The comic book store direct sales market is a hard beast to wrestle with. Sales numbers are never released, reporters are forced to make estimates. Entire territories are missed out. Sell-through data is highly lacking and there seems to be no attempt to measure the demographic of the audience in any meaningful and quantitative fashion.
Sometimes all you are left is with anecdotes. And wondering how far this applies. Bleeding Cool recently ran a ridiculously-well-sourced-but-unnamed story about the recent Image Comics launch Motor Crush by the critically acclaimed team of Babs Tarr, Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher, with a devoted fanbase. And how some stores didn’t order any because the comic book had a black female lead and they didn’t believe they could sell any.
Conversely, I was talking with a store manager last night, to be told that one trend they have noticed recently is that of a sizeable number of new black customers who have started coming into the store and buying nothing but black lead comic books. That this specifically and identifiably started with the high profile launch of Marvel’s Black Panther comic by Ta Nehesi-Coates and Brian Stelfreeze. But this new audience has then moved on to buy Iron Man, Cyborg, Spider-Man, Captain America, Savage Dragon, Spawn and more. And, yes, Motor Crush. He identified this as a specific, measurable and consistent trend and that the store has changed its ordering policies in order to cater for it.
Now, this store is in a metropolitan area, in the middle of a cosmopolitan city, surrounded by advertising and marketing agencies, TV, film and audio recording studios, broadcast companies and more. It’s not out in the sticks reliant on the same, aging consumer base from two decades ago. And this is just an anecdotal report.
But for stores looking for new audiences, striving to survive in a harsher business environment, this could be one of a number of new audiences that it might be worthwhile marketing and advertising towards.
Just another anecdotal data point on the graph.
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