Free comics for the Galaxy
by Kodey Weis
While many people will be rushing into theaters for the latest superhero summer blockbuster this weekend, fans of comic heroes should also know that Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday, May 6. For those in Duluth, two comic book stores celebrating the holiday are Collector’s Connection and Rogue Robot.
The holiday began with the release of the first “Spider-Man” movie in 2002, and since then has been celebrated the same weekend other superhero films are released. Since 2002, the superhero genre has seen a rise in popularity with several films and shows released each year. With comics being increasingly integrated into pop culture, both local Duluth comic shops have seen a rise in people coming to their stores and purchasing comics.
“Their popularity made it more acceptable for random people to start coming into the store,” Glen Booth said, manager of Collector’s Connection. “Most times when a new comic book film or show is released there is a noticeable bump in sales for the comics that they are based on.”
Booth says that he’s seen an increase of newcomers to the shop since “Iron Man,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “The Walking Dead” have been released in the past decade. UMD Student and Rogue Robot employee Nikki Carroll has also seen this trend with recent successful superhero films.
“At Rogue Robot we are completely out of both Daredevil and Deadpool comics and I regularly have customers come in looking for our also sold out Old Man Logan,” Carroll said.
Both Carroll and Booth notice these rises in sales are related to the comic that a new comic book film or series is based on. While they are optimistic, UMD professor and avid comic book fan David Beard is cautious on how much comic book popularity helps local comic shops or the industry.
“I can’t say popularity helps with the millions watching The Walking Dead on TV, but only tens of thousands buying the comic book,” Beard said. “It may help certain sales, but it doesn’t transform the niche market.”
Yearly comic sales information is difficult to calculate, but one of the most reputable sources is from a Brian Hibbs article for The Beat. Hibbs wrote that in 2016, comic sales have continued to rise since they last dropped during the recession, but have increased profits by over 12% since 2015.
Booth has seen this increase in sales happen with some more obscure and unknown comic titles. When the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” was released, sales for the comic tripled. Jessica Jones was also successful in the shop after Netflix made a series about her.
“Jessica was a mostly unknown character, but now has her own comic series, which wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Netflix,” Booth said.
While comic book shops may not make profits from the free comics they will be giving out on May 6, it is a way to attract newcomers into their shops. Booth and Carroll say that their respective shops see an increase in customers on the holiday, and Beard believes that it is a positive event for them.
“It’s an excellent way for the retailers to remind the public that remnants of their childhood are still being sold in local shops,” Beard said.
So if you’re one of the many going out to see Baby Groot and the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy after finals, visit a local comic book shop, pick up a free comic and look at what else they have to offer.
Photo courtesy of Kodey Weis