Thursday, October 27, 2005

Boycott: The Sequel!

So, I bet you're all wondering how it went yesterday. Did I try out a different comic shop? How was it?? Do they ALL suck???

The short answer is that I DID try out the new place, it went well and of course they don't all suck.

The new place in question is called The Comic Bug (1015 Aviation Blvd. in Manhattan Beach) and I will be making that my "regular" spot for buying comics in the future. I say "regular" because I'll probably still visit HiDeHo, Golden Apple and Meltdown if I happen to be in their neighborhoods. Actually, I've always been a big fan of Meltdown Comics because of their large variety of foreign & indie titles. Unfortunately, these places are a hassle for me to get to in the regular course of my work week.

The Comic Bug has a few good things going for it. First, only the Marvel & DC books are organized by publisher. The rest are grouped on an other wall alphabetically by title. This seems more reasonable to me and, it seems, it isn't a hard & fast rule. Mike Wellman is the manager of The Comic Bug and I know him from his work as a writer on Mac Afro and Gone South. I put him to the test and asked him where HE'D rack a book called Weasel Guy/Witchblade, and he answered, "by Witchblade, of course." Good for him.

Secondly, they're trying to make The Comic Bug a cool place to hang out. They're still working on it. They have a couch by the window that encourages people to relax (as opposed to the "Dis ain't a liberry!" cliche). They have a drawing table set up for "guest artists" to work and/or publicize their comics. Mike showed me a new comics rack in one area--they plan to redo the whole "wall" of books with the same shelves. Should look sharp. Not that I plan to hang out there necessarily, but it shows that they're trying to fix the place up & make it customer-friendly.

One of the best shops I've ever been to (if not THE best) is called "Isotope," in San Francisco. They call it the "Comic Book Lounge." It's not a huge place, but they have a slightly "mod" atmosphere with seats & benches for customers. They also have an artists' station and plenty of art displayed. They've created a nice, user-friendly shop with a good "vibe." It isn't one of those dark holes that seem to be designed to scare away regular folk. Or women. I think The Comic Bug is working on building a similar image. I've been there only once, but I'm rooting for them to pull it off. I guess I have "Isotope-Envy;" I wish it were in LA instead of SF. James Sime, the owner of Isotope, looks a bit eccentric, but he's also very hospitable. Me like.

So, what about the selection of titles? It's probably about the same as my unnamed local shop. Lots of the "big two" and a decent assortment of indies. Not as good as HiDeHo, Golden Apple and Meltdown, but the store IS smaller. They also have the usual toys and back-issues, which I did not really look at.

The Comic Bug did NOT have the new book I was all jazzed to pick up (Paris, by Andi Watson and Simon Gane, Slave Labor Graphics). That WAS a disappointment. But Mike WAS immediately helpful and said he'd order it for me. My Local shop has NEVER offered to order a book they did not carry or were sold out of. Maybe it's because I know Mike, who knows. The other shop may very well have ordered Paris and may have it in stock, but I will wait to see if The Comic Bug comes through. I have plenty of other stuff to read in the meantime.

Thanks for your comments yesterday, I look forward to hearing from you again on this...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

My Own Private Boycott

So, without naming names (should I name names?) I have decided today to boycott my local comic shop.

It's a personal choice and my reasons may not apply to anyone but me. Over the past few years I have spent a couple of THOUSAND dollars there, twelve to twenty bucks at a time. I went to the store in question because it is close to my house and they seem like nice enough guys. I don't hang out there and I don't mention my "pro" status to try and get a discount. It's just a convenient place to drop by to get my latest 100 Bullets or Hellboy fix. Maybe I'm lazy.

They carry a reasonable assortment of indie comics along with the mainstream stuff, but when it comes to the books I've personally worked on, they never cease to IRK me.

I first noticed this back when my Weasel Guy/Witchblade comic was published. You see, my local comic shop organizes their comics by publisher. I know everyone has a system but, call me crazy, don't comic shops want to SELL their books??? Weasel Guy/Witchblade was published by Hyperwerks before they fell under the Image imprint. Therefore, the shop did NOT display the comic near the Witchblade comics, but on a foot-level shelf far away from them. Just because that's where they hid the other Hyperwerks titles. Does anyone out there think that's a good way to sell a book called Weasel Guy/Witchblade?

Maybe the store is a non-profit organization.

A couple of years later, when we were putting out our Comiculture anthology magazine, Rob Tokar and I went to several local shops, introduced ourselves and dropped off preview copies to the owners. We told them that we were local artists and wanted to do whatever was necessary to sell the book. Two comic shops in LA that I don't mind mentioning are HiDeHo and Golden Apple Comics. Both of those stores greeted us with enthusiasm and set up in-store signings so that we could help push our new product. But my local shop barely greeted us with lip-service. The owner recognized me as a regular customer, but that didn't really help matters. Maybe we got him on a bad day. He ordered 3 or 4 copies of each issue and naturally hid them in a hard-to-find space. Not near other anthologies, but near some magazines ABOUT comics. That tells me that he didn't listen to our pitch or open the magazine to see what was inside.

Today is Wednesday and there is a new book coming out that I'm eager to get my hands on from Slave Labor. I don't know if it will be available at my local shop, but I really can't bring myself to go there because I know they did not order a single copy of my latest book, Belle Starr: Queen of Bandits, published by Moonstone Books.

Am I a moron, or what? Why have I continued to give these people money? LOTS of money?!

Today I "Mapquested" a comic shop that is a few miles farther away. I've never been there, but I know the manager a little bit. He deserves my money much more that these other guys. I don't know if HE ordered Belle Starr either, but that isn't the point. Even if the trip is less convenient, I feel like I should stop rewarding the other place for running a shop that infuriates me.

What do you think?