Shop Talk with Alpha Comics: May 4, 2012

The first Friday of the month means it’s time to check in with Alpha Comics shop owner Chris Humphries and talk a little shop. May is always an interesting month with Free Comic Book Day and Chris is here to dish about the business.

Aaron Long: April saw two pretty big releases with Avengers Vs. X-Men and the start of the Night of the Owls crossover. There has definitely been media hype and Twitter traffic, have you seen a boost in interest from these Big Two events?

Chris Humphries: As Alpha Comics is a new shop, sometimes it’s hard to tell what is a growing title or what is just growing along with the shop. Batman #8 was my biggest shipment for Batman so far and it sold out in three days. When I order Batman I try to order enough copies to last two months. 90% of those copies will move in its first week. I was surprised to see Batman #8 sell out so quickly. There is a Night of Owls poster in my shop, it has generated a lot of discussion at the counter. I’ve had quite a few file holders request copies of all the tie-ins. Night of the Owls is definitely moving more copies for the bat-family books for May.

Tie-ins for Avengers Vs X-Men have also gotten a boost. Everyone knows they don’t have to get these books but they still want them. Just like Batman #8, the last issue of Wolverine and the X-Men sold out in three days. New faces have been showing up in the shop this past week. Practically all of them are jumping on Night of Owls or AvX.

AL: Many Image books have been selling out multiple print runs. Now these runs are definitely smaller scale than a print run for say, Avengers Vs. X-Men, but all tolled are any of the creator books selling near the Big Two levels in your shop?

CH: Because the big two are publishing so many comics some of them sell in big numbers while other don’t do well at all. In some cases some of these books don’t even get dedicated shelf space in my shop, subscription only. Some Image comics sell at Aquaman levels for me, or close to. Saga stands out and has a lot of subscriptions at Alpha. But it is hard to say where it will level off. Both of the two first issues had promotions behind them in my shop. We’ll see what happens with #3. Peter Panzerfaust and Manhattan Projects are other big sellers that are matching some of the big two’s better sellers. Image Comics are selling great but not at Batman or AvX levels.

AL: Free comic book day hits North America tomorrow – what would you say is the best FCBD release people should be looking for?

CH: There are two FCBD comics I’m recommending for everyone. Both books are great for existing comic fans and those new or returning to comics.

DC Comics The New 52 is a FCBD comic that new comers will be able to recognize and gravitate to. It gives them all the superheros they’ve seen and are familiar with. For existing fans they will be getting a lot of great unseen material. You will find out which Wayne DC has been teasing that’s under the Earth 2 Batman mask. You’ll get to see what coming up for the Justice League and you’ll get an awesome gatefold from Jim Lee.
IDW’s Transformers Regeneraton One is another one that will give new comers something familiar to get onto. For the longtime fan, this is the start of a new IDW Transformers comic that picks up where the old Marvel books left off. It’s just like how IDW’s G.I. Joe Real American Hero continues the continuity of Marvel’s old line.

AL: A “new” hat was thrown in the publishing ring this year, with Valiant coming back and unleashing 4 titles this summer. Do you think there is room for Valiant in this comic market? There are rumors floating around about a 42,000 copy sellout, leading some to believe market manipulation. Do you think these books can compete in this market?

CH: I think Valiant has done a fantastic job promoting their return. On top of that they’ve listened to a lot of fans and retail voices, not to mention incredible creative lineups. The timing is perfect with so many people returning to comics. As for what is happening in my shop? Despite bag stuffing Valiant supplied ads and putting up posters in the shop, No one is talking about it. Even when I bring up X-O Manowar with my customers they have no real memory of the old Valiant and show little interest in it. Maybe that’s just the Calgary market. It could be that back in the 90’s Valiant wasn’t popular here. As a kid I certainly didn’t see much of the comics at the shops I was going to. My main exposure to Valiant in the 90’s was reading about it in Wizard magazine. I think the Valiant FCBD offering could generate some momentum in my shop. I guess we will just have to wait and see. Who knows I might get a bunch of phone calls looking for X-O #1.

AL: Crystal ball time: what is going to be the biggest book of May?

CH: Biggest book for May? Oh wow there is so much good stuff in May people are going to have to decide between food and comics! But which will top the sales charts? I think AvX will hold the top spot.

Check out Alpha Comics at their website: alphacomics.ca and on Twitter: @alphacomics

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