Snippets from ComicsPro Annual Meeting 2012

This past weekend, I attended the ComicsPro2012  Annual Meeting. As mentioned elsewhere on Bleeding Cool this past week, ComicsPro is an organization that ties together a few hundred retailers from across the USA and Canada, giving each retailer more of a unified voice in the industry and a platform to exchange ideas.

The weekend was very positive. The group as a whole is an extremely lively and interactive bunch, eager to connect with publishers and suppliers, and to tackle issues that matter where it counts most — among the comic racks and behind the counters.

I hope to have some official post-game reporting from the fine folks at ComicsPro a little later this week, once they’ve had time to catch a breather. It’d be nice to have their take on what was accomplished at the meeting. But for now, a few tidbits that I walked away with from the experience, including a glimpse into my take-home bag o’ goodies.

  • Mike Richardson of Dark Horse was the keynote speaker, and provided a short, succinct history of comic books and the hobby retailer. “Comic specialty stores are our life blood.”
  • More comic shops = more print comic fans. That’s the key to the future of the print comic industry.
  • As with last year, digital comics are on everyone’s mind — whether it’s a source of hope or high anxiety. The publishers continue to give assurances that digital comic initiatives are going to drive new fans to comic shops.
  • Retailers are hoping that publishers and their distributor work towards making more even shipping weeks.  One week of awesomeness followed by weeks of cricket chirping does not for steady income make.
  • Strong January sales disprove the notion that this industry has seasons. Comic fans are in shops every Wednesday, so let’s make sure to keep the hits coming week in, week out.
  • No surprise, but there was a lot of congratulations to Bob Wayne of DC Comics, since the “New 52” launch did drive a lot of old fans and curious newcomers to the comic shops. Truly well deserved.
  • Speaking of Bob Wayne and something that was well deserved, he was the recipient of this year’s ComicsPro Industry Appreciation Award. In an emotional acceptance speech (preceded and followed by a standing ovation), a teary-eyed Mr. Wayne thanked his mother for not throwing away his collection as a child.
  • Marvel is convinced that, in the year of the big AVENGERS movie, the key to driving new fans to stores is AVENGERS VS. X-MEN. A cryptic statement: “After death comes a rebirth.”
  • Everybody is excited about the WATCHMEN prequel. EVERYBODY.
  • Five words: stock up on classic Eaglemoss. Just sayin’.
  • Best line from Terry Moore of Abstract Studios: “I’m trying to sell addiction.” He also stated that his readership is a lot larger than his Diamond orders, which goes to show the potential customer base that needs to be drawn into the shops.
  • To the satisfaction of retailers, Diamond Comics assured everyone that plans were solidifying to expand the F.O.C. program (the system by which comic shops have the freedom to shift orders for Premiere Vendor products) to incorporate several additional publishers. A certain Dynamite publisher was very happy.
  • Dirk Wood claimed that ComicsPro was fast becoming his favorite day of the year. This statement could also have something to do with the Boom Studios party bus.
  • Diamond reported that they saw sales increase in their comics, toys, games, and apparel product lines (with some gains really impressive). They ended the year down in graphic novel, magazine, and book sales. All in all, though, 2011 wasn’t too shabby.
  • Eric Stephenson of Image Comics emphasized that its innovative creativity in 2012 will play a large role in the growth of the industry.  Also reinforcing that they are homegrown and not corporate-backed (by the likes of Warner Bros. and Disney), he proclaimed to the comic retailers that “We are independent, like you.”
  • To coincide with this year’s Olympic Games, the upcoming Diamond Retailer Summit will pit retailer vs. retailer in events like short box folding and paperwork filing.
  • And here’s a rundown of all the goodies that came with being a sponsor at the ComicsPro meeting. As I understand it, if you were a participating ComicsPro retailer in attendance at the event, your goodie bag included an even wider selection of products.