A Shop of Ideas: Ideology Part 4, Creativity Counts

A Shop of Ideas: Ideology Part 4

Hey Fandom! Thanks for reading our last article about format hang-ups and promoting the story content of comics. We realize some of this ideology stuff can be a bit academic, so thanks again for hanging in there with us. This is the fun part! Now that our shop has the time and resources to promote new comics by not focusing on back issues and different formats, and sees the need to push this entertainment medium more than just on Free Comic Book Day- what do we actually do? We get creative. You will soon see an article solely devoted to how to create a community of comic fans in an area, but for now we’ll focus what we do and why. We believe it’s the comic creator and publisher’s job to produce creative entertainment that will capture the imagination of the readers. We believe it’s the comic retailer’s job to creatively market new comics and sell the experience of being a comic fan.

A Comic Shop’s Sites:



To this end we get to work each week promoting comics. Every week we pick the “top books” coming out the next Wednesday and write “shelf-talkers” about them. “Shelf-talkers" are what our employees come up with each week that expresses their take on why the book is important or why they can’t wait to read it. We all get together Monday morning for a meeting where we hash out who had the best “talker” for each book, practice selling the book to each other, and, many times, ripping up someone with a bad pitch. We’ve been doing this for years now- it gets us all on the same page and ready to rock out the week. Sometimes these talkers are informative and other times they’re just funny, but they get fans talking. We put our “top books” with their “talkers” online Monday nights and customers come in Wednesdays ready with questions or rants about them. Community is fun. Video is our new thing; each week we make a short preview of what we are excited about in comic releases called “A Comic Show.” So far these videos are much like our “shelf-talkers,” but we will start expanding into ones reviewing comics and all of our favorite graphic novels very soon. We’ve done some stupid videos too: One was about a sale we had where I sound like a local yokel (the Appliance Direct guy) and one where I interview a customer’s Joker tattoo. As for in store promotion, we have a graphic designer on staff to make signs promoting our favorite books and timelines for the epic Marvel and DC storylines. Basically we feel we need to be as knowledgeable as possible on the new comics and our favorite graphic novels so that we may create entertaining ways to share that knowledge. Every shop can do that in their own way if they put in the effort.

Top Picks Archive,


“A Comic Show” Episodes,


The “SALE” Video,


Talk Nerdy to Me

Another way we get the Good News of comics out in a creative and entertaining way is through music and on the radio. I’m sure many Newsarama readers know of MC Chris, a gifted nerd rapper who’s also been a voice actor for Adult Swim cartoons. MC Chris rhymes about comics, Star Wars, video games, and the like and there’s a whole sub-genre of rap called Nerd Rap, AKA Nerdcore. We knew some comic fans already know and love Nerdcore music and we figured other people who liked Nerdcore were likely to give comics a try. One of our regular customers, Sir Up, is in a group called Emergency Pizza Party. He put us in touch with a guy named Hex who was putting together a concert called Nerdapalooza. We decided to sponsor the show and the rest is history. We had a pre-show concert at A Comic Shop featuring MC Frontalot and Wordburglar, had fun, and sold lots of comics. Since then other names in Nerd Rap have stopped by, including MC Chris, MC Lars and YT Cracker. We play awesome nerd music playlists in the store now, and sell some of the nerd music too. So, teaming up with creative nerds is cool, but all of this got me on the radio. In the lead up to Nerdapalooza, I was a guest on Talk Nerdy To Me, a local music and talk show hosted by Andrew Grey. The show was fun, and I was asked back to be a regular co-host. Now that means I have the power to reach anyone listening with comic news! The show is on Wednesdays (new comic day) from 9 to 11 pm locally on 91.5 FM, but fans can stream it live by going to www.nerdyshow.com. The point here is sponsorship isn’t a spectator’s sport and that nerds are nerds. We have a comic for any nerd out there; we just need to be creative to get them to take notice. Hex and I are writing an article to introduce Newsarama readers to nerd music, look for it soon.

Nerdapalooza Photo Slideshow in Blender Magazine,


Z.E.D. 1, Zombie, 0

We’ve introduced everyone to our Z.E.D. program in a previous article, but I would like to expand on how awesome it is. Zombie Emergency Defense was originally an idea I had to get more people into The Walking Dead comic. It grew into a real organization to train people to defend themselves and their loved ones in the event of a real zombie apocalypse. We have formal membership now, with cards and armbands, and will be expanding this nationally so other people can have a Z.E.D. chapter where they live. Events grew organically for our group: gun range exercises, tactical training with laser based weapons, etc. We built a community and created a vehicle to let people’s imagination run wild! That’s a fine accomplishment by itself. However, an organization like this can also help sell comics. Our second annual Zombie Dance happened to coincide with the release of Marvel Zombies 3. Coincidentally, the zombie outbreak in that book started where we live: Orange County, Florida. So we had a Marvel Zombie costume contest and used the dance to heavily promote the Marvel Zombies franchise. The contest was fun and Z.E.D. came full circle in a way. People were introduced to Marvel Zombies by Robert Kirkman and then got into his Walking Dead. Having a group loosely connected to your shop is rewarding because it keeps people entertained while promoting the related entertainment you have to sell. If you want to get involved with Z.E.D. as an individual or as a comic shop check us out at www.joinzed.com. The next Z.E.D. related initiative coming is “Get Fit Not Bit,” a fitness and healthy eating program to prepare your body to out run zombies. I’ve personally lost 45 pounds since September and I feel anyone can do what I did. I ride my bike a lot now, and in the post zombie world, roads will be blocked with abandoned cars and gas will be in short supply. A bike can out race a zombie and maneuver through unpredictable terrain. It’s time to” Get Fit, Not Bit!”

ZED Tactical “Counter-Zombie” Training Video


ZED Live Fire Training Video


ZED Community Awareness, Zombie Dance Video


2008 ZED Film Festival Winner, “Best Overall” Sleepwalkers


ZED Facebook Fan Page


ZED MySpace


Er, Thor? Behind you... Er, Thor? Behind you...

Earlier we wrote about our weekly creativity meetings and that they are needed to keep things flowing, but in comic promotion, even the big ideas still only have a small window of time to put in place. We’ve done protests for Civil War and Secret Invasion with only a few months to plan. Our release parties with creator signing only have from the time the book gets solicited until the release to execute. Basically, you need to get a feel for what’s big, and then look through the monthly solicits for what hook you can have.

It’s easy to know things like Secret Invasion are huge, but what about Scalped writer Jason Aaron going exclusive to Marvel and have his first issue of Ghost Rider and Wolverine out on the same day? Jason Aaron’s release was the right creator on the right books and we provided the right place (and the right beer). We made a life long friend with Mr. Aaron and he made some life long fans. The big stuff we do comes from having our finger on the pulse each week and then putting something together that fans will want to do and the local media will want to cover. There are always unforeseen factors like books being delayed or our TV coverage falling though on an event because of the Casey Anthony case, but those aren’t reasons to stop trying. Comic fans respond to creativity; if they didn’t, they wouldn’t read comics. We’ve found marketing comics creatively works; we get people already reading comics to get involved and people who don’t read comics to take notice. Big ideas mean a lot of work, but can also mean a lot of fun. Speaking of fun, March will be Deadpool Month at A Comic Shop with Deadpool creators and Deadpool-like shenanigans. After that April is Flash: Rebirth’s release, which has our imagination racing. Looking to the future we won’t go into the Blackest Night quietly!

Jason Aaron

Thanks for reading the penultimate installment of our ideology; the next is our vision for the future. Here we explained why we try to creatively sell comics and overviewed some of what we’ve done. In the future, we’ll get into the how, maybe even do a step-by-step series in real time of a specific promotion. What do you think? Do you think it’s the job of the retailer to creatively promote comics, or should we just open the boxes Wednesday morning, put the books on the shelf, sit behind the register and then bag and mark-up what didn’t sell? What ideas do you have? We know we don’t have a monopoly on comic promotion ideas; in fact all of A Comic Shop’s ideas are a creative process involving everyone here. If you have an idea about retailing in general or a promotion for a specific book please email us. We’ll certainly give you credit for anything we run with.

aaron@acomicshop.com or jason@acomicshop.com

“A Comic Shop” is located at 114 S. Semoran Blvd Winter Park, FL 32792 (407) 332-9636




Get Caught Up:

A Shop of Ideas: Ideaology Part 3, Format Neutral Story Advocates

A Shop of Ideas: Ideaology Part 2, My Free Comic Book Day

A Shop of Ideas: Ideology Part 1, NO MORE BACK ISSUES

A Shop of Ideas: Holiday Hullabaloo

A Shop of Ideas: Life at A Comic Shop

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