Challengers Comics + Conversation has announced the opening of their second comic book retail location at 750 N. Franklin St, Suite #103, in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. Already open for just shy of 12 years in Bucktown, Challengers owners Patrick Brower and W. Dal Bush feel the time is right for expansion.
In the announcement, Brower said:
Comic books and graphic novels are better now than they’ve ever been, and the subject matter is so diverse that reading a ‘comic book’ is now an everyday occurrence for more people than ever before. Having started Challengers in Chicago and seeing so many people buy their first comic is such an amazing feeling that we want to do more of it.
Challengers is a comic book store, not a collectibles store. They don’t sell priceless artifacts; they don’t sell investments. They sell reading material; and, in their opinion, today’s comics and graphic novels are the best form of entertainment available.
Since opening their first location Challengers Red in March 2008, Challengers has received “Best Of” awards from the Chicago Reader, Chicago Magazine and Newcity, and was awarded the comic book industry’s version of the Academy Award in the form of the Will Eisner “Spirit of Comics” Retail Award.
Blastoff Comics and Collector’s Paradise have announced that they have entered into an agreement that will allow Collector’s Paradise to take over Blastoff’s popular brick-and-mortar location at 5118 Lankershim Boulevard. The new Collector’s Paradise NoHo store, joining Collector’s Paradise’s existing locations in Canoga Park and Pasadena, is expected to open its doors August 2019.
Blastoff Comics co-owner Jud Meyers’ relocation to San Diego for a new position at IDW Publishing is the primary reason behind the closing.
Collector’s Paradise will continue Blastoff’s tradition of emphasizing “graphic novels, personalized customer service, and a respect for the history of comics.” They will also introduce their “one-of-a-kind online subscription service and graphic novel club, a wide selection of exciting new product lines, and their many special themed events and release parties designed to bring creators and readers together.”
Customers should watch both Blastoff and Collector’s Paradise’s social media for the latest news on the birth of Collector’s Paradise NoHo.
It’s been interesting within days of each other I received two tips about retailers “behaving badly.” Maybe there was something in the air, or the retailers defrosted from the winter freeze, but it got me to reflect about my time working in or running geek shops, about 6 years total. I loved that time, but I hear more and more horror stories and try to remember if at any point I displayed this abhorrent behavior, and the answer is no. I’m fairly repulsed by what I’ve been told and hear.
The first questions is, how responsible is a site for the trolls that lie within it’s forums? Heavy Ink is no stranger to controversy. The retailer made headlines when the founder advocated for more violence against elected officials after the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. The police didn’t take too kindly to that one. So we know that the site is run by and probably populated by some asshats. If that’s the behavior that’s seen and expected, people will act.
Though it might have been 70 years ago, Holocaust denial is absolutely a touchy subject today and to use it as a dig is beyond low, even if it’s meant in jest. Some regulars to the forum didn’t take too kindly to it, reaching out to the forum moderators and then eventually to us to raise awareness of this stupidity.
I highlighted a bit of the administrator’s response in the image above, but it’s clear from lack of action as well as the fact the comment was called “dark humour” the Holocaust is fair game when it comes to dark humor. Clearly this is a retailer and site that wants to be inclusive of all and make sure individuals feel welcome… I as the head of this blog am responsible for what is posted. I make sure to handle any hateful responses, and there’s been some. That includes shamming or banning. Don’t feed the trolls and let them know their behavior is ok, it only encourages more.
But what was strange, a few days after being tipped off to this, I received another email about a certain retailer who is no stranger to this site where the individual was threatened with violence. Here’s the initial email in full and unedited other than redacting the retailer’s name (I’ll explain why in a bit).
I deliver for a living, so I have the oppertunity to stop into all the comic shops in Ma , Nh and Ri. Today I was in lowell and saw (retailer name redacted).
Before stoping in I tryed to look up his hours of operation online and found only a facebook page with them listed.
it states opening on friday at 10 am. It was 10:20 and thought it would be ok so I drove to the shop and parked my truck. The door was locked so i figured he was closed. as i turned around to walk back to my truck the guy across the street said that he saw him in there and i should knock. So knock I did. When (retailer name redacted) answered the door I asked what time he opened and he responded at noon. I proceded to tell him that his facebook page Stated 10 am and that he should change it and instantly i was given an attitude. I told him ok , i will come back later and as i turned around i made the offhand comment that he didnt have to be an asshole about it. He came out the door and asked me what i had just said and i tryed to then explain to him the facebook page and to my suprised i found myself in the middle of a fight that was escalating into a pyhsical brawl.
As our words heated up (retailer name redacted) turned sideways into a brawling stance. He cocked back his arm and closed his fist and then started to shout at me that he was going to break my jaw, knock all my teeth out then “curb stomp” me for good measure. I instantly took to the defensive and tryed defusing the situation by saying that we were haveing a miscommunication. I called him sir and even went as far as appoligizing for my words. He took that as a sign of weakness and began belittleing me using derogatory words meant to question my sexuality. At this point i was visibly shaking from the shear panic that was setting in on me, (retailer name redacted) could see this but he still wouldnt let up. I turned to walk away but it still didnt end. He followed me to my truck and took my company info and as i got into my truck he was yelling that he was going to call my company and get me fired.
Im not a strong man. I am not a brave man. I know bullying when i see it as i have lived my life with it. I paniced. even at my age I dont know what to do. who to tell. Going to the police turns into a he said she said dispute which solves nothing. So now im turning to the only thing i trust these days. The internet. I want to tell as many people in as many places as I can. This man should not be in this buisness. This man does not deserve our respect.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story.
First, I removed the retailer’s name because I have no way to verify this. I reached out and heard nothing back, and was not there. Other than a Yelp review recounting the same story from the person, I don’t have a way to back this up. But this isn’t the first time a retailer have acted as a bully or racist, or used hateful words towards an individual.
I followed up and asked what was said to the tipster Mike:
I didnt know how to describe it without using the actual words. But it was things little “go suck a dick you fag” and things of that nature
So, we have numerous anti-lgbt slurs and in both cases anti-Jewish remarks (curb stomp has its roots in the Holocaust where Nazis saved ammo by doing it to Jewish victims).
Normally I’d chalk it up to people being trolls and assholes, but the fact is, we’re a community. We’re a fandom that has no right to be exclusive or judgmental, both are something many of us have experienced. Both incidents emphasize the negative stereotype that comments are full of juvenile individuals refusing to enter adulthood.
What disappoints me most is not just the words used or reactions, but the fact is retailers are one of the main ambassadors of comic fandom. This is where individuals, old and new fans, have to go to get their comic fix. These folks need to be welcoming of individuals no matter what, showing tolerance and a willingness to embrace fans, regular and casual alike. I, in my entire time as a retailer can not recount one incident where I didn’t make people feel welcome to the store or purposely drove them off.
I wrote this after the ugly #comicmarket incident:
Too many have images of “The Comic Book Guy” from The Simpsons when they think of the register jockeys who sell funny books. #comicmarket and #comicretail is an opportunity to break that mold. It’s a public face of the industry, which is what was so disturbing about Sunday. The incident painted retailers and fans in a bad light, but it also turned off so many past, present and potentially future participants.
The question is when will we all as a fandom rally to say this is unacceptable? When will creators or retailers stop dealing with these shitty retailers? Feeding trolls, using slurs or hate words, belittling customers, promoting misogyny, it all needs to end. For the good of our hobby and entertainment, it needs to end.
Speaking before the National Retail Federation‘s (NRF) 101st Annual Convention & Expo, former President Bill Clinton recalled his first job, being a comic book retailer. From Convenience Store News:
The former U.S. chief then recalled his first retail job, working for a grocery store at age 13. He subsequently talked the grocery store owner into allowing him to set up his own retail business within the store that sold used comic books. “I had two chests filled with perfectly preserved comic books,” he recalled. “During the months I worked at the grocery store, I sold every one. I made about $100 and I felt like a millionaire. I now know I was a fool. If I had saved those comic books, they’d be worth $200,000 to $300,000 today. But it was a good experience.”
So, turns out President Obama wasn’t the first Commander in Geek.
Marvel Announces AVENGERS VS X-MEN LAUNCH PARTIES!
Marvel’s making sure all comic book stores worldwide are armed for the biggest super hero war of all time with the Avengers VS X-Men Launch Parties on Tuesday, April 3rd at 8pm (local time), one day before the first issue goes on-sale. In addition to being the first in line to purchase Avengers VS X-Men #1, fans will also be able to receive special items exclusive to these parties, specific to the team—Avengers or X-Men—supported by the store.
To ensure these parties are the biggest sales success of 2012, each retailer opting into this event will receive a free Avengers VS X-Men Party Kit from Marvel, containing exclusive promotional materials.. In order to receive this party kit, every retailer just needs to choose a team—Avengers or X-Men—and will receive special bonuses for their allegiance.
“We’ve never had a bigger story than Avengers VS X-Men and we’re backing retailers with the biggest incentives you’ve ever seen through the Avengers VS X-Men Launch Parties,” said David Gabriel, Marvel Senior Vice-President of Sales. “Whether it’s advertising, promotional material or limited edition variant covers, every one of our valued retailer partners will be able to get the word out to both their regular customers and new fans about this comic event and the exciting Avengers VS X-Men Launch Parties. Some stores will choose to side with the Avengers and some will side with the X-Men, but I can guarantee one thing—Marvel will make sure all of them have everything they need to make Avengers VS X-Men #1 their top selling comic of the year.”
All retailers who opt into the parties & choose a team will receive the following as part of the Avengers VS X-Men Party Kit:
Avengers VS X-Men Program, a free comic previewing the upcoming event
Avengers VS X-Men Postcards
Avengers VS X-Men Customizable Flyer
Avengers VS X-Men Customizable Press Release
Avengers VS X-Men Backlist Sales
Avengers VS X-Men mini posters
Avengers VS X-Men promo items
Avengers VS X-Men #1 Advance Screening Copy, delivered to retailers in late March 2012
Avengers VS X-Men Party Lithographs
Mass media promotion around the launch of AvX and the associated parties
Promotion of parties to Marvel fan base via Marvel.com, Twitter and Facebook
An additional discount on the Road to Avengers VS X-Men Trade Paperback
And these same retailers will receive complimentary team specific versions—based on their allegiance—of the following:
Exclusive Avengers VS X-Men #1 Spotlight Variant specific to the team supported by the store
Free Avengers VS X-Men mini-posters showing store allegiance
Free Avengers VS X-Men Party Tickets
Free Avengers or X-Men Team Pins
Free Avengers VS X-Men in-store signage and shelf-talkers
Retailers, please check the Marvel Mailer or Diamond Daily for regular updates about the Avengers VS X-Men Launch Parties.
Which team will reign supreme? Join the conversation on Twitter with #AvX!
ComiXology Announces Retailer Digital Storefronts a Resounding Success
Answering Digital Storefront Critics
“This is a great program and getting better all the time”
December 8th, 2011 – New York, NY– ComiXology is proud to announce their historic Retailer Digital Storefront program, enabling comic shop retailers to prosper from the sale of Digital Comics, is a resounding success.
To thank the over 100 Digital Storefronts that participated in this historic digital/brick & mortar partnership, comiXology, along with their Digital Storefront implementation partner ICv2, has now made two months of Retailer Digital Storefront payments one month earlier and at a dramatically lower threshold than promised.
“The retailers who participated in this program really are the unsung heroes here,” said David Steinberger, cofounder and CEO of comiXology. “Not only did we have a compressed time frame to implement the Retailer Digital Storefront program, but we were not allowed the luxury to beta test in the way we would have liked. But through thick and thin these stores stood by us and we really wanted to go out of our way to thank them for their support. We’re cooking with gas now and we couldn’t have done it without them.”
In direct response to feedback from retailers across the nation, soon comiXology will be rolling out a new Terms of Service (T.O.S.) agreement for the Digital Storefront program with language that is in better alignment with comiXology’s commitment to servicing brick and mortar retailers. ComiXology expects to see an uptick in new Digital Storefronts when the new T.O.S. is released.
In addition, the last several weeks have seen comiXology quietly make a series of improvements to Retailer Digital Storefronts, including:
Improved retailer branding
Improved retailer side reporting
Expanded customer information for retailers
“This is a great program and getting better all the time,” said John Roberts, co-founder and CTO of comiXology. “We received a ton of harsh criticism out of the gate, but that happens any time people try to make big changes in business. Bridging the digital divide for comic shop retailers has always been at the heart of who comiXology is as a company. People don’t remember that we started the company in 2007 offering our ‘Pull List’ service for retailers. Comic shops are a hugely important part of our business and will continue to be a huge part of comiXology in the future.”
“ComiXology was the only company that could roll out a program for comic retailers to earn money from digital sales during this huge surge of new interest in comics,” said Milton Griepp, CEO of ICv2, which is assisting comiXology with its retailer programs. “Although the fast launch wasn’t easy, it was great to be part of something that can revolutionize the way comic stores serve their customers. This program is in its infancy and there are huge opportunities for everyone as it grows.”
Announced in January and implemented in advance of the launch of DC’s The New 52 this past August, the Digital Storefront program enables retailers to sell digital comics with a simple integration into their existing site while tapping into comiXology’s vibrant digital marketplace. Comic book fans are now able to purchase digital comics online from their local comic store’s digital storefront with a portion of each purchase going directly to the retailer.
ComiXology heard many success stories and positive comments from participating retailers across the nation:
“The Retailer Digital Storefront has performed beyond my wildest expectations! We here at Comics Conspiracy went out of our way to really promote the digital storefront outside our regular customer base and it paid off tremendously. I can see this becoming a steady part of my revenue stream in the future.” – Ryan Higgins, Comic Conspiracy in Sunnyvale, CA.
“We’ve spent more than 30 years showing our in-store and mail order customers that we’re their best source for comics of all ages and types. With that in mind, it only made sense for us to partner with comiXology, offering our customers access to digital comics via our online storefronts at both our MyComicShop Website, our Web store, and on the Website for Lone Star Comics, our brick and mortar stores in Texas.” – Chris Powell, Lone Star Comics and MyComicShop.com in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.
“My customers and I are loving the new comiXology Digital Storefronts — what a great team-up! It’s pretty much effortless to set up, runs like a charm, and gives us analog retailers the power to provide our customers with all the preferred funnybook formats of their choosing. That is a beautiful thing. And hey… don’t feel guilty about loving comics on your iPad. Feel great you can shop for those comics at a place like the Isotope!” – James Sime, Isotope in San Francisco, CA.
“Several of our older and long time customers had decided that digital comics were for them. Some had space issues but still wanted to follow their favorite characters. With Digital Storefront I was able to keep long-time customers and help solve their storage issue. I’m surprised at the number of customers local and far flung that like buying digital while supporting their favorite local comic shop.” – Keith Colvin, Keith’s Comics in Dallas, TX.
“At Challengers, we’re in the business of selling comics. ComiXology helps us do just that. Our comiXology customers use it to supplement their established comic-buying habits, meaning they buy digital comics in addition to print comics, not in place of. We don’t understand the retailers who are ‘afraid’ of digital sales. Who’s afraid of making more money?” – Patrick Brower, Challengers Comics + Conversation in Chicago, IL.
“Samurai Comics was very excited to be among the first stores to go live with the comiXology Digital Storefront. The Digital Storefront has been a great added value for our customers. We viewed having another revenue stream of comic books sales that we have no money locked up in inventory costs as a tremendous opportunity. Rather than have our customer go elsewhere if they want to purchase a digital version of a comic, we would rather have them purchase a copy through us where we get a percentage of the sale. This also enables us to reach out to these customers to offer them incentives to visit one of our stores.” – Michael Banks, Samurai Comics in Phoenix, AZ.
All digital purchases are compatible with the Comics by comiXology platform, providing fans the ability to enjoy their comics on their mobile devices (iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire) and on the Web at their retailer’s websites by way of cross-platform synchronization.
ComiXology’s Retailer Digital Storefronts have brought together participating publishers DC Comics, Image, Dynamite, BOOM! Studios, and many others, along with retailers that sell their comics in print, and their fans in the digital space — strengthening the relationships that have so successfully made comics a major force in world culture.
Since 2007 comiXology has been developing the technological infrastructure to bring comics into the digital mainstream and expose new audiences to the rich history and culture of the industry. Through partnerships with top comic book publishers including Archaia Entertainment, BOOM! Studios, DC Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, IDW Publishing, Image Comics and Marvel Comics as well as their own mobile and web apps which host over 16,000 digital titles, comiXology has become a leader in digital comic book proliferation. Also focused on creating strong ties with retail stores through its technology solutions, comiXology continues to transform the previously fragmented comic ecosystem into a vibrant and cohesive marketplace.
It’s was a pretty quiet Saturday, but you guys seem to love your Boom! Studios. Traffic spiked as people devoured two previews. So, which series should I start reading? I regularly read Incorruptible and Irredeemable, so those are out, but what else? Darkwing Duck, The Amory Wars, Cthulhu, 28 Days Later? While you contemplate that, here’s the news you might have missed.