Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Benefit of the doubt? - LCS edition

I wonder sometimes about my loyalty. I wonder also about my need to like things that I want to like. I think that my desire to be friendly and happy, and enjoy the things I surround myself with, causes me to act as though I like things that I have no great incentive for liking, or to artificially inflate the degree to which I enjoy/appreciate them.

The comic shop I go to is the only one to survive an extended time in my immediate area. It is clean and brightly lit. It has a good amount of titles on the wall, a hefty collection of Trades, as well as Trading card games and Heroclix and comics supplies. It has a section set aside for all ages and kids, and bins that have additional trades and some bagged sets, etc. It has a good sized manga section and some figures and plushies.

The staff are all good people. All nice guys. I have no issue with anyone that works there on any sort of a personal level. They are nice to me, they know my name, they are nice to my kids, and I have witnessed them tell people to watch their language, etc. when kids are in the store. The times my wife has gone in to get things for my birthday or Christmas, they have always been good to her and have steered her in the right direction, even though the air in comic shops makes her chafe.

Going over all of that, I guess I see why when I feel a need to speak critically of the store, I generally say they have a very conservative ordering strategy, or something similar to that, to explain away why they seem to generally underpurchase anything that isn't Blackest Night or items of a similar vein.

They really seem to have a disdain for anything even remotely 'alternative'. In this case I am going to call Incredible Hercules 'alternative. When I first started getting into that title I was chatting with the owner and made a comment about how good Incredible Hercules was, and his only comment was a grunt about how it didn't matter because a Hercules title wasn't going to sell.

Another time, recently when talking about SPX I mentioned seeing Brian Lee O'Malley there (interviewed by Jog, in what was a very enjoyable scheduled event. His response was 'That would be great if I knew who that was." When I brought up Scott Pilgrim he made a dismissive comic like 'whatever... wasn't that a webcomic...?" Which I guess is also dismissive of webcomics.

I'm not sure what I expect of my LCS, but I guess it's more than that. There are other things that happen and that are said that make me feel like if they could just get away with selling the top Marvel and DC titles, they would. Even when they get in something out of the ordinary, it is generally in such a small quantity that it is gone before 5pm on the Wednesday it comes in.

These things combined with other similar incidents make me a little sad in some weird way. I have been cutting down my pulls pretty heavily. I still have titles I will get, and I still add new ones when I see something that interests me in Previews, but if not for Previews and the comics internet, I would never have any idea what else was out there. The pull system at the shop I go to is entirely run on index cards. This results in a lot of titles that just don't get ordered and dropped for me, or sometimes titles that continue to be dropped long after I have canceled them. They are really good at getting me any issues I have missed, and would never make me buy anything I didn't want, but it still adds to a feeling I get about the place and the whole process.

If I already have to be aware of everything I might possibly want well prior to it coming out, and I get no real extra value from being at the store, and there is no benefit to browsing, as only the bigger mainstream titles will be on the shelf, then do I really need the store?

I went to two different comic shops when I was in New York earlier in the year. One was Forbidden Planet, and the other Was St. Mark's Comics. St. Mark's was like a hole in the wall filled to overflowing with everything imaginable, including some Love and Rockets singles and various underground and alt comics in pretty high volume. Forbidden Planet is slick and has an enormous selection of trades including a large variety of independents and lesser known works. I imagine there is probably something, somewhere in the DC area that would give at least some of that, but it certainly isn't anywhere close to where I live.


Eden said...

A friend who lives in fairly rural Pennsylvania turned to a mail-order service after disappointment with his local comic book store.

And me, I'm all for supporting local businesses ... if they're local businesses I want to support. I mean, I guess it's just that while I like comic book stores in theory, not all comic book stores are good.

Sandy said...

I get my single issues from, and I've always been very happy with that service.