Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Weekly Dose--Pt 1: The Dealer

Just like new music and videos are released every Tuesday, new comics come out on the same day every week. New Comics Day is Wednesday. Commit it to memory. Add it to your calendar. It's the one day of the week when you know where I'll be at lunchtime and, as far as hobbies and habits, my only constant.

While I'm at home recovering from surgery, I'm buying my weekly lot of comics from my hometown shop--Magnum Comics and Cards. This is the shop I started collecting from, and it is a geeky bright spot in a town otherwise filled with Chinese restaurants, banks, and drug stores. But Magnum is only a sometimes store for me. I look forward to my lunchtime escape to the shop too much during the work week to not buy my books in the city. So, these days, my weekly haunt is Cosmic Comics on 23rd Street.

The owner of Cosmic is a famously curmudgeonly crank, to the point that me and my friends have sworn off the store in frustration on more than one occasion. The store's discount policy (a standard feature for the best shops) is a little archaic--they track your credits in a notebook and refuse to do any math if there are more than two customers in the store), and the small shop's stock is severely limited compared with the glossy, automated account-maintaining, slick website-having, embroidered Polo shirt-wearing, walking distance from Marvel and DC home offices-glory of the East and Westside locations of main competitor Midtown Comics. But that's kind of the appeal. It's the same reason I get my morning coffee from the roach coach instead of Starbucks. While the products are similar, the comic shop experience shouldn't be like shopping at Toys R Us or Barnes and Noble. You want a little character, a bit of mystery about what you'll find, a dirty look or two.

I worked in a comic shop many years ago where we had to wear embroidered Polo shirts and greet everyone at the door as if we worked for Disney: "Welcome to Comic Attitudes, how can I help you?!" And we were mandated to "suggest sell" Archie comics to every customer at checkout. "I see you like Spawn...can I interest you in the Betty and Veronica Summer Special? Only $1.99!"

It doesn't hurt that Cosmic is only two blocks away from my job and they've got a 30%-off everything sale going all summer long to sweeten the draw. But it's the overall personality of the shop that has really grown on me and made me a loyal regular. Sorry, Midtown. I'll be back someday, but for now, make mine Cosmic!

Cosmic, Midtown, and a few other popular shops were featured not too long ago on in a piece called "The Secret Lives of Comic Store Employees," so i know I'm not the only person who overthinks his comic shopping experience.

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