Douglas Dial and I began our internet friendship via the social network Myspace. He had a profile pic of Nick Fury as a Skrull and I left him comments saying Krees rule. Eventually he poked back, and really, its been fun.
He owns a store in Edwardsville, Illinois, and it is called Hometown Comics. When he told me he had some big news I thought to suggest an interview, and I am very glad he said yes.
Alex: Why do comics?
Douglas Dial: We LOVE comics! The amazing mix of story and art is fantastic! It is the ambrosia that we live for! Hollywood gets it wrong more than right with a lot of their adaptations. Movie fans are discovering they've been cheated out of a lot of great entertainment. Comics are being seen as a more viable entertainment option as the stigma of being only kids fare diminishes.
What is exciting about selling comics right now?
It is exciting to be surprised by the level of storytelling and art that can be produced on a page. It is most satisfying to have people who, after making their first visit here, come back to thank us for the recommendation and ask for something else that will stimulate them.
Do you stock books too or just comics and tpbs?
It is 95% tpb's, a few comic/scifi/fantasy novels. I've got Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter, WWZ, 10¢ Plague, Comic Wars, a bunch of D&D/Forgotten Realms/Dragonlance/ Warhammer/WoW and a few novels by local authors.
When you started were you one of many comic stores?
There was nothing in town when we opened up. Then a Borders showed up 7 months later and two other stores in the area started adding comics to their mix of product sales They've only helped my business by helping to create more comic fans, that eventually come to us.
What is your ultimate dream/goal for your store?
For Hometown Comics to be one of the stores people think of regarding comic shops that provide entertainment for everyone of all ages. To have people come to Hometown Comics every week for their entertainment the same way they currently go to the video, book or music store for those new releases.
Do you do mail order, or online sales?
Just started. People can go to Hometown Comics.com and order anything we put up there.
When people come to your store what do you want them to think?
I want them to think, "This is where I want to go for comics".
In 10 years will there be single issue comics, or will everyone download from the publishers directly?
In 10 years, there will be a LOT of digital comics. But, people will still want their new comics every week or the latest collected edition. There have been some interesting attempts at animating existing comics, Watchmen, Astonishing X-Men, Iron Man, Spider-woman to name a few. I'd like to see the quality improve on those.
What do you think of the comic market in general and the direct market in particular?
I think that the industry needs to get control of their deadlines. There is a LOT of hype for things that end up late. We retailers order for two months down the road. One example. Spawn #197 just came out the beginning of May 2010. It was supposed to ship in October 2009. Meanwhile, I recently placed my order for Spawn #204 which is supposed to come out in June. I do not see Image publishing 7 new issues of Spawn by June. Companies should solicit in a catalog what they know they can publish, not just put stuff in a catalog to have something listed in a catalog. Some fans get mad and I tell them, "I can't make them publish the books any faster. We all have to wait til the get their...stuff together". Then I show them something else to spend their Spawn money upon that did come out on time.
Tell me, about your store’s selection
We maintain over 3000 tpb/gn's in stock and growing. Different, unique books not just DC and Marvel. Borders and Barnes & Noble will pad their shelves with multiple copies to make it seem like they have a lot. We had to buy more shelves to display them all. Some of the best stuff is Independant Publishers. The only way a small "mom-n-pop" shop like this can compete with multi-million dollar corporations is to have what people want when they want it and to know what they're talking about regardless of how obscure. We don't get paid extra to push the Marvel or DC stuff. We try to spotlight great works coming out regardless of their publisher, that leads me to my news. Who do you think of when you think of comic horror writers?
He's coming here.
He has a new series with IDW titled, "Mystery Society". Steve will embark on a 13 store signing tour starting the day issue 1 arrives, May 26th. He will arrive at Hometown Comics on June 8th.
The closest store on the tour to here is either Pennsylvania or Texas. The 1000 copies we're getting have our logo on the cover that will be available at Hometown Comics on May 26th.
Steve Niles! One of today's most acclaimed horror writers, best known for 30 Days of Night, as well as Spawn, Batman, Criminal Macabre, and MANY other, is coming to Edwardsville! Steve has a new series that releases on May 26th, titled, "Mystery Society" produced by IDW Publishing! He is embarking on a signing tour across the U.S. to promote this awesome new series. Cities include L.A., Houston, Pittsburgh, Boston, NYC, Miami ... and EDWARDSVILLE!
Hometown Comics is proud to be a part of this event to bring Steve to town for you, the fans, to meet and get things signed by him. The closest stores that are participating are Pittsburgh and Houston. There will be a LOT of people wanting to meet Steve and get their books signed.
IDW has printed up for us 1000 copies of an exclusive variant cover of "Mystery Society" #1 which you can see in the pictures gallery. Steve will be signing all 1000 copies. Also, because we want people to have the chance to read as much of Steve's work, all Steve Niles books are 20% off! That is, except for "30 Days Of Night Volume 1", which is HALF PRICE! Only $9 instead of $18! This sale continues while supplies last until the day Steve arrives at Hometown Comics on June 8th!
Pricing on Mystery Society #1 as follows:
"Mystery Society" #1-Regular Cover is $3.99
"Mystery Society" #1-Special Variant is $8.99
"Mystery Society" #1-Hometown Comics Variant is $3.99 for regular subscribers at Hometown Comics until after June 8th. $4.99 for non-subscribers who prepay by May 25th. $5.99 for non-subscribers from May 26th-June 7th. $6.99 on June 8th.
Any questions, call 618-655-0707