Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

July 17, 2014

So What's The Value Of These Comics Events In Terms Of Comics Sold Store To Store?

I couldn't understand a lot of this article that Heidi MacDonald at The Beat asked her peers to go read. I'm just not enmeshed in that world to the point where I tend to get anything other than really blunt and specific ideas, presented directly, and I just didn't get that here.

imageIt does strike me, though, that it might be worth reminding ourselves of the significant disconnect between the idea of these "event" comics and reality of how they're sold on the ground -- or if how they're sold on the ground is a primary concern, even, with some of these announcements. For one thing, there's a structural issue where comics are announced ahead of their being sold because of the non-returnable nature of the Direct Market. My Mom asked if I would buy the Lady Thor comic when I was in San Diego -- she heard about it on the radio at the gym -- and I had to tell her it wouldn't be out for a while yet. She had no idea. With comics that are the recipients of publicity close to the sale date, like the capping of Archie Andrews, there's always the problem of stores having had to engage the sales potential a couple of months earlier. It's a hell of a thing these events ask of a retailer.

The heartening thing about that Beat piece is that the store in question was able to retain a few customers from these highly-publicized storyline moments, which is a testament to those stores' displayed abilities to connect with customers in a way that very few retail experiences can match. That's not the only way to read comics, and we shouldn't privilege it to the extent that some people believe we should, but we should never look down on it, either. I still get the sense that while this churn of publicity may benefit the companies involved, and may allow a few stores to catch lightning in a bottle, that there has to be a way to transfer more of this excitement to the ongoing, quality reading experience. Right now I feel like many of these events aren't a celebration of the comics-reading experience as much as a pushback against its limitations. I wonder if we're gaming the system instead of showcasing the medium, and if we shouldn't adjust our praise accordingly.
posted 7:55 am PST | Permalink

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