We recently spoke to Chris Powell, General Manager of Lone Star Comics and MyComicShop.com, one of the largest independent retailers of comics and games in the U.S., about his take on the WizKids situation and on the impact of the global economic crisis on comic and game sales.

What’s your take on the WizKids situation (see “Topps Shuts Down WizKids”)?
Obviously, we were as surprised as everyone.  It’s always a shame to see a company cease operations, because we all depend on one another to survive.  Manufacturers need sales outlets, retail stores need products to sell, and distributors live in the land between.  With WizKids, it was particularly distressing because it came about so suddenly.  The HeroClix line continues to improve on its sales numbers with each release in our stores, although the Pirates line had been somewhat stagnant.  Looking over Star Wars sales, they never reached a particularly impressive level, which I’m sure hurt on the WizKids balance sheet at Topps HQ.

Looking back, I wonder how much of an effect the current “credit crisis” could be having on Topps and their expectations for their holdings.  When Tornante Group acquired Topps in 2007, none of us were too worried about economic indicators, and credit was easy to come by.  Now, they may be in a position of having to trim any fat they can, just to stay afloat.


I certainly hope that the lines, particularly Marvel and DC HeroClix, find a new home quickly.  If it takes too long, customers may move on to other things.  It will be important for the new owners or licensees to maintain the standards of production and marketing that set WizKids apart, and I’ll be watching them very carefully.


You’ve got pretty good visibility on sales both in your metro area and throughout the country.  What are you seeing as far as any impact on comic and game sales from the global economic crisis?

In my work with ComicsPRO, I have contact with retailers all over the country.  Different parts of the country are being affected by the economic downturns in varying degrees, so I seem to be hearing much more doom and gloom from the east and west coasts or areas that have had large layoffs.  In the specific case of Lone Star Comics and MyComicShop.com, we are still seeing modest gains over last year in our seven retail locations and in our mail order sales.  We are not taking that for granted, however, and are keeping a close eye on cash flow and expenditures.


The Dallas/Fort Worth area in north Texas has been very fortunate, with the discovery of large amounts of natural gas in our region.  That has given many homeowners the “cushion” they need to deal with mortgage issues, etc.  That’s not to say we don’t have any foreclosures or losses of jobs, but not to the degree we’re hearing about elsewhere.


Going into the holidays, we are planning to be more aggressive in our advertising and special events, hoping to make our stores even more of a destination for holiday shoppers.  I have stressed with all of our store managers that we will have to work our tails off for every dollar that comes in this year.  We’re prepared to do that work, though, so I am optimistic for our December and January numbers.