Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I like you, but I'm breaking up with you

Comic books fans have a reputation - not completely undeserved - of being fickle. We expect a lot from our obsession, and we're willing to drop a title the minute an artist or writer we don't like takes over, or if a costume is changed, or if a character does something we think is, well, out of character.

But we are also intensely loyal, and this shows in how we shop. Or actually, in where we shop. Most regular comic book readers I know have a particular store they go to, a place that they consider their shop. This is where they go first, and a lot of times it will be the only place they go. And even if they have some gripes about it, they'll always go to their store.

Until they don't.

Let me explain what got me thinking about this. I like the store I go to, but it also drives me crazy. Since it's a smaller shop, it carries a mostly mainstream selection, which is fine since I read a lot of mainstream books. But, I also read indie titles and books that don't dress up in spandex, and that means I either have to place a special order or go to another shop to get everything on that week's list. The problem with a special order is it either takes weeks to be filled, or someone goofs and the order is never placed at all.

I usually end up going to the back-up shop for whatever's missing at my regular store. Every week.

Honestly, if I was better about ordering things in advance, that would take care of most of my problems with the shop. And like I said, I like my shop. It:

• is staffed by very nice people who make an effort to know what I'm in to
• offers a 15 percent discount to subscribers
• is literally blocks from my home

The back-up shop is more of a schlep (but still not that far, really) and doesn't offer any regular discounts (except 10 percent off graphic novels). They do, however, have almost every title being published in a given week.

But I doubt I'll switch. My main shop has built enough goodwill that I want to stick with them, and that fanboy loyalty makes me want to defend my shop, even from myself.

Which brings me to my point (or my question, actually): What would it take to make you leave your shop for a different one?


Fred said...

Well - the most obvious one that I have is a move. Having changed neighborhoods, cities, states, countries, and continents, I've found it to occasionlly be difficult to develop too much loyalty to any particular shop.

There was this place called "Rita's" back in El Paso that I used to go to religiously every week back when I was in grade school, and I definitely considered it to be MY PLACE. I still think back to those glorious days when my closest friends and I would head down, spend a couple hours browsing, and then head over to Church's Fried Chicken to down a few meal combos while we savored our favorite new releases. I went back and looked for Rita's on a recent visit back to El Paso, and it is sadly closed, so I suppose that is another reason to switch.

Otherwise, it would probably take a few really nasty experiences with the owner or manager to convince me to take my obsession elsewhere.

And, for the record, if you are ever looking for English language comics in Taipei, it appears to be downright impossible to find anything but graphic novels. The one place that seems to have a decent selection is the Page One store at the Taipei 101 mall. Otherwise, you can count on finding a handful of Batman and X-Men comics in the middle of a tauntingly vast sea of Chinese and Japanese manga.

Lisa said...

Well since I'm still going to the same one, I guess it takes a lot. I mainly go there because of the 25% discount, the fact that it was the first comic store I went to upon moving to Austin and that while they're dwindling, there are still people I love.

Speaking of which, I should plan a trip Saturday. I really need to pick up my books.

Maxo said...

Fred: Well, yeah ... I think moving to the other side of the world is a decent excuse. Even though it wouldn't surprise me if the clerk offered to ship your books out to you. God knows I would've brought it up.

And yup, I'd imagine manga is king over there; luckily, there is some awesome manga out there (don't listen to Lisa when she comments about how she doesn't like it - stop looking at me like that, Lisa!). Plus, you speak the language, so that helps. Read "Gyo" - it's some of the most disturbing horror I've ever read. "Planetes," which is about orbital clean-up crews living on the moon, is another one I recommend a lot.

Are you talking about the place in Sunrise Center? If you are, it might've been temporary because I went there the last time I was in town. The selection wasn't great, though, and the whole shipping/mailing part of the business seems to have taken over for the most part. Oh, and I think they call themselves "Sunrise Comics" now.

And you ate friend chicken while reading your comics?!? Heathen!

Maxo said...

Whoops! That should be "FRIED" chicken. I don't even want to know about "friend chicken."

Maxo said...

Lisa: You're a better man than I am! I guess that store has been off my list for a while, even though the discount is mighty tempting (especially on big weeks). And I miss a lot of the people there, too - maybe one day I'll be able to reconcile all that.

There's some good stuff out this week. It's still in my stack, but I'm looking forward to "Gutsville." I've heard good things about it, and seriously, you can't beat the concept of Victorian-era people living in the belly of a giant sea creature for 150 years.

Lisa said...

Haha I hadn't seen that. I should seek it out... Sadly I haven't had time lately to do any kind of research so I just pick up what I'm already reading.

Oh and I did read Borrowed Time - good stuff! It makes me sad that you said the next book wasn't as good, but I'd still like to read it.

And I'm a bigger man than a lot of people! (I don't know what that means.)

Fred said...

MAX: I's just a po' illiterate black least as far as Japanese or traditional Chinese text is concerned. All the manga here is invariably printed in a language that I can't read.

Come to think of it, I'm pretty darn well illiterate in nearly all languages save English, some German, and maybe Spanish on a good day.

I'm working on the Chinese, but I'm sure that I would still miss a lot of the nuance.


Lisa said...

Oh yeah, if you want to lend me some manga that you think I'll like feel free. I'll read it, just know that everytime someone tells me a manga is good and it turns out to be stupid, that's just the more I'll call it crap. You don't want to turn me into Eric now do you!?

I really want to like manga just because there's so much of it and it feels like a big chunk of stuff I'm missing out on. But so far it doesn't strike my fancy.