Today at The Comics Journal, we're launching a new column--but unlike our other columns, this one will not have a fixed writer or topic. Instead, it'll be an old school op-ed column, publishing submissions from comics critics, creators and the like. (We're calling it "Listen To Me".) This installment of the column could also be considered a bit of an expose. At this weekend's ComicsPRO trade show, an anonymous pamphlet is currently making its way around the show. That pamphlet's author has supplied us with a full version of the pamphlet's essay, and has agreed to be publicly identified--it's Menachem Luchins, the owner/operator of comic book store Escape Pod Comics. He's got some stuff to say. While it should go without saying, i'm going to say it anyway: Menachem's point of view is 100% his own, and does not reflect that of TCJ or its editors.
To explain, you first have to accept a hard truth, one that I have come to grips with over the course of many years: Comic Retailers are the WORST PEOPLE to help save the direct market. Bold statement right? I mean… I just said I didn’t do research, so what can I use to back it up? How could all these people with so much to lose not be perfect to help fix it, to set it on the right course? The answer is easy, really; THE DIRECT MARKET IS ALREADY DEAD AND THE RETAILERS ARE THE ONES WHO KILLED IT. Comic retailers are moaning over the corpse of their beloved while gripping the bloody knife in their hands!
Speaking of ComicsPRO, the coverage of the show has been scattered and unusual, with sites like Bleeding Cool publishing bold, dramatic stories regarding DC's plans (including an extremely unusual claim that Dan Didio asked retailers "not to share their complaints about DC Comics – or others – with their customers"), only to see these articles dismissed out of hand by writers at other comics news sites, amongst more alleged criticisms that Didio reportedly was angry at Bleeding Cool's articles. It's all very dramatic--the sort of drama many of those retailers probably wish could be found in a DC comic book, as it seems to be very compelling.
A personal note: I could not be more pleased to have seen multiple outlets share the news that Michel Fiffe's Copra and Chuck Forsman's Revenger comics will soon be available via new publishers (which also means they will be available in a much more accessible fashion). Along with Tom Adams, I have been printing and selling collections of Copra for over seven years and Revenger for almost as long, via Bergen Street Press. It is has been a life-changing experience to watch these stories develop, but more so to have a front row seat to watch these artists grow into the successes they are today.
It would be impossible and inappropriate to use this space to describe the personal and emotional involvement that Tom and I have had in Copra and Revenger. But I will say this: I love those comics, and the fact that I got to be at the beginning of these two people's glorious and exciting careers is an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life. To Tom, Chuck and Michel: thank you. It has been an honor.