Tales from Counter-Earth: Selling What You’ll Buy

Hawkeye, look out! Those are guns!(Editor’s Note: Ron Cacace is a lot of things; Captain Marvel aficionado, lactose intolerant, general do-gooder and perhaps most importantly for our purposes here, a comic book retailer in New Jersey. Tales from Counter-Earth will feature Ramblin’ Ron rambling on about the day-to-day grind of the comic book retail world and sometimes the generally good things that can come of it.)

It’s amazing how talking about something you enjoy reading can be enough to make people spend money. I didn’t have any prior retail experience before working at The Fallout Shelter, but I’ve always been good at talking with others. I wasn’t a master salesman or anything, I was just a guy who liked comic books and enjoyed talking about them like anyone else. While I often complain online and in person about the things I don’t like, it’s always better to be able to gush about a book I love. It’s awesome when you can have a conversation about something you’ve really enjoyed and find someone who can share that experience.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past five years, there’s a movie coming out in a few months called “Marvel’s The Avengers.” It’s about Earth’s Mightiest Heroes assembling to take on a foe no single hero can withstand. It features fan-favorite characters The Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and Nick Fury and is the culmination of years of hard work by the folks at Marvel Studios. In the coming months, you’ll be hard pressed to not see a mention or advertisement for The Avengers in your daily routine. The promotional monster that is Marvel Entertainment & Disney is going to do their best to make sure you see Thor’s hammer and Captain America’s shield wherever you go.

As part of their promotional cycle in the time before a movie is released, Marvel increases publication of the principal characters in their films. As a result, there is a plethora of Avengers material being published in both new and reprinted formats. One such collection was Avengers: Hawkeye, a trade paperback collecting his mini-series from the 1980s and other key appearances.

Cool costume or coolest costume?

I was planning on purchasing Avengers: Hawkeye after my boss recommended I read it. He had been a huge fan of the mini-series and we both share an affinity for Marvel’s premier archer. I’ve been a Hawkeye fan since the days of Kurt Busiek’s run on Avengers and Thunderbolts back in the late 90s during the “Heroes Return” era. I had the trade in my pull box along with the second trade paperback collection of Busiek’s Avengers. I was running a bit low on cash and I didn’t want anyone else to pick it up before I had the chance so I kept it off the shelf. It’s funny how my plan totally failed but I ended up happy with the result anyway.

New comic books go on sale every Wednesday and there’s no better time to talk with customers about comics. Whether I’m telling them about a new book that’s out or we’re discussing a recent storyline, it’s above and beyond my favorite day of the week. The customers who come in on Wednesday are the ones who are usually the most involved in keeping up to date on current comic book news and events. They’re the hardcore Wednesday crowd who need to have their books the day they’re released.One of my favorite customers came in to pick up his books and we started talking about Matt Fraction’s new Defenders series. He said that he wasn’t sold on the book yet, and that the first two issues weren’t enough to win him over. He was hoping for the third issue to be really good so he could keep reading. We started discussing the original Defenders series from years past featuring Silver Surfer, Dr. Strange, Namor, Hulk, Valkyrie, and others. The Defenders were referred to as a “Non-Team Team.” The characters had no real reason to be together other than being in the right place at the right time. It was such a Marvel idea, with characters just being together because they had nowhere else to go.

All this talk about the Defenders led us to the Avengers and how some of the recent teams don’t seem like they’re entirely unique. I’m a classic Avengers guy who believes that the team should revolve around several core characters who are strong enough to pull in fans while adding less popular characters around them and building up their fan base. The Yellowjacket era of Avengers were some of the first Avengers titles that I ever read as a kid, and that stuff blew my mind. Major life events occurred in that title that dramatically affected the characters. It wasn’t all out action, there were moments set around building characters and establishing relationships. When you have nothing but action, it’s hard to care about what they’re fighting for. It’s the little moments that make the big fight scenes worth the money. When you don’t get a look into the personal lives of the characters and their hopes and fears, why should you care if they defeat Graviton or Norman Osborn or whoever shows up?

We discussed this for a while and then got on to the topic of how Hawkeye is leading the Secret Avengers in Rick Remender’s run on the title. There was a great series of interviews with Remender over at Marvel.com detailing his plans for the title and where things would be heading for the first story arc. I was able to sell Rob on Secret Avengers within a few minutes, as his love for Hawkeye was readily apparent. I brought up the solo series that Hawkeye had and showed him the trade paperback that I was saving for myself. Rob’s eyes lit up and he told me that he used to have the issues and loved the book. He wanted to know if we had any other copies of the book because he wanted to buy one. It was our last copy but I told him he could have it and that I would just order myself another one.

While I was ringing his books up, I told him about the “Avengers Assemble Volume 2″ trade paperback collecting the Ultron Unlimited storyline from Kurt Busiek’s Avengers run. It wasn’t much of a surprise that he wanted to purchase that as well. One week passed by and I sold him my copy of “Avengers Assemble” even though I really wanted to take it home and read it. It doesn’t matter though, because I love comic books and being able to share my passion with others. If all I have to do is talk about my favorite stories to get people to spend money, imagine what will happen when I start creating my own.

About Ron Cacace

One thought on “Tales from Counter-Earth: Selling What You’ll Buy

  1. cool article, nice to hear about an employee who loves what they do. this is why i love going to comic book stores and hearing from people who love comics as much as i do.

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