“Heroes, Villains, and Me” is a periodic article on Geeky KOOL by Larry Litle about the world of comic books and my reaction to it. “Heroes, Villains, and Me” is not a comic book review article. I will write about current events, speculation and rumors, or my own wacky thoughts about the world of comic books and related stuff.
Every 6 months or so, I read an article about the end of the brink and mortar comic book shops. The conclusion of these articles are pretty standard. The day and age of the local comic book store are at an end. But is that really true?
Comic book stores do have a lot of challenges. While looking at these challenges, I understand why there are a lot of doomsday predictors for the local comic shop. Just because there are challenges, doesn’t mean that the stores are going extinct.
Comic stores are facing the digital comic rises. It is easy and convenient to read comics on a digital device. You don’t have to go to the store to get your comics but rather open up your tablet . The younger generation is likely to read at least some comics on a device instead of paper copies. You don’t have to find room for the long boxes all over your house or apartment with digital because it is stored on the web. Digital comic sales are about 10% of all comic sales. It is significant but will not bring about the end of print comics.
The comics themselves face a much higher level of competition for the attention of kids and teens than in the past. When I was a kid, comics were my escape. But this was before the internet, movies on demand, and home video games. Kids get to see their heroes on the big screen and television so they don’t have to read about their adventures. They can play the adventures on their Playstation or X-Box.
As a group, comic book geeks often are the worst enemy of the comic store. The fans themselves can be less than friendly for a new face. This is very true if you are a female. We aren’t making our favorite geek hobby easy for others to join so we don’t bring in new blood. This can really hurt a comic store if they get the reputation for not being a friendly place to go.
All of these things are true. But this doesn’t mean the end of comic store is at an end.
According to Comichron, the amount of money in sales has skyrocketed over the the last 20 years. In 1997, comic book sales were estimated to be $300-320 Million. In 2016, comic sales were estimated at $995 Million. In 1997, 100.32 Million issues were sold. In 2017, 79.74 Million issues were sold. Even though the numbers of comics sold have dipped 20%, the sales dollars rose by 300%.
The sales numbers are encouraging for comic book store owners. With the numbers continuing to rise, the local comic shops can make a living selling our favorite geek magazines.
Comics stores have evolved significantly since the 80s. Back in the 80s, most comic stores were just that. Most of them just sold comics. Now the comic stores are much more than just a place to buy comics. Many of these stores sell toys or board games to help bring people in. Many stores have game days and tournaments for YuGiOh, Magic, and other card games. There are things going on at the comic store to bring people into the store and hopefully buy some comics while they are there.
Some stores put in chairs and refreshment to make the store more friendly and a place for geeks to hang. Comic stores are finding their niche in local communities to bring people into their stores and make it place where people want to hang out.
There are less comics stores than there were 25 years ago. It is easy to see this. The stores that make it have to find their niche and place in their community. But these stores are not going away anytime soon. Comic stores aren’t extinct but rather evolving.
Stay Geeky My Friends!