MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Dozens of comic-book retailers gathered in informal meet-and-greets prior to the kickoff of the 2010 ComicsPRO annual members’ meeting. The meeting kicks off with a DC Comics-focused day of programming on Thursday, followed by ComicsPRO business and discussion all day Friday and a farewell breakfast and meeting wrap-up on Saturday morning.
The economy and the increased presence of digital comics were at the forefront of many retailers’ thoughts at the informal meet and greets.
Some retailers said they could already see an improving economy; others said it was more of an up and down process. Even those still disheartened by the economy said they were excited to be at the meeting; some retailers reported the ComicsPRO meeting to be among the most productive days on their calendar.
Several small groups of retailers brought up ComicsPRO board member Brian Hibbs’ recent column at Comic
Book Resources about publisher practices that could be causing readers to break the periodical habit. Hibbs wrote that publishers should focus on entertaining readers at a reasonable price with stories in continuity that come out in a reasonable frequency.
Retailers saw positives in recent product, including “Jonah Hex” and “Kick-Ass” as movie hype grows for each of those series. Some also talked positively about tighter ordering controls using point-of-sale systems that made weathering the difficult economy possible.
A huge frustration expressed by retailers is the increasing number of “classified” solicits that aren’t revealed until just before final order cutoff. Retailers shared concerns that these are no longer being used to hide highly sensitive information that could leak to fans or
the press, but are being used on routine titles that should have full solicitation information revealed.
It was also discussed that IDW, newly a premier publisher with Diamond Comics, the largest comic distributor to the direct market, should be placed on the Final Order Cutoff system as soon as possible. That
system allows retailers to raise and lower their orders at a time generally about three weeks prior to release for current premier publishers Marvel, DC, Image and Dark Horse Comics. It’s very likely that this will come in discussion with Diamond Comics, a sponsor of this event, during the course of the meeting.
Boom! Studios made a big splash on the meeting’s preview night, with a “Boom! RV” in the parking lot of the hotel where retailers could gather, relax, and discuss comics with Boom! marketing director Chip Mosher.
Some retailers have expressed concern about potential sales cannibalization via digital releases, but Mosher, who reiterated his company’s commitment to the direct market, said he believes it’s possible for digital comics and print comics to work together in a complementary fashion. Boom! and other publishers will be talking more with retailers about their digital strategies as the ComicsPRO meeting continues.
Overall, there was a lot of energy in the room (and the RV) as people prepared for two-and-a-half fairly intensive days of discussion. Those who have made the trip to Memphis appear ready to engage and be engaged on the business of comics.
- Matt Price