Guy Has A Really Bad Comic Shop Experience, Inspires Rant.

One man’s attempt to get back into comics hits a significant speed bump after being rejected…at a comic shop…by the guy behind the counter. The story is shared on the “comicbooks” subreddit and inspires a slew of fan comments, plus this rant.

“Frosty’s” story

I freely admit that I’m not as much of a comic book fan as I used to be. When I was a kid in the early 80′s, I had subscriptions to all sorts of comics from DC and Marvel. I loved reading anything I could get my hands on and loved the escape they provided. But as I grew older, I fell out of it once I got married and spent less and less time buying.

Now I’m 40 and I wanted to get back into reading and collecting. I asked around online (including a few messages to redditors) on some suggested readings. I printed out the list and I went into our only local comic book store.

I walked up to the counter and handed the guy my list and asked him if he could help me find these books. He took a look at my list, sighed at me and then put the list back on the counter.

He then proceeds to call me a “poser” and say that people like me are the reason why the comic book industry is dying. He said if I was a “real fan” I should have kept reading, as that’s what real fans do.

Maybe he had a really bad day or something, but I fail to see how I’m a “poser” and how people like me are the reason why the comic books stores are dying. He went off for about 5 minutes and I’m standing there like an idiot, trying to be polite, and thinking that he’ll end his rant and help me out.

Needless to say, I didn’t buy any comics there. I left and went to a book store and bought what few I could find there. I wasn’t an asshole and I wasn’t demanding with my list, I was excited about diving into something new.. and this guy totally ruined it for me.

Is it because I stopped reading for 20 years, or just that I’m not the target demographic anymore? I’m actually at a loss to figure out what the deal is.

EDIT: I should mention that there was some kind of miniatures wargame going on at the time that I went into the store. It was pretty humiliating to be dressed down in front of people like that. The guy was maybe a 40/50-ish guy, so I’m assuming he was the store owner.

Pretty quickly he was asked for the list he walked in with, his response:

Thanks for all of the comments guys (and gals?). Here’s the list that people suggested I grab:

Aquaman

Superboy

Justice League

Frankenstein – Agent of S.H.A.D.E.

Demon Knights

Ultimate Spider Man

Spider Men

I, Vampire

Spawn

Miracle Man (said to be out of print)

Invincible

Fables

Hulk

Harbinger

Jericho

Buffy

Savage Sword

Voltron (not too sure about it, but I did watch it as a kid and thought I’d give it a try)

I was just going to buy as many previous issues I could afford (about $150) and just see what I liked and didn’t. I think I’m just going to go with an online store, since there aren’t any other local comic book stores here (closest thing is a bookstore that has a handful).

I did some researching…

Doesn’t sound like a poser to me.

I keep digging…

The Nielsen Company consumer research survey results for DC’s New 52 found that 93% of the consumers were male and the second largest age group was 35-44, making up 27%-35% of all consumers. DC even said that the survey results showed that most consumers were…

male readers, who were already—or have at one time been—comic book fans.

40 year old male trying to get back into comics, fits the demographic almost to a tee.

At the time of this post there were over 640 comments. I’ll bet you can guess which way they leaned.

I guess it’s not all that shocking that bad customer service exists even at local comic shops. In fact the story reminds me a similar (yet, less dramatic) experience I had, and tweeted about, earlier this year while looking for a new shop closer to my job.

More than anything, it’s sad.

Comic books are at an interesting time right now; were only 18 months removed from one of the lowest selling months for comics but the industry responded with events such as DC relaunching their entire line, Marvel announcing their version of a refresh, an indie title becoming the best selling comic of the last 15 years, ComiXology reporting record sales and more – the results are that comic sales for July 2012 show massive improvement.

Oh, and that Avengers movie did pretty well.

So with the success of the movies and TV shows, the new-reader friendly agendas amongst almost all publishers, and the ease of access now to the digital format combined with all the new jumping on points and the vast variety of different stories, now seems like the ideal time to capture new readers.

So it’s sad.

That someone would visit a local comic shop, hailed as the meccas of the comics subculture, ready to dive head first and would leave empty-handed and dejected. And not from other fans, but from someone behind the counter, someone who represents the industry. With as many threats as comics face today it doesn’t need another one from within and making potential readers uncomfortable will kill this business quicker than digital comics or high prices.

As one commenter so colorfully put it,

I don’t give a fat cat’s ass if Archie or Heathcliff were on that list. Dude should have smiled and given them to you.

A little dramatic; however, I can’t help but agree.

Most of the shops I visit have been great but it seems for every two or three I come across I run into one that makes me scratch my head. And I’d be willing to bet that most comic book fans have had similarly negative experiences where a potential reader/customer was mistreated. I don’t own a store and don’t pretend to understand the pressure of relying on it’s success and the blood and sweat it goes into making one work, I just hope stories like this can remind retailers and fans alike that a little human encouragement can go a long way. New readers are what is going to keep this business going.

So please, be nice to the new/returning guys and gals. There’s no reason not to.

And with that, a quick shout out to the shop with the absolute best customer service I’ve ever seen, the guys at A Comic Shop in Orlando, FL “get it.”

Also, what an appropriate time for the following…


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15 Comments

  1. Stephen says:

    I am 38 and came in new to comics last year with the new 52, thankfully I have had the opposite experience with my local comic shop, All Star Comics, in Melbourne Australia. ascmelbourne.blogspot.com.au
    I came in with my list of about a dozen new 52 titles, and they were happy to see a new customer, signed me up with a pull list etc. I come in most Fridays and they always greet me with a smile, and we have a chat about the latest comics, or movies or whatever. I enjoy going there.

  2. Geoff Arbuckle says:

    There are a couple shops like that around here in Indy where you stand a real chance of being belittled for your taste in comics. Why on Earth would anyone think this is the way to treat the people putting food on your table? The old saying “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all” really escapes some of these jerks. I work at a store on Saturdays to help out a friend, I get so damned excited when I see people come into the store. I don’t care what their tastes are. They don’t care what my tastes are. What’s important is that we’re sharing a love of a medium and we have a lot of great conversation about comics.

    More to the point, this guy should be happy that someone is coming back to comic books. You said it John, we’re so shortly removed from declining sales and a real danger this thing we love was going to go the way of the dinosaurs. What happened? Everyone benefited from a bold move from DC and great movies from Marvel. Top down, everyone is getting something out of a truly new age of comics.

    • Craig Grayson says:

      No, not everyone benefitted by DC’s bold move to go to the 1990′s with extreme sex, sexism, and violence. Yes, there are some good new books, but so many of their titles are not in the Top 100 and the ones that are, some of them are selling no differently than two years ago. They’ve alienated a lot of fans, veteran and new fans by the move, such as myself who has been reading and collecting comics for 33 years; I’m 36 years old. There was nothing bold by reaching out to the same demographic as they always have, 18-34 year old cisgendered heterosexual males. Their relaunch brought in only 5% new readers – yes, that is something, but they could easily brought in a lot more had they taken off their blinders and included more creator and fan input. Creators are leaving DC revealing terrible editorial relations, and their focus isn’t on new talent and ideas but more friends of Jim Lee circa 1990′s, as are the designs. But to each their own. However, even before my decision to put comic books in my past, it was fueled by the fans. I have had a bad experience before from an LCS owner – whom also received criticism by his own employees, customers, and other owners in the community – still, he thrives. But I digress, to me though, the fans give me an even worse experience. Reading the comments on so many sites, I find there is such a lack of respect for what has come before, or even what is present. I see the entitlement and privilege, and the misogynism toward female fans, derogatory comments regarding gay and handicapped people, and it saddens, disgusts, and angers me. More and more I see myself on the outside looking in, and wondering if all those people who make fun of comic books and their readers are correct in their assumptions. Every time I go through the comments, and the anger and hate among fans, the insanity of supporting books that aren’t liked despite (as one analogy has been made, that if it was orange juice, one wouldn’t buy a brand that made hir sick), and see the intense loyalty despite the intense disrespect given to fans, ie. customers by the Big Two companies (, but most of all the treatment of fans to other fans, overall), I regret ever being given or picking up a comic book. It hurts because it’s been such a big part of my life, including my inspiration to be an artist and writer, but I can’t do it anymore. I’m disillusioned and emotionally exhausted, so I’m going to try to move forward and just putting most of this to rest – something I’m finding difficulty to do – even if there is more to this medium than just DC and Marvel. I think it is sad that that LCS owner is not an uncommon thing, but I think it’s more sad that there is such angry, even hateful, passion among the comic book fans.

      • Craig Grayson says:

        I apologize for the grammatical errors throughout; I needed to get to sleep, but I also needed to vent so that I could indeed get to The Dreaming, as it were. Thank you for allowing me to do this, to debrief and aid in my path forward!

  3. dgundam says:

    i hate digital and like the feel of comics in your hands. tried getting none DC and Marvel titles from my local comic book store but its hard since they just mainly carry comics from the big 2. sux for the small publishers who dont get their comics out there because of this.
    so now i get my comics from an online retailer (a comic book store in another province). so at least theres a physical comic sale plus i get my comics delivered right to my home.

  4. NCDawgfan says:

    A year and a half ago, I returned to comics after a roughly 15-year hiatus. I’ve got a young son, and he was (and still is) really into superheroes. So I took him to a local comic shop, and the guys there couldn’t have been more cool and helpful. So cool, in fact, that I came back the next day by myself, to give everything a more serious look. I asked the guy working at the time (turned out to be the owner) if he’d mind showing me around. He offered me a free beer, and walked me around the entire store, making recommendations, etc. And ever since, I’ve done everything I can to throw as much of my money as possible at that store.

  5. Phil says:

    That was ridiculous… I would’ve left right in the middle of his rant. I’m 32, and in the same position as this gentleman. I haven’t bought comics in 10 years for a couple of reasons (lack of money, dealing with health problems, etc. etc.) But in the last year or so life has turned around and I’ve been getting back into the hobby. I checked one of the local comic shops in Glen Burnie, Twilight Zone Comics, and was immediately welcomed. I spent 30 minutes just bullshitting with the owner about books. He signed me up for a pull list, and gets me my books. Sometimes he forgets, but when eh does he takes care of it ASAP.

    I think it’s rare that I’ve been in there when I haven’t had a good conversation with them, even for a short time. They always seem happy with my business. That’s what keeps me coming back rather than going digital or having them mailed to me.

    I’ve been to crappy stores before, who thought they could get away with it because they were the only game in town. And yeah, I hear from folks like that about the business dying and how it’s so hard being a LCS. Well, maybe if you treated your customers better you would have better business.

    Thank you to all the LCSes out there that do right by us. Keep it up and we will stand by you as well.

  6. Taran says:

    I’m just leaving a comment so I don’t look like a poser….

  7. Geoff Arbuckle says:

    I’m just saying this based on what I can see on a weekly basis. Since September of last year, there’s been three common stories coming from new people – 1. The typical thinking they will send their kids to college by buying comics and selling them back for a huge payday (which we all know is just not the case anymore). 2. They used to be into comics once upon a time and fell out of it and now that the movies have done well and the New 52 did get into the news, they want to see what they’ve missed out on. 3. A combination of #2 and a friend of theirs who has been a comic fan all their lives finally getting them to check stuff out. It’s not just DC and Marvel making moves either. Look at Image, they are pumping out so many new books for people to try now that they’ve come back into the store. My comment isn’t praising DC’s decision, but from a guy who went from never seeing a soul on a Saturday afternoon while I worked at a comic shop to now having people to talk to about what they like and what they are reading or wanting suggestions to try something new, it’s been a huge turnaround in the last year.

    To address your comments about reading comments, I really try my hardest to avoid comments. It never fails that you find that one idiot who just wants to say “Oh this is terrible!” with no supporting arguments or, worse, supporting arguments that show he’s a bigot. But then again, don’t forget a lot of these people live in little bubbles where they believe they are the smartest people in the world and feel as though it’s proper to smite people who feel differently from on high all the while hiding behind the anonymity of the internet. We all have our opinions. We all have our points of view. We all have our tastes. It’s a shame not everyone can understand that.

  8. Balos says:

    Wow, you sound like the guy in the rant. I wonder if you are him. So angry and bitter about the medium…….I feel bad for you Craig. Such an angry and bitter life you must lead.

  9. andrew little says:

    The customer is always right! Maybe he never heard of that before. I have had similar experiences in comic book stores. I am 36 years old and do not need to be belittled in front of little kids and there danm card games. Or shuned because I am not a regular. Even worse. I bring my dad along who loves comics and see him just totaly get ignored. My dad was buying comics when your moma was still wiping your nose jerk!

    • andrew little says:

      I must say that owning your own business is more stressfull than having children, so I understand if a clerk is having a bad day!

  10. jamie insalaco says:

    “He then proceeds to call me a “poser” and say that people like me are the reason why the comic book industry is dying.”
    I’m sure digital is part of the reason, but I believe that the reason that the industry and LCSs are dying is the fact that most comics are crappy for one reason or another. (awful writing – see “Iron Man 2.0″ or mismanagement – see the creators that are quitting DC). Fortunately, there are still some good comics out there that are worth buying, but the industry is dying from event fatigue, reboots and the graphic novel mentality from the big two publishers.
    I’ve had lots of great experiences here in the NYC area in both NY and NJ, but I did go into a shop in San Francisco where I couldn’t get the store keeper to even look at me until I waved money in his face.

  11. Steve says:

    I just read my first comic ever last night (Deadpool vol 4. #1) so i really don’t have experience with comic shops. The little i do have(Cloud City Comics in Syracuse) has been wonderful. I can’t imagine how someone can be such a D**k. What’s the point of having those books in your store if your not going to sell them?

  12. Ryan says:

    Reminds me of an experience I had a few years ago. I live in Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies, so you can imagine that a big “full-fledged” Comic Con is not a regular thing in my neck of the woods. When a convention was finally and the first time, organised I attended with great anticipation. Because of bad planning there was only a small area dedicated to the sale of back issue comics and the line was 5 or 6 people deep. Patiently I waited my turn and when I got to the front , of course most of what I wanted was gone. Anyway I decided to search through the boxes. As I was doing that one of the “Con workers” said to me, “You people have nothing better to do on a Saturday than to look for comics?”. So much for the sellers expected to be empathetic to the people who are supporting their efforts.

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John Barringer is the founder & head editor of acomicbookblog.com and will update his bio soon since right now it's really boring.