A Comic Store In Your Future – Guardians 2 Will Be A Smash. The Comics, Not So Much.

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Rod Lamberti of Rodman Comics, writes weekly for Bleeding Cool. Find previous columns here.

Currently, we are seeing a huge amount of movie and TV shows based on comic properties. Never in the decades before have there been so many comic book based properties on TV shows and in movies. One of the common misconceptions is as a comic book store owner I must be swimming in money with all the related movies and TV shows featuring super heroes. They must generate a lot of interest and excitement. Oddly enough not really. I always hope so. Some people do come in thanks to the movies and TV shows. Though sadly enough it seems the trailers and teasers for an upcoming TV or movie project often times get more people interested in comics than the actual movie or show itself. We had people coming in after the first Guardians of the Galaxy trailer was released. After the movie interest died. Though I never heard anyone say they didn’t like the movie. Currently, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, and Star-Lord have their own comic. And we have copies available. Marvel even over shipped a Guardians of the Galaxy issue. All the hype for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 has not helped their titles and interest in the last volume of the Guardians of the Galaxy comic or their one shot, in the least here in the store. Interest is lower than it has ever been. Star-Lord managed to get cancelled already and the movie release of second Guardians of the Galaxy is so close. Doctor Strange the movie helped sales on the comic. Even had a few people pick up his comic because of the movie when it was still in theaters. Now sales on Doctor Strange have fallen and all those new people that picked his title up have never returned. Marvel has movies that more people have seen and are more of a hit with critics over DC’s movies but yet DC, in the last Diamond sales release, managed to sell more comics. Odd.

The movies and TV shows are not really moving the needle for comic sales. What I mean by that is out of the millions of people that go see the movies I would do a quick estimated guess that what maybe .0001 of those people make it into comic stores afterwards to check the comics the movie was based on.

As a comic store owner what do I see as issues?

Two many titles featuring a upcoming or current movie star. Black Panther has three Black Panther related titles now. That is two too many.

Avengers. I have had people coming in wanting to pick up an Avengers title but all the various Avengers related titles turned them off. In their mind they were coming in to pick up the newest Avengers see if they like it and then come back again if they did. New people feel overwhelmed with all the different choices over something they thought was going to be easy. Uncanny Avengers people will see and ask Deadpool and Rogue are Avengers? I thought Rogue was an X-Men member? Why isn’t Hulk a member of the Avengers like in the movies? Why does this issue say 3.1? Because Marvel doesn’t like limited series is the truthful answer but not one a new customer wants to hear. So many distractions instead of a one high-quality product to promote to new people.

Why is Walking Dead such a good selling title for Image? Because people that see the show and are interested in the comic come in saying they want to check out the Walking Dead comic. There is currently one Walking Dead comic. Pretty easy. I show them the Walking Dead comic and the trade collections. Sometimes they buy the first trade sometimes they buy the start of the current story arc. By not having a Walking Dead spin-off Image keeps the title as their bestselling comic often times giving DC and Marvel titles a run for their money. Image has not gotten greedy with a spin-off Walking Dead title over the last few years. Less is more.

That said there are millions that watch the Walking Dead TV show and the comic’s last issue didn’t even break over a hundred thousand readers.

Does the comic related movies and TV shows overshadow the comics? I would say there is at least some truth to that. Often times comic related websites and comic stores’ websites and facebook sites will feature news of upcoming movies and TV shows. Meaning instead of hyping comics the hype is going to TV and movies that aren’t going to sell comics.

Does this make movies and TV shows a distraction for actual comic sales? In some ways I would say yes.

The latest Thor trailer came out. I have not heard one person say they didn’t like the trailer. Sounds great right? I have not had one new or current comic customer pick up anything Thor related after the trailer. Meaning the trailer hasn’t influenced people to buy.

Though I would say the movie Thor is completely different than the comic Thor. The movie Thor is an alien since the studio didn’t want Asgards to be actual mythical gods. The movie Thor character is way different than comic Thor. And yes there is a female Thor that would most likely confuse new potential readers. I actually have never had to explain why there is a female Thor to a truly new person before. People that read comics have asked which makes it easier but no one that is new to comics has. Weird.

Movie Thor is a lighter Thor than the comic version. Unworthy Thor would never say or call his Avengers “work”. Comic Thor is a lot more grim. Lost confidence in himself. Even lost his arm.

The Iron Man movies. Stark was a jerk at times to put it mildly. In the comics, he lead a much more bitter Civil War against Captain America than in the movie. Hired Titanium Man to fight Spider-man. Was part of the Illuminati that erased Captain America’s memories. The comic version was more of a jerk and did things that the movie version never would. Along with the whole odd Tony Stark is really adopted, the story arc that pushed fans away. The Secret Origin of Tony Stark and the whole reasoning of adopting Tony Stark made no sense. Plus where is Tony’s step brother Arno now? And Tony in Superior Iron Man? He’s only a super villain in it. Blink and your miss it at least.

What’s Iron Man up to currently? A coma that was self-induced? Yeah, I read Civil War II and didn’t even get it.

Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 will be a movie making millions being watched by millions but somehow the characters in the movie along with the Guardians various comic series will not see any real new interest. The movie hype is reaching millions but yet interest in the various comics that feature characters in the movie is getting outsold by a four part Batman Flash crossover? That’s insane.

I am not trying to make this a DC vs Marvel fight. I am just trying to point out that it’s very odd.

For years our local movie theater was nice enough to let me have a display case at the movie theater and I would display comics based on the upcoming comic related movie. That did help sales. Nothing earth shattering but it did help. I did feel as a small business owner I was doing more than Marvel and DC were to cross promote.

I am looking forward to Marvel advertising in theaters and hope that will help.

Somehow when the first Michael Keaton Batman film came out it boosted comic sales more than all of the last few years’ worth of comic movies have.

The Harry Potter movies made the books they were based on more popular but comic related movies and shows have not had the same effect on their source material.

Are the movies and shows just a distraction now? Ant Man doesn’t even have his own comic currently. Though a movie featuring him had millions of people watching Ant Man. Are current comics lacking the talent that new readers would be interested in? I will admit in my eyes I do not see the movies and shows profits being reinvested in comic talent. I could be wrong.

Was Captain America Civil War the movie too different than either of the comic Civil Wars? The first limited series or the second Civil War were basically in name only in having anything to do with the movie. There was one scene where Captain America lifts his shield and Iron Man fires right at his shield that was taken from the first Civil War limited series and that was pretty much it.

Batman v Superman had more comic related material and scenes right from the comics than the Civil War movie did. Such as the Death of Superman and a scene right out of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns. Yet neither the Death of Superman or the Dark Knight Returns collections seen a rush of interest.

Both movies had millions of people who seen them and liked them. Yet not enough new comic readers resulted to really move the sales needle.

It’s like Bizarro world. Not even my I am Jude Terror T-shirt can make it right. What is wrong?

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About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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