Just A Thought | Comic Book Shop Communities

“Have we done gibbons yet?”

Ah Wednesday, the day of new comics.

As I’ve previously stated a number of times, Blue Beetle Comics in Barrie is my local shop. I’ve often explained what I like about the store in a physical sense but I’m unsure if I’ve truly explained the other part of it.

Pete and his staff (Alice-Ann and Wade) have done something remarkable in this age of online shopping and quick buying.

They’ve created a community.

Which works out well for shopper and shopkeeper alike. Maybe it’s easier if I take you through a typical Wednesday evening at Blue Beetle.

I arrive usually somewhere around 6:30pm or 7. Pete is usually manning the till and usually wandering the store or close to the front cash desk is Kevin, another loyal customer. Kevin tends to read a lot more DC books then I do but we do have similar tastes. Someone pulls out whatever is in my hold box (this week was like Christmas as it contained both an issue of Buffy and Cooke’s The Outfit graphic novel…full review next week). The conversation quickly turns to what else came out this week and what’s worth checking out. I’ve never felt like I’ve been rushed into making my box purchases or in fact I’ve never felt rushed into leaving the store.

So already you can see the benefits. I feel comfortable to browse through the new books and may buy something in addition to what’s already in my box. As well not only has the shop told me what’s out but has mentioned what they feel is worth checking out as well as another customer. This also comes into play a bit later.

Around 7:15 or so, Ed arrives. Ed is another customer who, much like Kevin, I never knew until I started going to this comic shop. Now Ed is a big GI Joe fan. He’s met both Larry Hama and Sgt Slaughter. This impresses me.

At which point we all start talking about comics and what have you and none of us feel the need to shut up or buy or stuff and get out. Where the community aspect has an effect is in the diversity. As I mentioned, Ed’s a Joe guy which means he’s reading a lot more GI Joe comics then I am. Now over the past couple of weeks IDW’s GI Joe/Cobra series got brought up. This is a comic with no previous continuity and while it’s sounded mildly interesting, haven’t really looked into it. Ed on the other hand has almost got me sold on at least trying a trade or two. Kevin reads a lot more DC then I do as well as some smaller press books I have missed. If it wasn’t for Kev, I’m not sure if I would have ever checked out Boom’s Muppet or Disney line.

So Pete has possibly made another sale and if I like it, future sales all because we feel comfortable in hanging around the store and gabbing about comics.

I doubt this was ever Pete’s intention. He’s just a guy who likes his store and wants people to feel welcome in it. Everything else is just gravy. And I feel that’s something that’s missing from a lot of shops today. Not to mention from online retail. Sure I can probably save some bucks on Amazon but a website won’t joke with me about Stan Lee’s creation guide to animal villains for Spider-Man. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a ton of sushi to digest and a Darwyn Cooke book to read until I lapse into an utterly joyful coma.

And just an update, I’ll be interviewing Andrew Vachss (if all goes as planned) next Tuesday night. So if you have any questions, please send them on in.

Brent Chittenden
Brent Chittenden

Brent Chittenden is a Canadian freelance writer currently writing for alancross.ca, geekhardshow.com and his own pop culture podcast, TATANS. He is readily available for writing and speaking gigs. Brent like sandwiches.

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