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Manga Mania: It's more than comic books In these Japanese cafes

You have probably at least heard of Japan’s ubiquitous Internet or manga (comic book) cafés. They are everywhere and hard to miss. But there are also some out there that have been supersized – and they are well worth checking out.

While your typical midsized to hole-in-the-wall manga “kissa” (café) may throw in Internet access, soft drinks and snacks with your cubical, their mega-counterparts may offer that as well as darts, karaoke and more on a much grander scale.

What do you call these palatial “cafés”? Well, it’s complex. Literally.

“We call cafés like Internet or comic book cafés that offer all these kinds of entertainment combined ‘complex cafés,’” says Daisuke Hidaka, president of Japan Complex Café Association. He is also president of Runsystem Co. Ltd., which operates a large chain of complex cafés. The term is not as widely used as “Internet” or “manga” café, or a major facility’s brand name, but that doesn’t mean they are not well known.

“Complex cafés are part of Japanese culture. There is no place outside of Japan where you can find them.” Hidaka says, adding that Internet café’s abroad pale before what they have to offer. “They don’t have the variety of entertainment nor individual booths.”

I cannot verify what Internet cafés overseas offer, but I can vouch for Japan’s big-box cafés. I recently toured Jiyu Kukan Ikebukuro Rosa, one of Runsystem’s cafés in Tokyo, and I found what looked more like an amusement center than a café.

Besides several complimentary soft drink dispensers, I saw a seemingly endless amount of PCs and monitors in open areas as well as individual booths, divided into smoking and non-smoking areas. Amenities included billiards, table tennis and darts along with karaoke rooms, showers and electric-massage-chair booths.

The comic book selection in this manga café was huge. There were not only endless volumes of comics, but also magazines and newspapers filling dozens of eight-storied bookshelves in a comic book “corner” that looked more like a community library or bookstore.

In addition to all this, I was surprised to learn they also offered private soundproof rooms for business meetings or language lessons.

Anyone can use these facilities 24 hours a day, 365 days out of the year for just 1,000 yen (about $9) an hour. The fee covers the use of all the available equipment as well. The café also offers discount packages for longer stays, including overnight.

The cafés most popular attraction are its individual seat booths. These are a partitioned areas with a reclining chair or floor mat, where you can enjoy the Internet, TV and comic books without being disturbed by others. You can even take a nap in there.

The seat is cleaned and all computer activity is deleted after each user is finished, according to Hidaka.

It was easy to see why these mega cafés are popular and have been growing number in recent years. There are currently about 2,091 so-called complex cafés from Japan’s northern most island of Hokkaido to the southern isles of Okinawa. They attract 145 million people and generate 150 billion yen ($1.4 billion) annually, according to the Complex Café Association.

Hidaka says about 70 percent of the users are between the ages of 20 and 30; 80 percent are male. The association hopes to up the number of female customers with added perks.

“Some complex cafés set aside a third of their space exclusively for female users,” Hidaka says. The areas come with gorgeous, feminine powder rooms, showers and makeup facilities equipped with cosmetics, hair irons and nail treatments. Only women with card keys can access these areas, so they can lounge safely and comfortably even at night.

“I was surprised to see how clean the facility was,” says Ai Suzuki, a 22-year-old college student in Tokyo who recently tried one out. “I used to think these kinds of cafés are dirty and dangerous, but I was relieved to see how safe and comfortable it was. I think I could even stay at one overnight alone.”

“I noticed that most of daytime users are high school students,” she added.

During late nights, as with manga cafés, these larger cafés are frequented by commuters who miss the last train and are in need of an inexpensive alternative to a hotel. Law prohibits them being furnished with beds or lockable booth doors, but a reclining seat and shower are good enough for many until the trains start running in the morning. At about 1,500 yen for 6 hours overnight, it is much cheaper than even a capsule hotel.

Manga and Internet cafés have also become the semi-permanent residences for many of Japan’s homeless working poor, known as “net café refugees” or “cyber-homeless,” according several media reports. It has caused some to worry how safe these cafés are for overnight stay.

In response, Japan Complex Café Association introduced a membership system requiring registration with ID bearing a permanent address, according to Hidaka. Ostensibly, anyone who associates poverty or homelessness with criminal threat will find refuge at one of the associations 1,006 member facilities that can be identified by a displayed “JCCA” decal.

For most regular users, however – whether manga, Internet or complex café – worry is the farthest thing from the mind. In fact, these facilities bring just the opposite to mind.

“Over the years, I have always felt safe and comfortable at every cafe I have ever experienced,” says Ryo Oikawa, 44, a Tokyo ramen cook who has been frequenting them for the past decade. “I enjoy reading reviews of the newest comic books, the comics themselves or an entire series at once in cafés. It is really a great place to spend few hours on my days off.”

Biggest of the big

Jiyu Kukan at Big Box in Tokyo’s Takadanobaba is the largest complex café in Japan. It has 27 karaoke rooms with the latest machines, 150 PCs, 50,000 comics and more than 100 different kinds of free soft drinks. It has individual Internet booths with reclining chairs or mats, massage chair booths and family rooms. It also has large space for digital darts, table tennis and billiards.

Jiyu Kukan also has an exclusive women’s area (smoking and non-smoking). Its automated entrance system enables the customers to select a room by themselves through a touch panel screen without consulting any staff.

Jiyu Kukan at Big Box in Tokyo’s Takadanobaba
Location: 1-35-3 Beg Box Takadanobaba 7F, Takadanobaba, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Charge: (3 hours) 1140 yen ($10.5), (6 hours) 1960 yen ($18)
Tel: 03-5291-4323

Comic cafés near your base

Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture (near Misawa AB)
Jiyu Kukan Hochinohe Numadate
Location: 4-7 Hachinohe Numadate
Tel: 0178-73-3633

Tokyo (near Yokota AB)
Kaikatsu Club, Mizuho
Location: 824-4 Dangaya, Mizuho-cho, Nishitamagun, Tokyo
Tel: 042-568-0388

Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture (near NAF Atsugi)
Kaikatsu Club Atsugi Hayashi
Location: 5-23-5 Hayashi, Atsugi City
Tel: 046-294-2888

Yamato, Kanagawa Prefecture (near Camp Zama)
Yuyu Kukan Yamato
Location: 2-10-12 Yamato Minami, Yamato City
Tel: 046-263-2436

Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture (near Yokosuka Naval Base)
Moopa Yokohama Nishiguchi
Location: 1-8-6 Kitasaiwai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama City
Tel: 045-324-3471

Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture (near MCAS Iwakuni)
Aprecio Iwakuni
Location: 1-7-18 Odu-cho, Iwakuni City
Tel: 0827-34-1181

Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture (near Sasebo Naval Base)
Tomato Club Sasebo
Location: 14-26 Daito-cho, Sasebo City
Tel: 0956-34-5900

Beats living on the street

“Net café refugees,” or “cyber-homeless” are a growing class of homeless people in Japan who do not own or rent a residence and sleep in 24-hour Internet cafés or manga cafés.

A Japanese government study estimated that over 5,400 people are spending at least half of their week staying in net cafes. It has been alleged that this is part of an increasing wealth gap in Japan.

According to the Japanese government survey, those staying have little interest in manga or the Internet, and are instead using the place because of the low price relative to temporary housing such as business or capsule hotels, hostels or any other option besides sleeping on the street.

It was also estimated that about half of those staying have no job, while the other half work in low-paid temporary jobs, which paid around 100,000 yen ($900) per month - lower than what is needed to rent an apartment and pay for transportation in a city like Tokyo.

– Stripes Japan

#news #manga #Japan #comicbooks #Internet #café #stripes

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DC the Flash War starts

Hunter Zolomon's ZOOM Returns To Start DC's Flash War

Spoilers for Flash #1 Annual

Zoom has returned to DC Comics, and he's about to start a Flash War for the ages. The coming competition between Barry Allen and Wally West has been advertised for some time, promising to decide once and for all who is DC's best Flash. But with a new twist in the future of DC's Earth - and the legacy of the entire Flash Family - the driving force behind The Flash War has been revealed. After years missing from the main DC Universe, Hunter Zolomon is back with a new name, in a new time - but the same old mission.

The Flash comic series may have slid into the background of some DC fans' attention as events like Doomsday Clock or METAL claimed the spotlight, but the time has come for Flash fans to catch up. The full Flash War series won't start until the Spring - promised to begin DC's new age of heroes - but the prelude to the showdown is a must-read.

And for all its twists and teases, The Flash Annual #1 will be best remembered for the return of ZOOM, the second Reverse-Flash.

The Flash War begins with Reverse-Flash death?

Before fans excited to see the return of the villain rush out to buy their issues, a little explanation will be needed. The Annual picks up where a prior Flash arc left off... four centuries in the future, when a massive battle between Barry Allen and Eobard Thawne leaves the Flash Museum in ruins. But the 25th Century detectives introduced in this Annual aren't interested in property damage... they're investigating a homicide. As readers saw for themselves, the battle only ended when Iris West was forced to kill Thawne so she and Barry could return home.

Fans needn't get too bogged down in that bit of time travel, since fights between Allen and Thawne have leapt centuries before. This time, the fact that the murder was committed in the jurisdiction of time-jumping cops adds a twist. Unsure of just how badly Iris has messed with the time stream, these time cops are sent to bring her in for questioning.

An open and shut case, presumably, were it not for the cloaked, concealed commander of these fine officers.

A robed figure who seems to know a thing or two about Iris West and the personal history of Barry Allen, Wally West, and the other speeders of the 20th and 21st Century.

The real twist comes when that figure removes his disguise, and reveals his true identity. At the same time, revealing what may be a plan years, decades, even centuries in the making. A plan hatched between this mystery man and Eobard Thawne, before he disappeared from DC's New 52 and Rebirth continuity to plot his master stroke.

A plan that returns another iconic Flash Villain to the timeline, and sets in motion the events that will lead to The Flash War.

#comicbooks #DC #comics #Flash #war

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Galactus May Be The One Hero Who Can Save Marvel's Universe

The latest issue of Infinity Countdown ends on a cliffhanger as the Silver Surfer goes to Galactus the Lifebringer, requesting he return to his former role... and destroy a world. —specifically, Planet Ultron. As the Marvel Comics Universe heads towards an Infinity Wars event, the limited series Infinity Countdown is tracing the changing hands of the powerful Infinity Stones. One of the biggest shockers of the event was the return of the Hank Pym version of Ultron, who killed Magus and took the Soul Stone for himself. But that was only the beginning.

Last issue Adam Warlock traveled through the cosmos to find Magus and the Soul Stone, only to end up on a planet of Ultron's design. There, he not only discovered a world under Pym's control, but the issue ended with the Silver Surfer being forcefully given the Soul Stone by Ultron Prime.

How the Surfer was captured is still unknown, but the fallout of that moment looks to lead to some interesting cosmic changes. And oddly enough, Galactus may be the universe's only hope.

Infinity Countdown #3 kicks off with Ultron torturing Surfer with all the souls he's helped Galactus kill in his former role as the Herald of the World-Eater. Transforming the Surfer into a being that's part Ultron, Warlock has no choice but to fight his former friend. The hope being that freeing Surfer from Ultron's influence will award him a powerful ally.

Eventually, Warlock frees the Surfer of Ultron's control, but not before Pym launches a strike that could wipe out countless worlds. We learned that some aspect of Pym is still trapped in Soulworld—along with an aged portion of Gamora—but even the Ultron we see has at least two minds to him. There's no telling how Pym will be made whole again, but the big concern now is stopping whatever version of him is bonded with Ultron.

Because of that, the issue ends with the Silver Surfer reluctantly returning to his old master and asking him to not only destroy Ultron's world to save the galaxy, but to go back to his old ways.

If you haven't read Al Ewing's Ultimates and Ultimates2, then the golden Galactus dubbed the Lifebringer may seem odd. But that book greatly expanded the cosmic Marvel Universe in the comics and transformed Galactus into a new version of himself who seeds worlds rather than consumes them.

It's all part of an effort to balance the universe, and it's made Galactus into something of a heroic figure. But now, he'll have to once again destroy to save others. What's more, but Silver Surfer will again be leading Galactus to a world in order to consume it.

The whole scenario is an interesting twist on a classic Marvel relationship that's changed considerably over the years. Dan Slott has sent Silver Surfer on a journey of reinvention and it's not clear if some of that work will be undone now that he's moved on. What's more, but Marvel rarely lets character occupy new spaces, so it seems like a matter of time before Galactus is back to his old self.

Hopefully, something more interesting will come of this renewed partnership, but we'll have to wait until next week to find out.

#comicbooks #Galactus #news #Infinity #Countdown #event

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What Could Have Been – Aquaman TV Series

Recently, a trailer for the ‘Aquaman’ pilot has been making its way around the internet. Ordered by the CW in 2006, the pilot starred Justin Hartley as Arthur “AC” Curry, Ving Rhames as McCaffery, and Lou Diamond Philips as Tom Curry. With such a great cast and positive feedback (the pilot is available on iTunes), many have wondered why the CW passed on the show. The year 2006 stuck out to me for a reason, and after doing some research, I think I know why ‘Aquaman’ was not picked up. The show was the victim of the WB/UPN merger.

For many years, WB and UPN struggled to find viewers. Since the networks were courting the same audience, a merger was announced in order to save jobs and to salvage executives’ reputations. According to, the “C” stands for CBS, the parent company of the UPN, and the “W” stands for Warner Brothers. Each company was to own and control 50% of the CW. In order to maintain the 50/50 split, each parent of the CW only got to keep half of its original programing, which is why at the end of the Spring TV season many WB and UPN shows were cancelled.

To create the Fall 2006 schedule, UPN and WB got to contribute equally at six hours each; any empty slots were filled with repeats or a movie. The UPN saved ‘Veronica Mars‘, ‘Friday Night Smackdown‘, ‘America’s Next Top Model‘, ‘Everybody Hates Chris‘, ‘All of Us‘, ‘Girlfriends‘, and ‘The Game‘ for the Fall lineup. All of these programs add up to six hours (FNS was two hours). The WB filled five hours with returning shows: ‘Smallville’, ‘7th Heaven’, ‘One Tree Hill’, ‘Supernatural’, and ‘The Gilmore Girls’.

They saved the last hour for a new show. ‘Aquaman’ was competing with many shows for one slot. The CW decided to pick up two dramas, one for the Fall and the other as a mid-season replacement. The Fall slot went to’Runaway’ starring Donnie Wahlberg, and the mid-season show was ‘Hidden Palms’ from Kevin Williamson, producer of ‘Dawson’s Creek’. In 2006, these choices made sense; people were upset about the cancellation of ‘Everwood’, so replacing the show with something similar seemed the logical decision.

I didn’t watch ‘Runaway’ or ‘Hidden Palms’. Not very many did because neither show is still on the air. Why didn’t the new CW take ‘Aquaman’ off the shelf and give it a try, at least as a mid-season replacement? Probably because of cost. Shot on location in Miami, Florida, ‘Aquaman’ would have required a lot of special effects. AC is in the water a lot. He has to be because Aquaman draws his power from water.

Also one of the characters is a Navy pilot. Since she, Lt. Rachel Torres, is recruited to be part of a task force to investigate Atlantis, one could conclude that shots of her in a fighter jet could have been cut. But there would have been more creatures from the deep to animate or render effects for, so in the chaos of the formation of a new network and the pressure to make money ASAP, ‘Aquaman’ was probably considered too expensive to produce in 2006.

Is the ‘Aquaman’ pilot worthy of any discussion? Yes. The episode establishes the story well. Arthur Curry knows he’s adopted, but he doesn’t know that he’s Orin, Prince of Atlantis. He lives in Tempest Key, FL, still obsessed over how his mother vanished ten years ago. According to his dad, Tom, AC is wasting his potential; he needs to stop getting arrested for freeing dolphins from amusement parks and go to college. However, AC is starting to feel as though something is happening to him. He can hold his breath for long periods of time and swim really fast, but he tells his friend and business partner Eva that he felt the dolphins call to him. After being attacked by a siren, he listens and believes McCaffery when he tells him about his past. Together they kill the siren who is after AC, possibly the same siren who killed or captured his mom.

The moment that impressed me in the pilot was at the end. AC and McCaffery are at the beach. They are discussing AC’s training. AC is eager to get started, and McCaffery gives him his first lesson—a copy of Shakespeare’s ‘Henry IV’, Parts 1 and 2. AC is to have the plays read in a week. This moment sets up the tone for the rest of the season.

AC’s training is not going to be quick, and his mind and body need to be trained. And the assignment fits.’Henry IV’ is about how a young, seemingly reckless boy becomes a great man, a responsible prince, and a beloved king. The scene is well-crafted and acted. Justin Hartley holds his own against Ving Rhames, who did not phone in his performance for this pilot. You can see that the relationship between them is forming: the wise mentor and the smart-alecky young buck. Many stories have centered on this type of relationship, and ‘Aquaman’ had the potential to become one of them.

‘Aquaman’ is filled with interesting characters, good special effects, and enough questions that would have kept viewers tuning in. Is AC’s mom still alive? What is Atlantis like? Is the purpose of the government’s task force one of peace or something sinister? Why are the beings of Atlantis taking humans? Will Arthur be able to protect both worlds? I wonder which direction the writers were going to take the series. Were they going to stick to the comic book or were they planning to go the ‘Smallville’ route and put their own spin on the source material?
Either way, I know this show has the potential to be unique and fill the needs of a segment of the television audience. I say “has” because the pilot has aged well; in fact, it looks better than some of the pilots I have seen this season.
Justin Hartley went on to co-star in ‘Smallville’, and if you’ve seen any of his scenes with Tom Welling, then you know Hartley has the charisma and talent to carry a series. ‘Smallville’ is over, so Hartley is done with that, and I I don’t know what Ving Rhames and Lou Diamond Philips are up too, but could someone please make this show? I really would rather be watching a new season of ‘Aquaman’ instead of wondering what could have been.

#news #Aquaman #television #series #CW #Aquaman #JustinHartley #pilot

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DC comics set prices at $3.99

They are going to price themselves out of business.

Using cheaper paper would help cut prices.

DC Comics has confirmed that as of last week all DC Universe ongoing titles - physical and digital - will be priced $3.99. This comes following Newsarama's reporting of individual price increases of Wonder Woman and The Flash, but will also affect the previously $2.99 Batman, Suicide Squad, Detective Comics, Green Lanterns, Hal Jordan & The Green Lantern Corps, Harley Quinn, and Injustice.

Superman and Action Comics, two other previous $2.99 titles, were already solicited at $3.99 in July.

These were the last remaining $2.99 ongoing titles from the "Rebirth" relaunch in 2016. In January 2017, DC increased the price of several of its ongoing titles but kept twice-monthy shipping titles at $2.99.

Up until now, some $3.99 physical DC titles were sold for $2.99 digitally.

Neither DC's "New Age of DC Heroes" or its kids titles will be affected by the increase for now. The 'New Age of DC Heroes' titles - Curse of Brimstone, Damage, Immortal Men, New Challengers, Sideways, Silencer, The Terrifics, and The Unexpected - remains at $2.99, following significant promotion for that line at the $2.99 price point and without variants.

Last week, DC dropped complimentary digital codes previously included in all physical titles priced at $3.99.

#news #comic #books #prices #money

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Fight On: Following Recent Closures, Local Comic Book Shops Open Up About How They Survive

Ray Hunter, owner of Cosmic Ray’s, rings up a customer who’s buying a couple comic books at his Devine Street shop. Like he is at all times, Ray is an affable dude, talking to his customer, forthright about the price of comic books in the business today. Hunter throws in a free Rick and Morty comic book.

“You can’t beat that with an ugly stick,” he says.

In the past seven months, Columbia’s comic book-buying scene has taken a beating with the ugly stick. Apocalypse Comics in the Harbison area closed in September 2017. That same month St. Andrews area comic and pop culture store Multiverse shut down and hasn’t yet announced plans to move. By December, the venerable Silver City Comics, which began in the 1970s, had its last day of business. In March, Lexington shop Comic Nirvana shuttered after more than a decade.

These closings have changed the landscape of where connoisseurs of comic brands like Marvel, DC and Image go to get their goods. Over a number of years, it’s become a cyclical pattern in Columbia. Comic stores open, then a year or two later the new ones or an older one closes. The dying off of comic book stores also permits the question: Is the business of superheroes and villains on paper sick in Columbia? And what’s keeping the few shops still around going?

“It hurts comics in general when a shop that’s been around for almost 50 years closes,” Hunter says of Silver City Comics. “That’s part of the culture here.”

Vigilante Mode

Hunter is surviving, but he’s hurting right now, too. April hit him hard. Every bill from taxes to the cost of an air conditioner came in higher than usual. Last year, Hunter and his shop, which sells comics, movies, music and video games, made more than expected. Even that came with a price. The taxman came to collect with vengeance.

With Free Comic Book Day coming up this Saturday, even that’s a little more to dole out. Those free titles that are issued for the promotion will hopefully stimulate sales, but he still has to pay to stock them.

And the monetary pressures on a small shop like his aren’t isolated to April. Prices of comic books from Diamond Comics, the preeminent comic book distributor which supplies most all shops, is one aspect of the business that has Hunter’s blood pressure up. Diamond just doesn’t help the mom and pop shops out. The minimum orders on comics to get discounts are too high for small shops, and with Diamond’s virtual monopoly when it comes to comic book distribution, the little guys don’t have an option if the prices are too high or if they don’t much like the company’s services.

To keep it all together, Hunter remains vigilant with every penny, each date a bill is due, and the specifics of what he needs to order.

“I could sink or swim with one comic order,” Hunter says, noting that his situation is far from unique. “That’s how fragile this is. … It’s really easy to have way too much going out and not enough coming back in.”

Over at Scratch N Spin in West Columbia — a store opened in 2003 as a DJ specialist shop that has since expanded into movies, games, comics and lifestyle merchandise like T-shirts and collectibles — owner Eric Woodard says the paper books have taken over about 25 percent of his store.

In recent times, he’s doubled the size of his back issues collection and gone heavily into trade paperbacks — bound collections of comics as larger volumes — all aimed at bringing in new customers, some of whom might dig comic book characters and stories but aren’t necessarily comic collectors.

“The main thing we try to do to make our store different from other shops is that we stock a lot of the independent and a lot of the small publisher,” Woodard says. “We try to cater to the individual customer’s tastes.”

Location affects comic shops maybe more than other businesses in terms of rent prices as well as visibility. This is one advantage for Hunter. His rent is affordable along the stretch of Devine Street near Fort Jackson Boulevard, and his shop is the right size for the business he’s in. When Hunter heard what some other now-defunct shops in town were paying in rent, the amount warranted a comic book-like scene for him — he wanted to punch one owner in the face. They had to sell 2,500 books a month just to afford rent. That’s out of whack for a local comic book operation, in Hunter’s assessment.

“I wanted to take a hammer and knock them in the head,” he says. “You can’t survive like that.”

It takes a fine balance of elements to run a comic book business. If anything throws that balance off — from a bad month to personal issues with an owner — the business could easily head towards closing.

“It’s so hard to do this in this economy,” Hunter says. “The tax laws are all changing. It’s just one thing after another, and you have to keep up with all this stuff.”

If you don’t keep up, then the comic shop biz will vanquish you like Black Panther did Killmonger.

Screen to Store

Anyone who’s been to a multiplex in the last decade knows that the stories started in comic books are doing pretty well on the big screen. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has spawned massive Hollywood profit machines like The Avengers and its sequels (the latest of which, Avengers: Infinity War, made $258 million domestically in its debut at the box office this past weekend) as well this year’s box office destroyer Black Panther (which owns a worldwide box office tally in excess of $1.3 billion) with no sign of slowing down. Separate from the MCU are 20th Century Fox’s X-Men movies (including the massively popular Deadpool, which gets a sequel this summer), while the slew of Batman and Superman movies over the years have done well for DC and Warner Bros., as did the 2017 smash Wonder Woman. Television, too, has taken up the creations of DC, Marvel and other comic books (hello, The Walking Dead).

For years now, demand for the source material of those adaptations has trickled down into sales at local establishments.

Hunter’s witnessed that influx of new comics fans inspired by film and TV into his store. But the screen versions spurring business hasn’t been a solution to the tight line Hunter has to walk to keep the shop going. The inundation of new comic book buyers proves fleeting for Cosmic Ray’s. Sales will be up for a few weeks and those folks might not show up again.

Recently, Black Panther gave Hunter a huge spike.

“Right before the movie, then two weeks into the movie, and now everything’s back to normal,” Hunter offers, explaining the timeline of higher sales pushed by the king of Wakanda.

Jorg Hohmann has seen the films changing who’s buying comics as well. He owns Heroes & Dragons, the long-running shop that was briefly closed before Hohmann took it over from his friend and former boss. In the course of the year that Hohmann has run the business, he’s seen more women and people of color coming into his Boozer Shopping Center spot. He says that the Wonder Woman and Black Panther adaptations, not to mention the Jessica Jones and Luke Cage series on Netflix, have altered the face of his comic buyers — but only to a moderate degree. That’s in addition to the stories being put out by comic makers expanding the diversity of the people snagging books at Heroes & Dragons. More independent comics put out by Image Comics are also bringing in new people.

“There’s just a lot more content out there that’s developed for larger audiences,” Hohmann says.

Going Through Changes

Having that new content on his shelves is one of a number of changes Hohmann has enacted since getting hold of the old-school comic store. In 2013, Heroes & Dragons stopped selling new comic books to focus on vintage items. Hohmann suspects that’s when the boom and bust of stores dealing in comic books began in Columbia. In the vacuum left when Heroes & Dragons abandoned new titles, shops popped up and cannibalized each other. The strongest survive in the town now. Both Hunter and Hohmann say they’ve received new business from the recent closings.

To stay on top, Hohmann’s begun selling new comics again. He’s also added new toys and collectibles. Last weekend, he sold his wares at the Columbia Comic & Toy Con for the first time. His business is blowing up with new comic buyers.

Hohmann’s latest effort in his store is the driving force that gets more people in the door.

While the new stuff is pulling people in, Heroes & Dragons’ bread and butter has always been vintage comics and vintage collectibles. That’s the niche that has kept Hohmann’s store kicking this year while also giving it the dependable finances to expand its offerings. The old and the new merchandise in his store work together.

“It’s what makes this store unique,” Hohmann says. “More than here in town. There’s just not a lot of stores that have the depth of vintage toys and comics that I got. Folks come in looking for new product and fall in love with the old product. That’s the goal.”

Scratch N Spin is also doing what it needs to keep customers loyal while competing with online comic retailers by offering deep discounts for individuals who subscribe to comics through the shop.

While comics have expanded Scratch N Spin’s customer base and the product that they sell, Woodward says they’re first and foremost a music and movie store. This nails home Hohmann’s point that a shop trying to subsist strictly on new comics is a business model that’s going to struggle in Columbia — unless that shop has a good location with affordable rent, a characteristic Hunter says is helping him fight the good fight.

As with Hunter, Hohmann emphasizes that keeping a comic shop open is a balancing act of love for the medium and smarts for the business.

“I don’t think that the industry is in that much trouble,” he offers. “It’s just a matter of who’s running the stores and if they’re running it smart.”

For Scratch N Spin, running a smart store means having comics in addition to an expansive set of merchandise. While at Cosmic Ray’s, having the right-sized operation and vigilante practices are seeing the store through. But beyond finding your niche and developing your savvy for the business, Hunter says there’s one other X factor a comic book shop owner needs to have.

“It’s the only job that I’ve loved,” he says. “It’s nice being captain. There’s no other way of putting it. We’ve been in choppy storms before. But we survived them.”

Saturday, May 5, is Free Comic Book Day, with a variety of titles available free of charge at participating stores. To check out titles and to find a local store participating in the promotion, head to

#comic #book #shop #news #money #freecomicbookday #business #comicbooks

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DC Reveals Details for Action Comics #1001 and Superman #1

DC Comics has released an advanced look at the upcoming Superman #1 and Action Comics #1001 that will kick off Brian Michael Bendis’ run on the titles. offered a first look at the books, the creative teams, and the covers on Friday.

Picking up where the Man of Steel miniseries left off, Bendis is joined by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado in launching an all-new Superman series. Apparently Superman will have his hands full trying to save the Earth from the Phantom Zone.

Action Comics #1,001 will feature art by Patrick Gleason, who is coming off his fan-favorite run of Superman with Peter Tomasi. This title will deal with Clark Kent’s life in Metropolis, as well as the fate of the Daily Planet.

art and cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
variant cover by ADAM HUGHES
variant cover by DAVID MACK
A bold new chapter for the greatest superhero of all time begins here as the superstar team of writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Ivan Reis begin their run on the all-new SUPERMAN! The fallout from the Man of Steel miniseries has Clark Kent looking at the world through new eyes…with new ideas about what Superman could and should do for the city of Metropolis and the planet Earth. His first job? Getting the planet back out of the Phantom Zone!
ON SALE 07.11.18
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES
This issue will ship with three covers. Please see the order form for details. Includes a code for a free digital download of this issue.

#Superman #comicbooks #news

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DC Is Introducing a New Color to the Lantern Corps Spectrum

DC is poised to introduce another color to its spectrum of interstellar Lantern Corps, but it’s not going to happen in one of the publisher’s Green Lantern titles.

In Justice League #3, Scott Snyder and Jorge Jimenez will transform Green Lantern Corps stalwart John Stewart into an Ultraviolet Lantern. While it doesn’t sound as though Stewart will be helming an entire Corps of beings wielding similar rings, it does add another light to the known Lantern colors.

The issue’s official description reveals that the influence of the new ring will bring out some “ultraviolet” tendencies in the typically cool-headed Stewart, who will throw down with his Justice League teammates. It’s less clear about the ring’s origin, though it’s probably a pretty safe bet that it has something to do with the breach left in the Source Wall at the end of Dark Nights: Metal.

Speaking to CBR in the wake of Metal‘s finale, Snyder may have teased Stewart’s upcoming predicament. “[Breaking the Source Wall] means new sectors for the Green Lanterns, new rules of physics for magic, new cosmic wonder for characters like Starfire who are exploratory in space. It’s a shattering of limitations.”

Speaking about Stewart specifically, Snyder promised the GLC member would get some time in the spotlight. And again, in hindsight, the writer may have offered some clues regarding his new ring. “John Stewart starts to realize that the Guardians have hidden things from him because of his skill set, what he’s supposed to do, he might have been a soldier for them in ways he didn’t realize.”

Check out Jim Lee and Scott Williams cover for Justice League #3, featuring the first look at John Stewart, his new ring and the Ultraviolet Lantern logo, along with the issue’s full solicitation text, below.

art and cover by JORGE JIMENEZ
variant cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS
John Stewart: Ultraviolet Lantern? Believe it! Under the influence of the Ultraviolet Spectrum, John Stewart engages in some ultraviolence against his teammates Flash, Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Meanwhile, the rest of the League investigates the scene of the fallen Source Wall fragment, and encounters not only a horde of giant monsters, but a pair of longtime archenemies using stolen Atom technology to literally get under their skin. Best to stock up on Cortizone for that sort of itch! All this and…the Turtle? Yep.
ON SALE 07.04.18
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES
This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for details.

#news #comicbooks #greenlanten #justicleague #ultraviolet

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Return of Spider-Man’s Black Costume (Venomized)

Venomized May Have Explained the Return of Spider-Man’s Black Costume

WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Venomized #1 by Cullen Bunn, Iban Coello, Matt Yackey and Joe Caramagna, on sale now.

Change seems to be a constant in the life of Peter Parker. In the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, the web-slinger went from billionaire tech genius to disgraced science editor at his former employer, the Daily Bugle. As for Peter’s alter ego Spider-Man, the hero has to contend with the return of Norman Osborn and his new deadly persona, the Red Goblin.

Another upcoming change will come behind the scenes when writer Dan Slott steps down from his 10-year run on Amazing Spider-Man, with writer Nick Spencer and artist Ryan Ottley relaunching the series in June as part of Marvel’s “Fresh Start.”

Spider-Man’s new beginning will also include the return of his black costume. Not much is known at the moment regarding why Spider-Man has decided to go back to black, but Venomized #2 suggests the suit could be another Klyntar symbiote — similar to the one worn by the antihero Venom.

These Symbiotes Are… Different

The Poisons’ first objective when they arrive on Earth is to infect the superhuman population with symbiotes, so they can then feast on them and steal their powers. Spider-Man was one of the first heroes to be bonded with a symbiote, but when he tried to remove it using the sound of a clock belltower, he was unsuccessful. Somehow, the Poisons have altered Spider-Man’s symbiote to remove one of its known weaknesses.

Of course, this is news to Venom, who fought the Poisons in last year’s Venomverse miniseries, and his “Poison-X” crossover with X-Men Blue. It isn’t made clear if every Klyntar was altered, or if it’s just the one bonded to Spider-Man. Regardless, Venom suggests they let the experts over at Alchemax run some tests to find out.

Will Spider-Man’s Black Suit Really Be Another Symbiote?

Try as he might, but Alchemax’s Dr. Steve can’t seem to get the symbiote to leave Spider-Man’s body. Peter hasn’t had the best experience with symbiotes, considering his last one joined with Venom as the two tried to end his life. However, Venom isn’t the same bloodthirsty villain he used to be. Eddie Brock and his symbiote have a special connection, which is why Eddie will always defend the aliens as being more than a mere succubus.

The most logical reason for the wallcrawler to go back to wearing a black suit in Amazing Spider-Man has to be symbiote-related. For example, Venomized wouldn’t go through the trouble of dedicating precious page space to Spidey’s symbiote dilemma if it wasn’t important. It’s possible once Venomized concludes that Spider-Man will have changed his mind when it comes to forming a new alien partnership.

Fans would expect the black costume surprise to come in Amazing Spider-Man, but having its origin begin in Venomized could be a way to keep readers on their toes while also displaying how events in one Marvel series can affect another. And if we’re right about the Spider-Man black costume being a symbiote, then Venomized will go down as being a key event in Spider-Man’s history.

Venomized #1 (Preview)

#comicbooks #news #Venom #Spiderman #review #Venomized #reading

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