Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Rambling evening update

I guess I've been on the quiet side the past few days. No new posts and whatnot since the weekend update (delayed to make room for The Admiral's B-Day) and the great Mallow Dog taste test (which actually occurred over the weekend).

I've been really busy with work as I wind up my current job and also start a new semester for the online kiddies. I tried to get Jamie to fill in for me yesterday, but she was also busy dealing with house-related work. Buying, selling and moving a house across the country is a full-time job. I do not understand how people are able to perform this particular hat-trick who do not have someone available to work on all the related tasks during the working day.

I also am getting old. These days when I have a long day at work, I'm ready to start wandering off to bed at 10:00. What happened to fun-time 26 year old Ryan who would stay up until 2:00AM playing The Sims and then get up at 6:30, have a gallon of coffee and still make it to Tae Kwon Do? Sure, most of my twenties is now a caffeine-riddled blur, but I squeezed a lot of hours out of my day. I haven't loved sleep this much since high school.

I also haven't been running. Sure, today I can use the pouring rain as an excuse, but yesterday...? The only day I've been running this week was Tuesday, and that's pathetic.

Last night I finally saw my LCS-owner. He's been AWOL for a while, allowing his lieutenants to run the shop. Apparently he's planning to close his doors in December.

I find it depressing, but it's also been fascinating to watch him take over the shop and make what I consider to be genuine improvements, only to get busy with the details of life, get hit with the ebb and flow of the student population shrinking over summer, and now the city is planning major construction outside his door which will basically prevent access to the shop for a year or two. I have some ideas for what I might have done to change the store up a bit more and make it like unto Austin Books (given size constraints), but fate has dealt the guy a pretty tough hand. Plus, one of his loyalist customers is pulling up stakes and leaving town, so that's money out of his pocket.

I love the idea of owning a comic shop, but it's a tough racket. I've always sort of felt that I couldn't handle the idea of having to deal with comic-dorks day in and day out. I think a lot of these guys sort of feel like a comic shop is their living room and want to treat the shop that way, but that's not good for anybody BUT those comic dorks. There's a reason Moms get uncomfortable taking their 12-year old into a lot of comic shops, and the trashed basement/ never-kissed-a-girl boys' club feel of comic shops is tough to mitigate, but its do-able. Atomic Comics at the Chandler Mall is making money hand over fist because the front of the store is filled with Yu-Gi-Oh, Godzilla and kid-friendly fare. It's clean and shiny. The employees wear a uniform black t-shirt with the store logo. It basically looks like a store and not like the dorky guy's dorm room.

Austin Books might still be a bit intimidating for the moms, but for the adult crowd, the store is wonderfully laid out with wall shelves displaying covers of new comics, areas for specific creators, toys and whatnot nicely displayed around the perimeter of the back, and a large, open area for long boxes full of back-issues in the back.

But, mostly, if an employee walks by and you're not already elbow deep in back issues of Action Comics, they ask you if they can help you. Not: "What are you looking for?" (which to me is sort of a tough question to ask people who are just wandering in off the street and might be a one-time buyer) Not: "Let me tell you about my favorite comic..." So, yeah... It's a little more approachable. And because there's not a gaggle of guys hanging out by the front door, you aren't breaking up a conversation just by walking by the counter. It doesn't feel like a big deal to ask to see one of the collector's item issues behind the glass.

I'm going to be going on a bit of a comic-shop odyssey when I get to Austin. Part of it will be trying to figure out if I want to buy near my house (there are at least two stores within three miles) or wherever I end up working. Obviously I'm pretty picky, but I'll be chasing that discount all the way, so if i end up half-way across town, I end up half-way across town. With the number of titles I follow, I can't afford not to get a discount.

Oh, and speaking of comics: Justice League #1 by Brad Meltzer and Ed Benes was really, really good. I'm hoping the Dr. Impossible character (I know, I already lost some of you with a character named Dr. Impossible) is a forshadowing of Mr. Miracle making the final cut for the new JLA. If not, he's still an interesting idea, so I look forward to seeing this all play out. And that's the key, isn't it?

Also, did anyone else read Batman 656? I wasn't sure what Morrison meant by ditching the somber, moody Batman, but this is the most excited I've been by a Batman comic in a long time. There's no mistaking that it's still Batman, but the spin is very good, and the story is already showing all the signs of Morrison-style madness. Plus, the art by Andy Kubert is top-notch, adding to the story in a way that really uses the medium. Sure, it harkens back to the giant type-writer days, but in a way that makes sense. If this is the Batman to come, I'm onboard.

I am going to be taking advantage of my change of comic shops to do a purge of comics that I'm currently picking up on a monthly basis. Some of them I've been reading out of some misplaced sense of loyalty. Some of these I've been collecting out of habit. I don't look forward to putting comics on the chopping block, but if I take it off my pull list and see that I really miss the title, well... Hopefully I can still pick it up off the shelf and eventually add it back to the list. However, a lot of the time when I drop a title, it stays dropped until the title is cancelled or there's a massive overhaul in the creative teams on the book.

We'll see.

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