Michael Tierney of Collector's on Giving Customers What They Want
Published: 06/25/2012 03:25am
Michael Tierney of Collector's Edition in North Little Rock, Arkansas read Joe Crocker's comments on what's right and wrong with comics (see "Jim Crocker of Modern Myths on Why 'People' Don't Read Comics") and had this to say.
Whenever a retailer communicates his customer feedback, I've noticed that someone will immediately jump up and accuse them of having an agenda. It's the same thing with Jim Crocker's response to Steve Bennett's column (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Seven Ways to Save Comic Books!") about a friend who was recently disgruntled about DC changing the Golden Age Green Lantern gay.
The only agenda here is to sell more comics.
When Marvel announced a same sex wedding between third tier characters in Astonishing X-Men, no one cared. I sold an extra three copies between both stores and that's it. But when DC announced that the Golden Age Green Lantern had turned gay, there was instant backlash. Late night comedians and local talk radio went wild on the subject as most people misconstrued that it was Hal Jordan.
Jay Leno; "When they heard the news, Batman turned to Superman and said, 'Told you.'"
"Did you hear that Green Lantern is writing his biography? Fifty shades of green."
"This whole changing of sexual orientation thing is getting out of hand. And it's spreading. Did you hear that Argentina now wants to change their name to Argentony?"
Jimmy Fallon at least got the right Lantern in his Pros and Cons: "Pro: Green Lantern's weakness is wood. Con: Not any more!"
The jokes went on and on for a solid week on Late Night TV.
One of my employees tried to set the record straight when a local talk show ranted about how they thought it was Hal Jordan who was now gay, but she could never get through the jammed phone lines. It didn't help that the other big subject on talk radio was the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky child abuse trial. The end result was that traffic and sales crashed immediately by 20% on the day of the announcement and continued to drop every single day, with some days down by 50%, over the next week.
Sales on Earth 2 #2 dropped by a third of #1. The whole event gave me flashbacks to last year when DC crashed my summer sales by announcing that Flashpoint was nothing but filler that would be erased come the September reboot. It was like all the enthusiasm and good will created by The Avengers movie was washed away in a single day, and we were back to the old days when comics aren't considered 'cool' reading for adults.
I've had several instances where customers told me how their friends are now giving them grief again about collecting comics.
We're now several weeks past the announcement, and even though I'm having an anniversary sale, sales are still down. May was my best month of the New Millennium, and June is not even going to pass last June, which I considered a disaster. That's quite a turnaround in the wrong direction. I'm just hoping the Spider-Man and Batman movies can help move public opinion back into the fun of reading comics.
This is a case where the publishers and creators are doing what they want to do, instead of giving the customer what they want to read. There are two things people don't want to hear, and that's another person's political or religious views. But publishers tend to forget this, and of course there will always be someone who thinks this is a good thing… if it's their particular view being expressed.
But here in the Midwest, making a character gay is a gimmick that just doesn't work. If it's an aspect of the character and pertains to the story, it's not going to offend them. That's not a problem. But changing a character after 70 years? I'm still hearing complaints about it from my regular customers. Sure, I have customers who are gay, but they don't buy that material, either. I can't sell a single copy of Archie's gay character, Kevin Keller, at either store. Then there's the collapse of sales on Earth 2 #2, which was the book that the announcement was meant to promote. They sure went in the wrong direction there.
My job is to sell customers what they want to buy. I'm sure someone will find offense in me communicating what that is... and what that isn't. I can't worry about them. They don't shop with me.
All I can do is deal in the facts as they pertain to my market.
The opinions expressed in this Talk Back are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
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