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 then is Part One of my guidance for those attempting to buy a comic for the first time… and the perils you may face!
Caveat: Not All Comic Shop’s Are Like This. Honestly…
Dealing with Comic Shop Staff … and other customers
First, find a shop that sells comics. This might prove a not altogether easy task, even though we do offer you a handy map of UK comic shop’s right here on downthetubes. Also, there are plenty of charity shops that sell comics, which can be found on most high streets. If you live in the Medway Towns, they are situated adjacent to the PoundWorld. (Not that comics stall at The South Bank in London – anyone who sells Troll: The Halloween Special for £7.50 needs shooting!)
If you are one of the lucky few who has a Comic Shop nearby, then head in. Nod at the staff, who will probably ignore you, and then begin to scan the shelves.
Remember that most people who work in comics shops are better than you.
Serving or helping you is well below any priority they may have for the day. Listen to them talk. They drone on about anything except comics. They mostly talk about what they are having for lunch, that cool band they saw online, that they feel “Reeeeaaallly hung over” and what time they are going home.
They all believe that they are not destined to work in a shop and that they should be artists/ musicians/ poets/ insert nonsense job here (and so on).
It is important to be safe. Remember that an awful lot of crazy people head in to Comic Shops. One could come in, pull all the copies of ‘Great Lakes Avengers’ off the shelf, drop their trousers, do a huge dump on them and run out (although to be fair, this is a thought that I often have about ‘Great Lakes Avengers’ whenever I see it!)
All the shop Staff will completely fail to act in any useful way and then as if a reason for their inaction complain about the poor state of mental health care in the UK – like the have been programmed to say this by their cool friends. Shoplifting is also common but I’m sure this has something to do with failings in the Welfare State (and not rampant greed and heroin addiction?)
• 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
Antony Esmond is a comic reviewer and writer – his hips don’t lie.