with Third Eye Comics
Name: Steve Anderson
Shop: Third Eye Comics
City: Annapolis, MD
Year Established: 2008
QRD – What the one comic book that would be the crown jewel in your collection... the comic equivalent of the holy grail for you?
Steve – Mad Magazine #1.
QRD – What is currently your favorite comic on the market & why?
Steve – Saga -- there’s a lot of great material out there, but I love when a comic can transcend genre & bring new readers in.
QRD – How long has your comic book shop been in business?
Steve – Almost 7 years.
QRD – Have there been any particular trends in the comic book market that you’ve found especially exciting &/or troubling since opening your shop?
Steve – We’re in a new golden age of comic book entertainment; the future of the hobby is very bright now. No troubling trends.
QRD – Have you always focused on comics exclusively or do you find it a necessity to stock toys, games, etc. as well?
Steve – We carry toys, comics, games, etc.
QRD – Would you be interested in diversifying your inventory or do you think your store has successfully developed a personality that needs preserving?
Steve – We began diversifying our store early on & I believe diversification is key to sustaining a strong store.
QRD – How much of a factor do you think the personality or atmosphere of a shop plays in establishing a customer base?
Steve – Personality & atmosphere is huge. We think about everything -- from the look & feel to the lighting to the music to the air freshener we use.
QRD – How active of a role does your shop take in social events like release parties, movie outings, etc.?
Steve – Very active.
QRD – Do you do in store events with local comic creators or ones doing a book promotion tour? What do you feel has to be done for those events to be worth it to you?
Steve – It has to be a book we can get behind & our customers will be engaged by. We have done a lot of these.
QRD – Do you believe these types of events create new readers?
Steve – Yes, I do.
QRD – Have the comic book summer movie blockbusters & Free Comic Book Day been a boon to your store?
Steve – Yes.
QRD – What advice do you have for publishers, writers, artists, & distributors that you think would create more sales?
Steve – Think outside of the fans who already read; think about making a new audience instead of capturing an existing one.
QRD – Do you do things to try to cultivate local comic talent?
Steve – Yes.
QRD – When a new customer comes into the store with little experience in comics or having left comics for a decade, what do you to cultivate their interest in comics in general & your store in particular?
Steve – Our staff is trained extensively in customer service. We develop a rapport with every customer who comes in our doors & by learning their personal interests, we can help them find the comics that are right for them.
QRD – When people walk away from buying comics, what do you usually here as their complaint for leaving the hobby?
Steve – Financial hardship (car accident, losing job, etc.).
QRD – What are your thoughts (as a business & as a fan) on digital comics?
Steve – I think they’re great for business -- they expose more people to comics & help build more readers, which in turn builds more customers.
QRD – Can you tell us your opinion on Diamond Comics Distributors in regards to their exclusive deals with some of the bigger publishers... is it a monopoly?
Steve – I think Diamond does an excellent job & considering how many different vendors we work with on all of our assorted product categories; they are our best supplier to work with.
QRD – Do you feel like the quality of service Diamond provides would keep you from trying a legitimate competitor if one were to spring up?
Steve – We use multiple distributors for many different things & would be OK with doing so with comics.
QRD – With the rise in Kickstarter comic projects, do you look for comics for the store on Kickstarter?
Steve – No.
QRD – When customers say they can get something for a better deal on Amazon, how do you react?
Steve – We tell them we understand & react in a positive manner. There’s no sense in trying to price compete; if a customer values the in-store experience we offer, then they’re OK with the price difference.
QRD – What do you think about CGC & the other professional grading companies? Are they a benefit or detriment to the hobby?
Steve – I’m neutral. We do not really deal in vintage comics, or graded comics, so CGC does not apply to us.
QRD – Do you think the drastic overhauls like DC’s New 52 are fundamental for the big two to stay relevant?
Steve – Yes.
QRD – How well do small press & local comics sell at your store?
Steve – Very well.
QRD – What do you think of the “wait for the trade” mentality?
Steve – I think it’s fine. There are folks who watch Boardwalk Empire every Sunday, & then there are folks who buy the DVD boxed sets -- but all that matters is they’re watching.
QRD – In the coming years do you see monthly comics or the trade paperback/graphic novel format being the dominant form of comics?
Steve – I think both will continue to exist & cater to their own audiences, as well as crossing over between the two (I have a ton of folks who will only read trades, but then buy a book like Sandman Overture in periodical format).
QRD – What “extra” content do readers look for in “deluxe” edition collections that actually makes them buy a book for the second time?
Steve – The presentation is big -- extra story content also, but presentation is huge.
QRD – Do you buy high-end stock (e.g. hardcover deluxe editions & statues) on speculation for your store or only by special order?
Steve – We carry these items in-store. We like to offer our customers a full-line shopping experience.
QRD – Does your store exhibit at comic book conventions? Do you think having a presence there is a crucial part of bringing in new customers?
Steve – Yes & yes.
QRD – If fifty years from now all comics are digital, do you think there will still be shops where people go to buy the physical relics that we all read today?
Steve – I know it may sound silly, but I think in 50 years, both comic book stores & record stores will be more prevalent than they are now.
QRD – If you weren’t operating a comic book shop what would you be doing instead?
Steve – Playing music.
QRD – Do you have bargain bins & what are the prices of things in them if so & where do the books in them come from?
Steve – We do not have bargain bins.
QRD – What makes your store special to your community that another store transplanted from another city wouldn’t have going for it?
Steve – We develop a strong relationship with each & every one of our customers & are so much more than just a place for them to buy their comics.
QRD – What do you think is your store’s all time bestseller?
Steve – Batman #1 (Scott Snyder).
QRD – How has owning a store effected your own fandom?
Steve – I’ve discovered even more amazing writers & artists!
QRD – Would you ever sell the store?
Steve – No.
QRD – Anything else?
Steve – If you’re ever in the DC/MD area -- come see us at Third Eye!