys? I’m thinking: get their money in advance for a reprint. Get their name and phone number and then get rolling on a reprint. When the press run is determined and done, call them and get them into the shop for the comic.

  2. There is a third printing in the works (cover “D” for those keeping track).

    At work, the B&N magazine department posted a memo to all stores mentioning about the demand (we’ll get the regular cover “A”) and that there will be another shipment of the second printing (cover “C”).

    Back in the day, where there was a three-week gap between the Direct Market and newsstands, I’d hit the newsstands for stuff that had sold out at the comics shop. (Remember the first Tim Drake Robin miniseries?)

  3. If Oxford’s bumping prices for a retail comic that’s out this month, I’m gonna stop shopping there. That’s just plain shady, and epitomizes the worst traits of the direct market. I’m hoping that it’s out of context hyperbole, noting what fans would be WILLING to pay, and not that they’re actually charging that.

  4. Stop being holier than thou, guys. The comic is going for $100 on ebay, and the reality is many many people buying them are looking to flip them on ebay themselves anyway. Now you’re going to hold it against a high quality store with an excellent selection of comics for being smart enough to not leave money on the table? That’s the responsible thing to do as a business person. The irresponsible thing would be if they’re telling the customers that these books are a high grade investment that will put the purchaser’s kids through college.

  5. Well, Tim, a retailer can do as he or she likes, of course. But I wonder if that approach is short-sighted.

    Sure, the retailer might win the war of a quick profit. But what about nurturing potential future customers with a fair price?

    From another angle, the vast majority of the comics a retailer sells depreciate rather than appreciate in value. Customers don’t complain about that, as there are other considerations (the story and art) than what the comic may fetch on eBay.

    I’m afraid I’m more on Mark Coale’s side than yours, Tim.

  6. “Sure, the retailer might win the war of a quick profit. But what about nurturing potential future customers with a fair price?” – Peter

    “the reality is many many people buying them are looking to flip them on ebay themselves anyway.” – Me

    Peter, in theory, I agree with you 100%. Sadly, I’ve been around too long now and know that the idea of nurturing future customers with a fair price on a book of this nature is folly. Every smart retailer I know, myself included, offered to hold copies of the second print, due to ship a mere seven days later, at cover price. Many many people hear that and go “But I want the first print.” Why would they want the first print over the second print for any other reason than simply trying to grab the cash for themselves? The ones that are interested in the story itself and the cover image were very happy to be able to order a 2nd printing. Those people are potential customers we can nurture. People who insist on the 1st printing are just trying to make a quick buck themselves.

    I’ve been to Oxford Comics, I’ve seen the selection of comics they offer. Anyone who calls a retailer with that level of selection and stock short-sighted is simply wrong.

    Let me also be clear in that I don’t like speculation, either. Whenever someone comes into my stores asking what a comic will be worth, I invariably tell them “You want an investment? Buy gold. You want great entertainment, buy comics.” The fact is, though, in a situation like this, leaving the money on the table for someone else to invariably grab is a poor choice.

  7. “Hello? Guys? I’m thinking: get their money in advance for a reprint. Get their name and phone number and then get rolling on a reprint. When the press run is determined and done, call them and get them into the shop for the comic. ”

    The problem with that is that because of the extremely shortened cycle on this book, I can’t say with 100% certainty WHEN I will receive the copies I ordered, or exactly how many will arrive and when, at the time the customer is standing there.

    There’s also issues with LOTS of people wanting 10+ copies for their family members, but if I filled all of those, there wouldn’t be any copies for the people who just want 1, but are #75 down on the list.

    My understanding is the copies I ordered early in the week will ship next week, but the one’s that were ordered later in the week (when we saw just how many people DID want the 2nd, for sure — and it was an insane %, relative to other comics events) are going to ship the week after that. We can’t take people’s money as a presell (or, at least, I won’t) on that kind of vagueness of arrival date.


    I understand *why* someone might choose to sell this for more than cover in their store, and I wouldn’t castigate them for it, but it isn’t a choice *I* would make. It also isn’t a choice *you* get to make if you’re not paying that store’s rent, phone bills, wages, etc.


  8. But in the future, I also will not be helping to pay that person’s store rent.

    The owner of a LCS screwed me out of a special order a few years ago. I have only bought 1 comic from him in the last 5 years, and that one only because a friend needed that comic and it wasn’t available as a reorder.

    Honorable retailers get my business. I’ve been buying shoes from the same shoe store for over 30 years. My tastes in shoes has changed over that span, but my loyalty to that store has not.

  9. Alan, you’re absolutely right, but when retailers know so many speculators are going to pop up out of the woodwork like this seriously thinking they’ll make some money back somehow?

    Yeah, can’t blame them for trying to make extra money off people they KNOW are never coming back.

    Its when you do it to the regulars that it would definitely become a problem.

    At some point, they’re all going to start coming in asking for Final Crisis #6 because they finally heard what happened in the book (figure its still no spoil grace period) and want that one too.

  10. I’ve talked with two local LCS owners about this. There is a third LCS which I have never been to, mostly because I don’t hear good things about that particular owner. That one claimed to have gotten 5 copies of the first printing variant cover, which can’t be true because he doesn’t do that level of business.

    Neither of my two regular LCS got the variant cover, because they refused to go along with Marvel’s ridiculous demands. But because of how the publicity was mishandled by Marvel, both shops have had to deal with irate people who simply refuse to understand that the Variant first printing was only distributed according to Marvel’s rules about reordering. One woman wanted 10 copies of that first printing cover (for her grandchildren, she said) and tried to accuse my primary LCS of racism because he wouldn’t sell them to her. He told her he didn’t HAVE any to sell to her, and no amount of money she could throw at him would change the situation. He’s feeling very bitter towards Marvel right now, even though he did place an order for the second printing of the variant cover and has been taking reservations for it. My other LCS hasn’t complained (yet) of such nasty customer attitudes, but they also told me they refused to order too much over their usual quantities – the store has been burned before on so-called guaranteed “hot” issues that just wouldn’t sell after the first week.

  11. Good grief. Only in comics could we have this madness where retailers mark up hot new comics on release; in the book world (see: Harry Potter) they do the opposite!

    All this flannel about how speculators are making money on it means that retailers are within their rights to do the same is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy – that is to say, if a retailer marks it up, then that only encourages speculators to make their markup even higher.

    Sell it at cover price. Limit to 1 or 2 copies per person. Everyone’s happy. Anything else is madness for short-term profit over long-term health (I wonder how many people a year from now (or, heck a month!) will be furiously pissed off that their $45+ investment isn’t worth tuppence?)

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