View from the Game Store is a column by Marcus King, Director of Retail Operations at Troll and Toad Games & Comics in London, Kentucky.  This week, King talks about what a publisher owes his store, and what he owes them.

So Image Comics has partnered with one of the biggest comic discounters in the world (see "Image Using DCBS for Subs"), and retailers are losing their minds!

I know that many of my fellow retailers with years in the industry have seen this often before.  The "we need to help get our titles/products to reach more people/consumers, and there are fewer stores, so we will go into other channels, hurting the very stores we wish there were more of" thing.  Meh, unimpressed.

And know what?  Image has every right, and even responsibility, to be profitable.  They have no responsibility to retailers, at all, not even a little bit.  They make stuff, retailers can decide to carry it or not, if Image allows us to have access at all (which they clearly do not have to do).  But no retailer I know of is invested in the success of Image as a company to the point they carry every product, whether it makes money or not.  Anyone?  Anyone at all?

Each retailer is, literally, an island onto themselves.  We may have friends in the industry, but this is a business where each must succeed or fail on their own.  This is why many of us like Scott Thorne, Dave Wallace, Jim Crocker or Rob Placer (some of those retailers who have helped me) do reach out to help others - to engender a feeling of togetherness. 

For those retailers lucrative or lucky or skillful enough to survive in their store with just comics, I applaud them.  I actually run a carnival sideshow of a store with $100K in inventory, and a turn rate of about 8-10 turns a year.  In a town of 8,000.  It’s a job, let me say that - quite a bit of work.

I carry Image.  Some of it very happily, some of it rather pleasantly; but anything they make that does not fit my store, my goals or my desires, I drop like a three-pound diaper, right into the dumpster, and keep on moving along.  And I doubt that Image has anyone on staff worrying about why I don’t carry something they make, and if they do, they’re not mad I stopped carrying it, now are they?  Because I don’t owe them anything.  And, by extension then, they don’t owe me.  Or any other retailer. 

General James Mattis said, rather famously, “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”

For me, this is very similar.  Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to replace every single publisher and product you carry.   I got banned from accessing Yu-Gi-Oh! recently.  I replaced it with other games, and another product line, and my sales (gross), and my profits (net profits) went up.  I like my product mix currently, but within the next 90 days something will tank, something else will improve, at least one publisher will go out of business, and at least one new one I never heard of will come onto the screen.

As for Image Comics, I will continue to carry them exactly as I did before:  I will order 120% of my preorder numbers; I will carry every title for their graphic novels that have sold at least one copy of in the previous 90 days: and I will carry everything with the word WALKING or the word DEAD that they produce.  I may lose some subscribers, but I will continue to market, advertise and attract new customers.

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The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of