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Sacramento’s booming comic book business- part 1

The digital age revolutionized the way most people consume print products. But for comic book enthusiasts, the comic book business has remained relatively untouched by the swing toward digital products, said area retailers.

The Sacramento Press hit the streets to sneak a peek at Sacramento’s comic book industry- visiting six stores. Each business has carved out its own niche – as part of a community of stores that support each other – in a city with a surprising number of comic book retailers.

A-1 Comics
5361 Auburn Blvd.

Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Sunday noon – 6 p.m.

The vault at A-1 Comics
(Image by: Kim Reyes)

Image by: Kim Reyes

A-1 Comics has been in business for nearly a quarter of a century. It’s Sacramento’s largest comic book store, said Manager Jared Rudy.

The store specializes in hard-to-find classics and back issues, but also sells tabletop games, graphic novels, anime and manga, toys and figurines. The store is housed in an old bank building, and the bank vault is used to store the most valuable comics.

“We have a terrific back issue section, and everyone here is a specialist in something different,” Rudy said.

The clientele is primarily male, but Rudy said he sees more females in the store than ever before. They are mostly interested in anime and manga – both types of Japanese comics.

One customer travels from Reno each month, because he said he can’t find any good retailers in Nevada, said Rudy.

A-1 also has an online eBay store where it sells a number of rare collectibles, including a “Fantastic Four” comic featuring the Hulk from 1971 that is listed for $2,750 and a “Turok: Son of Stone” book, printed in 1954, for just under $5,000.

Store management uses a pricing guide to determine the value of a single comic or a collection, and Rudy said the store is successful because of a reputation for being honest and fair.


Big Brother Comics

1722 J St.

Monday through Saturday 11 a.m – 8 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m – 6 p.m.

Image by: Kim Reyes

A small section of the collection at Big Brother Comics
(Image by: Kim Reyes)

Big Brother Comics spent its first year in the K Street Mall but made the move to J Street approximately five years ago. The store focuses on graphic novels, Marvel and DC comics, but also has a significant following from customers who play “Magic” – a card game most often compared to the “Dungeons Dragons” fantasy role-playing game.

Manager Christopher Alvarez said recent superhero films have revitalized the industry and have developed a curiosity for new comic book fans.

At 32, Alvarez said he’s a good representative of their average customer. The comic book business hit a boom in the ’90s, and that generation continues to support the business. Alvarez added that for many young people, it’s a great way to spark an interest in reading.

Alvarez said digital comics are relatively new and have yet to be embraced by comic book enthusiasts, but they can be purchased for e-readers.

“Our customers are interested in a physical product,” Alvarez said, adding that they receive new books each Wednesday, and that brings regular customers in on a weekly basis.


Empire’s Comics Vault
1120 Fulton Ave. Suite K

Monday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Tuesday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Wednesday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Thursday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Friday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Saturday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Sunday noon – 5 p.m.

Some of the comic books sold at Empire’s Comics Vault from local artists and writers
(Image by: Kim Reyes)

One of the comics printed at ECV Press, written by Ben

(Image by: Kim Reyes)

Empire’s Comics Vault, owned by Ben Schwartz, offers an opportunity for local artists and comic book writers to break into the comic book business. In addition to his storefront that sells mostly modern, American comic books, Schwartz operates a small publishing company, ECV Press, that prints comic books created locally. The website offers information about how to become an artist or writer with the company as well as links to free digital comic books.

“He draws together the local community of artists and writers because he’s very passionate about it,” said Ronnie Ledesma, marketing consultant for the store.

Ledesma said Schwartz sets his business apart from others through a podcast about comics, pop culture and comic-related films. Schwartz also hosts the Sacramento Comic Book Creators group every Tuesday at his store, where artists and writers can hone their skills. 

The store carries a large stock of back-issue comics and graphic novels, but staff refer most tabletop gamers to Great Escape Games

Empire’s Comics Vault has an interesting mix of customers. Mick Martin, a Sacramento blues musician, is a frequent customer, and members from the local band Seeker are regulars as well. Film students from Natomas recently covered the relaunch of DC Comics – and it’s all because of the the community Schwartz has created with his business, Ledesma said. 

For Ledesma, his favorite comic book series is “Fantastic Four.”

“When I started reading, it was very accessible,” Ledesma said. “ ‘Superman’ was too cheery, and ‘Batman’ was took dark. ‘Fantastic Four’ was just right.”


World’s Best Comics and Toys
2608 Watt Ave.

Monday and Tuesday noon – 7 p.m.
Wednesday 10 a.m. – 7 pm.
Thursday through Saturday noon – 7 p.m.
Sunday noon – 6 p.m.

Image by: John Hernandez

Image by: John Hernandez

World’s Best Comics and Toys, has been in its current location since 1999. The store has been in two other locations. The original downtown location, opened in 1985.

“I have always liked reading, and I always liked artwork,” store owner Dave Downey, 49, said. “This is a combination of the two.”

Downey said that when he was an 8-year-old kid reading comic strips, he would get impatient because of the short stories in the strip, which prompted him to transition to reading comic books.

He said that in his store, Marvel and DC comics are the bestsellers. Marvel comic titles such as “Spiderman,” “Fantastic Four” and “The Avengers,” and DC comic titles such as “Batman,” “Superman” and “Wonder Woman,” which are all superhero stories, are some of the titles from the two main comic book publishers.

A lot of people, he said, know the characters of the DC and Marvel comics because of the movies made about them. Despite the popularity of the superhero characters in mainstream movies, people who do not read the comic books are often surprised to find that comic books are still in print, Downey said.

“You do yourself a disservice if you just zero in only on Marvel and DC,” Downey said. “You get a lot more variety if you also read independent.”

The store also carries comic books from independent publishers such as Image, Darkhorse and IEW, and since they are creator-owned, produces very individualistic styles of art and storytelling, Downey said.

Kathleen Partington, a 26-year-old customer at the store, said she reads mainly titles from DC comics and independent titles from Vertigo and Image. “Wonder Woman” was the first comic book she read. Partington said that she likes the store because it focuses mainly on comic books and keeps back issues of old titles.

“A lot of the unique things laying around here jar people’s memories, (and) give people a tinge of nostalgia when they come in,” Downey said.

Besides comic books, the store sells Japanese-imported toys, action figures, classic lunch pails and vintage toys.

The oldest of the vintage toys he has for sale is a Felix the Cat toy from the 1920s.

The store also buys used collectible toys and comic books.

He said that although he carries a lot of other items in the store, it focuses on the comic book collecting community. It also carries graphic novels.

Although superhero-themed comic books are the type of stories most of his customers buy, Downey said he also sells action and adventure, western, romance, comedies and horror-themed comic books. He said the “Sonic the Hedgehog” comic is very popular with his younger audience.

“There is something for everybody,” he said.

Manga, Japanese comic books, are also available in the store, such as “Naruto” and, “Sailor Moon I.”

He said that although most of his customers are mid-20s to mid-40s men, 50 percent of his customers who buy Manga are women.

The store also offers a comic saver service, where customers make lists of comic book titles they like, and when those titles arrive at the store, they are tagged with the customers’ names and are ready to be picked up every Wednesday at 10 a.m. The store will also order a comic book for the customer if it is not in stock.

Comic book collecting supplies are also available, such as bags, boards, boxes and title dividers.

Jump to part 2

From: http://www.sacramentopress.com/headline/61363/Sacramentos_booming_comic_book_business_part_1

COMICS: March Solicits For All Of DC’s Superman Group Titles


Metropolis has been captured! To save it, Superman must push the limits of his nascent powers as never before! Aboard the ship that has the city captive, The Man of Steel finds an important tool that may help him defeat Metal-zero and his boss! And as Superman fights foes in the sky, Steel must do what he can to protect those still in danger on the ground in a backup story by Sholly Fisch and Brad Walker!

The start of an insanely epic arc from the new writing team of Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens! New love interests, new roommates, and a new foe: the wicked Helspont! What does this monster want with Superman, and how does it all connect to the Daemonites?

Written by SCOTT LOBDELL. Art by R.B. SILVA and ROB LEAN. Cover by SHANE DAVIS.
Superboy’s come back to N.O.W.H.E.R.E. with vengeance on his mind – but Rose Wilson is waiting for him. Right from the start, she was the one meant to bring him down when he went out of control – and this fight is going to be out of control! What can one woman with swords do against the most powerful teenager in the world? You – and Superboy – will be very surprised indeed!

Written by MICHAEL GREEN and MIKE JOHNSON. Art and cover by MAHMUD ASRAR.
It’s Supergirl versus the Worldkillers! But who are they, and where did they come from? What is their connection to Krypton? More important, can the Girl of Steel stop them before they make good on their names and destroy Earth?

For Batman Group Solicits Click here.
For Justice League Group Silicits Click here.

Don’t forget to pick them all when as ACTION COMICS #7 goes on sale March 7, SUPERMAN #7 goes on sale March 28, SUPERBOY #7 goes on sale March 14 and SUPERGIRL #7 goes on sale March 21.

From: http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/SpiderGeek/news/?a=51163

Superman, Batman, Justice League Dominate DC Digital Sales

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  • From: http://comicbook.com/blog/2011/12/12/superman-batman-justice-league-dominate-dc-digital-sales/

    Riddle Me This: What is the Best Female-Led Comic on the Market?

    Who’d win in a fight between Superman and Spawn? How the f*ck old is Cable? And what in the holy hell is a Megatron? When the tough questions arise, Panels on Pages will gather the facts, but it’s up to the PoP!ulation to draw its own conclusions. So come on… Riddle Me This.

    Much has been made recently in regards to the treatment of women in comics, including, but not limited to, over-sexualized depictions, the respect of female creators, and seemingly the most important, the lack of variety in regards to female-led comic titles at the Big Two.  DC is currently sitting at the lead position, with seven of their New 52 titles starring female characters, with Marvel recently announcing the cancellations of both X-23 and Ghost Rider, leaving their grand total of female-led books at a whopping zero.  A lot of the lip service at Marvel blames the cancellation of the books on low sales, not the type of plumbing sported by the lead characters, and one could accept that, considering bro-titles like Daken and Black Panther have also recently taken an axe to the skull.

    X-23 #20

    The fact still remains, there is no more vocal group on the comics internet currently than women disenfranchised by their treatment, or lack thereof, as readers, creators, and tastemakers.  While I’m hearing a lot about what’s wrong with the current gender inequality in comics, what I’m not hearing is what are the books that currently best represent the female comic-buying demographic.   DC has seen a lot of success with their New 52 initiative, with Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Batwoman among the best selling titles, but they still can’t seem to break into the Top 10.  Looking past the Big Two,  you’ll find a better variety in regards to female-led titles, but outside of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you’ll rarely see those crack the Top 100 sales charts.

    Maybe if the movement to recognize female readers and creators as a viable market and voice was better focused, not only could a female-led title burst through the glass-ceiling of the Top 10 sales charts, but it might make the Big Two sit up and take notice.  Of the current female-led comics currently on the market, what title best represents all that is right with the representation of women in comics?

    Birds of Prey

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    Filed Under: Riddle Me This

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    From: http://panelsonpages.com/?p=45997&cpage=1

    December 8, 2011: Comic Writer and Advocate, Jerry Robinson Dies

    ComicBookResources.com reports that renowned comic book artist and creator of ‘The Joker’, Jerry Robinson has passed away at the age of 89.

    “It’s impossible to work at DC Entertainment ­ without feeling the impact of Jerry Robinson’s contributions to the industry,” stated DC Entertainment Editor-in-Chief, Bob Harras. “His influence continues to resonate today.”

    Robinson was born in Trenton, New Jersey on New Year’s Day in 1922. At only 17 years of age, the aspiring artist was hired as an inker by Batman creator Bob Kane, and over the next several years, Robinson offered as much visual input into the character’s world and cast as his originator.

    Outside of his work on the drawing board, Robinson became an advocate for fellow cartoonists’ rights. In the 1970’s, he launched a high-profile publicity campaign on behalf of Superman co-creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster who were broke and locked in a legal battle with DC Comics over the rights for their creation.

    Ultimately, Robinson helped negotiate a financial settlement that restored the creators name on every Superman comic.

    “Jerry Robinson was one of the greats,” stated DC Entertainment Co-Publisher,Dan DiDio. “He continued to be a vibrant, creative force well into his nineties, with ideas and thoughts that continue to inspire. Jerry was a great advocate for creators. It was my pleasure to meet and work with him. He will be missed.”

    Prior to his death, Robinson had been making more public appearances at various comic-themed conventions in recent years discussing his books, life, and the contributions he had made to comic book industry.

    In November of 2010, Robinson auctioned off the original cover artwork for “Superman” #14 and “Detective Comics” #69 which he had saved and preserved for 70 years.

    “These are some of the earliest and maybe the most historical pieces of that period ever saved,” said Robinson in a 2010 interview with CBR.com. “I hope the home eventually will be in a museum. A number of museums would like to acquire them, so maybe someone might donate them to a museum in the future.”

    From: http://www.supermansupersite.com/1208110.html

    DC Comics loses Superman trademark dispute with loans firm

    Saturday, December 10, 2011

    From: http://www.digitalspy.com/comics/news/a355270/dc-comics-loses-superman-trademark-dispute-with-loans-firm.html

    Jerry Robinson, comic book legend and creator of Batman nemesis, the Joker …

    Jerry Robinson, the pioneering comic book artist credited with creating Batman’s archnemesis, the Joker, and later a crusading hero for cartoonists in his own right who helped restore “Superman’s” creators’ rights in a single bound, died in his sleep Wednesday night. He was 89.

    “Everyone who loves comics owes Jerry a debt of gratitude for the rich legacy that he leaves behind,” Jim Lee, DC Entertainment co-publisher and popular “Batman” artist, said in a statement.

    Discovered by “Batman” creator Bob Kane as a 17-year-old journalism student enrolled at Columbia University, Robinson entered comics in 1939 as an inker and letterer on the fledgling comic. Though Kane claimed he and writer Bill Finger came up with the idea for the Joker — embodied by Heath Ledger in the 2008 film, “The Dark Knight” — most comic historians credit Robinson for the iconic villain.

    “The heroes are rather dull — they have to be heroes,” Robinson told this reporter for a 2008 Wizard Magazine profile. “The exciting ones are the villains.”

    Robinson, however, ditched super heroes in the 1950s and launched a weekly cartoon, “Flubs and Fluffs.” The strip poked fun at real-life students’ errors that became a Sunday staple for years in the New York Daily News. Expanding his horizons further, he launched a political satire strip called “Still Life” in the early ‘70s.

    The New Jersey-born artist’s greatest contributions to cartooning, however, came off the drawing board.

    Robinson became an advocate for cartoonists’ rights, most notably championing the case of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the creators of “Superman.”

    Broke and locked in a legal battle with DC Comics over the rights for their creation at a time in the early ‘70s when $3 million for the rights a Superman feature film. Launching a high-profile publicity campaign on behalf of his peers, Robinson helped negotiate a financial settlement that restored the creators name on every Superman comic.

    “He fought to bring respectability to the artists and writers who created the comics and who had long been ignored by society,” says comic historian and movie producer Michael Uslan, who considers Robinson a friend and mentor.

    Another Robinson plot worthy of the Joker helped out another beleaguered cartoonist in a more literal life-and-death situation. Francisco Laurenzo Pons was languishing in a Uruguayan jail for six years, enduring beatings and electric shocks, having been imprisoned by the ruling military junta for a working at a liberal magazine, when Robinson heard of his plight in 1984. So Robinson helped create a bogus award with the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists and named Pons a winner. The media circus drew attention to Pons, and Uruguay felt compelled to release him.

    “I don’t have any doubt that pressure from the [Robinson and the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists] had a bearing on making my freedom possible,” Pons told the News by email in 2008.

    Robinson, who settled down in New York since his Columbia days, is survived by a wife, Gro, a sons, Jens, and a daughter, Kristen, as well as two grandchildren.

    [email protected]

    From: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/jerry-robinson-comic-book-legend-creator-batman-nemesis-joker-dead-89-article-1.988623

    Superman Review: Action Comics #4 By Grant Morrison And Rags Morales

    Action Comics #4

    Written by Grant Morrison

    Art by Rags Morales, Rick Bryant, Sean Parsons, and Brad Anderson

    ‘Hearts of Steel’ backup story by Sholly Fisch, Brad Walker, and Jay David Ramos



    The short of it:

    Thanks to Lex Luthor aliens are attacking Metropolis by way of taking over all kinds of tech and turning into machines versus people. And all they want is Superman, and they don’t have to look for long! People don’t know how to react as the Man of Steel strives to save the city from evil aliens that came looking for him, as they want the save, but they also think that if he were to go down they’d be left alone, and the military still wants to arrest him despite…during an invasion, really? John Corben, he who is all but named Metallo, stalks Lois and Jimmy under the influence of The Collector (he who is all but named Brainiac), but thankfully John Henry Iron shows up in some almost 90?s looking body armor to unleash Steel on him! But when all is said and done…Not- Brainiac goes ahead and earns the right to be referred to at Not-Brainiac instead of “The Collector”!


    What I liked:

    • The characters, really, there’s so much I can say here, and so much I will say here, but the Grant Morrison effect is being felt on this book in that every character feels dynamic, and even familiar faces are getting tweaks to make them even more interesting.
    • Lex Luthor is incredible. I love the fact that Morrison has established everyone’s favorite megalomaniac as someone whose own arrogance is their undoing. He struck a deal with an alien, and now it’s invading the Earth because he thought he had the better deal. It’s all his fault, and all he cares about is that his safety is guaranteed. It’s young Lex, and it works. He hasn’t quite developed into the fearless would be savior of the world.
    • The machines adapting new parts to themselves was pretty cool, the visual of one putting a tank on its head and firing it is just awesome.
    • STEEL! Yes, his armor looks very nineties, but just the idea of John Henry Irons being Superman’s original ally is awesome enough for me. I love the character, and I always love to see him get a higher profile.
    • Lots of action in this issue, Morrison does a great job not letting the pacing slide.


    What I didn’t like:

    • Maybe my memory is failing me and I’m forgetting something, but white shirted Superman spent the entire issue making me wonder if there was a coloring error or if he just got a new shirt.
    • The bad guy is so blatantly Brainiac and they’re doing everything they can to not call him that. Last issue had the three dot matrix from the animated series, it’s all about preservation of artifacts, it calls itself the Collector of Worlds, oh, and it BOTTLES CITIES! Just call him Brainiac already!
    • Metallo is a jobber already. Lame.
    • Who the hell is Sholly Fisch?


    Final thoughts:

    For someone she doesn’t like, Lois Lane could write John Corben’s biography.


    The bad guy has obviously been Brainiac since last issue, which may not seem like a long time, but it makes the “everything but coming out with it” in this issue painful. However, the inclusion of Steel completely balances it for me. There’s a lot of great action and some nice character moments in this issue, and it really does feel like Superman’s coming out party. His journey for urban legend to greatest hero Metropolis has ever known. He’s still the hero of the people that Morrison had begun to paint him as, but now it’s just getting…bigger. It feels organic, he doesn’t just show up one day in a full costume and save everyone, he builds to it. I’m really excited to see what Grant does after the book moves back to the present.


    The backup story wasn’t bad, but I have no idea who wrote it, and some of the dialog was…painful. The armor for Steel version 1.0 works for me, and I actually like it more than had they led off with a classic look. Though he does look a bit like Conduit. John winning a fight with his brain is pretty cool, and it’s how it should be done. Out think his opponent before smashing them with a sledgehammer. I just don’t see why they went with another writer for this unless there’s potential of spinning the character out under their control.


    Overall: 7.5/10

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    From: http://insidepulse.com/2011/12/07/superman-review-action-comics-4-by-grant-morrison-and-rags-morales/

    Action Comics #1 sells for $2-million

    A Superman comic book recently sold in an online auction for more than $2.16-million.

    The first issue of Action Comics, in which Superman was introduced to the world in 1938, sold for the record-breaking amount. The comic is believed to be 1 of about 100 still in existence. Of those, this is the one in the best-known condition (9.0 on a 10 scale).

    The issue was once owned by actor Nicolas Cage, but it was stolen from his home several years ago and only recently recovered in a warehouse sale.

    The record-breaking price tag beats the runner-up by more than half a million dollars. Another copy of Action Comics #1 (in a slightly lesser condition) sold last year for $1.5-million.

    From: http://www.39online.com/newsfix/kiah-newsfix-super-comic-20111206,0,6265053.story

    First Superman comic sells for $2.1 million

    It’s the holy grail among comic fans, and only a select few can afford one, but the first issue of Action Comics, featuring the debut of Superman, just went up at auction, and sold for a record $2.1 million. ??

    You may have heard it was Nicholas Cage’s copy, and that the comic was stolen from his house in 2000, and was finally recovered this April.

    First Superman comic sells for $2.1 millionAs the Hollywood Reporter notes, it was found in a storage locker, and as we’ve seen on recent reality shows, people buy abandoned storage lockers like this that can hold all kinds of goodies. ??

    Apparently this guy hit the motherlode, because the comic was graded at 9.0. As the Reporter confirms, there are about 100 copies of the first Action Comics still around, but only five that weigh in at this level of quality.
    Cage’s copy was first sold at Sotheby’s in 1992 for $82,500, and Cage got it in 1997 for $150,000. As you may recall, Cage is a huge Superman freak, and was going to play the man of steel in Superman Lives when Tim Burton was going to direct it in 1996.

    In addition to the Superman comic getting robbed from his house, Detective Comics #27, which features the debut of Batman, also got ripped off. Unfortunately,  it was never recovered.
    Like a ’59 Les Paul, which can set you back $3-5,000,000 if you’ve absolutely gotta have one, the first Superman in pristine condition is indeed a geek holy relic that most of us can only dream of owning, although the Reporter also mentions if you want a “fair” condition copy of the first Action Comics, you can get one for $300.

    Last year, the previous record holder for most paid for a comic was for Detective Comics #27, which according to Comic Book Resources sold at auction for $1.7 million.

    From: http://www.tgdaily.com/games-and-entertainment-features/60020-first-superman-comic-sells-for-21-million