Are There Still Comics at Fan Expo?

Last updated on February 12th, 2015 at 04:15 pm

comic binsHell Yeah! Another year and another Fan Expo attendance record.

Big B Comics has set up at every Fan Expo so far giving us a behind the table view of this dramatic growth over these past two decades.

I heard some comic dealers griping about how the show has changed, how it’s not about comics anymore.

I disagree; it’s still very much about comics. Lots of dealers were there selling the highest of the high end, the lowest of the low end and everything in between. If you were a comic collector or just had general interest in reading them you’d find lots at Fan Expo.

The show has grown around comics, as a dealer I’d love 100,000 back issue comic customers, sadly I didn’t get it but I was still satisfied with the amount of buyers there were at the show, we sold a lot of old comics. I will say that our higher end books were the slowest of all out “departments”, we rocked it on the $3 bins and we did very well on our regular bins we sell at half off at the show. On the comic front we underperformed on the high end books, yeah we made a couple of bigger sales to other dealers but no real volume to speak of to collectors.

There is an old saying in comics, “you’re only as good as your last collection”, and while we had good stuff we’ve had better in preceding years. All this means that if you bring stuff people are not looking for you will be taking the stuff back home.

Big B is doing OK though thanks, we ramped up our current graphic novels massively and for the 1st time ever our graphic novel sales rivaled our back issue sales; again that doesn’t mean we didn’t sell a lot of old comics, it means we sold a heck of a lot of graphic novels.

Like I said up top, there were a couple of dealers that complained to me about the lack of buyers but again I say nay! Buyers were plentiful; they simply weren’t after the tired old stock most of us were bringing to the con.

Refreshingly, there were a couple of comic dealers at the con doing brisk business selling recent back issues, comics out within the last 5 years or so. These front runners were doing well because they were servicing a need we old timers refuse to service; we “vintage guys” look down on the moderns. Well what we were doing was looking down the aisle at the buyers buying up the stuff at the booths with recent stuff.

OK maybe I’m oversimplifying. For me it seemed like there were a few too many dealers selling recent stuff at vintage prices, thankfully most of those books were loaded back in the van they came in on.

The point is a massive volume of comics were sold at this con, some new, some old, some in between, some cheap, some expensive some in between, some deals, some rip offs some in between.

If I’m a dealer selling comics and I have so many tables each year at the con and I find my fortunes waning I have a few options, one – get less space to cut costs and select only the stuff I think has the best chance to sell, two – keep the same space and adjust the inventory I carry to better reflect what the crowd is buying, throw in there the need to adjust prices up or DOWN according to market and there is a fighting chance.

So Mr. Dealer buddy next time I see you at the show please don’t tell me about how terrible your back issues are selling and how there are no buyers left. What I’d like to hear about is all the successful changes you’ve made to your pricing strategy and your product mix.

And to the comic book consumer, I thank you for driving the market  by rewarding with your hard earned money those of us adaptive enough to satisfy your changing needs.

Walter Durajlija Written by:

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

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9 Comments

  1. Charlie
    September 2, 2014

    Sounds great Walt… sounds like you could use a run of DDs to fill your emptied bins ^_^

    There was Guardians stuff galore. Too much of it in my opinion, but as you say, you gotta respond to what people want.

    I spent the first day rummaging through the bins. A lot has happened in the past year and many of the bin prices hadn’t been updated so I managed to snag a few keys at last years prices. Sold them right away because what’s hot today may not be tomorrow.

    Second day I browsed around and talked to people.

    Third day I popped in for an hour to sell my small Thor collection. Being the generous guy I am, I let the buyer steal them from me ^_^

    Fourth day was bargain hunting time. I stocked up on bags and boards wholesale and picked up a few trades.

    All four days were spent in the comic section. I didn’t even bother to check out the other stuff, although I was tempted to meet the cosplay models till someone told me no “motor boating” allowed. Seems like false advertising to me.

  2. September 2, 2014

    This was the first Fan Expo in years when I dug through some long boxes to see what kind of deals I could find. #1 on my list was X-Force #2… my favourite comic. I was very surprised to find some dealers were selling them for $10 – $40 each. I guess the secret is out that X-Force #2 is Deadpool’s second appearance. I did find some for $1 and $3 respectively. I picked them up because you can’t have too many X-Force #2’s.

    For a person trying to re-purchase their collection from the 90’s, this year’s Fan Expo didn’t disappoint. I found a bunch of the Image #1’s for only a few dollars. There is more and more talk about the early Image comics being highly sought after (Spawn, Savage Dragon, WildCATS, etc). I thought it would be fun to see what’s available. I picked up a copy of WildCATS #1 for $3. Will it be worth something? Doubt it. Will it go in my collection with Spawn and Savage Dragon #1? Yup.

    It was a nice mix of comics at the show. Sure some dealers had vintage key books, but it was also nice to see some retailers with recent back issues (as you said above Walt). New 52 and Marvel Now! was a nice jumping on point and some collectors are looking for those one or two issues that may have eluded them from the comic rack the first time they came out.

  3. September 2, 2014

    A nice DD run eh charlie? Maybe we could do a 3 way with Ed, involve some X-Force #2s, those things are as liquid as water!

    Yes my sense was that there was a lot of comic book commerce at this show, may not have been much at the high end (then again there may have been, the high end book holders don’t report to me).

  4. September 2, 2014

    That WildCATS is a sleeper Ed!

    BTW fantastic job moderating the Captain Canuck panel.

  5. September 2, 2014

    Many thanks Walt!!! It was my pleasure and a real thrill to do.

  6. September 3, 2014

    Since I’m a newer vendor with limited space, I opted not to bring single issue comics, focusing on newer and evergreen graphic novels and art books on the table plus sale Masterworks, Archives, Showcases and Essentials below them. Behind the counter: states, Pop Vinyls, and some toys. Biggest selling items were Pop Vinyls – we moved about 85% of what I brought to the show. Statues also did well, with some selling before the show started. Graphic novels, we did great with popular books for younger readers like Amulet Vol 6 and Sisters, both of which came in the week before the show.

  7. September 3, 2014

    I think with comics, like with most things at the con, the more you have there the more you will attract people looking for specific issues “these guys might have it”.

    Sounds like you bucked that trend with your pop vinyls Kevin and it sounds like the mix of products you brought was in line with what the public was looking for.

    Sell any Masterworks or Archives?

  8. September 6, 2014

    I sold about two long boxes worth of Showcases and Essentials, with about 2/3 of a long box of hardcover Masterworks and Archives (at $30 each). Plus 3/4 of a long box of softcover Marvel Masterworks.

Make It Good.