I have been a freelance writer for about 10 years now, and during that time my words have not been without controversy. However, being a freelance writer gives me a platform to respond. In my last article “Don’t Support Your Local Comic Shop” I was very clear that fans should stop frequenting the majority of brick and mortar comic stores until these stores improve their appearance and customer service.
Kevin Boyd and Rob Haines of the Joe Shuster Awards took issue with the way I presented my case and I would like to respond to some of their points.
The first point: my own shameless self-promotion. Rob accuses me of being a comic shop consultant and having an agenda in writing the article. I have done work in the past as a retail consultant for comic book stores. In this capacity I have helped shops develop business plans, create store policies, and increase revenue. I (as Rob and Kevin do) wear several hats in life, but under no circumstances do I mention retail consulting work as part of my online journalism for Comic Book Daily. You will note that my brief biography (seen at the end of every article) does not mention retail consulting, nor have I ever gained a single retail consulting client from the work that I have done for Comic Book Daily. I keep these endeavours separate (just as Joe Shuster members keep their work for Fan Expo separate) and I am offended at the insinuation that I wrote my article for the purpose of drumming up business.
The second point: my derision of nerds. I use the word “nerd” 3 times during my article. They are not used as pejoratives. They are used as descriptors of the clientele found within comic book shops. Nerd does not carry the negative connotations that it once it did.
Nerd and Geek positivism has abounded in the last few years, and those of us who read comic books are nerds. It is a title that I carry proudly (my personal blog is called the Nerd Alert and I sign my posts as the King of Nerds), and I would tell any comic book fan to hold their head high (as Rob should); you are a nerd!
The third point: my overall mean-spiritedness and cruelty to comic book retailers. Perhaps I should have invited all poor store owners to my house for cookies and hugs but I didn’t. Instead I chose a sharp tongue to wake up the industry. The soft sell isn’t going to work on these awful stores. They have been in business for years because fans want the product and they feel that they have no choice other than to put up with the horrid shops out there. My article was funny. It was a mean-funny but still funny. And it was true. It wouldn’t be funny if it wasn’t true. If all shops cared about professionalism I wouldn’t have needed to write the article in the first place. I stand by every word I wrote.
I ask all nerds to stop spending even one penny in a bad shop. That will force these poor examples of customer service to evolve or die. My article was written as a call to customers and a warning to retailers.
Kevin notes that he doesn’t advocate stopping to shop at a store altogether, but that customers should work with retailers to keep business going. No. I am sorry but you are wrong Kevin. It is not the customer’s duty to mention that a store is dirty, prices too high, and customer-service poor. It is solely on the shoulders of the retailer to provide a good experience for the customer. The customer should not have to ask for basic common-sense treatment.
I would also to note that Rob actually inspired me to write the article that he has so much issue with. While I have held these opinions for some time, it was not until I heard Rob and Kevin on the Comic Culture radio show last week that I got the idea for the piece.
While Rob and Kevin have issues with my points, we all have the same goal. We all want local comic book shops to thrive and for the industry to grow, but we have very different opinions on how to get there.
I strongly feel that poor shops have had their chance and need to go away. Rob and Kevin feel that all stores can be turned around through education and increased customer-retailer interaction. I would ask that Rob and Kevin join me on the Comic Culture radio show to debate this issue. Perhaps they will change my mind.
Anthony Falcone is a freelance writer living in Toronto and he is the Modern Day Genghis Khan. If you have need of his services you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also view his elegant words of prose at www.thenerdalert.blogspot.com