Retailer Spotlight: Collector’s Paradise
Free Comic Book Day at Collector’s Paradise is a unique experience. Simultaneously, it is a wonderfully inspirational and mythically crowded event. On May 5, 2012, Darth Vader himself greeted the smiling faces of men and women of all ages. Free books were located in wide variety in the art gallery in the back, and the line for signatures was out the door.
Publishers giving out free comics on a nation-wide scale is in general an awesome thing, but there is a way to do it, and there is a way to do it correctly. FCBD, despite what elitists may claim, can be a rich, cultural experience. Collector’sParadise (in this case) took the best course a comic retailer can take toward making it that kind of a shindig.
The most obvious thing a store can do right is, well, actually give out free comics. Some are so stingy that they will not even part with one unless a customer first purchases a non-FCBD book. It is almost as they only emerge temporarily to shout, “Please, we don’t want your business; take the money that’s burning a hole in your pocket and spend it elsewhere” and then return to the dank from whence they came.
Another thing, which can be difficult without social networking and connections, is the inclusion of reputable writers that will be willing to make a personal connection with fans. ED BRUBAKER, JIM MCCANN, RODIN ESQUEJO, KYLE HIGGINS, and JOSHUA FIALKOV attended the CP FCBD (SONIA OBACK was dearly missed), and fans were overjoyed at the opportunity to casually hang out with the brilliant people responsible for so many cherished stories.
These creators were particularly great choices because they have experience working for major publishers, as well as independents. Brubaker and the others cheerfully conversed with most fans for a good twenty minutes each. So many have had their dreams crushed when an inspirational celebrity turns out to be grumpier and even less interested in their supporters than a lobotomized rock star. It hurts, and although ethics may be optional when it comes to business, people will care a lot more for an artist when kindness is involved.
Speaking of ethics, a certain mainstream comic publisher is considered guilty (by many) of charging far too much for single issues, sometimes raising the price solely for a reprint in the back of an issue. Mind the Gap, a fantastic new series by McCann, Esquejo, and Oback, probably provides the best possible quality to date in a comic for such a reasonable price (thanks to Image). It’s finely printed, generous in its page count, and the lack of advertisements on top of everything feels like divine intervention.
Readers have a strong attachment to established characters, so in order to grasp their attention alliances must be forged. Retailers and writers alike: take a hint from stores like Collector’s Paradise–cooperate. Welcome the artistic community warmly, talk to them and remind them that we’re all mere mortals who simply love comic books.
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