Comic Shop News? No Thank You!

Comic Shop NewsOne of the constants in my comic collecting, dating back as far as I can remember, is the presence of the Comic Shop News. You know what I’m talking about, that little bit of newspaper that gets slid into your bag when you buy your comics. It’s been a bit of a hot topic at my store that’s led me to wonder, do we really need it?

For those of you who are lucky enough to never have crossed paths with the Comic Shop News, let me explain what it is. It’s a weekly newspaper that has been in print for over 20 years. It’s about 8 to 12 pages and usually contains news, articles, reviews, previews etc. of comics. It has “sold” over 100 million copies since it’s been in print and claims to be “the most popular publication about comics.”

I’ve been getting the Comic Shop News put in my bag for at least 10 years, if not more. I’m pretty sure, when I was a teenager, and hungry for whatever comics news I could get my hands on, I would read it. But some time around the late 1990’s, I stopped reading it. In fact, my process once I got home with comics was as such:

  1. Take comics out of bag.
  2. Throw away Comic Shop News.

Yep, I would throw it away, unread. Every week for 10 years. I just did the math, at least 520 weeks, which means at least 520 copies of the Comic Shop News ended up in the trash. It wasn’t until recently that I started to feel bad about it. You know, all those trees dying and all. I kept seeing that Indian with the tear roll down his cheek. So I decided to do something about it.

On a particular Wednesday, as my fine store clerk, Matt, was ringing up my weekly purchases, he went to put the Comic Shop News into my bag, and I stopped him and said, “No more CSN for me!” and explained my thoughts. We joked about it and for a few weeks it was a bit of a game. He’d try and slip it in my bag without me noticing, and I’d be on the lookout for it. But now that game has lost its allure and he just doesn’t give me the copy anymore. Problems solved, right? Well, no intrepid reader. You know me well enough that I can’t leave well enough alone. So I started to do some investigating.

One of the main reasons I don’t read the Comic Shop News is that with the advent of the internet, the concept of “news” in comic books is a bit of a joke. Stories break on Comic Book Resources & Newsarama and within hours, it’s old news. So Comic Shop News, even though it’s weekly, suffers from the same problem that Wizard suffers from, in that the days of reporting timely news in print is over.

Now I understand that not everyone that is into comics visits comic book related websites, so an insert into the bag of a non-Internet savvy comics reader could be a good thing, in terms of getting the word and publicity out. But sadly, I think the Comic Shop News fails in this. The news they report and the manner in which they present things is amateurish at best. (By the way, It appears that they call themselves “Comic Shop Newsarama” now, via some thinly veiled partnership with Newsarama which delivers a lot of the content as just printing what was on the Newsarama website. But we all know that it will always be the Comic Shop News). If this is the piece of collateral that is going into bags of customers, no wonder the business is trending down.

The other aspect of the Comic Shop News that troubles me is that comic book stores pay for it. They order it through Diamond and have to pay for whatever quantity they get. I have never paid for a Comic Shop News, have you? So it’s a loss leader for the store. The thinking being that by buying it and inserting it into your bag, you’ll read about comics and come back and buy more. Which, on paper is a great idea, just not the paper the Comic Shop News is printed on. I feel bad that a store owner now feels compelled to give the issue to their customers, purely to get rid of the stock he ordered. Sure, he could not order it, but then he would be saying no to what is perceived as a good way to drum up business. It’s a catch 22.

Now, I have nothing against the fine people behind the Comic Shop News. Their hearts are in the right place and I want them to be succeed, especially if it helps the industry. I also acknowledge that I may be too close to the topic, doing what I do I tend to drown in news and press releases and the like. I am by no means the average customer. But I think that my observations hold pretty true for the majority of comics shoppers.

So what can be done? Well, to start the Comic Shop News could try and improve their product. If you’re going to print on newsprint because it’s cheap, then find a good graphic designer, make it seem a bit more current. Instead of reprinting content from other websites or trying to report news, find a compelling piece of content or angle on comics that makes me want to read it. If there was something in the Comic Shop News that I couldn’t get anywhere else, then I wouldn’t just throw it out.

For retailers, you have a couple of options. Ask your customers if they want it when they buy their books and keep track of how many actually take it and modify your orders. That’s obvious and most good retailers probably do this already. But something else to think about, do you really need it? With the way technology has progressed, you could buy a color printer for relatively cheap and with a little work, produce a customized weekly newsletter to drop into your customers bags to try and drum up business for yourself. By focusing on what’s hot in your store, using images/art from the internet, and highlighting upcoming events, I bet you could get a lot more traction than by depending on someone else creating a bag insert like the Comic Shop News. The added personalization and care would more than likely be appreciated by your customers and become something that they look for and seek out. You could even do an e-mail version for your regular customers. Sure it’s a bit more work, but when you’re running your own business, that’s part of the game.

There are a lot of things wrong with the comics industry and if we don’t take a step back and start brainstorming about how to make things better, they never will. A part of this is dependence on things like the Comics Shop News, Wizard and Newsarama. If we don’t individually start questioning these and offering alternatives, then how can things ever get better?

For me, I’m making a stand. No more Comic Shop News for me and I told my retailer to order one less.

What are you going to do? Do you read and enjoy the Comic Shop News? Am I totally off base? Leave a comment and let me know.


  1. Amateurish and untimely are good descriptions of CSN.  The store I went to in high school always put them in, and I hated it then and threw it out without reading it.  The store I went to in college always had a stack of them by the register and you could take one if you wanted.  My current shop doesn’t have them, and I am so thankful for that.  The internet has made "breaking comics news" irrelevant.  If CSN cared about remaining relevant, they could do more in depth features and interviews or some such.  But really, who cares?  Not I.  Take you stand Ron.

  2. I’ve been lucky to have never heard about CSN, but i agree that it is a loss for the owners and a waste of paper. Thanks for the interesting post.

  3. I don’t get it every week, but when I do it is usually straight into the recycling. At least that way I don’t feel bad about the environment.

  4. My LCS doesn’t get it so I guess I should consider myself lucky.

    Which comic shop do you frequent since moving to San Francisco, Ron? I go to Stand-Up Comics in El Cerrito (East Bay); definitely not one of the better shops in the Bay Area, but it’s a 10-min walk from my house and they offer a subscription service so it’s hard to justify going elsewhere.

  5. I take a look at CSN every now and again. Just to see if anything catches my eye.

  6. My backup store (Newbery Comics) has a good approach – they offer a weekly email newsletter that highlights the week’s books, occasionally includes coupons, and offers a preview of coming issues. It’s short, well-designed, and an easy and quick read. It also arrives just in time on Tuesday afternoons so it’s fresh in my mind when I head to the store. 

  7. I’ll often skim CSN out of some ecological offshoot of Catholic guilt, and I’m pretty sure it is literally 12 pages of Newsarama reprints. My shop’s owner always asked before inserting in my bag, luckily, and I almost always thought enough to say no.

    The thing is, as hard as it is to believe, not everybody is like us. I have mentioned this in the forums before, but the manager of the shop I went to for years and years was getting his industry scoops from me. Like, books would come in and he’d say, "Wow, Joss Whedon is writing this now!" as he was taking the books he personally ordered out of the box. Given that, I am willing to entertain the possibility that CSN is not a complete waste of paper unless it’s in my hands. 

  8. Having grown up in Marietta, Ga and having visited Dr. No’s (where Cliff & Ward started CSN I think) on numerous occasions, I have a soft spot for this weekly handout.

  9. @Rofo Newbury comics is my backup store too, but I love the email every week. They give a nice clean list of all comics out this week. The coupons are nice too. If my local shop ever sells out of a book or I forgot one I often have a coupon of some sort. A clean newsletter is helpful, CSN is not.

  10. I’ve never even heard of CSN, but agree with bentheo and rofo aboutthe newbury comics thing. Before heading off to college, Newbury was my comic shop (mainly because there are none around that are easy to get to) and the e-mails are awesome, even though I don’t really need them anymore… that’s the way to go, not killing trees and printing useless things (like the fliers I seem to get every other week walking down the street to my comic shop trying to get me to go to a restaurant… not cool, just hand out free samples)

  11. my comic shop just leaves it to you to grab if you want. i’ve picked it up twice, once when i was new and didn’t know, and last week when it had raven on the front. my daughters love the teen titans. it is truely a waist of our oxegen providing friends. in the debate over comics goinng digital, why in the hell is this still around. you said it ron, it’s old news, even before it goes to press. i doubt even the non inerweb savey readers waist there time on this.

  12. I always take a look at CSN.  I usually don’t end up reading it, and I probably wouldn’t miss it if I stopped getting it, but I still look at it…

  13. CSN is usually something that I read if I have a light week. And looking at my stack there are a few things that I have picked up because I have read an article in CSN. Titles like The Lone Ranger (Although it seems to me that title hasn’t come out in a while) and Spider-man: With Great power. Maybe I would have picked them up on a whim if I hadn’t read about it in CSN but by reading CSN it went from a maybe to a definite.

    Would I miss reading CSN: HELL NO. But when my store puts it in there and I don’t have to pay for it that’s cool. 

  14. I remember back in 89/90 CSN reprinted the new daily Batman strip. This was great as my local paper didn’t carry it.

  15. I actually like CSN. I am really getting annoyed with everything being "online". I like reading and looking paper (and comics) in places where there is no computer. I catch what’s coming up in the CSN. Nobody actually "reads it" as if it were real news. We all know it’s promo schtick written by some puking robot who likes to copy and paste but does it matter? I check out the art of books coming up. Red Hulk, YES! Teen Titans Year 1, YES! Does anyone actually take it so seriously. I like print on paper and like looking at the pretty pictures… and I love newsprint.

  16. I don’t strongly disagree with you about CSN but Ron…Ron, Ron, Ron, Ron, Ron.  You’re condemning the quality of something that you claim you haven’t read in TEN YEARS.  Are you assuming that if there was something good, someone would tell you about it?  Maybe they did a word scramble of Xmen artists.  You probably would’ve liked that.  Admit it.  You couldn’t resist showing off your X-itude.  Or maybe there was a "Find six things different on this variant cover."


    Or maybe I have it mixed up with the placemats at Dennys. 

  17. CSN holds a pretty special place in my heart. As a kid, it turned me onto so many cool comics.  I can remember reading CSN when Invincible was announced, and thinking, "Hey, that sounds kind of cool."  As a person that doesn’t spend all of his time on comic related websites (actually, iFanboy is about it), I enjoy it.  Also, I like the issues that preview what’s coming out.  It has the little check boxes that I remember using as a kid to keep track of what’s coming out.

    So, it’s nostalgia more than anything that has me not throwing it away.  I only recently started getting for my LCS, who apparently orders it for their regulars that come in…or possibly for the people who spend too much money there.

  18. I have only ever made an in-store purchase of my comics once or twice, so I have been lucky enough to have not remembered this.  You don’t think that there is something esoterically nostalgic about the presence of CSN and perhaps that is why it is still around, stagnating in peoples bags every week?

  19. Im a comic fan who goes to the comicsites everyday and I still read CSN when i get it. I just cant see myself throwing away comicbook news before reading it. Sometimes they do articles on books that I dont read and it gives me a lttle run down on what its about.

  20.  My LCS is run by a friend of mine, so I hang out on Wednesday and read some books.  I use the CSN as a divider.  Books I have read go behind the CSN, books still to be read go in front.  Other than that, I have very little use for it either.

  21. The store I used to shop at before I moved to the Austin area put them in my bag. I would usually skim through it, but I didn’t really read the whole thing. The current shop I go to doesn’t get them.

  22. CSN is a highlight for my weekly trek to the store because I save these up and I sit down with my son and we cut out cool pics that we then glue to poster board.  He is 4 and might enjoy using scissors more than what we are doing – but, I take it as one more fun thing we do together and involves him in the wonderful world of comics.

  23. I’ve always appreciated the concept and some stores have given them to me for free, but I typically don’t read CSN and when I do, I basically glance at the interior for about 20 seconds, then toss it in the recycle bin.  I don’t think the shop I go to regularly gets CSN, but man oh man do they have tones of other junk that I don’t want.

  24. my LCS stopped carrying CSN a long time ago…and none of the customers seemed to care. that’s the sad part of CSN…no one cares…

  25. I somewhat disagree with you Ron, I like the idea of CSN, part of it’s appeal reside in nostalgia, the other part is that I don’t check newsarama (or any other Comic news website, for that matter) very often and with CSN I have a chance to catch up with the "recent news". Granted there are times when it goes directly to the recycle bin.

    In fact one of my rituals of comic collecting is when CSN prints the monthly checklist and I use it to plan the books I’m going to buy that particular month. I know the dates that are published are not very accurate. but still it’s part of the appeal of collecting, kind of the anxiety of going every week to the LCS or posting the pull list in

    I agree with you, due to the Internet the concept of printed news has become "old", because you can have acess to the news almost right away, then again "old" printed newspapers are still selling copies all over the world, the point is that the succesful newspapers distinguish their printed and web editions. CSN should do that, instead of reprinting newsarama’s articles, they should review books or make more editorials (spotlights) about writers, inkers, pencillers, etc. And continue to publish the monthly checklist.

  26. I’ve never heard of CSN either and even though I probably wouldn’t read it, I’m a little pissed that I have never gotten one.  I feel like I’m missing out and wanna complain about CSN being in my bag every week.

  27. i tell you what you do Ron… you roll up that CSN nice and tight and you smack ’em with it! or you could just tell them that you don’t want it.

    i don’t even get one but i could see how it’s just unwanted and a seeming waste of paper.    


  28. None of the LCSs in my area have carried CSN for years, and even though I thought about ordering it for the store I now manage, no one really seems to care that it’s not there.  I am really happy to hear about someone using it as a divider in their bag for what they have and haven’t read, though; I used to do that same thing when I would stop and buy my comics before work and then read them on my breaks!  Here’s a fun fact for you guys from someone who does the ordering in my store: CSN only comes in bundles of 50 or 100, so by not carrying it, I save my store 415.48 a year at the minimum. 

  29. None of the LCSs in my area have carried CSN for years, and even though I thought about ordering it for the store I now manage, no one really seems to care that it’s not there.  I am really happy to hear about someone using it as a divider in their bag for what they have and haven’t read, though; I used to do that same thing when I would stop and buy my comics before work and then read them on my breaks!  Here’s a fun fact for you guys from someone who does the ordering in my store: CSN only comes in bundles of 50 or 100, so by not carrying it, I save my store 415.48 a year at the minimum. 

  30. None of the LCSs in my area have carried CSN for years, and even though I thought about ordering it for the store I now manage, no one really seems to care that it’s not there.  I am really happy to hear about someone using it as a divider in their bag for what they have and haven’t read, though; I used to do that same thing when I would stop and buy my comics before work and then read them on my breaks!  Here’s a fun fact for you guys from someone who does the ordering in my store: CSN only comes in bundles of 50 or 100, so by not carrying it, I save my store 415.48 a year at the minimum. 

  31. None of the LCSs in my area have carried CSN for years, and even though I thought about ordering it for the store I now manage, no one really seems to care that it’s not there.  I am really happy to hear about someone using it as a divider in their bag for what they have and haven’t read, though; I used to do that same thing when I would stop and buy my comics before work and then read them on my breaks!  Here’s a fun fact for you guys from someone who does the ordering in my store: CSN only comes in bundles of 50 or 100, so by not carrying it, I save my store 415.48 a year at the minimum. 

  32. Quadruple-post?!  Sorry about that 🙁

  33. I totally agree with Ron, it’s ‘news’ thats a week old… pointless. 

  34. My regular shop (Secret Headquarters) doesn’t carry CSN, but my other shop (Golden Apple) does. If I get a copy from GA, I always read it and find some nugget of info I find interesting.  I also don’t look a lot of comic book websites, so that’s probably why I don’t mind it.

    If I were a retailer, though, I sure as hell wouldn’t order it. 🙂


  35. Each issue of CSN weighs roughly 18.5 grams. It takes 453.59237 grams to equal 1 pound. Thats roughly 25 issues to every pound.

    Go directly to the forums, and pray forgiveness to Paper, for wasting 20 pounds of his namesake. And think about all that if you have any trouble kicking the habit.  

  36. My current comic shop doesn’t carry CSN, that little rag is stale before the ink hits the paper. The time for a comic book weekly newspaper has passed. Unless they can offer something like creator interviews and exclusive editorials in addition to a more professional execution of the product, I don’t see it having any value to comic shop owners or buyers.

  37. My shop also just keeps a stack by the register. ill fli thru it and grab one if there is an article that looks interesting. i usuakky grab the seasonal previews or christmas gift guides. While its all info previously announced, its nice to ahve it all in one place. I am surprised any comic shop would pay for i though. they do make good dough on advertisng

  38. I havent visited an actual store in a while (sorry, Wraithmaker!), but I did enjoy reading CSN on the train home from Midtown Comics whenever I got a few comics there.

    I think  I enjoyed the pictures more than anything else. It also made me pay attention to stuff not on my radar, or stuff I had given up on.


    I hope that CSN is or has been modernizing. Geeks should be getting CSN text messages or something to their phones. Hell, do they have a site? Why is it just CBR, Silver Bullet, Newsarama, etc? They should be just as relevant to the net.

  39. my local shop doesn’t carry CSN, but when I am travelling and visit other stores I get it.  Some stores are absolute Nazis ( shop in Indianapolis) about putting it in your bag. I even told them that I didn’t want it and I got some stupid attitude.  Look CSN is going the way of all other newsprint media.  Let it die, I say.

  40. After reading everyone’s comments I believe I am in the minority in two ways; I still read and like both CSN and Wizard. This is probably because I don’t have the time/desire to get my comic book news daily from the internet. It is just easier for me to read the major news on a weekly (CNS) or monthly (Wizard) basis. If I happen across comic book news on the internet I will read it but I don’t seek it out. My LCS still has a stack of CSN next to the register and puts them in everyones bag. In my opinion it is harmless advertising for both the store and the comic book industry (i.e. those who don’t want it will recycle it, those who are interested/curious/bored will read it and may find something else they want to pick up next Wednesday). Personally, I like my comic book news like I like my comic books; printed on paper, not my computer screen (except for iFanboy that is).

  41. Hi, I’m ward Batty, co-editor and co-publisher of CSN. I just ran across this thread and figured I should clarify a couple of things. First, CSN is a sales tool for the comic shops. Our primary value is helping comic shops make their customers aware of what’s happening, in particular with news of upcoming releases as well as updates concerning sell-outs, reprints, variant covers and so on. The paper must be successful in helping the retailers or I assume that over 700 comic shops would not carry it every week and we would not have sold over 100 million copies over the last 21 years.

    Comics are a mass medium. Most people who are comics customers do not visit comics news sites. Nor do they attend comic book conventions. Also, many who are very active on the internet don’t frequent comic shops. It takes two weeks from when we send the issue to the printer to when that issue appears in shops. Unlike other print publications, we do not force publishers to give us information in advance on an exclusive basis so it will still be news when the issue sees print.

    For most people who read CSN, they are getting news that is important to them, directly related to the product in the shops in a timely manner. Our editorial focus is geared to this information and I believe we serve our readership well in that regard. I also can say we have helped literally hundreds of publishers over the years and harmed none.

    We do share news (both ways, BTW) with Newsarama, but 90% of the material in CSN is original to CSN. 

    I’m not going to debate the merits of the publication. I believe that we serve an important role for comic shops, allowing them to communicate a lot of useful information to their customers and add value to the comics buying experience for tens of thousands of customers every week. CSN serves the needs of comic shops and their customers, all of them, not just those who frequent internet comics sites. That’s a subset of the overall market, and doesn’t completely overlap as many who are active online are not regular comic shop customers. 

    If you want to reach the most active comic readers who frequent the shops and buy the comics, there’s no better way to do that than in CSN. That’s why we succeeded in 1987 when every comics weekly other than The Buyer’s Guide had failed and why we are successful now in the age of the internet.

    FYI, I don’t do any of the writing, I deal with the printer and advertisers and I’m the graphic designer (you try fitting in up to 10,000 words plus ads plus art into 8 pages. Almost all flashy design elements require space, the one thing I don’t have).

  42. Hi! I’m Cliff Biggers, the guy who writes the bulk of the material in CSN.

    Sorry to hear that CSN doesn’t appeal to some of you, but I’ve noticed many people commenting here that they get their news online. Obviously, we can’t get a lot of news into print more quickly than you can see it online–but bear in mind that a large number of comics readers are NOT online looking for comics news. There is a significant audience that gets their information in print form, and many of them get that news from Comic Shop News, among other places. Furthermore, CSN often serves as a reminder of upcoming books, timed to reach readers just a couple of weeks before those books go on sale; we’re an information tool designed to help retailers spread the word about comics.  

     Many retailers have also had tremendous response to copies of the publication they have left in libraries or in other non-comics shops, where readers have become interested in comics because of what they’ve seen in CSN. And many pubishers have seen significant audience response from CSN coverage, so it’s reaching a readership that seems to enjoy it.

     In addition to doing Comic Shop News, I own a comic shop (and have for thirty years–that’s how CSN began, by the way–as a outgrowth from our successful in-store newsletter, which we were selling to other shops in the region); I remain enthusiastic about CSN because I see week in and week out how beneficial it is to a large number of our customers. I realize it may not meet the needs of those who spend a large amount of time online in sites like these–but there are a lot of readers who find it informative and helpful, and maybe it’ll eventually help them become more active readers who’ll visit sites like this as well!