August 13, 2008

Getting Back on the Comics Horse

To be honest, I'd been avoiding making this decision...for awhile.

It's not easy deciding on a comics shop. In a way, it's kind of like dating - although the worst case scenario ends awkwardly, some care has to be taken. And my previous shop experiences - the late, great Chaos in Print, which fueled my high school comics exploration (it's no longer at its convenient location); Emerald City Comics in Eugene, Oregon; and my beloved Star Clipper in St. Louis.

(God, I miss Star Clipper with its racks, it's overall clean environment, and most importantly - its staff that loved comics, and could point me in the right reading direction...)

But there could be no other option - I wasn't going to get my comics via mail, because - let's face it - I would miss the social aspect of comics shopping. Sure, I could ask Mike Sterling to set up an account for me at the place he works...but I don't fully trust a man who likes Swamp Thing. And All-Star Batman & Robin. And who is a well-renowned cheater pants...and who will avoid quoting this in his blog because, well, that's the way he rolls.

It took tons of research - basic recommendations, and some foot traffic on my own. One shop was...well, I've blogged about it before, but I've seen adult bookstores that were less seedy. One or two were kind of out-of-my-way, and lack of travel is important. My side of the city has one that I've been meaning to check out, but it is a little out-of-the-way. It seemed like I might be doomed to download comics via torrent, rather than borrow them from well-meaning friends.

(And before you ask - I prefer paying for comics, even bad ones. I don't buy what I don't like, but there's's easy to knock something you get for free, to avoid honestly determining its value. In addition, buying indie comics helps remind me that there are people willing to put themselves and their quirky visions out there...and downloading just feels like I'm slapping them in the face. Plus, quite frankly, Dan DiDio and Joe Quesada have got to pay rent somehow...but I digress).

The answer came, quite honestly, during one of my frequent sojourns downtown, while looking for a job and just before I got my current gig. There it was - Graham Cracker Comics - in a site that once housed a comic shop that "sponsored" a cable access & radio show.

And after that, once I get settled at my new job, I decided to take the plunge. I downloaded their subscription site at home, and filled it out, taking care to list all of my old favorites and expunging the books that I was losing interest in. Upon my visit, I boldly approached the clerk, submitted my application (along with two books I was purchasing), and after reviewing the store's policy, he examined my list, and declared,

"You have taste."

And so now, after a year of scrambling for my four-color habit, I now have embarked - again, on keeping current with my love of comics. So to my coworkers - if, on Friday, I take a little extra time for lunch, I hope you'll understand - I'm not avoiding my job. I'm rebuilding my connections.

I'm building a home.


Scott Cederlund said...

Nice choice. I've been a Graham's shopper for years out in the burbs and usually hit the Loop store a couple of times a year. Are there that many shops in the south Loop right now? I can think of a bunch up on the north side but I don't think any of the ones I used to hit when I was in school in the city are still open.

Gordon D said...

I honestly don't know of any comic shops in the south Loop - I chose it because it was one of those places I found myself visiting when I came out here from St. Louis...and it just stuck. It's easy to get to, it's well stocked, and I'm liking it.