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Talents of Pivotal Payments: Graphic Novel Business

September 26 2018 | By Helen Baginska

Bradley Fenton is the Social Media and Email Marketing Manager at Pivotal Payments. He’s also a true expert on the graphic novel industry and he owns a small business that buys and sells comic books at numerous events in and around Montreal. We asked him to tell us all about this fascinating world.

What was that one thing that got you interested in comic books? How did it start? What was the first comic book you ever read?

My late grandmother used to bring me back garbage bags full of them from her local church bazaar. I’m not sure what the first comic was, but I do recall reading lots of 70’s sci-fi/horror titles that were in those bags: Werewolf by Night, Tomb of Dracula, Godzilla, etc.

What’s your favorite comic book/character of all times? Why?

Silver Surfer and Superman, to a lesser extent, because they are true heroes and represent ideals that we should all strive to emulate: nobility, sacrifice and kindness. I also related to the X-Men as a pre-teen/teen in the ‘80s. I always felt like an outsider growing up because of my interests in things like comics and horror movies, which were not accepted by the masses as they are today. Geek culture is chic now. Not then. The X-Men are mutants, and as such, were seen as freaks. So I could relate.

Does your business have a business name? If yes, then what’s the story behind it?

KEY ISSUES Comics. Not much of a story. I tried to sell off my comic book collection years ago at comic convention, but I fell in love with all of those older comics I had never heard of or seen before, and the rest is history as they say.

Where/how do you find rare comic books?

It’s quite easy nowadays with the technology at our disposal. All you have to do is log onto the web and search through one of the numerous sites where people sell books. Back in the day one had to resort to clubs and conventions. The latter still exist but are much more numerous than they once were. It’s become a highly competitive hobby/industry now, as everyone is trying to cash in on comics, the expensive ones specifically, so it’s more difficult to obtain the more desirable/”rare” comics. There are still ways to find the good books. How? Well, I’ll keep that secret to myself. ;-)

How do customers find you?

All they have to do is look up “KEY ISSUES Comics” on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter or visit my site, which isn’t very active at the moment, at www.keyissuescomics.com. I do plan on setting up an ecommerce store this winter when time allows it. And I do attend numerous local conventions of course.

Which events did you participate in? What was the most successful/interesting one?

All sorts from small to huge in scale, specifically Nostalgie Montreal, FantastiConMTL, RetroExpo, Montreal Comiccon and others. The larger the event, the more sales one makes, but the cost of being an exhibitor also increases astronomically. As an exhibitor you try and find that happy medium where it makes it worth your while. Which is the most interesting? It depends. The smaller events are more about the love of the hobby and allow you to meet fellow collectors and fans in an intimate setting, while the larger shows are a more of an event with cosplayers, guest and attractions. I prefer the former.

What was the rarest book you ever come across?

The longer you do this, the less one thinks any book is truly rare. I’d have to say the rarest books I’ve ever had the pleasure of owning were the first appearance of Mickey Mouse from the 1940’s, some Captain America comics from the same period and a Canadian version of an extremely early Archie comics. I wish I could have that last one back. I had no idea how rare it was back in the day when I sold it.

What is graphic novel community like?

It’s all over the place. You’ve got people who LOVE comics and graphic novels. Those folks buy them for the sheer pleasure of the medium and art form. Others are speculators who just buy and flip for a profit. Most of us fall somewhere in between the two types. The average collector sells what they don’t want to fund their next purchase. I’ve met some great, passionate people because of this hobby. And you might not know this, but there several local comic book creators who work for the main publishers like Marvel and DC.

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