Thursday, August 16, 2012

Comic Books, Comic Shops and Their "VALUED CUSTOMERS!" A Very Special Post!

Alright. This is gonna be a very controversial post, and I know I'm indulging in a great deal of generalizing, but I had to mention a new book I special ordered (of course I did. No shop owner is gonna line his shelves with this gem), called OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS. In this funny and sad mini-tome, talented author and artist Tim Chamberlain visually depicts the endless parade of oddball customers and nutty fans that came thru the door of the comics shop in which he worked. Did I say "funny?" That's the problem. I wish this kind of fan represented that one-in-a-million quirky visitor, but this is today's young fan. Opinionated. Entitled. Self-absorbed and self-deluded. He (or she) lives on a never-ending diet of comic books, comic movies, DR. WHO, STAR TREK, D&D, toys, fast food, "Big Gulps," and the many message boards and discussion groups dedicated to the same. More after these examples from the book. Keep in mind, these are the kinder excerpts I could find! And, yes, the censoring is mine...

Sure, maybe it's my age (the author, based on some of his comments in the introduction, seems very young), and the fact that I can recall a day when comics where directed to all interests, age groups and genders (yes, women and girls used to read comic books), but boy, is this stuff dead-on! It's the reason I can't move fast enough to shut off the GEEK TIME radio show on my satellite set-up. It's the reason I run for the hills when fans thank God for the arrival of Christopher Nolan. It's the reason I only go into my (very nice, professional, and clean) local comic shop every 6 weeks or so. It's not the fan so much as it being reminded that this is what comics have become. An ever-shrinking circle of fans making comics for fans who sell only to fans.  Sigh. More--

Now, lest you think I'm some uninitiated observer, standing to the side and pointing a hipper-than-thou figurative finger, I'd like to say that I myself am nothing but an an over-grown fanboy (just take a browse around this very blog)! But, somehow I've been able to keep things fun and in perspective. I push myself away from the over-stocked, wobbly-legged table now and again. I draw limits and self-impose other healthy habits and hobbies into my life. I refuse to take this stuff (or myself) too seriously.

I'm reminded of something a pal once said to me: "You remember when pop culture knew its' place?"

Ask your friendly neighborhood comic shop dealer for OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS today!

Maybe this page should just speak for me:


Ashley Holt said...

Naturally, I'm in full agreement when it comes to today's fans. I rarely step foot in a comics shop these days and when I do the youngsters loitering the facility make certain I regret it. My theory is that adopting a bitchy attitude about comic books serves to make the fan feel he is applying an adult scrutiny to a childish hobby. He doesn't want to be perceived as being too accepting, too in awe of the fanatsy worlds he's ingesting, so he tries to make it clear he has problems - lots and lots of problems with the material being written and drawn for his amusement. It's funny in small doses, sad when you see that geek entertainment has become the primary preoccupation of the culture at large.

However, I have to disagree with you on the "girls used to read comics" assertion. If anything, what I'm seeing is an unprecedented wave of females embracing geek culture. My take:

Al Bigley said...

Yeah, I thought of that factor, but I wanted to harp on how things were, and the larger basic inclusion that comics offered then, with something for everyone. I also know that, today, many younger girls AND boys are into the ARCHIE line, and other non-superhero forms of comics, but again, they have to search and look..I know I was really "tar and feathering" with a very broad brush there..

My take on the ever-complaining fan today is that he or she (heh) feels somehow entitled to take a part in the process. Note the ire and irritation when I mention I actually prefer the '66 Adam West Batman over the new "DARK KNIGHT films. Hoo boy! Fans jump right in to let an ignorant me know what's "right" for these fictional characters!

Al Bigley

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that only the bratty, sad, ubernerds made the cut for this book. I guarantee the normal, polite customers didn't make the cut. No one wants to buy a book where all it says is "here's your change, please come again."

At least you admit you're over generalizing.

However, I proudly consider myself a part of Geek Culture, and while some get too involved, I'm happy it exists.