Boy, I haven’t done one of these in a while.
This time around, James Cassels of the Comic Cave in Winnipeg, Manitoba, agreed to answer a few email questions about the shop he works in. Comic Cave occupies
1000 sq ft at 1104 Corydon Ave in the ‘Peg and has been in operation for 11 and 1/2 years. The set-up: “New Material and Comic Sets are set up on the eastern half of the store, Back Issues and Subscription Racks/Sales Counter on the western side. Other merchandise will likely be located near the back issues although gaming material is located behind counter.” Cassels is in charge of Product Orders.
Q. What is the general age/gender breakdown of your customers? What is the culture of your store?
Mostly Male 20’s – 30’s. Most have been collecting since they were younger. People who recently pick up comic reading are often book purchasers. No particular culture.
Q. What do you sell more of by volume?
Still sell more monthlies although a substantial amount of trades are sold.
Q. Do you have a store specialty or area of expertise? What makes your store unique?
Active subscription service with discounts.
Q. What do do you sell more of by dollar value? What percentage of your business is comics? What is the state of the back-issue market?
Comics of either format make up most of the business. New comics are bread and butter although back issues are still important.
Amazing Spider-man, JLA, JSA, Avengers, Astonishing X-men, All Star Superman, All Star Batman, Any Ultimate title, The Boys, Captain America.
Q. Bestselling graphic novels?
Walking Dead, Fables, Y the Last Man, The Boys, any Ultimate TPB. Most Vertigo series that are kept in print continue to sell. Superhero trades are generally weaker sellers. Most people would rather maintain their collection as monthlies.
Q. The manga question.
I sell a modest amount of it mostly to non-manga fans who just happen to latch on to a particular title. Not being located near either of Winnipeg’s Universities inhibits manga sales.
Q. What do you see as the major trends in graphic novels and comics retailing over the next year? The next 5 years?
More large collections of back material coming out.
Q. What comics do you find yourself recommending the most?
The Boys, Scalped, Ultimate Spider-man, Punisher (Max), Black Summer, 100 Bullets, Blade of the Immortal and more. Pretty much anything that’s on my pull list.
Q. What are your favourite comics?
Maus, Watchmen, From Hell, V For Vendetta, Transmetropolitan, Adolf: A Tale of the 20 Century, Sandman, DC: The New Frontier, Brat Pack, Planetary.
Q. What comic would you recommend for an 8-year-old girl? A 40-year-old urban professional?
Not sure anymore although in the past I would normally recommend manga since manga publishers actively make comics targetted at young girls.. Not up on current manga series for younger girls. Generally, I don’t like recommending comics that I don’t read.
Q. Why are you a comics retailer?
Beats working for some corporate dirtbag.
Q. What bothers you the most about the current comics industry?
Too much emphasis on marketing grandiose super soap operas. I get that some people like a big shared universe for their men in pervert suits but it seems the story is secondary to the event sometimes. Not nearly enough emphasis on self-contained stories. I don’t normally recommend super hero comics but two properties I tend to recommend (Ult Spiderman and Punisher MAX) are very self-contained.
Q. How important is the web to your business?
We do a modest amount of mail orders but most sales are local.
Q. Winnipeg is a very artistic city. Both the Royal Art Lodge and Captain Canuck have roots there. What is the comics scene like in Winnipeg? Are there any local creators/zines/minicomics that you promote in store?
Minimal. I’ll willingly promote local work but nothing much seems to be happening.
1104 Corydon Ave
Winnipeg, MB Canada