The GeeksverseLocal Comic Shop Spotlight #1

Local Comic Shop Spotlight #1
Published on Thursday, May 24, 2012 by

Alternate reality comics Interview:  Ralph Mathieu

Greetings comic fans!

I am introducing a new ongoing series that I like to call “The LCS Spotlight”, (Local Comic Shop). Each month, I will be doing several interviews with the owners of Local comic book shops in various locations. As comic book collectors and fans, we often read and listen to interviews with comic book artists, writers, editors and other members of the industry.  I personally love hearing from the writers and artists, and find the information absolutely fascinating, but what about the guys on the front lines that own the local comic shops? I for one have always wanted to hear their side of the story. The Local comic shop owners have a unique perspective on the industry. They deal with the big publishers like Marvel, DC and Dark Horse, however they also interact with the collectors; the fan-boys, the parents, the new guy who just watched Avengers, and the guy trying to fill holes in his collection. I’m going to delve deep into the world of the Local comic shop and talk to the men and woman who work hard at running the brick and mortar Comics shops.

 I am beginning the series right here in my own Town, so during the next week, I will posting interviews with the owners of several Las Vegas area comic shops.  In future interviews, besides going to other locations, I will be expanding into other areas of the fandom. I will be doing interviews with some of the Top Cos-players and costume designers in the U.S., convention gurus, Local event coordinators and even some hard core collectors with very large and or rare collections. Having said all that, please join me as we kick this off with an awesome interview with the Overlord of Alternate Reality comics, Ralph Mathieu!

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Walking into a comic shop is always exciting for me, it just never gets old. Back when I was a kid, as soon as I would walk through the doors, smell the paper, and see all of the brightly colored covers, my mind would begin to race with endless possibilities of adventure and excitement. That feeling has never quit gone away, which I can’t say about too many other things. When I first entered Alternate Reality Comics, it was the first time I had walked into a comic shop in years. Memories of my favorite comic shops came flooding back to me and it was a great rush.

the first thing that struck me was the slick presentation, this really is a beautiful Comic shop. I like the black metal frame racks that maximize the use of floor space without being too cluttered or cramped. Everything flows very smoothly. The back of the shop is chock full of long boxes, and there is a section of the store set aside specifically for displaying art.

Ralph was behind the counter ringing up a customer, so I walked up to him and introduced myself. Before we actually began the interview, I explained the format and we chatted a bit. During this time, several dozen customers walked in. He knew all of them by name, and as they walked up, he reached behind the counter and grabbed their comic stacks. “Here you go Mike”, “Thanks Ralph”, “Hey Bill, here are your comics”, “Thanks Ralph”, etc. Ralph obviously has a great relationship with his customers, and it does not go unappreciated or unnoticed by them.

The following interview is a transcription of a recording of what was a casual discussion between Ralph and myself. The interview is presented here in a basic question and answer format.

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Eddie: First, I want to really thank you for doing this interview, it may not be a big deal to you, but it’s a big deal to us at Kitty’s Pryde and the Comixverse.

Ralph: My pleasure. I live and breath this stuff, I’ve been reading comic books since 1975, I like to get the word out about comics.

Eddie: You’ve been reading comics since 1975? (the year I was born)

Ralph: Yes, well I started a bit before 1975, I was reading stuff like House of mystery, chamber of chills, then I was looking at ads for some of their super hero comics and I was like, hey I think I’ll check some of these out. Flash, etc, mostly DC at first. Then I just started reading pretty much anything I came came across.

Eddie:  Awesome. You started with the horror mystery stuff, are you still into the horror mystery genre today?

Ralph: Well, I’m all over the place. I still like stuff like Walking dead, 30 days of night. I still like super-heroes, but some of my favorite comics are autobiographical comics, independent comics: Daniel Clowes’ Ghost world, Harvey Pekar, Alison Bechdel, She just came out with a new book “Are you my mother”, She also did “Fun Home”, which is about how when she was growing up her family owned a funeral home, the graphic novel came out in 2006.

Eddie: I love the horror genre myself, I remember when I was younger one of my favorite comics was Mr. Monster.

Ralph: Yes, Michael T. Gilbert, very funny, great art. It was probably in some ways a precursor to the Dark horse title The Goon by Eric Powell, if you are familiar with that. It’s kind of “Hillbilly Zombie” Humor.

Eddie:  As a Comic book shop owner, do you feel that the Marvel and DC movies like Iron Man, Avengers, Green Lantern etc, are bringing new fans to comic book collecting?

Ralph: I think they are…I mean They’ve definitely gotten better, especially with the Avengers. I think it (Avengers) sets a new standard for how to do a superhero movie. So, it is bringing Some new people in, but not as much as other comic book adaptations like Ghost world, Road to Perdition, Watchmen, Walking dead. I think Largely the superhero audience is already there, a lot of people love going to superhero movies, but sadly  a lot of people don’t like to read.

 But, movies like the Avengers help to build the momentum for people who are looking for a good jumping on point. I think Marvel has done really good job this year in providing people with a good jumping on point with Avengers vs X-Men, It’s becoming an event where people can come on board and see the characters that they like on the screen.

Eddie: So, you think that moreso than the Marvel and DC  Superheroes, it’s the less mainstream stuff that’s bringing new people in?

Ralph: Yeah, because they want to enhance their enjoyment of those experiences like Scott Pilgrim, Kick ass, League of extraordinary gentlemen, that kind of stuff. They want to go to the source and learn more.

Eddie: Has the digital Marketplace had a negative impact on the Local comic book shop?

Ralph: No, there was a pretty big concern a year or two years ago. there was a big digital cloud “are comic stores going to go the way of music stores and DVD stores?” But that hasn’t happened. It’s maybe supplemented the Local shops, I’ve heard of people that have sampled something digitally, then they come in wanting the hard copy.

Eddie: Would you say that the Digital comics have actually helped the Local comic shop, or at least helped to spur more interest?

Ralph: Definitely, people still like the tangible format. I guess for cities or areas that don’t have good comic stores near them it’s a way for them to read these titles regularly, so that’s probably good for the creators and publishers, it helps their bottom line.

Eddie: What can publishers do to help the local comic shops?

Ralph:  I think that what DC did with their New 52 really recharged things on their end, and Marvel with their Avengers Vs X-men, that’s finally an event where people can’t wait to get their hands on the next issue. It’s something that will have ramifications on their universe.

Also, It’s coming out regularly, so scheduling is not as bad as it was with late books, which kills the momentum, so that’s gotten better. I do think Marvel does too much “double shipping”, that’s when a title comes out more than once a month, they (Marvel) need to be kind of cautious about that. A lot of people have finite pocket books, they (Marvel) need to not do so much of it because, while it is a nice treat once in while, it forces collectors with limited funds to make choices about what lines to cut and what to keep.

Eddie: Many comic shops also double as toy shops etc, Besides comic books, what else do you do to generate sales and revenue?

Ralph: We carry a lot of Pop culture items, bobble heads, plush figures and such, T-Shirts, Vynil decals. That’s good for people that come into the shop with their significant others who are not into the comics but like the characters. They can have a little Spiderman on their desk. Also, it’s good for people who want to buy a gift for a comic person in their life, but they don’t know which comics they have or don’t have.

Eddie: What is the most rewarding aspect of owning a comic book shop?

Ralph: Interacting with people who love comics, turning people on to new titles, new favorites, all of the wonderful things that comics do. My mission statement is that Comics can tell any kind story you want, it’s not just super-heroes, it can be crime drama, horror, biography, history. I love exposing people to that. I love the interaction.

Eddie: Besides the contact info, which will be provided, what do you want people to know about about Alternate reality comics?

Ralph: Well, we recently moved into a much larger space, which allows me to do my artist spotlight section. Every month we have two different artists that we focus on, it doesn’t have to be comic book theme. Comic books don’t have just one kind of art style, so we allow artists to showcase any style of art they want. it’s free form.

The increased space also allows me to have events, on free comic book day we had local artists sketching for people. We have signings,  anything we can do for the community. We have a pretty large large comic book community here in las Vegas.

Eddie: Ralph Thank you again for all of your time. If anyone would like to know more about Alternate reality comics, or you have any questions, please feel free to contact Alternate Reality Comics:

Alternate Reality Comics

4110 S. Maryland PKWY. #8

Las Vegas, NV 89119

Phone: 702-736-3673

Hours of Operation:

Sun-Tue: 11am-6pm

Wed-Sat: 10am-7pm

Overlord (Owner) Ralph Mathieu

www.AlternateRealityComics.net

http://m.facebook.com/AlternateRealityComicsLV

One Response
    • Thanks, Eddie, this is one of the best interviews that anyone has ever down with me! Thanks for doing this great public service for comic stores and people who love comics!

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