Behind The Counter: Scott Adair
Time for another interview with one of Ireland’s comic shop guys. This time I was asking Forbidden Planet’s Scott Adair about events like Free Comic Book Day and Small Press Day as well as his comic book tastes.
How long have you been a comic book fan? What first got you into them?
I’ve been a fan of comic books nearly all my life. I grew up reading my dad’s old Spider-Man, X-Men and Batman issues that he’d pick up every Saturday from the Forbidden Planet store in Belfast.
Looking back, I’d say comics didn’t come into prominence in my life until the last few years as I had just moved to Dublin on my own following a huge personal life shake-up and was struggling to hold down a job I didn’t despise. I felt lost in until I found some happiness in reading the Superior Spider-Man and Superior Foes of Spider-Man storylines. I saw people talking about them on Twitter so decided to buy a few of the books for myself.
The guys working in the Forbidden Planet Dublin store would recommend other characters and story arcs for me to pick up. It quickly became an obsession. I got into The Walking Dead not long after. That was my first taste of comics that didn’t involve typical superheroes. For me, this was life changing as I’m now a massive fan of creator owned stories.
What’s it like working in a comic shop? It is kind of a dream job for a comic fan.
Working in a comic shop is mixture of everything. For me, it’s amazing. It’s my dream job. I wake up every day excited for work. I’ve never felt like this before with a job. It’s not easy though. We’re an incredibly busy store with massive footfall every day of the week so it’s important to find a balance between tasking and making sure customers feel acknowledged and welcome when they walk in the door. We have a great team in the store and we’re really passionate about having that family atmosphere that is so often absent from so many stores in retail. We kick ass all morning, have lunch and kick some more ass for the rest of the day (NOTE: We didn’t actually kick any butts).
I can honestly say that there has NEVER been a day that I did not want to come to work at Forbidden Planet Dublin. I can’t say that for any other job I have ever had – and I used to work in a burrito bar!
What do you think is the most important aspect of your job?
We get such a wide variety of customers coming into our store every day, and it’s important to understand that every person is unique. Some have different needs and tastes to our own. We need to adjust to each and every encounter. They could be coming into the store for the first time and I know how overwhelming it can be. We’re here to guide our customers through recommendations based on their own personal tastes. We ask questions. We get to know them. For me, that’s such a cool part of the job. We get to vibe off the excitement of others by talking about funny books… It’s a wonderful experience to talk to people every day. If new customers get hooked (it’s hard not to) and make it into the shop more regularly, we always recommend setting up a pull list with us.
Having a great team on the shop floor in super important to me. I trust all my staff completely to go out there every day and set a high standard that Forbidden Planet Dublin is one of the best stores in the city. We have excellent competition out there. It’s what drives us. These others stores have fantastic staff too and they aren’t taking a day off so we sure as hell aren’t going to either. My team are usually bouncing off the walls every day, which isn’t a bad thing. We once tried to get an energy drink company to sponsor the store. Turns out we weren’t cool enough! Maybe one day. Anyway, it’s the people behind the counter who define us.
Stocking the shop is incredibly important, too. At the end of the day, we’re a business and we’re here to make a living and pay bills. I get the absolute pleasure of working with my manager, Kevin, to bring in the stock. We have a strong relationship which I believe benefits our store and the company as a whole. Doing our research into what’s selling and what’s not as well as looking to future releases is important to us so we can drive pre-orders on figures and comics. Knowing an awesome comic is coming out and getting our customers excited enough to add it to their pull lists is hugely satisfying. We’re the middle men between the publishers and the customers so it’s our job to make sure we keep them in the loop.
What books/collectibles have you been recommending to people lately?
In terms of collectibles, I’m all about building a customer base around premium figures like Hot Toys and Sideshow Collectible’s own brand figures. Threezero knock out some amazing figures too, like the Ogre from Titanfall that’s coming out later this year. I never imagined just how big the market was for sixth scale figures until I started working here. They aren’t cheap by any means but there’s just something so satisfying about saving up and owning easily one of the best and most detailed action figures on the planet. There’s an re-sale value on them too, for those who want to trade up to the latest model or a brand new figure altogether. I’ve been recommending the Deadpool and Boba Fett sixth scale figures from Sideshow collectibles. Now is a good time to buy as they’re reasonably priced and there’s still a few months to wait until the Hot Toys versions hit the shelves. The Civil War Hot Toys have all been announced and ordered at this stage (minus Spider-Man) so customers have been pre-ordering them already.
The Suicide Squad Hot Toys range will be announced soon so we expect people to absolutely freak out once the Harley Quinn and Joker figures become available – and I’m one of those people.
If customers are looking for my personal book recommendations then I probably come across as a crazy person. My taste in comics is so varied right now. My favourite books that I’ve been suggesting (screaming in people’s faces) to pick up are the Black Science trades (volume 1-3), Injection Vol 1, The Walking Dead trades, Chrononauts, Descender Vol 1, Anything with Deadpool in it, Rocket and Groot, I hate Fairyland, Spider-Man (Miles Morales by Bendis and Pichelli), and an awesome new series Sci-Fi series called Turncoat which is written by my friend Alex Paknadel who launched the book with us back in March. Check it out.
I’m also making a big deal about recommending the new DC rebirth titles to as many people as I can. This relaunch is going to be MASSIVE!
Free Comic Book Day happened just recently. How was that for you this year? Do you think the event has an impact?
Free Comic Book Day 2016 was absolutely NUTS! We knew it would be a crazy day for us so we doubled our numbers from the previous year but even at that, we had given away all our comics after only two hours. We asked people via a poll on Facebook if they’d prefer comic packs or a free for all. The people wanted packs so we worked our butts off to prepare everything and make sure the queue went as smoothly as possible. People had been queuing in the rain from 7am just to get some free comics. We were all blown away by the response from this year’s event. Next year will be even bigger. You heard it here first!
Also, I’d like to personally thank John Cullen (twitter.com/nellucnhoj) who so kindly had 150 copies of his mini comic ‘The Ghost and Skeleton Fun-Fun happy book’ printed for us to give away on the day. They were all gone in 15 minutes (I know, right?!)
You're also involved in Forbidden Planet's Small Press Day event. Can you tell us what the idea behind it is?
I got a tweet from the Small Press Day twitter page a few months back asking if we would put on a day to promote self-published comic creators and naturally thought to myself “HELL YEAH WE WILL!”.
The core aim of the day is to spotlight the possibilities of small press publishing via, in the first instance, store-based events and signings, and to bring its practitioners to the far wider audience they deserve. It’s an opportunity to embrace that grassroots ethos and the communicative power and accessibility of comics. It’s as much a celebration of a can-do philosophy as it is a form of delivery.
The shop will be undergoing refurbishment works during the summer so having an in-store event wasn’t a possibility so we opted for a much larger space to enable us to host as many people as possible on the day at Filmbase in Temple Bar.
What is it like trying to organise something like this?
Organising the event so far hasn’t been as difficult as I thought it would be. Probably because we’re only half way through planning. The toughest part is finding time during work to start putting ideas together. Luckily FP were more than happy to sponsor the event so it became an actual part of my work day, which was a massive relief. The location is booked, all writers and artists are confirmed and the press release has been sent out all over the internet. All that’s left to do now is promote the event and plan a timeline of how the day will go. The guys in the Irish Pubcast will be hosting a few talks on the day. They’re pros so I’m not worried about that at all.
My friend, Eoin Marron (twitter.com/eoinmarron) who is interning at Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire’s Red Cub Studio wanted to get involved so he did the incredible original artwork you see on the official poster. Rebecca Nalty (twitter.com/beccanyan), also interning at Red Cube, coloured it. These guys are seriously talented and I’m happy to have been a part of that process and having my girlfriend edit it before being sent off to the printers.
What can people expect from the event?
Local writers and artists in the past have gone on to establish careers with big name comic publishers. You could very well be meeting the next generation of comic superstars! It’s also a chance to gain first-hand knowledge on how to market and self-publicize your own work and creations to businesses, as well as potential readers.
Small Press Day is a free to attend event and we believe the talented line-up speaks for itself. People of all ages can come and meet a fantastic roster of comic creators like Paul Bolger (The Hound), Jason Browne (Button Press Publications), Ciaran Marcantonio & Cormac Hughes (Lightning Strike Comics), Sarah Bowie (Lidless Comics/ The Comics Lab), Anthea West (Fate), Leeann Hamilton (Kiteenies/ Finn & Fish), Justie Byrne (Justie Comics), Amy & Oliver Murrell (Wobblyrock), Rob Curley (Atomic Diner Comics), Olly Cunningham (Black Lines), Clare Foley (La Grande Breteche), Coimicí Gael (Ruaille Buaille), Kinga Korska (Brain Fetish), Matt Melis (Non Gravity), Paddy Lynch (Last Bus) & Elida Maiques (Polen).
If you had to pick an Irish artist to draw your life story, who would you pick?
I’m a huge fan of Declan Shalvey’s work. I’m a sucker for fine and detailed pencil work accompanied by great use of heavy inks. He could just draw me sitting at home on the couch playing Xbox and scratching myself… I do that a lot.
You can follow Scott Adair on Twitter here. Forbidden Planet is on Crampton Quay, Dublin.