Sunday, October 3, 2010

Comic Shop News

A funny thing happened on my way to the comics shop this week.

Well, actually, that’s not entirely true. I just liked how that opening sentence sounded. You see, the "funny thing" itself didn’t happen on the way to the shop, but instead, once I was actually inside the shop.

And, come to think of it, it was the second funny thing that happened at a comics shop that day.

But, let’s get back to that whole linear storytelling thing and start with the story that happened later. Got it? Sure you do; it’s Sunday and no one’s reading except you. So if you don’t get it, then literally no one will.

That’s a lot of pressure, Bucky, but don’t worry, it’ll be over soon. Promise.

Back to the story.

So, as I do every Wednesday evening after work, I found myself at my Local Comics Shop, checking out the new books and just kind of wandering around aimlessly. Since I’m so good at doing both those things, I look forward to my Wednesday wandering, even if I haven't been real big on much of the new stuff lately. Still, I like talking with the shop’s owner about a variety of different things each week.

We talk pretty much every Wednesday, usually for 10 or 15 minutes, about the Yankees or about the latest books, or whatever. I used to spend quite a bit more time in the shop, but now that I work so far away, I typically don’t get to the store until 15 minutes before closing time.

But this week, I got out of the office pretty early, and I was able to get to the shop at 6:15 or so, a full 45 minutes before closing. I browsed a bit, but mostly just chatted with the shop’s owner and another customer.

We talked about a bunch of things, most notably about the changes occurring in the store--a new layout, and the addition of a gaming table. Pretty much your standard comics shop chat, really. We ended up talking until after seven before any of us realized that the store should be closed.

I mentioned it, gave the obvious quote from Clerks, said goodbye, and left the store.

As commonplace as all that sounds, it was a bit more than that. I had a presentation to give Thursday afternoon at work, and while I was confident it would go well, I was still a bit nervous about it.

Being able to forget about pretty much everything for an hour at the comics shop was a much-needed escape from the Real World. And, honestly, it's something I haven't been able to do for a while, so it was nice.

The other funny thing that happened at a comics shop occurred earlier in the afternoon that same day, when I visited a shop close to my office. The previous week, they ran a massive back issue sale, where I picked up a few missing books. (Like a nice run of Frank Miller Daredevils for stupidly low prices...prices cheaper than current book prices, in fact.)

In my search, I also stumbled across a nice-looking copy of Ultimate Spider-Man, issue one, for a nice price (plus half-off!). I plucked the Daredevils and the Spideys out of their bins, brought them up to the counter, and bought them.

I didn't "inspect" the books--I'm not one to take a book out of a Mylar bag to make sure it's OK, which is probably pretty dumb on my part. When buying older and more expensive books, it's a good idea to give the book a once-over.

But I trust and like the shop owners, and I knew the book was priced according to condition.

I tossed the book on my desk at home and forgot all about it until Sunday, when I needed to clean off said desk. I decided to pop open the plastic and give the book a read. Well, a red flag went up immediately.

The cover was plain paper, and not the glossy cardstock that I know issue one had. Probably should have been able to pick that up just by looking at the thing, but hey, I'm no brain surgeon.

I flipped through the front ads to the indicia, and what I saw confirmed my suspicion. It was a reprint, and, therefore, virtually worthless.

I was a bit bummed out, and I wasn't sure what to do next. I'd already paid for the book, obviously, and most shops have a strict no returns policy, since, theoretically, the customer knows exactly what he or she is getting.

Add to that the fact that I started feeling bad for the shop owners, because, clearly, they were duped into buying a reprint for--I'd assume--the price of an original.

If I returned it, the store would be at a loss on the book.

Plus, who knows if the owners would believe that I came back with the same book?? All these thoughts raced through my paranoid, OCD brain, and all the while, I was out $45 bucks. So I posed the question to that all-seeing guru of everything, my brother, who convinced me of my actions in four succinct words:

"Return the book, stupid."

So, with some trepidation, I laid the book on the passenger seat of my car and took it with me on Wednesday morning. I stopped by the store, waited for the other customers to leave, and I explained what happened and mentioned that maybe they should reconsider buying books from whoever sold them this one based on false pretenses.

Sometimes, things just go right, and my faith in humanity gets restored. The owner literally reached into his pocket and handed me $45 as he told me how embarrassed he felt and how sorry he was.

I told him a refund wasn't necessary--this was just a good guy who got scammed, and I didn't feel right taking his money. But he insisted. "I can't sell you something that's not what I told you it was."

He was right.

"How about we do store credit?" I asked, adding, "It's just gonna go back to you anyway."

So I bought a couple of hardcovers that I was eyeing, the fake book got tossed in the back issue bins, marked as a reprint, and slapped with a cover price tag. But I'll be shopping at the store again.

Because it's right.

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All in all, a nice comics week for me. Happy Sunday, everyone!

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