The story of Manage Comics
Manage Comics has been around since 2015, but the origins of the business go back to the late 1980’s.
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.
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 400,000 products and growing daily), we rebuilt Manage Comics and launched a new version compatible with Shopify, and have added Point of Sale support, and integration with game store software BinderPOS.
Now – Better, stronger, 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
- Ivan – Data and Support
- Taras – Project Management, Systems Management
- Kiril – Special Projects
- Natalia – Software Development
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.
No other company in our industry is as open as we are.
Manage Comics Through the Years
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 launches
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.
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.