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Return of the Knave
Drink It Black
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
Duty free
Now Playing: the Fugs

Chances are your first comics were bought for you. You liked what you saw and started spending your own pocket money. At some point you routinely bought 30-60 comics a month once you were working your first temp job and, with that and all the new music, it's a wonder you ever found time for romance. Still, real sex proved a better diversion and the trips to the comic book specialty shop were conducted inbetween and with not quite the same geekish resolve.

Then, when responsibilities arose and other priorities took the place of (gasp) penny dreadfuls, your actual consumption dropped down to a half dozen or less, enthusiastically followed. You grabbed rare moments of pleasure in second hand book stores. The narrowing focus forced you to take a more critical eye over your collection. Not to sell anything off, necessarily, but decide which stories you prefer, which characters you like to read about, which issues are best to collect, which writer and artist is working on that particular run..

But you're not the only one buying comics, and that's just as well. They were originally only sold in milk bars and drug stores. This meant that only the most popular titles would be widely available, as rack space was limited. Even in newsagencies there would be a representative sample of action, romance, teen humour, war and western (depending on the era) so this, with a lack of specialist expertise on the part of the proprietor and a lack of investment in watching for related titles to complete a crossover saga (for example), made the rise of the comic shop inevitable.

And, yes, a 'newbie' could venture into a comic store and find a welcome. But without those other vendors including the books among their stock, there may never have been enough customers to keep them in print. 

II

You can tell the comic book buyer by other means, perhaps, but not strictly by the titles they purchase at any given time. Walk out carrying Amazing Spider-Man and you could be buying it for your nephew, casual purchaser who likes the films, casual purchaser who'd rather read that than some of the other rubbish on the stand, Spidey fan of old, Marvel zombies of yore gnashing your teeth determined to keep the collection complete but not exactly liking it. Walk out carrying Concrete or Bone and you're in a cooler store. Maybe one that has maraccas and goathair scarves hanging from the walls.

If you're as indiscriminate - or should that be broadminded - as I once was, you'll happily sample the more esoteric offerings along with the mainstream purchases.


Posted by berko_wills at 12:02 AM NZT
Updated: Friday, 14 November 2008 2:15 PM EADT
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