Tony Esmond’s Comic Shop Survival Guide – Part Four: How To Buy A Comic (It isn’t always that easy!) – The Actual Buying Bit

Comic Shop Survival Guide - How To Buy A Comic by David Broughton

Art by David Broughton

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 intentionally humorous 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!) – The Actual Buying Bit

Found a comic? Based on liking it and not on a supposed agenda? Great! Well done you.

Now go to the counter. (This may take a while.)

Remember, the staff will not initially see you. As we mentioned, but must remind you, many have customer blindness. This is a sliding scale between not being bothered to deal with you and wanting to actually stab you.

They’ve seen you? Phew. Seize the day. Be polite. Pass the comic over. “I’d like this please.”

They will then take it from you. They won’t reply. Then they will face away and continue chatting to their friend Tarquin.

Now, you really need to watch carefully at this point. They will ring up the wrong price and give you the wrong change! When you point it out, they will huff and puff like this is interrupting something.

Don’t watch them too closely (they may think you are creepy) so look elsewhere, look at the variant covers of keyrings or trading cards on the counter. But try to keep them under casual observation. They will bend and pull your comics, this is because they don’t actually buy or collect them.

One of them will go “Ha, ha, this is fun and open and read your comic”. You’ll feel like saying “I’m buying that, I’d quite like to read it before you do!” But don’t, as this will cause them to have a snowflake cry. I usually bring up a comic from before the last five years. This causes their hipster programming to become confused.

When you finally leave the store, you’ll feel a little dejected. You might have tried talking about comics and been ignored or brushed off. This is normal. Whatever you do don’t mention Bowie or George Michael passing – this may cause wailing and self-harming.

Just be pleased that you have your reading material. Now go enjoy it.

Then Repeat this for 40 years…

• 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

• Tony Esmond’s Comic Shop Survival Guide – Part One: Dealing with Comic Shop Staff … and other customers

• Tony Esmond’s Comic Shop Survival Guide – Part Two: How To Buy A Comic

• Tony Esmond’s Comic Shop Survival Guide – Part Three: Choosing Your Comic

• Tony Esmond’s Comic Shop Survival Guide – Part Four: How To Buy A Comic (It isn’t always that easy!) – The Actual Buying Bit

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4 replies

  1. Following up on this tongue-in-cheek item about the state of comic stores, by Tony Esmond, here are the ICV2 reports covering Marvel Senior Vice President – Sales and Marketing David Gabriel’s recent comments on the state of Marvel and retailer response, which prompted national coverage on BBC Front Row, NewsNight and in The Guardian. Part 1 –; Part 2 – Bleeding Cool ran a news story in response here:; and there is a great article on the whole kerfuffle caused here on The Verge, which has a lot of great links in it:

  2. John, Ez & David B- many thanks for this. Back in the ’80’s I worked in a comic shop as a ‘saturday’ helper and actually saw many of these behaviours first hand. I know this is a humourous series, and hopefully this sort of behaviour is only in a minority of modern shops but it is still sad to think it might still happen.

    And congrats on getting David B on for the articles- his artwork is always spot-on for the content required.

    • Thanks – yes, we meant it to be humorous (some people didn’t see it that way). We totally get how hard most comic ships work to retain their customers and make them feel welcome.


  1. Tony Esmond’s Comic Shop Survival Guide – Part Three: Choosing Your Comic |