Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Card, Superman, Retailers

Comics Alliance has been running a series of interviews with comic book retailers regarding the Orson Scott Card Superman thingie. I linked to the first one here. They've added parts two and three and four.

Part 2 is a conversation with  the manager of Acme comics in North Carolina. It's a lot about how content can affect sales, but the manager ultimately believes his job is to give the choice to his customers, so he'll be stocking the comic in question. Even when he disagrees with the creator or content, it doesn't affect his business practices.

Jermaine Exum:  Just like in the worlds of entertainment and sports, the comics industry is not immune to creators who are divisive or are, in some cases, difficult to support. The moment where a fan must decide if they support the creation or the creator is never fun, nor is it anything you can prepare for until it happens. I myself recently purged my personal collection of the work of a creator I had previously enjoyed, due to his outlook on the industry we are both part of and my interaction with him at conventions. That creator's work is still on prominent display at Acme Comics, and we reorder it regularly as needed.

In the third, with the owners of Challengers in Chicago, we learn that this store is planning on donating all their profits to the LGBT advocacy group called Human Rights Campaign. A couple of relevant passages:

Patrick Brower: It is never our intention to take the choice away from the people who shop with us. Just because we may not be fond of this particular creator's very public personal beliefs doesn't mean fans of Superman that choose to shop at Challengers should be denied the opportunity to get that issue of Adventures of Superman. That we don't want to profit from it is not a good enough reason to not let someone buy it if they want it. Also, that issue is an anthology and Chris Samnee has work in that book. Have you seen his Superman pin-up? It's gorgeous.

W. Dal Bush:This book is a print edition of a digital-first DC superhero comic; it's not Saga. Based on our sales for other digital-first comics, such as Batman Beyond Unlimited or Arrow, we'd have been lucky to sell a dozen copies even if there'd been no controversy regarding the creators involved. While our donation of profits might not be apparent to DC, I don't know that a missing 12 copies would've either. All things being equal, we felt better making a donation and selling the book than boycotting the title.

Part 4 is an interview with Adam Healy, of Cosmic Monkey comics in Oregon. he is carrying the comic because it's his job to provide comics for his customers. Beyond that, here's an interesting statement:

We worry about not being able to satisfy our customers more than losing customers. We stock fairly low numbers on the shelf of most of the books DC and Marvel publish. They put out so many books that they compete against each other and lose. We simply can't afford to stock most books more than lightly since we have no evidence that there is a demand for the product beyond what our pre-orders are for each book. Realistically, without the media attention, an Orson Scott Card-written Superman book is not something that would sell well. Superman is a character that lacks the social relevance he had 75 years ago. People don't know what he stands for or why he does what he does, and current storylines do nothing to address this confusion.

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