Saturday, December 6, 2008

Friday at the Comic Book Store

Inspired partially by Kevin's crusade against moronic comic book store owners, I thought I would share the experience of my most recent visit to my local comic shop, or LCS, as its commonly abbreviated to on the interwebs.

The place I go to most frequently is called Comic Book Factory II, on the corner of Donald and Notre Dame, in the heart of downtown. The owner, and sole employee, is Jared, a smart, funny, helpful, nice and always fair man. I've been buying my comics from him since I was like eight years old. He always has good prices, good deals, and he stocks heavily on sets, like say ten issues of Spider-Man packaged together for 5 bucks. I recently picked up
Animal Man 26 to 89 for 35 bucks and Rom 1 to 50 for 20 bucks. These are screaming deals. There's a reason why I go there, other than the deals though.

I'm not much of a comic fan outside of the blogosphere. I don't hang around comic book shops, and I rarely go to conventions and when I do, I'm disappointed. It's not that I'm embarrassed by my obsession; I'm more embarrassed by the subculture than anything.

Before this derails into a rant against comic book nerds, who for the most part, are pretty cool and I count a good number among my friends, I want to single out
that guy. You know that guy. He's the guy that gives us all a bad name because he thinks he's the absolute expert on the trivial, the minutiae of the medium. Not just the convoluted continuity, but the subtext and the meaning.

I'm browsing the sets, when
that guy comes in, and he's talking to Jared about The Dark Knight, and how it's the like the last word on superhero movies, and Watchmen will put the nail in the coffin. First of all, that guy referred to it as The Watchmen, which makes me cringe, and secondly, he tried to tell Jared, a guy who runs a comic book store, that superheros have no place in the medium of film.

He tried to tell Jared that Christopher Nolan, director and co-writer of The Dark Knight, meant to kill the superhero once and for all, and that there shouldn't be anymore superheros. I had to pipe up. Another guy, a constant regular in the store, said, "That's stupid" and I immediately said "Agreed".

Then, that guy went on. He said that the medium of film already had superheroes in the form of Indiana Jones and James Bond and Star Wars.

Oh come on! Those superheroes are all famously and self consciously based on pulp superheroes that came before, like Flash Gordon and Doc Savage.

There's no need to put a nail in the coffin of superhero movies. If anything, they just started getting good.
The Dark Knight represents a step forward for the genre, not the final word. Neither will Watchmen say everything there is to say about superheroes, whether in the medium of film, or in its original sequential form.

What's absolutely great about that guy versus Jared, is that Jared put up with it. He didn't get snarky or rude. This guy was a paying customer. So why argue with him? "The customer is always right" is a cliche, but not empty. It's a maxim.

I've heard Jared listen to crap from outsiders, guys looking to buy
Batman R.I.P. because it might be worth money, guys looking for comics about wrasslin', guys telling Jared how to better organize the store. I've also heard numerous of those guys espouse their views like they were Socrates. I say to those guys, get a blog and stop bothering Jared.

We should all go patronize Jared's store, though. He's a great guy, a great proprietor and a good businessman.

On the flipside, I popped into another store, which won't be named, because I'm about to excoriate it. Firstly, I drive by it once in awhile and it's never open. It has some ridiculous hours like 3 to 6 only four days a week and it's not open Sundays. (Or it used to. I checked its Myspace page for research, and apparently they expanded the hours recently). It's a store that tries to capitalize on being near a huge high school. I went in there yesterday, if only to check it out, 'cause they have some cool toys, and I walked up to the door and was slapped in the face by the most outrageous sign I've ever read.

"This is not a library or a day-care. Go loiter somewhere else"

Are you kidding me? Really? That's ridiculous. If you don't want kids coming in and hanging out, which they're going to do cause they're kids, then you shouldn't have opened shop near a school. Secondly, all of your comics are way too overpriced for kids to buy anyway, so how can you expect them to pay for it?

Fallen Angels issues 1 through 8 was 24.99? Really? Are you kidding me? For those of you who don't remember, Fallen Angels was a miniseries about students running away from the X-Mansion because of some misunderstood misdeed. It's not important in continuity, and it's not produced by any "hot" talent to necessitate that price. I could pick up the mini-series for eight bucks at Comic Book Factory II.

Example 2: Secret Wars II for 25 bucks? That's absolutely bonkers.

I've never been more disgusted by a comic book store. First you tell me not to loiter, which comic book buyers generally do, and lots of it, and then you want me to pay Canadian prices on new comics, which every other comic book store in the city isn't doing? Why should I give you my business when there's one closer to me, with better hours, better staff, room to loiter, and, let's face it, a better atmosphere.

Comic Book Factory II may not be the cleanest joint in the city, but it's where I call home.

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