Diversity & Comics: Comic Shops DON’T Want Your Business On Black Friday!


I went into my local comic store with money to burn.  I was yearning to throw cash on the counter and walk out with a bag full of comic book awesomeness.  Instead, I spent only $6.50 because my local comic store has NO CLUE how to market themselves to me and must not want my money.

One of my favorite aspects of the holiday season is that I get to go on insane rants to my family and friends about the sick commercialism of American society.  Throughout my lovely tirades, I preach about supporting local business and keeping our money in our communities instead of corporate pockets.  Since my actions match my words, I try and buy as much as I can from local businesses.

I need this!

I need this!

Today, I went to my local comic shop ready to buy craploads of graphic novels.  They were having a sale for 20% off softcovers and 30% off hardcovers.  I knew I could still find graphic novels cheaper online, but I was willing to pay a couple extra bucks to support my community.  Upsettingly, in typical fashion, their huge  graphic novel selection did not include titles marketed towards me.

I went in looking for Hip Hop Family Tree by Ed Piskor, released by Fantagraphics Books.  Even though my shop has a large independent graphic novel section, they did not order any copies of Hip Hop Family Tree for their stock.  This is utter bullcrap, and not the first time this has happened to me.  Each time I go in looking to spend money, I leave empty handed.  It is like they do not want my money and refuse to acknowledge there is a market for it.  And my money is not the only money they are throwing away; they must have no interest in tapping other demographics of fanboys and fangirls.

Even Marvel, the big monster, understands that adding color, religion and diversity to their comics sell.  Sadly, it is the mom-and-pop stores that are standing in the way of diversifying the market, and they are going to go broke doing it.   Comic shops may stock the newest Mighty Avengers and Batwoman issues monthly, but they still do not order or promote as many graphic novels or indie releases.  I remember rushing to the shop to buy Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man Vol. 1.  Their shelf was filled with the old school Ultimate Peter stories, but the shop only ordered 1 copy of Miles Morales’s origin.  When their 1 copy sold, they didn’t order more, and everyone else looking for it was $#*% out of luck unless they wanted to wait a week for it to be ordered.  In the stores inventory system, it then said that only 1 copy sold, and enforced their myth that a book staring an African America/Latino lead didn’t sell well.  You would think they would recognize how quickly their 1 copy sold out, but nope, that never happens.  Heck, you would think they would see that I have Young Avengers,  Miles Morales, and others titles on my pull list, but somehow I am still invisible to them.  Unless I specifically ask them to order something, they do not stock it.

I really want this comic, right now, dangit! I will give you my money. Please take my money!

I really want this comic, right now, dangit! I will give you my money. Please take my money!

The majority of comic fans who go into a shop looking for a comic representing diversity are not gonna special order a graphic novel when they can order it for cheaper online.  So we walk out of the shop empty handed, and they then continue to target the same demographic they always have.

So, I didn’t buy any graphic novels today.  I tried y’all, I really did, but my comic store must not want my money.


Jay Deitcher, LMSW(@mrdeitcher) is an educator on comic history and runs successful Free Comic Book Day events yearly.  You can see a listing of his incredible articles at JayDeitcher.com.