Retailer Roundup – March 2011 & The great comic shop tour of 2011

Before I left on my trip of the Maritimes the esteemed Kevin Boyd presumed that I would be hitting comic shops all across the region. I strongly refuted that assertion but that didn`t last, obviously.

Over the last two weeks I visited, and secret shopped, 22 comics stores:

Fantasy Realm – Cornwall, ON
Librairie Première Issue – Quebec City, QC
Librairie Pantoute – Quebec City, QC
L’imaginaire – Sainte-Foy, QC
The Comic Hunter – Moncton, NB
Strange Adventures – Halifax, NS
Game Zilla – Truro, NS
Batter’s Box – Truro, NS
Enigma Comics and Games – Sackville, NB
Read’s United Book Exchange – Saint John, NB
Game Zilla – Saint John, NB
Loyalist City Coins & Books – Saint John, NB
Game Zilla – Moncton, NB
Read’s Comic Shop (aka Halley’s Comics) – Moncton, NB
Game Zilla – Bathurst, NB
Studio 9 Comic Shop – Montréal, QC
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly – Montréal, QC
Débédé – Montréal, QC
Librairie Planète BD – Montréal, QC
Librairie Millénium – Montréal, QC
Librairie Renaud-Bray – Montréal, QC
Librairie The 4th Wall – Pointe-Claire, QC

This is the sort of thing we do to keep on top of our Harry Kremer Award nominations, and it was an interesting look at the industry from a retail point of view as the stores were all across the spectrum. I was pleasantly surprised by many of the shops, and this trip really reinforced what we already knew: the Quebec market has a strong affinity for comics, and the support for bande dessinée is astounding.

For everyone that lambasts this industry for having dank, basement comic shops, I think you are stuck in the 80’s/90’s. The quality of comic shop has increased the past 10 years. As the business becomes more difficult and retailers have to step up their game to compete, the shops that remain better represent modern retailing. While not every shop achieves higher standards, the average score is higher. And it could be something as simple as leaving back issues in the 90’s. With the rise of the TPB/GN, and decimation of the collectible back issue, stores have adopted a bookstore appearance.

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British Columbia

Gotham Collectibles is gathering gently used clothing which will be donated to charity at the end of the month. Bring in your donation of clean gently used jeans or hoody to receive a free comic of your choosing with any purchase of $5 or more. Limit 1 comic per customer per day.

Tazmanian Comics
will be moving in April, 11 blocks away to a new location at 3618 East Hastings Street, Vancouver.

It's not that far. What's 11 blocks? Though they are crossing 'Boundary Road'. That's got to mean something.

Alberta

Red Skull hosted writer Kurtis J Wiebe for a signing of Intrepids #1.

Quantum Comics & Collectibles celebrated 1 year in business.

Happy Harbor announced an Artist in Residency program. Work in the shop two days a week (Friday & Saturday) and earn yourself $100.

Happy Harbor will drive you to the Calgary Comic Expo, where you will see the Joe Shuster Awards given out, or the San Diego Comic Con.

Happy Harbor also hosted a 12 Hour Comic Challenge: draw a 12 page comic in 12 hours. They raised $2500 and HH is topping that up by 10%.

Saskatchewan

Looks like there is a Comic Jam in Saskatoon now, as Unreal City posts the photos.

Amazing Stories will host local creators Kurtis Wiebe and Riley Rossmo for the launch of Green Wake #1 in April. Wiebe mentions the book has sold out at the distributor level, another Image #1 that is underordered during initial orders and sees an FOC bump. It’s a continual pattern but I won’t blame retailers as Image is pumping out a ton of new product lately and not every book is going to be a hit.

The Amazing Stories guys hip us to local creator Arwen Savage’s first book, A Life Inside Mine, and her webcomic, Bob & Charlie

Ontario

Stadium Comics continues on with their Unboxing Wednesday. They open the delivery, pull stuff out and show it to you.

The Dragon put out two podcasts: 1) a review of Matt Kindt‘s Super Spy(Top Shelf) and Revolver (Vertigo) & 2) a discussion of the Joe Shuster Awards Cartoonist and Artist categories.

During March Break The Dragon hosted Story Time, a reading of children’s comics for kids.

Big B Comics radio podcast Comic Culture put out 5 new episodes in March. They have a new intro! Listen every week to find out if they mention Conan or Grant Morrison (they usually do, for some reason). Catch up on all the movie and other-media tie in’s that are out there.

Comic Connection in Hamilton are celebrating 25 years in business.

Heroes Comics participated and helped sponsor Comics Literacy Day in London. They received some great media attention. (Shame about the Pow! Bam! headline.)

It’s great to see Heroes World launching a new website with updated content.

Here is a cute article: Silver Snail vs Paradise Comics. Who would win? Action Figures vs Back Issues!

Quebec

La Boîte à B D in Laval celebrated 17 years in business.

Le Port de tête hosted two events in March. On the 2nd, Jimmy Beaulieu (Comédie sentimentale pornographique), and Pascal Girard (Conventum) appeared to sign their recent releases. On March 7th,
La Pastèque launched their new erotic comic ‘Carton’ featuring work by John Martz, Benjamin Adam, Nicolas Mahler, Pascal Blanchet, Pascal Girard, Edouard H.Bond et Mélanie Baillargé.

Paul at Librairie Astro fancies himself a geezer or curmudgeon, but his recent ‘Motormouth‘ posting made me laugh: “We carried CSN about 15 years ago, and frankly, the … obnoxious griping by people who insisted that it be included in their reserves, and were then dissatisfied because the free newspaper they got “wasn’t mint” just left us disenheartened and we stopped getting it. … Now we’re trying it again … every other Wednesday … and if you want an in-between issue, well gee, we’re sorry, but that’s just tough luck.”

Drawn + Quarterly store had a couple of events in March

  • Billy Mavreas (The Overlords of Glee and Inside Outside Overlap) hosted a round-table discussion with Elisabeth Belliveau and Joe Ollmann on March 24th
  • Joint book launch for two local Montrealer D+Q artists: Joe Ollmann (Mid-Life) & Pascal Girard (Reunion) on March 23rd

Librairie Planète BD hosted Tristan Roulot and Patrick Hénaff for the launch of the new book Le Testament du Capitaine Crown. This is a fine looking comic which received great reviews, and I picked up a copy during my great comic shop tour.

New Brunswick

The Comic Hunter has started up a new Comic Jam.

The Strange Adventures Ladies Night has spread to Fredericton.

Nick Bradshaw appeared at Gamezilla Moncton for a signing of his newest book X-Men Annual #3.

Nova Scotia

Strange Adventures Halifax hosted another Ladies Night.

Newfoundland

Comic Jams are all the rage! Breakdown Comic Jam started up in St. John’s. Downtown Comics and the Breakdown Comic Jam hosted Andrew Bonia, writer of TMNT, in March.

Sword n Steele launched a new website.

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