Monday, July 30, 2012

My Heroes

My name is Lynn, and when I move to a new town, I usually seek out first the library, then the comic shop, and I am an Anomaly.

I actually buy surprisingly few comic books, but my local comic book shop (America's Heroes Comics)  is my favorite locally-owned store. I can browse for hours and only buy a few items, but no one seems to mind it. I'll pick up loads of items, set them down, reconsider, and make a mental entry on my wish list, but I usually only end up leaving with a new d20 or, more recently, a Heroclix. Not that I really play Heroclix, but there's something about owning a new one that allows me to show off my affectation for superheroes. And the shop keepers don't really seem to mind that I leave spending less than $20 because I'll always come back and spend some more.

Let's hope that by tagging them on Facebook, they forgive me for nabbing their picture.
There's something quite strange about being an Anomaly in a comic book store. Depending on the location's demographics, an Anomaly is either ignored or over-attended. There have been shops where I can't get the time alone to browse properly because the over-eager salesperson was so excited to tell me about the latest edition of a comic only 5 people read. Then on the days when I need help locating an item, it's difficult to be taken seriously as I am sure they assume I've been dragged in by my (insert male relation or companion here).  Finding just the right shop is difficult. I walked into mine one day, looking for the new The Guild comic, and as soon as he said hello, the shop keeper says to me, "It's just there to your right, Lynn." How awesome is that?

Luckily, I have been to my own town's shop often enough to find a happy medium, and I can only hope that any future shops I patronize will have the same atmosphere. I tend to stop by the shop looking for a certain item, but I usually end up with something better. The day I went in looking for an RPG rule book, I left with Sandman, Volume I (because Neil Gaiman makes me happy). When I went for free comic books one May, I left with a Princess Leia bobble head doll (which has become my favorite office toy).

The saddest part about my visits to the comic book store is the fact that I rarely read the stories after I come home. I praise comics and graphic novels as modern fables, having just as much literary credibility as the great writers of the English tradition, but I never seem to get past the beauty of the inking, drawing, and the story each panel tells. I look for hidden messages that aren't there, and I often notice color discrepancies that remind me that the authors and artists are human still human, even if the copies have been reproduced by machines. I get so distracted that I never notice the actual story, so I'm always quite glad when no one wants to discuss it with me. I'd only prove that I didn't really read it anyway. I must say, though, those Guild comics are usually an exception.

However, these stories and pictures inspire me. I start to see everything as a set of colored panels. I imagine what books and shows would be perfect in pen and ink. I consider the stories I read (and write and imagine) and instead of wanting them on the 3D screen for the world to see, I imagine what the 2D panels would look like while read clandestinely at work or school or quickly consumed in a store's aisle.

I won't stop looking, however, in each new town, for the right comic book shop with the right ratio of books to games to bound books to new releases. Every Anomaly has her own reasons for wanting the solace of a good book store (comic or not). And I hope is that it always feels like home.


Jen said...

Great post Lynn!

I am sad that there are so few comic book stores left in our area. Big book stores tend to run them out of town. That said, I can't read comics. I TOO am distracted by the art. I either read the text and skim the art or I admire the art and skim the text. I try hard not to, but it always ends up that way. I should love comic books! Aside from being an Anomaly--I'm a graphic designer by trade and a studio artist by degree. Why then can't I read them? What's wrong with me?!

Like you I continue to browse the comic sections of various book stores. I love looking at anthologies. Unique art is always appealing to me.

I have to say, I am rarely bothered by fellow geeks, of the male kind, in these stores. Even the clerks leave me alone. Only once do I recall being annoyed by an over zealous "Singularity". Personally, I think he was just overjoyed to find someone else in the sci-fi and fantasy section at Hastings. He approached as I browsed the Star Wars shelf. As I tried to read the covers of the ones that caught my eye, he decided to give me every detail about the wicked awesome costume he was working on for Dragon Con, which, according to him, included pair of bodacious prosthetic boobies. I'm not sure, but I think he figured I'd find this super cool. :) I nodded a few times and flashed a smile here and there then slipped away quietly.

Anyway, thanks for the post. I am glad you wrote about your favorite comic book store! Hopefully more folks in your area will seek them out!

Lynn said...

I have to admit that I did exaggerate some, but I have gotten some funny looks when people realize that I am browsing comics for myself and no one else. It doesn't bother me either; I'm actually quite amused by it. I have the same problem with the art. I have always loved art, even if I'm not very good at creating it, but I think that comic books will help to keep a lot of great art alive and available to the public outside of a museum.

Thanks for commenting!