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Good manga for a comic book store?


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mizushimo



Joined: 15 Oct 2003
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:09 pm Reply with quote
A local comic store owner is thinking about carrying manga again. He tried to do this once a few years ago but barely sold anything. Now that Borders is gone he's thinking of trying again. What do you guys think? Is it a good idea? Can comic book fans be tempted to buy manga or are fanbases too seperate?

He also asked me to suggest some manga title that he could stock. Do you guys have any recommendations? I think they'd have to appeal to his regular customers. So maybe manga that are a little more mature and/or violent that aren't as well known as say "One Piece" or "Naruto" (he had no luck selling those). Also, they'd have to be titles that are currently licensed and in print so that he could order them easily.

The only one I could think of was "Vagabond" (currently being published by Dark Horse). I have read so much manga but so little of it applies...
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skafreak51



Joined: 13 Feb 2009
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:13 pm Reply with quote
May I ask where it is? I know major comic stores in big cities sell a lot of manga really well.
I think the thing is that manga fans already become accustom to buying from B&N and just online in general, but there's always room to grow.

I personally think that only reading one style of comic is really dumb. Manga are amazing, American comics are amazing. I know it's hard to not be biased, but.

Anyway, go with a lot of the stuff that sells first. Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, the Sailor Moon reprints, etc.

Second, go with the more adult stuff like 20th Century Boys, Dark Horse manga (Berserk, Gantz, etc,) Drops of God, and all of that stuff that was up for/received Eisner Awards.
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classicalzawa
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:40 pm Reply with quote
mizushimo wrote:
So maybe manga that are a little more mature and/or violent

Well there's two categories I could suggest. First off, the Viz Sig line in general is meant to be aimed at a more mature audience, the seinen crowd (and occasional josei).

And secondly, most anything published by Vertical. Lychee Light Club is really dark and disturbing and complete in one volume. They also publish a lot of Osamu Tezuka, MW, Ayako, Book of Human Insects, all really dark and a single volume long (ok, more like one big thick volume). I could see having trouble selling long multiple volume things, but perhaps trying some big omnibuses might work better. And many of them are flipped specifically to be more accessible to general comic fans and not just manga fans. There's also some short series like No Longer Human and the soon to be released Message to Adolf (also a Tezuka title to boot!) and if those work, maybe try for some of the longer Tezuka series like Buddha and Black Jack and longer Vertical titles like Drops of God (also great for wine people) and Twin Spica.

Fantagraphics also sells some josei and seinen stuff. Wandering Son is something that B&N don't really carry, and it's a mature story about transgendered children.

And yeah, Sailor Moon is selling ridiculously well, there's gotta be people who walk into any comic shop who go "Toonami! I remember Sailor Moon!", so it can even appeal to nostalgia. Sailor Moon has been the top seller in manga pretty much since Kodansha started releasing it, nothing else is even close.

There are also just certain other random titles I'd recommend, Bride's Story, Parasyte (I think it's getting a reprint soonish), Fullmetal Alchemist (also sells ridiculously well), and more I'll think of later
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Dessa
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:14 am Reply with quote
I actually think, at this point, that recommendations for specific titles are likely to do more to hurt than to help.

What your comic shop owner needs to do, is gauge his customer base. What types of comics do they already buy, so he can look into manga of similar themes, which are more likely to sell than something completely different. Pathfinders can be great resources, especially with an investment that could cost a lot of money if it fails.

Another thing to look at, is if he already sells "manga format" versions of English books, such as DC's "Grand Quest" release of ElfQuest. American comics, even in graphic novel format, often are more different from manga than just the direction you read, and the "manga format" books can be used as an intermediary bridge between comics and manga.
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Tamaria
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:09 am Reply with quote
Quote:
What your comic shop owner needs to do, is gauge his customer base. What types of comics do they already buy, so he can look into manga of similar themes, which are more likely to sell than something completely different. Pathfinders can be great resources, especially with an investment that could cost a lot of money if it fails.


Exactly. What works for one shop won't always work for another. For instance, if this comic shop specializes in the less mainstream titles (or even indie/underground comics) it'd make sense to look into titles from D&Q, Ponent Mon, Fantagraphics and Vertical, and focus on introducing customers to authors or movements, not series.

But if customers are begging for Bleach, start selling shounen manga.
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marie-antoinette
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:37 am Reply with quote
While I agree with the others that it's hard to recommend things without knowing customers better, one title that did come to my mind right away was Blade of the Immortal. While I admit, the series didn't do a whole lot for me, it does have a closer feel to North American comics than other manga out there (Dark Horse even published it in single issue format for awhile).
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yuna49



Joined: 27 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 7:25 am Reply with quote
How about a survey of the customers?

Have they ever read manga? If so, what are their three favorite titles?

Have they ever watched anime? If so, what are their three favorite titles?

Do they watch anime on TV? Toonami?

Simple things like that. Would take a minute or so to complete.
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ikillchicken
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 4:49 pm Reply with quote
mizushimo wrote:
A local comic store owner is thinking about carrying manga again. He tried to do this once a few years ago but barely sold anything. Now that Borders is gone he's thinking of trying again. What do you guys think? Is it a good idea? Can comic book fans be tempted to buy manga or are fanbases too seperate?


It goes without saying that it depends on the clientele but I'll say it anyway because it really depends on the clientele.

Honestly, if you do 95% of your business in superhero comics (as some comic shops seem to) then you should probably just forget manga. There's very little crossover between these two fanbases. If you do decent numbers on other stuff though then I think you probably have some customers who are either manga fans or at least manga curious.

Quote:
I think they'd have to appeal to his regular customers. So maybe manga that are a little more mature and/or violent that aren't as well known as say "One Piece" or "Naruto" (he had no luck selling those).


I think you're absolutely right about this. What's most popular in the manga world might not be what's best for you. Stuff like Naruto, Bleach and One Piece might sell well to manga fans but I really don't think the bulk of these book's fans shop at specialty comic shops (or certainly not specialty western comic shops). Maybe with Borders gone it'll help but this stuff is mainstream enough that most of its fans still aren't going to have to resort to specialty shops to find it. As you said, the most important thing is matching your existing clientele. Above all else, pick books similar to the western books you already sell.

If your customers tend to like the kind of alternative but still relatively mainstream stuff (like the Walking Dead, Hellboy, anything from Vertigo) then you obviously want to try something similar. Start with stuff more or less action oriented and aimed at men. Vagabond and Blade of the Immortal are both good choices. I think they'd more or less appeal to everyone (short of diehard superhero fans). I think Berserk would do alright too (although it skews a bit more toward the extremely graphic).

Also, you should definitely try stuff that looks less manga-ish. If you're dealing with people who don't normally read manga, a huge part of the challenge is just going to be getting them to pick up the book and give it a look in the first place. Stuff that looks a bit closer to what they're used to is going to go over a lot better than stuff that has more of a strikingly "manga" look.

On the other hand, if you deal in a lot of really indie stuff then just pick good, critically acclaimed titles. Your readers are probably fairly flexible in terms of actual subject matter and a lot of them probably already read manga or at least have read manga. Anything by Vertical or anything nominated for an Eisner award would be good. There's also stuff like Monster, Pluto and 20th Century Boys which is more middle of the road. It would certainly be popular with indie fans but it's also a lot more mainstream friendly than some of that Vertical stuff. It's probably not the kind of thing someone who is new to manga will immediately grab though.

One tip either way: Start small. No reason to break the bank stocking a ton of manga titles right off the bat. Pick a couple select books that you think have the best chance of success and stock them. If they do well then you can always add more titles later on.
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TitanXL



Joined: 08 Jun 2010
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:56 pm Reply with quote
Naruto and One Piece don't appeal to superhero comic readers. Bleach does however. Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal, Gantz, Ouran, Bakuman, Tenjo Tenge, and others as well, at least according to the top sellers: http://www.icv2.com/​articles/​news/​23333.​html

I'd avoid Sailor Moon since girls don't really go to comic shops. They're buying that at bookstores. It's not on that list either.
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marie-antoinette
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:41 pm Reply with quote
TitanXL wrote:
I'd avoid Sailor Moon since girls don't really go to comic shops.


Um, what? Sure they do. Granted, based on what has been said about this particular store, I agree that Sailor Moon doesn't sound like the best fit, that doesn't mean we need to start making extremely faulty and stereotypical generalizations.
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Dessa
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:44 pm Reply with quote
Girls don't go to comic shops?

*glances at her 4 stuffed boxes of comics, 90% of which were bought at comic shops, including, lo and behold, all 25 issues of the individual-chapter-comics of Sailor Moon (halfway through original vol. 2 to the end of the Infinity arc)*
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TitanXL



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 9:14 pm Reply with quote
You do know what an 'exception to the rule' is, right? Naming a handful of girls who do doesn't exactly change the fact it's an immensely male-dominated business. Stock up your shop with a bunch of shoujo and you're only going to regret it in the end.
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marie-antoinette
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 9:54 pm Reply with quote
Or you'll find an untapped customer-based. Honestly, while there still is a definitely male majority, I think you are grossly ignorant of the number of female comic book readers.
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Dessa
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 10:48 pm Reply with quote
The comic book store I grew up going to is sadly no longer in business (by choice, not because he went out of business), had at least 30% female customers. The comic store I go to now, it's rare that I don't see at least half the people in it female. Actually, I think they might have more female employees than men, even. The old "girls don't like comic" stereotype is vastly out-of-date, and damaging to women who seek equality in "boys-only" fandoms, such as comics and gaming.
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ZepysGirl



Joined: 14 Jun 2010
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:03 pm Reply with quote
Yes, the gender ratio definitely varies from shop to shop. The comic shop that I visit is just a few minutes from my college campus, on the main street of our downtown shopping area. I don't think I've ever been the only girl in the store when I go during busy times. Pretty sure a few women work there as well!

I can understand where the idea that "women don't go to comic shops" can originate from--- but I don't think it's helpful to keep repeating it as if that's all there is to it. Maybe think about why you aren't seeing women in your particular comic shop? Do you think that it's an inviting place for a female fan? (Because jeez, I've heard some horror stories. >.<) More importantly, please be careful about making the assumption that "no women in comic shops" = "no women fans of comics". I know you weren't saying that outright, TitanXL, but that is the common progression when people try to discredit female fans. That's why some of us are so defensive. Wink


But back on topic: I am a huge fan of manga and I do visit a comic shop occasionally, but I don't think I've ever bought manga there. It's just so much cheaper shopping online. Anime catgrin + sweatdrop I would definitely suggest the owner poll his regulars, though, and see what they'd be interested in.

And as a side note: I don't think Sailor Moon is really all that gendered. It's selling above and beyond everything else for a reason; fans of all genders are getting their nostalgia party on. If a lot of men/boys weren't buying it as well, then it would not be outselling the popular shonen titles. And from my own personal experience, pretty much everyone in my anime club (which is about evenly split between men and women) is excited for the new series. Sailor Moon was many people in my age group's first real introduction to anime, and that counts for a lot.
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