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We Have Our First National Comic Store Chain in the US, and Its Name is Hastings!

Just when you thought the comic medium was dead digital, Bleeding Cool reports that Texas-based entertainment and media chain Hastings will be stocking comic books in almost 130 stores across 20 states nationwide, effectively “[increasing] the number of direct market comic book sales outlets by a very significant margin…and [making] Hastings one of the major players in the comic book industry.” We at Geekosystem seriously worry for local comic shops, but in a world where paper is becoming irrelevant, perhaps any exposure is good exposure.

Plus, we’re not talking your mini-shelf of graphic novels at Barnes & Noble or Borders here, but stands full of comics, which will reportedly include brand new comics distributed by Diamond, the world’s largest distributor of English-language comics and related merchandise. More details below.

In an interview, Hastings representative James Parker revealed that the decline of the music industry was what led to the shift in retail strategy. Apparently, CEO John Marmaduke and key personnel toured the US and visited comic shops “from major cities to small towns” to better understand the makings of a quality comic store.

Out of 147 total Hastings stores, approximately 27 will receive the “large expansion” treatment:

“They would contain 32 feet of new comic releases, 32 feet of back issues, 44 linear feet of Manga and graphic novels, an expansion in action figures, role playing books, comic-related merchandise and supplies among other things.”

I’m wetting my pants, slowly and gloriously. These massive renovations were tested at two locations and led to a “double-digit improvement” in comics sales. 100 stores will also receive comic expansions on a smaller scale by the end of the year.

Hastings will be mainly stocking superhero comics from publishing giants DC and Marvel, but Parker also stressed that the chain has not forgotten about the small people: “[We] are not ignoring the medium-sized and indie publishers in our selection.” Impressively, edgier titles from more mature-focused companies like MAX, Icon, and Vertigo will also find a place in stores, though they may be hidden from a child’s prying eyes with shrink wrap.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of effect this development will have on the comics landscape in months to come. Hopefully, it will be of the positive sort.

Read the rest of the interview at Bleeding Cool.

(via Robot 6; title image via Blog Idaho)

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