Compare and contrast

January 12, 2007

I’m assuming that this piece at Comic Book Resources refers to “The Year That Was” in the average Direct Market comic shop, right? And that future parts will address developments from 2006 that aren’t quite so focused on spandex? Because, with all due respect to Civil War, if someone doesn’t mention Fun Home or American Born Chinese as significant developments in the comics industry in 2006, I will be considerably chagrined.

Much more to my liking is John Jakala’s fabulous overview of the year that was over at Sporadic Sequential.

Shop talk

January 12, 2007

Johanna Draper Carlson mentioned the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award the other day, so I swung by the San Diego Comic-Con site to see which shops had won previously. Two of my favorites have never won, so I might have to gather sufficient motivation to nominate them.

The first is Alternative Reality Comics in Las Vegas, which has apparently been nominated twice. For a relatively small space, it’s got a great selection of books and even shelves some titles by genre, which is a nice touch. Its manga selection isn’t as large as some other shops I’ve visited, but it’s one the most interesting I’ve seen with lots of books I don’t usually find on the shelves. The staff has also been friendly and helpful every time I’ve visited. The shop doesn’t seem to have a web site, but here’s an interview with owner Ralph Mathieu at Sequential Tart. I’m not much of a gambler, so I always try and minimize my losses when I go to Vegas, as it’s the best outcome I can hope for. It’s nice to have Alternative Reality as a reason to hold some cash in reserve that might otherwise be lost forever to a slot machine.

The second is The Laughing Ogre in Columbus, Ohio. On my first trip to the store, it was in the middle of a renovation, and it was still one of the best comic shops I’ve ever visited. Now that the renovation is complete, it’s a clean, well-organized, attractive space with a great selection. Their manga section is easily as large as any of the chain bookstores, and the selection is more diverse. The staff is helpful as well. They were in the middle of inventory the first time I stopped by, and they still made time to check in and see if I needed anything, helped me find books, and offered to special-order stuff that wasn’t in stock (or was packed away during the remodel). It wasn’t really practical, since I don’t live in Columbus, but the gesture was appreciated. Plus, Amy Unbounded is a staff favorite, which is probably an excellent litmus test for whether or not I’ll enjoy a comic shopping experience.