IMAGE EXPO: Eric Stephenson's Keynote Address Set to Reveal New Projects
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).
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.
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.
After 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.”
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.”
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.”
U.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.
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.”
Having already conquered book charts with his bestselling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Jeff Kinney is now turning his attention to retailing.
According to The Associated Press, the author announced Friday at Book Expo America that he and his wife plan to convert an abandoned general store in Plainville, Massachusetts, where they live, into a bookstore. The town has a population of 8,264.
A blend of comics and prose, Diary of a Wimpy Kid has sold more than 115 million copies worldwide since its debut in April 2007.
Retailers gave away a record 4.7 million comics on Free Comic Book Day, up slightly from the more than 4.6 million handed out in 2013. According to Diamond Comic Distributors, more than 1 million fans — an attendance record — showed up at more than 2,100 participating locations on May 3.
“Free Comic Book Day was a tremendous success this year,” FCBD spokesperson Jason Blanchard said in a statement. “A large percent of participants celebrated FCBD for the first time and loved it! The fans were pleased with the variety of comics available and commented on the fact there were numerous kids comics, making FCBD an even bigger family-orientated event.”
Travel + Leisure offers an overview of what it dubs “America’s Best Comic Book Shops,” a collection that, like most any list, is sure to trigger a chorus of “Yeah, but what about –?” Most of the magazine’s selections will be familiar to most readers — Meltdown Comics, Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find and Midtown Comics, for instance — but at least a couple may strike you as “new.”
In its introduction, the magazine somewhat vaguely explains what lifts a store from run-of-the-mill to one of the best, saying “Style helps, as does a focused approach to stock” (these kinds of things are subjective; you can’t really expect a scientific formula).
What store owner Dave Downey called “the final chapter in the great Flintmobile Heist” came to a close Saturday as the three teens the replica appeared at World’s Best Comics and Toys in Sacramento, California, dressed as the Flintstones for Free Comic Book Day. And, of course, there’s video and photographic proof.
As we previously reported, the teenagers stole the 200-pound Flintmobile from in front of the store in mid-December, only to be apprehended about a month later. Instead of pursuing criminal charges against the apologetic culprits, Downey had a better idea: They could do some work around the store. However, this wasn’t just any work. As the retailer revealed last week, it would involve the trio dressing up as Fred, Wilma and Barney to help promote the store’s FCBD activities.
So when the apologetic thieves were caught just weeks later, and the 200-pound Flintmobile returned to the Sacramento, California, store, Downey declined to press charges, sparing them time in court and possibly even a criminal record. Instead, agreed to do some work at the store.
Thieves smashed the door of The Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach, California, this week and made off with about $7,000 in Silver Age comic books, including The X-Men, The Fantastic Four and The Amazing Spider-Man. However, owners Jun Goeku and Mike Wellman seem to have retained their sense of humor.
“I guess they couldn’t wait, and they started Free Comic Day early,” Goeku told Easy Reader of the theft, which occurred sometime between 10:30 p.m. Sunday and 7 a.m. Monday.
The retailers also posted a photo of the burglary’s aftermath (at right) on the store’s Facebook page, “We never let a little thing like a store burglary get in the way of a GOOD TIME! Spread the word far and wide that FREE COMIC BOOK DAY is STILL ON at The Comic Bug this Saturday! We have an unprecedented amount of awesome cosplayers and comic creators.”
Indeed, The Comic Bug’s FCBD lineup includes appearances by the likes of Richard Starkings, Barbara Kesel, Richard Isanove, Jeff Stokely and D.J. Kirkbride. The store also plans on Tuesday to take FCBD to the to the pediatric ward at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance.
A little more than a year after it opened its doors, Mobile, Alabama, retailer 99 Issues Comics & Gaming has run into a problem: It’s outgrown its space.
When it opened in March 2013, the store carried just 99 titles to complement its name — yes, it’s a reference to the Jay-Z song — but within months that number had grown to more than 200 new releases, plus a selection of back issues. Add to that an area for playing video games, display cases and a desire to hold more in-store artist signings and, well, you can imagine things get a bit crowded — so much so that owner Chris Barnett says he loses money on every event.
In hopes of alleviating that problem, Barnett has turned to Indiegogo to raise $5,000, half of what he needs to expand the store. The rest will come out of his own pocket.