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.
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:
Frankenstein – Agent of S.H.A.D.E.
Ultimate Spider Man
Miracle Man (said to be out of print)
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…