One of the biggest comics sales trends of 2020 is getting an even bigger push in 2021 with the launch of The Comic Book Shopping Experience, a sort of home shopping network for comics retailers.
Comics retailers were forced to reach consumers in new ways during the pandemic lockdown and Diamond shutdown in the spring of 2020. Among them were Jen King of Space Cadets and Jesse James of Jesse James Comics who both took to Facebook Live with homespun livestreams selling various books from their backstocks. It was part of the Comic Book Shopping Network, something they had been planning for a while. Like many someday plans, the pandemic put it on the front burner.
It sounds crazy but it took off — sales through these videos have been incredibly strong.
And now King and James have teamed with Dynamite and Dynamic Forces founder Nick Barrucci for an even larger network of online stores and an entire programming channel, the Comic Book Shopping Experience. According to THR,
…the Comic Book Shopping Experience will feature online programming created by retailers available across multiple platforms — Facebook, YouTube, and its own website — with the intent of not only selling comic books and related merchandise, but increasing the profile of comic book retailers as a whole. Programming will include creator appearances and virtual signings.
King, James and Barrucci made the press rounds, including a story in The New York Times. King told THR that the hope is that this will be a new platform to promote comics in general:
King: That is our fervent hope, that we can grow the market, bring more attention to local comic book shops, make comics as a medium easier for interested viewers to understand and to take the mystery out of that end of things for new collectors. With the success of entertainment based on comic books themselves, we want to do what hasn’t really been done yet: give a direct link and focus between the two and let people know where they can go get the source material. Their Local Comic Shop. They are the heart of the industry.
Barrucci has been active on QVC and other shopping channels for decades, so he definitely knows the territory. He told ICv2:
We will be having, to begin, four-hour blocks per day of new content, which obviously will then be archived and everyone can see on an ongoing basis. What we’re doing inside the sales programs is that we’re going to have some informational segments in each hour. If an hour program is 60 minutes, 44 minutes or so will be sales.
The other 16 minutes will be commercials and promotions. We plan on promoting the comic market; we plan on promoting comics that are in stores, the Comic Shop Locator service, news sites. We really want to make this a platform to grow the industry. Instead of this being similar to what many retailers are doing right now on Facebook, which is doing two hours of straight sales, we’re creating sales and entertainment.
We expect this to hit a larger audience that isn’t there today; we expect to brand this outside the comics market.
Back-issue comics sales have soared during the pandemic, and it seems likely that they will stay high throughout 2021. Retailers have added many tools to their selling techniques, and this could be a very powerful one.
TCBSE launches this weekend with a virtual convention and four hours of daily programming. You’ll be able to watch it on Facebook to start. This weekend’s convention includes everyone from Alison Sampson to Mark Bagley. You can check out the entire line-up here.
More to come.