What’s Wrong With You? Bad Retailers

Retailers are the backbone of the comics industry. They’re the infantry. Without good retailers, it’s all for nothing. People might crow and rave about the future of the book market (although that’s taken a turn) or digital comics, but the fact is, if you want to make money in comics, you’ve got to sell them to retailers, and they have to sell them to customers. Retailers can be the strongest asset in the comics industry, but they can also be the weakest link. Today, I’ll be discussing the latter.

I’ve been talking about retailers a lot lately, and I’ve heard enough anecdotes that make me worry that there aren’t enough of the good ‘uns and too many of the bad ‘uns. Here are some examples.

A friend moved and was looking for a new comic shop, looking to drop a bundle on this week’s comics. He found a place close to where he was staying and looked up their website and saw a screed espousing the evils of digital comics. Heaven forbid one of the customers be of the mind to enjoy both digital comics and the ones they were selling. So that’s off-putting, but not so bad, right?

I moved to a new place, and had to find a new shop. Fortunately, I had quite a few around me, and I checked out the Yelp reviews, and started at the first one, who didn’t carry about half the books I wanted. They don’t order Scalped or Hellblazer, and if you know me, that’s a problem. But worse than that, I’m standing right there in front of you, in this store, and I know how it works, and the offer was never made to try to get them. Any store worth their salt would have tried to gain a customer right then. Instead, I never went back. This happened at two other stores, before I settled on the one where I’ve been buying my books ever since.

Another friend of mine actually worked in a shop for a while where they were not allowed to talk to the customers, or recommend them books, lest the customers not like those books, and not return. This is a manager who has no idea what the concept of sales is about.

There was a shop in my old neighborhood in Queens, literally a 10 minute walk from my apartment, and they were so awful that I would take the train into Manhattan, an hour more of my day, to go somewhere else. They mostly only carried Marvel and DC, claiming they didn’t sell the other stuff. That’s fair again. And they did offer to get me the other stuff. That wasn’t what turned me off. No, what got me was the fact that the guys behind the counter made sure to call each other “fags” as often as possible. And I never shopped there again.

Of course, most of you have read the story of the shop in North Carolina who is boycotting all Grant Morrison work and won’t carry Action Comics because of the word balloon reading “gd,” and the blasphemous nature of those two letters. Well, that’s his right, and there but for the grace of– I’ll stop there. Oh I could go on, but there’s a discussion that could get ugly fast, and it’s not the point.

I saw complaints on Wednesday of a certain shop charging $6 for the new issue of Batgirl #1 because “that’s what people are paying on eBay”. This was said to a customer in his store, the day the book came out.

The point is that these shops are part of a very small front line between the amazing content being produced by the creative geniuses of the comic book industry, and mostly apathetic public. Sales are in a long decline, and instead of reaching out and figuring out ways to market to their local community, they do stuff like this:

But hey, you run your business how you see fit.

The scary thing is, for books that aren’t Marvel and DC, and even for a lot of their titles, it’s a game of inches. If you have a creator owned book, it’s part of your job to call the individual shops, and get them to order your book. If they do, it’s up to them to sell that book. Their sales depend on how much or how well that retailer does so. To my mind, a good comic book retailer can sell a good book. They know the product out there, and they know their customers. When someone walks in, and they’re looking for something new, and maybe don’t know much about comics, they should be able to point them to all sorts of great stuff, which exists, based on what books, movies, and TV shows they like. If a book is good, it can be sold. And the customer will come back for more. That’s if you want to put the effort in.

However, if you’re just a big comic book fan who thought opening a store would be a fun place to hang out and talk about comics, you probably quickly found out that there’s a lot more to it. I’ve been in great comic shops, and they’re great because they make the extra effort. I mentioned my new shop earlier, the wonderful Double Midnight Comics in Manchester, NH, and these guys really care, and they put in the effort. They hold events, and even get creators to come to signings all the way up here. They do community outreach. They do draw nights. They host gaming. The first thing in the store is a well appointed all ages book section, and more important than any of that, they’re enthusiastic. They like comics, and don’t have a crappy attitude. That is a hard thing to maintain in this economic climate with the comic book market we now have.

Without retailers, there is no comics industry. Support the good ones. If you are a retailer, be one of the good ones. If your retailer is bad, go somewhere else. Show them they have to better, and reward or punish them with your dollars. To all the retailers who make comics better, thank you. To the folks marking up books the day they come out? What is wrong with you?


  1. Great editorial Josh, thanks for sharing. Just a quick note: My LCS (New England Comics in Brockton, MA) bought a huge collection of Marvel mini-busts. The owner knows my affinity for all things Cap, and CALLED me to let me know that others were interested in buying it, but wanted me to know that I had rights of first refusal (or however that saying goes). Regardless, it further solidifies why I shop locally as opposed to buying on the web.

    Thanks again!

    • Right on, man. I’m an NEC guy, too. Been shopping there forever. They are a great comic retailer and a great local business, who I am proud to support.

  2. 6 bucks for Batgirl because that’s what they’re charging at e-bay. That’s the stupidest thing i ever heard.

    • Actually, that’s simply how supply and demand works. If I know you can turn around and sell something I’m selling for a higher price (that’s referred to as arbitrage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbitrage) then I should probably be selling it for that higher price myself. Right or wrong, that’s what a properly functioning market does.

      What makes all of that irrelevant (and makes the people paying more than $3 for the book fairly silly [in my opinion]) is that the VERY SAME ISSUE is available digitally for $3. The VERY SAME ISSUE. It’s not like the physical copy includes a magic origami wheelchair or some shit.

    • Yea my LCS charged me $10 for the variant of Action Comics #1.

    • But a lot of shops do that with variants anyway, and the comics companies know, and often, encourage that. Remember the special Deadpool variants for Fear Itself and Siege, that retailers got in exchange for destroying the competitors books? They were expected to mark the DP variant up in order to make some of the money back that they were “losing” on Blackest Night and Flashpoint.

    • That retailer may as well put a sign up telling people to get their comics through DCBS, url included.

    • Yes it’s supply and demand, but it’s a shitty long term strategy. They might be able to make 3 bucks more that one day, but I’d never shop there again, and they’d lose hundreds in the long run, digital or no.

      Variants are a different story, one that I don’t entirely understand, and thus I will not judge them for it. Seems like a giant waste of money though.

    • I agree that it can be a very poor decision in the long run. Especially with the digital option becoming increasingly prevalent. However, i can certainly understand the desire to remove the arbitrage opportunity.

    • Some stores charge extra for variants which is kind of crazy but whatever, the one I used to go to in Brooklyn would just have them in with all the regular issues, which was pretty cool.

    • Actually, that’s simply how supply and demand works.

      Yeah, that’s generally how goods are traded on a hypothetical free market. But you won’t find Apple selling iPads at a variable price based on supply and demand by checking eBay, because most companies have learned that is not how modern markets work. Fixed prices are a must for major companies.

    • Apple doesn’t operate in a truely competitive market. They operate in a market with considerable product differentiation. eBay doesn’t have that problem. Everyone selling iPads are selling the same product. Therefore, prices follow supply and demand properly. I would argue that shops in relatively large cities work a lot more like eBay than they do like the tablet market. Therefore, you expect them (because their products are homogeneous) to react more to market forces. Small town shops are obviously a different animal.

    • @stuclach~ Physical copies may not make a magic origami wheelchair but they may create unsettling conversations, such as “Wait, you spent how much on comics?” or “What do you mean by ‘you had to buy them’?” Those are very, very real things.

    • Too true.

    • Its nothing new. Retailers been pulling that crap for a long, long time.

      I remember back in the 90s one store that was PRE ORDERING at a mark up for Xmen event books. And you KNOW those bastards purposefully did not put all issues out on the shelf so they could feign ‘sell out’ and mark up the ‘one or two’ they have left.

      Yeah, where are they now? Long gone.

      Speaking of good retailers… the ones that are good DESERVE a shout-out… so in Central Florida (orlando-sanford), Acme Comics in Longwood is awesome. Their toy collection is UNBEATABLE in the entire region. Old and new… I swear you could spend an hour just looking at their stock and you will find stuff that will make you go, “Holy crap! I totally forgot about _________! I can’t believe they have this!!” Their staff are the friendliest people I ever met and genuine comic book and sci-fi fans. I know I sound like I work for them or something but I don’t, I am truly a fan of theirs. There’s 2 other good stores… one has several locations including a mall location and the other is brand new and huge, they both are good too, but its the people (and the toys) at Acme that makes me love Acme.

  3. I had one LCS here in Austin that I had to visit to get my books. The OWNER proceeded to belittle my books and why I read shitty books (I was buying a Fear Agent trade and a Fables trade) then I just walked out. 6 months later his store closed and I smiled.

    • Fellow comic reading Austinite here, if you don’t mind me asking what retailer was that? Also what LCS do you currently use?

    • What shop in Austin is that?

    • I currently use Austin Books and Comics, but I had to use this one and I’m sorry but all I remember that it was in North Austin.

    • Seriously, if you’re going to try to be the Pitchfork of comics, and least don’t give people shit for buying good books. I wonder what that now former owner reads.

    • If you guys live in the North Austin/Round Rock area, you should check out Rogues Gallery. Great store with an awesome staff. And no, I don’t work there. They just have really good service.

    • How recently did that north Austin one close? Where was it located?

      For you north Austin peeps, I would also recommend Capstone Comics on Parmer. No gaming, but good people, good service, and good events.

    • I drive all the way up from Slaughter Ln to go to Dragon’s Lair on Burnett. They have always done right by me. But both Capstone and ABC are equally awesome. We are very fortunate to live in such a comic friendly city

    • @AlanRob I was a customer of Dragon’s Lair for many years, until it became logistically impossible for me to get to the store often enough. As I moved further and further north, it was just too far. I had good customer service there and no complaints. They wouldn’t have been around so long if they weren’t doing it right.

      Rogue’s Gallery in RR is run by folks from DL, and it’s also a good store. Capstone is more recent, but it’s a really good store. I’ve been a customer since he was in the tiny corner store where the curry place is now. And Austin Books is like comic mecca here – they have SO MUCH inventory, they have freaking everything. We really are very lucky to have so many options.

  4. I am lucky to have Greenshift music and comics only about 20 minutes from my house. Many years ago when I was collecting comics for the first time the hobby shop I had my file at quit selling comics but did not bother to tell any of their customers that they had fired their comic book guy and would not be getting any new issues in. Well I ended up about 3 months behind on my comics because of this. I went to Greenshift and explained what happened and he sold be all the back issues that i had missed for cover price even though some of them had already increased in price. When I started collecting comics again a few months ago I remembered how well they had treated me and because of that Greenshift is where I get my comics from now. I spend about $50-$60 a week on comics.

    • Is that Greenshift in Tampa/Seminole Heights? I used to live w/in walking distance of the store and it was my store for about 5 or 6 years. Don, the owner is a good guy. Its a little cramped in there but it is primarily a music store. They have always supported indy comics, so you have to love that.
      I’m over in Clearwater now, so I shop at Emerald City. Their staff is pretty good also.


  5. The first thing that will make me leave a comic book shop is gaming tables. I avoid any store that is a hangout.

    • Seconded. But, to be fair, creating a sense of community is a good approach for a shop and gaming can keep a lot of shops afloat during slumping comic sales. Gaming just isn’t my thing, I would prefer to see a more professional environment or at least have the tables set up in a separate space so that I don’t have to overhear the game while I’m browsing.

    • I work at a comic shop. Unfortunately gaming does keep shops a float on days where comics aren’t a big feature. They might be annoying but they help keep some stores running.

    • I’m sorry, but I don’t understand this mentality. “Our weird, rather obscure, sub-culture is ok, but I don’t want to hang out with their kind!” Seriously?!? Gaming and comics can co-exist peacefully. What’s there to get so up-in-arms about?

    • Yeah, that’s a bit snobby. My shop has gaming tables. It’s another revenue stream. They’re trying to run a business, and I can’t fault them for it. If it affects your enjoyment of the store, I guess that’s one thing, but upon first walking in? You could be blowing it.

    • if you can find it at SDCC, its all fair game for an LCS if it works for them. All of these niche hobbies are getting spread very thin, and they all overlap within “geek and nerd culture”. It makes a lot of sense to have one shop that caters to all. You might get a comics guy into gaming and vice versa.

    • Usually when I go into that’s not my normal LCS, it’s usually for back issue my LCS doesn’t have. One such store I had been to before and had gotten back issues from, only had like one or two tables normally. I went back there rescently and they essentially go rid of all their back issues for more tables. I know they probably weren’t selling many of those issues since there isn’t a huge market for back issues and they are better using that space for their own purposes, but it did prevent them from getting any of my money.

    • To clarify, I’m all for a business doing what’s best for the business and creating a community of comic fans, gamers, etc. I just know that I felt uncomfortable in one specific experience I had where the shop was one medium sized room, with a game table in the center and comics on the outside. The only staffer was sitting and playing at the table and I just felt like I was intruding into someone’s home. Another shop in my town has a large game section set up in a back area with all the comics up front and I love it. I think they can co-exist, but from a comfort standpoint (for both me and the gaming fans). Is that snobby? Cuz now I guess I kinda feel like I’m promoting hobby apartheid.

    • Really? Cause if I walked into a comic shop that was big enough to have comics, tables for Warhammer, and tables for Magic, I’d be way more inclined to return and/or never leave. Sure, I wont like everyone that goes there, but that’s true everywhere. The store I go to now is a nice store, but it’s small, and I haven’t ever gone in to find more than one other customer browsing unless they walked in WITH me. I’d like to be able to walk in and discuss comics with the other patrons, but, I don’t know if its just what times I go in or what, I never run into other readers.

    • I think we can all get along, except for the shops that cover over the books for gaming. I was in one of these, where I had CALLED FIRST, was told to come in, and was told I could not access the back issues. On the flip side, I was in another shop (both of these are in Long Island, FYI) where the owner told the gamers to “move their stuff off the comics, people want to look at those too.” So really, I think it depends on the owner of the shop.

    • Meh, don’t let these commenters break you down, I agree with you.

      There used to be a really awesome comic/sci-fi/gaming store in Central Florida… it used to be called Enterprise 1701.

      Then they expanded, moved location, renamed themselves ‘Sci Fi City’ and suddenly the comics portion of their store shrunk. They make more money off gaming, that’s great, more power to them… but I’m not a gamer (and yes, I tried… just not my thing) and thus I have zero reasons to go to a shop that has little to no back issues and dedicated about 75% of the store to gaming alone. Then they got pretentious, pre-hipster or fake-geek staff who weren’t friendly at all…. it just was not a fun place to go if you’re not a gamer.

      I’m sure, somewhere out there, there are great shops that strike a good balance, but what some of you are missing is that in most instances, that balance is not there. You either have a comic shop that sells dice by the register, or a gaming store with one shelf of comics and no back issues.

  6. Josh, that shop in Queens… was it in Astoria? Up the stairs to an elevated train? Next to an internet cafe-type place? I could put the name here, but you seem to be avoiding that… but I used to shop at that place, in Queens, where the language of the workers was ridic offensive. I stopped shopping there as well.

    • Bingo.

    • Classy joint, classy joint…

    • I used to live 5 blocks from that place and I refused to go in after one visit. Not only was it a horrible comic shop, it was a horrible business all around. I would have rather traveled to Bergen every day than visit that shop again.

      I just recently moved to Ann Arbor and have found Vault of Midnight to be awesome. They even have a wall for locally made and self-published comics. All you have to do is ask them to put them up!

    • I went here once when I visited. I was just trying to get into comics.

      The experience was so bad I gave up and didn’t try again for almost 5 years.

    • @Skinnystompin – Vault is a really nice store with some pretty cool people who work there. I mean the store did win an Eisner for being an awesome retailer. I think that alone says a lot about the shop.

      I lived down the road in Ypsi for a while and went to Stadium Cards and Comics. The shop is an old school comic / cards shop, but it was run by some pretty good guys.

  7. Here’s the problem. LCS’s are almost all run by comic book fans, NOT retailers. What the comic book industry needs is a Starbucks type company to create a chain store model that will push sales. A company that understands how to sell, and sees comics a a commodity and not as an art form.

    Sounds horrible right? How about DC or Marvel creating a “Flagship store” for their books in Manhattan, or someone from Barnes and Nobles creating a chain model and slowly building it out.

    As much as we all love comics, what needs to happen is that the retailing side of the industry to treat its readers with the same level of retailing maturity that the creators are in their stories and art.

    Comic book stores are targeted at 14-23 year old. The reading demographic is more 34-50…stores need to get this.

    • that might happen if there were real profit margins. A comics/pop culture store is the very definition of labor of love. Its not for venture capitalists.

    • Yeah, but doesn’t the comic industry need to grab a hold of that 11-23 year old demographic in order to survive?

    • In the UK we have Forbidden Planet which is kind of like that. Calls itself a “Cult Entertainment Megastore”. Although that sounds like a contradiction in terms. I shop at a smaller comic shop, but I go there if my shop sells out of stuff. The staff aren’t necessarily comic fans so there’s no chitchat, and no back issues but they do have vast numbers of copies of new comics so it has it’s benefits.

    • Large brick and mortar retail bookstores are on the way out. Borders is days away from closing up shop forever and Barnes and Noble might not be that far behind. Also, every comic book shop I’ve seen in a mall has failed eventually. I think (and hope) that a generation of comic readers who value the medium will open up shops of their own in their neighborhoods.

    • @RickyStardust: My comment below actually refers to a Forbidden Planet store here in Glasgow. Although it is a chain, my local one feels like a smaller type of shop. As I said in the comment, the staff are very friendly and all comic book readers full of good advice. I guess it varies from shop to shop, but mine feels like the best of both worlds.

    • @RapidEyeMovement, cool, I’ve been to the one in Dublin and that’s really good as well. Think the main one in London is slightly different because it’s so big that comics aren’t the major part of it.

    • The Forbidden Planet in Dublin is amazing. Ive been getting my books from them for over a decade and I can’t commend them enough. I’ve only had one or two issues with them in that time and they’ve fixed it each time. Both Kevin the manager and his staff are beyond reproach and I’m delighted to spend my money there every month. They’re exactly what a good comics shop should be.

    • There used to be a chain of comic kiosk-type stores in malls. There was one here at Barton Creek mall long ago, I think. Maybe it was Lakeline. Anyway, nice store, good people, but the whole chain folded.

    • @RickyStardust: There are two completely seperate Forbidden Planet chains. The London store is part of the .com domain chain, and the Scotand / Dublin stores are part of the .co.uk chain.

      They originally started as one company but the owners ‘divorced’ in the early nineties. Both elected to keep the Forbidden planet name.

    • @NodNolan, oh, interesting. I wondered why they had two web-sites. I’ve ordered a lot from the .co.uk one in the past.

    • @kennyg Was that Planet Comics? I think they were owned by the Gamestop corp. I used to go to the one in Long Island.

      @Lewis Midtown Comics seems to be the LCS you are envisioning.

  8. I know a certain iFanboy member who checked-out local LA comic shops and had a couple of frustrating experiences due to lack of issues stocked. As a LA local I must stress that this month is a rough month for retailers when it comes to determining how many copies of books to get. With the new DC books out, so many people are starting up with these issues that never used to get DC or comics in some cases. Obviously, the shops don’t want a ton of extra copies they would be forever stuck with until Marvel runs a promotion to destroy them for some Deadpool variant, so they are forced to make some educated guesses on inventory (for non pull list locals).

    My shop guessed way under, and is paying for it with some semi regulars who don’t have pull lists and potential new customers. All they can do is learn from this week of shortage and make a better estimate for next week. Retailers will make mistakes…a sign of a good one is how they remedy the situation and accommodate their clientele.

    • When I was visiting LA last year I went to Meltdown and it really sucked. Maybe it was an off day, but they didn’t know where anything was and didn’t have things that came out this week or last week. Everything was just in a pile on the shelves in random order it seemed like. Really frustrating. I used to go to Bergen in Brooklyn which is a great store and it was pretty far below that despite being literally 20x as large.

      I ended up going to Comics Quest in Redlands, CA which was a really nice and well organized store. (Wood shelving!) I just temporarily moved to Palm Springs and there’s not shop here so I have to drive an hour each way to Redlands to CQ. But the people there seem nice and they have everything in order.

      I will probably find a new local one in LA when I move there in a month or two, if anyone has good recommendations I would love to hear them.

      My old comics shop in the valley closed, it was really really tiny, but they had everything and indie books.

    • I love the Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach…near LAX, kinda. The guys who work there are the friendliest store owners. Mike is there every Wednesday. They carry a lot of small press stuff too, if you are into that. It’s right near Marvel Studios too, so from time to time you get people like Chris Yost, Bendis (when in town) and others stopping by. They’ll start a pull list for anyone who wants one too.

      They have lots of signings, especially by Mignola, and they are always having some sort of sale. Just a great place in general. They’ve been nominated for a retailer Eisner Award 2 years straight.

    • Cool thanks! I’ll swing by there next week I think I am going to drive into LA looking for places to live.

      One thing about Redlands, besides having lots of orange trees is this Frozen Custard place I went to which was pretty awesome.

    • LA wise i would recomend earth 2 (either location) comicsmash and golden apple. all three have good staff and carry at least most of what comes out.

    • @ResurrectionFlan Haha. You love desserts! Custard, Flan…

    • I’m in L.A. and this week my usual Wednesday visit was dampened when I dropped in (earlier than usual) at 1:00pm only to find all but a couple of the New 52 were already sold out. This is a really good shop, too, one of the best I’ve frequented, but a few hours after opening and with a packed store and people still walking in, the hottest books, a possible last gasp effort by one of the big two to save their entire business, are all but gone (“Swamp Thing”, “Animal Man” & “Weird War” gone!) I’m not bitching about missing out on the new books (there’s always trades) but how many potential new customers won’t ever return because of no stock? I can’t say I blame the store. Who does want to eat all that (possibly) left over stock? Seems like DC should have guaranteed returns so stores could over order just in case (or maybe it just caught everyone by surprise. I haven’t seen such excitement & activity in a comics store in some time). I know there’s pull lists to stop something like books being sold out on you, but I’m more of a type to wander the store to see what catches my fancy that week (outside of the books I read each & every month & aren’t popular enough to sell out). Did most stores experience a shortage of stock due to a surprising heavy popularity?

  9. I’m failry certain that “not a library” sign is from my LCS but I have no idea how you would have gotten a picture of that…..

    • I hate people laying on the floor, camping out, reading book after book and standing in your way as much as the next guy, BUT if this ticked them off soo much, be a man about it and approach them. They shouldn’t leave threatening signs that’ll insult, scare off people.

    • I think I first saw it on Reddit.

    • @AlanRob Thank, yep that is indeed my LCS. It is a GREAT place to go and get comics, despite how this sign might make it appear.

    • It was posted on twitter by a creator . At least that’s where I saw it first.

    • @Minion that sucks, I found it on Reddit after AlanRob posted and the guy who originally posted it didn’t want to suggest it was a bad place, but that’s the impression people are getting from it.

    • Who the hell would want to shop at a store that threatens potential customers? What an asinine method for attempting to stop someone from misplacing comic books. If that was my LCS I’d be finding a new one.

  10. Feel fortunate not to have to deal with any of these retailer “horror” stories. Powerhouse Comics in Appleton, WI does a great job of getting comics for their customers Countless times they have gone above and beyond to get me a single issue.. $6 Batgirl!

  11. Anybody remember independent record stores? How about video stores? Yeah. Right. That’s exactly where local comic shops are headed, and for all the reasons you identified. The product is widely available in lots of formats now. Why should I come into your store? That’s a question retailers must answer definitively or risk closure. Even the good stores struggle with this. Brick and mortar outlets must present a compelling reason to come in, one that can’t be duplicated by downloading the book onto a digital device, or going to the mailbox. It boils down to two things DCBS and Comixology and their ilk can’t provide – Personal service and community. Human connection. Owners and managers have to realize that they and the people they employ are the equivalent of the wait staff at a restaurant – they will make or break your business. They must be courteous, knowledgeable and passionate about what is on the menu. If comics retailers don’t get this together, and fast, then we can say goodbye to another retail institution.

  12. I abandoned a shop after asking for help with some Darkseid stories. I pronounced it as Darkside and the retailer pretended not to have heard of such a character, then after a few minutes of staring at me he said “you must mean Darkseed!”

    I left the store and haven’t been back since.

    I do have a great store now – Another Dimension Comics in Calgary, AB. For the longest time Riley Rossmo of Proof was behind the counter and helped me find alot of great comics.

  13. I’m always shocked when I hear about stuff like this, mostly since I’ve always had access to, if not great, good comic shops. My current one has actually gotten BETTER because enough people complained about the staff (and the atmosphere) making them feel “uncomfortable” for buying comics there (it’s mainly a CD store, but it has “comics” in the title, go figure). That sign is particularly appalling, especially if you ever want kids to come into your store

    • Not defending the use of foul language, but the sign was in an area where kids couldn’t really see it and not in the same area as the kids comics…..not that there are ever a lot of kids in there anyways, it’s mostly adults and college students. But I totally get why the owner put up a sign, I guess people were literally throwing the books on the ground and leaving when they were done.

  14. I live a 2-minute bike ride away from a LCS in OKC, OK but decided it’s worth driving 15 minutes to a different LCS because they actually treat me like a human and not some automated robot that is programmed to appear every Wednesday.

    My biggest complaint with the old LCS is that they would never have their new comics ready and on the shelf at noon on Wednesday when they opened. You would have to wait sometimes until 1:15 before he would allow you to begin buying. (In my head every time: IT’S NOON! WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING ALL MORNING!?!)

    New store had a midnight opening for JL#1 where if you bought the first issue, EVERYTHING in the store was 52% off…On FCBD, they were open 24 hours and there was a different sale every two or so hours through the night.

  15. South Jersey shore from LBI to Atlantic city needs a shop, if i only had the money and knowhow to give them one.

    • I was at the casinos during FCBD 2010 and ended up at Jester’s Playhouse in Northfield. The staff was friendly and they had plenty of freebies. It’s worth a shot if you’re looking for a new LCS.

    • Check out Main Street Comics in Milltown if you have the chance. The staff is friendly, and they have tons of back issues for $1 or less!

  16. Jeff Reid mentioned on twitter today that Animal Man and Swamp Thing both had more pulls than Batman & Robin #3 (the former most pulled book on the site). I have to wonder how much of that is supply based. My shop simply didn’t carry that type of book in the past, but with the relaunch more shops are carrying these books and they are available digitally. The big sales number that DC is experiencing (and the large pulls on iFanboy) may be a combination of excitement and changes in availability.

    I certainly couldn’t have read Animal Man this week if it wasn’t available digitally.

    • pretty confident i wouldn’t have been able to read Swamp Thing or Animal Man without digital.

    • My shop owner sold out of everything. He said he was disappointed because he wished he would have ordered more. Apparently, people who refused to fill out preorder forms out of indignation for the change came in a picked up books, wiping out his extra stock. He was bummed because he felt like a lot of potential customers he could have had in the store ended up buying it online, and he wasn’t sure if he should order more copies/second printings. Sort of a weird place the digital is putting the retailers in. He was glad, though, that everything sold. A good start for the DCU.

    • I’d love to see a world with strong digital AND strong retail, but I don’t know if that’s possible. A number of shop owners really care about their customers and genuinely love comics.

    • @neb–pretty sure DC offered return programs for #1’s this month encouraging retailers to take a very low risk and order more than usual. I don’t understand why so many shops had no faith in a multi million dollar ad campaign and PR blitz and still played it conservative…really pessimistic about their local markets i guess.

      I really hope retailers don’t make digital the scapecoats for all of their business woes, because that would be just short sighted.

      Smart business owners know how to read the market and take a calculated risk. This was the month to do it.

  17. A friend told me last week his shop owner was down to his last copy of JLA and marked it up to $10, and this was the day it came out. He was under ordering on the 52.

    The guy I go to does that as well, under orders because he doesn’t want to sit on stuff. I go in and see lots of empty spots the day the books come out, sorry sold out. They don’t feel the need to have a few copies on the shelf for walk in traffic, how are you going to grow your business.

    • It’s a tough call though because if he orders extras, and they don’t sell then he has product (i.e. money) just sitting on his shelves. My shop owner really cut back on what he was ordering as well because he was losing money by having so much product on his shelves. He’s done a great job, though, of filling the empty spaces with trades, HCs, and collections of back issues that he can recommend to customers and can address the walk in traffic.

    • @Neb, with the new 52 DC set it up so owners could return most titles that they ddin’t sell for a very small fee (it comes out roughly every 1 book they sell would potentially cover 7 returns) so there really was no excuse not to over order most of those products.

    • Having personally put something like 30+ copies of Chaos War #3 into backstock at a shop, I can understand the fear of over ordering.

      That said the shop I helped out at ordered a crap load of Walking Dead trades because they were offering the same deal as DC did with the new 52. I remember asking “I know it’s popular, but why do we have 10+ copies of every Walking Dead Trade?” I was told if they didn’t sell they could send them back. There was no risk and they were making money off it. Great deal for Retailers and great for customers when a retailer takes advantage of it.

  18. My job takes me across the country from Lakeland, FL, to Lacey, WA, and all points in between. I’ve never run into any horrible shops…from my experience retailers have been the friendliest people I’ve ever met. My all time favorite was Roger’s on 7th Ave in NYC. Not sure if it’s still open, but it was literally like walking into the Cheers bar every Wednesday (it moved to 14th street on top of the Donut Hub and he would let us eat donuts and smoke in the store…not sure if that was a good thing).

  19. I think part of the problem is that people are much more keen to complain about something than praise it. I personally LOVE my lcs (Comics Factory in Pasadena, CA), but I realize how lucky I am when I see things like this all over the place. The employees are knowledgable and made me feel like a beloved old time customer on my second visit. I cannot tell you how many great trades they have turned me on to, and I find that half the fun of Wednesdays is just going to the shop itself let alone reading the books. In other words there are still SOME good ones out there.

  20. Josh you are really kicking butt with these editorials. *High Five* Keep em coming!

    I can totally relate to this article. I found a really good shop…decent selection fun atmosphere, cool employees, some good events. But then last year during the whole Fantastic Four death thing he was marking those books new up to $15 day they came out. Others like milestones or #1’s, get bagged and marked up $1-2 on that Wednesday…even back issues more than 2-3 months old get marked up. It must be working because he’s in a very high rent area, but I can’t support that practice so i stopped going. That was turning into my weekly spot, close to the office for lunchtime trips..but a greedy owner pushed me away.

    Other shops in town are your standard dungeons. Forget about all ages…Bad smells and unfriendly staff who really don’t want to talk to you. They’re all turning into pre-order pick up centers with some trades and more toys and gaming than new comics.

    I don’t feel guilty about shifting most of my purchases to digital or amazon. Even though i live in a decent sized city with about 10 stores, I just don’t feel the desire to support any of those local shops since they really aren’t that great or provide any extra value for me. Plus its getting tougher to get to them during their 10-6 hours with a full time job.

  21. What does it say about comic retailers or comic fans for that matter, when the most common complaint about shops is unfriendly staff? Only the DMV and Post Office rival them in stereotypical rudeness.

    • In all three cases, it’s a reputation well earned. The problem is if a comic book store’s retail staff is rude to a dedicated comic book fan, the fan will just shop somewhere else. If the staff is rude to someone who’s new to comics or trying to get back into it, you’ve probably guaranteed they’ll never buy another comic again. Do that enough times and you’re talking about losing thousands of dollars of business not just for your store, but for the industry as a whole.

    • CORRECTION: I meant “how many people don’t have a smartphone, tablet, or computer.”

  22. Long time iFanboy follower, first time poster. I work for a large comic retailer and I can tell you the comic community is pretty sound. True we don’t have video stores anymore, but that is an entirely different dynamic then comics. Most people have instant access to movies now, or they can have anything delivered to them that they want, or they can pick up movies while getting gas. Record stores may not be around, but here where I live there are some really good ones that have survived and thrived. It’s either adapt or die and good stores will always live on, bad stores will crumble.

    The root of the problem with any of these things is piracy. Pirating movies, music, or comics hurt those industries, and you aren’t doing them any favors. I know it’s tough for some people to buy everything they want, but any little you give to your local shops will always help, a lot. If they don’t carry something you like, let them know. We sometimes miss the boat on things, but I know in my store we always more than happy to get in anything you want. Even if it’s Hot Moms #6.

    I do see digital comics as the future of comics, but I don’t see it happening for a long time. Retailers should view it as chance to reach out to new people that may not read comics anymore, or to entirely new people. And even if the majority of people go digital, there will be people looking for classic silver and golden age books to collect ( I personally would love to collect old WW II comics one day, since I love the propaganda comics of the era.) and that’s something stores need to be aware of.

    After Justice League #1 came out last week we knew immediately that even though we ordered up significantly on all the new #1’s, we did not have enough coming in on the mid tier books. We fixed it right away, and while we will be missing some great books the first week (Swamp Thing was amazing!), we shouldn’t have that problem for the rest of the month.

    Forgive the wall of text, but I’ve been meaning to post on here for a long time now lol.

    • Are there any statistics about how many people actually pirate comic books? What’s that number like when compared to the estimated number of illegal movie or music downloads per year? If those people stopped illegally downloading comics, would it be enough to save the industry?

      My problem with the piracy argument is that, as far as I can tell, sales started to go downhill well before illegally pirating comics (or, well anything) was commonplace, around the mid to late nineties, and just never really recovered. Comics became more mainstream, but it seems like that never really translated to sales. I’m probably wrong, but that’s just how it seemed.

      Digital seems like a good option except when you think about how few people worldwide don’t have a tablet, smartphone, or computer. Comics (and books in general) are in a unique position to become an even more egalitarian, human medium and yet they’re both racing to make themselves that much more of a boutique product.

    • I meant “how many people don’t have a smartphone, tablet, or computer.”

    • @icn1983: When you talk to publishers and creators who track this stuff, believe me, they’ll tell you that pirated comics, especially of indie books, often outpace print sales by a factor of 10.

      Paper books and comics will never go away, not entirely. But the fact is that comics ARE a boutique product. The price is high and the availability is limited to those who really want to seek them out.

    • That’s quite the eye-opener. Thanks!

    • Piracy is an issue. I’ve seen it first hand with many customers who just point blank said “Oh I’ll just download that comic when I get home.” It makes me cringe. The problem is there are no concrete statistics out there to show how many comics are pirated. But in industry with probably about 250,000 people that are still active (that’s just a guess), even something like 10,000 downloads (a guess again)on book is pretty big chunk of the market share. Comparing comic piracy in terms of numbers to movies and music isn’t fair since it wouldn’t be close. Millions of people watch movies and listen to music, and many are willing to pirate.

      While is true the market has been in a downward spiral since the 90’s, it has still maintain some stability in the past decade after the 90’s bubble burst. The last decade has been rough economically for a lot of people are comics are going to be the first thing many people cut out of their budgets.

      Comics have to compete in against mediums where people really don’t want to read more then they need to. Kids nowadays just want to play the latest Call of Duty or Halo, rather than sit down and read anything. They think reading is for losers or nerds. I see that as another growing problem. When teachers have to tell kids “Don’t use text speech when writing a paper” there is a major problem out there with our youth, but that’s a topic for another day (Forgive me for sounding like an old man, even though I’m only 26)

      Eventually in the future, smart phones and tablets will be more readily accessible to more people just as computers have in the last 10 years. And as they grow, it does give digital comics a chance to reach more people, but comics are at their best when there’s human interaction. I always enjoy getting into playful arguments with people, since I have people who seek me out just to give me grief about my love for Grant Morrison.

      To declare comic stores dead in a few years, not that anyone has here but others have, is ridiculous at best and disingenuous. There are still a lot of great stores out there that are doing well and as long as people want print, which people will want, they will be around for a long time to come.

    • It doesn’t help when a pirated copy of Action Comics #1 looks better than an officially released and sanctioned digital one.

      And is more convenient because you don’t have to be online.
      And easier to read.
      And has a better user interface.
      And is higher res (!).

      Here’s a side by side comparison.


      Which would you think are the bootlegs? Which have the better image quality?

      Shouldn’t something derived from the source material be better than something scanned 3rd generation?
      If digital comics are going to succede they need to be at least equal to a print version and offer things a print one can’t, like say pristine art and colors, unified double page spreads, maybe some extra features like being able to see the just the inks or pencils or the story without word balloons, or with creator commentary.

      As is I paid $3.99 for something much worse than the physical copy. Print is still my preferred reading method all things considered, and as long as there are good stores they will survive just like niche record stores. The future is clearly and undeniably digital comics though. It’s a shame DC seems to have put no thought into their digital delivery method. Which frankly is baffling.

    • ResurrectionFlan, for the life of me I can’t tell the difference between the two images. Not really a fantastic damning of digital comics.

    • They are both digital except the ones that were paid for legally have a black line running down the middle and a weird drop shadow effect that is supposed to emulate a page.

      The pirated ones are painstakingly photoshopped together to give a seamless double-page spread as it was drawn, something a print comic (without a fold out page) cannot offer.

    • After reading so many good things about “Swamp Thing” and “Animal Man,” I decided to download them LEGALLY via Comixology. I noticed the same thing as ResurrectionFlan, although it didn’t bother me quite as much and it should be noted that the drop shadow goes away in the “guided” view.

      Either way, both books are fantastic. I didn’t realize I saw some of Yanick Paquette’s art earlier (the two page spread featuring Superman, Aquaman, and Batman) and mistook it for Kevin Nolwlan, which is pretty high praise since he’s one of my favorite artists of all time.

  23. I’m lucky, Orbital Comics in London is a haven. Friendly, knowledgable staff, flexible standing order system (they let me put stuff back on the shelf if I decide I don’t want it! I didn’t have to buy the Blackbolt FF issues!). Also, they really support small press comics, they sell my stuff, put it on their web-site and only take a tiny cut on it (might even just be tax, I don’t really understand that side). They have events and even had a signing where they had Paul Cornell in and cross-promoted him with a small press guy who they love to give him more exposure…I’m feeling a bit teary…

  24. About a year ago, one of the clerks in my shop told me they were mot allowed to talk NEGATIVELY about books.

    Now, I’m sure this was put into place to stop workers from decrying the “evils” of the likes of Rob Liefeld of Paul Jenkins to any customer who might so much as look at a book that they did not think worthy. Instead it just stifled discussion. Its become harder to get workers to engage you with comics discussion on a critical level.

    (For the record, I do like SOME Liefeld and Jenkins.)

    • I think my shop has a similar policy. They will speak honestly if you ask but they don’t look down on what you buy to your face. I have a friend who buys a lot of Xenoscope books and they are perfectly polite to him. I have talked to them a few times about his taste’s but they admit they haven’t really read the books so they can’t talk about it.

  25. Thanks for writing this. Have increasing frustrations w/ my retailer.

    This week? Got there a few hours late on Wednesday. NO copies of ANIMAL MAN. Ditto SWAMP THING.

    Also had several sellouts over the past year on these, hence I’ve had to switch to TPBs on these:

    -American Vampire
    -Morning Glories
    -Fantastic Four (once it became FF they jumped the bandwagon)
    -The start of Scott Snyder’s DETECTIVE run

    There’s something fundamentally wrong with an industry whose brightest stars’ material can be so hard to find.

    The ANIMAL MAN/SWAMP THING is pretty much a last straw for my habits. When I expressed my frustration, they shrugged it off and blamed customers for not pre-ordering enough.

    If I have to pre-order everything, then what service is the retailer actually providing? Why shouldn’t I just switch to an online/cheaper service? If they’re not going to assume *any* risk at all and provide a browsable selection, then what’s the point?

    Once iPad 3 or 4 reaches the resolution of the iPhone 4’s brilliant retina display, I think I’m going to go all-in on digital, or as much as I can.

    • i feel the same way. Buying comics used to be fun for me. Now its a scavenger hunt and pre-ordering turns it into a job. no thanks.

      I have the iPad 1….its surprising how good that is for reading most things.

    • Your final three paragraphs say it all, really.

    • I was having those issues in the Kenosha/Racine WI area. They would preorder anything, but it was a pain because I had to highlight stuff in previews. I switched to DCBS 2.5 years ago and I couldn’t be happier. I get every single thing I could possibly want using the sites browsing of preorders, and I have a pull list right on the site that I can start my monthly order with. I save a crap ton of money (who am I kidding, I spend the same, but I get a crap ton more). I sometimes miss an LCS a little bit, but this site provides all the conversation without the smell.

    • @citizenmilton~ I see your point completely about preordering, but with the way the industry has been, preordering is simply a necessity if you want to guarantee yourself a copy of a book. Retailers just can’t support heavy over ordering, and guessing big hits is a gamble every time. You can’t blame them for under ordering. I pre-order 90% of my books. But I also go to my shop, hang out, talk with folks, peruse the shelves for impulse buys. It’s my mini-vacation every week. You’re absolutely right that it sucks and takes away some of the purpose of retailers, but I guess it depends on what you’re looking for out of your retailer.

    • @Neb, I agree, I went to my shop yesterday thinking I’d be able to pick up OMAC, Swamp Thing and Stormwatch off the shelf (I’d pre-rdered Action Comics and Animal Man), and they’d totally sold out. It’s annoying that I had to go to another shop to get them, but I’d rather my shop ordered just enough to sell out of rather than them being stuck with a bunch and losing money on them. That’s how shops go out of business. However, it means maybe some potential new readers missed out and the shop could have made more money on more copies. It’s a hard job, who would have predicted OMAC would sell out? It wasn’t even on my radar until I read a couple of reviews on here.

    • Maybe I’ve been lucky. I go to Midtown Comics, which has a no sign up, weekly pull list. Granted, the minimum of 7 books is annoying, but it works for me. Also, when I went on vacation, I stopped by Ssalefish Comics in Winston-Salem NC, and asked about pulling books. He had the same webpage pull system. It works. If more shops would adopt it, it would make life smoother.

  26. This just makes me feel luckier and luckier about my new LCS here in Brooklyn. Super-chill owners and easy conversation. I look forward to going to the shop every week, and not just for the books.

    I’ve dealt with some bad stores in the past with all the moving around for school I’ve done the last few years, but never dealt with anything this bad.

  27. I love these articles.

    Thanks for this, and thanks for posting my letter the other day. I do appreciate it. I have been in some piss poor comic shops over the years, whether they’re dungeons, staffed by rude people, don’t cater to other markets such as card and miniatures gamers, don’t really know shit about comics, etc. I don’t understand it. Even if most of your income is from ebay or whatever, you still have that B&M store to maintain, and the associated overhead. Why not try to make a buck where you can make it? If this gets some store owners off their asses to change the way things are run, awesome. If it doesn’t, then I hate to say, but that store owner should get whats coming to them. I really do hate to say that, because I love comics, and I want stores to stay open, I want books to move, I want publishers to thrive.

    Do I *want* a store where I get to kick it with my friends, sell comics, listen to the Misfits, and watch horror movies all day? Fuck yeah I do! Am I going to do that? Fuck no I’m not. If some parent came in with their child, and the dinner party scene from Dead Alive was playing, I’d have every church group in the county beating my door down within an hour. I’d be boycotted for my mad love of old punk rock. Would I *want* to have placards like that that you posted to keep these little cretins from freeloading, or grabbing the racy art books and hiding in the back with them? That happened at the store where I work recently. (I almost didn’t want to touch the thing.) Hell yes I would. I can be pretty blunt. I’m not going to do so, because not everyone has my sensibilities. I want a lounge area with some reading copies of a few classic trades, and some of those $1.00 reprint books. LET people read a few freebies, it will snag you a few customers that might not have purchased something otherwise. Give those dollar books and old backstock out as Halloween goodies.

    Any store owner who has the space, and isn’t running Magic/Yu Gi Oh/Pokemon tournaments, is MISSING THE FUCKING BOAT. Find someone to run tournaments if you don’t know much about the particular games. Most people will do it for the love of the game itself. Having players pay $5.00 a head and doing store credit for prize support nets you about a buck over retail, and all you had to do was let people use your space. Those same game players will be curious about other products as well. Plenty of gamers at the shop where I work have started picking up comics and manga since they’ve started coming for the tournaments. We’re in a shitty recession right now, and Magic the Gathering singles prices are infuckingsane. It boggles my mind that people pay $50 for a friggin M:tG single nowdays. Take advantage of that. If you don’t have the knowledge of the game, find someone that does, and let them sell on consignment. You’ve catered to a new market, and some money is better than none.

    Even if it’s your dream job, it takes some effort to succeed.

    As you said before, love the fuck out of comics. I’ve been to shops where the owners/managers don’t know jack about comics, and can’t recommend titles to customers. I don’t understand it. If you just want to make a buck, there are plenty of other options. My full time job is at an inkjet and toner recycler. Do that if you just want to have a business, there’s money to be made if you do it right, and it will be a hell of a lot easier than comics. I recommend titles at the shop where I work every day and I love it. the guy that owns the shop where I work got pissy with the guy that runs it for “overordering” Severed #1, and this weeks DC relaunch books. Guess what happened there? We have zero left of Severed, and only a couple copies of Static Shock and OMAC. Know what the hell will move. That’s why I am going in to business with my two partners. Between the three of us, we have everything but miniatures gaming covered. If it turns out there’s a market for it where we want our shop, I’ll find someone to inform us and run tournaments.

    • Great post. Lots of luck with your store, sounds like your heart and brain are in the right place!

    • I remember going to a shop in Traverse City Mi where the owner hated comics. He actually got into them in the 90s because his Card Shop couldn’t survive without them. I found out about that part much later, but the entire time I was there, it was obvious he wanted nothing to do with the comics portion. Hell he was more excited to sell the hot sauce he had there.

      I’ve heard some new people have taken over the shop and it is now incredibly awesome. I even hear they have more than one location and help out with the small Comic Con in Traverse (they may be the ones who organize it, not sure).

      I have to agree that you may need to do things like Magic Tournaments to survive. I just saw don’t be vocal about how much you hate it every time someone buys a booster pack.

  28. With ought brick and mortar retailers.
    There isn’t a comic industry as we know it now.

    But digital is changing the absolute need for them and there’s even more reason
    to do it right now- we don’t necessarily need you anymore if you’re going to be a dbag—

    Do it right go the extra mile and you’ll create a unique experience that keeps people coming back for that.

  29. Years ago I was big into Chaos! Comics. They put out a book, Omen, which had 5 different covers, all shipped equally. At this time I had 3 stores in my area, after getting 4 of the 5 at two of them I went to the last one, Collector’s Zone. He had the cover I needed and was charging $9.99 for a $3 book the day it came out. I asked why and he said it was a special cover. I told him there are no special covers that they were all shipped equally.
    He said I didn’t get as many of these ones as I did the other. I consider that a special cover. I told him I won’t pay more for a book because he didn’t know how to order his books.
    He said fine, good luck finding it cheaper.
    It took a few years but I found it at a show in a 50 cent box.

    I don’t like going to that store, it just has a strange vibe to it.

  30. I have a comics and anime business, selling at Cons. On the comics side, we just do older back issues, mostly for $1.00 each or less. One of the things I love is when other dealers, come over to buy our books, which they will certainly mark up, and think they are somehow getting over on us. Like we don’t know what we’re doing because we’re selling the books so cheap. The whole time, there’s more people buying our books and more importantly, hanging out and talking with us about comics and having a good time while we actually help them find new stuff. Most of the older dealers don’t get that. Generally speaking, you want to buy your books from readers not collectors.

  31. Back a couple of years ago, one LCS about a 5 minute walk from my house was selling the CURRENT release of Wolverine(Civil War tie in) for $10. I found it for cover price the next day somewhere else,and I never went back to the previous shop.He’s now closed.
    It feels GREAT when I go to Midtowncomics (my favorite shop in NYC) after Weds. and I can STILL find new releases, NOT empty shelves. It’s tough because I don’t expect smaller shops to have unlimited copies of every book, but make an effort, to keep me coming through your doors.

  32. My lcs is cool, they will order anything for you. From the first time I started buying new books I was told if there is anything sold out or not ordered just let him know and they will get it in. There have been times I have been in the shop and a person will ask hey why dont you have a certain book and the owner will tell them he will get it and will even offer to call when its in.

    Every now and then a book off my list will not get pulled and that pisses me off but nobody is perfect.

  33. As someone who travels, it would be cool to have a list of “iFanboy Reader Recommended” stores on the site. It would be useful for new comic readers looking for a good place to set up subscriptions and stuff.

    My home store in Frederick, MD fits the description of a good store perfectly. 10% subscriptions, lots of giveaways and promos to try new books, will order anything you can’t find, and does it all with a smile and friendly conversation. Large gaming section also, if you’re into that. I drive past another store to get to this one, just because of the customer service. You can’t ask for a better store.

    Hopefully this post isn’t taken the wrong way. This isn’t meant to be an ad, just passing along info for anyone looking who lives in my area. I honestly am a customer, not a worker! The owner, Dan, has been in business for years and years, and honestly cares about his customers. He is on a first name basis with most of us.

    Brainstorm Comics on E. Patrick St in Frederick MD.

  34. I confirmed that “not a library sign” is in fact from my LCS, which is surprising because it is in Normal, Il which is a medium sized college town, never expected it to make it on this site let alone in a negative way. Just so everyone knows, it is actually a great place to buy comics, the owner (who is pretty much the only staff other than some volunteers) is super helpful and treats customers very well. It stocks a variety of different titles and the owner will get a book for you they don’t have it.

  35. I couldn’t agree more with you. Thanks for sharing

  36. This article has made me appreciate just how good my LCS is. Well-stocked, friendly and helpful staff, and the occasional event too. Judging by some of the above examples, I’ve been very lucky and not known it.

    • You mentioned above that you shop at Forbidden Planet in Glasgow and i’d have to agree that’s it’s a good LCS. I’ve shopped there for years and i’ve never had any major complaints.

    • Hey, I shop there as well! It’s not a bad place, never had any problems.

      Just….just an update for people?

    • Plus, according to Supergods, Grant Morrison is friends with the manager!

      I’m excited for the Paul Cornell signing in a few weeks too.

  37. In my city we have three major shops (and some smaller gaming/comic shops). Two of those three are amazing and I love going there, but the other is outrageously terrible. They have great selection of books and knowledgable staff, but treat the customers like garbage. I personally witnessed a guy in a wheelchair being told he couldn’t come in because he might mess up the shelves. I’ve heard from a woman who was told she had to leave her baby in the stroller outside the store. I’ve been asked to leave my messenger bag, with my expensive laptop, outside on the sidewalk before coming in. And I’m a 30 year old guy in a shirt and tie! Teens, the market the industry needs, aren’t allowed in if they have big coats, or backpacks. Every book, including trades, is bagged and boarded and you’re not allowed to flip through them. There are countless horror stories from this store. The store even made the news when the owner got in trouble for false imprisonment after locking the door and not letting a kid leave after she broke the tape on an action figure box.

    What’s frustrating is the store has a lot of national acclaim and the owner has a lot of friends in the industry who will draw the store into books and stuff. But shopping there is such a bad experience I refuse to give them any more of my money, even though the store is located directly next to my workplace!

  38. When I read this article and all the comments, I feel like was extremely lucky that the first comic shop really went to (and the one I still get all my books from) was great.

    The owner and the workers are extremely friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, and pleasant. They know me by name and always see me coming into the shop and unless they’re helping another customer, they immediently come and give me my books. Many times my mother and brother would be with me, and when they aren’t they always ask about them. Unless a book is extremely popular and sells out fast (like JL #1) they usually have every new book that comes out and if they don’t, they won’t hesitate to order it for you. They give 10% and free bags/boards if you pull book, have different daily specials, and have a tremendous selection of back stock and trades. The owner and workers always only say good things about whatever I’m getting and they have lots of stuff from local artists.

    I honestly feel guilty if I ever find myself in another shop. That’s when you know you have a good shop

  39. For all of our hero worship, between our rude retailers and our proclivities for piracy, we can be some amoral so-and-so’s. Ironic, no?

  40. Can you imagine that “not a library” sign 50 years ago? What’s happened to the world?

    • We had “Whites Only” signs 50 years ago.
      Just sayin’

    • As horrible as those were, I’m betting none of them were as crude or openly offensive as the sign above.

      (Just to completely protect myself here, “Whites Only” signs were obviously highly offensive, but under the masquerade of what was socially acceptable back then. At least they were pretending to be polite.)

  41. My LCS has two guys that run it- one is fantastic- he’s always recommending books, ordering titles for me- the other fella, well…..

  42. You know, I really think you guys are being unfair with that picture and leaping to a lot of conclusions. Sure, maybe the language is a bit saltier than it needs to be, but I have no problem with it. There’s a difference between browsing/flipping through a books and sitting down and reading entire books without buying them. Which, if you notice, is not what the sign is complaining about.. He’s complaining about those people doing that and then leaving a mess behind them and expecting someone else to clean up after them. That is just plain old disrespectful and a disgusting show of entitlement from the little shits who do it. I have no problem at all with that sign.

    • I have seen many stores with signs telling people a similar thing…they have not involved any f-bombs or threatening to cave in anyone’s skull.

    • I would never give money to a store that felt it was a good idea to put up a sign like that.

    • @Conor Well living here you don’t have much choice unless you want to wait for books in the mail or drive an hour away….and as I said in other posts, this is a great place to buy comics…I believe the sign was only up for a couple of days and it isn’t there anymore, I think it was just to detract the recently returned college students who were literally trashing the place.

    • @cubman987: In my old neighborhood I had two horribly run stores within a five minute walk form my apartment but for years instead of shopping those places I took a 40 minute subway ride to a good store that deserved my business.

    • @Conor but this isn’t a horribly run store, it’s actually ran quite well and much better than either of the stores that are an hour + drive away from me. The language was unfortunate for sure, but the sign was only up a couple of days and I totally understand why he got so mad about it.

    • @cubman987: I didn’t say that store was horribly run, I said the stores in my neighborhood were horribly run.

      If that sign was publically displayed by the owner I am not doing business there, no matter what the reasons behind it. It’s shameful.

    • I wouldn’t want to shop in any comic store where I wouldn’t feel comfortable bringing my GF’s daughter. That sign is not cool.

  43. Hence the line about salty language. But the sentiment, be respectful and clean up after yourself is fine by me. As a previous commenter pointed out, the sign was up[ high, where kids wouldn’t see it and the people doing it would.

    • Then he shoud write ” Be respectful and clean up after yourself.”

      It obviously didn’t bother him enough for him to actually look for who is doing it and actually say something to them.

    • @Thomas Katers 90% of the time he is working the store by himself and it is more than one person coming in and doing it. Not defending the language, just don’t want people to get the wrong idea about the place.

    • That’s a little more than “salty language” dude. There’s an open threat there. I get what you’re saying and if you’re ok with a shop like that, fine. I could see that type of thing being entertaining for a few people. But the problem is that that sort of thing will not help the business in any way. Not the LCS itself or the comic book industry overall. That’s Josh’s point.

  44. Holy crap, I had no idea how bad it was. I am spoiled having Midtown Comics.

  45. I am really glad the owners at my LCS are nice people. Everytime i come there i have a nice chat with them, sometimes about the books I’m buying, other times about stuff in the Previews, or simply about random stuff. Most of the poeople that come to the shop are also great people.
    And damn, that “this in not a fucking library” photo is really awful, i can’t imagine there ever being such a thing in my LCS…

  46. Great, but sad, article. As a comic retailer myself for 18 years, reading such things about fellow shop owners just goes to show me how lucky I am to do business in Pittsburgh, PA, where MOST of us get along, cooperate, and, most importantly, love comics AND the business of selling them!

    I had the good fortune to come from the retail book business before I opened my shop, and many of the above comments about understanding retailing first before opening a business are VERY true! I’ve seen a number of promising shops come and go in my time because they didn’t understand that this has to be a business first, and a hobby second.

    What fans need to understand is that we (shop owners) are not independently-wealthy public benefactors who can afford to stock EVERYTHING available in “Previews”. It would be nice, but we can’t. So, we need to know what “you” want, and know it with enough lead-time to order it. It’s pretty amazing that a publisher has finally figured out public-outreach and managed to intrigue such large numbers of new fans, but, as some of these “New 52” titles provide no history to base orders on, even though I’ve roughly tripled my numbers, I’m still running out of things! (Which is way cool, mind you!)

    Anyway, I thought I’d “stick up” for retailers out there who have been caught short by the reboot, but I’ll never support the sort of shop owner who would post an utterly unfriendly and detrimental sign like that shown above!

    Thanks for the opportunity to share in the discussion!

    • thats the rub with Direct Market isn’t it? Order too much non returnable product and you over extend your business. Don’t have enough on your shelves and you risk being labeled as having “bad selection”.

      I don’t know what i want to buy until i flip through it and read some reviews/buzz on sites like this. Very challenging indeed.

      Symptoms of a much larger problem if you ask me.

  47. I got into comics my last year of high school and I had just started to buy single issues. When it was time for me to go to college I had to find a new shop to go to. I found one that was a 15 minute walk from my campus. The shop was tiny but carried all the titles I was reading at the time. The problem was the guy behind the counter liked to listen to Rush Limbaugh as he worked and would often go into these really horrible anti-immigrant rants. I felt horribly offended, left and began buying trades from either Borders or Barnes and Noble.

  48. Um, unless I’m missing something you don’t know that. Do you know that he didn’t try that sign first only to have it ignored? Do you know that he hasn’t addressed it a bunch of times only to have it get worse instead of better? No you don’t and neither do I. How do you know it hasn’t bother him so much that he snapped and wrote the above sign? If you know more to the story please share.

    • It’s symbolic, and is not attributed to a real place in the article.

      Regardless, “snapping” doesn’t really fit into the realm of “professional” which is the point I was trying to make.

    • The “clean up after yourself or I will find out who you are” leads me to believe he does not know who it is nor has he said anything to them.

      I know customers can be dicks. Part of running a business is acting more mature than those trouble makers. Maybe the dude had a bad day…it happens to everyone. But if I just walked into that store and saw that sign, I wouldn’t be coming back.

    • Well, it’s a symbol you attached to bad retailers so it’s kind of guilt by association. And everyone, professionals, lay people, The Pope, everyone and anyone can have a bad day and snap. He didn’t verbally attack, insult or belittle anyone like in some other examples in the article. He’s asking others to be respectful of his store.

    • If I knew who he was, or called him out, you might have some point. But regardless, it’s my opinion that that is a very unprofessional way to run your business. It’s how you talk to roommates who eat your pudding. You want to be respected? Be respectful.

      If you ever see me respond to a post like that on this website, you may label me a hypocrite.

    • Honestly? This is one of those cases where, IMHO, it simply doesn’t MATTER what the reason behind it was. It crosses a line of professionalism that should NOT be considered on a sliding scale.

      Not every new customer coming into the store is going to know the story behind that sign… or CARE about what the retailer is personally experiencing. Nor should they. But they’ll see the sign in the same way that we see it here. And is that what you want newcomers to the store to see? That your clients are slobs and that you snap and curse at them?

      Kinda doesn’t matter to me what the story behind it is. It’s just not an acceptable professional reaction on any level.

    • i don’t gamble, but i’d bet you a Bluewater Biography comic of your choice (someone else can buy it) that 99.999% of that store’s customers do nothing wrong. Its a small handful of dumb idiots who make the mess. Its really bad business to treat everyone who walks into your store as if they are suspicious and criminals.

      Its not that hard to keep an eye out and kick out bad/rude customers. Thats why you have employees.

      Just about every community college offers small business classes…there are tons of books on customer service. Invest in your own business.

    • i work at a bookstore and i’m always having to pick up after people, but thats part of the job. i don’t know what sort of gig he thought he was getting. it’s called work for a reason.

  49. Were I live we have two LCS, which is funny because I in a metro area of less than 100, 000 people… One of the LCS have been around forever, and as a teenager I really enjoyed it, but over the years the service has really declined and I no longer find it an environment that I want to purchase my comics. The other LCS is run out of a location that includes another business that is the main money maker for the owner. Since the first business is the money maker and pays for all of the overhead etc. of running the business the comic side is run as a hobby, as a hang out, and a place to talk comic books. The owner is amazing and will bend over backwards for you and try really hard to get anything that you might want. Constantly on the phone and computer wheeling and dealing, a consummate salesman. On top of that since there is no overhead costumers get a 20-25% off every comic in the shop and free bags and boards! Now that is a place that holds fierce costumer lotyalty!

    • AW! Would love to get free bags and boards, especially with the prices on them continuing to go up. Used to get discounts to but that’s not something I ever considered necessary, considering how much of a niche business it is.

  50. What does Ron do at his store? I imagine it’s a wonderful place.


  51. My first guy wasn’t the greatest retailer. he had everything but wasn’t too friendly. I had flirted with the idea of going to another shop but it was farther away and I was relying on my father for rides. He knew the guy wasn’t friendly but he also knew I’d have to deal with that kind of attitude at some point in life. He eventually sold to a good friend of his, who was friendly, though only really in it for the money (Which with a bunch of 60s Spidey he was getting for almost nothing was working for a little while.) but eventually he went under due to a whole bunch of crap (Diamond apparently being part of it) falling into his lap at once. I moved over to the guy I was initially thinking of switching to during my time with the first guy before college and he’s the best I has so far. Always in to ordering stuff for you, I managed to alert him about the existence of Morning Glories, and let’s people know about what’s been good or bad. His co-workers are just as friendly, just a great atmosphere. My shop in my college town is friendly and willing to order, but don’t get a lot due to the smaller community. Luckily I have a great shop at home too.

    Feel like I have told this before on this site before, but hey, always good to tell it again.

  52. Does iFanboy own a comic book shop?

  53. Excellent article as usual, Josh! Having lived in a variety of places (my family was a bit nomadic growing up), I have had a wide berth of LCS experiences. Here’s what I’ve learned makes a good store:

    1) FRIENDLY ATMOSPHERE – don’t make fun of your customer’s choices, for GD’s sake! And make educated suggestions when you know your customers (thanks Fourth World Comics in Smithtown, NY!)
    2) CLEAN & ORGANIZED – make titles easy to get to and have it in some level of organization. Do you see your customers straining to read the titles? MOVE YOUR COMICS (reason #1 I don’t go the conveniently located store down the block from my job)
    3) CARRY A VARIETY – Obviously DC & Marvel are a must, but even your most mainstream customers might be interested in IDW, Dark Horse and all of the smaller publishers. Also, find a small title and champion it at the shop. Maybe have a featured “indie of the week.”

    Now my biggest personal pet peeve? When a shop has a gaming area and the guys are just WAY too loud. I used to play Magic back in the day (I wonder where that Black Lotus went to…), but our shop owner (Eric of Unknown Comics in Scranton, PA) was always good about making sure the table wasn’t disturbing the “normal” customers. A shop filled with loud, raunchy conversations can be a turn off.

  54. This article is a great example of how comic book stores should and shouldn’t be run. And I’m a subscriber to the “go the extra mile” philosophy, thanks to an entrepreneur I follow in Gary Vaynerchuk, who runs a family wine business and consults on building brands and social media strategies. This is a guy who would tweet free shipping codes and also offer free pre-orders if you wanted a wine that wasn’t in stock. Would he take a hit in sales doing it this way? In the short-term, yes – but in doing so, he built the long-term relationship with the customer that made them come back.

    Amazon does the same thing with almost everything in stock. Go check any trade or graphic novel on there. I just checked the Walt Simonson Thor omnibus. Cover price – $125. Amazon price – $72.22. No big reason why they do it other than they want the relationship. Think of other companies that offer this value too and you’ll know why they succeed in the long run.

    Comic book shops need to follow the same path. Yes, the economy and piracy are hurting them, but ultimately if retailers are showing their passion and running the business the right way, they’ll outlast the pretenders.

  55. Something that I think gets left out of the conversation in talking about your LCS or comics retailer in general is the price of everything these days. I was on a strictly Trade-waiting/online ordering kick until I started to get into the iFanboy community and buying single issue comics again, just to stay current and in the conversation. The LCS in my area is great and pretty typical in terms of service and environment–great guys, great store. But as someone with a limited disposable income, I couldn’t afford to drop the kind of cash single issue comics go for. Why would I pay full price for something I can get a reasonable discount for on a site like DCBS? I had to make the switch just to keep things affordable. Maybe it’s an age thing, but I get enough community on sites like this one–I don’t need to hang out at my LCS and spend way more money than I need to.

    The digital aspect can only bring comics to a broader audience. I’ve downloaded more comics from an array of publishers I never would’ve known about because of having to pre-order. DC has definitely got me to try out some #1 issues digitally that I may never have had access to under the current system. I think everyone should realize that comics will probably always be a niche market and that’s ok.

  56. Oh my gosh Josh I used to get my books there as well and it was a GREAT store. Its funny up here there are a lot of stores that are pretty good. I moved a little south and shop in Nashua at the store in the mall and let me tell you its the same in there great store! People are great, give suggestions, know me and my taste, and when I have the kiddo with me they are awesome to him. I wish I had this experience when I was a young adult I would have not have stopped buying books.

  57. The importance of a good place to buy comics can’t be over-stated. how you run your business is going to determine if you survive in this economy or not. If your store fails, you need to ask yourself if it’s because there isn’t a demand for comics in your area, or is it how you treat your customers?

    I personally don’t even buy my comics at an actual “comic shop.” I buy my comics at a flower stand. The owner of the flower store used to own a comics shop I frequented for years. His father owned the flower store. When his father passed away, he took over the store, and closed his comic shop. However, he still carries some comics, and orders anything his regular comic customers who go to the flower stand want. So while people i know were going to comic book stores and being told they were sold out of Justice League #1, my copy was waiting for me at a flower stand.

    now, I could very easily find some other store to go to. Hell, I could even buy my comics cheaper on-line. But I keep going there, week after week, because I am treated the way i want to be treated by a local business. The owner knows my name, he knows my daughters name, he knows where i work, he knows what comics I like, what sports teams I like. He is always friendly, and if he isn;t sure if i want something or not, he always asks me.

    I buy EVERYTHING on-line. Everything except for comics. I am willing to spend a few extra bucks to support a local business that treats me like a human being and seems to care if i come back next week. It’s a lesson people who own businesses need to learn.

    If you act like you are doing your customers a favor and not vice versa, you are going to lose customers. I have been to places where the employees were rude and unhelpful and talked down to the customers. If you are a condescending prick, you don’t deserve business. If you are friendly and actually appreciate the fact that people choose your store over the competition, you will be rewarded with repeat business.

  58. Please recall that The Fount of Cultural Satire – The Simpsons – portrays their comic shop owner as fat, arrogant, insulting, balding and wearing ill-fitting clothing. I guess Matt Groening agrees with ya, Josh.

  59. No matter how good the store is, I don’t think anything will ever match the greatness of digital downloads. DC’s risky dive into day and date digital is the best thing that could have happened to me, and I can’t wait for all the big companies to catch up. I don’t have to make time to go to the store. I don’t have to preorder something months in advance. And I don’t have to worry about unpleasant employees. And if I want to hang out and talk about comics I can come here and find a bunch more intelligent people than I’m gonna find locally.

    Now if only there was an all you can eat, Netflix style, provider to help me catch up on the classics. Oh well.

    • You can get that, when it comes to Marvel, at least. Marvel.com has a subscription service that allows you to read unlimited back issues for a monthly fee.

    • My Netflix-style digital comics wet dream wouldn’t help me catch up on classics, but allow me to stay current without amassing tons of paper or gigabytes of data. For a monthly fee, The Application would give me 7-10 days of access to the new releases each week. It would have a tiered subscription system (like Netflix used to): for one price I can read up to 20 comics per month, for a higher price up to 40 comics comics per month, and an unlimited plan for the highest price. Maybe some coupons for printed collections of the things I liked too. And then my alarm clock wakes me up.

      As a reformed illegal downloader (thanks in no small part to iFanboy), a system like that would really approximate what made illegal piracy kind of handy (the ethics notwithstanding) — I would download, read, delete, then later on buy trades of the things I really flipped for. I could keep up with the conversation about the books I was interested in reading, without the relative burden of storing the content (be it physical or digital) in a format I didn’t want.

      I sleep better at night now that I’m actually BUYING comics again, and I have a great LCS I can walk to that gives me 15% off new books, but budget restrictions make me a very selective consumer. I know there are lots of other books I would enjoy reading, but the sales model for new comics is still so collector oriented that total (or – with digital – near total) ownership of the content is the only option for consumers. I’d rather be a comic book reader than a comic book collector.

  60. I went to a new shop this week as it was new and a lot closer than the last. They had sold out of swampthing action and men of war. The guy told me he was trying to get more copies which was cool and I didn’t mind at all but when I went to buy my books he asked me did I really want an action comics now? I said I would but I didn’t mind picking one up another time but he pulled out a copy he held back and sold me that one, it was the variant too. Great guy great shop. I was so impressed with that that I got a few extra books and because he got chatting to my girlfriend she got a lunch box. That’s a good sales man and I’m going back next week. Btw the shop is big bang in Dublin

  61. If anyone in Chester or Delaware County PA is looking for a LCS checkout Showcase Comics in Media. Started going there two years ago and I couldn’t be happier. The staff and owner are always eager to make recommendations on new books and setting up a pull list with them gave me a 10% discount on issues. I tried several other shops in the area but the selection and atmosphere keep me coming back.

    Great article Josh!

  62. The biggest (and pretty much the only one) store in Mexico City was also selling Batgirl for $6 and Action and Detective for $7.

    I’m so thankful for digital and Amazon.

  63. Been lucky in my many moves around the country. I’ve always found rad stores to shop at. I’m diggin’ my current store in Westlake, OH, Astound! Comics. The guys that run the shop are super cool and go out of their way to make sure you get your books. I’m crossing my fingers that they are able to keep the doors open in these tough times.

    I’ve also been to Carol and John’s Comics in Cleveland. It’s far from my house, but they have a great store as well.

  64. Used to live in Charlotte, NC and my LCS (a mere 5 minutes from home) was Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find which is just such an amazing store. And it was right across the street from two great bars (what’s up Philospher’s Stone!) so going to the shop was always a full activity of talking comics and meeting friends for drinks.

  65. Awesome article, this is exactly why I rarely shop at the comic store an hr drive from me (my lcs) and have decided to go totally digital, unless of course I -appendix I be in Auckland or Hamilton where I’ve had some amazing experiences.

  66. Grant Morrison on the GD controversy:


    “It should go without saying that the offending panel and caption, a mere ‘GD’, is a sound effect grunt – to suggest Superman’s breath being forced through gritted teeth – much like ‘DHH’, ‘GNUHH’ or the many others used throughout this book and in general in the comics business. It’s not in any way representative of God or a curse.”

  67. Ok Josh. I get the sign. That sucks. That is bullshit customer service NO shop should ever resort to. But if two guys call themselves “fags,” there’s really nothing that store can do about it. Just like if a store has a bunch of people who smell like cigarettes just because they smoked a few minutes ago. It’s the same type of annoyance that is out of the shop’s hands merely because they don’t see it as something that hurts their sales. Now if you can convince them that it would then things would change and no one else will suffer from hearing that.

    • Well the manager or the owner could tell them to stop. Hell as a gay man I wouldn’t step foot in a shop that constantly says fag that’s just offensive.

    • It was the guys working at the store. Not customers.

    • You’re comparing people who use the slur “fag” to every person who smokes a cigarette before walking into a building. As a smoker, I find that incredibly offensive. And ignorant. No one can be addicted to using a slur. So sorry our smell is annoying to you. A thousand apologies.

  68. I won’t name the previous shop I went to, but they had horrible customer service completely drove me away. Glad I found my shop shout out to Melrose Music and Comics you guys rule!

  69. Excellent article, Josh. I live in Berkeley, and the stores in the area (there are three I frequent: The Escapist, Fantastic, and Dr Comics, which is a bit farther away, in Oakland) are top notch places to go, especially in drawing in new readers. Every Wed when I go to pick up my books, there will be someone who is just starting to read comics, or a parent/grandparent who is finding something for their kid/grandkid; the people working are as polite and cordial as someone can be. Also, at all of these stores there is a cat roaming the floor and rubbing against people’s legs (come to think of it, this is common in a lot of places in Berkeley/Oakland….isn’t anyone allergic to cats here?), which is always a welcome touch. Comic shops should be all-inclusive, places where someone who has never thought of reading a comic in their life should feel like they are able to without fear of being judged or put down in any way. I know that if employees are jerks, there’s nothing that really can be done, but in that lies the problem of the environment the shop puts off; it kind of is on everyone to create a fun, safe space where comics can be enjoyed. That might sound kind of unrealistic, but hey, it’s something to shoot for. I guess what I’m trying to say is it’s on the owners/employees, but also on customers, to make a comic shop great.

    • Amen. I lived in Berkeley/Oakland for years (the 90s) — the Bay Area is a GREAT place for comic shops.

      And frankly, so is L.A. — I’ve been lucky. I’ve got a fantastic store down the street from my office. And at least 3-4 on an easy drive.

  70. After 179 comments I feel like I’ll add little to the convo. But that hasn’t stopped me before!

    My LCS is a very small store in the middle of a small area of South Jersey. I like it in one way because it has this sort of ‘homey’ feel to it. Like I can walk in and the people who run it will know who I am and we’ll talk from time to time. After getting spoiled a bit though in bigger stores in Philly and definitely in NYC, I feel like my store could get better. Sometimes he doesn’t cater for every fan and his methods of ordering trades can be a bit weird. That and I must say it is more of a ‘D&D/Table Game’ store first and a comic store second.

    But I think ever store no matter what size or quality has its faults. Maybe my store could get better but I’m pretty sure for right now my LCS guy has no means of money to improve it. The good thing about the NEW DCU is that the first week I went in for the relaunch his entire shelf was sold out of new products. That’s a good sign for the future. Anyways, I love my store because it was the best at the time when going back into comics and it still is. As long as I personally tell my guy what comics to get for each week then I’m happy. It seems like Diamond screws him on getting certain comics then him being stubborn about it.

    (Also, my LCS has a sign kinda like what Josh posted but it’s no where near as foul. Plus I know he’s being cute because he told me it was a joke. But then again he did get robbed a few months ago so now he kinda has the right to be a bit more strict to his fans)

  71. The shop I go to is Joe Shuster nominated: http://comichunter.net/

    I take a bus there and back to go there and not the one that is literally a 3 minute walk from my place. Selection is better, service is better, price is not better.

    To be fair the shop next door got a new comics manager and he is winning me over a little bit. I might start buying more there.

  72. I guess I’m lucky, living in Toronto there are a number of great shops. Silver Snail, One Million Comix, The Beguiling, Red Nailz.. When I went to San Fran on business I emailed ifanboy and they suggested Istotope which was great.

    As I will be in Vancouver next month, anyone know any great shops there ?

  73. “I saw complaints on Wednesday of a certain shop charging $6 for the new issue of Batgirl #1 because “that’s what people are paying on eBay”. This was said to a customer in his store, the day the book came out.”

    This wouldn’t happen to be in a store in Corpus Christi, TX, would it?

    Of the three LCSs in that town, there was a super shady one, and the owner was a dick. This guy (allegedly) stole another store’s shipment and sold them when the substitute UPS guy mistakenly delivered it to his shop. That’s mail fraud. He also, on the day Captain America #25 shipped, took all the books from the pull customers’ files, claimed that he was under-shipped copies, and proceeded to sell his copies to his then-subscribers at $30 a pop. His sole employee quit that day, cancelled her pull box, and went to one of the more reputable LCSs.

    This guy, every year, has a “going out of business” sale because “sales are slow” and he “makes more money selling figures online anyway.” Then, after a week of advertising that he’s going out of business, sales are just so good, he decides to stay open. I think a law was passed in Texas that stated such actions are illegal. Also, he’s always getting evicted, this most recent time he’s now moved across a shopping center from a competitor, trying to put him out of business (and he’s admitted as much).

    The icing on the cake, though? For years, he had a child molester working for him. I wouldn’t have even known until I saw the dude’s booking mugshot in my local paper.

    • I was in Corpus recently. Is the shop in a shopping center by Target? There were two shops, one had been there quite a while, and one seemed to be new in the last year.

    • Oh, and when I lived in Corpus, I got my pulls at Collector’s Planet. It was a great place to hang out, and the guys working there were just like us on the other side of the counter. Heck some of them were us who’d managed to snag a one-or-two-day a week side job there. The owner, David, was super nice and friendly (unless you got on his bad side), and would bend over backwards for you. Depending on the number of books you had in your pull list, that determined your discount (i.e. 15 books netted you 10-12% and 20 or more netted you 15-18%, depending on how long you were there). You get free bags and boards. Some weeks, for every $15 you spent, you could choose a variant out of a “Variant Box” he set up on the counter. Hell, he lets pull customers take a free shirt off his rack for their birthdays.

      When I moved to Indianapolis, I had already pre-ordered two statues that were supposed to drop in March but now won’t be out for another month. He calls me every two weeks to let me know if he’s heard any updates on the shipment, since I paid in full before leaving.

      At least twice a year, he holds special events. FCBD, of course, and a special anniversary day of the store. Each event, he brings in an artist or 2 for sketches and signings, and every hour on the hour he’d hold door prize drawings, with pull customers getting shots at statues (I won Matthew Wagner’s Batman: Black & White statue and a DC Universe Batman statue (the one where he’s coming out of the smoke)). Just an overall great place to shop and hang out.

    • @kennyg, it was the one next door to Target, yeah. The one a little further away, by the Five Guys, is Comics Plus. The owner, Jesse, is a good guy, but sometimes a little dense. I got my books there for about a year before I went to CP.

    • @neums Yes, we went to the small store Comics Plus, not the one immediately next door to Target. We almost went to the other one, but it was oddly closed at that time. Glad we did not. Comics Plus was OK, but man that store was crammed full of stuff. It was like a maze and I couldn’t find anything. I was pressed for time and didn’t have time to figure his “system” out. It really seemed somewhat random, although I’m sure there is a method to the madness!

    • Yeah, Comics Plus is a bit…cozy. And he doesn’t carry near the number of back issues as the others. The one by Target is probably the biggest location he’s had, and as such, it’s hard as hell for him to locate things. That, and he upcharges on statues, after taking them out of the box and putting them in places where anyone can grab them and potentially break them. However, he’s the only one who is open on Sunday evenings…when he feels like it.

  74. i totally understand the frustration of customers. i know retail sucks, i’m in a retail store. but you still need to have the customers in mind. i’m actually sick of my comic store employees. wish i could work in a comic shop.

  75. I will say this: if your store under ordered on the DC relaunch (sold out immediately), forget them. Those books were given to them at higher profit margins and with return-ability. The risk was minimal and the reward was high. And they didn’t take it because they don’t believe in their own store doing well. Fuck that.

    I go to Treasure Island Comics in Fremont. It is run by a businessman who loves comics. Two signs that he had faith in his store? He moved to a bigger location recently and ordered crazy on the relaunch. His store looks to be doing much better now. Good for him. He worked hard at it.

    • I’d like to give some owners the benefit of the doubt and think that they tried to get a solid number of issues for their regulars by talking/polling/getting a feel for who would want what and then ordered on top of that. Like I mentioned above, my owner did that exact thing, and then all those people that told him they were never buying DC again came in and bought one of every issue, wiping out his entire overstock for potential new customers. He even sold the issues that he had set aside for his personal enjoyment, so he can’t even read any of the new books.

      I don’t think under ordering is a fallacy of the owner not believing in their store. I think it’s a fallacy of the system and the way it’s been kicking their asses lately. They had order ahead of time on product that they weren’t sure was going to sell. I don’t think the momentum for the movement even started until the last week or two. I just don’t think you blame any guy trying to keep his business afloat for being a little conservative. There are issues of Fear Itself and Flashpoint still brandished on racks around the country, and they were supposed to be the mega hits of the year.

      I don’t blame my owner for selling out at allt. As an owner at a smaller store trying to keep the lights on, I would have done the same thing. How could he know those folks would come in a wipe him out?

      Way I see it, if stores are selling out of things they don’t normally sell out of, then it’s a win. If stores that over ordered crazy sold out, then it’s a win. Physical copies selling out any time at this point is a win.

      Luckily, this will be a good indicator for stores on what to do with the next round of issues, and they’ll continue to do good business.

    • if anything i think your story kinda proves that the direct market system (specifically no returns) really works against the idea of trying to attract new customers to comics. You can’t sell whats not on the shelf. You put too much on the shelf and you’ll go out of business…totally f%cked system.

      that being said. September DC Comics with the massive marketing and unprecedented MSM advertising buys….man if you sold out your stock before end of business Saturday you squandered a golden opportunity that might never come around again.

    • I spent my high school years going to Treasure Island Comics in Fremont too! I gotta say, the owner does everything with so much attention, even the help he hires, he makes sure they are people who love comics, know how to run a business, and are relational towards their regular customers. What’s great about the atmosphere is there’s a sense of the store being a clubhouse where people who love comics can draw together and hang out. When i do go home, i still visit and catch up with everyone! Shout out to treasure island!

  76. That retailer from South Carolina, if I may say, is the pure example of a bad owner.

    He took something that was never, ever (EVER) an issue to anyone else. But then he saw the panel, because he put his religious views on high alert, and felt it was disrespecting God. How you could deceiver that he was using that name in vein is anyone’s guess. (I could’ve thought Superman was saying ‘Goodwilled’ if I decided he forgot to put the 8 letters inbetween G and D)

    The fact that he ‘boycotted’ an entire writer’s work, while also admitting he has no problem selling ‘Crossed’ comics, is definitely a reason to not buy comics from him. He put his personal feelings before his customers and that’s a major problem. I know other stores where LCS owners do that (not as bad as this guy) and that’s what took me away from them and I found the store I go to today.

  77. I did the same thing about 15 years ago. There was store about 5 minutes from my house that I would get my books at and one i’m there and the guys behind the counter are making fun a mentally challenged guy. Once he left the store I laid my books down and left. I’ve been using the same guy now for 15 years and the place I left closed many years ago.

  78. Josh, I agree

  79. My shop was selling Action Comics for $10 since they “didn’t expect to sell so much” and Batgirl for $6 since they un-reordered it. This was on the day they came out.

    This is interesting timing. My LCS owner who is a retired Vietnam vet just hit 70 and wants to retire. His shop has been at the same location since 88 and I’ve been going there since 95. He offered to sell me his shop. He has so much merchandise and the clientele is already established since it’s been there so long. He is stuck in the stone age when it comes to ordering books and has completely lost touch with the industry and frankly doesn’t really care anyway. Anyone think this would be a good idea being that digital is on the rise?

    • To be honest no, however risks are always gonna be there. I don’t personally see digital as only risk to comics it is mearly the bright shinny new one that has come along afterall comicshops closed in the early ninties when comics sold by the boatload. If you really wanna do it go for it but make sure you look at it like a business and not just a dream you always wanted (but never forget that it is as this will help with the long hours and hard work ahead). Look around and see what the really successful shops do and make sure you do your best to run a good business. Good luck,

    • Ps ten bucks??????? Don’t be that guy. 🙂

  80. For years I went to a crappy store simply because it was close by. Then, one Wednesday, I was running errands in another town about 30 minutes away, and went into a store there. It was a revelation. The owner just…got it. Anything I was looking for, if he didn’t have it, he offered to order it. He told me about their subscription program. He was friendly, introduced himself, wasn’t too busy talking to friends or co-workers to acknowledge me, etc. I liked it so much, I made the trip back the next week, and as soon as I walked in, he greeted me by name! Obviously, this became my regular store. I only went back to my former store once again, and it was awful. Everything that I had just accepted as just being “the way it is” was suddenly unbearably infuriating. I got so disgusted with their attitudes and general cluelessness that I put back everything I was about to buy and left, never to return.

  81. At my LCS, the owner stopped a shoplifter from taking an Astonishing X-men omnibus on FCBD. What made that awesome, was he was dressed as spidey at the time.


    Super friendly and helpful staff, who occasionally stop crime..

  82. My local is alright for me if all I want to do is go up to the counter and get handed my pull list.

    I can’t even begin to fathom the system for things are organised and there’s stuff everywhere. The door has a faded Avengers poster with She Hulk and a Lady Death opening times poster on the door.

    If I was going there for the first time, I’d be majorly put off.

    As it is, I’m happy enough to walk in, collect my books, and go home.

  83. I mostly like the LCS I go to. The biggest problem is that one of the guys that works there kind of rubs me the wrong way a little. He’s not a bad guy, but he’s not the type of person I would hang out with. He feels a little bit like the Simpsons comic book guy.

    I think its gotta be hard to strike a perfect balance between being friendly and personable to being professional. I can see where the people working at the store want to be friendly and personable to get repeat business and generally make their day better. At the same token at some point in your conversations you are probably going to rub someone the wrong way at some point with you’re opinions. Very tricky line.

    Recently because of the new 52 I’ve decided to check out DCBS for their large discounts. After ordering from their and mostly enjoying the experience I think I’ll be doing it more often and only going to the LCS for things I might have missed. I’m ordering a lot more books because of the discount, so at least I feel like I’m helping publishers, but I do feel a little bad about the revenue lost to the LCS.

  84. my sign, my shop. if the sign offends you or threatens you in some way then you are not the type of customer that would shop here anyway (you might even be the inconsiderate slob) as my physical appearance would make you too shy to talk to me anyway. originally was targeted to one or two sunday cheapskates (when i am not around, also suspect one particular slob of stealing) sign is in the back corner of the shop where all the incidents take place out of view of 99% of customers (and almost 7ft off the floor)….whoever it was, reads every marvel and dc book and left stacks of them where ever he saw fit. employees have been asked to hover over him and the incidents stopped. my shop is overly kid friendly but to better begin the healing process of enraged interwebbers i have replaced the sign…the new one has only one “asshole”, better grammar and punctuation. since this is teh internets please continue on with your preconceived notions of who and what i am. i try my best in the market im in with the tools available to me. maybe a follow up article about “what is wrong with customers” might bring some insight as well

    • Are you seriously the guy who put up that sign? Man… listen, no preconceived notions, but that sign is simply NOT professional. Even with ONE “asshole” in it. Just being honest: if I walk into your store and HAPPEN see that sign, it tells me the following: you have customers who are slobs or assholes or who hang out and read books all day, and it also tells me that your method of dealing with them is to… leave an angry sign.

      You’re right: we don’t know your story or your day-to-day life — but I also wouldn’t know that if I just stepped into your store. All I would have is the assumption that I came to (above), and it would reflect my feelings about the store.

      From what you’re saying, the sign wasn’t even necessary if it was barely in view and if having employees hover over the offender stopped the behavior. That seems a much better way of dealing with it, honestly.

      I’m sorry you have to deal with problematic customers. Sounds like a pain. But… it also seems to me that that’s the risk… and the goal is to quietly control the image so that anyone coming in is unaware of any problems, and is treated to a welcoming, friendly place.

    • There’s a new marketing campaign…..Calling your costumers ‘slobs’.

      Again my LCS owner has dealt with his fair share of inconsiderate costumers and shoplifters. But it never changed his attitude to everyone else up to the point of calling people assholes or slobs.

      To be fair I know nothing about you other then that sign Josh posted so it is unfair to think what you are just on that image alone. But man, that post you just made did not help you in the bit my friend.

    • I have no idea who you are. I didn’t even try to find out. I’m not out to hurt anyone’s business. That’s why I didn’t cite any examples. It’s your shop. Run it how you want. Good luck.

    • i can appreciate that you dont think its professional. i just wish the new suburban college kid would have posted pictures of my “no refunds” hammer or anything else about the shop to provide context. i also have absolutely no worries about anyone coming into my shop and leaving only with the impression that sign gives to the internetly enraged. you are more likely to leave laughing at the artwork my 10 and 7 year old daughters and their friends have left on my back issue long boxes…like the daddy + fart = death sign….unprofessional as well i know

    • If it is your sign I still can’t see why you would have a sign like that. As someone that brings an 8 year old into the comic shop with me, it would cause me to just stop going to your shop. Perhaps some people don’t mind what children see, but it really just seems to be part of whats wrong with the industry today (not gearing things more toward the readers of the future).

      Good luck with your store though.

    • acme, I think any points you may have scored about preconceived notions are scattered to the wind with your own prejudiced jabs at “interwebbers” and “new suburban college kids.”

    • I laughed at ‘new surburban college kids’ and ‘interwebbers’.

      Get off my lawn you crazy kids!

    • or you could just kick the jerk out instead of attacking the other 99% but hey whatever you think is a smarter.

      you do realize that when people decide to take their business elsewhere, they don’t make a giant scene or even a point to tell the shop…they usually just don’t come back.

    • @acme offensive language OFFENDS, no need to apologize IF we are offended! I know its easy to throw stones when some moron is destroying merchandise or stealing,or using your store as a library.I would suggest putting up cameras so that you can view your blind spots, its probably worth the investment if you are the only person in the store.
      You say that I am not the “type” of person that would shop there if I am offended. In this day and economic climate can you afford to be picky and choose who’s money you want? It’s your business to do as you see fit , I just don’t understand excluding customers and sales

    • time for an old fashioned bullet point list

      • while im not 100% sure it was one of the new crop of college kids….thats really the only people who would have been in here taking pictures and posting to reddit

      • your 8 year old would never and could never see the sign unless you left them unattended and they were climbing my shop like a monkey…or you held them up to show them. half of my customers today have been families with kids, returning customers.

      • i almost never refer to the internet by “internet” teh interwebs or the intratubes, webascape or the text-o-sphere…except in this case…..but just like the plural of Lego isn’t Legos or soccer is really football i sometimes slip. i also already won the internets one time and was granted immunity anyway

      • anyone offended by my fake angry old man yells at cloud facade is likely to not shop in here sign or no sign….probably also because of my waxed handlebar mustache, it tends to intimidate the hair challenged….i remember one customer that was all ticked off because i used the word “craphole” 12 feet away from his kid…he seemed rather undisturbed that his kid was also watching the battle of Helms Deep at the time. it was probably the same guy that left a bunch of chick tracts in here and sent me a letter saying he was offended because one of my long boxes said “not reading comics makes the baby jesus cry”

      • if people want to take their business elsewhere because of me, there is really nothing i can do about since the store is an extension of me. im really quite an agreeable and sociable person, everyone rubs someone the wrong way sometime, it just happens to be my week.

      i think i added on bullet point to many

    • @acme, you can take my advice or leave it, but you’re spending a lot of time defending yourself, when no one really knows who you are, or where your shop is, but what I’m hearing is a lot of that your shop is the way it is, and if they can’t handle it, screw off. If that works for you fine, but to my mind, it’s exactly the opposite of what everyone in the industry should be doing right now. The industry needs any and all readers it can get, even if they’re not cool enough. Even if they get offended by whatever language. Perhaps it would make sense to at least listen to and consider some of the comments, if only to understand where they’re coming from. These posters represent potential customers, and you’re saying you don’t want them? That makes no sense to me. Again, it’s your store, but I feel like you’re seeing some market research here.

      And very seriously, good luck with your store.

    • hahahaha

    • i think comics should be a very big thing.
      so i am wary when i see what mounts to “i know what is best for the comics world” get spread around as both certainty and morality or the the sole antidote of the “industry”.
      Thank goodness we have everyone here to save the industry single handedly by making all of comics function exactly how they want it and see fit.
      The more voices and experiences in comics the better. It’s nothing to be afraid of, even if you or i do not agree with it.
      Simple capitalism will sort out if there are enough people to support a store being run one way or another.
      If One wants to open a store for sarcastic punk kids in a community that can support it, comics are all the better for including a larger group with new ideas that can spread.
      I see lots of fear of fringe behavior here, couched in a “duty” to save all of comics.
      These kinds of posters are potential voices in the industry, And you’re saying they don’t belong?
      That makes no sense to me.
      Again it’s your website.
      And very seriously, good luck with it.
      (okay that last part was a bit over the top, folks just seemed a lil high horsing here, dare I speak out of turn.)

    • Huh?

      You are really defending some cat who threatens violence towards comic readers as a “voice” and “bringer of experiences” that improves comics?

      This dude is not a creator. If you were talking about creators who add voices and experiences THROUGH the writing/drawing of comics I’d be completely with you.

      This is some guy who thinks he is a badass and makes some of the dumb choices on how to run a store.

      I’m saying stores/owners like that don’t belong.

      And very seriously, bad luck with this fool’s store.

    • I do believe you have made my point:

      “I’m saying stores/owners like that don’t belong”

      I find it very limiting and a tad scary when individuals not only start saying what others can and can’t do in comics. But want to bring about those changes.

      Comics are not just the creators but also the companies who hire those creators and the stores that show their creations to their viewers. (As evidenced by the “good” stores mentioned here that act as curators who reveal new ideas to their customers)

      I am not afraid of people who I do not agree with. I also am hesitant to draw conclusions from someone’s store that I haven’t been to.

      I do not think that I would enjoy shoping at this individuals store, however that does not diminish my belief that he should be allowed to try to operate it as he sees fit. The vast majority of his customers may enjoy his attempts at humor. I do not know. His store is still open, In this day and age people have many choices to obtain their comics. Exteme conclusions i feel may be unfounded.

      I was merely pointing out that people were smacking down a person who they did not agree with while trying to present it in terms of “saving the comics industry” by ridding the world of someone who they did not like nor thought just like they did.

      I find that mentality quite scary and ultimately detrimental to the comics medium.

      I’m not trying to “win” any arguments here. You can be morally right if you wish. I just do not want to be the “god” that gets to decide who “lives” and who “dies” in comics simply because I wouldn’t want anyone doing it to me. ’till the next one.

      p.s any angelenos for Family?

    • I don’t think you understand your point if you think I made it.

      It is comics. Nothing to be afraid of. I am a comic buyer not a representative of the Better Business Bureau.

      I can’t rid this guy or his store from the world. Capitalism will handle all that.

      Since all your claims are fantastical, it can’t be detrimental to comics.

      However, the way this guy acts and runs his business can be detrimental to his business and from what we have seen in the comments section here, he would have a hard time keeping most of us as customers, including you.

      If you think one store owner plays such an important role in comics (as it seems from your comments above), then he is the one that is detrimental to comics.

      I think you actually proved my point this time.

    • Limiting voices is the most detrimental thing to not only comics industry at large but to freedom, especially of those voices you disagree with, especially for the so called “greater good”.

      Dr. Wertham attemted once to silence the voices and producers and sellers of “fringe” comics for the betterment of society and the industry and we all know how well that turned out.

      Limiting freedom is more harmful than allowing the fringe voice of a lone individual will ever be.

      People who are leaning towards that ideology of limitation worry me, regardless of how far down the spectrum they lay.

      I do not think that I have yet waivered in those points.

      Nor do I think I can re-word or explain it any better nor any more.
      The End.

    • I really think some folks are taking that sign’s “threat of violence” a little too seriously. It’s clearly hyperbole.

    • I’m with fishboy, Man Up Nancys. Stop looking for something to be outraged about.

  85. Josh, I checked out that store Collector’s Paradise in Winnetka California cuz of your recommendation.

    Awesome store.


    • Collector’s Paradise is great. As are the two Earth-2 stores, Golden Apple, Meltdown, House of Secrets, Secret Headquarters… all different flavors with different appeals, but all far above the horrible examples we’ve seen here. Yup, LA is a good place for comics shops. 🙂

    • Earth 2 was responsible to bringing me back into comics heavy with collected editions.

      iFanboy got me into issues.

    • Love Ed and Joe!

    • Big fan of House of Secrets too. I miss that shop. LA is fantastic for comics.

    • I really wish I’d made it to Meltdown when I was in LA in December, but Earth-2 was fantastic

    • Earth 2 and Golden Apple are very good shops with friendly staff….you could talk to them for hours. The Secret Headquarters is also killer.

      Meltdown is….well…um…its a big shop that has business hours.

    • @Wally — I think Meltdown’s great. It’s just a different kind of shop. We actually shot our first short film in their parking lot (behind the store), so… I’ve got no beef with them. 🙂

      But my regular shop is Earth-2… I’m at their Sherman Oaks location every week, and I’m good friends with the manager at their Northridge location. Great shops.

  86. Also a first time post by a long time reader.

    I live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, which if you’ve never visited is freaking massive. There are a number of comic book stores in the dozen or so cities that make up the metroplex so I’m blessed with many options. One of the best though is a franchise or stores named “Lone Star Comics.”

    There are about 6 stores spread out throughout the area. Each is always clean, well lit and have a nice and friendly staff. They’ve also been extremely kind and not off-putting to my snarky wife who occasionally goes by the stores to order me something. It’s hardly a Starbucks model. Each store is different. But one of the neat things is that they have a points system. The more books you buy, the more points you earn for discounts. I think it works out to about $5 dollars off every $25 you spend. And the points collect at any of the stores. I used to buy a lot of my trades from barnes and noble and such but now I go almost exclusively to one of the lone star comics stores.

    They also regularly hold events for movies, gaming nights, etc. Certainly worth checking out if theres somebody in the dallas area on here who is just buying (or stealing) their stuff online.

  87. Guess I’ve been lucky enough to have a good shop close to me.

    Heroes Comics in Fresno, CA is the best shop in the city.

  88. As we have been naming good stores, I would like to name the one I go to: BIG PLANET COMICS. There are 4 scattered throughout the DC area which includes Maryland and Virginia. They are not the only comics store but after moving here and trying all of them out I felt more welcomed at the Big Planet Comics stores. They are friendly and you can tell everyone that works there is an avid comics fan and would chat with you at length about comics and whatever else. They are kid friendly and will go out of their way to find an issue for you by either calling their other stores or just ordering them for you. I went to a comics store were they had signs plastered throughout the comics racks that stated something to the effect of: This isn’t a library. If you want it buy it, don’t just read it.
    This signs were much more professional though.
    I kind of understand but at the same time there might be some comics which I am iffy about which I like to flip through them and check out the contents. I don’t read it, I just scan through it to see if it catches my attention. But with those signs up I felt really uncomfortable doing that and to me that is a great part of the LCS experience.

  89. Im lucky enough to have a great LCS here in Greenville, SC with Richards Comics and Collectables. Small store, but a large variety of comics,toys, and plenty of other goodies!! Very knowledgable staff and great guys just to chat about comics. The number one thing I look for in a comic store is how family friendly it is. I want to be able to take my kids into a shop without having to worry about hearing every four letter word in the book. And yes GD is a deal breaker. I don’t care how great a shop is, if I hear foul language I’m out the door!! Thankfully that has never been an issue at Richard’s. If comic shop owners want to grow they need to realize that more kids need to be brought into their shops. The way to do this is to make sure their shops are geared towards kids.

  90. Great article as usual Josh.

    However, some of the negative examples did trigger my PTSD of my first comic shop.

    At this point in time, I am in between shops, but a new one that opened by a friend’s house does look intriguing. Maybe I’ll give it a gander today after work.

  91. There’s not a great shop near me anymore, but there was a great shop near me when I was growing up. It’s Fanfare Sports and Entertainment in Kalamazoo, MI. Whenever I go back to my parents’ house, I make a point to swing by there and pick up a few items. Check them out if you live nearby.

  92. I know some folks touted some of the shops in Austin at the beginning of the comments, but I wanted to share an experience at Austin Books and Comics from a few weeks ago that warmed my heart.

    I was making my weekly stop on a Wednesday and I over heard a customer ask what was good. He had literally just walked in off the street (that’s the dream!), with evidently no history to rely on and was just curious. Talk about a blank slate! One of the girls at the register asked him what type of genre he liked and he said something about “magic” and “fantasy.” She asked some more questions to get a good idea of what to recommend and listed a few things while explaining why he might like them. The only specific title I recall that she recommended was Fables, which he tried out by purchasing a couple of trades, among other things.

    The very next week, he happened to be there again during the 10 minute window in which I drop by. Through my eavesdropping I gathered that he was there to buy more Fables trades and was asking for other recommendations, which of course led to other Vertigo titles being suggested and being tried by this fellow.

    Like I said, that little episode warmed my heart and I was thrilled with how wonderfully the guy was treated.

  93. Well, here is my LCS horror story. I used to live in Memphis, TN where there is now only one major comic retailer. Several months ago, I stopped by after work to buy some comics to read. It was a Tuesday afternoon. I picked a few titles off the shelf, and was looking for some other books to buy.

    The store owner came up to me, said the books I had in my hand were not officially available for sale until Wednesday. Then he snatched the books right out of my hand and put them back on the shelves. I bit my tongue, and walked right out.


    • Well, he shouldn’t have had them on the shelves, but at the same time, Diamond is really strict about not selling them early when they get Tuesday delivery.

      It’s a weird reaction when he could have just explained it, and owned up to the faux pas.

  94. I’ve always been completely stymied by the shops who just did not care in the slightest about gaining new customers. When I first got into comics, I dealt with a lot of douchebags who acted like serving me as a customer was a huge inconvenience. Now on the one hand my brain says, it’s their prerogative. If they want to scrape by in exchange for keeping their clubhouse business I guess they can. And maybe the owner has another source or income, who knows?

    On the other hand, all economics aside, those type of store owners are assholes. I am no longer interested in giving them simple economic advice like, answer your customers questions, know your product and recommend books or suggest setting up a pull list so they can get books you don’t generally stock. Screw it. All I have to say to them at this point is, You’re a dick and Fuck off.

  95. This is a really good article. I have to say some of the examples mentioned of bad comic retailers I didn’t see as “bad” at all. For example, the retailer who spoke of his dislike of digital comics ON HIS WEBSITE. Sounds like he’s just expressing an opinion, something that I certainly wouldn’t hold against him. In fairness, Josh didn’t treat this as a very big deal. Another example is the guy who doesn’t sell Grant Morrison books because of the “gd” balloon. Is it a little drastic? Probably so. But it’s his shop and more importantly it’s his religious convictions and I respect that.

    Now the other examples are almost bizarre! I mean I don’t care for Scalped or Hellblazer. But if Josh comes into my shop showing interest, why on earth would I not make the effort to provide that books for him giving him a better experience in my shop and hopefully EARNING his repeat business. And the buffoons who put that sign on their rack? I think I would carry the sign up to the counter, set it down, and kindly let them know what they can do with their attitude and their shop.

  96. I could add another horrifying comment about retailers who are sexist/douches/lacking people skills, but let’s go back to Josh’s point about bad BUSINESS.

    This summer, I was trying to collect all the “I am Captain America” variants for my classroom. The shop nearest me is not a favorite, but they have a large inventory for variants and such. I don’t even mind that they jack up the variant price.

    I spoke with the owner to pull all the issues for me, filled out a form to make my request official, but he never had a single issue set aside for me to purchase. If I was lucky, there were still some on the shelves; if they were sold out, he never offered to help me procure a copy. By the end of the summer I had missed out on about half the run and he had missed out on a bundle of my money (as he now continues to do).

    The bottom line is this: you run a business, not a batcave devoted to your hobbies.

    • Wow, that is incredibly horrible. I am extremely lucky, if I ask for a specific issue, they set it aside, no problem. They only miss like one every 2 or 3 hundred issues (usually the harder comics to get in stock anyway) and they always make sure to make the effort when they do make the mistake.

      Good luck in the future, though!!

  97. I kno wht Josh is talking bout i live in Washington PA about 45 mins away from Pittsburgh i went to a few shops in PIttsburhg a few times and when i was browseing they said “whts ur fav comic” and i replied i said ” I rrly like Hellblazer, X23, and Batman”. and he said “Those books fucking suck and X23 is a stupid fucking whore”. I nvr went bck 2 tht store again its a thing to disagree but to tlk down on me for wht i read. I have lon decided to support my local star The Gaming Duengeon the owner and his wife are both rrly nice ppl they kno every customer by name and the hold back all the books i read to insure i get wht i want and keep coming back and make sure i look @ Previews when he gets the new one and see if i wanna special order somthing!!! I luv my store !!!!!

  98. Nice article, Josh. I just wanted to give a shout-out to Trade-A-Tape Comics in Lincoln, NE, my LCS. Well, it’s the only one in town, but I still can’t imagine there ever being a better one out there. They are the reason my fledgling interest became a full-fledged obsession. Wonderful service, recommendations, people skills, going the extra mile for my weird desire for a particular cover on an omnibus, even if I forget to pre-order it. They are the reason I am NOT going digital 🙂

  99. There’s a couple so-so shops in my area, but Casablanca Comics in Portland ME rocks. A great staff, super-friendly (Hi Rick, Laura, Dave, etc!) and they always have everything I want in stock. This store has definitely fostered my love for the medium over the years.

  100. I see what you are saying. My local comic shop knows me by name, and every employee that works there will greet me when I come in. About once every two weeks one of them will say, “hey, have you been reading ‘The Mighty Thor’?” or some other title, and tell me what’s so great about it, and I will talk about different comics with them. The owner actually will say, “long time, no see,” if I don’t see him for a couple weeks, and we will talk for a half hour or so.

    That said, I have had bad experiences, I had one experience that reminded me of what Mr. Flanagan was talking about with the shop where they called each other ‘fags’ all the time. There is a comic shop not to far from my parents place that I used to like to check on back issues they had when I was visiting my parents. The last time I was in there (and it will be the ultimate last time) there was someone reorganizing their comics on a Sunday. He was so angry that he was working on a Sunday, he constantly badmouthed the other employees when they talked to him, going as far at one point to tell one of them, “don’t talk to me anymore, you are so incredibly stupid, I will just tell you what to do.” I left without buying anything. I was willing to drop about $40-$60 that day on back issues, but I figured I would let them know my frustration with the situation by not spending a dime there. If you are going to treat the people you work with that way, I don’t want to support you. Besides, that is just a couple steps from treating customers that way.

    However, I don’t know if I will ever be down on a comic shop for having the stand that digital comics are bad. Obviously, digital comics will hurt the sales of local comic shops. At this point, I would say it’s like the effect a mosquito would have on an horse, but if it picks up, the mosquito gets bigger and bigger. And in the economy of today, it may eventually be a swarm of hundreds of mosquitoes, on an already malnourished horse. But that is years away for most stores. Just sayin’.

    I will always prefer to buy from local comic shops, if I can find one that is polite, and near where I live. Even if I can’t, there are plenty of local comic shops that have websites, and in the last couple years, If my local comic shop doesn’t have it, I have bought from other shops across the country. I like supporting small businesses, and keeping the fun alive.

    Many stores, like my local comic shop, have diverged from being just a comic or collectible shop, and that is understandable. To stay in business, they have to be diverse in the products they sell, the ideal comic shop does not exist, simply because, it wouldn’t stay in business and make any kind of profit. I would love to be able to go in and sit down and talk about comics with other like mined comic enthusiasts, but that means the comic shop would have to rent a bigger space, or get rid of the books, or manga, or collectible toys, or sport cards, or… Then they would lose that income, and they wouldn’t be there for much longer. In today’s world, local comic shops are run by people that love comics, because it isn’t about becoming rich, and those shops that put up signs like the one in the article above, are shops that have been disillusioned, and disenchanted with the people that share his love of comics. I have had it said to me by a local retailer, “if you give something away, people will always ask, ‘can I have two?’ and then be angry when you say no.”

  101. My comic shop is a good place to get stuff. It’s a medium sized place that also sells comic book related action figures, back issues, and has on display a month’s worth of titles from DC,Marvel and select others. They will order what you cannot find on the racks. They are very friendly and know most regular customers by name. They also run gaming nights with HeroClix and board games on weekends. I really like them as well because they are close to my house. I’m not really a collector anymore (except trades) and I buy comics for pure entertainment, not to get any money from them.

  102. Great article and oh so true. I’d just like to point out one of the reasons I love two of my local comic shops, one: Green Brain (Dearborn Michigan), will always ask me if I want them to order something for me if its available and don’t have it in stock plus they have a great selection of indie titles in every format from every publisher I can think of. Also they have local artist events and framed artwork in the store for sale all the time and always cool to talk to, know comix and are always friendly. Two: Big Ben’s Comix Oasis (Allen Park,Michigan,my favorite and longest, regular visiting comix shop), these guys are at every show I hear of, I made one this year and they got me a pass to get in cause I’m a regular and consider these guys friends, they have the best selection of back issues I’ve ever seen in person, always order plenty of copies of every title being published and a huge selection of collectibles from new arrivals to past, and like Green Brain will always ask to order if they can get it. One time they got me an issue from a C2E2 event they were at cause they knew I was looking for it and they put books in my pull related to stuff they know I like such as a new Cap mini just cause they know I have an affinity for Cap, just incase I want it and its no problem if I’m not interested and put it back. These are two stores who know comics, appreciate they’re customers and go the extra mile and will always have my support, thanx guys,Scott.

  103. I just want to correct myself and say REASONS, plural and not one of the reasons I love two of my local comic shops. They both have many and could list a couple more. As you were.

  104. Anybody in the east bay area of california, check out Flying Colors, the staff is just so approachable and helpful and they carry probably anything you need.

  105. After reading some of the stories about some of these horrible shops i’m so glad the shop i go to is run so well by someone who clearly loves comics. Which is a relief also because it’s the closest shop to my place and it’s a 45 minute train trip in to it. The next closest that i know of is like an hour and a half train trip so i’m really lucky i think. The shop is The Phantom Zone in Parramatta,NSW.. If you’re in western Sydney and are looking for a shop i highly reccomend it, decent selection of comics and friendly staff.

  106. My LCS Does most things right. The shop manager always recommends me great new titles and offer me a discount for being a big spender at their store. However, it does piss me off they still charge me 15 cents for each bag and board they put my pull list in and variants are extremely hard to get as a) they dont order enough to get the cool variants and when they do, being collectors themselves always keep them for themselves.

    Thank god for midtown comics to cure that. I have some of the sickest autographed comics from those guys.

  107. Here’s as good a place as any for this.
    Montreal 1,000,000 Comix is an amazing shop. The guys that work there know your name, drop things in your pull box with no obligation to buy if they think you will like something, order (and actually get) anything you missed. Plus, they are responsible for the growing Montreal Comicon (which even the guys themselves say you do not do for the money). I always speak well of them because they are comics done right. The only downfall to them being a truely great store for absolutely everyone is that the store is small and is packed with stuff. It gives off a stereotypical feel… but it is anything but.
    Hope to see you at Montreal comicon if you are anywhere near here.

  108. The Toronto 1,000,000 Comix is a good store. Although they do charge for membership if you want to keep a pull list with them. But they rarely sell out of a book if you get there on Wednesday, so I never had a pull list with them. Also, they give free bags and boards with every purchase, so that’s a plus.

    Back in the day, comic stores were friendlier I think. When I was living in a small town as a teenager, the local comic store was actually a used book store that also sold comics. It was run by a friendly older couple, who came to know me on first name basis seeing as I was in their store every week. They would set aside my comics each week for me, no extra charge, they were happy to have a regular customer.

    When I moved to Toronto, there was a great comic store at Pape and Danforth called Unknown Worlds. They sold comics as well as science fiction and fantasy books. They would get all the books each week, including indies like Omaha the Cat Dancer, Cerebus, Concrete, etc. The staff there would put aside your pull list for free as well, and they were very friendly and there would always be a group of customers and staff talking about all the latest developments in comics.
    Alas, this store went out of business, probably when the 90s comics downturn happened.

    The worst store I’ve seen is the one closest to where I live now, it’s only a few blocks away, but they have severely limited hours (M-F 2-7pm, weekends by appointment only). I walked in once when I happened to be in the area on a Wednesday when it was open, and they were 1 month behind on their new comics. That’s right, I guess the owner gets his sent to him by DCBS on a monthly basis or something, because he had no current issues. So I would never go back there. I’d rather drive all the way downtown to 1,000,000 Comix.

    Runner up for worst store in Toronto is a store where they charge Canadian cover price on everything, unless you buy a membership with them. Sorry guys, but US cover price or I walk out. I shouldn’t have to pay extra for something every other store does for free.

  109. I had a local comic shop which was all over the place. On the plus side the guy was very friendly and if you wanted something he’d be more than glad to order it for you, but sometimes it took upto two months to get the book when a shop across town with less personable help could get it in a weeks max. This same shop probably carries in stock one of the largest diversity of Trades I’d seen outside larger chain stores in the area. But sadly he keeps them all in massively cramped bookshelves which are even more difficult to traverse due to the random bits of trash and/or boxes everywhere on the floor. I tried asking him before for recommendations and he doesn’t know much of what to suggest that isn’t an event book or some top 40 materials, and he pushes what he knows very hard even when you express dis-interest in what he is selling.

    Conversely I moved somewhere else and found a local shop who’s owner keeps all the current issues by the front of the store and he can recommend things that current, story arcs in his back issue bins, trades that are here and there but he is never pushy about it. And if he doesn’t have something he will get it and it will arrive when he says it will. And for this great level of customer service, I overlook the bucket in the middle of the floor to catch water when its raining and enjoy his stories about his chasing off bums who like to hang around the front of his store.

  110. Here are all the LCS’s I’ve patronized since becoming a comics reader…

    • Comic Quest – Evansville, IN – Huge store, gaming tables in the back, lots of everything and friendly staff. Where I got my books from late elementary school through high school and during summers in college when back home.
    • The Book Broker – Evansville, IN – Kinda cozy, one of those movies & music places that has a comics area in 1/3rd of store. Guy who runs the comics part will go up into attic to fetch you a back issue if he has it.
    • Bob’s Comic Castle – Muncie, IN – where I went when I went to college. The guy who owned the place looked exactly like Comic Book Guy. But was very nice and helpful and always tried to order older stuff that was out of print. Think I got the full run of Battle Pope from here.
    • Alter Ego – Muncie – I think this was part of a larger chain? Opened towards the tail end of my studies. Small, but very friendly staff.
    • Von’s – West Lafayette, IN – Went here for a few months when I lived in a town to the south with no LCS. Was in the basement of a much larger college bookstore/cafe/record shop.
    • Reader Copies – Anderson, IN – They handled mostly gaming, though a decent selection and the owner was cool. Went there for a year when I worked in town.
    • Comics Plus – Corpus Christi, TX – Went here for close to a year after I moved there for a job.
    • Collector’s Planet – Corpus – Moved to this shop because he offered a much better pull box deal, and was closer to where I lived at the time. Stayed there until moving back to Indiana.
    • Dragon’s Lair – Austin & San Antonio, TX – Got mostly collectibles and action figures here when I was in the areas. Pretty cool place, both locations.
    • Downtown Comics – Indianapolis – Some growing pains with the manager (I guess?) when it came to my pull list (for the first few weeks, only 1/2 to 1/4 of my books were actually pulled), but we’re getting there. 2 months, we’re already on first-name basis.

  111. This was a great article, but I’m kind of suprised by all the negative stories. Thats such a bummer.

    I go to Planet Comics in Anderson, SC. Its a great shop, almost everyone that works there is very pleasant and really helpful. In fact I have expand my reading over the last couple years just on their recommendations. Its also just a great place to hang out and chat. We talk about everything from comics to football.

    The only other shops I have really spent any time in are Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find in Charlotte, NC and that is a great shop. Staff is really nice and they stock tons of comics even the indies. They also run the best convention you’ll ever go to. The other is a shop I go to when I visit my family in Florida. I can’t remember the name but its a nice little shop in Brandon, FL. I really can’t say I’ve ever had a bad experience in any of the stores. I think the worse thing is sometimes when a book on my pull list isn’t pulled and sells out, but its rare and they always order copy for me.

  112. I’m a NY guy, and I loved a lot of shops in the city, Jim Hanleys, Forbidden Planet and my shop Midtown Comics. All wonderful. But four years ago I moved to NC, and I can’t find a shop to save my life there. Not that I would leave Midtown Comics, but it’s nice to have a local place to pop into with your kids once in a while. So the GD story bugged the he’ll out of me.

  113. I forgot to mention Cosmic Comics, Mark and his crew were my first NYC shop when I first started working in the city…hope those folks are doing ok since the shop closed. That was a fun place.

  114. i’m not a retailer but i understand exactly where the sweary, mcangry sign comes from.

    comic shops seem to hold rude, stinky characters at a greater rate than society in general. the funk in a college town LCS would be stomach churning.

    retailing isn’t about being everything to everyone. the retailer’s priority number one should be taking care of actual, legit customers.

    if i saw that sign in ANY comic shop i was in, not just my local, i’d be doing some “hell yeah’s” under my breath and stealth fist pumps knowing that it wasn’t directed at me and is likely the shop keep’s attempt at getting rid of the freeloaders crowding up the aisles with their ill-washed presence.

    • No one is disputing the sign’s necessity. Just its wording. There is no need for that level of rudeness.

    • See, the funny thing is that there is a reason for that level of rudeness when someone who loiters in your store and is not actually a customer in any sense of the word then causes more work for the employees AND potentially ruins comics via grease/food stains or jamming them into places they don’t belong and crushing pages and covers.

      I’m tempted to bring a camera to the shop this Wednesday and ask all of our customers their feelings about Acme comics and the sign in question (yeah, I happen to work at said shop. And our customers are great and love us, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a parent have any issue with their child in the store).

    • You work at the shop. One guy owns the shop. Handle those customers differently.

      It is not like you have to allow it.

      There are stores that do not allow people to read off the shelf. They usually have a polite sign, and they have to actually be proactive and have communication skills to enforce it.

  115. Excellent post and thread. First time visiting the site and I like what I see.

    Let me second the love for Big Planet Comics in the Washington, DC area. I’ve been frequenting their Georgetown store for 6 years or so. One of the best I’ve ever frequented. Among other things, they have often put variants out with the regular books, which I love. And they order a great supply – rare that I can’t pick up a book when I come in on a Wednesday.

    I also wanted to give some praise to the Comic-Toy-Hobby Place in Charlottesville. I frequented them for three years and was rarely disappointed. Though it turns out that I probably should have been going to Atlas Comics (also in C’ville, but a little further out of town) — that store absolutely rocked every time I visited.

    Also, a shout-out to Dragon’s Den in Poughkeepsie. Excellent stock there (again, at least there was back in the day).

    And let me also second the praise for Casablanca Comics in Portland, Maine. Visited them a couple of weeks ago while on vacation and they were just lovely. Very well-run store.

  116. Forbidden Planet Brighton was a great store… sadly it died because it wasn’t in the best location and the 90s really hit hard…
    FP in London does have a stunning collection of trades, hardcovers, omnibuses, etc, though…

    Thankfully Megacity Comics in Camden covers all bases: Friendly, helpful staff, willing to order stuff in, and a really good selection of trades, etc.

    The staff there are actually also really good when I bring my two boys in (4 & 6 years old) even down to giving the kids a Marvel Super Heroes poster for Christmas!

    They also charge a tiny bit more for variant covers (about 25%), but if you have a standing order with them, they regularly will swap out a standard for a variant and charge you just the standard price.