I’ve known Collected Comics (several Dallas/Fort Worth locations) co-owner Ron Killingsworth since the 1980s, when he owned Heroes Workshop, which had stores in Fort Worth and the Mid-Cities area. When I was co-owner of Fantastic Comics during the early 1990s, we were friendly competitors, more concerned with advancing interest in the art form than stealing one another’s customers. A highlight was when our stores were selected as vendors for the exclusive Marvel Mega Tour in Dallas in 1993. The night before this big event, we had dinner with and . I still run into Ron from time to time at various comic book conventions around Dallas/Fort Worth, and I’m proud to call him a friend. He’s a nice guy and a great ambassador for the industry. I caught up with Ron recently for a story I’m working on for K Magazine. Here’s that interview, uncut.
BRETT WEISS: What are some of the differences between comic book retailing during the 1980s, 1990s and now?
RON KILLINGSWORTH: I think the main difference is in technology. Not just in the way a store operates now, but also with the internet, there is more of a sense of community in the industry, both on the retailing and the consumer sides. On the operations side, all of the manual inventory and cycling processes are now handled more efficiently by retail POS systems. On the consumer side, customers can keep up with industry news, new releases, reviews and all manner of information on a near instantaneous basis. Of course, with this instant knowledge it sometimes becomes more difficult for publishers to surprise readers in their storylines.
WEISS: Geek culture is now mainstream. How did this happen?
KILLINGSWORTH: Hollywood. Between all of the profitable and record setting movies, top TV shows such as , Arrow, Agents of Shield and , comics are reaching a larger audience than ever. The industry has also helped, with events such as Free Comic Book Day that reaches out and draws new people into the art form. Conventions are seeing record attendance numbers.
WEISS: Despite the fact that geek culture is now mainstream, comic books sold a lot better years ago when they were less socially acceptable. Why is this so?
KILLINGSWORTH: A couple of different thoughts come to mind here. The first is that there are probably more readers now, and fewer collectors and speculators. Collectors - back in the 80s and 90s, I had customers that would buy month in and month out even though they weren’t reading it just so they could keep a complete run. Speculators--during the '90s especially, people were buying multiple copies of current comics as “investments.” I remember selling 100 copies of the to one person, and many bought 2-10 copies of all first issues. I think with the additional mediums, TV, movies, games, etc, people are able to get their geek fix in different ways, it doesnt have to be just comics anymore.
WEISS: What is the comic book culture like in Keller?
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