Silver Bullet Comics: The Court Files
I owe W. Alan Davis, of Silver Bullet Comics (SBC), an apology. I don’t agree with some of his decisions, and I don’t recommend shopping from him until more problems are shown to be resolved, but some people were using my site to propagate rumors about him that have no basis in fact.
Specifically, the owner of local competitor Ssalefish Comics asserted that a former customer of SBC (and current Ssalefish customer) had sued in small claims court in mid-October for a refund of money prepaid for comics. Supposedly, this customer won a judgment against Davis for the amount.
The problem is, the Forsyth County Civil Records department has absolutely no record of such a case. No judgment, no filing, no complaint, nothing.
Now, it could be the case that necessary paperwork somehow got misplaced. I find that unlikely, though, because there would be at least two rounds of it (the initial complaint, and then the judgment). Plus, these folks usually do a pretty good job with public records. The woman I spoke with was very helpful in looking up different combinations of names and dates. She turned up a number of other liens against Davis and Silver Bullet over the past three years, but nothing of what I’d been told was there.
The customer who supposedly won this case has been asked to contact me, but he has yet to do so, and his information doesn’t appear in online directories. Until he’s willing to come forward and clear up this situation, I’m going to jump to my own conclusions. I think he was blustering, making himself part of a hot local story, and when it became a bigger deal than he expected, he couldn’t back down. And the store owner he told spread the story a lot further than the customer intended, because it suited his idea of how his competitor did business, even though it didn’t actually happen. (That’s the classic “urban legend” rationale: people keep telling the story because it seems to them how the world *should* work.) However, the owner of Ssalefish seemed to want to find the truth, even taking the time to do on-site courthouse research to back up my phone investigation, for which I thank him.
Davis reports that the customer was often late in picking up his pull box books but had never been asked to prepay for anything. He attributes the whole thing to the customer wanting, after they closed, to take possession of books set aside for him but not paid for. His take on this particular accusation is as follows:
I know that gossip, like a train wreck, is hard for people to look away from. However, when that gossip takes the form of lies to suit an agenda, it moves from tabloid journalism into libel, and I applaud your professionalism for not letting a dishonest smear campaign take hold in your virtual pages.
We are working hard to resolve our complicated issues, both professionally and personally, as has been verified by many customers. We do humbly ask for patience and understanding as we resolve these issues. I again remind anyone possibly needing particular assistance to email firstname.lastname@example.org. Once all is resolved, with our customers and personally, I’ll be happy to get into more detail on just how this unfortunate series of events transpired. Only after putting all our efforts to those inconvenienced customers, do I feel the time is appropriate to do so.
The story may not be over — Ssalefish’s owner now says that he’s talked to a police officer who took a complaint from the customer, but the officer hasn’t yet had a chance to find the paperwork — but I’m done with it for now. Ssalefish admits that his accusation isn’t provable but still believes it’s true. Me, I think these guys need to spend more attention on their own business and quit spreading rumors about and attacking each other. All of this (including Ssalefish’s “I know tomorrow I’ll find evidence!” goalpost-moving approach) is tawdry and gives retailers a bad name.
Thank you Johanna for doing something that a lot of people on the internet (bloggers and podcasters especially) don’t do: verify something you have heard. For all the disparaging remarks made lately towards a lack of comics journalism, I’m glad to see that someone is at least trying.