Phasers and Fros

Adventures of a New (and clueless) Comic Fan

Guest Post by Pirate Jenny
I always knew that one day, I’d want to do it.
I figured, if I was going to go through with it, I needed to do it sooner rather than later.
But what if I don’t know what to do? What if I make a fool of myself? The concerns raced on.
Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore, the wondering was getting to me. I had to just get on with it, if I truly wanted to know what it was like. I had to see for myself.
I had to bite the bullet, and visit a comic book store.
I’ve heard and read about these great experiences that others have had about hanging out at their local comic store, that it’s a place they value that brings fun and connection for them. I’ve wanted to experience that for myself, and I’ve had a daydream or ten about what these visits look like. I imagine the regulars mosey in and peruse the aisles, loudly swapping banter with the employees. Because I had yet to visit a comic store, I had no real concept of what was discussed, but my imagination suggested discourse that was heady, reflective of a deep fervor for all things illustrative, or tech, or…well, how the hell should I know, I’d yet to go there.
I feel pretty confident that I’ve been completely romanticizing this experience (as I tend to do with most things), and that in fact, I would probably just come across a very boring old store that had folks trying to get the latest issues and be on their way. Or worse, find nothing but irritation as I completely made a fool of myself trying to maneuver that space. Nevertheless, I was still excited to carry out my goal.
A sunny Saturday arrived. After a quick Google search, I found the nearest store in my area, and headed over. Pulled into the parking lot, and walked in. A gentleman was standing in the nearest aisle, a few comics in tow as he checked out the selections. He quickly glanced at me, then returned to his search. Strange, I thought. He’s supposed to be giving me the stink eye. I continued on. I end up near two guys deep in conversation about Marvel-something-or-other. I quickly try to learn the store’s layout and organization, all while trying to find my desired comic (Storm). What was old? What was new? Do I just seek out a section that says Storm? Or are things listed by author? Who wrote Storm? I should probably know that. “I need so much help,” I muttered.
“Do you need help, ma’am?” Weird. He’s supposed to be completely unaffected by my business.
I replied, “Sure. I’m just looking for something for my nephew.”
What? Why do I feel the need to throw my ten-year-old nephew into this?!
The employee, one of the two gentlemen chatting, walks up to me. “What specific comic do you need?”
“Oh. “Star Wars”. He’s into that “Rebels” show right now.” I’m a mess.
The employee was kind of enough to take his time showing me comics for my nephew, and as I take the comics and listen to his reasons behind his recommendations, I feel like a jackass for even lying about my visit in the first place. Here’s this comic store employee, completely willing to help me, not the least bit pretentious. And here I am, afraid to be honest about what I don’t know and what I want to know, so much so that I’d rather spend money on comics for a kid who won’t even read them (trust me, he won’t; watching a tv show title sequence is about as much reading as he likes to dive into).
He finishes his suggestions. It’s now or never girl.
“Um, do you happen to have, uh, “Storm” I guess?” Do not ask or wonder why I phrased the question that way.
“I do. That’s a good one, I like that series.”
Success!
We didn’t chat too much about the comic, just a few comments on the importance of the series. But it was nice all the same. I paid for the comics, and thanked him for his help. “Come back and see us,” he said with a warm smile.
I’ve yet to revisit that store, but I’m certainly sold on the comic store experience. I’m anxious to learn more, to see everything else that’s out there. With comics there seems to be such an expansive culture of narratives. And frankly, you’re not born a comic guru; you have to start somewhere. So while this new territory definitely overwhelms me, if I start small, and look to some trustworthy folks for great suggestions, I think I’ll have fun with all of this.
Pirate Jenny works with youth and their communities.  She observes, live tweets and enjoys copious amounts of Skittles.  She wishes she wrote more.  You can usually find her on Twitter: @pirate_jenn

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