I Don’t Go to the Comic Shop

I don’t go to the comic shop, and I’m not sure if this post is going to make sense or have people calling me an asshole.  Either way, I’m trying to make that first sentence not true anymore.  To do it, I need your help.

I’ve lived in LA going on 7 years now, and I’ve never had my own comic shop out here.  For about the first five years I had my shop in Atlanta, Great Escape, shipping books out to me every 4-8 weeks.  They gave me a solid discount and I never had any problems getting anything I had forgotten to put on my pull list.  It would have been easier to find a local shop, or maybe even cheaper to find an Internet-only retailer, but I’m a creature of habit.  Until I wasn’t.

When I made the transition to freelance two years ago, I stopped buying new comics.  I quit, cold turkey.  It was easier than I expected.  I suddenly had more money, and the piles with various years (in the case of some titles – Punisher Max, Fables, others I’ve forgotten) worth of books stopped growing.  And this isn’t even counting the Image comps I got while working at Top Cow (I’ll read Proof in its entirety at some point…). I quit for financial reasons, and because there was little chance of me ever catching up on everything, especially if there was still an influx of new material.  So I quit.

I’d still read new stuff from time-to-time.  Stuff friends or other pros would give me. Free issues on news sites.  All of my actual comic-purchasing shifted to trades.  Even then, it was pretty much limited to Vertigo stuff or whatever Jason Aaron was writing.  Previews aside, I’ve lost touch with the new.  I have my finger on the pulse of things based on conversations with other pros and industry insiders (and twitter), but I’m not really giving anything a fair shake.

I grew up reading mainly Marvel books.  I grew up reading mainly superhero books.  But I’m bored by so many of them these days, and the constant slew of events did nothing to change my mind.  It made it easy to stay gone.  The last event that lived up the hype?  I couldn’t tell you.  I read Brightest Day #0… It was more accessible than I expected, but it didn’t really connect with me on any real levels.  Not to say it’s bad, just not for me.  It didn’t get me back in the shop.

A few weeks ago I heard a story about a creative meeting with a bunch of top-tier talent at one of the Big 2 publishers.  One of the biggest writers in comics stopped the meeting and made every go to the local comic shop.  Apparently he said that the second they don’t go to the comic shop for New Comics Day every Wednesday is the day they’ve lost touch with their industry.  The merits of the statement (if accurate, since I wasn’t there) could be argued, but there’s definitely something to what he said.  It got me thinking, at the very least.

I don’t go to the comic shop.  I want to.  I miss new comics that aren’t written by The Great Bearded One (and no, not Alan Moore).  I miss finishing a book and not knowing if I could actually wait four weeks (or more) to see what happened next.  I’m looking at you Y: The Last Man. Image seems to be doing a great job of putting out new, exciting books of late, and I tip my hat to them.  But for all the love, I couldn’t tell you what Skullkickers is about.  I’m sure it’s good, but none of the marketing (and I’ve personally posted some of the PR) has really told me anything other than that it’s beloved and has awesome cover design.

Woe is me, right?  No, I’m just bitching with no solution in sight.  The wait-for-the-trade mentality, the same one that causes people to skip TV shows only to buy them later on DVD (while shows like Terriers go unwatched and are swiftly canceled), is the biggest problem facing the entertainment industry right now.  Bigger than piracy in my mind.  Why stick around for the long haul when you can be patient (a virtue if ever there was one) and save money and time, all while getting to consume your media in one fell swoop, and with added collectibility at that.

The purpose of this post is two-fold, I suppose.

1) As creators, we must do a better job of galvanizing readers/viewers to support projects from the get-go.  We need to bring back must-read/must-watch entertainment.  Someone like me – both a fan and a creator – cannot be given the choice to quit comics or wait for later.  We have to excite me (and those like me) so that they get their asses to the comic shop every Wednesday, and don’t wait until shows are off the air to discover them.  (Marketing plays just as big a role in this as anyone else, so I’m placing blame on everyone in the process here.)

2) I need to know what to read.  Jason Aaron is my dude, and I’ll read him until he puts down the pen.  Vertigo’s lineup is always a step-above, and at some point I’ll actually get into Hellboy.  DC’s best book is Jonah Hex by Palmiotti/Gray, and it’s the least “DC” book they publish.  What about the stuff I don’t know about?  Too much of the 2010 “Best Of” lists were stuff I already knew about and had no interest in.  What’s coming up that’s going to get my engine going?  What have I missed?

I’ll go to a comic shop this week and buy a new comic, my first new, non-collected book since I bought a copy of Sweets #1 off Kody Chamberlain at SDCC.  But I need to know there’s something I’d be missing out on if I didn’t go.  I need your help.  Please leave a comment and let me know what I should be reading.  Best suggestion gets a purchase and a future post on this here blogamajiggy.

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