Saturday, November 13, 2010

"Our Valued Customers" demonstrates why I am so quiet at the comic shop

Comic fans are are own worst enemies.  

What's difficult to communicate to the non-comic's culture readership is how...  weird and random comics fandom really is.  The closest thing I can compare it to is rabid sports enthusiasm, mixed with the utterly subjective certainty of film reviewers,  blended with the critical thinking that one associates with fans of MTV's The Real World and hyper-injected with an amazingly high dose of aggressive and unearned hostility cultivated from a lifetime spent believing that succeeding at first-person-shooter games somehow validates you as a bad-ass with an understanding of how the world "actually works".

In some ways, its inspired me to try to make my writing about comics at my own blogs and for other sites...  a little less knee-jerky, maybe critical of myself as a reader, maybe critical of assumptions in the comics blogosphere, etc...  I dunno.  I've tried to take it up a notch and hope that comics, that I genuinely believe smart people work on trying to do their best, are worth talking about.

But, man, sometimes my fellow comic-geeks really get me down.

All of that is to say:  Mike Fennelly of Team Swizzlebeef has sent along a link to a comic blog that does nothing but document the horribleness of comic fans shopping at a particular store somewhere on the East Coast (which sort of flavors some of the awfulness, I suspect). 

Ladies and Gentlemen, I direct you to:  Our Valued Customers

a supposedly completely true account of working behind the counter at a comics shop and the terrible, creepy, geeky, weird, furious and reprehensible things people say in comic shops.  

I can't say none of this is accurate.

Pretty much captures the essence of the issue
You kind of have to read post after post to get the feeling of what goes on in fandom, because there's not much difference here between what one sees depicted, what one hears at crummier comic shops, and what appears in comment sections on comics sites across the internet.  And this is why comics shops and fandom are part of why I worry about the industry.

And there's something about creator Mr. Tim's style that just really captures the vacuousness and pathos of the bad apples spoiling the whole barrel.

Now, let me be clear: part of my enjoyment of shopping at Austin Books hasn't just been the selection, the knowledgeable staff, etc...  but also the fact that somehow the store has cultivated a culture in which I don't seem to ever get stuck listening to lunatic rants while I'm browsing.  Moreover, the staff aren't the ones starting the rants.  I can't tell you how rare and wonderful it is not to find yourself listening to customers and clerks ranting on and on, as, truly, that's S.O.P. at shops across this great land. 

I confess, in some ways my desire not to be the ranting loon has meant I am super-quiet when I'm at any comic shop, or even at the Austin Con.  I think those of us with some investment in comics know we're one step away from talking ourselves right into that point where we just realized that, in our enthusiasm, we made someone else really uncomfortable.  Age has taught me never to assume anything, especially that someone shares my opinions (which I don't think are all that controversial when it comes to comics), but I think I'm also fairly sensitive to not wanting to ruin someone else's good time. 

At the end of the day, sure, I read comics because I enjoy the plots, the stories, the "what-ifs", etc...  but its supposed to be fun.  I forget that as much as the next guy*, but I try not to be crazy or come off as an uninformed, uncritical doofus.  I guess its largely in the eye of the beholder.

Anyway, without further ado:  here's that site

*note the ongoing color commentary on comics since 2003


Amy said...

Great link! I enjoyed it, and I've only ever been to a handful of comic book stores. Anyway, this was my favorite: . I am now currently on my own quest to find "good sweat pants."

Simon MacDonald said...

Sadly, I've been in many a store that were like this. Luckily, I've found a place downtown which seems to be a bit "nicer".