Saturday, April 4, 2009

Oh comic shops...

Not trying to make all of my posts links to the same blogs, but I had an experience this morning that made me think of a post I read recently at Comicsgirl.

If you have read more than 2 posts here, you probably know that I have 2 daughters who love comics, and that I happily take them with me to shops and conventions anytime I am able. Today I took my oldest (15yo) to a comic shop near my parents house that looks good, has a nice selection, and an owner that is sort of quiet, but when directly addressed has seemed pretty decent. I am not suggesting he is anything but decent, but here is some stuff that leaped out at me in my visit today.

Tarot is on the shelf... the main wall... sort of at toddler level. If I had a store, and could not avoid having that comic in it... I might keep it behind the counter, or higher up on a wall, or maybe bagged with the word adult on it. I realize it is printed with the words 'Mature Readers', but still, that isn't enough in my opinion.

I'm not sure if the owner was just listening to something, or if he was watching something on the monitor in front of him, but it was playing loudly enough to be heard throughout the store. There was probably ten minutes of Sam Kinison routine about hating rap music that feature a good bit of profanity and er... graphic sexual language. It was just the two of us in the store at the time, and my oldest can handle language just fine, so I didn't say anything. It was still inappropriate, even if it was just random adults in the store. I am not offended by the language myself, but that isn't the point either.

When I got to the counter to pay, the guy was asleep. It wasn't a deep sleep, and my putting my comics on the counter woke him up. He's a nice guy, I just wish more stores were mindful and respectful of customers. Had my 9 year old been there, I would have been bothered by the language, but had she been there, it might not have been on. At some point while we were there, two or three other groups of people came in. The kind of cool part was that all of them were parents with young teen girls! Seeing that, makes me wonder if maybe the owner was just really tired and not paying attention to what was on when we went in. I paid attention to what was being played the whole time, and by the time others came in, it was fairly clean comedy.

I just don't know if there is ever a time that a retail store should think it's a good idea to have something playing that features the phrase 'suck my dick' about a hundred times. (Maybe unless it's a porn shop, which probably wouldn't make me feel obliged to post about it.)

Maybe this was just an isolated thing. It still bugs me a bit.


Sandy said...

That's ridiculous. It would definitely be appropriate to give the guy a nudge and ask him to turn it off, in my opinion. It's too bad that some comics shop owners don't realize they run a business where a goal is to make the shop a pleasant place for customers

Bengo said...

I've only met one person who liked Sam K. and is respectful to youth. You may be wishing for toomuch.

More important is, what comics do your daughters enjoy?

Eden said...

Link to my blog all you want!

I do feel like my ultimate point wasn't that "Oh, comic book stores need to make women comfortable" but that they need to make people comfortable, period. We all have different levels of taste and tolerance and proprietors need to respect that. If this store's staff just wants to cater to the people who would enjoy listening to Sam Kinison while shopping and don't care about Tarot being at toddler level, then that's that the choice of that staff. But it's also my choice not to shop there.

I'm a fan of supporting the local comic book store. But I'm not fan of supporting places that don't respect me, no matter what they're selling.

Talkin Bout Comics said...

@bengo - I think I will post a little blurb separately about the sort of things my girls have enjoyed reading.

@Eden - I absolutely agree with the point you were making. If you alienate parents, or make people feel uncomfortable, you are shooting yourself in the foot, and (not to sound overly dramatic)possibly creating a barrier that keeps people from comics.

Evan Dorkin posted a blog entry about a convention last year(, that I saw because someone else posted a link to it. I hated it at the time because I took it personally, but on my second reading of it, I understood that it wasn't a description of all aging fans, just a bunch of jerks who give everyone else a black eye.

If you love comics, or even if you just rely upon comics for your income, I think it merits thinking about the way people view them and their fanbase, and their retail outlets, and maybe even their creators.

If you care about comics, though, I think you will be inclined to care about what the people outside of the longtime fans and true believers think. The industry and the art form won't thrive without bringing in new readership, and new enthusiasts and advocates.

For a long time I never talked about comics around people I knew in real life (work, church, etc.) I now believe that just as it is important that I don't keep my faith a secret, that I don't keep my love of comics and comic related activities a secret. The best way to show people that something is ok, is to be a decent person while participating in it.

Liking certain music, or comedians, or whatever isn't the point obviously, but running a shop that is uninviting or uncomfortable to potential new customers, or a portion of your customer base, is pretty bad form. Maybe people just aren't aware that it may have a negative effect. Maybe they think it makes their store seem hip and edgy... but you know... if you have a section filled with comics for kids and action figures(collected by all ages)... you might as well always pretend a protective parent is in your store with a 5 year old.