Monday, June 8, 2009

Monday notes and thoughts....

  Since this recession has been in full-swing, we've seen a big increase in folks looking for employment.  Ok, I get it, it's tough out there, I am well aware of that, but really all of these folks want to work in the LCS?  Out of all the folks that have come in of late looking for a gig, only one was a comic fan I recognized.  Many of the folks coming in looking for gainful employment of late, aren't even comic fans.  They honest to god have very little to no interest or knowledge of the medium.   Take for example, myself.  If for some reason I was looking for another job or an additional job, I would not say, walk into a bait and tackle shop to look for a job, because I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT FISHING.  That's right, call me crazy, but I think you should have some experience or interest in the work field you are applying for.   I know, I know, times are really really tough, the job market sucks A LOT on the best of days right now, but really?  I guess I should be flattered that so many folks WANT to work in the LCS, but I'm guessing they  are just walking into EVERY place of business in town to see if anyone is hiring.  The older woman that came in over the weekend looking for a job probably would have walked into the local adult novelty shop to ask about a job, as well as the LCS.  (I'm kidding of course, Frankfort would NEVER allow an adult shop of any kind to open on any land that is within it's borders. )  I wish I had something I could offer these people, but in this industry you just HAVE to know about the comics you are selling.  Unfortunately, it isn't really something you can just "pick up on," at least not without some effort.   

 OMG the sheer number of people trying to sell their comics is unbelievable.  These people are literally coming out of the woodwork.  On almost a DAILY basis, we receive (and this is just the Frankfort location alone) 1-3 phone calls A DAY.  Everybody wants to sell.  Again, times are tough, I know, but wow!  I didn't know this many people read comics in the area.  Normally, I would be very pleased to see a nice assortment of back issues coming through the door, but so far the books that have through are just plain awful.  Awful condition and/or just plain crap titles.  Wow, if I had a dollar for every time someone came in with a box of comics C. 1992-1993, I would be much closer to being financially secure.  There have been a few folks that have come in with later Silver Age or early Bronze Age comics, but most of them have been in what I like to call, insulation condition.  Meaning, you might as well use them as insulation between your walls in your home, because they aren't even worth the paper they are printed on.  At least if you insulate your home with these comics, they would eventually be worth the paper they are printed on, because they would make your home more energy efficient, meaning that insulation could in theory save you money over time.   I feel bad for these folks, I wish I could offer them something for their comics, but most of the time, these comics aren't even worthy to be a quarter book.  Times are tough that's for damn sure.  Maybe someone will come in with the next batch of high-grade Golden Age books to hit the market, and then forever after those books would be referred to as "An Amazing Fantasy comic" just like when someone buys or sells key books from the famous "Mile High Collection."  Dare to dream....

You may be wondering if the recession has hit your favorite LCS? Well I am happy to say that Amazing Fantasy, all four locations, are doing just fine.  Some weeks are better than others, but that can usually be tied to big ship weeks etc.  Graphic novels are still going VERY strong, that is for damn sure.  Manga still has quite a following also, but thankfully the manga glut has slowed WAY down, which just had to happen.  Tokyopop was the first to start scaling back the number of titles they release a month, and now most of the other manga companies have followed suite.  Thank the gods!  It would be nice if both Marvel and DC would cut back on the number and the price point of all the hardcover graphic novels they've been producing as of late.  More folks are waiting for the paperback editions.  If Marvel and DC would just start with the paperback editions of all the trades, then later on, if sales warrant it, or if there is a call for it, they can do some big fancy oversize Absolute or Omnibus or whatever, but releasing EVERYTHING into hardcover is a bit excessive.  Just because you CAN release a graphic novel in hardcover does NOT mean you SHOULD.  

To summarize: it is not a good idea to try to get hired at your LCS if you don't know anything about comics, too many people are trying to sell their less than desirable back issues, and just because a publisher can produce a graphic novel in hardcover doesn't necessarily mean then should.  

Now back to editing....


  1. The owner of the first LCS I ever shopped regularly had a buddy whose parents bought an old house in the late 70s. They called him up & told him they found some old comics in the attic and if he wanted them, he should come get them. Well, the two guys rushed over, went into the attic and to their horror, what did they find? Action Comics #1, Superman #1 Detective Comics #1 and dozens more DC Golden Age gems all stapled to the ceiling as insulation. According to the shop owner, when they touched them, the books literally turned to dust, as they'd been up there for over 30 years.

    So, be careful what you use for insulation, it might give an LCS owner heart failure 30 years from now.

  2. Crap titles from the '90s in abundance? I can't say I'm much surprised. I have my share of bad '90s stuff, but I chalk a lot of that up to the fact that I was in my early teens during the worst of the '90s, and had not yet developed taste.

    But even as a 14-year-old, I figured out pretty quickly that the whole "comics as investment" thing was a scam, at least in the form it was being touted at the time. If you, and everyone else, were buying multiple copies of every variant of X-Men # 1, or multiple sealed copies of the "Death of Superman," how in the heck were those going to increase in value over time? The reason the old books increase in value is that they are rare, and the reason they are rare is that they were thought of as disposable entertainment at the time. In fact, the only way to make money on some of those supposed "hot" '90s comics was to sell them pretty quickly after release to people who really thought they were a long-term investment.

    For anyone coming to your store to sell comics they actually read and enjoyed at the time because of their economic circumstances, I feel sorry for them. For people who bought them as part of mindless speculation, my sympathy is much less.

  3. comics as an investment was just a precursor to what happened to the real estate market these past couple of years.

    Now, asking for work where you have no idea/clue or slight knowledge of the product being sold is pretty dumb. Then again a lot of people are desperate. Then again they should know better.

    Here in Puerto Rico during the early-mid 90's there were quite a handful of LCS. Fast forward 12 years, now there's only 2 of about 10 or so that once existed. And of the 2, only 1 has managed to stay afloat and continue with healthy sales and exposure.

    I think that slowly we'll start to see stores get 'in shape' and be what they once were without the tons and tons of crap they try and sell or cashing in on the latest trend/craze/fanaticism. That's why AF has survived in Chicago, why Jim Hanley's in NYC is still around and to give another type fo example, Strand's in NYC as well. (I miss that store.)

  4. My family sold the collection of comics that my mom collected when she was a child recently to start up a construction company. It worked out and all, but those comics were priceless to my mom, and also myself. I probably read about 90% of them.

    I feel so sorry for people trying to sell their comics due to the shitty economy. I've got barely any money right now, and any money I do have for entertainment goes to comics I buy every Wednesday.

    The funny thing about this is that I came into the Frankfurt store looking for Unwritten #2, and then I remember I glanced over your blog a couple days before while browsing the A-F website. So I said hi, you may remember me.

    But to the matter concerning jobs, I know what you mean. I can't really go into a Ace Hardware and fill out a job application, because I know absolutely nothing about construction/home improvement. And I'll never work at a McDonalds, never in my life will I. So, the abilities I do have, are talking about comics and recommending them, and working with computers. It's been a real pain to find a job as a result. I sometimes feel like crying. XD