As the few loyal readers I have can tell you, I have covered this topic before already. Unfortunately, every few months I feel the need to go back and cover it again. Why? Because the comic book industry is hurting. Sure, comic book movies are holding up Hollywood and making bank, but comic book sales are down. How can you solve this? By actually going to your local comic book store.
Iron Man is a household name, but his book sells under 32,000 copies. At a panel I went to at Terrificon, former DC Comics President Paul Levitz said back in the 60s, a series was in danger of cancelation if it sold 200,000 copies. That was the sales figure for Batman before the 1966 TV series aired. Thankfully, the show boosted sales, saving the Dynamic Duo from disappearing from the spindle rack. Today, if a book sells over 100,000 copies, it is considered a massive hit.
The Guardians of the Galaxy series is a huge box office success for Marvel Studios, but somehow the comic series got canned last year. How can it be that a comic book that inspired the third and fifth highest grossing films of their respective years get canceled? Something isn’t right here.
Do you know who suffers the most with low comic book sales? Your local comic shop. It seems more and more I am reading about comic book stores closing. Some close on their own terms, but most due to the shrinking market. It pains me to type that. It’s not just little mom and pop stores becoming vacant. World famous Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles, CA closed their doors last month after 25 years of business. If they can go under, anyone can.
Here’s where you come in. You need to go and support your local comic shop. When you buy something at a local comic shop, you are supporting local businesses. You are putting money into the community. Also, you’re helping the comic book industry.
Sure, it’s easier just to buy a comic or trade paperback from Amazon, but you don’t get that face to face interaction buying a book off a website. Amazon’s algorithm can’t replicate a store owner recommending a series or book you might be interested in. I would say, for the most part, that comic store owners I’ve interacted with are good people. There are a few bad eggs here and there, but every industry has them.
Buying a comic off a website can’t even come close to replicating the experience of walking into a comic book store and seeing a ton of comics on the walls. Seeing all of what a store has to offer is a great experience.
May 5th was Free Comic Book Day. I visited two comic shops to celebrate my geekdom (Rubber Chicken Comics in Bellingham, MA and Larry’s Comics now in Chelmsford, MA. Tell’em Keith sent ya!). I picked up both Marvel FCBD titles: Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man, The Mighty Thor, and Transformers: Unicron. I also bought some other books as well, because I am not, as they call on the podcast Tell’em Steve-Dave, “a free cheese termite.” Often on Free Comic Book Day, stores have sales so you can buy a lot of books at a great discount.
Disclaimer: I may have had to dance to get the discount on those Captain America books at one of the shops. And boy did I allegedly shake it.
Please, go to your local comic shop. They need your support. I am not saying you need to buy up the entire inventory. Just buy a couple books a week. Don’t download a book digitally. Go out, find a store and buy a book. If you aren’t into superheroes, they are horror titles, semi-autobiographical titles, humor, crime titles, and war books as well.
You’ll never know what stories you’ll find in a comic shop. You could stumble upon your all-time favorite comic story based off a recommendation. I would hate to see an entire market just disappear and store owners out of jobs.
If you are wondering where the closest comic book store is to you, hit up Comic Shop Locator, enter your zip code and go to those stores.