Comic Store In Your Future – What Happened With Absolute Carnage vs Deadpool #3???

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

We are heading towards the end of the year. For us, overall sales have been softer than we would have liked in store. Online sales have been showing an increase over last year. I’m still waiting for that Marvel comic that was or is going to sell over a million copies…the one hinted at months ago. I kid. I think Marvel over-hyped and thought they had a high seller though they were wrong.

Sales currently look like they will be lower than last year’s sales here. Softer in-store sales along with the short amount of time left before the year ends means kicking it into high gear to get unsold inventory out the door before the end of the year. As a business, we pay taxes on unsold product. That means not only was material bought and it did not sell, it also means it gets taxed.

How are we going to try to move product out? By going through unsold comics and stocking up the dollar bin. Making a judgment call on what comics came out this year to sell at a loss. Figuring out what was over-ordered and needs to be out the door before the end of the year. Even at a dollar, not all comics that were released this year will get sold.

Having sales helps move product and improve cash flow. We will have one sale on Black Friday and another on December 14th. Thousands of dollars’ worth of material will be sold. That said there are always events and things out of our control. The weather. During one of our sales this year we had a hail storm. That hurt sales. If a blizzard happens or threatens to happen during our upcoming sales that will negatively affect sales. Of course, we do not want people coming out during bad weather.

Toying with adding to our staff. Even moving people around. Have one person on staff getting the store online positive reviews and people bringing in cookies and donuts for them. Surprising the heck out of me. Recently, I managed to get the store a positive online review though no food yet.

Adding to the staff would be to help with online sales. Like many stores, our online market place web site could use more traffic. In this day and age, Amazon gobbles up a vast amount of online sales and activity. Online customers are even getting more and more cold feet with sales. One person decided after they received their item, they wanted to return it because they claimed they opened the card in a pack they bought. That is not how it is supposed to work. They then changed their story to the card is not the card described so they could at least qualify for a return. Sigh. There is not a week that goes by that we do not have returns based on buyer’s remorse. Nothing is actually wrong with the transaction or item. The buyer just gets buyer’s remorse and it ends up costing us time and money. Why allow returns? Because if we do not there would be many people who would not want to deal with us.

Why does a store over-order? Non-returnable product means we are stuck with product that does not sell. Marvel makes ordering very complicated. Absolute Carnage itself has been selling well and we have been doing well ordering it. Now add in all of its spin-offs. Some of the Absolute Carnage spin-offs are doing very well, some are not. (Lethal was indeed lethally bad for us sales-wise). Some tie-ins suddenly died sales-wise after starting off strong. With Absolute Carnage vs Deadpool, the first two issues sold out completely. Then issue three came out and much to my surprise did terrible sales-wise. I honestly have no idea why. There could be unknown factors. Stores in the area might have under ordered the first two issues of the limited series and corrected their orders for the third issue. One store might have had a shortage or delayed shipment on the second issue. A large part of the readership might be burnt out on Absolute Carnage crossover issues. All of these things are hard to factor in when ordering months in advance.

DC’s Year of the Villain is under performing for us. Justice League, the main title saw more of an increase in sales thanks to the JSA’s return in the title than the Year of the Villain hype.

House and Powers of X did well. Now we get to guess the numbers for the various new X titles. Marvel, of course, will not just have one new mutant title; they will over milk the successful limited series.

November is the start of the acetate covers for DC. We did increase our orders for them though only slightly. Ironically, in a collection I bought, I found a Spider-man comic from decades ago that had an acetate cover that I never knew existed. It looked neat, though not at all “my gosh I have to have it neat”. At least to me.

DC’s foil covers from last year were lukewarm for us at best and I am guessing the acetate covers will do roughly the same sales numbers. I hope I am wrong and they are hot as can be, selling out the day they come out for everyone.

Second printings have been very odd this year. I have people coming in wanting second printings of Absolute Carnage, Once and Future and more. when I tell them we still have the first printings they just skip the first printings and leave. I do not order second printings when we still have first printings available.

Spawn 300 and 301 did well for us and Spawn currently has comic collectors excited.

I do not see November and December being great months for the comic market. In December, Doomsday Clock #12 will easily be our best-selling comic for the month.

As new comic sales have slowed, back issue sales have grown. Many of our customers are enjoying comics from decades ago more than what is currently being offered by the comic publishers. It is part of the reason Marvel and DC are publishing reprints of their older material. It can sell as well as some of their new comics.

Next year will be a new year. From what little I have read, there could be a lot of changes in 2020. Hopefully changes that grow the comic market.

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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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