Friday, August 26, 2011

Atomic Comics R.I.P.

The market for the tablet has exploded in the wake of the success of the iPad, with nearly every electronics company rushing their own models in to production. Of course, the tablet is just the right size for reading comics, and the popularity of apps such as Comixology is growing right along with the tablet market.

But, where does this leave the traditional shops? Long seen as a haven for dyed-in-the-wool nerds, many people have normally strayed away from comic shops...For most shop owners that may not know how to adapt to changing times, the announcement of same-day digital releases can be a little scary…

- Me again, Examining the DC Relaunch Part 01: The Business,

Several news bits have come out this week that have made the above statements a lot more interesting.

First of all, did you see the movie Kick Ass? Remember the comic shop the gang hung out in? That was Arizona-based Atomic Comics, one of the biggest and most popular comic shops in the country. And earlier this week, they closed their doors for good.

All About Books and Comics is working to fill the shop’s orders to customers that have been left out in the lurch. That having been said, it has to be tough to be any comic shop owner and watch one of the giants fall with virtually no warning. Makes you wonder what hope any of the other shops have.

Interestingly enough, one of the biggest threats to brick-and-mortar shops is stepping in to help out. Digital retailer ComiXology has opened more than 100 digital “storefronts” for comic shops. The move is part of ComiXology’s comic shop affiliate program to help physical shops serve online customers as well, and seems like a good move. However, some owners of physical shops don’t think ComiXology’s terms are fair at all and are afraid that this may only hasten the death of the comic shop as we know it. And would that serve as the death knell for the market itself?

There’s certainly a lot of behind-the-scenes going on right now in the comic world, and some of it looks scary. Depending what side of the coin you call on, however, the future could look pretty bright as well. All of this merits keeping an eye on, because the future of an industry...check that, a culture could be at stake.

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