Image, Dark Horse FOC - News from Diamond's Vegas Summit

About 300 comic-book retailers descended on Bally's Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for the first of the 2008 Diamond/Alliance Retailer Summits.

The biggest announcement was the implementation of a "final order cutoff" for both Image Comics and Dark Horse Comics, which will allow retailers to raise and lower their orders on those titles a few weeks before the books ship.

"I think everyone's excited. And that's a good thing," said Carr D'Angelo, ComicsPRO board member and owner of Earth-2 Comics in Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Anna Warren, owner of Illusive Comics & Games in Santa Clara, Calif., said the implementation of the FOC for the two publishers will be positive for her store.

"It really it comes down to accuracy of ordering. Sometimes we reduce our orders because a title is late. Sometimes we'll reduce orders because a customer has lost interest. But more often, especially for my store since it's still a new store and a growing store, it gives us a chance to increase because of the new customers that are coming in. That's just helpful. Otherwise we sell out; we may lose that reader, that sale."

D'Angelo agreed. "We'll be ordering the right books, the books that sell," he said. "This will be more real time, being able to FOC 3 or 4 weeks before a book is in the store. Real-time ordering, less scrambling for the in-demand books, the Walking Dead #50s and books like that. We'll be making ordering decisions at the appropriate time and with the appropriate information."

Workshops, vendor presentations and an expo hall were on hand to help retailers find new products and innovations for their shops, though attendees said the opportunity to network with other retailers was also valuable.

"Ironically, I got the best ideas from retailers I already know," said Warren, who visited with Joe Field, owner of Flying Colors Comics and Other Cool Stuff in Concord, Calif.

"Joe had some brilliant ideas about working with schools, and doing fundraising with schools," she said. "Atom! Freeman, who is the Will Eisner Spirit of Retailing winner this year - he has some really great ideas for how he gets new patrons in the store. He has 'singles nights' every month or two, and he has live bands come in. And not only does he get foot traffic because those bands bring in their fan base, but they also bring a different feel to the store, and give customers something different to look forward to, which is fantastic." Freeman owns Brave New World Comics in Newhall, CA.

Amanda Emmert, ComicsPRO Communications Coordinator and owner of Muse Comics, in Missoula, Mont., was impressed with writer-artist Billy Tucci. Tucci spoke about his upcoming Sgt. Rock – The Lost Battalion project that will intertwine DC's character with real-life Japanese-American soldiers of World War II.

"Tucci gave a very impassioned speech," Emmert said. "This could be a big opportunity for outreach outside the comics community."

D'Angelo said DC's focus on product availability as the Watchmen movie nears was encouraging. He also mentioned Kryptonite Nevermore, a hardcover that's part of DC's new program, the DC Classics Library, seemed aimed at direct-market success.

“They want you to not just order one and see how it goes, they want you to take a risk, share the risk, and I think that's great," D'Angelo said. "I've been an advocate of that for a long time: Give us a break by ordering more upfront. So they're giving a break on the initial order, and after that you'll be paying normal discount."

Also to come in the Classics Library series, D'Angelo said, are hardcovers of the Alan Moore Swamp Thing run.

"That's one thing they're kind of bringing out to coincide with Watchmen, a Swamp Thing higher-level package of Alan Moore material."

David Gabriel and Brian Michael Bendis of Marvel laid out the post-Secret Invasion plans for the Marvel Universe.

“It really seems that Secret Invasion is going to end on a gamechanger in the Marvel Universe, and it's going to kind of bust the Avengers status quo yet again,” D’Angelo said.

Warren, Emmert and D'Angelo, all ComicsPRO members, said the organization got great response at the summit. DC Comics announced a full day of sponsorship for the 2009 ComicsPRO annual meeting.

"The Diamond Summit in Vegas was another successful outing for ComicsPRO. The word is really getting out. We're here to stay, so now is the time to get on board!" said Field, who also serves as ComicsPRO president.

The ComicsPRO booth at the summit was crowded with retailers seeking information about the organization, Emmert said.

"We were very happy to meet so many retailers who are excited about our programs and mission," Emmert said. "There was great enthusiasm for retailing and the comics industry."

D'Angelo said he met lots of new retailers at the meeting, many open less than two years.

"What's really great is a lot of new faces," he said. "Anybody who thinks we're not a growing industry is kinda wrong. I really see people coming in with new stores. It means our market is still untapped."

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