Comic Etiquette

Comic Etiquette: Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone


What is it about appearance that makes our minds go crazy? Whether you admit it or not our brains default to judging books by the cover. The brain loves shiny objects, vibrant colors, tasty smells, and pleasant sounds. The buck stops at the brain. It’s our self consciousness that separates us from the rest.

How many times have you wanted the right side of your brain to catch up with the left? It could be something as small as a 3rd helping of food or your 21st shot on your 30th birthday. Whether it’s the next day, week, or year, you are constantly rechecking the quick decisions your brain made. There is always something you wish you did differently no matter how small or large.

Me? I’ve made more mistakes in my life than I can count. I’ve made a lot of decisions at first glance. Hell, I still do, and am no better at it with age.

I had a comic guy for over 20 years whom I started a box with. A box is a comic term where your comic guy takes issues from a list you made so he knows what to set aside for you. He would check it off your list and set it inside a box for you to pick up so you didn’t have to show up every Wednesday and hope the issue you wanted was still there.

My father started this for me just out of high school. His name was on it, and all I had to do was go there every week and pick up my comics I had set aside. Apparently, my father put down his work phone number as a contact. When I didn’t show up for a month or so, my comic guy would call his work and leave a detailed message that his Spider-Man comics he ordered were ready for pick up. This continued for several years, until I went in and gave my cell phone number. 

Now this comic shop was filled to the brim with back issues, new issues, action figures, and just about anything geek related. You couldn’t get through an aisle without stepping over something, and they were barely big enough to stand in. Over 20 years of walking in the door and I never felt out of place, and my comic guy always had questions about what I was reading while he rang up my 300 plus dollars of comics.  

My comic guy was in his mid to late 40’s, skinny, with a long blonde ponytail. He was always happy to see me, even after sometimes it would take me 3 months to get to the shop to pick up my comics. I got to that point where he would only call me when he ran out of room to hold all the titles I put aside.

Two years ago, my comic guy got an illness and died. I didn’t know until 3 months later. He just died. I found out from one of my friends who frequently went in and chatted with him. My comic guy’s girlfriend was trying to run the shop in his absence. I might never have known. For years I remembered I collected comics because he would call me.

Picking up for that last time, I came to a decision. I wasn’t going to collect comics anymore. To me, my comic collecting died with my comic guy. Little did I know that I was just closing one book, and opening another.

I found myself starting to hit flea markets again. I started paging through boxes of comics in tiny dusty booths. I was pulling out gems of a lost past that I had long separated myself from. There were 2 foot piles of comics savagely stacked up with out backboards and covers. I was looking throughout them all.

About a month ago I was out on a date, walking to a local pizza parlor in town. The girl I was with pointed to a shop window with a bunch of comic book posters. She tugged on my arm and said, “Hey, lets go in and check it out!”

“No, no, I’m OK.” I tugged back.

She let go of my arm and started walking in the door. I followed her in. The store was just starting out. It had maybe one of each comic that came out that week left on the shelf. The man at the counter was on the computer with another gentleman looking over his shoulder. Clearly this man was one of his friends.

“Are you guys open?”  my date asked.

“Yeah.”  The Simpsons comic guy said.

He never looked up at us.  I asked several comic book questions that only true comic lovers would know. He just grunted at me. I can only assume it was because I’m extremely attractive. All true. My date looked like she was going to punch him, so I quickly exited the store pulling her arm.

Little did this guy know, I am a major collector. I never walked back in to that store. If he would have engaged with me just once, he probably would have had a customer for life. But he didn’t.

In all seriousness, I don’t have the comic collector look. If you met me you would never expect that I have a broad knowledge in geekdom. As guilty as I am in judging with my brain, there is always another judging you. So next time a person walks through your business door, take a deep breath, and greet them like they will be your next best friend. They just might end up being that.