It looks like the first ever national comic book chain has arrived in the form of Hastings, a media store that’s replacing a lot of its musical product with comic books. And this isn’t just putting in some graphic novels, either (they already offer those). No, they’ll be offering racks of new comics and back issues, along with “action figures, role playing books, comic-related merchandise and supplies among other things.” Of the 147 stores in the chain, 127 will be offering comics like this by the end of the year. (Of these, 27 will have a “large expansion” of comics, while 100 will have a “small expansion.”)
But, while this does increase the size of the ever-dwindling direct market, it might not be good for comic shops themselves. Hastings has said that these stores won’t be in direct competition with comic shops, as Hastings rep James Parker told Bleeding Cool: “Hastings stores are typically in the small to medium size markets where comic shops are normally anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours away. This puts us in a position to provide comics to areas that have never had a local comic shop.”
But, if fans can just grab the comics when they’re out at the mall (which they’re going to anyway), what incentive do they have to travel all that distance to keep the local comic shop in business?