Wednesday Comments – Rude Awakening

I’m back.

Sorry for the absence, but life’s been kind of crazy for the past few weeks. First I went on a family vacation (which was awesome) but then I got weirdly sick (delirious with high fever) which totally sapped me of any will whatsoever.

But now I’ve returned to write about that thing that we all love; comics.

Well, specifically this week I’m writing about comic book shops. Last year I wrote about some of the comic book shops that I frequented in my many years of collecting. And for the most part I focused on the positive aspects of stores. But of course we know that comic book shops also have a bit of a bad reputation and stigma attached to them.

The stereotype is that the stores are dark and unapproachable to outsiders and that the owners can even be inhospitable to those who wander in. And I honestly thought that was just a horrible cruel myth, until today.

Today I stepped into what is easily the worst comic book shop I’ve ever been to in my life, and I’ve been to some bad ones (particularly in Las Vegas.)

For starters, there was no sense of organization. No, strike that. Even saying the place was cluttered wouldn’t do it justice. It looked less like a comic book shop and more like a huge room that belonged to someone who hoarded comic books. There were shelves with long boxes of random comics. There were also dozens of shelves with stacks of random comics. In fact the only semblance of order came from two racks which had comics that I recognized as new.

Think of going to a comic book convention and seeing all of those vendor with books in their “4 for $1″ boxes and bins. Now imagine all of those boxes and bins in one room and you’ve got an idea of the store that I visited today.

But being a collector, I was undaunted. I’m the guy who likes to dive into long boxes and pull out that gem that’s hidden in there. I was fully prepared to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

When I tried to do that, the owner asked me what I was looking for. I replied that I didn’t know what I was looking for, that I was looking for something to jump out at me. He then told me that I wasn’t going to find anything in there. So let me reiterate; I expressed interest in flipping through his inventory and he told me not to.

He tried to guide me toward the new comics, but I honestly wasn’t interested in new books. And then I saw something that gave me hope. It was an issue of Who’s Who in the Impact Universe. It was one of the hole punched, loose leaf issues, still wrapped. It was sitting on a pile of other book.

Now I know what you’re thinking; Mathan, why would that give you hope? Well, it inspired me because that book was released in the early 1990’s and if he had that lying around, then perhaps he had something valuable, like some issues of Miracleman in one of those numerous piles of books. Or maybe I’d finally get to complete my run of Harley Quinn.

And when I picked up that issue of Who’s Who in the Impact Universe and said “wow, you have his” his reply was “that’s trash.”

So again, I express interest in his stock and he bats away the sale.

Never mind that he was treating me like someone who knew nothing about comics, he was actively preventing me from finding any way to spend money in his store. I was dumbfounded. Obviously by looking at his shop, he hadn’t had that many people wandering in, so perhaps he’d forgotten how sell comics to people who are interested in buying comics.

This guy took the “Always Be Closing” mantra to the new level of “Always Be Closing…the door in the customers face.”

On the walk home I thought about how much I’d love to just go there and organize the shop. If there were some way to work out a deal, where I could get paid and get discounted comics (especially on any gems I discovered) I’d really have to consider doing it, despite the owner’s awful demeanor.

But yeah, to anyone who says that dark, dank and inhospitable comic shops don’t exist, I can now speak from first hand knowledge and assure you that they do.

Anyway, it’s Wednesday, do out and frequent your (hopefully) friendly neighborhood comic shop.