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

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hip hop logo1 590x197 Diversity & Comics: Comic Shops DONT 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.

hip hop1 487x700 Diversity & Comics: Comic Shops DONT Want Your Business On Black Friday!

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.

hiphop comic teaser640jpg1 590x368 Diversity & Comics: Comic Shops DONT Want Your Business On Black Friday!

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.

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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.

S#!T Talking Central

  • JohnnyDestructo

    What a silly post. I order the books for my comic shop and have never even heard of Hip Hop Family Tree. Neither has anyone who works in this store.

    If you want your shop to support a book, you have to make it known that you want books by HAVING THEM ORDER IT FOR YOU, the more people who request a book, the greater a chance they will keep ordering in a book. Shops don’t have enough money to go ordering unheard-of books willy nilly.

    • Jay

      This is more of a statement of who orders for certain stores and what is on their radar. You have never heard of Hip Hop Family Tree. Nuff said. Although I have a pull list and prove there is a market for books outside the mainstream, I am still an invisible entity. I cannot expect people who do not have my interests or views to understand how to market towards me. It is not that the audience is not there, we exist. If comic shops understood marketing towards new audiences than they would put in the effort to order a little out of the box so new customers would be able to see books that better represent us and our interests. This would include making a conscious effort to diversify the staff. I no longer believe it when the major companies tell us to show our support by pre-ordering books. I also am certain many comic stores, even though they would enjoy the extra income, do not really have any interest in bringing in new demographics… in fact, I am sure they would not like that at all.

    • Jay

      This is more of a statement of who orders for certain stores and what is on their radar. You have never heard of Hip Hop Family Tree. Nuff said. Although I have a pull list and prove there is a market for books outside the mainstream, I am still an invisible entity. I cannot expect people who do not have my interests or views to understand how to market towards me. It is not that the audience is not there, we exist. If comic shops understood marketing towards new audiences than they would put in the effort to order a little out of the box so new customers would be able to see books that better represent us and our interests. This would include making a conscious effort to diversify the staff. I no longer believe it when the major companies tell us to show our support by pre-ordering books. I also am certain many comic stores, even though they would enjoy the extra income, do not really have any interest in bringing in new demographics… in fact, I am sure they would not like that at all.

      • JohnnyDestructo

        For a post called DIVERSITY & COMICS, I’m amazed that you are making wild, generalizations about comic shops as a whole.

        Your last sentence is hilarious and unfounded. Yeah, the one thing I don’t want in the store….is MORE BUSINESS, lol. I sure would hate it if more people showed up and bought more stuff.

        I PREFER the indy titles for the most part, but sadly when I order them, THEY SIT ON THE SHELVES.

        Most of your post doesn’t make sense to me. “I no longer believe it when the major companies tell us to show our support by pre-ordering books.” Buh-Whaaat?

        “I don’t understand why this diner keeps bringing Fruit Loops cereal to my table, when what I really wanted was some Count Chocula.”

        “Well, did you order Count Chocula?”

        “No, I don’t believe in ordering what I want. They are just supposed to KNOW what I want”

        ……ALSO: “than they would put in the effort to order a little out of the box so new customers would be able to see books that better represent us and our interests.”

        So you want stores to order books with no basis to go on, since no one pre-ordered the books…because the customer that wanted it didn’t “put in the effort” of preordering it?

        Even the NAME of your article is strange. “COMIC BOOK STORES DON’T WANT YOUR MONEY ON BLACK FRIDAY.”….Should actually read “THIS ONE STORE I WENT TO DIDN’T HAVE WHAT I WANTED ON BLACK FRIDAY.” You’re talking about ONE store, yet you claim NO stores want “your money”.

        Sillysauce.

      • JohnnyDestructo

        For a post called DIVERSITY & COMICS, I’m amazed that you are making wild, generalizations about comic shops as a whole.

        Your last sentence is hilarious and unfounded. Yeah, the one thing I don’t want in the store….is MORE BUSINESS, lol. I sure would hate it if more people showed up and bought more stuff.

        I PREFER the indy titles for the most part, but sadly when I order them, THEY SIT ON THE SHELVES.

        Most of your post doesn’t make sense to me. “I no longer believe it when the major companies tell us to show our support by pre-ordering books.” Buh-Whaaat?

        “I don’t understand why this diner keeps bringing Fruit Loops cereal to my table, when what I really wanted was some Count Chocula.”

        “Well, did you order Count Chocula?”

        “No, I don’t believe in ordering what I want. They are just supposed to KNOW what I want”

        ……ALSO: “than they would put in the effort to order a little out of the box so new customers would be able to see books that better represent us and our interests.”

        So you want stores to order books with no basis to go on, since no one pre-ordered the books…because the customer that wanted it didn’t “put in the effort” of preordering it?

        Even the NAME of your article is strange. “COMIC BOOK STORES DON’T WANT YOUR MONEY ON BLACK FRIDAY.”….Should actually read “THIS ONE STORE I WENT TO DIDN’T HAVE WHAT I WANTED ON BLACK FRIDAY.” You’re talking about ONE store, yet you claim NO stores want “your money”.

        Sillysauce.

        • Jay

          This was in no way an attack on local comics shops. But was an attempt to get comic shops to think about who they are marketing towards. It was absolutely to call many shops out for their lack of marketing towards a more diverse demographic than they typically have. Not all, but many shops.

          You make a good point. If I went to a restaurant looking to order Count Chocula and it was not on the menu, I would go elsewhere. If it is not in your stock, it is not on the menu. When I see all those other independent titles stocked (that you admit you order and let sit on your shelf, but you have never heard of Hip Hop Family Tree- a book put out by one of the top indy publishers), I come to the conclusion that the restaurant is not a place for people who enjoy Count Chocula. Their are many other restaurants who I can give business to. But even if I go out of my way to order Count Chocula, there are still many restaurants where the employees either do not understand Count Chocula, or whose politics go so deep that they will not order Count Chocula, no matter how much business it brings in. There is also a denial that the audience for Count Chocula exists and an ignorance on how to market towards those who enjoy Count Chocula. There is a good chance Count Chocula would not sell at your store because you may have no clue how to market towards it’s fans. Since I love Count Chocula, could you give me the name of your restaurant so I don’t accidentally go there?

          • JohnnyDestructo

            “If I went to a restaurant looking to order Count Chocula and it was not on the menu, I would go elsewhere.”

            Here’s where we differ. I would ask, and then, if they didn’t have it, I would ask them to order it for me, instead of going to a computer to complain about them not having a book that I didn’t pre-order.

            To each our own, I guess.

            Also, if you’re looking for further discussion on this matter, it’s going on the PopTards FB page: https://www.facebook.com/PopTards

  • Percy

    i have sold comics for 30 years; this month (december 2013) i had to make the choice of continue doing business as a used books/comics/games/music [cds, vinyl records & dvd] store or continue loosing money 10 months of the year selling new comics.

    sadly in order for my stores (two of them) to stay afloat i will no longer sell new comics, i will continue to sell my back stock (much of it unsold copies of titles that sold well and then slowed down or stopped selling and a combination of titles i took a chance on but did not sell enough, plus the comics i bought from people who walked in with comics i wanted in the store)
    in my case my orders are big enough to receive 55% off marvel/dc/image; 52% off dark horse and 40-50% off the rest. in fantagraphics product 50% off
    that means:
    1. at 24.99 retail price i can sit on it while trying to sell it at 24.99,
    2. discount it 10%off =22.49; or 15% off =21.25; or 20%off =19.99 hoping a customer feels like buying it from me instead of amazon where he will find it at 16.18 plus 4.00 shipping or no shipping if spending 35 dollars or more.
    comics stores pay on the average 8% in shipping cost, and we ship 52 week per year. add that 8% or 2.00 to my cost of goods and that lovely graphic novel will cost us $14.50, can you do the math? i can make 10.50 if i don’t discount it, or as little as 5.50 if i give you 20% off
    when applying the same math to the big publisher i can make a little more more under the same circumstances so guess what i should order.

    stores can not order everything that get offered by the distributor, store could special order for the customer who says i want one, but often there is no inventory for restock…the publisher only printed enough copies for initial orders…..should stores stock every publishers inventory? NO…the lowest cost of inventory should and that’s the publisher.

    Jay in your case it seems to me your choices will be giving your money to the businesses who carry what you want, be it your local shop or amazon. I understand you want what you want now. We the comic store have to figure out who wants what, when and whether you will actually buy or not TWO MONTHS BEFORE THE COMICS ARRIVES, because that’s when we have to order it.

  • Percy

    in the case of Hip Hop Family Tree, the distributor solicited the graphic novel in July 2013 with an ETA of November 2013…that means in July 2013 not even you knew about this comic. An honestly its very unlikely I would have order 1

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