Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Comic Fans Hate Comics

At least, on the internet.

The one thing you always have to remember is that on the internet, 98% of comic books suck. Marvel books, DC books, Image books... no one really talks about the indie stuff. I think it's because it would just be too fucking stupid to debate about how Dork hasn't been the same since Evan Dorkin found Prozac or how Chip Ware sold out or the new costume being worn by the latest moper in Optic Nerve is lame.

According to the critics online, Bill Jemas is the Antichrist, Joe Quesada is a terrorist, and shit that's 20 years old was the best it will ever be. Gwen Stacy having an affair with Norman Osborn, Spider-Man making a deal with Mephisto, Iron Man hunting down Captain America for the government, all of these things are the equivalent of "Lost" ending with Matthew Fox waking up with drool on his shirt and a "Lost" script in his lap, and then calling his agent saying that it was a trippy read and that he'll take the role of Jack. (Holy crap, I just figured out how they're gonna end "Lost!")

Never mind the fact that the majority of almost everything sucks, from music to TV to movies. Never mind the fact that being emotionally invested in something that has undergone numerous changes, often including deaths and weddings and births and drug habits, for over 70 years in some cases. Things suck. Though damned if they can't stop reading.

There was a comment in a talkback on Ain't It Cool News (I know, my fault for going there) about how someone would "never buy Spider-Man again", but would continue to read it in Border's. What the fucking shit?!? That's like how someone is never going to watch "Heroes" again, but will download the torrents. Or how someone is absolutely appalled at the fact that 007 is a blonde now... so they will just have to sneak into "Quantum of Solace". Boy, the Rolling Stones sure do suck now. I'll have to check out that album on Limewire.

Here's a radical idea... if you don't like something, don't fucking read it! This industry has the worst fans. The only other industry that is worse off is the gaming industry (tabletop and card, not video-you know, the type of gaming no one does anymore). Comic fans are whiny and selfish and feel like they own the characters and are entitled to everything. Why can't things stay the same, except for changes that they agree with? Why can't comics be as exactly as they were in 1986?

What makes things worse is that secretly, every one of them dreams of creating comics. Oh sure, what Mark Millar and J. Michael Straczynski is doing is a travesty. Why won't anyone from the Big Apple call Joe Dieavirgin in Podunk, Arkansas? Can't they see only he has the love and talent to make the Hulk great again? I don't think one good writer has come from a forum. Not one. Real writers are getting experience, reading, writing, living life. Things normal people do.

If you ever want to get the urge to swallow bullets, hang around Ain't It Cool and Newsarama for starters. I'm sure I'll get other suggestions, but these two are bad enough. Be sure to say hi to the guy that knows for a fact that DC is better than Marvel and the guy that cried when Blue Beetle got shot Leo DiCaprio style.


Monday, February 11, 2008

My #$@! Co-Workers I: Beware The Phoenix

Oh, I've been waiting for this one.

Due to my quirks, I don't want to run consecutive types of posts, so I don't want to run two "I hate ____" in a row. However, enough posts have been made since my first (and definitely not last) asshole customer that I can now talk about the types of dipshits I worked with. Different subcategory, similar posts.

There is a type of person that exists in the dank, smelly culture of fandom that is one of the most ruthless and despicable of all the scum found within it. That is the (often self-appointed) Cute Comic Chick™. I know what you're thinking. "Who in their right mind has issues with attractive females reading comics?" "Who would have an issue with any female reading comics?" "This is sounding increasingly misogynist, I'm going to place a notice to all the Friends of Lulu. And frankly, this loser is probably bitter because he asked her out and he turned him down or something." Oh, you sad, deluded fools.

The industry is rife with so-called "cool" comic fans who would sooner burn their original copies of Watchmen than not worship these chicks. For reference, see the reaction of the Taki Soma scandal and go search around Suicide Girls for these people.

All of this will be fodder for another example in another post another day. For now, let me regale you with the tale of the Phoenix.

Why the Phoenix? Well, for one Jean Grey was this chick's favorite character. Probably because for two, she bore a passing resemblance to said character. Dyed her hair red, though.

The Phoenix first came into the shop seemingly at random one day, I dunno, probably spring or something. Me and another co-worker were bagging books on Wednesday, and she came, sat down, babbled on about crap and left. We were flabbergasted. Who was this broad? Why was she in here? Did she seem a little "off" to you?

Over time, I got to know the Phoenix. Well, as much in that one can truly know her. She was underage at 17 (you know what they say-Dad says she's too young, but she's old enough for me!-Kip Winger) but seemed to attract a steady stream of dudes in their mid-20s. She was cute, but I recognized that in the comic world she was stunning. Curvy, relatively height-weight proportionate, aforementioned dyed red hair. It was the classic ego-boost of hanging with the nerds. Guys who love George Perez would worship her, guys who love the Patriots would poke her if slightly inebriated. Big diff.

Before too long, she was employed. We thought we had an ace in the hole. A cute chick... working the counter! Getting vulnerable young nerds to spend money! Yeah, didn't really work out like that. She favored spending time on her computer doing who knows what, or using her credit to pay her friends way into the Magic tournaments ensuring we didn't make any money.

One of the weird things with Phoenix was her lust for lying. She loved to lie. A lying liar that lied. Her parents forbade her from passing out flyers in front of a movie theater for fear of being arrested or fined or something, yet she told tales of dating a middle-aged gay with AIDS. She talked of attending an orgy, and yet her most interesting story regarding the orgy was visiting the locale a year later with her friend and finding a condom in the balcony. Whaaaaa? Has she ever heard of an orgy? Seen "Caligula"? Read an issue of "Penthouse Forum?" And bear in mind, she's telling us these events of her past when she's only 17. Apparently her parents were dead, shot down by Joe Chill inspiring her to date middle-aged gays with AIDS and attend orgies but not to screw, see, or hear.

She had quite a temper, too. After I insisted (on the orders of the boss) that I would collect and keep track of the Magic tournament participants/losers, she complained to the boss and threatened to take the Magic tournament with her. Towards the end of the reign of the store, she built a website proposal for us. Pretty much spent a weekend in bed doing it, and wanted something like $600 for it, and blithely informed us that if we didn't accept it that she would shop it around to all the other local comic shops. Needless to say, we didn't acquire her webmastery and neither did any of our competition. Imagine that.

She happens to be the other person from my involvement from the store that has written about their experiences (that I know of). I've read a few entries before my temper told me I should quit while I'm ahead and unarmed. Nothing too upsetting regarding me, but some definite truth-related exaggerations. When in doubt, make shit up. And lo and behold she has a fanbase ready and willing to trade in dignity for a chance of a "cyber"... if the kids still do that.

The stores changed hands at least twice since I worked there, and I go to a better school than she does, so I consider myself at least partly avenged, with the added bonus of being able to sleep at night.

The moral of the story: a lot, not all, but a lot of girls that read comics are weird. If someone tells you shit that sounds made up... they made it up. It's weird to date someone in high school if you're not in high school. And sooner or later everyone gets what's coming to them, whether in the form of a relationship ending, a firing, a changing of schools or the loss of friends. You can't be a weirdo without some form of karmic retribution.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Bathroom Run By Mephisto

If there's one thing that little liar that I worked with was right about, it was on the condition of the bathroom. Granted, bathrooms aren't generally the cleanest of areas. Public bathrooms are worse. And the type of bathroom that would be found in a fast food restaurant, gas station, or locale where there are tons of fat people, snacks, and reading material (I'm talking about a comic shop)? ...it's over, son.

The bathroom was always a little off, mainly because the store was run and more often frequented by guys, and all guys typically do is stand for a few seconds, flush, and leave. Somehow when we moved stores, however, the bathroom went from "meh", to "I must have died and landed in a circle of the Inferno where I have to use this thing every day for all of eternity".

I think most of the blame resides, believe it or not, on the Friday night Heroclix crowd. Often would be the time when on Saturday morning it would be revealed that there was a little "present" in the toilet for whomever were to come across it. I blame this guy with a ponytail, who despite the fact that he lived at home at age 30, managed to date consistently attractive women. He also wrote a 12-part epic on Atlantis that somehow ripped off "Tango & Cash". I don't get it either. And once ran from the shop to puke on the sidewalk. Pure class. However, it could just as easily been the Mole Man.

Every once in a while, it would get to be too much even for me, and I would enlist in my poor mother (what do you want? I'm lazy and cleaning shit up wasn't in my job description) to clean it up. Oh, the redhead might have talked about her cleaning, but the only thing she liked to do was straighten up (big effin' deal) and type on her computer with no line of sight of the customers. She was really good at that last one.

Whenever the bathroom would be cleaned, we would always make vows to keep it to employees only, or friends only, but sooner or later someone would slip up and it would look like the Golgothan exploded in there once again.

What I really hated was being seen as "responsible" for the mess. Like I went around to outhouses and collected waste material to dump in there. Some asshole consistently shat with no regard and it was my duty to clean up after that booty? Not for the low, low pay I got. I remember one lady asking if some kid could use the bathroom as I was ringing her up. I politely explained that the toiler was out of order, and that even the employees closed up and walked to the grocery store 100 feet away to use theirs. Then she asked why it was out of order and I explained that it hadn't been fixed yet. She asked why not and I said the guy hadn't gotten here with his plunger. I mean, for all she knew it had been clogged not five minutes before. I guess we could have closed the store, called a plumber, and called a locksmith to put a lock on the bathroom... but fuck it.

Friday, February 8, 2008

No One Has Bought Anything Ever

This title has two meanings. In one, it basically illustrates the fact that 90% of the people coming into your store aren't going to buy anything. In the other, it's a sage word of wisdom to anyone who has had a nerdy grandpa die, or found comics belonging to you at age 13, before Limp Bizkit and trying to nail teenagers at Hot Topic took over your life, or performed a home invasion of a geek. You are not selling those comics. Not the Lady Death #0 chromium nip-slip edition. Not the issue of Uncanny X-Men where Wolverine and Cyclops perform bukkake on Professor X as he sleeps. Not Action Comics #1, the first appearance of Superman. You ain't sellin' it. Not in this economy, and not in this industry.

The majority of my phone calls and interactions were with people looking to sell stuff. I guess it's nothing too horrible. Phone bill runs a little high, you used to like G.I. Joe, so you figure you can unload some back issues for that extra $25-50. Or, your significant other is a big Antiques Roadshow fan, and it dawns on you that you have a copy of Blue Beetle with Benjamin Fuckin' Franklin's name on it. Still, when you deal with it on an hourly basis... it blows.

Our store wasn't the only that dealt with it. No one in our area bought, and it was even a point of contention in a discussion between Kevin Smith and Bryan Johnson in an episode of SModcast dealing with Johnson's distaste for both comic books and retail.

The reason stores don't buy is usually twofold. In one, times are tough. This ain't the go-go late '90s where we were dealing with national surpluses and comic retailers were snorting coke off of diamond display cases (not to be confused with Diamond Display Cases™ on sale from the Previews catalog for only $199.95!) thanks to the profits of Pokémon. This is the era of comics where bookstores wisely jumped on the manga trade, raking in tons of cash from nerdy/cute teenage girls and the otaku that love them. This is an era where even hillbillies have wifi in their outhouses and toolsheds. This is an era where people download music, movies, and yes, comics for free, and what they can't get free they get from Amazon for 45% off, free shipping and a sensual massage.

The second reason is partly inscribed in the ranting above. Comic shops ain't making a whole lot of money. Even Golden Apple in LA with all its Samuel L. Jacksons and Nicholas Cages didn't earn its owner a hot tub in his stretch Hummer if his obit was any indication. So chances are the local comic shop you frequent (or more likely don't) is just a month away from foreclosure. And Diamond having exclusive rights to Marvel products, DC products, and your first-born ain't helping either.

So the next time you head out to a comic shop with a sack full of Spawns and a head full of dreams... do yourself a favor. Get your eBay on, donate the comics to a children's hospital (a suggestion I would always make that would without fail get a great reaction from a people that have no concept of charity), or just step in front of a moving bus. Because all of those options are better than trying to sell to a comic book store.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Parade of Assholes Part One

The Mole Man

The Mole Man begins a long line of a series of people that made my life Hell-like for the simple reason that perhaps they didn't have enough orgasms. Or something. Fuck, it had to come from somewhere.

I will be using cute little pseudonyms for all people involved, at least until I double-check the legality of free speech. One doesn't want to be sued for slander, you know. The people that frequented my store and my life should be able to figure out what's what, and as for anybody that didn't...well, you probably won't meet any of these people anyway so what do you care? And if you do happen to find yourself within 100 feet of the people described in this forum... run. Run!

So we start first with the Mole Man. Why do I call him the Mole Man? Dude looks just like him. Sometimes things really are that simple. His real name was so goofy, however, that it sounds like he descended from the hobbits from... The Hobbit. I swear. Judging from his height, appearance, and personality, he may just have indeed called Bilbo brother.

He was a shorter, stout man in his early 30s, though scientists and gay fashion critics agree he looked 10-15 years older. He had some sort of floppy hairdo, which hadn't been in fashion since never. He wore wire-framed glasses, had some jowlin' going on, and a voice as high and nerdy as they come. Now, surely with an outside this... eccentric, he must have had an inside as pure and lovely as Jennifer Love Hewitt's bosoms. But oh no. The Master of all Creation was thinking something new with this guy came from the E-Z Bake Person Maker. He was thinking outside the box.

Mole Man was and is an elitist. He would practically have an epileptic seizure when I would suggest something written by Mark Millar. He would talk occasionally of how popular things suck. Really, I didn't interact with him much when he came in sporadically. It's what I discovered afterwards that made him worthy of such purple prose of which I am spittin' like I is on fire.

Mole Man has a LiveJournal. That is sad. That is slit-your-wrists sad that he has one at 35. That is seriously-go-drink-bleach sad that he has LJ "dramas" that a teenager would eschew as immature. Turns out he's something of a creeper and not one for the ladies (I am as shocked as you are) so he's had some troubles with that. His journal is a love affair with music fit for any old hipster to pretend to like. He also is a huge Anglophile. Now the things with Anglophiles is that I've found they're either lonely women who aren't attractive enough for American men, or dudes that hold pretentions, enjoy boring things, and secretly smoke pole. Don't believe me? It's on Wikipedia! (May not be on Wikipedia) So this a-hole's idea of Heaven is a lifetime of Doctor Who episodes and 2000AD comics... two things 98% of the greatest country in the world could give two flying fucks about. (The U.S. hates them too. I was referring to the country of Estonia earlier)

This jackoff also wrote a couple of posts about how me and my comic shop sucked. Apparently we don't order enough Ghost World and don't spin enough Roxy Music. I know, it's weird seeing as how there's a huge market for that stuff in the suburbs of the South. I don't know what we were thinking. Well, now I have a post about how his divorced-and-his-wife-has-a-kid-with-another-dude-how-emasculating-is-that ass. Oh, and people agreed with me that he looked like Mole Man. Haw!

P.S. He brought this other big nerd in once, and the guy looked at this rare Red Skull Heroclix (don't ask) and said "$20! I can find this on eBay for $5!" or something, to which I have the helpful suggestion of "You better get your ass online, then!" Idiot.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Shop Talk

So in order to give these sordid tales some context, I'll give some background on my shop. It was located in a suburb of a capital city of a state in the southeastern U.S. It was within a mile or two (at most) of a major competitor. The shop was later moved, only to have a new competitor move within a mile or two (at most).

The shop was fairly nondescript, being located in a variety of strip malls of varying degrees of success, though none of them containing anything trendier than a Kroger or a K-Mart. The shop was moved towards the end of its run to a city a little less nice than the initial suburb, mainly known for containing negative stereotypes of all the various races, but still safe and far from the "ghetto" as ascribed to it by one of my coworkers (who I will get to later, believe you me).

It began life as a NASCAR memorabilia shop run by the owner's sister and brother-in-law, only to be purchased from them and turned into a comic shop. It mainly consisted of the typical superhero-driven comics and had a grand tradition of barely breaking even with the exceptions of the fads of pogs, yo-yos, Pokémon, and Yu-Gi-Oh. Our customers ran the gamut from cool to soul-crushing jerkwads. So, I figure, typical comic shop crowd. Needless to say, this blog will focus more on the soul-crushing jerkwads.

The owner worked in law-enforcement, something that will be seen as very ironic in stories later to come. I think it goes to show that character and morality are in short supply in all forms of employment, even in areas where one would hope that it mattered the most. I also worked with a sarcastic, alternately cool-and-dickish guy, a guy that went to the same high school as me interested in film that was smart enough to get out quick, a nerdy girl that looked smart but was dumb as a box of rocks who, while religious, had a nympho sister and a weird secret, and a redhead who is the epitome of the Comic Fan's Kryptonite.

I hope the stories and characters are universally recognized yet in that there will be enough quirky details to make this worthwhile reading. Or at least an interesting five-minute diversion a few times a week. I will probably make some people laugh, and make most people cry. Cry that a culture like this exists.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

In The Beginning...

I started this blog about a year ago. At the time, I was unemployed, not in school, and presumably had a lot of free time. However, due to some issues with posting, I got frustrated and quit after 1.5 posts. Also, I got a job, started school, made some friends, etc etc.

But I still have a lot of rage, and I am still here. I am going to restart this blog with a new drive. I will store up some posts, and blanket the web with info for this blog, and see if I can't get mentioned in a snarky post on Rich Johnston's column or something.

My name is Seethe Rogers. Well, not really, but I don't want to put my real name on here, and I think Seethe Rogers is a funny way of combining the angry with the nerdy. Something I've spend 20+ years doing.

Why a blog? Well, everyone apparently has one, including another ex-employee at my old store, and one of our loser customers, so why not?

What will this blog contain? Info on being on the inside of the comic book retail industry. How it feels to run a mediocre, non-descript comic shop. And how it feels to watch it go straight into the ground. Opinions on comic books, fans, the industry, and just an inside look on what it's like to be in your early 20s and make poor decisions on a regular basis.

I will spare no one, including and especially myself. I will shed light on what really goes on, and I will eviscerate all who deserve it (verbally, of course). I'm going to jump around in topics, from the assholes who made my life a living Hell (customers), to the snobs who think anything not published by Slave Labor is crap (face it-you ain't fucking the Suicide Girl), to my boss (who turned out to be someone completely different than who I thought he was). So, if you like your tragic tales with a dose of black comedy updated when the poster feels like it... come aboard!