There isn’t a week that goes by that one of the downthetubes team reads a post or receives a news item about declining comic sales, some articles blaming comics piracy, others the cost of comics, the end of physical print.
But what if a lot of it is just down to how off-putting the whole process of buying a comic from a comic shop is the main reason would-be comic fans don’t bother?
Here, Tony Esmond (with additional guidance from John Freeman for this part) continues to offer some guidance for those attempting to buy a comic for the first time… and the perils you may face!
Caveat: Not All Comic Shops Are Like This. Honestly… and we do offer you a handy map of UK comic shop’s right here on downthetubes.
How To Buy A Comic (It isn’t always that easy!) – Small Press Weirdness
Those of you who are visiting a comic shop for the first time, who have accepted the problems caused by staff disinterest and fellow customer strangeness (see Part One), now faces another problem… the in store comics event.
Incredibly, some comic shops not only sell Comics. They also seek to involve you in the whole “comics experience”, which may involve the opportunity to engage with the very people who created the comics that you happen to want to read.
Such people are, relatively harmless. Harmless that is, while in their natural environment – for example, chained to an art desk at home, or in the case of writers, busy in front of a computer pretending to work when they are really looking at cat videos… You get the picture.
Basically, many of them do not get out much. Sometimes, when they do, it is to do events such as comic signings. Sometimes some people that are involved in such events – not a of them – turn into complete monsters, forgetting entirely that they are no longer at the keyboard, ranting on Facebook and are now dealing with real people.
Watch out for the usual tell-tale signs of what we can only caution might be utter madness (Alan Moore himself has cautioned many times on what happens to people who play with words for a living and seeing any pictures of him, if you do not know who he is, will confirm his concerns). The bulging eyeballs, the twitching hands… These are the obvious signs. If they ask you, “what do you think of this issue?”, on no account told them the truth, as this will be very different from what they have been told by a) their editor b) their friends.
It may be that your feelings about their latest magnum opus correspond directly with the views of their life partner, who doesn’t care one bit what they write, as long as it keeps them in the manner to which they are accustomed (and if they are living with a comic creator then for the most part their expectations are already pretty low, trust us). In this case, you will soon know, because they will come at you with an axe.
As well as appearances by so-called professional comic creators, the shop may have a Small Press event going on. If so, you will see shambling zombie like bearded characters (men and women).
These people all know each other. They also do not buy anything and/or know about current comics from major publishers.
Do not make eye contact. If you have an ironic hat, crappy tattoos or have problems with actually changing your clothes every single day they may be confused and speak to you. Again, do not make eye contact. Confuse them by mentioning Syd Barrett or Bowie – and leg it!
• Follow me on Twitter @Ezohyez
• Our thanks to David Broughton for his art on this series. Many downthetubes readers will recognise David’s work for Papercuts and Inkstains, Zarjaz and more, but along with the wonderful Shaman Kane you really should check out his new fantastic creator owned project Detective Gallo and the Unholy Company, available to buy now from him direct here | Follow David on Twitter @DbroughtonDavid
The opinions in this article are not necessarily those of the entire downthetubes team, most of whom would like to point out that like Tony, they have a great local comic shop, but it took a while to find! Check out our Comic Shop Map, maintained by Colin Noble, here