Disturbing Quote of the Day

Last weekend, the local paper did an overview of the comic store scene in Madison, Wisconsin, focusing mainly on Bruce Ayers, who owns Capital City Comics.

Bruce Ayers at Capital City Comics

Bruce Ayers at Capital City Comics

(I shop at competitor Westfield Comics, because Capital City is a more old-fashioned type of store, with a focus on back issues. The amusing thing to me is that the owners of Capital City and Westfield, the two shops in the city, used to be married.)

Unfortunately, the article has a couple of representative quotes that indicate an old-school attitude that made me cringe. First, there’s Ayers:

“It’s a niche market, a niche hobby. I never thought of it as mainstream.”

Although I suppose that’s understandable, since he started his store in 1975, when that was very true. But it doesn’t seem to take into account how much comics have changed since then, particularly with the growth of graphic novels and the bookstore market.

More disturbing to me was this customer, an attorney who wants to rebuild his collection after (as happened to so many kids) his childhood comics were trashed:

“They’re still writing the superhero comics for people my age. My age group is the primary active comic book collecting age group. They still write these stories for us, rather than teenagers, which is nice.”

I suppose it is nice to feel like the market is all about you, no matter your age or whether you’ve grown up, but I would argue that this is why superhero comics (with a few notable exceptions) have become increasingly difficult and depressing to read. They need a certain youthful energy, in my opinion.

11 Responses to “Disturbing Quote of the Day”

  1. Suzene Says:

    “Old school” about covers the feel of the place, and not in a positive way. I had a pull list at Capitol City when I first moved to Wisconsin and my recollection of the shop is of a claustrophobic place with stock stacked in front of stock. Not a bad selection, but browsing could be a chore and you had to work to find things. And the atmosphere left something to be desired. My first words with the fellow behind the counter involved his asking if I’d seen the (then new) Walking Dead TV series and getting a loud, “It was the STUPIDEST thing I’ve ever seen in my life!” when I answered no. I already got my RDA of abrasively negative opinions from the forums, so I didn’t spend a lot of time actually talking comic stuff with the staff after that intro. I finally terminated my pull when I ordered an item, the counter fellow forgot I’d ordered it, opened it, and set it out for display. I didn’t even get an apology once the mistake had been realized. All in all, it reminded of a more permanent version of the comics-dungeon shops that used to spring up in the strip malls.

    Here’s to the shops embracing the mainstream; they’re the last thin line standing between me and the temptation to take my pull-list completely digital.

  2. Jer Says:

    I would argue that this is why superhero comics (with a few notable exceptions) have become increasingly difficult and depressing to read. They need a certain youthful energy, in my opinion.

    I think this is true, but I would also argue that there’s just something innately depressing about reading stories about characters who are essentially childish escapist fantasy taking everything so damn seriously. In small doses there’s no problem with it, but when every superhero comic is doing the same thing, it gets tiresome. You just want to scream “WHY DON’T YOU JUST GROW UP” at the characters. Which has been my on-again, off-again reaction to most takes on Batman since Frank Miller’s take. And it’s been infecting superhero comics across the whole market ever since.

  3. Rick Brown Says:

    Comics are more of a niche market now than ever – look at total sales, at the lowet point in history (by units sold). Almost everything sold is expensive repackaging of material from the 60s 70s and 80s.

  4. Jim Perreault Says:

    Rick Brown wrote:
    Comics are more of a niche market now than ever

    I can believe that for traditional comic books. But certainly, the demand for comic book characters is the highest it has every been. It is amazing how popular they are with kids.

    But I don’t know how the numbers stack up for trades in book stores, as well as manga and digital comics. The first 2 still have a sizable presence in book stores and libraries.


  5. Jim Perreault Says:

    When I was traveling recently, I came across a comic book store like that. I was really surprised that a store like that still existed. There are plenty of alternative stores around.

  6. Johanna Says:

    There’s an audience for “clubhouse” stores like that, focused on back issues, and I don’t have a problem with them serving that market. I just don’t like when that’s the only type of store portrayed — and this article did check in on other types of stores as well, so it wasn’t guilty of that.

  7. Jim Perreault Says:

    I have no problems with shops that cater to the back issue market (although because of e-Bay there’s not too many of those around me). But this place was so crowded and congested with books that it was hard to browse, for both back issues and new books.

    I am a bit surprised the article did not mention the e-Bay influence. Maybe it is less of a concern in Madison.

  8. Johanna Says:

    Madison has a pretty strong buy local attitude, which may be a factor.

  9. Thad Says:

    Argh, Superheroes for Adults.

    I watched Man of Steel last night. It was a Superman movie for people who hate Superman.

  10. Jim Perreault Says:

    Here’s a recent comment on it from this past week:

    The Ultimate Megaplex Mano a Mano for Worst Big Budget Blockbuster of 2013: In this corner, wearing red trunks and blue tights, we have Zack Snyder’s superhumanly tedious “Man of Steel.” Never has urban destruction been more plentiful and more tiresome.

    from http://www.buffalonews.com/gusto/movies/the-best-of-the-rest-and-some-also-rans-and-turkeys-too-20131222

    On a similar note, I thought the last Spider-man movie would have made a great Batman film. But a Spider-man film? Not so much.

  11. Dwight Williams Says:

    Thad: I disagree with your claim about Man of Steel.




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