#266 In which our hero welcomes back a long-forgotten retailer.
I know I wrote about New Comic Book Guy, but did I tell you about New NEW Comic Book Guy?
Well, New NEW Comic Book Guy is actually a girl! Gasp! It went down like this: New Comic Book Guy announced to me one day that he was leaving. Moving on to a better job. And I’m all, good for you! Because working in a comic book store is sorta a shitty job. I mean, if you’re a 30-year-old burn out, then yeah, sitting around all day talking about comics and taking people’s money for the same might appeal. But New Comic Book Guy clearly had more ambition than that, so he jumped ship.
For a time there was a substitute--surprisingly, also a woman. She was older and actually worked in the other store (guy who owns this store has two locations, I believe) and was just filling in until the owner could hire a permanent New NEW Comic Book Guy.
So one day I go in and there’s this young woman behind the counter. I say hi, tell her my name so I can get my pull, then head to the new issue tables to see if there’s another else I wanted. It was a Thursday, because I only get my new books on Thursdays. Wednesday is actually the day new books come out, but the store is packed with comic book geeks on that day, so I avoid it. Anyway, there’s me and one other guy in the store. He starts to talk to her, and we learn three things:
- The owner hired her because he’s a friend of her father
- Previously, she was working as a bartender
- She doesn’t read comic books
Then this comic book geek starts to chat her up, and it’s a little obnoxious. He’s probably 40 years old, and she’s clearly in her twenties. I very nearly step in and say, “Dude, you’re making all us comic book geeks seem like creeps; cut it out, huh?” But he pays for his books and leaves. I likewise pay for my books and bug out.
In the weeks to come, I try to be friendly and make conversation. This is a means to an end, of course, because what I really want is for her to learn my name so she can see me coming, fetch my books, and hand them to me as soon as I walk in the store. Plus, part of me wants her to know that not all comic book guys are weirdoes.
One day I’m chatting with her, asking her why she’s working in a comic book shop if she doesn’t like comics, why she doesn’t like comics and blah, blah, blah. At one point I get the vibe that she maybe thinks I’m hitting on her and suddenly I feel like the 40-year-old creep making moves on the young clerk and I’m disgusted with myself. I think next time I go there I bring the girls, as if to say, “Look! I’m really a family man! Not a creep! No siree, no me!” This perhaps does not work.
Anyway, before the New Year she tells me that she’s leaving. Going back to bartending. Which, y’know, whatever makes you happy. But she has another bombshell: original Comic Book Guy is coming back! More on that in a moment.
So in addition to my regular pull I pick up a new reprint of Watchmen #1… this is clearly out to support the movie (which, holy shit, I now realize is only a month away!) and I don’t need it, but buy it anyway. Maybe the writer and artist will get a couple extra bucks. But when she rings it up she says:
HER: Looks like that Watchmen movie might not happen (this was when the studio was still in negotiations with Fox, and there was talk about the film being delayed).
HER: That would really rock the world of all your comic book geeks, huh? Bring you to tears.
ME: Heh, yeah.
What I didn’t say was, “Y’know what? Fuck you.” Because we comic book geeks had been paying this girl’s salary for half a year now, and she certainly wasn’t making any cracks about her clientele then.
But she’s gone now. And original Comic Book Guy is back!
This made me sad when I first heard the news. Because in the four years that I dealt with him, he seemed like a big, chubby zero. But then he got married, and quit the comic book shop to go work for a bank. And I thought, good for you, dude. Growing up, getting a real job. Well done.
But coming back to the shop seems like such a back slide. Again, it can’t pay that well, and it just seems like such a dead-end sort of position.
But, as so often happens when I pre-judge people… I was off the mark. Maybe.
First time I go back there when he’s working I say hi, welcome back, blah, blah. He remembers my name and fetches my pull without being asked (bonus). I ask him about the bank job, and he tells me it was boring, and he changed jobs a couple of times before the store owner finally offered him this job back.
And he went on to tell me how he and the store owner have big plans for the store, and he’ll be spearheading new stuff, and much of it sounds like BS to me. The kind of stuff you’d say to a guy to get him to accept the job… and only too late he finds out it’s all bunk.
But, Comic Book Guy does tell me something that seems very real: he says that he worked in comic book retail for 10 years, and you don’t stay in a business that long unless you really love it.
That I can understand. So while I was quick to think of him as a loser, a man-boy who never grew up, I never took time to consider that maybe this is the profession for him; maybe it’s his calling. And honestly, if he’s happy doing it, why am I so quick to shit on him?
It’s these moments of self-reflection that make me stop and reconsider my opinions.
So anyway, I have a new attitude now. Comic Book Guy is happy with his work, far as I know, and so I’m happy for him. Somebody’s got to sell me my weekly illustrated fix, after all.
And better the original Comic Book Guy than some snotty girl.