Dean Phillips of Krypton Comics in Omaha, Nebraska saw the news that Marvel is putting comics in more outlets and giving away comics in schools (see 'Marvel Widens Distribution'), and wants to know how an independent comic retailer could take part:
The news of Marvel striking a deal to sell comics out of 7-11 and Barnes and Noble comes as no surprise. Marvel has a valid reason to promote comics in the mass market--there is a lot of money to be had in the mass market. The arrangement more than doubles the current outlets for Marvel comics. How should I and other hobby store owners take this? On one hand, I say over and over we need to get comics in people's hands. Perhaps 7-11, B&N, and Target is the only way the average person will be exposed to comics. They certainly aren't flocking to the independent comic book stores are they?
The other side of my brain is thinking, 'Why won't Marvel and DC spend more time and effort helping the little guy?' Do Marvel and DC think that the direct market has outlived its usefulness? It feels like the hobby stores are a pack of Pokemon cards in a Yu-Gi-Oh! world--forgotten and left on the shelf.
Two million Marvel comics were sent to 6,000 schools for free to be given to kids. What a fantastic promotion. Get those kids some comic books. I don't know how the numbers compare to Free Comic Book Day, but I feel like this promotion has done what FCBD wants to do--deliver comic books straight to the demographic. Kids! Again, a large mass merchant (Target) was chosen to partner with Marvel. I have seen this book and it says, 'Check out a big selection of comics, including titles available exclusively at Target.' Now Target ponied up the money for this book, I'm sure. Krypton Comics doesn't have the kind of money Target has. Combined, could the direct market stores have paid for this book to get sent to kids? Maybe. One of the largest comic book promotions in recent memory and Target takes the customers. Or should I see it as Target creating new customers for me in later years after the kids become hooked? The problem I have, is while future customers are great, the direct market needs new customers NOW!! Target doesn't need comic book customers, hobby stores do.
The comic book locator service needs to get involved in promotions like the Target book. I realize Target wouldn't put the CBLS number on it's book. Maybe the direct market could produce a similar book? What does it cost us if we do produce a product to get directly in the hands of 2 million school age children? What does it cost us if we don't do something?
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