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Toledo Free Press Ponders the Future of Comic Shops


Jim Beard of the Toledo Free Press takes a look at the disconnect between superhero movie box office receipts and meager comic sales, today.  He also gets an eclectic set of odd quotes.

Mark Waid proposes the theory that people have a hard time finding a comic shop and there aren’t enough of them.

Ethan Van Sciver has some particularly complicated, possibly contradictory, thoughts on the matter:

They just lack the gene that lets them connect with them through panel-by-panel visual storytelling. It takes a special kind of person to understand the language of comic books, and to immerse themselves into that world.

“I don’t think the time will come when the success of the movies will lead to a real boost in comic sales long-term, but what I do believe is that the movies will be the new catalyst for the next generation of comic book readers. I found comic books because the Christopher Reeve ‘Superman’ films had a big impression on me as a child, and I already loved to draw and to read. Comic book fans will always be a small minority, a fraction of the public at large. But they will always be there.”

Then a couple downbeat quotes from local store owners:

“Serialized fiction can be a hard sell for regular book vendors and it is even more difficult in regards to the monthly publishing schedule of most comics,” Katschke said. “Comics will always remain a niche market, albeit one that will always exist if for no other reason than to continue feeding other mediums with entertaining characters and concepts.”

A quote that makes you wonder if he’s had any luck with the tpb market, but also segues into:

“I find it sad that those films make that kind of money and the comics industry sees so little reward,” said Jim Collins, owner of JC’s Comic Stop. “There’s nothing to drive them to want to read the comics. Warner/DC tried with “Green Lantern” by inserting a plug for its books, but it was at the very end of the film. It was throwing us [comic retailers] a bone, so they could say ‘we tried.’ I have seen crossover sales from “The Walking Dead,” but I believe it’s because they push its graphic novel source. I’m glad for the sales, but it really ticks me off saying ‘graphic novel,’ because it came from a comic book. It’s like they’re afraid to use that name.”

A bit of an extreme response to the comics vs. graphic novel issue.  I strongly suspect they call it a graphic novel for two reasons:

  1. The average new-to-comics viewer is more likely to want to pick up 2 volumes of the graphic novel, rather than 12 issues of the comic — and that’s assuming they could lay hands on a run of 1-12 in monthly format.
  2. Because, as Waid notes, the new-to-comics reader might not have any idea how to find a comics shop and go to a bookstore, or online bookstore, where Walking Dead is in the Graphic Novel section.  IIRC, the only bookstore chain with Walking Dead monthlies is probably Hastings.

The article throws the disconnect at the feet of a lack of advertising redirecting people from the films to the comics.  It’s probably a little more complicated than that, but Walking Dead has grown drastically since the TV show came on, in the monthly _and_ in the collected editions.  It’s easier pointing people to a single title than choosing which Batman-helmed monthly to pick up, but they’ve also been trying harder.


  1. The Tintin movie helped Tintin’s publishers. Along with introducing the books to new fans and kids. Suddenly my local library had all the english translated books and are still being borrowed at good levels according to their website.

  2. And is it possible that everyone knows that superhero comics are largely shit and a waste of money by and large? And thats the reason the movies do great because that old nostalgic feeling can only afford so much?

  3. At newsstands, where there are sometimes a couple of comics for sale, I find myself repelled by those dark, sinister oh-so-serious comic covers and more attracted to the cartoony DC titles that are targeted to the kids.

    Then I wonder: where are all the adults my age who did read comics as kids, and where are all the kids today who could be buying comics? Well, they (mostly) aren’t interested, aren’t attracted enough by Free Comic Book Day, and are not being sold on comics by ANYONE.

  4. We say graphic novel and comic book when we are referring to the same thing. Often(very often) we mix up these two with the superhero genre. These movies sell while the direct market comic books do not, because we are talking about two different industries creating two different products based on -mostly- the superhero genre. Now film, say what you want about their quality, are aimed at a mass audience, while Marvel and DC have been shooting for the center of their audience since the 80’s boom, trimming the customers more and more every year. Too much group think in comics and definitely no foresight .

  5. Katschke’s shop, Monarch, actually has a pretty decent selection of TPBs. (I’d say it’s roughly a 50/50 mix between singles and books. But I have no idea how well either category performs.)

  6. I actually found this post while looking for any nostalgic comments from Toledoans who remember The Comic Shop that was in Southwyck Mall’s Old Town back in 1977 that moved to Hill Avenue.
    I guess I agree that there must be some kind of unborn gene that makes you a comic book fan, since no amount of cross media is doing it. I know some people who read the Walking Dead trades after I suggested them to fans of the show, but it didn’t turn them into comic book fans. Same with the Marvel movies. I know plenty of people who love the movies but to suggest reading the actual comics they’re based on is just nonsensical.

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