This is the first of our new series that will feature comments and observations from select comic book store owners around the country. We hope you find their thoughts as interesting as we did.
And, if you own a comic book store and would like to participate in this series of columns, please contact our managing editor, Thomas Tuna, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let's make this space yours! Let's hear from you!
Owner, East Side Mags, LLC
7 South Fullerton Avenue
Montclair, N.J. 07042
Hyper Epics: What do you feel is the hottest trend right now in the comic book field?
Jeff: Graphic Novels, trade paperbacks – those are pretty hot right now. Especially for new fans or people new to comics. There’s so much in terms of movies and TV shows, Netflix and Hulu – that people are consuming those mediums first and then coming in and looking to read the source material. Much like some people watched Harry Potter and afterwards read the books. Since most of the movies and TV shows are based off of older stories, it’s easy to get your hands on the Death of Superman in one paperback book or an origin of Ant-Man or Dark Knight Returns. It also makes for a good introduction for newer fans and gives them a jumping-on point.
Hyper Epics: What are your best sellers right now (comics, action figures, posters)?
Jeff: Comics are a big seller for us. DC is really kicking ass with Rebirth and keep a consistent line of great books coming out. Batman, Deathstroke, Flash and others are dominating sales. DC Metal and Doomsday Clock are super hot too. And now DC is rolling out books like Damage, Silencer and soon Terrifics! The hits just keep coming! Marvel seems to be trailing but a lot of our customers are complaining about lackluster stories or arcs that feel rehashed. Image is also killing it. A ton of their titles do well and I think that’s because they are short runs, limited series so readers get a beginning/middle/end to their stories without having to feel like the well will get dried up.
Hyper Epics: How have you seen the comic book field evolve since opening your store?
Jeff: Since opening 3 ½ years ago, we had a lot of the usual Batman/Spider-Man fans coming in for the new DC/Marvel releases but we’ve always been indie heavy and fans of books a little more off the beaten path. We’re seeing a lot of limited series coming out which brings closure for the reader without feeling like you have to stick to a title for the long-haul. It also allows readers to focus on the creative team and less on the character so when the series ends the customer says – what is whoever writing or drawing now? I’m seeing a lot of people who are becoming bigger fans of particular writers and/or artists than specific characters.
Hyper Epics: What's your take on the genre in general (super-heroes vs. horror/adventure/fantasy books)?
Jeff: I read a lot of different books, so I can keep up or have the general idea of a lot of different series; so I can talk to different people and help customers find books that they will genuinely like and not just try to get them into what I like or what’s popular or what I need to sell. As a kid I loved super-hero books. I read a lot of Green Lantern and got into it as Hal Jordan went mad and Kyle Rayner was coming into his own. I was a teenager and really identified with the “what does it mean to be a hero” as I was trying to figure out, like any teenager, who I am also. Now I feel like I read more horror/science fiction stuff like Descender, Paper Girls, etc. I still like super-heroes, but I think it’s just my taste in comics evolving into something different.
Hyper Epics: What most intrigues you about the future of comic books?
Jeff: I’m a big fan of indie comics. I was a local musician for a long time so I quickly realized that indie writers and artists are very similar to indie bands playing local venues. I love seeing lesser-known writers and artists get big chances at bigger books and breathing new life into them. Matt Rosenberg is a great example. He was big around our shop for his book We Can Never Go Home and 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank and then he scored big with Marvel and is writing Phoenix Resurrection, Punisher and more! His Black Mask / indie stuff was great so we’re really excited when we see his name on a Big 2 book! I’m also excited at the variety of comics out there. Super-heroes are great but now we’re getting comics about football, fencing, basketball and more. There are fantasy books but also fantasy books that intermix with modern elements. There’s also a huge influx of artists and writers putting up Kickstarters to get their books funded on their own – breathing new life into self-published comics and a DIY attitude which I think is awesome!