Yesterday I went to my comic shop and saw the manager, Ty, standing in the doorway.
"What's up?" I asked. During most of my previous trips to Southside, Ty was stationed at the counter, balancing on the stool or sort of pacing behind the display cases.
"We're closing," he said, looking a bit nervous.
"Oh, I'll just grab my stuff and get out of your hair, then," I nodded, looking at my watch and seeing it was 5 til 7. I didn't want to keep him around if he was ready to go home...
And then I put one foot inside the door and realized... Ty was not closing for the night, he and the folks dismantling a few bookshelves were closing the doors of the shop for good.
I guess my expression said it all. "You didn't think we were actually closing," he said.
It was kind of weird. Southside doesn't even really have all that many fixtures. It had shelves on the walls and some folding tables for gaming in the back room, but that was about it. At some point Ty had made the decision to run the shop sort of lean and mean, so it was never littered with the usual unsold action figures and other comic-related merchandise madness that begins to fill a lot of shops.
I have no idea what was to become of the back issues I'd raided on FCBD, nor the comics lining the walls of the shop. I guess Ty is being transferred to the store way, way up North, so that's about the last I'll see of him.
He's transferring my subscription to Funny Papers, which is the same shop I used from Freshman orientation at UT in Fall of '93 until I moved in '02. It's actually about a block and a half from my office, so in some ways, it's more convenient than going to Southside, which was literally on the road on my way home. But, you know, Jamie wasn't too crazy about those hour-long delays I'd have on my way home when I'd address the issues of the DC Comics day with Ty and other comic geeks.
I think the shop I frequented in Tempe, Pop Culture Paradise, has also shut its doors.
The comic game is a tough one, from working as a creator down to keeping the doors open on your shop. And I can't blame folks for closing their doors when the rent goes up. Unfortunately, all those geeks who hang about all day don't actually spend all that much money to keep the place open.
At this point, I think the only comic shop left in South Austin may be Juniors Comics, and that's kind of sad.