Valiant: What does the Sales Manager do?
Dani Ward: We maintain relationships with retailers to figure out how Valiant can best meet comic book store needs — some examples are reaching out to inform them about upcoming titles, and providing them with promotional materials for their shops. The Valiant sales staff is populated and run by monsters and demons who all come from comic retail experience, so we all speak the secret language. If you’ve ever worked at a comic shop before, you know exactly what I mean.
Valiant: How did you get your start at Valiant?
DW: I was a manager for JHU Comic Books (the offspring of the infamous Jim Hanley’s Universe) in New York City. They make sure they have some of the most knowledgeable and informative staff in comic retail. I met our VP of Sales and Marketing, Matthew Klein, during my time there and I guess something about my sales strategies must have impressed him to approach me to join the team.
Valiant: What was your first job in comics?
DW: My parents worked a lot of small conventions and card shows. They mostly sold Kenner starting lineup figures, some Star Wars, and then a mix of other collectibles like cards and comics. They’d load up the kids and have us come along. If you want a good sales person, start them young!
Valiant: Where do you buy your comics?
DW: Everywhere. Anywhere I can. I can’t remember the last time I walked into a shop and didn’t buy at least one thing.
Valiant: What comics have you been reading lately?
DW: All the Valiant ongoing, of course! C’mon! A bunch of stuff on the Archie line (I love Archie) Batman, Morbius, Superman, Wonder Woman, Daredevil, Amazing Spider-Man, Ghost Spider, Aquaman, Jessica Jones, All the Buffy stuff, Something is Killing the Children, Dead Eyes, Skull Digger, Supergirl, Jimmy Olsen, Catwoman, Die, Second Coming, Black Cat, Fantastic Four, Vamperilla, Undiscovered Country…uh…I’m just listing what I see on my spinner rack right now in my apartment. I read a lot and I jump around a lot. I have a lot of randoms…looks like this rack needs some more indie books on it, I’m probably forgetting a ton of stuff. I have no life so I read a lot. I also fall behind a lot cause I get A.D.D. if a plot is getting dragged out. You know how it goes. I know I’m going to read when this is posted and hate myself for forgetting a bunch.
Valiant: Who do you think is the most underrated character in comics?
DW: Me. You don’t know it, but I’m in there. I’m waiting for the time to strike. Don’t want to give away any spoilers…
Valiant: Who is your favorite Valiant character and why?
DW: Fred Pierce. He always has candy in the office.
Valiant: What would you say sets Valiant apart from other publishers?
DW: I work at this one, and not other ones! Hahahaha. Seriously though, we have the best fans in comics. They are the most passionate and protective fans I’ve ever encountered. Even when I managed at the shop, you knew who your Valiant fans were — and they let YOU know who they are. If I wasn’t up to date on a current ongoing, a Valiant customer would turn into the salesperson to let you know you better catch up so that you could introduce other people to their fandom. It’s fantastic.
Valiant: What advice do you have to people who want to do what you do?
DW: Pose with an Eternal Warrior AXE in your shop, and then fight crime. If you can’t do that, working in comic book retail is a great way to get into the industry, no matter what field you want to pursue within the industry. It’s a small world, and if you are willing enough to be patient and passionate, opportunities will come your way. Most of the industry pros all worked in a comic shop. Most importantly: Be nice to everyone. This industry is a small one, and word will get around quickly if you suck.
Check back here for another Meet Valiant HQ next week!