21 February 2009

Dear Comic Book Industry, I'm trying to give you money but it's really hard.

Welcome back True Believers! When we last saw our hero, Shannon Smith, he was up against seemingly insurmountable odds on a desperate quest to give people money in exchange for comic books in rural America. After visiting multiple comic shops in a two state area, Shannon was beginning to fear he would never be able to buy his daughter a copy of the new Supergirl kid's comic. He was even beginning to doubt that the comic even existed.

Let's join our hero now as he types words into the introwebnet...

Hey pals. My rural life does not allow for many trips to the book store but yesterday I packed up the girls (ages six and two) and headed for Bristol.
I told them we were going to a book store and Kassidy asked, "A comic book store?"
I said, "No, a regular book store like where daddy used to work".
"Can we go to a comic book store?" she asked.
I loves me some comic book stores. Just a couple of miles from the Books-A-Million in Bristol there is a comic shop. The last time we went there they had a lot of cheap back issues so I was already formulating the plan of how many I would let Kassidy pick out and how many Daddy would get. We get there at about 4:30 and it was closed. On a Saturday. Bummer. I tried comic book shop. I really tried. I could have spent money online but no, I burnt gas and drove to your store. I hear things are tough all over. I wanted to give you money. I really did. Oh well.
So we go to Books-A-Million.
BAM is my least favorite of the three book "superstore" chains. Their stores are nice, clean, well organized and they have friendly staff but they don't have the selection of Borders or B&N and their prices are pretty lame. You have to buy their membership card to get a decent price and I just don't do that. If I'm paying membership there better be a golf course involved or something. But, alas, there are no Borders or B&Ns anywhere near me.
One thing I do like about BAM is they have a little section of new floppy pamphlet comics in their "graphic novel" section. They seemed to have all the latest Marvel, DC, Archie and Dark Horse floppies so I looked for the Supergirl comic and... of course they did not have it. I'm certain it does not exist and the whole thing is just an introwebnet hoax designed to drive me mad. But, we pressed on and picked out some comics.
We got the first issue of Batman The Brave and the Bold based on the new cartoon, DC Super Friends #12 and Legion of Super Heroes in the 31st Century #20. (Very sad to see this is the last issue of the kid's Legion book. It was a good comic and the cartoon was my favorite of all the DC cartoons.) Kassidy saw the new Marvel Super Hero Squad comic and wanted that. It looked pretty cool but then I saw the price and I had a stroke and died. Five dollars! That's right, I died right there in the store. I'm dead now. Oh, all right, just like Batman in six to eighteen months, I'm still alive. But it was a close one. Five bucks is just way too much for a floppy comic printed on shiny crap paper that wrinkles, folds and tears just by looking at it. Five bucks for a nice hand crafted minicomic with a cardstock cover and some good comics? Sure, I'll buy that all day long. Five bucks for a floppy from Marvel or DC? Nuh uh.
So, I told her to pick out something else and she picked out a Wolverine: First Class comic. I thought that would be okay because she already has a big Wolverine & X-Men Special Edition magazine that had a story from that series and it was pretty kid friendly. My mom bought the magazine at a Scholastic book fair of all places. (You can get an X-Men magazine at a school book fair but I can't buy one at the grocery store... ah but that's another rant.) I flip open the issue of Wolverine: First Class and see that there is some pretty horrific werewolf violence in there so I had to put that one back. I tried Marvel but what with the stroke and the werewolves... no money to Marvel.
After that it was between a Cartoon Network comic with the Secret Saturdays and the Legion comic. I was pulling for the Secret Saturdays but Kassidy picked the Legion book.

I also shopped for grapical novicals for myself. BAM has an impressive selection of superhero and manga books but not a lot for my tastes. I might have picked up an Essential or Showcase book but I did not see any that I wanted or did not already have. (Note to Marvel, STOP FREAKING CHANGING THE SPINE ART ON THE ESSENTIAL BOOKS. YOU GUYS SUCK AT SPINE ART! And another thing, your website is terrible as far as trying to find the comics you guys sell. Terrible. If you need contact info on a good web designer, just let me know. I'm just trying to help you guys out here.)
I went to the info desk and asked for Best American Comics 2008, any Mome book, any Love and Rockets collection and any Scott Pilgrim book. They did not have any of that. I did find Love and Rockets New Stories No. 1 and Philippe Dupuy's Haunted to I bought those up.

So, let's check the box scores for winners and losers on this rare money spending adventure. DC= three kids comics. Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly= one book each. Marvel= gave Shannon a stroke and killed him dead.

I'll end this yarn on a positive note by saying that all three of the DC kids comics we picked up were really good. Great art, fun stories and they even have letters pages! Letters pages! LETTERS PAGES!!!!! The kids and I are going to enjoy reading and re-reading them for a long time. Now, if someone could just get me a copy of that Supergirl comic...

Your best pal ever,

Shannon Smith
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