Today was payday. That means my four weekly raid of back issues and bargain comics at Nostalgia, Birmingham. Today was no different, although I left a little disappointed as I thought The Darkness 113 was out yesterday and it wasnt. Still, on the plus side, I finally took the plunge on a New 52 Superman series with Action Comics 0-18 plus the annual. I on’t detail everything I bought because I’ll be here much longer than I want to be. Not only that but it will remind me of how much I ended up spending today and I’d quite like to remain in my current state of blissful ignorance. I’ve read up to #6 so far and am really impressed, I really like the youthful, slightly arrogant Supes and the fact that he is not at the pinnacle of his strength at this point. He can be hurt, he can’t fly. He feels much more grounded and relatable in this series. I had high hopes for this series since it is written by the one and only Grant Morrison (love his JLA work so much) and so far I’m enjoying this as much as I’d hoped I would, if not more.
On the subject of comics, I’d like to spend a moment talking about local comic shops. They’re not as common here in the UK as it is in the States and I imagine a lot of people prefer the idea of shopping online for lower prices and convinience of home delivery. Now when I first set up a pull list I set one up online with Forbidden Planet. My orders were set up in plenty of time and yet when new releases would ocme out I wouldn’t see them in my porch for a good two weeks. This isn’t necessarily me bashing Forbidden Planet, mind, there could be a perfectly good reason for such a delay in receiving my books. However, the dedicated comic shop in my city, Nostalgia & Comics (or as I shall refer to them from here on out, Nostalgia), receives all of the US comics ready for sale on day of release. No delays, no problems. I can walk into the store on a Wednesday and pick up my new releases there and then. The main attraction to this store though? The people. The staff in store are all such awesome people, passionate about comics, knowledgable about what’s coming, and friendly. I was in there last week picking up my pull list releases and kept looking back at an Action Comics pack (issues 1-12) but being the week before payday, didn’t really want to lay down the £30 at that point. The friendly neighbourhood Dave that usually inhabits the upstairs section (the back issues area – my favourite) put the pack to one side for me so I could pick it up today. How many websites provide that level of service? How many websites do you end up spending two hours on because of the funny conversations? I appreciate that the last one was pushing it a bit but you get my point I hope. I already knew of Free Comic Book Day for example, but had not expected the level of fun that could be had when attending at a store full of people thrilled just to be there.
I guess what I’m really trying to put across with today’s post is if you are a fan of comics but buy your stuff online, go visit a store. It might change the way you view the medium as a whole. There’s only so well a website can direct you to other things you may like, suggestions from real people who know what they’re talking about are irreplaceable. If you think there’s a chance you might like them or you’re curious what all the fuss is about after the recent slew of superhero films, go visit a store! You can be guaranteed to find a member of staff that would absolutely love to give you ideas on where to start. I don’t work in a comic shop but I get a kick out of talking to people on the cusp of joining in, giving them suggestions and them coming back to me later to tell me how good it was. Same goes for making suggestions to seasoned readers. Don’t be intimidated, the comic community is a fantastic place to be. Conventions show that off the best, the feeling of togetherness is impossible to not pick up on. And it’s very welcoming to newcomers. These comic book shops need fresh readers, they need subscriptions and regular customers. This is how they survive, and stores like this are how publishers survive. The digital market is growing yes, but it is not in a position where print could be removed and publishers survive solely on them and it probably won’t be for some time.
So go to your local comic shop, go buy singles and new releases. Trade paperbacks are a great way of grabbing story arcs all in one go. Digital is great, but there is nothing like opening a new issue for the first time. Online is easy but there’s nothing like walking into a shop and discovering all sorts of other cool things you might have easily missed online.
Food for thought. As always, thank you for reading!