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 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.
Choosing Your Comic
Think about what you like. Don’t think about what you think you should like because someone has told you it is cool. These are the Devil’s thoughts. He is playing with you. Beelzebub and the Demons of Advertising are trying to hook you in….
Sure, “I’ve heard that Squirrel Girl is well written.”
IT IS NOT. (Well, not really.)
It is a load of hyped and cutesy guff that people pretend is good. It’s like that indie band who lasted two albums and NME kept saying were geniuses. It’s like that art house movie about staring at the sea.
THIS IS HYPE.
Being a comics fan is all about seeing past the bullshit. Recognising what is really actually good and seeing through the veil of mundanity that masquerades as ‘event comics’. Read what you like – plain and simple.
Comics are also a fiction. Also, they are normally set in a fictional world full of fantastical beings and unreality. This is neither the real world or a world that needs to be a battleground for agendas. It is about stories. Stories of all kinds. It is not an axe to grind, unless that particular axe fits into the story you are telling. Don’t force your real world agendas into the pages of these fictions. If you do, you will be constantly disappointed. If you are looking to satisfy your political agenda by reading comics you will be sorely disappointed.
(On the Planet Krypton, they think you are boring too).
If you are the sort of lad or lady who looks for comics purely based on the gender/ race/ sexuality/ species/political background of the inker/ what online stores the editor likes/ what newspaper the office manager reads/ that it’s a comic created by bears who were used to test bubblegum etc (etc, etc, etc.) –then I wish you luck in your next hobby. Because you ain’t gonna last long in this one.
Likewise , if you are the sort of reader who is worried about damage to the staples or a slight curl in the cover paper then there are a couple of easy steps you should take.
- Put the comic back
- Leave the store
- Hand your computer in at the local police station. (They may also be interested in any storage devices you have hidden?)
Just remember this mantra – “Comics are for reading.”
Having identified a possible purchase, pick up the book that you like the look of and leaf through it. Look good? Yeah? What’s the art like? Read a little bit. Like it?
Look at the price.
Expensive, huh? Yup.
That’s the way it is these days. Overpriced at every turn. A comic will take you (at most) 15 minutes to read. Think about that for value for money?
If it is too much then put it back and head to the back issue bins. These shops normally have some £1 or 50 pence boxes. Grab something from there if you prefer.
Remember. This is not a race. Take as long as you like. Let inspiration hit you. Find something that you are going to enjoy.
Read a trade paperback (a collection of previously published comics) if you like. (But remember Manga is written backwards by foreigners to confuse you).
Most other comics in comic shop’s are written by Americans, who have problems with spelling, politics and firearms – so remember this when reading their usual murder filled crap. (Thank God for Brexit!)
You’re Nearly There!
Can’t find what you are looking for? Why not ask?
Approach one of the staff. As we mentioned in Part One of this Guide to Buying Comics, they will either be the type who are actually working or the type who sort of sit about reading, looking at their phone, watching loud YouTube videos or chatting to their hipster mates (they can be quite loud – wear earplugs).
Their words will be confusing. They speak without meaning and mostly so that people will look at them.
Remember to act casual. Say things like “Chill” and “Whatevs”. These are coded signals to hipster central. They will see you as one of the lazy snowflake millennial nation. (They still won’t really help you, but it makes the whole thing a little less awkward.)
“Hi, I’m looking for something about (insert subject here). Can you help?”
The Answer (I guarantee will be) – “If we have it it’ll be back there.” They then point/ wave/ gesture at the back of the store, where you have of course previously looked…
Count to ten. Look annoyed, but don’t say anything (we are British after all). Then wander off looking elsewhere than where they have pointed (this minor triumph may make you feel a little better).
There is a good chance that they won’t actually know the answer. They only work in the shop because their friend Rosamund/ Trilby/Flat White/ Bakewell/ Custard Hat/ Pilchard/Edmundo/ Beehive/ Frank told them that it was a “cool” place to work.
• 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