Always Early #5 – New Comic Wednesdays Are Here to Stay

By Richard Early

I always liked the crazy, hyperbolic language Stan Lee threw in comics. He had a great way of exciting the reader and making comics seem larger than life. I especially remember the “Excelsior!” bit from the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends cartoon in the early 1980’s. I’m no Stan Lee, but I do have some words that should excite our comic buyers. I’ve decided to extend our New Comic Wednesdays promotion indefinitely.

All the elements are staying. All new releases are 25% off the day they come out. I know you guys love that one. You’ve shown us how much you like it. There will continue to be weekly variant giveaways and cookies. Paradox is still tweaking the giveaways a little bit but I think that’s a nice little add-on. And cookies—who doesn’t love cookies? I buy most of the cookies from Nicole’s bakery just a few blocks south of Paradox so if you like them, please visit our friends over there. I started this promotion in early May, shortly after Free Comic Book Day. It was an experiment and I left an opening for Paradox to get out of it by limiting the event to May. I can tell you that the event has exceeded all expectations. I really like the way it’s working. I like the number of customers who come on Wednesday and the idea that they are all there eager to read comics. I share your love of comics and I think that striving to make Wednesday a better comic experience is part of that. I remember DC Comics saying when they started publishing 52 that they wanted to replicate the excitement that fans had over watching weekly TV shows like Lost. That’s the same sense I’m looking for here and clearly it’s happening.

New Comic Wednesdays was an idea that started a long time ago. I’ve spent years searching for a great comic promotion. I feel that Wednesday release day has lost it’s luster. I remember when I opened that people would be lined up waiting for new comics. I used to have to fight through people to get to the new comic rack just to put books out and they were snatching them off the shelf as fast as I could put them there. There are many reasons that things have changed. Customers still want to buy comics and still want to read them but they have so much access to information about the books compared to the past that it takes the edge off of Wednesday. A customer used to come into a shop and see the cover to a book for the first time, but now the cover and often many of the interior pages are online. Creators and publishers do lots of interviews and previews all over the web plus all the major announcements at the conventions are now covered online. The surprise is missing. The urgency is diminished when the book actually gets released.

I tried an event last May that I loved. I thought I had hit upon the greatest promotion I’d ever done. I was wrong. I called it Comic Bucks. The idea was to give customers money to spend on comic books. You got $1 to spend on 100 comics, $1 per book. That’s $100. Paradox gave out over $20,000 worth of these coupons. The coupon was designed to look like $100 bill (not exactly, Secret Service) and it could be re-used up to 100 times. I quickly realized that the promotion was just too complicated. My employees made fun of how complex the event was and the fact that no one could understand it. I admit in retrospect that it was confusing but it was never intended to be.  My goal for this event was to get customers to try more books by giving them these Comic Bucks. I wanted to see more units of comics sold in May 2009 than in May 2008. The opposite happened and that was the nail in the coffin for Comic Bucks. I am sad that my favorite promo was a failure but sometimes that’s the way it goes. I would like to revisit this some day but with some modification. I would hand out 100 $1 bills instead and then people could actually spend them as they went. The good news is that Comic Bucks led to New Comic Wednesdays.

So New Comic Wednesdays hit the mark. I’m not prepared to say that they will last forever. I can almost guarantee they won’t because after 17 years in this business, the only constant I’ve seen is change. Both Paradox and it’s customers go through lots of changes whether it’s economic or otherwise. I hope you will continue to take advantage of this discount. I also hope you will point your friends or family in our direction. I think one of the big elements of New Comic Wednesdays is the simplicity. No one has to be a subscriber to benefit. It’s open to anyone. Comic buyers from other shops or out of town  or even first-time readers all get rewarded. I have a great passion for comics. I read at least 10 new comics every week and lots of trade paperbacks. I know you have this passion too. I share my passion through Paradox. I encourage you to share yours with others in your life. Introduce comics wherever you can. Explain why you love them. Not everyone you run into will respond but it only takes one to start a whole new lifelong love affair.

I also want to announce another big change. I am re-entering the world of back issue comics. Paradox has been offering $0.25 back issues for quite a while and I have noticed how much of a response that customers have had to them. The back issues we have been carrying are unsorted and unorganized. I’m actually going to start up a stock of fully sorted books. I’m going to bag and back them and the price is going to be about $0.99 or so. Some books will be more if they are collectible or hot but the goal is to keep a very affordable stock on hand. I want to focus on popular characters and titles and avoid books tat don’t have much value such as 1990s Image comics or 1980s Superman comics. I’ve had back issues like that before and that is not what I want to do again. I’m even going to bring cool books with first appearances like Giant Size X-Men 1 and so on. I’m going to be buying and trading back issues. I’m looking for collections and I’m hoping to start buying and trading with regular customers. There will be no set price for books. Buying will vary from series to series. I think it’s fair to expect that if we are reselling books for $0.99 that most books will be purchased in cash or trade from between $0.25 and $0.66 but that’s all case by case. Not all books will be sold at that price either. There are recent runs of books like Captain America that I would try to get cover price out of and offer much more in cash and trade. The point is that as of now, Paradox is buying and trading and we hope to see a lot of books come in.

That’s it, gang. I’m sure this article will put a smile on your face and help keep your pocket book happy. See you all soon.