The Q & A with Halifax comic shop owner Calum Johnston went so well I’m going to try to make it a regular feature. This time around the profiled shop is a little closer to home: The Dragon in Guelph serves a city of 100 000, including 10 000 or so university students. Dragon manager Amy Restemayer was kind enough to answer the short list of questions emailed to her.
Q. What is the general age/gender breakdown of your customers?
The general age for graphic novel and manga customers ranges between about 15 and 30, with the odd older collector getting into newer series via trades. Graphic novels and trades are higher sellers for males and manga is mostly females.
Q. What do you sell more of by volume, graphic novels (including trades and manga) or monthly comic books?
A. By volume we sell more monthly comic books than graphic novels and manga combined.
Q. What do do you sell more of by dollar value?
A. Also comics, the sales of single issues outweigh all other print material in our store.
Q. What are your top 10 bestselling books?
A. Top ten books would be Inu Yasha, Fullmetal Alchemist, Fables, Ultimate Spiderman, Fruits Basket, Naruto, Bleach, Walking Dead, Angel Sanctuary and Berserk.
Q. What are your bestselling non-manga graphic novels?
A. Top ten non-manga titles are Fables, Ultimate Spiderman, Walking Dead, Y the Last Man, Sandman, Preacher, Runaways, Kingdom Come, Watchmen and Sin City.
Q. What are your bestselling non-superhero graphic novels?
A. You will notice the theme here, Fables, Walking Dead, Y the Last Man, Sandman, Preacher, 300, Sin City and V for Vendetta would be the top sellers (yes, I consider V a non-superhero book, though other may argue that). The other two top spots would be a mix of titles such as Goon, Conan, Bone, Blankets and Strangers in Paradise.
Q. What percent of your manga sales are driven by “TheYTV effect” and other media (anime, movies, toys, etc)?
A. It’s hard to say just how much of the manga industry is fuelled by other media. Though they are still heavily editing the shows broadcast in North America they are not as strict with the manga translations and therefore we get a lot of crossover for titles such as Inu Yasha, Fullmetal Alchemist and Bleach, which are airing on YTV, because fans want to know the whole story. The manga story is also usually different from the anime, depending on the control of the original creator. I would estimate that something close to 80% of readers were introduced to manga through other media, whether going from an anime to the manga it was based on directly or from an anime to a similarly themed manga.
Q. What do you see as the major trends in graphic novels and comics retailing over the next year? The next 5 years?
A. Over the next year I think that the trends of the new comic book based movies will cause those properties to skyrocket. We’ve already seen it with 300 and the movie is only being released this month. My hope is that over the next five years Vertigo will continue to lead our sales due to the speed at which they release their trades and the low costs of each volume.
Q. Any upcoming events/signings?
A. We are hoping to make our November signing a yearly occurrence, but we don’t have any firm plans as of yet.
3 Wyndham Street North
(top photo: cartoonists Jay Stephens & Cameron Stewart @ The Dragon, 2005)