Year 23 at Acme

Life plays out differently for everyone. Some people have had twenty-three different jobs. Or more. The way I see it, that’s a lot of work experience! I’ve only had two jobs in my life. That’s just how it worked out for me and the rarity of that isn’t lost on me.

I’ve been with Acme Comics officially for twenty three years as of September 23rd. Considering that the store opened in 1983, I could be the longest continuous Acme Comics employee, I have no idea. In some ways it seems like I’ve always been here. Thing have been so busy I thought about not writing up anything at all this year, but then I decided that I did have something to say.

I was recently reminded by someone who played a direct role in my involvement with Acme Comics that despite my in ability to see it, and bouts of Imposter Syndrome, I have had a consistent vision for what I wanted this business to be. As of this writing a second figure from the past told me as much, also without prompting. I’d never heard that articulated before, but thinking about it now, it may be true. It certainly wasn’t any sort of directive or vision or multi-year plan back when I began volunteering here just coming out of my teen years.

It was always important to me to display our comics and graphic novels in a way that made sense and showcased it in the best way possible. I can’t remember the first display I built here. I’m sure it likely that featured something new with pertinent back issues. Graphic novels were not as common and all encompassing then as they are now, so featuring the actual back issue comic book was the thing to do. Back issues were and still are my specialty! As I look around the store right now, most of the displays I see were not arranged by me personally. I may have refined one or two, but the aesthetic is there! The display for the House of X and Powers of X (Ten) features not only all of the first printing mini series issues, but pertinent graphic novels. X-men Grand Design for those wanting to do a concise yet deep dive into the history of Marvel’s Mutants, X-men Second Genesis and Deadly Genesis for new readers who want to see how long Krakoa the Living Island has been tied to the destiny of Charles Xavier’s teams, and more. This goes beyond cold and clinical terms such as genre racking. This speaks to an intentional attempt to connect comics’ past and present in an eye catching and informative. At this point, I think it is hard wired into the DNA of Acme Comics and will always be something visitors can expect to see here in some form or another.IMG_8339

Another thing that was important to me then and still is today, is the idea that Acme Comics could be the “THIRD PLACE” in people’s lives. The First Place being the home and the Second Place being work. This goes beyond retail basics such as simply greeting and interacting with customers. Before I ever knew the terminology for the Third Place, I knew there was something special about Acme Comics. I didn’t know what it was, but it was. It is literally what led me to volunteer my time after my actual paying job here until a position came open and here we are twenty three years later. It is the thing that causes people who have traveled out of state or even out of the country to visit us as soon as they arrive back at Piedmont Triad International Airport. Before they go home, they visit here. The frequency at which that happens as always amazed me! The prevailing sentiment is that everyone, no matter their knowledge level of comic books or pop culture, feel welcome here. Welcome may not be the right word. Let me amend “welcome” to “comfortable.” I can’t speak from direct experience because of my long history with comics on both sides of the counter, but I have heard that comic book stores can be intimidating. I can believe that. If I were to visit an auto parts store, bad example because most people know what they are looking for there and are not browsing, I would likely be somewhat out of sorts. I may not know exactly what I needed or where to find the item I needed in the sea of inventory. Again, this is a bad example because I do know more than nothing about auto parts, but hopefully you get the analogy. I love answering questions and, though I may not impart the sentiment, all of my decades of accumulated comic book knowledge is at the our clientele’s disposal. If I knew auto parts to that degree, that is the way it would be. And if we don’t know something then we try to use out powers to to get answers. The world of comic books can indeed be noisy with bold images, decades of history, and the appearance that everyone already knows everything instantly. If we do our job correctly, if being ambassadors to the world of comics is paramount in what we do here, then the potential for everyone to feel like Acme Comics can be one of their Third Places will endure.

SIDEBAR: On Wednesday September 25th, The Acme Comics Graphic Novel Book Club will celebrate its third anniversary! The book club concept was entirely new ground for us, but we took a chance and it is now a clear evolution of the Third Place idea. Ours is not the first graphic novel book club, nor is it the only graphic novel book club, but ours always impresses me with their insights. Meetings take place once per month after close and anyone can attend to discuss the graphic novel being spotlighted. Hearing from experienced and entirely new readers for material from Watchmen to Deadly Class has been both fascinating and illuminating. If you are interested in participating search for Acme Comics Book Club on Facebook for more information.

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I haven’t had any formal marketing classes so to speak, but I have learned through active trial and error, successes and failures. Although this award was recently produced from the archives of my Junior year at Grimsley High School. I have no memory of this at all, but maybe it is some sort of proof that I am on some sort of retail Determinist destiny. If so, I’m still excited about it!

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All that rambling was said in preface of saying this. During my time with Acme Comics, whether I knew it was happening or not, a certain core principal was set that became permanently bonded to this place. I believe that principal still endures twenty three years later and continues to set us apart from any other store. That is the foundation from which we launch new initiatives and objectives. With this in mind, the potential for the growth of Acme Comics remains strong. Necessity requires vagueness, but I have ideas to reaffirm our core principals and brand new concepts that I am curious to experiment with. The senior staff here has amazing plans beyond anything I would have considered that I am genuinely excited to be a part of.

To say that 2017-2018 were trying times is an understatement. We have endured and here in 2019 we are galvanized. I’ve said it for twenty three years and I will say it again: Acme Comics isn’t going anywhere. You can count on us. With your support through Twitter retweets, Facebook shares, Google reviews, new people constantly find Acme Comics. We remain a Greensboro institution since 1983 and a destination for comic book fans as near as Burlington NC and as far as Germany and South America. That means a lot to me and all of us here. That lets us know that we are on the right track.

Something else that lets us know we are on the right track is when supporters like Cameron here let us know what Acme Comics means to them. The plan is to continue to grow while living up to the high standard that he’s set for us.

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YEAR 22 WITH ACME COMICS

 

YEAR 21 WITH ACME COMICS

22 Years Together

Can you believe a whole year has passed since my 21 Years Working For You post? The passage of time is always strange if you’re a comic book reader. If you have twelve issues in front of you, that is one year. Or more likely in today’s market, if you have twenty four issues of the same series in front of you, that is one year gone by. Or, if you like, two graphic novels. Just some thoughts to put into perspective on how time passes for me.

This one will be a little brief as this anniversary has caught me by surprise and I should be helping put preorders way and various other things to prepare for new release Wednesday circa 9/19/18.

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Still not really up for picture taking..

What I’d like to get into in the time that we do have is a little backstory on how September 23rd 1996 came to be my first official day working at Acme Comics. As you know, or maybe you don’t know, I was a customer at Acme Comics since somewhere between 1986 and 1987. I say that because I remember seeing some of the iconic Watchmen covers on the newer release shelves. I wasn’t interested in Watchmen, but the covers stuck with me even as a kid who was no doubt looking for Star Wars, Transformers, or G.I. Joe comics. I saw all that to let people know that I was a kid back then because some people think that I was working at the store back then. I’m not that old, people!

By 1994, I’d graduated from Grimsley High School (Go Whirlies!) and over that Summer became a familiar face around Acme Comics. I’d shopped other places, but Acme had become my shop of preference. Not just because of the merchandise available, a lot of the merchandise was available at other stores or flea markets or conventions. I’d say that was the least of it at the time now that I think about it. What kept me coming back was the atmosphere, the camaraderie, the conversation. On a side note, I hope that some of you feel the same way from time to time now. Joe Schram was the actual employee at the time, but a little group formed around him and I was a part of that group. Some customers have told me that they do remember seeing me around before 1996.  There were guys around before me and I think before Joe. Reuben M., the shop kid Stephen B., they come to mind as being in place as regulars who were haunting this place well before me. We introduced each other to new things. Joe championed Mike Mignola’s Hellboy stories. I brought my knowledge of Marvel back issues to the table. Reuben M. introduced me to Mike Allred’s Madman. Dan M. was the DC Comics expert. I learned about series like Stray Bullets and Strangers in Paradise from Stephen B. There came a point where it wasn’t just about hanging out talking about comics and action figures and movies. There was work to be done and we all wanted to help. Bagging comics, filing unsold overstock comics away alphabetically, etc. What we really wanted though was to help connect people to the stories we knew to be good and in some cases had recently learned to be good. There came a day when it was time for Joe to move on, an official spot came open, and I was recommended for it. I was already a known quantity by that point and it was my turn at bat.

Flash forward to 2018. Acme Comics is still here and going strong. This is actually year 35 for Acme as a Greensboro institution. The Oldest and Largest Comic Book Store in the Triad (regionally known as the cities of Greensboro, High Point, and Winston Salem). I’m still here too. Multiple satellite locations, multiple Will Eisner International Spirit of Comics Retailing award nominations, multiple economic fluxes, multiple highs and lows later. We are still here. They say if you stay in the same place long enough, people will wander back to you. In the last several months, so many people I haven’t seen in years have come through the door and that has been a great thing. They seem to really enjoy knowing that Acme Comics is still here and so am I. But I don’t exist in a vacuum. Here in 2018 it takes a lot of people to make sure that I don’t stay at work too late, or forget to eat, or lose track of what day it is. Continued thanks to the official and unofficial Acme Comics Lord Retail Support team who keeps this show on the road to 2019!

Speaking of Lord Retail, I did some research and I actually know the official birthday of “Lord Retail.” But that’s a story for another day.

And now the moment you’ve been waiting for….

We don’t do back issue sales often and when we do we like for them to be worth while to you. Significant. Worth the drive. About something. I had something in mind, but then I lost track of time and this whole thing is super last minute. So I’m going to do something different than what I had planned. Let me know if this sounds good.

 

CELEBRATE 22 YEARS OF JERMAINE AT ACME COMICS

Friday September 21 10AM-7PM Saturday September 22 10AM-7PM Sunday September 23 Noon-6pm
  • General Bagged Back Issues shall be 80% (eighty percent) off marked sticker price.
  • Wear your “Lord Retail” button to be able to buy 1 hardcover of your choice for 50% (fifty percent) off. This can be used ONLY once per business day for a total of three times.

Discount NOT applicable on:

  • New Comics unbagged on shelves
  • Variant Edition comics
  • Silver/ Bronze Age Boarded Vintage Comics
  • Preorder comics on reservation

New to comics? This is your chance to get up on what came before you began? Been out of comics for a minute? This is your chance to get your collection going again.

Let’s connect you to the good stuff for an unbelievable savings!

21 Years of Working For You

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Acme Comics 2017 Senior Staff: Pete Bowne, Austin Getz, Jermaine Exum, and Valerie Moran.

Hello reader, Jermaine here. Your resident Lord Retail of Acme Comics in Greensboro North Carolina.

A while back I was curious as to how long I’d been working at Acme Comics. I had a general idea, but I was curious as to specifically how long. What was my start date. Utilizing my legendary persistence and inquiry tactics I learned that my official hire date was September 23rd 1996. That means on Saturday September 23rd 2017 I will have been working for Acme Comics for twenty-one years.

Twenty-one years. There will be a few of you reading this who may not have been born yet in 1996. And there are some of you who I’ve known the whole time. Many of you had no children when we met and now those children are entering college, or the workforce, or have been there for a while. Some of you reading this will have come and gone and come back again and I was still there like no time had passed.

Whatever the story of how we met, I’ll tell you that this has been a time of reflection for me.  Continue reading

COMIC SHOP GLOSSARY OF TERMS

It occurred to me one day that, just like in any industry, inside the comic shop we speak our very own language.  A language that is as deliberate and intricate as it is
insular and bizarre. So I thought I’d create something of a gateway into this potentially intimidating and impenetrable code.

This will be an ongoing work in progress that is regularly updated and amended. If you would like to request a definition, please let us know and we’ll get right on it. Or if you see fit to define a term yourself, please submit it to us for review!

 

BACK ISSUE: The term back issue encompasses any comic that is no longer available on the general current sales shelves.  A back issue could be a comic book from the 1980s or a book from four weeks ago.  Such books can be found bagged to protect them from damage and priced in the back issue bins or backstock, in alpha-numeric order.

BACKWALL: The “backwall” in a comic book store is the area of the store where higher priced books are kept.  Key issues, vintage comic books, rarities. The backwall does not literally have to be a wall behind a counter, but often is. This term is also applicable to booths at comic book conventions

BACK ORDER: Back order is a distribution technical term regarding the status of an
order.  A back order means that the item is currently out of stock at the distributor, but if more are found there, the back order will fill. While not ideal, back order is not as bad as when a reordered item is “sold out” at the distributor. Example: If it’s an ambulance (back order), you’ve got a chance. If it’s a hearse (sold out) then it’s gotta be worse.

COMIC SHOP LOCATOR: Comic Shop Locator is a service by which a fan can find
a comic book store in the area they are located in by providing the zip code. This service is invaluable while traveling. The phone number is 1-888-COMIC-BOOK or the website is www.comicshoplocator.com. There is also a phone app. Be aware that at times Comic Shop Locator may not be updated to reflect store closings or relocations.

CROSSOVER: A crossover simply refers to content or characters from one series crossing over into another series. Example: The Outsiders and Checkmate series are crossing over together for a storyline that goes through both series.

DIAMOND DISTRIBUTION: Diamond is the Baltimore based distribution company that handles the majority of comic book and related merchandise in the U.S. and beyond. Monthly Diamond releases a preview catalog that contains solicitations for comic books from major and independent publishers, and merchandise, that is set for release starting as early as two months later. This catalog, Previews, is available to the public in magazine format and online. This is a valuable tool to assist with making preorders.

FILL-IN ART: A “fill-in” is the term for the circumstance where a writer or artist (or both) other than the regular creative team steps in to do an issue or a storyline. Sometimes the fill-in will occur in order to give the assigned creative team time to catch up to deadlines or to keep the series releasing on its regular schedule.

GRAPHIC NOVEL: A graphic novel is a single work, published for the first time in a bound paperback or hardcover form that was not previously released as individual issues. Examples: JLA: Earth 2, Blankets, The Goon: Chinatown, and Star Wars: Force
Unleashed are graphic novels. Watchmen is not a graphic novel, but rather a trade paperback compilation of twelve individual issues. In recent times though, the term graphic novel has become a catch all encompassing trade paperbacks. The term original graphic novel can replace the meaning of the general graphic novel term.

GUTTER: When looking at a comic book page with panels, the gutter refers to the blank space between the panels. Often times in this space, time may pass or unseen actions may occur that the brain will fill in on its own without being expressly shown. For more on the gutter effect see: Understanding Comics graphic novel.

HARDCOVER: A hardcover is a bound collection of material which has a hard cover as opposed to a softcover like a trade paperback. Hardcovers can be a collection of material originally released in another format such as issues or it can contain unique material that has not existed in any previous format (see: Graphic Novel). Examples: DC Absolute Editions (high quality over sized format hardcover with accompanying slipcase) and Marvel Omnibus (over sized hardcover reprinting many sequential issues of early material or a run by a particular writer or artist).

INDEPENDENT COMICS: Independent comics encompass comic publishers outside of the mainstream. Mainstream publishers include major publishers such as Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, and Image Comics as well as smaller companies like IDW, Dynamite, and Devil’s Due. Independent comics often come from very small publishers or may even be self-published by the actual creator. The term “indie” is the common abbreviation for “Independent Comics.”

ONE-SHOT: A one shot is a special stand alone issue. Usually a one shot will say “one shot” on the cover, may feature no issue number or, may display only a #1 on the cover even though there will be no second issue.

PRESTIGE FORMAT: A prestige format comic is generally a square bound individual issue, usually 48-64 pages in length. Example: Batman The Killing Joke originally released as new material prestige format one shot.

RATING – ALL AGES: Comics that are specifically made for kids or contain content that kids and adults can both read are commonly rated as being “all ages.” Marvel Comics has a line of all-ages comics as part of the Marvel Adventures line (Marvel Adventures Spider-man, Marvel Adventures Avengers) which feature the recognizable Marvel heroes in adventures that will be appropriate for young readers and can be enjoyed by older readers as well. A wide variety of all ages comic books and graphic novels can be found in Acme’s All Ages section.

RATING – MATURE READERS: Mature readers is the rating given to comics
containing material that is not intended for young readers. The content may include adult language, graphic violence as opposed to action, or situations young readers would be uninterested in. Marvel Max comics and DC Vertigo lines are intended for mature
readers and many independent comics are intended for mature readers as
well. Mature readers is abbreviated as (MR).

RETCON: A “retcon” or retroactive continuity is the term used when the content of an existing story is changed after it has already been published. Example #1: After Crisis on Infinite Earths, a DC storyline from the 1980s, Superman had a new origin in which he did not gain his signature super powers until he was eighteen years old. Meaning he had no adventures as Superboy. Example #2: As a result of Spider-man One More Day, a recent and controversial storyline, Peter Parker and Mary Jane were never married. The stories all still happened, but they were simply not married during those stories.

SOLICITATION: A solicitation is the description of an item as it appears in the Previews ordering catalog. It usually includes the title, creative team, page count, price, projected
release date, and a brief description of the content. If something is “advance solicited” then it is available to order, but won’t be released for up to a year rather than the usual two month lead time.

SUBSCRIPTION: The term subscription refers to the in-store subscription service through which customers make arrangements to have new releases held/ ordered for them so they do not have to risk an issue selling out because they are not able to make it to the shop specifically on new release day. Another term for subscription is preorder.

SUPPLIES – BAGS: Bags, as a noun, are the plastic (usually polypropylene, but they can be polyethelyne) bags specifically designed to protect and preserve comic books. Sizes range from current, silver age, golden age, and magazine. Bag, as a verb, refers to the act of putting comic books into bags and then sealing them shut with tape. Example: “How many comics did you bag last weekend?”

SUPPLIES – BOARD: Board refers to any size of the optional cardboard backing
that can be placed within the comic book bag to provide support to the comic
itself. Comic book bags and boards must be of the same type to be used effectively. Example: Current bags + Current Boards = Correct, Current bags + Silver age boards = Incorrect.

SUPPLIES – LONG BOX: The long comic box is the largest standard storage box
offered. It comes as one flat piece of cardboard that forms the box and one separate piece of cardboard that forms the lid. Relatively easy to assemble, the long comic book box holds approximately 300 unbagged and unboarded regular sized comic books.

SUPPLIES – SHORT BOX: The short comic box is the smallest standard comic
storage box. It is less than half the size of a long comic box, holding approximately less than half of what a long comic box can hold and it is constructed in the same fashion with two pieces of cardboard.

TRADE PAPERBACK: A trade paperback is simply a softcover collection of material that was originally released in individual issue form. Example: Watchmen is a trade paperback containing the story originally presented as twelve individual issues. In recent years the definitions of graphic novel, trade paperback, collected edition, and volume have become interchangeable as far as the general public is concerned. Purists will still differentiate these terms. The term paperback is also applicable when describing a trade paperback.

VARIANT COVER/ INCENTIVE VARIANT: A variant cover is simply a cover different from the standard release cover.  Sometimes this variant cover is available in a 50/50 ratio meaning that out of 100 copies, 50 will be one cover and 50 will be another cover. Other times variant covers will be more limited in frequency.  Example: This cover is available the ratio of 1 per every 25 copies that the store buys. Or if the store buys 100 copies then it can have access to 1 copy of a variant cover. That is a 1:100 copies variant cover.

VIRGIN VARIANT COVER: A virgin cover is the name given to a variant cover that features only the pure artwork uninterrupted by title logos, publisher banners, or creator credits.

 

DEFINITIONS TO COME:

ANNUAL

ERA – SILVER AGE

ERA – GOLDEN AGE

FOOTNOTE

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY

MAXI-SERIES

MINI-SERIES (LIMITED)

NEW COMIC DAY

REBOOT

RELAUNCH

REPRINT

RE-ORDER

RUN

SPLASH PAGE

SUPPLIES – DRAWER BOX