The Manage Comics Story

All About Manage Comics

Since its inception in 2015, Manage Comics has been revolutionizing the world of comic book management, but its roots trace back to Brian Garside’s retail comic shop experience which began in the late 1980s.

This journey, spanning over three decades, is a testament to the enduring passion for comic books and the evolving needs of collectors and retailers alike.

This story is not just about a business; it’s a tribute to the timeless allure of comics and the innovative spirit that keeps this colorful world spinning.

Brian on a Computer

In the Beginning…

In 1989, Brian Garside began his career in comic retail at the London Ontario comic shop “Bid Time Return”. In 1991, he joined the newly founded Heroes Cards and Comics. He experimented with database and early Excel solutions for one of Heroes’s satellite shops to manage its customer base, helping to simplify ordering in the early 1990’s multi-distributor world. This experience highlighted the difficulty of pen-and-paper subscriptions.

Those lessons would stick with him through his years in broadcast, as an early pioneer on the internet at companies like TSN, Activate, Alliance/Atlantis, and CTV, and finally in an IT career as the director of digital experience at the Info-Tech Research Group.

2005 – Subscriptions as a System

Way back in 2005 Brian was trying to solve a personal problem, how could he manage subscriptions for the comic shop he and his partner Peter had just created – All New Comics.

He quickly came up with a plan to build a system that would be able to pull comics for customers on a weekly basis, invoice them, and get paid online. Working with his friend Ryan, they built a quick system, and launched it.

All New Comics was a side-hustle for Brian, but it combined his passion for comics retail with his experience as an early internet designer and developer.

Bob's Comics
Bob's Comics

2015 – Subscriptions as a Service

In 2015, after leaving his comfortable job in IT, Brian founded NorthIQ, a marketing services company.

His first client was All New Comics, and one of his first projects was to take the now decade-old subscriptions management system and turn it into software as a service that he would be able to re-sell to other clients.

For the next five years he worked with the team at Code Elves to improve and iterate on the system.

2020 – A Pause to Reflect

The global pandemic in 2020 gave us a moment to pause, reflect on what we had built, and figure out how to make it more powerful for the future. We helped stores get online when they couldn’t open their doors, and this helped us see the need to support a more robust platform, completely transforming our business in the process.

Out of the Pandemic we launched our own internal database GeekFetch (with more than 600,000 products and growing daily), we rebuilt Manage Comics and launched a new version compatible with Shopify, and have added Point of Sale support with the Shopify Point of Sale, and Lightspeed (coming soon).

Bob's Comics
Bob's Comics

Now – Better, Stronger, and More Transparent

The Manage Comics team has grown from two to six people who all contribute to different aspects of the system.

  • Brian – Product Development, Lead Support
  • Craig – Marketing oversight
  • Taras – Project Management, Systems Management
  • Natalia – Software Development
  • Max – Data Management

We are radically transparent!

We aren’t building the system we want, we are building the system that stores have asked us for.

To that end we’re transparent about everything we do.  From our road map of projects we are working on, to our ridiculously responsive support system, to our weekly videos were we share what we are doing, what we are planning, and what our challenges are.

We have gathered an owner’s group affectionally called “The Manage Comics Illuminati” who advise us on the future of Manage Comics.

No other company in our industry is as open as we are.

The Manage Comics Illuminati

Timeline

Manage Comics Through the Years

June 2005

All New Comics Launches

Brian co-founds All New Comics, a subscriptions based comic shop to serve the underserved “outside of major cities” market in Canada. They define their offering as “The local comic shop experience, brought to your door.”

October 2011

All New Comics 3.0

An entirely new website launches, with a brand new e-commerce integrated subscription service. Sales ramp up massively.

Brian sells his stake in All New Comics to his partner Peter.

November 2015

Manage Comics Debuts

Manage Comics is launched as a service, an initial 20 customers are used as beta testers to ensure the system is sound, All New Comics serves as the first customer, and for the next two years customer and retailer input are used to hone the system.

Uncanny Comic Shop

July 2017

First New Stores Added

After two years of upgrades and updates, Manage Comics starts marketing. The first new stores include Uncanny Comics Shop in FL and AJ’s Comics in CT.

COVID Pandemic

March 2020

Global Covid Pandemic

Comics are not shipped for 3 months, in the wake of the Diamond shutdown, two new distributors rise.

Manage Comics suspends all payments and works with stores to get them online.

GeekFetch The Dog

July 2020

GeekFetch database created

In order to adapt to a multi-distributor world, we built a database that would ingest and normalize all data before transforming it into data that we could use for Manage Comics (now Classic), and building the foundation for the future.

Uncanny Comic Shop

March 2021

The Manage Comics Thoughtstream

As work was underway on Manage Comics 2.0, the team launched The Manage Comics Thoughtstream as a way to make updates to the system available, and to let everyone know what was going on.

COVID Pandemic

August 2021

Manage Comics 2 Beta

6 stores volunteer to enter the Manage Comics Beta – which starts 2 months later than planned due to Shopify’s approvals process.

Manage Comics 1.0 renamed to “Manage Comics Classic”.

GeekFetch The Dog

December 2021

Manage Comics 2.0 Launches

We officially launched Manage Comics 2.0 in December 2021, steadily rolling out the system to people who had requested access to a very special wait list.

Uncanny Comic Shop

February 2022

Help 2.0

Not content to have just good help, we strove to have the best help system on the planet, rebuilding our help and focusing on the way people work, with daily, weekly, and monthly workflows, and comprehensive videos for all parts of our system.

COVID Pandemic

March 2022

Public Roadmap Launched

In our goal to be transparent, we launched a public road map, which shows exactly what we are working on, and lets stores vote on things they want done.

GeekFetch The Dog

September 2022

Manage Comics 100

Manage Comics 2.0 hits 100 stores in less than one year (it took us 4 years to hit 100 stores with Classic).

Uncanny Comic Shop

October 2022

POS Order Helper Launched

After a month of back and forth with Shopify, Manage Comics finally launched their long awaited POS Order Helper, which makes integration between Manage Comics and the Shopify Point of Sale seamless.

Meanwhile...At Manage Comics

January 2023

Meanwhile…at Manage Comics

The replacement for the Manage Comics Thoughtstream, Meanwhile is a weekly vidcast/podcast that tries above all else to maintain a “Tight 30”, featuring news, info, tips and tricks, Meanwhile is meant to be a look behind the scenes at Manage Comics.

GeekFetch The Dog

March 2023

Now more powerful than ever!

We upgraded our servers to be 5x more powerful, now running the latest technology with dedicated RDS and EC2 instances. This is the most powerful we’ve ever been.

Manage Comics Reboot

November 2023

Manage Comics Reboot

For our eighth birthday, we celebrated with a reboot of our own, showcasing all that we have accomplished to date, the full power of the ever evolving Shopify platform, and how we’re preparing for the future!

The Data B.R.O.S.<br />

January 2024

The DataB.R.O.S. Inc

The DataB.R.O.S. podcast is a podcast dedicated to comics data, comics retail, and everything that goes into running a modern comic shop.

Featuring Brian Garside of Manage Comics, and the dynamic duo of Django Bohren and Jeff Figley from Comics Place in Bellingham, WA and Comic Shop Assistant, as well as a regular rotating series of guests.

The COMET Standard

February 2024 and Beyond

The COMET Standard

Manage Comics has had the chance to work with the comics industry to create The COMET Standards, a standard of metadata specific to the comics industry primarily concerning the unique needs of single issue and trade-paperback sequential narrative storytelling.

Launching February 2024 at the ComicsPRO annual general meeting!