Besides teaching animation and writing this book on G.I. Joe, I also own a comic book store. G.I. Joe isn’t a big seller, to my dismay. I enjoy giving away comics on Free Comic Book Day, and to neighbor-kids from my home on Halloween. It was just a matter of time before these two things came together, plus I wanted an excuse to order an unreasonable quantity of the special anniversary. Say, ten times our normal order. (And not for the variant covers, as those are a bogus business model.)
It took eleven days to give away 200 copies. No “Buy Something, Get G.I. Joe #200 Free.” Just free. Anyone could walk in and ask, although I don’t think that happened, despite our promoting this with fliers, our weekly e-mail, our Facebook page, and some larger fliers in the store windows.
But for days, everyone who passed by the register was asked “Would you like a free copy of G.I. Joe 200?” Most people were pleasantly surprised. A few remarked they had read the comic years ago. Some weren’t fans, but took it anyway. And several people, reasonably, said no thank you. I didn’t think this would motivate sales of issue #201 (and a month out, I’m proven correct), or even collected editions from earlier in the series (we have them all in stock). That might surprise you, but by now, it doesn’t surprise me.
Free Comic Book Day offers an example. Walk-ins on that holiday tend not to return to pick up any specific series that was previewed on FCBD. Free Comic Book Day is less about turning on customers to any one particular monthly series, and more about getting people into the store to buy things — anything. Like how Free Cone Day at Ben and Jerry’s doesn’t turn you and your pals into weekly ice cream junkies. Or a little like how Black Friday isn’t about Christmas shopping, it’s about deals and regular shopping. Some FCBD visitors are weekly regulars, others who only visit twice a year. While they’re in getting free comics, customers tend to pick up a few singles or graphic novels. I could go on at length about what sells and why at American comic book shops in general, and at Hub Comics specifically. Maybe one day I will.
But I’ll wrap up this topic by stating it was fun to tell IDW we were doing this. And that several dozen people, both on the internet who heard about it but weren’t local, and many who were, enjoyed the treat. I enjoyed giving away something special, something G.I. Joe-related. And I very much enjoyed the issue itself. I’m not sure when we’ll next do a big G.I. Joe event — we’ve already had a Larry Hama signing and now this. Maybe when I’m done with my book…
7 responses to “Hub Comics Gave Away 200 Copies of “G.I. Joe” #200”
I would actually love to read an article about what sells, and what doesn’t, at today’s comic shops.
Well I appreciate all the effort and support.
What a cool event for #200! The ARAH GIJoe series typically sells out in a month at my local comic shop. That may only be a couple dozen copies each month, but people are reading it. I have not seen the same diminishing copies of other Joe-oriented comics.
Jad: Maybe I’ll write one over the summer.
SL: Thanks! I appreciate your loyalty to the series and your clear storytelling.
cyko9: Thanks for the comparison. Yeah, Hub sells twice as many ARAH as the three IDW-continuity Joe series. But none of the four sell much, so that comparison is misleading. But it sure is dramatic. Hub Comics is perhaps unusual in that our top sellers aren’t Batman, X-Men, and Avengers.
Could be wrong but I’m pretty sure I read on the IDW forums that on a monthly basis, ARAH is actually the worst-selling of all the Joe titles, (this was before the others were recently canceled). I know that’s the case at my local store. They bring in maybe half a dozen copies and I’ve never seen it sell out. Meanwhile they bring in 3-4 times as many for the other Joe books, (which all totally blow IMO).
Dan, thanks for the info. I’m not surprised that ARAH would be the lowest seller. It’s a niche. One doesn’t have to have read the Marvel run, but it looks that way. The IDW-verse, particularly since it restarts every two years, feels more accessible. Ironically, it might be less, since the three series are interwoven a bit, and cumulatively there are almost 200 issues total, about the same quantity for the original ’80s series if you include “Special Missions” and “Yearbook.”
I have a feeling if you were a G.I. Joe fan trying to get into the last few years of the other series, you would be confused as hell. With so many restarts and #1s, you wouldn’t know where to begin. At least the ARAH book maintains continuity. I’ve heard rumours of IDW somehow merging ARAH with the new titles coming out soon, but I have no idea if that’s true or how they’d even make that work.