It was a dark and stormy comic

Dear Internet,
TheHusband recently said to me:

Not only are you one of the most ambitious people I know, but you’re also one of the laziest.

Here’s an example of that statement:
Within the last year or so, I’ve suddenly got a huge lady boner for comics. Having dipped in and out of the various comics (web and print) & graphic novels on and off for years in a variety of formats, as well as knowing a few comic books artists, this is not really that surprising I should have such a huge interest in them. What’s surprising is that the re-sparking of this passion came fairly heavy in my late ’30s and with a fervor of lust usually reserved for my love of chocolate and writing instruments.

Grand Rapids has roughly six comic book stores, of which I’ve been to five. In three of the five, I was pretty much ignored, with or without TheHusband with me, but definitely more so when I was the one doing the buying not TheHusband.  The ignoring was often only broken by the sound of my credit card being swiped in the machine or the monosyllabic comic blocking by the store employees when I asked if they had name of comic/graphic novel/membership/subscription fees/pull list services.  Two of the stores were willing to create pull lists for me but the more established of those two has ignored my repeated attempts to establish this membership1 nor have they returned phone calls when I tried to follow up. Only one store in the area, Argos Bookshop was willing to work with me on getting my titles, doing backorders, and basically being awesome.2
One comic store out of five treated me like a human being and did not (seemingly) discriminate based upon my gender or sex.
I started talking to people I knew, male and female, about comics, their reading habits, and what they wanted. What was interesting is that not only did some of my female friends feel like they were treated less then humanely in some of these stores (or anywhere that was male dominated established culture), but even some of my male friends who are comic readers also were less then enthusiastic about shopping in some of these stores because they too were ignored because they didn’t fit the subculture.
Within a few weeks of this data collection, I was able to identify a lot of pros and cons about comic book retailing in Grand Rapids, but not only that, I had established ways to make it better. I even took research one step further and on my con going trips by attending panels on women and comics, business and comics, and so on. TheHusband and I started using our data, along with ideas to create a business plan that had the following qualities:

  • Female friendly
  • Aesthetically pleasing3
    • Includes user-friendly shopping experience
  • Programming and community involvement
  • Walkable location/centrally located
  • Merchandise expanded beyond comics/graphic novels/manga

We felt that none of the local stores offered anything remotely close to the above and with that in mind, we looked at creating something that would fill an obvious niche.4
Ultimately, as is most projects I get involved with, even though it’s been universally agreed this is a brilliant and doable idea, it will (more then likely) not come to fruition.
And it’s not really about time, money, and interest because two of the three are easily obtainable the the third I can work on obtaining. But somewhere along the way, this project like so many others gets more then fully researched and eventually gets put on the back burner never to see the light of day.
Now TheHusband argues if I want something, and it does not come to fruition, then obviously I must have a lack of will or desire to finish the project. Another good (extremely shorter example) is that I’ve wanted to be writer since I could put pen to paper. Anyone who has known me for quite some time knows I tend to obsess over this topic a lot. I’ve written about it multitude of times in a variety of angels. But yet, even though I have the time, the talent, the tools, and the ideas; nothing is completed or submitted.
Now I disagree with his sentiment, for it surely is not for a lack of desire or will for I have both of those items in spades but I DO know what I am afraid of: hard work and by extension, failure. Add on layer of self-imposed competition and comparison with the world with a mix of procrastination and laziness, and you can see we’ve got a brilliant send-up of someone who is always stuck in the same place.
I know I have brilliant ideas and I know that I could rule the world, but I also know that sometime ago I checked out of the world and that what is crippling me from these ambitions being successful is the previous paragraph.
When placed in that context, suddenly everything takes on a whole new light.

1. Membership is cheap and would give me bag and boarded privileges
2. Argos is so awesome, they emailed me to find out where I had been these last few months since I’ve been laid up AND have been keeping my titles available! They are seriously fantastic and wonderful and I love them.
3. Argos’ comics is tucked in the bookstore proper. Goldmine looks like someone’s bedroom. Whitecap comics is located in old storage area and a lot of the merchandise is so old, the pages on books have yellowed, thick lines of dust everywhere. Apparitions’ has their stuff all spread out so you have current stuff in at least two places and back catalogs are a bit jumbled. GrandLan sells comics only if you pre-order them, but is basically a gaming (video and table) place. Every stereotype of comic book/gaming nerd can be validated in almost every shop listed above.
4.For examples of comic book stores that rock, check out Vault of Midnight in Ann Arbor or Green Brain in Dearborn.

One thought on “It was a dark and stormy comic”

  1. I think I buy both your and your husband’s arguments about things not being finished, because I’m the same way. For example, I became happier about my life back in 2002 or so when I realised the reason I was single was because I wasn’t devoting any mental energy to changing that.
    Daydreams are very enticing for me and it sounds like for you too; exploring that space of possible outcomes, comparing them against desires. A potential escape from the ordinariness of life and creating something that makes a difference to others. Remember pixeljunkies (forget if it was .com, .net or .org) at all?
    I get the impression that, sadly, comics are particularly bad in terms of sexism in the geek sphere. They, plus fighting games, seem to cultivate an atmosphere of elitism and I wonder if that’s a contributor? The world needs more comic stores like the one your plan describes!
    Have you been following the wider debate about women geeks that SDCC revived with the whole booth babe thing?

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