Talk the Talk, Walk the Walk is a weekly column by Kendall Swafford of Up Up Away! in Cincinnati, Ohio. This week, Kendall looks at Superman’s trip across America, comic early delivery, and other random thoughts.
Superman is coming to Cincinnati. I realize to every other store located, oh I dunno, anywhere else but here, this is not news. But in the big little town of Cincinnati, it’s becoming a very big deal. As it should, and I hope it has for the cities he’s already visited. Why isn’t DC on top of this? Why isn’t someone from DC Entertainment playing the point man and helping to coordinate efforts to increase sales of the book? This book, if nothing else, plays on our feelings of civic pride, the same way we collectively share in the winning ways of local sports teams. And there is truly only one hero capable of making Joe Average feel this way, and that’s Superman.
Now, we’ve got some (hopefully) epic things planned for September 15th, and we’ve requested some help from DC. Bob Wayne was very quick to respond, and passed us along to DC’s department of homeland publicity. Where was the ball dropped, you ask? The ball was never picked up to begin with. It takes one guy, calling stores in a particular market, at least 60 days out. "Can we send you some posters of the cover?" "Can we help coordinate a press release to local media?" "Can we help arrange for an actor to portray Superman at your store?" I’m not looking for someone to do my job for me, I’m looking for someone on their end to help realize this book’s potential. I’ve already taken pre-orders for what amount to quadruple my typical Superman orders, thanks to local media breaking the story far too early. And the name of my store is Up Up & Away!, so it’s important this this be the center of the universe for at least one day.
DC might argue that "we don’t have the staff, the economy is tough, blah blah blah..." and that may or may not be true. How about you give my DC Sales Rep the task? I love Pat O’Connell, he’s a great guy to talk to, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out how DC justifies his existence. I’m not trying to throw him under a bus, but in the greater scheme of things, his job seems completely A) unnecessary and B) barely benefitting the company in any way, if at all. My reorders are all done online, hours before he calls, he rarely has any useful information that sways my ordering decisions, and can’t really help me. Ever. This is the guy that should be reaching out to stores, helping us find ways to promote upcoming storylines/events, etc... in our market. This Superman storyline is a perfect example of what one guy in the right position could do to move thousands more units nationwide. Love ya Pat, I just can’t see how DC justifies the position, and it’s events like this that your position is perfect for.
Getting back to the early comic book delivery debate™, I’m wondering about something. Diamond chose to share with everyone the results of their survey regarding early delivery of merchandise, over a month ago. What I found curious then, and even more so now, is that the survey results were published with no commentary from Diamond, no plan of action, and no timetable for a plan of action. Unofficially I’ve been told January 2011 is when it all begins, but what changes we’re in store for, we have no clue.
Why post the results of the survey with zero follow-up? Why not indicate to the body-at-large that change either will take place or it won’t? Obviously, a change of this magnitude takes some planning to execute smoothly, but why so secretively? Afraid their competitors might get wind of it? That sure ain’t the problem I’ve also been told that, despite Diamond’s (and DC’s) desires, they won’t go against the results of the survey, and if that’s the case, we can draw our own conclusions. But I don’t necessarily buy that. The survey was just that, a survey. Non-binding, we’re just taking the temperature of the room, folks. As such, they have no obligation to give us what we want. Moving to Tuesday on-sale may have been the impetus for the survey, but the real debate for me has always been early delivery of the merchandise, no matter what the on-sale date winds up being. Again, here we are, on a "need to know" basis, waiting for mommy and daddy to give up permission to go outside and play.
Up to a point, price seems to have little to do with the desire to purchase, even in a tough economy. Witness... Superman: Last Family of Krypton. Elseworlds, $4.99, Cary Bates. I loved me some Cary Bates Superman stories when I was 12 or 14, but no one under 40 knows this guy. Elseworlds can be hit or miss, and for 5 bucks, you better bring your 'A' game. It seemed like an iffy proposition at best, if not 3 strikes and yer out! I ordered conservatively, but not ridiculously so, and they blew out on Wednesday afternoon. Similar example, but at the other end of the price spectrum, The Green Lantern Corps Power Ring Spectrum Set. We sell a ton of statues, props and assorted cool stuff, but... when orders were due, we’d just given away thousands of plastic power rings for FREE, and sixty bucks for a plastic set that lights up seemed excessive. I wish I had 50 more. No one thought twice about spending the sixty bucks. DC built in the desire, and the price was no objection. What hasn’t budged however is the overall budget. People are still spending about the average from a year ago, they’re just being more finicky about where that money goes. As I mentioned last week, if the first issue doesn’t knock their socks off, the second issue has NO chance of going home with them. Sales of new comics has become increasingly front-loaded; it either sells in weeks one or two, or it’s doomed to spend way too much time staring back at you.
Next week, I’ll be looking at graded comics, and why I think they’re the devil!
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
Column by Kendall Swafford
August 23 2010 @ 12:23 am CT
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