Pull Up a Chair is an opinion post where I discuss different things about comic books, culture, and the industry.
Once more Wednesday is upon us and once more, at least for comic fans everywhere, a new week has begun. You know there’s a problem when Wednesday is when your week starts, or you know, there’s just an insatiable urge to read everything that hits the shelves. It is that very subject matter that brings me to today’s post. Normally, with it being new comic book day today’s post would be all about the books I’m losing my mind over. Last week was an exception because I wanted to discuss certain books in more detail. This week is also going to be an exception. Today, while picking up my weekly bundle-o-books I overheard a conversation that I haven’t stopped thinking about since. It is this conversation that brings us this post I have called: Indie Who?
Now, I have a lot of feelings and opinions, heck, I’m invested emotionally into what I’m going to write about today. I bring that up because, while I’ll do my best to remain neutral and present only what I saw, there’s very little doubt that my perspective on this subject isn’t skewing how I viewed things.
Here’s the conversation, or at least a generalization of it, that has sparked today’s post:
As I’m walking through my local comic shop, as I do every Wednesday, grabbing my pile of pulled comics, then heading back to the small press/independent section of my store, I overhear one of the customers discussing certain books with one of the employees.
In this conversation the customer is talking about how much they’re enjoying certain books from one of the big publishers. He’s going on about how impressed he is with how they’re handling characters that haven’t been in the spotlight before. Also, one of the things he mentions is that this is an interesting time in his comic buying life because he’s trying all kinds of new books based on his experience with books he was already established in.
Now, thus far, this conversation is great. It has a lighthearted tone, the customer and employee and clearly not concerned about being overheard. They’re literally having this discussion from across the store as the customer is browsing shelves as the employee is behind the counter. I’m currently in the back of the shop browsing as well, so there’s no amount over eavesdropping or spying going on. It is at this point that I’m thinking, “That’s cool for that customer. He’s branching out into books he normally wouldn’t read because of his experiences in the books he does read.” Then, as I should have known it would, things took a turn.
As the customer starts to list off some of the new books he’s reading, I notice a trend…they’re all from the same publisher. This guy doesn’t even mention books from the other major publisher. He is, for all intent, apparently a fanboy of this particular company.
I can except that, heck it’s not like it’s a new concept. Marvel and DC fanboys have been around since forever. They do their thing, I do mine, and rarely do the paths cross on unfavorable terms. Today, however, was not going to be that way.
As this customer is continuing his boasting of the books he’s reading, it slips out that everything else NOT coming from the Big 2, is currently a waste of time. Now, stop for a second and rework the positioning of people in this store. There’s the employee, tucked behind the counter, as they always are, ready to ring up purchases. Then there’s this customer who is clearly in love with a certain publisher. Lastly, there I am…clearly in a section of the store that this person just called, “a waste of time.”
Not only were all the books outside the Big 2 a waste of time, all these “no name publishers,” are currently taking away decent writers and artists from books that “everyone” cares about.
What? Seriously…what the actual crap is happening here? I just continued snatching up books I’m reading, and some I want to check out, as I listened to this guy spew his ignorance. Luckily, the employee interjected and said something along the lines of, “Man, you don’t know what you’re missing if you aren’t at least checking out some of these books coming from the other publishers.” That put a smile on my face, but for some reason, this customer’s attitude just sat in my head.
I drove home, grabbed lunch, sat and just thought about why I was bothered by this person’s view of indie and small press books. I wasn’t bothered in a way that I was all worked up and angry, but instead, this particular viewpoint of the comic industry just stuck in my mind. Now, while I’m not sure I’ve completely processed the entire thing, I do believe I know why it stuck with me, so much so that I chose to write about it today.
There’s one aspect of this conversation that caused it to stick with me, and it was that this customer wasn’t closed minded. He wasn’t a fanboy of select books and then everything else was garbage. No, he was open to reading all kinds of new books, and was more than happy to see them switching things up with certain characters. So in that regard, he was completely open minded, and accepting.
On the other hand, and this is what really lodged itself into my mind, he was completely closed off to even entertaining the idea that indie and small press books might be good…and it would be completely out of the question to consider them great.
It was this breakdown in consistency that threw me off, and really caused this conversation to stick in my mind. I’m not judging this guy for only reading from a certain publisher. Instead, I was just taken back by the ability to be so open about trying new things, but conversely being so closed off from others doing the same thing.
At the end of the day, it is my hope, and really my purpose of writing this blog and doing the podcast and YouTube show, that we will inspire people to branch out from their comfort zone. If you’re a comics fan, be just that…a comic book fan. No, you don’t need to read every single thing that hits the shelves, but at the very least see what else is beyond the multi-million dollar publishing houses. Read comics and don’t limit yourself by who is doing what, just find comics that look interesting and give them a try. Who knows, maybe, just maybe, you’ll find a character or book that connects with you on a level you never thought possible. Or, you know, you might just find a great comic book to read…oh no the horror.