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Saturday, December 03, 2022 

Did a Canadian store manager get into the business more for the monetary value?

City News of Ottawa, Ontario interviewed a guy who'd created a business almost 4 decades ago called Myths, Legends & Heroes, but something's odd about this:
In the late 1980s, somewhere in a faraway land called Nepean, a teenaged comic book fan named Rob Zedic had the clever idea.

If he and his friends pooled their money, they could buy lots of comic books directly from the distributor for less than what they were paying at the comic book store.

Having realized one cost efficiency, Zedic then proposed they buy as many popular comics as they could afford, sell them to their friends for a discount, and make money.

So they bought lots of comics, plastered the landscape with posters and created a new comic book business, Myths, Legends & Heroes.
I'd like to think it's great they went on to found a specialty store business, but what's baffling is how they seem to have originally bought whatever they did just so they sell them in turn? Well, at least as far as the recounting here goes, they weren't doing it just to sell at higher prices, unlike most speculators who're buying classic pamphlets just to sell them off again for larger sums. However:
With an inventory exceeding 500,000 copies, Myths, Legends & Heroes comic book store on Bank Street sells an estimated 30,000 comic books annually. Zedic, who has 45 years experience of buying comics, purchases most of his stock through private collections or directly from distributors. Everything he buys has to be in pristine condition, and range in price from $5 to $1,000.

He markets his inventory through the Myths, Legends & Heroes website www.mythslegendsandheroes.com, and Zedic is so well established in the industry, he sells internationally. However, he draws the line when it comes to online sale. He isn't operating a mail-order business. Sales are limited to in-store customers only.

“We tried the online thing but found we were spending more in shipping costs than the comic was worth,” Zedic, who studied economics at university and knows how to run a profitable business, explains. “Many of our international customers are from Europe. They'll spend a few hours here, they haven't seen so many comics, and stock up on books they can't get at home.”
Even so, this, on the other hand, suggests he is in the business for selling all sorts of books at higher prices. Seriously, even 5 dollars is dismaying for a price, and it hasn't helped ordinary sales at all. Again, this is why I advocate retiring the pamphlet format that's been all too common for decades in favor of paperback and hardcover formats. To think you'd have to pay thousands of dollars for comics that could be little more than 30 pages overall inside, and a third of that advertising, it's just ludicrous.
The comic book industry took a dramatic turn around 1985-1988, when the kids who were buying books in the 1960s and 1970s started looking for more adult comics. Graphic novels with darker stories of existential despair in the modern era. Limited only by their imagination and talent, writers like Alan Moore who did Watchmen, V For Vendetta and Swamp Thing became the rage. Hollywood followed with film versions.

“Comics went from child's play to adult reading. They weren't all dark stories, there was still something for kids, but there were special projects and stories that had a more intellectual feel to them. They wanted to challenge readers more.”
But if they're implying darkness automatically makes it worthy for adults, and only brightness is for kids, that's insulting to the intellect. How is it that optimism and brightness can't be challenging for adults, along with a sense of humor? And then, the speculator topic comes up again:
People collect comics and their value ranges wildly. for example, a high grade copy of Action Comics No. 1, the comic that introduced Superman in 1938, would probably sell between $3 million to $4 million.

“A lot of the early stuff is very valuable because most people did not look at them as collectible,” Zedic adds. “They were considered disposable, and only for kids. No one thought they had any value. So, anything pre-1970, if it's in nice condition, has a lot of value to it.”

“People care about what they're buying a lot more since the 1980s when the unfortunate trend but a good trend at the same time when people realized there was possible investment purposes in the 1980s,” Zedic adds. “There was a shift from buying for amusement to buying to collect and invest. So, they wanted to take care of their investment.”
Oh, so collecting for profit is a good trend, his use of the term "unfortunate" notwithstanding? Well here's the problem: it's since come mostly at the expense of actual reading. It makes little difference whether it's to be expected that a store manager would uphold this kind of approach; it does nothing to encourage serious readership. At least they admit something apparent at this point in time:
Even though Batman remains his most popular line, super-hero fantasies aren't as popular as they once were. The trend in comics today is stories with more diverse characters exploring the possibilities of crime, horror, westerns, sci-fi, satire and genre stories.
That's right, but it's mainly because far-left agendas have been forced into the narrative at the expense of entertainment value. And some could argue that it would've been far better if Marvel/DC had been retired 2 decades ago. I look at some of the stories published around the early 2000s, and get the feeling it's almost as though they really did write the endings for some of their creations at that time, however they were concluded. Now, almost ever since Joe Quesada and Bill Jemas originally took over Marvel, and Dan DiDio took over DC, it's become an artistic fiasco.

Another business-related article I found was in the Daily Journal/Farmington Press (Park Hills, MO), about a company called E&A Collectibles, and it's not hard to guess, with a company name like that, what they specialize in:
Starting in September of 2021, and sharing an entrance with friends Vincent and Lisa Howard at Aesop’s Treasury, Smallen’s business is located in Suite 109 and specializes in comic books and collectables that cover the whole spectrum of fiction and is a culmination of almost a decade of trading in comics and related items.

“It started off as a weekend thing doing conventions until my neighbors at Aesop’s talked me into moving into this space,” he said. “I haven’t looked back. Conventions are fun, but having reliable sales everyday instead of weekends once a month makes a big difference. I’m starting to get regular customers now.

E&A carries graphic novels, Manga and comic books, action figures and toys. Smallen says that he has several commissioned artworks by mainly local artists, although a couple are from St. Louis.

“Funko Pop’s are my number one thing,” he said. “When they first came out, it was like ‘What are these things?’ They are vinyl bobble heads, but they span every franchise. No matter what you are a fan of, there’s probably a Funko Pop of it. NFL, NHL, UFC, Star Wars, Star Trek, comic books, it’s all there.

"I have a lot of folks that will sell their collections to me. I get a lot of obscure items that are no longer available. We are the only shop in the county that sells graded books. They are sent off to a company to get graded on a scale of 1 to 10. They come back in a hermetically sealed capsule.”
They may sell reading material there, but it's the collectibles cliche that annoys me as usual, based on how we seem to have another situation where comics are only emphasized as collectibles for profit, not reading value. This is only aggravating an already farcical situation, as far as I'm concerned. That's what shutting those pamphlets into containers where they'll never be read does too.
Another foot traffic draw took place in August with Maxcon in the Factory. Previously hosted by Vincent and Lisa Howard at the Civic Center, it was renamed Maxcon Expo and held in the corridors of the Factory.

“We had toy and comic book artists and authors in the hallways," Smallen said. "We charged the vendors a small amount of rent to cover the insurance and advertising. It was free to the public. It was free advertising for all the stores here in the building because of all the foot traffic. We had a costume contest with over 30 applicants.

"The public voted on who their favorite costumes were. All the winners got a certificate and cash prize. I had a good time, I was dressed up as Kingpin from the comic books. I accidently became the de facto face for Maxcon 3, I don’t want to do that again. All the vendors had a good time. Customers came back several weeks later and said they had never been here before Maxcon.”
And here, I'm honestly irked somebody wanted to dress as a villain. This is no better than dressing as the Joker for costume parties and conventions. Though it does make clear it's not just DC villains whom cosplayers dress as. Even Marvel villains make the list. I have no doubt Doctor Doom's outfit shows up at more than a few of these conventions too. And then, on the topic of trends:
So much of the business depends on catching and capitalizing on those trends and quickly stocking the new popular character merchandise.

“For this business, I watch out for movie trailers,” Smallen said. “Superheroes are so big in theaters right now. Black Panther is coming out soon, so I am ordering Black Panther toys for Christmas. If they announce that next spring we have this DC Comics movie about an obscure character, I will do my hardest to find items or books related to that character to get in store, because it’s going to be on the top of people’s minds.

"We just had 'Werewolf by Night' come out for the Halloween Marvel special and I was able to get my hands on Werewolf by Night #1 and get it up on the wall, get it posted on Facebook and it was gone within three days by posting it on Facebook. I follow toy stores on Facebook to see what new products are coming out.”

Having a store with a large amount of merchandise based on movies and comic book characters — some that are close to a century in existence — the question becomes how to sustain selling merchandise and keeping it fresh for new generations of collectors. Smallen gave a primer on how it all keeps going, starting with the original Star Wars movies that were released in 1977, 1979 and 1983, the newest of which is almost four decades in existence.

“With Star Wars, it was pretty much the Disney purchase,” he said. “Even though there are fans that don’t care for the new trilogy, that has opened the door to so many new television shows, cartoons, comic books; reintroducing Star Wars to the last two generations.
But some of those productions could either be woke, or have just gotten to that point. And since the subject here is SW merchandise, one can only wonder what the guy thinks of Disney's withdrawing any merchandise from sales based on Leia Organa's turning the tables on Jabba the Hut, when she used the chains she was shackled in to throttle the big blobbery alien in the 3rd entry? All because it's supposedly offensive to feminists. And how about the whole Cara Dune cancellation flap a few years back, all because actress Gina Carano dared complain about violence by leftists against rightists? At least the manager's admitting, albeit superficially, that fans were let down by the recent trilogy, because of the PC pandering that went on there. But then, isn't that why maybe it'd do some good if he were to argue the wokeness should've been avoided by the screenwriters?
Turning to Superman, Smallen said that comic characters are often revamped every 10-20 years.

“In 2008-2010, they did a universal renew on a lot of these DC Comics characters,” he said. “We are getting new origin stories. I think there are a few runs where Superman is the same as when he was introduced in the 1930s, but for the most part, when you pick up one of these comic books, it’s going to say that his ship landed in 1994 or 1986. There’s a Superman for almost all generations.”
And, if one considers the woke pandering recently done with Jon Kent, Son of Kal-El, there's one for practically all SJWs too. In any case, doesn't he find the frequent revamps and reboots annoying? Because at this point, that's all they seem to do, without resulting in anything meaningful, mainly because, either they refuse to deal with challenging issues that might've been dealt with in the past, or, they only specialize in focus on far-left causes, which has been the sad staple now for many years. And all this time, serious topics like Islamic terrorism are practically banned from focus in the mainstream, and these marketeers either have no complaints about that, or, if the subject were to be the focus of a comic, they'd actually protest, regardless of what victims of real life terrorism would think. In which case, if they did that, they'd only explain what's wrong with the industry.

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