The comic shop is still, for many, an intimidating place to be. And, to be fair to those many, it’s not really hard to see why. Face it; a comic shop is a place where only a relatively niche selection of knowledge is going to come in handy, and for those less experienced or with none of this knowledge, you’re talking about a place that is … well a bit of a no-go zone. And that’s before we talk about those places that treat female comic readers with less respect than their male counterparts – and yes, sadly these places still exist. I know, it’s awful to think on, but we can make change, a little bit at a time. Going for a ripple effect, if you like. How to achieve this ripple effect?
Well below, if you will, are a set of tips that we offer as an example for behaviour in this distinctly fandom-only place. Every little bit helps, to take someone else’s motto, and if you can help someone else, well that’s a good deed for the day and Captain America would be proud of you. And who doesn’t want the sweetheart that is Cap proud of them?
- Let’s start with the most obvious, shall we? Basic manners. I know, you’re sitting going “but I know this.” Well, it can be very surprising the people who forget. We know they most likely don’t do it deliberately, but it can be a little disheartening to receive what feels like coldness in return to a politely worded request. And yes, this one does go both ways, we would like to think. Politeness as a customer should mean politeness from a seller – though, having worked retail, I would advise not to be too offended if the employee seems at the end of their tether; it’s a very hard job.
- If someone asks for help, please do help. Again, this one does seem obvious, but yet again, it is one of those ones that somehow gets easily overlooked. I think it’s the smell of the plastic from the figures that comic book shops always get in. Well, the bigger ones anyway. Well, maybe some smaller ones. I’m getting off point. If someone asks you for help, they’ve clearly looked at you, and thought you have something they don’t, so would be the best person to ask. It doesn’t matter if you don’t work there, it’s nice to at least try to help.
- Research. This one is one of those more … tricky ones. While, yes, doing research can be helpful, especially at the most busy times of year, I don’t think it should be considered a requirement. Again, this is a personal opinion, but from personal experience, I have found that sometimes stepping into a line with no prior knowledge of it can be the best way to experience the story being told. That being said, sometimes knowing what you’re looking for, or at least a little surrounding what you’re looking for, can help in the long run so… your mileage may vary?
- Do not allow yourself to be made to feel unwelcome. You’ve gone into a comic book shop with the intention of spending money? Well then, you are as much welcome as that person who just comes in to check to see if the next issue of their comic is in, or to see if the next volume of the manga series they’re reading is in. It doesn’t matter if this is your first time in the shop, walk around like you deserve to be there. Because you do. And don’t let any one else tell you otherwise.
Z McAspurren (comics are cool, being treated with respect is cooler)