Comic Shops, A Community, A Lack of Indie

Yesterday was an adventure. I drove an hour and a half out of my area to visit a comic shop that I’m quite fond of. It’s located in a city up in the middle of the province that I live in (New Brunswick). We’re a small province. Nothing to note here. Or, well, there are things to note if you’re looking for history: a sense of old settlements and culture people just don’t talk about anymore. A lot of the houses are Cape Cod style or Victorian, even. We’re an interesting mix. People still sing folk songs and the old reels.

But this is Canada and Canada is cold even at the tail end of March. I dressed in layers of clothes and a heavy winter coat accompanied by a warm, hand knitted winter hat. It felt good. Until the wind hit my face in the city and I realized I was still underdressed for the walk I was about to undertake. Such is life.

The door to the comic shop burst open to the sound of a lightsaber igniting. I stumbled in with my eyes streaming from the cold. No. Cold didn’t cover it. The temperature was -12 Celsius yesterday. It was an unpleasant level of freezing. Not the worst, no, but unpleasant.

At least the clerk was cheerful. Or perhaps he was the owner. He was exceedingly knowledgeable and helpful and eager. I’ve been there a number of times but hadn’t really thought to ask. Which is admittedly my own fault in such an endeavor. In any case, the shop was, as ever, bursting with merchandise. It’s always filled to brimming with books, collectibles and beautiful art painted directly on the walls. This place is legit. Best of all? They give equal attention to the big names: Marvel and DC. No unequal patronage to one or the other. There’s even a section dedicated to Alterna. It’s a beautiful sight.

There’s only one problem. The other indie comics are difficult to locate. They’re few and far between anyways. I went there with the intention of looking for indie: a woman on a mission. There were a few scattered about oddly. Here and there. Some in odd places up high and out of my reach. I’m short. At 5’0″ I don’t have much going for me in the height department. My definition of ‘out of my reach’ is very skewed, but still. It was something that made me feel sad and left a small knot in the pit of my stomach.

A question therefore remains: what can we do about it? Dear readers, this is something I yearn for feedback on. As an indie promoter and outright enthusiast, and as a professional in the advertisement and marketing fields, I feel we can do better. Marketing is a place that the indie community is suffering in. I feel that is preaching to the choir, though the statement no less remains the truth.

Comic shops cannot know we exist if we do not tell them that we do. They have distributors that they buy from. Indie comics do not run through distribution. We are our own marketing and distribution. Reaching out across different platforms in different parts of the world have always hit against a barrier and we need to find a method to overcome that.

A distributor for indie comics, I do not think is necessarily the answer as they would take a cut from the creator and creators cannot afford that after already paying for printing.

What do we do about it? A solution, dear readers. We as an industry need a solution.

So hit us up with your ideas, comments or opinions on today’s article! We want YOUR feedback!

P.S. I did take home some comics from the mainstream. You can find them as the featured image of today’s article. They were GREAT reads for mainstream and if you’re into that side of comics, check them out!

ServerPanda
Under The Ink Editor-In-Chief

2 Comments

  • I had similar experience; going to a small comic store corner with no indie titles or very few. I’ve seen kids picking up comics, but usually mainstream at Chapters Indigo. Years back, I went different workshops to learn about the industry, indie comics seem to be a ‘big risk’ to publishers or worse, we might be signing our work to a shady contract. An option is taking some books and talk to librarians? They might allow some titles to go on shelves if its family friendly. I haven’t tried approaching comic stores, I’d love if there were signs encouraging original zines setup esp for free comic book day?

    • Good ideas, Joichi! Certainly things worth considering for people who want exposure. It would be worth mailing books out of the local community for more exposure. Physical copies still have a place in the industry. People like to have things they can hold.

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