Have you ever walked into a comic shop only to turn around and walk out? Not because of the crowd (or the fact they’re closed and forgot to lock the door), but because of the stench that punched you in the nose and is now trying to claw it’s way into your throat?
When my wife and I travel to new cities I inevitably try and visit at least one new (to me) comic shop. Some turn out to be absolutely amazing, two or more floors of pure comicy goodness, others may only be a single 1,000ish square foot room that packs some great comics, toys and statues within their space. Usually, though, the shops have a distinct flavour and charm all of their own. But there are some (that I won’t name) we have visited over the years that make you wonder just how they’re still in business. We walked into one shop that had a stench so awful that even my reduced sense of smell (blame allergies and nose bleeds as a child) was offended; my wife, who has a perfectly functioning nose, said she could taste the smell of humanity and the products used to mask the odor long after we left the shop.
Sometimes, albeit rarely, my lack of sense of smell is actually a blessing.
There have been a few shops that on first glance look cluttered and disorganized but when you stop and pay attention, you realize that there is simply a lot of stock; you can still move around the shop quite well, the floors are swept, and the store is otherwise quite clean… but there is a lot of stock. Where as there was one we walked out of after seeing a butter packet sitting amidst nearly an inch of dust.
Needless to say, there are some shops that we’ve enjoyed being in far more than others. While I can find something to enjoy in almost every shop, my wife (who has tremendous patience for my comic addiction) isn’t really the biggest fan. She enjoys looking at the statues, and displays, and although she’s been in a few comic shops with me, I feel she’s a great judge of the atmosphere of a shop and how it welcomes new comic readers to the shop. Needless to say, some of my favourite shops haven’t always been hers, and vice versa.
For those of us that buy print comics, we’ve all got a local comic shop that may (or may not) be a second home to us, housing a community that we’ll often wander in to visit friends we wouldn’t see elsewhere.
But when it comes to visiting new towns and cities there’s something fun about heading into a New To You comic shop, even if it’s only to have a quick look around, because sometimes you’ll find an absolute gem of a store.
And other times you’ll find a cesspit.