The iFanboy Letter Column – 09.02.2011

Friday means many things to many people. For some, Friday is all about the start of days of home repair. For others, lots of aimless wandering. For others still, let the mf’er burn.

At iFanboy, Friday means it’s letter column time.

You write. We answer. Very simple.

As always, if you want to have your e-mail read on the any of our shows or answered here, keep them coming —

Here at the Letter Column, we like to answer your comics related questions, like “Who would in a fight, Juggernaut or Zatanna?” or things along that ilk. But this week, I’m taking a bit of a different approach to my letter responses, as my e-mail inbox is full. Not with questions like the above, but rather with bug reports, complaints, compliments and suggestions about the new website. So I thought I’d take the time to give you an update as to where we’re at with the new site and what’s coming down the line and try to address some of your questions.

Last night we deployed a new batch of code that fixed some bugs on the site. Given that I haven’t gotten any “HEY! THIS ISN’T WORKING” messages or posts on Twitter, it looks like that batch was a success. Here’s a rundown of the fixes:

  1. Comments: Some of you may have gotten a message that you were commenting too quickly and to slow down. This was related to comment spam protection. We’re lucky in that we’re not getting much comment spam (*knock on wood*), so we have disabled this limiting. You should not get this message again. If you do, please let me know.
  2. Comics Section: There was a bug in the math around the Pick of the Week percentages, this has been fixed.
  3. Comics Section: Sorting by Other Publishers now re-sorts the page correctly.
  4. Individual Comics Pages: The list of other users who pulled the comic now expands to show everyone else who pulled that comic.
  5. Behind the Scenes: We made some changes/fixes to things behind the scenes and the servers which don’t really impact you, the iFanbase, directly other than it makes things better.

That was our latest release, but you probably are shouting now about what hasn’t changed or been fixed yet. Not to worry, we’re actively working on the next round of fixes and they include some very big changes, many of which are things you have reported to us as not a bug or you have asked for that changed from the previous site. This next round of changes should be live, hopefully, by this time next week and I’ll be back with a complete report of the changes, a list that I’m hopeful that will make many of you happy.

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to write into us to report problems or bugs or make suggestions about the new site. I’m going to be getting back to every one of you personally, but I wanted everyone to know that we got them and your feedback has been invaluable. We hope you’re enjoying the new site and everyone here in the US has a great Labor Day weekend, and everyone outside the US has a nice weekend as well.


Ron Richards

I will soon be opening my own comic shop with two friends of mine. I’ve taken the time to take a look around at some other shops, both in person and online to get some ideas. I am just wondering what are some things that you three have liked about different shops over the years that stood out to you, mainly so I can shamelessly rip these ideas off for my own

I already want it to be a well lit, tidy, well organized, and welcoming place. rather than some of the skeevy comic book dungeons I’ve been to where sweaty guys in trench coats breathe heavily in the adult comics section and windowless vans are parked out back. Money will be tight for a while, so we’ll have to play it safe with indie titles and such, but we really want to be able to expand that aspect later.


That’s a bold call, Jeremy, and I wish you the best of luck. Shops are not having a good time of it right now, and going into business with your friends, well that’s a challenging prospect as well. Trust me on that one. It doesn’t mean it can’t work, because I have seen shops do very well, but I assume you know what you’re getting into, and that you’re an adult, so I’ll save the warnings.

I have a friend who runs a very good shop. In order to do so, he took a job at another big shop for a good long while to get to understand the business, from a direct market standpoint. I think this was brilliant. He got to know customers and how they think, and just how things work from that side of the counter. When I talk to industry folks about comic shops and when they’re good, it always comes down to the idea that being a fan of comics isn’t enough. You have to know how to run a business. It’s not just setting up a comic book clubhouse where you can hang out all day. It’s a bung load of work. And you’re trying to split the profits three ways. I hope you don’t have a lot else going on your life, because that’s all going to have to take a backseat.

Another topic that comes up, and one that you touched on, is that you’re going to focus on Marvel and DC at first. That’s safe, and all well and good, but from a business standpoint, you’re going to be in a better position in the long run if your revenue isn’t completely reliant on two companies. If you know what the good content coming out every month is, then you should be able to sell it. If you’re running a comic shop and you can’t move good product, regardless of the publisher, you’re not good at running a comic shop. I truly believe that. If you’re only looking to sell stuff to superhero fans, then fine, but if you want to grow the business beyond that, let those Chris Ware fans know you’re down with them. Let parents know they can get age appropriate material for their kids in a pleasant environment. You’re going to have to hand sell. You’re going to have to be excited about comics, and convince people to try them. They’ll thank you when you’re right, and they’ll come back. I spoke with a local shop who’s biggest seller is American Vampire. I was so proud I couldn’t stand it. They did that because it’s good, and they promoted it, instead of relying on people to just buy Avengers because it’s Avengers. They still sell Avengers, mind you, but now they have some diversity in their customers.

What do I like about stores? I like when there are actual shelves like a store, instead of wire racks like a flea market. Not that it doesn’t work that way, but wood is good, as far as I’m concerned.

Good luck to you. Pay attention. Work hard. Be smart. Serve the customers well. Love the fuck out of comics. Lose any cynicism you’ve got. Pray to your god.

Josh Flanagan

I was partaking in a Batman movie marathon (Clooney Batman withheld for obvious reasons), and I noticed that, for some reason, certain aspects of the Batman mythos, simply, do not translate to film very well. Danny DeVito’s Penguin performance in the Burton sequel comes to mind, specifically.

Once I reached the Nolan films, however, I realized that a few tweaks were able to make the movies far more believable and far less… cheesy. I then begin to think of how Robin would fair in the Nolan-Batverse. Would The Boy Wonder be able to find a place in this grittier film trilogy? Is there anyway his back story could be altered to facilitate such?

David from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

You know, I could have sworn that I heard that Christopher Nolan said that we wouldn’t be seeing Robin in any of his films. Possibly I heard it from my father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate. I have a vague recollection of reading a quote from Nolan in which he said that Robin wouldn’t be in his movies because at that point Dick Grayson was still a baby, which if I am remembering correctly means that Nolan was seriously misinformed about how old Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson were when that partnership began. So I did some digging  online and couldn’t come up with any quotes from Nolan on the subject of Robin but I did find this fascinating piece from earlier in the year in which the author did a lot more virtual legwork than I did and came up with nothing on the subject either.

Could Robin actually be in The Dark Knight Rises?

My guess is probably not. I just don’t think that Robin fits into the world that Nolan has created. The journey that his Batman is on is a very tragic and, Alfred and Jim Gordon aside, a very lonely one. Now, sure, the title of the final film suggest some sort of redemption or ascension and part of that could include finding friends and allies in his war on crime. Frankly, anything is possible. I just feel like if Robin was going to be appear in the film it would have leaked by now. But then again, Nolan seems to be really good at concealing surprises and seeding misinformation (see: Ghul, Ra’s al).

So I could be wrong and Robin could be in The Dark Knight Rises but I would be shocked if that were the case.

Should Robin be in the The Dark Knight Rises? Could he? Those are more complicated questions. Let’s take the second one first. Could Robin be in the movie? Yes, of course, absolutely he could. I think that if anyone could find a way to pull it off in a believable manner it would be Nolan. Should he? No, I don’t think so. Other than what I said above about Robin not really fitting into the aesthetic that Nolan has created, I just don’t think they have enough time for Robin. Between Batman, Selina Kyle, Bane, Talia al Ghul Miranda Tate whoever Marion Cotillard is playing, Commissioner Gordon, Alfred Pennyworth, Lucius Fox, and John Blake Hugo Strange whoever Joseph Gordon-Levitt is playing I just don’t think there’s enough screen time to give Robin his due.

Unless Joseph Gordon-Levitt is playing Robin…

We’ll find out for sure next year.

Conor Kilpatrick


  1. that picture looks kinda sort like 80s Tom Hanks as Robin. Robin says: “i wish i was big”

    as far as the comic shop thing. Good luck dude. Think about carving out a niche for yourself in your community. What can you offer that no other shop in your market can offer? Perhaps a comforting atmosphere where people will want to hang out. Also spend some actual time/money on developing a professional looking website/business card/logo etc. It will do more for your business than you think in terms of getting people to take your business seriously. Too many shops have amateur level branding and websites and they just don’t create consumer confidence.

    • Where we are looking to open, there IS no market for the most part. It’s a very high income, kind of snooty area, and to buy comics, people have to drive 25+ miles. A Target that sells Magic the Gathering and Yu Gi Oh is close, but that’s full retail, and obviously no singles or tournaments, so we have that those perks begin with. We plan to have a little lounge area with some nice couches and tables, and a large TV so people can come just relax and read their books.

      As for branding, logo design and website are pretty much in the bag, but what I am worried about is signage laws. I don’t want a sign that just says “Comics” in all caps due to laws, I want the full name, window clings, neon signs showing we sell trading card games, the whole works. That is actually a deal breaker for me on location. One of my best friends used to do web design for a medical firm, and he said he’d take care of the site design and management.

      I don’t want it to sound like I don’t want to carry smaller press books, statues, action figures etc. at all. I really do, we just have to play it safe and calculate our risks in the beginning.

      Thanks for the input! I’m going to respond again later with some more info when I am not at work.

    • Have coffee!

      Or an area with store copies of things you recommend that are a few months old that people can read and then a sticker or page at the end that says, if you liked this try___ located right there—>

      Also make is INSANELY, stupidly, clear what are new releases. At some stores there’s just a wall of books and if you are unfamiliar with the set up you miss things you meant to buy. Like a whole bookshelf that is JUST new releases that week. Organizing things by company, then alphabetically helps a lot too and try not to ghettoize indie books. If I had a store I would probably just put everything alphabetically and not divvy it up by company so people see things they might not necessarily be zeroing in on at first.

      I always think an employee picks of the week stickers / signs are helpful. Also with trades employee recommendations or “Start Here” type signs for “gateway comics” are useful for new readers. Yay good luck!

    • @ResurrectionFlan One of my partners was already planning on setting up a Keurig coffee maker. 🙂 We DEFINITELY wanted a separate shelf for the current weeks books. Since we already wanted to have a little lounge area with some decent, not-sketchy looking furniture, I definitely like your idea of having a shelf with some reading copies, or with a bunch of the $1.00 reprint books. One of my partners and I know M:tG very well, and he knows other card games, and already had a shop that sold almost solely Magic the Gathering, and it was doing quite well, and pulling business from other shops pretty far away till his business partner disappeared with everything. The other partner and I are the comics fans, and I have been into comics for 15+ years, and have worked at two shops, one of those currently. Definitely keeping an eye on what is moving, and what isn’t. Quite a few surprises there. There are things I would expect to move quickly that don’t, and other stuff I think “Who is going to buy this crap?” and it flies off the shelves. We already have ideas to move older stock so it’s not cluttering up the place, and we don’t have money tied up in it.

      @Josh I’ve worked at a couple shops, but I never took into account that helping with getting a loan. Thanks for the heads up! We don’t want to just cater to superhero fans, as one of my partners has very similar tastes as yours. She works at the shop I am currently at too, and we know the sure bets on non superhero stuff. We just have to calculate our risks for now. We can’t immediately jump on action figures, statues, t-shirts, and items like that. I do want to make it clear to customers though that we can get those items if they want them. We by all means want to carry all ages books, and advertising with the local schools if they come in asking for sponsorships for band/chorus/yearbook, etc is a no brainer. I got into Magic: the Gathering in the summer of ’95, in between 8th and 9th grade, and those ages are where interest in those games propagates, so if we can have our name plastered all over the school system, GREAT! Oh yeah, and I love the fuck out of comics!

      We found a great location today that really won us over. Already painted nicely, nice hardwood floors, plenty of room for gaming tables, etc. We’re pretty excited about the whole endeavor. I really think we can make it work. I looked around on while at lunch with one of my partners, and there isn’t a shop convenient to the area we are looking at. One of the two that are within 20 miles even has a pretty bad reputation, though I personally have never had a problem with the guy. There are loads of rich, bored housewives that want to shut the kids up for a while. Going by wikipedia, median income for a family is almost $97,000, with a population of 32,000 as of the 2000 census. That’s double what it is for where I live, and where the shop I work at is, and we do pretty well, especially on the nights with Magic and Yu Gi Oh tournaments. We’re also considering a delivery service if all goes well. My current employer has a Scion xB with a car wrap, and we’ve gotten a lot of response from it, so that was definitely on the list. Would anyone here be interested in something like that if your LCS offered it, or would you rather browse the shop?

      I definitely appreciate everyone’s suggestions and well wishes. If everything pans out, I’ll send in a write up and some pics of the shop. I really think this is going to work, and I am SUPER psyched about it!

  2. But seriously… Who would in a fight, Juggernaut or Zatanna?

  3. If JGL was actually Robin – that would blow my mind.

    God speed Comic Book Guy…

  4. I wish people would stop ragging on Batman and Robin.

  5. I’m surprised that Ron didn’t answer the comics store question seeing as he’s constantly rumored to be in the business? 😉

  6. That Robin looks like the character actor Michael Rucker (I think that’s the spelling).!

  7. @Jeremy Something that my LCS does is mark down the first Trade of ongoing titles to “hook” a casual fan and get them onboard for the subsequent trades in the series. Also, sales, sales,sales! Even if its a small amount (15% off) once a month I appreciate the effort to keep me coming back. Finally, don’t forget the kids!! If your store had younger kid friendly stuff (manga,Archies,which my daughter loves) guess what, I probably buying more when I get my books!

    • My store sells a ton of card games. everything from magic to pokemon and Yu gi Oh and has game nights and he’s always got someone in the store for that.

    • My store also gives a discount to kids/teens who bring in a report card with all As. As a teacher, that makes me very happy to support their business. Plus, hook ’em while their young and you ensure future sales! 😉

  8. @Conor Thanks for the update on the site. There still are a couple of bugs that come to mind but it’s easy to be patient when I know you guys are on top of it. Keep up the good work. The new look really works.

  9. Here’s my question who fixes all of the holes Batman shoots into the architecture of Gotham with his grapple gun?

  10. I don’t think you should be allowed to exclude Batman & Robin from a Bat-movie Bat-marathon. You gotta take the Bat-bad with the Bat-good.

  11. I have 5 local shops. One carries only enough comics to be annoying(if it’s not a top seller, they don’t have it), but they seem to make up for it with sports cards and used DVD/video game sales. Another shop told me they make more $$ each week from Yu-Gi-Oh than anything else put together. They have tournaments almost every night for some game or another. The third shop is a dark cavern of long boxes & anime posters, but they seem to order EVERY SINGLE BOOK, so if a surprise gem comes out you can be sure they probably ordered at least a couple of them. The 4th shop has a decent selection but is also packed to the gills with toys & the guys running it just aren’t friendly. The final shop is the most beautiful location, but they carry the smallest of possible selections, and rarely have more than 1 of any book unless you ordered it.

    In every case, my likely-hood to shop at a store is determined mainly by how friendly(or just not-dumb) the staff is and the quality of their book selection. I don’t order books, because I rarely know if I’m going to be able to afford a book 3 months in advance, so I depend upon them ordering a good selection of what I like.

  12. I think Joseph Gordon-Levitt would make a great Robin. But I agree I doubt Robin will be in the movie at all. I wish the LW gave other examples of what he didn’t think translated well. For the time DeVito’s Penguin performance was pretty spot on I thought. And to be fair Nolan’s is really the first that tired for a more realistic slant, can’t really fault the other for that as that wasn’t what they were going for. I also don’t see why you’d change Robin’s origin, unless he means the circus part, that part does seem a bit dated but if you lose that you lose the soul of the character.

  13. Jeremy,

    Consider putting the work into an online pull-list system. Check out my local comic shop’s version here: It has absolutely changed the way I buy comics for the better. Never again will I try to remember what I have on a traditional pull-list and try to remember to tell the shop what I want to add or remove all the time. Never again will I worry about missing that mini-series or new indie title each week. My comic shop doesn’t even do the traditional pull-list anymore because this is so much easier for the customer. Every week I know exactly what books I’m ordering and exactly how much I’m spending before I even show up to the shop.

  14. I unequivocally love Danny DeVito’s Penguin. He’s clever, gross, funny, and tragic. I also thought he looked pretty cool. Penguin commandos…but whatever, I never liked the Penguin until I saw “Batman Returns.” That, combined with having some of the best episodes of TAS, really turned me around.

    “It could be worse. My nose could be gushing blood!”

    • I agree. And I really enjoy the first three, yes even Forever, because they feel like comic book movie universes, not comic book movies in our universe.

  15. Christian Bale is the one who promised there wouldn’t be a Robin in the new Batman movies. I think he thinks no one would take him seriously with a kid next to him in red and green punching out Bane.

    “If Robin crops up in one of the new Batman films, I’ll be chaining myself up somewhere and refusing to go to work.”

  16. I though there was a ‘street smart kid’ listed in Dark Knight Rises on IMDB. Granted anyone could write that on there on the site but I swore I saw it around the web.

    It appears to have been replaced by Holly Robinson played by Juno Temple…..maybe they’re gonna introduce a pseudo-female sidekick but not make it Robin?

  17. if they were going to do robin, jason would fit the tone more than dick.

  18. While I don’t think Robin’s going to be in “Dark Knight Rises,” Nolan could totally pull off Robin. There’s a great deal of depth to the relationship that’s never really been explored outside of the comics (or the cartoon), but if you strip it down to it’s most basic level, it’s an adult still living in the shadow of his parents’ death who is put into the position of being a mentor/parent himself.

  19. Check out this Batman and Robin recut trailer

  20. I see a lot of comic book stores that are cluttered and disorganized. This is my major pet peeve. One shop by my house is very disorganized (one of the posters mentioned this–the common problem of not clearly marking where the new issues are, or putting them in a really inconspicuous place) and the owner gets pissy when you ask him where anything is. He also has crap everywhere, toys, giant statues, etc. everywhere. This would be fine, but for people who go there to buy comics, it really disrupts the flow of the store. Another shop I go to–Comics Ink in Culver City, CA (they deserve the shout-out) is very clearly organized. Marvel and DC are clearly divided, Indies in their own section, etc, and most importantly–no clutter of toys, dvds, and other shit disrupting the flow of the store. It’s very easy to get in, get the books you need, and get out quickly (or hang out and talk to the staff if you want). So I think organization is key.

    • I agree 100% – organization is crucial. I went to a store in Corpus Christi that was like a maze. The rows were not laid out in a logical, flowing order (their feng shui was feng shit). You literally couldn’t tell where to look for anything. It was not clear where new issues/recent back issues/old back issues/trades were – it seemed very random. And it was crammed with action figures, tshirts, statues, junk on every row with the comics. Total chaos. I couldn’t locate anything. I had to leave.

  21. Jeremy,
    Good luck on your comic venture. I hope it is wildly successful, or at least enough that you guys can make a decent living off it!

    Things that I look for in a store:
    1. As someone mentioned, have the new issues in a separate area near the front. They should be prominent and easy to find.
    2. Good organization is crucial. Make it easy to find things. Separate by publisher (or at least DC/Marvel/Other), then alphabetically.
    3. My LCS leaves the last few issues of a title on the shelf, which I think encourages people to pick up back issues. Beyond that, they are put in boxes in an orderly fashion.
    4. Back issues are in long boxes alphabetically, irregardless of publisher. Easy to find!
    5. Discount subscription service will go a long way to promote sales and retain customers. Or, offer free bags/boards instead of a discount for subs. Or the choice of one or the other.
    6. Have plenty of events. Build a community for your customers. My store sets up midnight movie premiers for comic-related movies. These are a blast and promote the store. They have an MC, trivia contests before the show, etc. Have creator signings, let local artists (or wanna-be’ s that are really good) have sketch days. Let your imagination go wild.
    7. Have employees that know comics, so they can recommend things. If a customer likes, say, historical fiction, be ready to refer them to some comics with those elements.

    Things NOT to do:
    1. Don’t screw up pull lists. Do an EXCELLENT job on this. Nothing makes me more angry than when the miss something and it sells out. It is rare, but it has happened. Double check everything when doing pulls, especially if you will be requiring them to purchase all pulls.
    2. Don’t make customers buy all their pulls if they don’t want. If you are pre-ordering from Previews, you might have to, but there should be reasonable wiggle room in case something gets pulled that they really did NOT intend to get.
    3. Don’t make pull lists a mystery. I can’t get a real-time listing at my LCS. Drives me crazy. Make it easy for a customer to view and edit their pull lists. If you have a web-based system, have a store kiosk they can use.
    4. Don’t be negative about anything – customers, books, creators, artists. Be positive. Don’t criticize what people are reading. Don’t be comic snobs. Don’t hire people who are negative, critical, snobs, etc. Observe employees and how they interact with customers, and fire the bad ones. Really.
    5. Don’t over-charge on back issues. My store marks them UP at least $0.25 when they go in the long boxes, regardless of the title. That discourages people from buying them. I would think that, if you can afford it, discount back issues somewhat (not rare ones of course).
    6. Regarding back issues – if a price guide says a book is worth $10, but nobody will pay $10, it’s not worth $10. It’s a guide, not a bible.

    Good luck! It sounds like you have a lot of good ideas already, especially regarding creating a friendly environment. I like the lounge area idea, coffee, reader copies of some things. I would even say get a dorm refrigerator and sell soft drinks/energy drinks/etc. at REASONABLE prices (not vending machine prices) and maybe some snacks. Consider pizza on gaming nights – get it from some pizza place and sell by the slice.