What’s selling at brick and mortar comic shops these days?
Downloading your favorite comics straight onto the personal device of your choosing sure is convenient, but something’s missing. We’re talking about the experience that can only be found in your preferred comic book shop on new-release Wednesday.
Well, we want to bring a part of that brick-and-mortar experience to AiPT! through our new monthly column – Retailer Reactions! At the beginning of each month, we’ll step inside a local comic store to talk to staff and find out what their customers are saying.
For our inaugural edition of Retailer Reactions, we’re visiting our friends at Newbury Comics in North Dartmouth, MA. Located right down the road from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, this is actually one of several Newbury Comics locations in the New England region. Store Manager Mike and Assistant Manager Coop were nice enough to share a snapshot of the comic book activity at the North Dartmouth Newbury Comics in June.AiPT!: Based on store sales, what were June’s most popular comic series?
AiPT!: Based on online chatter, DC Rebirth seems to be a hit for fans and critics alike. How have customers been responding to it?
Coop: Fairly well, thankfully! There was quite a lot of positive fervor brewing here leading up to the relaunch, with a lot of DC customers asking for titles featuring characters that didn’t normally hold their interest, in addition to their usual favorites. The relaunch even grabbed the attention of many of our die-hard Marvel-only fans.
To me, it feels like DC’s New 52 relaunch garnered a brighter spotlight, then fizzled out fast. Customers were dropping titles left and right after the initial story arcs concluded. That’s not a condemnation of the New 52 as a whole, as there were some consistently strong titles throughout its publishing history. Fortunately, Rebirth has been a big hit. The majority of our customers have been sticking with their titles since the #1 issues came out. Looking good, DC. Keep it up!
Mike: I feel like DC has put themselves back on the map in the eyes of our customers with Rebirth. There were a considerable amount of weeks during the New 52 where indie titles as a whole would outsell DC. Now, DC doesn’t outsell Marvel (partially due to the amount of variant covers Marvel produces), but it has certainly put a dent in their dominance.
AiPT!: On the flip side, Marvel has been getting more flak for some of its recent editorial decisions, from frequent relaunches to its Secret Empire event. Have you seen any backlash against Marvel in your store, or do Marvel customers remain loyal to the publisher?
Coop: From what I’ve seen at my store, our Marvel fans have been remaining loyal to their favorite publisher despite what I have seen online about the trials and tribulations of other comic shops. That being said, some verbal shade has been thrown about by customers in the shop in regard to Hydra Steve. I haven’t encountered any subscribers (that I can recall) dropping Captain America titles due to this, though. Secret Empire is still selling well, too.
It’s a similar story with Marvel’s constant relaunching of titles. I occasionally hear folks mention that “Marvel’s at it again,” but much of the time they still end up picking up and sticking with the newly relaunched titles. One exception is All-New Guardians of the Galaxy. Four issues in, and subscribers are already dropping that title like hotcakes that are too hot to hold without risking serious burns to their flesh.Mike: I think comic companies, in general, know that readers are very loyal, and since Marvel is the biggest company, they also draw the largest amount of loyal customers (that loyalty also extends to buying every variant, which certainly keeps that trend going). A great many of our customers complain weekly about the direction of Marvel titles, yet they for the most part continue to purchase the books.
AiPT!: Are there any titles that have surprised you in terms of popularity?
Coop: No. I don’t like surprises.
Well, manga as a genre has gained an astonishing amount of traction since the new year started. I guess I can classify that as surprising. Not only that, but the increased popularity has allowed us to expand our manga selection by 200-300%. Now there’s a little something for every manga fan at Newbury Comics.
Mike: I’m always happily surprised when an independent title does well. There are so many titles to choose from, and I think the average reader has been conditioned by pop culture to gravitate toward known characters or superheroes from the major companies (and The Walking Dead, of course). When an Indie book breaks through, it is so much more important to the future of comics, as the success is significantly contributing to the continuation of comic books as a whole, inspiring smaller creators to do what they love and work their way forward to the larger publishers. Recently, Plastic has been selling out, as has Redneck, Extremity, and Amory Wars to mention a few.
AiPT!: What are customers’ frequent comic book industry complaints?
Coop: The most common complaints that meet my ears usually amount to a dislike for delays in monthly titles, and the lack of writer/artist teams sticking together for a substantial amount of time on titles from Marvel and DC. In recent history, I think the biggest complaint our shoppers had was the sudden lack of same-issue digital codes in their Marvel books. Luckily, Marvel regained their sanity and returned the codes a short while ago.
AiPT!: Finally, what are your current favorite books?
Coop: You are getting too personal and making me slightly uncomfortable. In no particular order: Godshaper (Image), Extremity (Image), Curse Words (Image) Monstress (Image), Doom Patrol (DC). Hero Cats (Action Lab) is a pretty entertaining all-ages book, and I really enjoyed the debut issue of Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man (Marvel). That Chip Zdarksy is such a card!
And the rest of the staff…
Emily: Plastic (Image), Redneck (Image), Aliens: Dead Orbit (Dark Horse)
Zack: Silver Surfer (Marvel), Monstress (Image), Cosmic Scoundrels (IDW)
A big thanks to the gang at the North Dartmouth Newbury Comics!
331 State Rd.
N. Dartmouth, MA 02747
Mon – Thu: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm
Fri – Sat: 10:00 am – 9:30 pm
Sun: 11:00 am – 7:00 pm