Bravo, Brian, for Reminding Us of What a Great Comic Store Can Be

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Retailer Brian Hibbs’ latest Tilting at Windmills column makes two excellent points. The first is about how messed up Marvel’s book program is, with key titles unavailable and the resulting poor sales. That’s a known problem, has been for years, so while Brian sums it up well, that’s not what I want to talk about.

No, what I want to praise is the second part of the column, which points out how valuable a good comic store can be. As he says, “the best retailers are, essentially, curators who are there to guide you through the forest of choices you face.” One can quibble with how often this is able to be found — I still sometimes have problems, even at good stores, with recommendations being based more on what the recommender likes than on my tastes, sort of an old-fashioned “good comics will be loved by everyone” attitude instead of tailoring specific mentions to the reader — but I whole-heartedly agree with this goal. When it works, when a comic store employee points out something new that I try and enjoy, that’s wonderful, and it’s something that no other retail outlet (online, bookstore, etc.) does as well.

Brian goes on to point out how many huge properties got their start in the direct comic market (Walking Dead being only the newest example) and remind us how many of these successes are creator-owned or driven by particular creators. He concludes by encouraging creators to work directly with stores to build the next success. Overall, his column is a nicely optimistic view of what the comic market does well and can continue to do in coming years.

(If you’d like to comment, I recommend you do so at Brian’s site instead of the CBR forums — they’re right now all people bashing Brian for not liking Marvel enough, in an excellent example of trying to blame the messenger for inconvenient facts.)

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