Editor in Chief

Ford  Gilmore

Supporting Your Local Comic Shop is More Vital Than Ever

The LCS, of course, is your local comic shop. There are less than a few thousand of them throughout North America. And there are fewer of them now than there were six months ago. The hashtags #SupportYourLCS and #BoostYourLCS started trending around the holidays. This wasn't a marketing exercise of retailer organization ComicsPRO, or the handiwork of publishers trying to drum up sales. It was the market responding to a relatively rough holiday season and a contraction in the market.

2016 saw a number of long-storied shops having to close their doors for good. Some took to GoFundMe.com and similar sites to raise funds to stay open. A number of comic shops reported slower-than-normal holidays, and there’s been some gloom-and-doom for what 2017 holds in store. It's more than a little ironic, too. Digital sales of comics are surging as more and more people consume comics on their iPads and Kindles, trade paperback collections and graphic novels have been best-sellers for Amazon and other e-tailers, too. And the success of movies and television shows—and their licensed goods—based on comics is at an all-time high. But many brick-and-mortar local comic shops are seeing declining sales. That’s why the hashtags started.

But the bigger picture is why it deserves your attention.

You see, the LCS is part of the backbone of comics—of the industry, of the art form, of the medium. The heroes and villains of both Marvel and DC could survive if the LCS were to go the way of the vinyl record store. Hell, Marvel and DC could survive just based on their parent companies Disney and Warner Brothers exploiting them in other media. But the same can’t be said for the myriad other titles by other publishers. The brand-new ideas, and characters, and stories. The more experimental ones. Genres beyond super-heroes. The early works by the creators who will go on to shape the Marvel and DC universes. Or the pet projects of the superstars who write Marvel and DC's best-sellers today.

Spider-Man and Batman can sell themselves. But those other comics often need some help. It's the retail community that provides that help. They can take risks, hand-sell new titles to their customers, get to know their clientele and recommend new titles and creators that they think will appeal to them. They can develop the fanbase, and help new titles find an audience. They can also nurture the talents and imaginations of the next generation of creators—most everyone creating comics started as a fan, and had their horizons broadened by their LCS.

That's what the LCS is about. It's about helping those lesser-known titles to find an audience. It's about helping a little indy book that printed less than 8,000 copies of its first issue like THE WALKING DEAD become household name like, you know, THE WALKING DEAD. It's about giving fans a place to congregate and talk about all the industry has to offer. It's about nurturing new voices and talents and inspiring them to connect with an audience. Supporting your LCS isn't a matter of helping a mom-and-pop retail store stay afloat afloat, it's about helping the comics medium evolve and thrive.

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