Thursday, October 23, 2003


So someone has put this blog address on the HCRealms board, so I expect to see a number of HeroClix fans to come over, and then leave confused, when they find a blog site filled with stuff that has nothing to do with HeroClix. Sorry folks, no secret info here. But since you’re here, let’s talk about comics. Or rather buying comics.

I am thinking about this because, with everything that’s been happening, I didn’t even get a chance to get my comics yesterday. And as every geek knows, Wednesday is comics day. And comics are my not-so-secret vice.

When I was a kid, I read comics – Sad Sack and Lil Hot Stuff from Harvey, World’s Finest and Superman’s Pal – Jimmy Olsen (when Kirby was doing wonderful, weird stuff) and Legion of Super Heroes. I was suspicious of Marvel, because they didn’t do complete stories, and there was no guarantee you’d ever get the next issue. We got them in drugstores and 7-11s and OK Stores, and they were always around. Eventually, I grew out of them.

Then in college I got sucked back in. Another student was into Marvels – FF, Iron Man, and Spider-Man. I got caught with Star Wars (the movie had just come out) and Howard the Duck (back when it was funny – no, really, it was). There was a local bookstore that carried all the majors, so it was easy to get a monthly fix of the books, but it was still pretty much the major two publishers. I started picking up the super-heroes as well (talk about your gateway drugs – you start with a movie tie-in, and move up to the hard stuff). I started running a Project: Marvel Comics RPG in college, which eventually evolved into the original Marvel Super Heroes RPG at TSR.

So after college I started checking out where to find comics in Pittsburgh, my home town. Across the Allegheny River from downtown there was the first direct sale store I encountered – it was called Eides (pronounced “Ides”, and now located on Penn avenue), and it carried DEPTH. Not just the Marvel and DC titles, but the Indies as well – Elfquest and Cerebus. Eide’s was my main comic book fix location (which meant a commute from the East End) until I got the job with TSR and moved to Lake Geneva Wisconsin.

Now, Lake Geneva was a small town north of the Illinois border, notable for the Playboy resort and the Dungeon Hobby Shop (both now gone), but NOT known for having any place you can get comics. So Kate and I (Did I mention Kate was a comic goob as well? She loved the House of Mystery creepy stuff as a girl, and I started sending her my Star Wars comics from college, and then she got really interested in the whole Wanda and Pietro as the children of Magneto thing) would drive up to a little shop north of Milwaukee called The Turning Page. Located near the Oriental Theatre in an old carpeting store, the place had character, but also carried just about everything, and for the first time I hit a store where they laid out the new releases. Kate and I would buy about two weeks worth, then go to a local Chi-chi’s Mexican Restaurant to read (Table for two, no smoking, good light source, please).

The Turning Page was probably the best store I’ve encountered. Eventually a few friends of friends set up a comic book wing in the local Video Galley in Lake Geneva, so we slowed the exodus to Milwaukee from once every two weeks to once every two months. The kids running the Video Gallery did pretty well, since they were just up the road from TSR, and the local game designers were a steady market. When TSR fell on hard times, so did they. TSR left for Washington State, and eventually, I followed them.

The local comic shop in Renton I won’t mention by name, because it ended badly. It was a pretty good shop, with the new releases culled out and pulling service (if you’re going to buy Cerebus every month, they pull it for you right off the top. The shop gets to know what they should order, and you get your stuff). The Renton shop remains popular with most of the WotC gang, and I would recommend it for others. I just can’t go back.

As I said, it ended badly. One Wednesday, the shop was shorted on the new Heroclix product, and the shop owner knew I worked for the ‘Kids. To be fair, the owner had spent most of the day having people call to see if he had product that he did not have. All those potential sales going elsewhere because he didn’t get his full order. Extremely frustrating. So when I hit the door after a long day, he unloaded on me. Hard. It was not a good thing, and probably the worst comic shop encounter I had had in twenty years as a customer. Definitely chewed me a new one. The next day, I did the research on why he was shorted (products arrive in waves, and not all the orders are covered by the first wave), called him to tell him he would get his full shipment as the rest of the containers landed, and went looking for another shop.

Now I have one up on the hill, on Benson. It’s a used bookstore place called Book World. Comics are a very small part of their operation in space, but heavy in percentage of sales. They have a pulling service, the staff is nice, and they have a few quirks (If you pay with credit card, you always have to have ID, even if they know you. If you pay with a twenty, they pull out this little pen to make sure it’s a real bill). They are NOT comics geeks. So far they’ve been pretty good – Nothing like the depth elsewhere (I supplement with a shop further away – Wonder World, when I have to), but Book World’s hours were better for me, and no one there knows who I am.

Which reminds me, I have to go get comics.

Politics later. No, I mean that.