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George Lucas pops by Midtown to buy ‘Star Wars’ comics

George Lucas surprises customers and staff at Midtown Comics in Times Square when he stopped by Monday to catch up on a little reading.

“He was only in for about 15 minutes, his driver was waiting outside,” an unidentified store employee told Page Six. “Fans were pretty excited to see him and he signed a comic book. He was saying he hadn’t read any of the new Star Wars comics.”

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Dark Horse comics return to the newsstand at Books-A-Million

Emily the StrangeLast weekend, Todd Allen wrote at The Beat that he had spotted some Dark Horse comics on the newsstand at Books-A-Million, now the second-largest bookstore chain in the country. That piqued my interest, as newsstand sales have proved to be a challenge for most comics publishers for decades now, so I got in touch with Matt Parkinson, Dark Horse’s vice president of marketing, who answered some questions about the company’s newsstand sales at Books-A-Million and its used-book subsidiary 2nd & Charles.

Robot 6: First of all, what has Dark Horse’s newsstand presence been like in recent years?

Matt Parkinson: Since the early ’90s, Dark Horse had placed titles on the newsstand through various distributors. In recent years we only enjoyed strong sales if the comic had a blockbuster movie tied to it or some major media component. Ultimately, due to the reduction of available display space and the resulting decline in sales, we discontinued all newsstand distribution in fall 2014. We would consider returning to newsstand distribution if a title demonstrated mass-market appeal.

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Phoenix store turns to Kickstarter to help with unplanned move

all about comics

Longtime Phoenix retailer All About Books & Comics is being forced to move after 15 years, and owners Alan and Marsha Giroux have gone to Kickstarter for help.

The couple, who’s owned the store for 33 years, recently learned their lease isn’t being renewed because the physician next door is looking to expand and offered more money. “We weren’t given a choice,” Marsha Giroux told CBS 5.  “And, this beautiful store, filled with amazing stuff, is going to be a waiting room for a doctor’s office.”

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St. Louis store Star Clipper to close after 27 years

star clipper2St. Louis comic store Star Clipper is closing its doors after 27 years.

Owners Ben and A.J. Trujillo, who bought the shop in 2001, delivered the news to customers in a message sent this morning.

“The personal and professional experience of managing Star Clipper has been the most important of our lives,” the wrote. “We were lucky to inherit the legacy from wise people ahead of their time, grow with the medium, and love the job. But the time has come to bring Star Clipper to a natural conclusion.”

In an interview with St. Louis Magazine, Ben Trujillo pointed to a number of factors in the store’s closing.

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Fire destroys Long Island store Collectors Kingdom

via FiOS1

via FiOS1

More than $500,000 in comic books and merchandise were destroyed in a fire that broke out early Wednesday in a Huntington Station, New York, comics store and then spread to other shops in the Long Island strip mall.

Mike Bradley, who’s owned Collectors Kingdom in the West Hills Shopping Center since 1990, said he lost everything — from Golden Age comics valued at $500 to $1,000 each to statues and toys — in the blaze, as he had no insurance.

“Things got tight, and when things get tight you look for stupid avenues to cut,” he told Newsday. “And unfortunately that was one of the things I cut.”

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Artist plasters store’s ceiling with comics history


The comics equivalent of the Sistine Chapel ceiling has just been unveiled at Cosmic Comix & Toys in Catonsville, Maryland.

Artist Ken Farnsworth started out painting murals and other art on the walls of the store, which is located in a rather plain commercial building, at the invitation of owner Rusty Simonetti. And when he ran out of wall space, Farnsworth turned his gaze upward — to the ceiling, which was made of white acoustic tile.

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Amazon and Hachette end bitter pricing feud

amazon-logoAmazon and Hachette Book Group announced today they’ve brought their bitter, months-long dispute to an end with a new multi-year contract that will allow the publisher to set its own ebook prices.

“This is great news for writers,” Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch said in a statement. “The new agreement will benefit Hachette authors for years to come. It gives Hachette enormous marketing capability with one of our most important bookselling partners.”

Although details of the agreement weren’t revealed, the new ebook terms will take effect early next year; however, the companies said they’ll immediately resume “normal trading.” Amazon similarly reached a new contract last month with Simon & Schuster.

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Cleveland store teams with local artists for anti-bullying campaign

By Clare Kolat (left) and Shawny Walthaw

By Clare Kolat (left) and Shawny Walthaw

Inspired by Marvel’s variant covers marking National Bullying Prevention Month, Carol and John’s Comic Book Shop in Cleveland enlisted the artists of the local Scribble Nerds collective to produce a series of stickers featuring Marvel heroes and the message “Be a Hero … Not a Bully.”

The seven stickers (one from each member of the collective) star Spider-Gwen, Kitty Pryde, Nightcrawler, Deadpool, She-Hulk, Wolverine and Storm, and Rocket Raccoon, Baby Groot and Drax. The entire set is free throughout October with the purchase of any graphic novel (even the discounted ones).

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Is Amazon opening a brick-and-mortar store in New York City?

AmazonAmazon’s long-rumored plans for a brick-and-mortar store appear to be materializing in Midtown Manhattan — possibly in time for the holiday-shopping season. Or maybe they’re not.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the online giant is set to open a location at 7 W. 34th St., across from the Empire State Building, that will serve as a mini-warehouse, with limited inventory for same-day delivery, product exchanges and online-order pickups, as well as a distribution center for couriers. The newspaper’s sources cautioned those plans could change.

However, The New York Times questions whether we’ll see an Amazon store “any time soon” at that location, noting the retailer is taking over the entire 12-story building for what construction and real estate executives contend will be offices and a distribution center.

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New service Comic Cartel thinks outside (and about) the box


Mail-order comics services have been around for decades, but with the Internet they’ve grown by leaps and bounds. Still, when you put together the words “online” and “comics,” many people naturally think digital, but a new online mail-order business is putting print — and comics as a physical product — squarely into the limelight.

Launched earlier this summer, Comic Cartel has the standard offerings of other online mail-order services, with the ability to shop for individual issues and graphic novels, as well to create subscriptions. But what sets Comics Cartel apart is its attention to detail when it comes to comics as a physical object — one worthy of high care and exceptional packaging.

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Driven by ‘emotional response,’ Mile High will return to SDCC

rozanksiAfter announcing over the weekend that Mile High Comics may not return to Comic-Con International because of the “detrimental effects” of publisher exclusives, CEO Chuck Rozanski has had a change of heart.

“… I want you to know that I ultimately did heed the outpouring of requests that I received from fans and professionals at the show, and renewed our booth for next year,” he writes in his latest newsletter. “In all honesty, however, I have to admit that my decision to renew at SDCC for one more year was driven more by an emotional response to all the kind words of support that we received, rather than any kind of good business sense. Simply put, I do not have any faith or belief that the circumstances that devastated our sales at this year’s convention will be in any way mitigated at next year’s show. Our comics publishers will all express sympathy with the plight of participating retailers at conventions, but will then continue engaging in behaviors that solely benefit them. Such is life.”

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Merchandise and GN sales up, comics down, Diamond reports

Diamond Comic DistributorsTotal sales to the direct market increased 3.8 percent in the first half of the year, Diamond Comic Distributors announced during its annual retailer luncheon at Comic-Con International.

Merchandise — toys, apparel, posters, etc. — was the strongest category, climbing 10.4 percent over the same period in 2013, while graphic novels inch upward 2.9 percent. Sales of comics slipped 1.4 percent. In a statement, Chris Powell, Diamond’s vice president of retailer services, framed the performances of the comics and graphic novel categories as “level compared to last year, but [they] are still 12 percent above 2012 sales figures.”

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Mile High Comics may pull out of SDCC over exclusive variants

Mile High Comics' display at Comic-Con International

Mile High Comics’ display at Comic-Con International

Pointing to “seismic changes” in the number of convention-exclusive variants offered by publishers and toymakers, Mile High Comics President Chuck Rozanski has announced that after more than four decades, this may be his last year at Comic-Con International.

While he acknowledges in an installment of his Mile High newsletter that “the detrimental effects of exclusives at San Diego is not a new phenomena,” he asserts “the breadth and the scale” of those products have changed.

“No longer are exclusives limited to just a few booths, or only to Wednesday evening,” Rozanski writes. “We are now seeing all of the major comics publishers, and every single toy and game company, creating limited edition products that they deny us. This aversion to helping comics retailers has become so agregious [sic] and pernicious that I heard from my fellow dealers that some publisher and manufacturer booths were refusing to even allow anyone wearing a dealer’s badge to stand in line. That is beyond ridiculous.”

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Nobrow to close its brick-and-mortar store this month

nobrowU.K. publisher Nobrow has announced it will close its London store after three and a half years to better concentrate on publishing and to expand its office space.

“Our desire is to focus on our core business, developing and producing the best content in visual publishing,” reads a statement on the Nobrow website. “With the increasing growth of our team, we have no choice but to expand the office space and, unfortunately, this is at the expense of the Nobrow Shop. Nobrow UK will still reside in the same historic premises, but with a significantly larger team – and our books will still be available everywhere that good books are sold.”

Although the brick-and-mortar shop, located at 62 Great Eastern St., will close on July 18, the publisher plans to launch an expanded online store in September.

Founded in 2008, the boutique publisher has made its mark with frequently inventive and ambitious releases, like a panoramic exploration of aviation history, and a surprising adaptation of Swan Lake.

Barnes & Noble to split retail and Nook businesses

b-n-nook display

Struggling bookseller Barnes & Noble announced a plan this morning to split its retail and Nook businesses into separate publicly traded companies.

“We believe we are now in a better position to begin in earnest those steps necessary to accomplish a separation of Nook Media and Barnes & Noble Retail,” CEO Michael P. Huseby said in a statement. “We have determined that these businesses will have the best chance of optimizing shareholder value if they are capitalized and operated separately We fully expect that our Retail and Nook Media businesses will continue to have long-term, successful business relationships with each other after separation.”

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