Random Customer: I don't know why anyone reads Marvel comics. They're so expensive.
Me: They're the same price as almost all comics.
RC: No. DC comics are a dollar cheaper.
Me: No. DC relaunched them at a dollar cheaper, but they came out twice a month, so it was more expensive to collect them. And then they bumped the price up, so now they are the same price but ship twice as often, so it's twice as expensive to collect most of their books.
Me: Check the cover. Almost all of the titles that people read are now $3.99 just like Marvel.
RC: Then why does everyone say DC is cheaper?
Me: Because marketing is more powerful than truth.
Me: Back to your original question,a lot of people read Marvel because those are the stories they like. The same reason people should read DC comics or Image comics or Boom comics or anything else. Read what you enjoy, not what's cheapest. When DC comics were $2.99, they were a few pages shorter but with the same amount of ads.
RC: They were not.
RC: You're a Marvel guy, I guess?
Me: I'm a Read Comics I Like guy. Right now it's mainly Image and some Marvel stuff. But back around Blackest Night, I was buying mostly DC.
RC: So you have no loyalty?
Me: Nope. There are so many comics out, why would you waste time and money on a series you're not enjoying? I'd rather spend an extra dollar for something I'm enjoying or just not buy anything at all than spend money on dull story, in the name of saving a buck.
RC walks over to the shelves, gets a couple of All-Star Batman issues, and comes back to the counter.
RC: Are these any good?
Me: I haven't been reading it, but the people who liked Snyder's Batman run have been really enjoying it.
RC: Do you think it sucks?
Me: I haven't been reading it.
RC: Because it sucks?
Me: I have no idea. I haven't read it. It sells well. Nobody has told me that it sucks.
RC: That sounds like it sucks but you want me to buy it.
Me: I want you to buy whatever makes you happy.
RC glares at me, walks back to the shelves (leaving the comics on the counter, natch), picks up some more comics, puts them down, and leaves. Because nothing makes him happy.
Random Customer #1: "Hey, babe, I hear Doctor Strange is on Netflix now. If you haven't seen it, we should check it out."
Random Customer #2: "I did see it. We went together. For our anniversary. Remember? For our anniversary. You took me to see Doctor Strange."
RC #1: "Oh. Yeah. Let's go out somewhere nice for dinner tonight."
Baron Von Poopypants IV was waiting when I got to the store at 10:30. (we open at 11:00). I came into the store, abruptly closed the door behind me, and turned on the computer.
While I wrestled with the computer (Not reading Drive C Abort, Retry, Fail?), he knocked on the door, then went back outside and smoked, presumably to deaden his sense of smell.
At 11:00, I, begrudgingly, opened the door.
BvPP4: "I did it. I cleaned out all my comics?"
Me: "You wiped all of your mom's Cheeto fingerprints?"
This isn't a weirdly specific mom diss. He has told me on multiple occasions that his mom reads his comics (not likely) while eating Cheetos (further unlikely).
BvPP4: "No. I took all the books that I bought for nostalgia purposes or that I bought to be greedy and I threw them away. I should have probably sold them or given them away but last time I brought a big briefcase" a plastic shopping bag "to the store in Arlington, and they said they couldn't sell them." because of the Cheetos "because of the Cheetos fingerprints."
Two other people come in and surround the counter, which can't be a good sign.
Person 1: "I want to make a zine."
Me: "Ok. We buy local comics at half of cover price, as opposed to commission. Depending on what our stock is like, and the price point, we tend to just buy 3-5 copies of a title."
P1: "What should we make it about?"
Person 2: "I think it should be about a snake boy with eye lasers who fights, like, dragons, and tigers, and sheep."
The phone rings.
Me: "Excuse me a minute."
Person On Phone: "I'm looking to sell some comics. Do you buy comics?"
Me: "It depends on what the comics are."
PoP: "Well, my grandfather won a purple heart." Jesus. "And he was really proud of his collection and left it to my kids as an inheritance but I want to sell them, in case they aren't worth anything." Fuck. "How much do you think they would go for?"
Me: "Well, I don't know what they are, and what condition they're in, and I'm not the buyer. Your best bet would be to call back Wednesday after 6pm or Friday during the day,"
PoP: "But what if I wanted to get rid of them now?"
P2: "Maybe he would fly and have x-ray vision."
P1: "He can't have x-ray vision AND laser eyes."
Me: "Sorry, I can't help you You're going to have to call back Wednesday or Friday."
PoP: "I've had them appraised. They're worth a lot of money. I just don't want to go with my first offer, you know?"
I thought they might not be worth anything and you wanted to get rid of them right now.
Me: "I can't help you. Try Wednesday or Friday. Good luck."
I hang up the phone.
BvPP: "Do you know what happened to Shrike or Artemis? They were my favorite comics. Remember when Artemis was Wonder Woman? Did you like that run? Or when they thought Boone died but he came back as Shrike. But then they didn't really do anything with them."
Me: "I don't remember those runs." I do, actually.
Me: "So, I'm not the person to talk to about making comics I don't make them. But there's a group that meets once a week here in Cambridge" and they're going to hate me for giving you their info because you're both nuts "called The Comics Roundtable who all create comics, and they might be able to help you figure out what kind of comic you want to make, how you want to distribute it, and all that."
P2:"Do you think the snake boy should have laser eyes or x-ray vision?"
BvPP: "How do you feel about black and white comics?"
BvPP: "They don't turn me on. Do they turn you on?"
P1: "Laser eyes."
BvPP: "I might buy this Wonder Woman book but it has newspaper pages. I don't like newspaper pages do you?"
I type the store number into GChat and call the store.
Me (to Me): "Hi. Yes? I have custo---oh, yea, ok. Sure thing."
Me (to BvPP, P1 & P2): "Sorry, I have to do some inventory. They have questions at the warehouse."
BvPP: "You have a warehouse?"
Me: Not really. "Yes."
P1: "How do we meet the Round People Comics?"
Me: "Comics Round Table." I write it down on a business card. But not in my usual handwriting, in case I have to blame someone else later. "They have a website. Good luck."
I take the phone over to the back issues and start blindly flipping through them.
P1 and P2 leave, talking about going to the library to do research. Presumably on laser-eyed snakes. BvPP shark circles the store a few times before announcing that he might come back to buy things later.
When he and most of his funk have departed, I go back to the counter. The phone rings.
It is the same stupid Giggly Robot that has called every week, trying to get us to buy something: "Tee-hee. Sorry, I dropped the ph--"
Me: "DIE ROBOT SCUM!"
GR: "Tee-hee. I'm not a rob--"
I hang up the phone.
So, my vacation is off to a great start.
Rando: "Do you have any George RR Martin?"
Me: "Yea. Over here is a stack of books, mostly from the Game Of Thrones series."
Rando: "Oh, these are all picture books. Do you have any real ones?"
Me: "Well, we're a comic book store, so we mainly have comics and graphic novels. For non-graphic novels, I recommend checking out Local Book Store."
Rando: "Oh, I don't read comic b---IS THAT A DEATH NOTE COMIC? I MUST HAVE IT."
Random Definitely Shoplifting Weirdo: "Where do you keep your old valuable stuff?"
Me: "What type of stuff?"
RDSW: "Old and valuable."
Me: "Are you looking for a specific title? We don't have an old and valuable section."
RDSW: "Tales From The Crypt?"
Me: "Sure. "
I lead him over to where we keep them.
RDSW: "What are the most valuable ones?"
Me: "If the prices aren't on the front cover, they're on the back. Feel free to flip them over."
RDSW: "Do you have the skinnier ones? These are expensive."
Me: "Everything we have for Tales From The Crypt is right there."
RDSW: "Can you check in the back for me?"
Me: "We don't have a back. If we have it, it's right where you are."
RDSW: "Could you check and see if you have any Freddy Vs Jason Vs Ash? I think they're over there."
He points in the wrong direction to where they would be, if we had them. Conveniently, it's a place where I would be unable to see him.
Me: "We don't have any of those. They're out of print."
RDSW: "I saw them last time I was here."
Me: "Ok. Show me where."
RDSW: "Maybe I'm thinking of somewhere else."
Me: "May. be."
RDSW: "If you could check, I'm looking to spend a lot of money today."
Me: "Ok. But we don't have Freddy Vs. It's long out of print. You'd have to check the Harvard Bookstore and see if they had any of those books used."
RDSW: "You could check in the back."
Me: "We. Don't. Have. A. Back. We don't have any Freddy Vs comics. I can help you find a particular Tales From The Crypt comic, if you'd like. Were you looking for a specific one?"
RDSW: "One that's worth a lot, but isn't too expensive."
Me: "Well. If something is worth a lot, it's going to be expensive. That's the nature of collectible markets."
RDSW: "Could you go see if you have any Tales From The Crypt in the back?"
Me: "Everything we have is right here."
RDSW: "This stuff is kind of expensive."
Me: "This is two dollars. This collection is ten dollars. You're not going to find these much cheaper."
RDSW: "What website should I go to so I can find Freddy Vs Jason Vs Ash?"
Me: "I don't know. You'll have to look it up."
He's holding a pile of EC comics.
RDSW: "Could you look it up for me?"
Me: "Sorry. Internet is down. Want me to ring some of those EC books up for you? They look heavy."
RDSW: "Oh. I don't have any money with me."
RDSW: "Are there any other stores around here?"
Me: "There's some in Norwood. Brockton. Boston proper. Somerville. Where are you looking to go?"
RDSW: "A comic book store."
Me: "Uh. Huh. Well, there are a bunch."
RDSW: "Do you guys buy comics?"
Me: "Just things from the 70s and before."
RDSW: "I have a bunch from a couple of weeks ago that I accidentally bought twice."
Me: "Yea. We don't buy new comics. Sorry."
RDSW; "What should I do with them?"
Me: "Donate them to a shelter or doctor's office or somewhere."
RDSW: "I want money for them, though."
RDSW: "Thanks for nothing."
Me: "You're very welcome."
Random Loiterer: "I'm looking for a gift for my wife. She's into Serious Literature."
Me: "Any books in particular?"
Me: "Does she have a sense of humor? Kate Beaton has ser--"
RL: "Nothing like that. Serious Literature."
I go through the store picking up different types of books I believe might appeal: The Graphic Canon, Daytripper, Maus, Persepolis, Unwritten, Monstress, Arrival, several biographical comics, some Chris Ware books, Joe Sacco's work. Nothing strikes his fancy.
RL: "Thanks for your recommendations but none of this seems like what she reads."
Me: "Well, what does she read, specifically. Maybe I can find something similar--"
RL: "Do you know Fifty Shades Of Gray?"
So, if you see the corpse of a man who's been thrown from a very tall building, know that while it may Look Like the guy who defines Fifty Shades Of Gray as Serious Literature, that's just an amazing coincidence. Clearly, I let him walk peaceably out of our store without buying anything, and didn't murder him in the slightest.
Little Kid with dyed red hair and Suicide Squad t-shirt digs through the back issues.
Little Kid: "Dad, do you think they have Detective Comics #27 in here?"
Dad: "I think if this guy owned Detective Comics #27, he's be living in The Bahamas."
Me: "If I owned Detective Comics #27, The Bahamas would be Named After Me. "
Dad beings to talk like an adult in a Peanuts Cartoon. "Waaaaaaaaaaah wahhhhhhhh waaaaaaaah wahhhhhhhh wahhhhhhhhh waaaaaaaaaaah. Right?"
Me: "Shhhhh. I'm on Grand Stone Island right now getting an amazing..." remembers there is a child in the store "tan."
Guy Who Didn't Give Me His Jacket Last Week (hereby referred to as Poe Dameron) comes in and starts talking about Brian K Vaughan.
Poe Dameron: My friend teaches third grade and she has a boy in her class named Ampersand. And I did the math, and that kid is DEFINITELY named after the monkey in Y The Last Man.
Me: Does she have a sister named 355?
PD: That would give me Feelings. I have a lot of Feelings about 355. Plus, it's kind of dooming.
Me: Right. At least the monkey lived a long, healthy life.
PD: Did he? I thought they ended up with a bunch of wonky clones.
Me: He lived a long, healthy life for a male monkey in a world where all the male mammals were killed in some weird cataclysmic event.
Another customer, hereby referred to as Finnicky pops his head around the corner.
Finnicky: I thought that was you. How is touching fruit?
PD: I don't want to talk about it.
Me: Ummm. I want to talk about it. Is Touching Fruit the new, poorly titled book by Mark Waid?
Finnicky: He works for Whole Foods in the produce department.
PD: My entire job is touching fruit and being yelled at by Cambridge people.
Finnicky: And I NEVER get to see you any more.
PD: There's just too much fruit to touch.
Me: The world is your terrible garden.
First call of the day, setting the tone:
Random Caller "Hi. Do you buy comics?"
Me: "Not too often, but there are some things we're looking for. You're best bet is to call back Wednesday after 6 or Friday and Saturday during the day to talk to our buyer."
RC: "Ok. When should I call?"
I throw the phone into a vat of lava.
Me: (screaming into the lava, obviously) "Wednesday after six or Friday and Saturday 11-5."
RC: "Ok. Than--"
Me: "And you should have a list prepared of what comics you are trying to sell. It goes much faster that way."
RC: "Well, that's easy. I have the second season of The Walking Dead."
Me: "The....the second issue?"
RC: "The collection."
Me: "Hardcover, trade paperback, or giant omnibus?"
Me: "We....we don't sell DVDs here. Just comics."
RC: "But you could sell Walking Dead DVDs."
Me: "Nope.We have no room for DVDs. You can still call the buyer if you'd like, but he's going to say no. You're better off trying Newbury Comics or someone that deals in DVDs,"
RC: "But it's a comics TV show. Why don't you sell it?"
Me: "When you hang up are you going to try and sell your Fast & Furious DVDs to a car dealership? Or your Top Chef DVDs to a restaurant? We don't sell DVDs. I'm sorry."
There is a dad with his sixish year old blond son (wearing a Luke hood, no less) doing a live reading of Jeffrey Brow's Vader & Son book.
It's a pretty good day in the comic book store.