Turnabout, they say, is fair play.
You sell them--their comics and graphic novels. But what do the people who make comics think of you, the people who sell them?
Spoiler Alert: They like you. They actually like you. Most of the time, anyway.
Dan Jurgens, writer, Action Comics: "I’m a weekly drop-by guy. It’s generally The College of Comic Book Knowledge in Minneapolis."
Mike Mayhew, artist, Star Wars: "I used to be every other day, but it’s now about 40 minutes round trip from where I live so it’s a lot less now."
Greg Pak, writer, Totally Awesome Hulk: "I’m about once a month these days. The more I’m writing, the less I have a chance to get to the shop!"
Jimmy Palmiotti, co-writer, Harley Quinn: "I’m once a week. I shop at Emerald City Comics in Clearwater [FL]. It’s a pleasant place, better than 99% of businesses I see, comics or not."
What's your best retail experience?
Jurgens: "In this day and age when people can just download their comics on comiXology or whatever, I think comic stores still are trump in that they offer a community. I always say it’s like going to your corner bar. You get a sense of what’s going on and what people might be aware of that you’re not."
Mayhew: "I love people who are super-informed. I used to live in Phoenix, and the owner at Atomic Comics used to test his staff on the Diamond catalog, so the employees knew every single product shipping that month. That was great."
Mayhew: "I’ll go into a store and see a guy with his head down in a book, or even tell me he ‘doesn’t want to bother me.’ But there’s not an advertising budget for comics like movies and TV have. It’s word of mouth from the staff that has to be the front line. I’m always disappointed when I see a staff that’s not engaged."
Palmiotti: "I hate when I walk into a store and ask for something and an employee says, ‘Nah, we don’t have that, I don’t like that artist.’ Or ‘We don’t carry independents.’ If you’re ordering based on just what you like and not what your customers like… that store is a one-time visit only for me. And that happens all the time. Really."
How can a store entice you to do a signing appearance?
Jurgens: "The biggest thing I respond to is a guy who’s ahead of the game. Don’t be the guy who asks me 10 days before Free Comic Book Day, ‘Hey, you wanna fly to my store?’ because the answer is ‘no.’"
Pak: "I love it when stores are comfortable with me bringing my creator-owned books to sell. If I can bring along my kids books like A-B-C-Disgusting, that’s awesome. A lot of retailers aren’t even familiar with my books like that, but they’ll see people pick it up at the signing, and they’ll want to pick up a few more for the store as well, which of course I’ll sell at a nice discount."
Palmiotti: "Generally, [wife] Amanda [Conner] and I don’t do many store appearances. But really, just the little preparation stuff is important. Make sure we have pens, make sure we have water, make sure you’re managing a line."
Jurgens: "If you get to know the staff, you get to know their tastes. And if they have six employees and each gets a ‘Pick of the Week’ thing on a board, I’ll pay attention to that. Personal endorsement is a strong incentive for me."
Mayhew: "Creators are an easy hook for me. If someone is reading Jonathan Hickman’s Secret Wars, you might not know about East of West. But that book sells incredibly for stores that make that connection. I’ll follow creators I like from their mainstream stuff to more indy stuff every time if you just leave me that trail of breadcrumbs."
Palmiotti: "Emerald City will email about things that are in my interest range. They’ll say, ‘Hey, we know you’re into Frazetta, and here’s this book that’s available. Do you want us to order one for you?’ They get to know their customers, and honestly, they turn me on to stuff I would have otherwise missed."
Jurgens: "Generally, I prefer it if no one knows who I am. I like to be a fly on the wall and listen to conversations. If they know who I am, they might not say the same thing. Sometimes, I’ll overhear four people chatting about a book I’ve done, and that can be revelatory. It’s always interesting."
Palmiotti: "It’s fine as long as people are polite. A friendly word and a handshake go a long way. We’re in a business where we want to be known, and part of that is our responsibility to be polite to people who support us."
If YOU owned a store, what would its central figure/hallmark be?
Jurgens: "I’d go out of my way to court parents and make sure they feel comfortable bringing their children there. If the family comes in together and they like it, then mom and dad will feel comfortable letting their kids come in by themselves while go to three other stores in the strip mall. And if you keep that kid, he drives himself and hopefully brings his own kids someday."
Mayhew: "I’d grow that very well-informed staff that’s relatable; people who you’d feel comfortable with and you’d want to get to know better. I think people are the most important factor."
Pak: "I’d like to make it an event space as well. Even beyond 24 Hour Comic Day and signings, I’d like to do music events, readings, workshops, seminars, other fun events. People have a million different things they can do. So why should they come to my store? Make it an event, something you can only do here."
Palmiotti: "I’d like to Route 66 it a bit. I’d love to have, like, 40-foot tall superhero statues on top of he building. Make it an attraction that everyone can see, and people would want to check out."
The image at the top of this article is of Emerald City Comics, in Clearwater, Florida.
This article originally appeared in ICv2’s Internal Correspondence #90 (for more information on that issue, see "ICv2 Releases ‘Internal Correspondence’ #90").