Shop Owner Interview
with Justin Adcock of Bombshell Comics
Name: Justin Adcock
Shop: Bombshell Comics (formerly Comics & Stuff)
City: Hattiesburg, MS
Year Established: 2001
QRD – What is the first comic you ever bought?
Justin – I can recall picking up GODZILLA #3 off a spinner rack at a local gas station when I was just 2 or 3 years old.
QRD – What’s the one comic book that would be the crown jewel in your collection... the comic equivalent of the holy grail for you?
Justin – I don’t personally collect for monetary value. My appreciation is in the material or the sentimentality of an item. To that end, I’d say I miss my first copy of HULK #181, the one my uncle gave me as a child & I sold as an adult. I have another copy now in better condition, but I miss the original.
QRD – What is currently your favorite comic on the market & why?
Justin – I follow creators over titles. Jonathan Hickman has been making me very happy for several years. I love Frank Quitely. Mignola. If I had to pick one title, WALKING DEAD. It’s solid. Every. Single. Issue.
QRD – When did you first start working at a comic shop?
Justin – 2001.
QRD – How did you come to own your own shop & what do you wish you’d known beforehand?
Justin – Long story short, my then employer bought a failing shop & threw me at it. I ran it for 6 or so years then began making payments toward owning it outright. In 2013, I completed those payments, moved the shop & rebranded. I wish I would’ve made more creator connections early. I didn’t start inviting in artist & writers until the last few years. I’d like to be better at that.
QRD – Have there been any particular trends in the comic book market that you’ve found especially exciting &/or troubling since opening your shop?
Justin – Digital scared me at first, but became a tremendous boom. Yay digital comics! Trade-waiting also looked like a bump in the road, but the second run market is flourishing. It just took a little time.
QRD – Have you always focused on comics exclusively or do you find it a necessity to stock toys, games, etc. as well?
Justin – Yes, I’ve tried to stick to just comics & graphic novels. No gaming. But I carry plenty of toys, statues, buttons, shirts, etc.
QRD – Would you be interested in diversifying your inventory or do you think your store has successfully developed a personality that needs preserving?
Justin – I dig it the way it is & I think other folks do, too. But I’m not set. I understand markets change.
QRD – How much of a factor do you think the personality or atmosphere of a shop plays in establishing a customer base?
Justin – The personality behind the counter is equal to the presentation of the shop itself. Both must be evident & inviting.
QRD – How active of a role does your shop take in social events like release parties, movie outings, etc.?
Justin – We have a table at every super hero film release. We do local events, school presentations, library groups, we have a regular job shadowing program... We get into it. I love my town.
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?
Justin – As I said, I’d love to do more. I think a realistic policy is if you (the creator) want to come in, call me. We’ll make arrangements. At the very least, if you’re anybody, I’ll spot you a meal & some gas money. Seems fair. I have local folks in. That’s pretty easy. But this end of the states doesn’t have a lot of convenient big names. & plane tickets don’t grow on trees.
QRD – Do you believe these types of events create new readers?
Justin – Hmm. I think of creator signings as giving back to my crowd. Sure, new faces come through, but if I’m booking a guest, it’s someone I want to gift my clientele.
QRD – Have the comic book summer movie blockbusters & Free Comic Book Day been a boon to your store?
Justin – YES. I make it count. Heavy advertising starting a month out. Solid creator line up. Get the store macked out. It’s a month’s business in eight hours. & that big summer movie is the kick off.
QRD – What advice do you have for publishers, writers, artists, & distributors that you think would create more sales?
Justin – Do whatever the fuck you want! Who knows what will catch fire. It’s a creator’s age.
QRD – Do you do things to try to cultivate local comic talent?
Justin – Yeah. We have a draw night every week. & we bring in guys that talk storytelling.
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?
Justin – I throw a lot of free comics at customers. Give ‘em some variety. Those $1 comics are great for hooking new fans. & I talk to them.
QRD – When people walk away from buying comics, what do you usually hear as their complaint for leaving the hobby?
Justin – Time & space. Time. & space.
QRD – What are your thoughts (as a business & as a fan) on digital comics?
Justin – Again, yay digital comics!
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?
Justin – Yep. They make it all possible. They short me every week. They replace in credit most of it. They really need some competition. For our sake.
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?
Justin – Nope. I’d definitely shop around.
QRD – With the rise in Kickstarter comic projects, do you look for comics for the store on Kickstarter?
Justin – More & more every week.
QRD – When customers say they can get something for a better deal on Amazon, how do you react?
Justin – Okay. Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you while you’re here.
QRD – What do you think about CGC & the other professional grading companies?
Justin – Are they a benefit or detriment to the hobby? I don’t do grading. I don’t dig it.
QRD – Do you think the drastic overhauls like DC’s New 52 are fundamental for the big two to stay relevant?
Justin – I do not. But that’s not stopping them.
QRD – How well do small press & local comics sell at your store?
Justin – IMAGE is legit. Everything else combined is 5% of my sales at best.
QRD – What do you think of the “wait for the trade” mentality?
Justin – It’s cool. It’s a healthy market. & they’re readers. A market of readers. Help them. Nurture them. It’s easy.
QRD – In the coming years do you see monthly comics or the trade paperback/graphic novel format being the dominant form of comics?
Justin – It’s gonna be like this a while, both formats. & digital.
QRD – What “extra” content do readers look for in “deluxe” edition collections that actually makes them buy a book for the second time?
Justin – That’s pretty broad. Let’s keep this moving...
QRD – Do you buy high-end stock (e.g. hardcover deluxe editions & statues) on speculation for your store or only by special order?
Justin – I speculate.
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?
Justin – We’ve done a few cons. It’s not my bag.
QRD – If you weren’t operating a comic book shop what would you be doing instead?
Justin – Making comics.
QRD – Do you have bargain bins & what are the prices of things in them if so & where do the books in them come from?
Justin – Yes, 50 cent comic boxes. Overstock, excess purchases from private collectors & auctions.
QRD – What makes your store special to your community that another store transplanted from another city wouldn’t have going for it?
Justin – Me. Just me.
QRD – What do you think is your store’s all time bestseller & why?
Justin – WALKING DEAD 100. 400 copies. Reorders too. We had a party, made it a big deal. It was awesome. & a great book.
QRD – How has owning a store effected your own fandom?
Justin – Increased it tenfold.
QRD – Would you ever sell the store?
Justin – Sure. But that price would have to be better than right.
QRD – Anything else?
Justin – Comics have NEVER been this good & this diverse. A SECOND GOLDEN AGE IS UPON US. BELIEVE IN COMICS.