…Hope You Survive the Experience #2

Stores, Clerks and Pull Lists…Oh My!

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When I decided that I was going to start reading more than just Deadpool I found myself in an odd position that those of us new to comics get to experience when we first enter the world of the comic book store. The comic store clerk can be one of the most intimidating people around, eager to share their views on every possible title that you should be reading, telling you the most popular titles and all their spin-offs that’ll help you complete their vision, as well as new ‘hidden gems’ that they recommend you try out as well. Who are we to know any better?

“Here, you’ve got to be reading this…the art is fantastic, and tells the story for the writer. The writing is okay, but really, the art is where it’s at. You’re pretty much buying it for the images, but they’re so worth it because so-and-so is one of the best in town.”

“Uh…yeah, that sounds cool.”

That seemed to be my main line as I nodded along with this one clerk who ran a store close to my place. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problems talking to people about cool titles, or things that are interesting, but we’re talking one of my first times entering a comic book store, and this is what I’m hit with at all angles. Sure, there’s trying to be helpful, but there’s also sounding like a salesman (which, of course, they kinda are.)

After a few visits, I decided to check out a different store, and I found the exact opposite experience…or maybe I’d just been a bit more broken in to the whole idea of having titles recommended to me. Either way, I instantly switched stores and welcomed the friendlier clerk into my new reading life, over the guy who sounded like he got a dime off of each sale he made.

By this time, I was a few weeks in, and I’d realized that buying by the week was fun and all, but having to pay attention to exactly when things came out, then hope I make it in time to nab one just wasn’t going to work. That’s right…I entered the world that any seasoned vet knows…the world of the pull list.

See, creating a pull list for me was a bit more of an adventure because, as I mentioned in my first column, I kind of have a few issues, one of which would be an intense case of OCD when it comes to certain aspects of life. Lucky for me, comics has become one of them, and this is bad simply because there’s just so much out there, and I have an incredibly hard time resisting that urge that says “You don’t really need to read that title too, do you?”

Yes. Yes I do.

And these are just the titles I wanted to read because of things I’d known in the past…these don’t include the handful I’ve latched onto since realizing that there’s more to comics than Marvel and DC. It’s gotten to the point now where I’ve had to restrain myself because the Marvel sales pitches are for people like me…the weak minded fools who bite at everything they fish with because we don’t know any better. Hell, there’s probably people that’ve been in the game for years that still get caught up by their evil, evil weekly pitches.

Dark Avengers 12

For a brief moment I’ll jump ahead to give you a prime example. A couple of weeks ago they had a summary on their webpage for The Dark Avengers #11 saying that “someone would die. For reelz.” I mean, look at that! They even said it all zany like! How can I not fall for that!? Do I read Dark Avengers? No. (Gasps from the crowd) But that didn’t stop me from picking it up out of curiosity. Have I read it yet? No, still on the ol’ pile, but then I go and read a summary for #12…and maybe I misread, and maybe I got ahead of myself…but then I see that #12 has the same summary. Someone dies “for reelz!” Now here I am saying “Oh come on! I just bought #11 for this…well, I guess after I read 11…I’ll want to see who does die in number 12…so…I’ll buy it.” Course, it’s still sitting on the pile also, because it’s not a prime title for me, and I basically just bought it because it was a slow week and I’m a sucker for wanting more than I need.

Again, that was getting ahead of myself, but as you can see, my pull list immediately became gigantic. Sure, it may not compare to those who get 25+ per week…supposedly a clerk at another store was talking to someone about a few people who get 100+ comics a month at their location (I’m guessing that’s pretty much every comic published every month…and what they build their homes out of when they’re done reading as that’s a lot of rent money gone!) but it’s still up there, especially for someone who hasn’t been able to find the time to catch up on certain titles each week, and just finds the piles growing all over the place.

This isn’t always a bad thing I find, as playing catch up is something I had to do with a few of my choices, and coming out of hard covers and trade paperbacks and into monthlies is a hard transition when you’re used to an entire year’s worth of stories compiled into a single sitting. That’s one thing I’ve found hard to get used to still…some books give you a good fill, and while you’re left wanting more, you’re also satisfied enough to last the month until the next issue comes out; however, there are a few books that either feel just completely to short, or are just that good that you must have more that very moment and there’s just no way to get it. It’s like waiting almost a year in-between seasons of 24…there are two things you can do about it when looking at it from a comic perspective, either buy it monthly and suffer the long wait, or just ignore it for the time being and pick it up in paperback form.

This option is one I can’t really fathom at this early point in my comic book career, simply because I want to read the stories now. I don’t want to risk the chance of spoilers (though there aren’t many places where the hot gossip is what happened to Thor this week) and I don’t want to have to be behind by half a year or whatever it may be on the current stories…just in case.

This seems to be the catch 22, as it’s more expensive to read monthly, and obviously this is what the comic industry wants, and how they thrive, though sometimes the trades just take their sweet time being released. I’ve checked through Amazon, and find that certain stories that happened over the past six months or so are being released in their little arcs via trade paperback sometime in May, 2010. That’s almost a year behind, and if you do decide to jump on board, good luck finding some of those back issues without hunting them down. I’ve been there already, and it’s evil (thanks a lot Deadpool #6, #7!)

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So I’ve made my choice, and while I hear the clerk at my comic book store say that he’s been phasing out of monthlies recently in favour of waiting for trades, I can’t see that happening in my near future. I just haven’t gotten over that feeling of walking into the store on Wednesday after work and picking up my handful of books. It’s a great feeling, and one that I hope doesn’t decrease any time soon. All this talk and I still didn’t get to any books that were actually on my pull list…is the intrigue building? Well, some of it will be released next week when I talk about the book(s) I was most interested in that ended up being the first placed onto my list, as well as why I was hesitant to put them there at all. Ooo, contradiction! Now that builds a little intrigue doesn’t it?

Until next time…hope I survive the experience!

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