We had a ringette game in the city last Friday. En route to the arena I spotted a small comic book store I'd visited a few years earlier. I was astonished to see it was still open for business: I'd originally paid it a visit during the day, and was the sole customer. The guy who ran the place was approachable, and had a gentle enthusiasm for his product that wasn't too hard to take. At the time I noticed that nearly every major Marvel storyline was written by Ed Brubaker. I asked if this was a case of Brubaker really being that good, or the rest of Marvel's stable being pathetic. This opened the floodgates, but the short answer was, “Yes.” I left an hour later with a few choice collections, but wondered how much longer this place could survive.
One of my weekly blog-visits is Valerie D'Orazio's Occasional Superheroine (hat-tip to JS). When D'Orazio announced a forthcoming gig as writer for a Punisher one-off, I made a mental footnote to look into it. Now, here we were, with this store still very much in business. I asked my daughter if she'd mind stopping for a quick visit. She said no, so in we went.
With both of my daughters in adolescence stores now fall into two categories: 1) the kind where I find a chair while the girls dive in; 2) the kind where the daughters stick to their father's side like a pair of extra ribs, because the only subject of interest is When can we get out of here? Even though the girls can spend hours poring over comics at home, the comic book store fell decidedly into the latter category.
First of all, the place was packed. People milled about the racks, the air was raucous with boisterous conversation, and the guy I'd originally met danced from clique to clique. “Hey, you're new!” He skipped over as we crossed the threshold. “If you have any questions about anything you see, just ask me. I read everything that comes in!” I thanked him, but he was already gone, keen to interject a personal observation into a discussion regarding the discrepancies between the novels and on-line dynamics of World of Warcraft. I forged through the crowds, with my daughter following close behind.
For all the talk of on-line gaming, there was a distinct absence of internet technology. I saw one Blackberry in use, but other than that, nothing. I noticed an open door revealing a plain white room illuminated by fluorescent lights, furnished with folding tables and chairs. I took a closer look, expecting to see laptops or computer monitors. Instead there were companies of guys playing an elaborate card game (Magic, from the looks of it). I moved back to the racks, found what I was looking for, then bought it and left.
When we reached a discreet distance from the shop, I said, “Did you notice anything about that place?”
My daughter shrugged. “Like what?”
“Like, you were the only girl there.”
“Well, I noticed that.”
“Did you notice anything about the guys in there?”
I shook my head and sighed. “Your grandmother used to worry I'd take up permanent residency there.”