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"We need to make books cool again. If you go home with someone & they don't have books, don't fuck 'em."--John Waters

I'm the author of more than twenty novels including SHADOW SEASON, THE COLD SPOT, THE COLDEST MILE, THE MIDNIGHT ROAD, THE DEAD LETTERS, and A CHOIR OF ILL CHILDREN. Look for my next one THE LAST KIND WORDS due out May '12 from Bantam Books. Contact: PicSelf1@aol.com

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

How You Waste a Whole Day Trying to Track Down A Comic Book (and Fail Miserably)

The longer I live out here in Loveland, Colorado, the more I miss New York. In NY I could toss a stick and hit 20 comic shops. Out here, there’s two within an hour’s drive.

Punisher #75, featuring stories written by Greg Hurwitz, Duane Swierczynski, Charlie Huston, Peter Milligan, and myself, hit the stands today. I started the day out all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as I’m ever likely to get anyway, and decided to hit the local comic shop to nab a couple copies. I’m a comics geek. This is a big moment for me. Right on.

Got to the shop about 20 minutes before they opened at 12:30, so I drove over to a second hand bookstore and scrounged around the dusty stacks for a while. Zipped back over to the shop at 12:45. Still not open. With growing irritation, I killed another half hour at a different bookstore.

Tried the comic shop one more time at 1:15, 45 minutes after they supposedly opened today. Still closed. Fuck ‘em, they’ve lost my business.

So I drove up to Fort Collins and tried the one comic shop they have in town. Took me a half hour to get there and another ten minutes to park down in Old Town where there’s all kinds of tight road work happening.

The place is owned by a husband and wife team. Stepped in and spotted the wife putting new comics on the wall. Asked her about Punisher #75.

She said, "That’s not out today."

"Ah, yes, it is."

"No, you’re wrong. No matter what they say on their website, it’s due out next week."

She seemed very certain of herself. Was it possible I’d made a mistake? My editor at Marvel specifically told me it was due out today. But he edits dozens of comics a month. Maybe he was wrong or I got confused on the dates?

The husband pops up from behind the counter and says, "No, it’s here."

"Great!" I say.

"But they’re all damaged copies."

"All damaged?"

"Yes, they’re really fucked up."

"Can I see a copy anyway?"

The guy reaches down into a box and flings the issue at me as if he’s disgusted with its condition. It has the slightest bend at the corner. It probably got bent when he zealously hurled it at me. It’s damn near pristine. I tell him, "This is fine. I’ll take five copies."

He looks at me like I’m out of my bird. "Well, I’m not going to sell it to you!"

"Why not?"

"I’ve already reported them damaged. I have to mail it back. I’ll have more copies next week. Come back then."

I leave the store in somewhat of a daze. Fuck ‘em, they’ve lost my business.

I decide to try the first shop one last time. Maybe someone just overslept. Maybe they took an early lunch. Maybe their car stalled on the side of I-25. I head back to the shop and sure enough, now it’s open. All I needed was faith.

I walk in and check the new comics rack. No Punisher #75. This no longer surprises me. This is something of a foregone conclusion. I ask the owner about the new comics.

"We don’t get new comics on Wednesday."

"But new comics come out on Wednesday. Everyone knows that."

"Yeah, they’re out, but we don’t get them. We get ours on Thursday."

"Why?"

"Otherwise we’d have to drive down to Denver to get them."

This makes no sense to me. Comics are delivered to comic shops. "Why?"

"It’s just how we do it."

Well, in point of fact, it’s just how they don’t do it. If they were doing it, if they were actively pursuing something to its goddamn conclusion, they’d have the comics.

"Okay," I tell the guy. "Pull five copies aside for me."

"I can’t."

"You can’t?"

"I don’t know if I’ll have five extras."

"Okay, pull one extra."

"I can’t."

"You can’t?"

"I don’t know if I’ll have even one extra."

"How about if I come back tomorrow and check and if you have any extras I’ll buy them from you?"

"Okay."

Score: The World 1, Pic 0.

Hopefully you will have much better luck than I did.

While I was there I did manage to nab a copy of issue one of Ed Brubaker’s CRIMINAL: THE SINNERS. Another noir/hardboiled storyline that will rock your socks off. If you haven’t picked up the earlier CRIMINAL comics or graphic novels, do so immediately. The man knows how to write a hard tale, and Sean Phillips, the artist, is also flat-out amazing. Best of all, Ed even gives a nod to SHADOW SEASON at the back of the issue.

11 comments:

Brian said...

You should have taken the drive up to Cheyenne. They've got a big stack.

Kid Dork said...

Yes, I did pick up a copy. Here in Canada we take Comic Book Wednesday very seriously. We may even make it a national holiday.

Sorry to hear about the crap luck, Tom. I see Blair Butler grabbed a copy--maybe she'll make it her Pick of the Week?

Tom Piccirilli said...

Maybe I will hit HEROES ONLY, for the hell of it. Of course, Cheyenne only comes to life when Brian comes to town.

Thanks, Kid, I'll nab it somewhere.

Jamie Eyberg said...

Now I want to head to Ames, IA to Mayhem comics and see if I can find a copy. I haven't bought a comic in years, but I might have to start again.

Steve Weddle said...

So the one store told you it wasn't out until next week because that's when they'd get their copies? That's crazy.

Sad day when the author of a comic has a tough time convincing the store to sell him the comic.

I'll be in town today and I'll try to pick up a copy of P#75. We'll see how it goes.

Mike Oliveri said...

How do these people stay in business?

Chris said...

If it wasn't for the big bucks you make writing comics, it would hardly be worth it, eh? *cough*

I'll be picking that issue up at my LCS, if they have it. Seems often as not a lot of the stuff I want they don't have. But they're good people, so I suck it up.

Anonymous said...

Time Warp in Boulder is one of the best shops in the country. Certainly the best in Colorado. I try to get down there from Ft. Collins every other month or so.

Halleys has been in business for over twenty years, while other shops in the Fort have come and gone. Must be doing something right? Maybe?

Tom Piccirilli said...

Sure, Halleys is doing plenty right. They just didn't do plenty right by me in this particular case. Next time, maybe things will go much smoother all the way around.

They do have a cool cat too.

Phantom of Pulp said...

What a bunch of bloody twits!

Why run a business if you're going to be so what-me-worry about it.

Hilarious (in retrospect) how they wouldn't even take your order.

Imbecility knows no bounds.

Martin Roberts said...

I managed to snag a copy at my local Forbidden Planet, which is amazing since they have botched up so many pre-orders in past that I've given up trying to pick up American comics...