To close the curtain on 2014, we recently sat down with Carlos Camara of Gotham Central Comics and Collectibles to look at the year that was and what to expect in 2015.
CA: As a retailer what were some of the highlights of 2014?
CARLOS: 2014 was a great year for movies and comic related TV shows and they drew a lot of new fans and a lot of fresh blood into our industry. There were a lot of new, young faces that started picking up a lot of titles that they saw on TV and in the theatres. There was a lot of product and the new fans brought a lot of life to the industry.
CA: As a retailer what were some of the lowlights of 2014?
CARLOS: There weren’t really any lowlights besides constantly being busy and trying to grow a store that’s only two years old. We’ve done leaps and bounds in our industry and made an impact in Ontario and Canada. I don’t have any lowlights for 2014, it’s been really good, except for being busy, but I’d say that’s a good thing.
CA: What was 2014 like for smaller publishers and independent creators?
CARLOS: I’m a big fan of independent comic books. I like Image Comics, Avatar and creator owned projects. As a retailer/fan over the last two years I’ve enjoyed seeing these mainstream comic book fanatics, that only collect DC and Marvel, transition into Image titles and independent titles, and really enjoy those titles more than the mainstream ones. For me, that’s fantastic! It shows a lot of growth in independent titles and that the marketplace isn’t being dominated by just the big guys anymore. It’s all these up and comers that are putting out good projects that are good reads with great art. I’m just enjoying watching these hardcore Marvel guys picking up an Image book or an Avatar book and just seeing that big shift away from the mainstream titles. It’s fantastic and it’s a great trend.
CA: Archie’s death and The Death of Wolverine were a couple of highly publicized events in comics this year. Do these types of events still hold sway with the public or are they beginning to lose their appeal?
CARLOS: Archie’s death, the Death of Wolverine, the re-release of Spider-Man #1 and some of the other big events of 2014 get mass media publicity, which in turn brings in the fan that doesn’t go to comic stores. These fans then say, “Hey, Wolverine, one of the major characters is going to get killed? Wow, I want to check that out”. It’s like the Death of Superman 25 years ago. So yeah, it really helps having big events like that and it helps to bring in the crowd that won’t even venture into a comic book store. Once they’re inside they realize that it’s not just comics. There are toys, t-shirts and other cool things and then they start coming on a weekly basis to pick up more stuff. Events like that bring more attention to our industry and helps to build the customer base, brings in more collectors and increases interest.
CA: How are fans reacting to the news that DC has hinted that the old DC universe still exists outside of the New 52?
CARLOS: There hasn’t been much reaction so far, but what I’ve observed is “Here we go again”. It’s just a mainstream company regurgitating old storylines. They’ve put out 52 new number ones, now they’re cancelling a whole bunch of titles and are going to stop everything for two months to bring together all of the universes before re-releasing everything. To me, as a comic retailer, it’s good but as a comic book fan its probably bad. Collectors are tired of no continuity in these books. We’ll see how 2015 does for DC.
CA: This summer Marvel and DC announced their full schedule of movies for the next few years or so. What are your thoughts on what both publishers have planned for their characters in the world of cinema?
CARLOS: As for comic related movies from Marvel, DC, Dark Horse (Sin City) and other comic related movies, it’s fantastic. You go back 30 years ago when they put out that cheesy Fantastic Four movie, the Superman movies weren’t bad, but the cheesy FF, Punisher and Captain America are (now) cult classics. You can sit back and watch those now; actually I should have one of those nights here, and have a laugh. The new movies only benefit us as collectors, as fans, and as retailers because what was once known as nerdy or a geek thing is now the norm. We’re the only collecting culture that is truly fun, as we can enjoy characters on the big screen. People are lining up at theaters for movies like The Avengers and X-Men and it only helps us. It’s great to see that everything on a daily basis has to do with comic books.
CA: Comic book and sci-fi/fantasy related programming is currently dominating the small screen. With a plethora of shows set to debut in the coming year, what are your thoughts on the state of comic books and television?
CARLOS: It’s the same as with the movies. It’s great as a retailer to interact with families that come in on a weekend with their kids looking for Flash comics and toys, Gotham comics and Batman related merchandise. You’ve got S.H.I.E.L.D. and now there’s Daredevil, Agent Carter starting soon, Jessica Jones in the fall and Arrow. I’ve got a friend at CTV and he says that Gotham’s numbers are off the charts. The Flash is doing better than Arrow and Arrow is picking up because of the crossover with The Flash. It’s nice to see parents coming in saying they watched the show and enjoyed it. You’ve got parents that watched the Walking Dead and are now coming in to pick up the trade paperback or comic to see what the differences are.
CA: How does the comic book industry look moving into 2015 and beyond?
CARLOS: The industry is very strong for me on my end. I have lots of friends who are retailers in Toronto and the GTA and I hear their struggles. They’re having a hard time bringing in customers. I’m a different cat trying to get people to come into my store. I use social media, events and flyers (to bring in customers). Get out there and spread the word. Change up your store and if your comics aren’t doing well, venture into t-shirts and toys. Always promote and do events.
CA: What can we look forward to from Gotham Central Comics and Collectibles in 2015?
CARLOS: 2015 is going to be our fourth year in business and it’s going to be our big launching pad, our next step in the industry. We’re going to be having events every month. We will be bringing in a lot of creative artists; we’re starting up Indie Con promoting independent comics. I think that 2015 will be a big year in the comic book industry, not just for comics but for everything associated with comics. It’s going to be a good year. Gotham Central will start the year with a bang. We have our 3rd year anniversary/grand re-opening at our new location. I’ve got some friends from the comic book industry that are booked to come and join us for the celebration. David Finch (Wonder Woman, X-Men, Batman); his wife, Meredith Finch who writes Wonder Woman; Mike McKeon, the great artist on Justice League; Leonard Kirk, who is doing fabulous pencils on Fantastik 4; Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals) who is now on Howard the Duck; Richard Comley, the creator of Captain Canuck; Marco Rudy (Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier); and Mike Del Mundo (Elektra, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). There will also be some independent artists like Mike Ruth and up and comers like Andrew Thomas and some of my friends from Spent Pencils. We’ve got a great line up to help us celebrate on Saturday, January 31 from 10 am till 7pm. Plus we have cake!