- Posted by Johanna on March 29, 2006 at 4:41 pm
- Category: LinkBlogging
I still haven’t met Jason Richards or had the chance to visit Riot Comics, but from what I’ve read on his blog and the emails we’ve exchanged, I’ve gotten the impression that he has a pretty good view of comic retailing. Although he’s still relatively new, he seems practical in what he’s doing and aiming for.
That’s why I was so disappointed to hear that he was being hassled online by retailers who have well-established big stores because his idea of what it would take to successfully start a store differed from theirs. I would think, since he’s done it most recently, that they’d be a little more receptive to his experience.
In the comments to that post, the owner and moderator (Comickaze) shows up and apologizes (although it’s one of those “I’m sorry you misunderstood me” apologies that doesn’t really address the original poor choice of words). The word “hobbyist” is a dangerous one to throw into a conversation, because it’s automatically going to be taken badly by whomever it’s being used against. It’s not a content-neutral term, and its connotations are very negative. It doesn’t matter if it’s not intended to be a personal attack; it’s going to be taken as one in most cases, or at least a reason to dismiss or ignore the person being called one.
Too often, it seems, comics is populated by people who get in one way and then want to cut others off from using a similiar path. (This applies, from my observation, to creators and publishers as well as retailers.) I know at least some of these guys went the “I have a comic collection and how hard can it be to start a store?” path, and I’m glad that they’ve achieved so much success. I also know that many of them mean well, and they honestly want others to learn from their experiences both what and what not to do, but if not handled very carefully, their attempts come off as “do as I say, not as I did”.
There’s also the problem that it takes a certain bullheadedness to start and build a comic store into a successful business. That kind of personality is thus going to have a hard time empathizing with people who take different paths from the one they followed, and they’re going to be somewhat pushy about their way being the right way.
Jason later elaborates on whether he thinks that retailer forum is an “indispensable resource”.
I’ve been a member for several years now (it’s not just retailers, but other comic professionals as well), and I know I’ve learned a lot from it. I don’t feel like I can fully participate, so I read more than I contribute. There are several reasons for that: it does seem much of the time like it is a retailer group, and I wouldn’t want to step on anyone’s toes by giving an opinion they found unqualified. Some of the personalities there are very strong and not shy about calling people names. Some of them have given the impression that they don’t respect critics. In short, I don’t feel like I’m welcomed as a full member. (They’re also on Delphi, which has a user experience that’s gotten worse and worse if you don’t pay them.)
All that said, it is full of valuable information, if only in terms of how other people do things. It’s what convinced me not to open a comic store, because it takes a lot of hard work for little reward in an industry where retailers are often behind the eight ball because of poor service from the near-monopoly distributor.