I made a big decision last week. I talked it over with MrGiantwoman, and we agreed that it was for the best for our future. I'm not talking about coming off all my medication (although I have done that recently too), I'm talking about cancelling our entire pull list with our local comic shop. The entire thing, some 50+ titles per month. This was obviously a massive choice for us to make, given that the shop is a mere fifteen minute walk from my work, and they have been good enough to us in the past to let us have books on credit the week before pay day, all three staff from the shop came to my 30th birthday party last year, and we recently went to London Super Comic Con with the two shop owners. So why did we do it?!
Part of it is to do with money. Everyone is tightening their belts again this year, the cost of living has gone up again and there is no sign of a payrise on the horizon for many of us, so spending the crazy amount we were on books just wasn't feasible in the long term. Plus we are still paying off our trip to NYCC last year and trying to work out how we can get back to the States to see all our awesome friends out there again, sooner rather than later.
It wasn't just that though. For me it was an emotional l decision. I get very stressed and anxious about the littlest things, which affects my health. New comic book day is supposed to be fun, and time to chat to your friends, discuss what each of you is picking up, post pictures online of your haul, and have a good time reading the new issues.
But it isn't for us any more.
Every week I would get an impending sense of dread as my lunch break approached, wondering which books we would be missing this week. You may have noticed that I tend to post my pull list online prior to visiting the shop each Wednesday. I actually started doing that to save myself printing off copy of my list to take with me every week, as I have to meticulously check off each book to make sure we have it. It was okay though, because every week there would be two or more books in our box that we neither asked for nor had ever expressed an interest in... Oh no wait, it's the other one. The one where that doesn't make it okay, it makes it worse. The last three books they missed from our list were Mind The Gap, Deadpool and Flash. If you've met (or know) MrGiantwoman and I, you will know why this is an major issue. Add that to the fact that we have been going to this shop for over two years, and you may start to see why I stopped looking forward to the trip.
I am going to absolve myself of blame for the missed books too, as every month we would leaf through the latest issue of Previews borrowing it at closing time on a Wednesday or Thursday, then dropping it back in before they opened the next day so that no-one would miss out on taking a look, along with a list of all the title we would like in addition to those we already have. Only last month they decided that if we wanted to look at it we would have to buy a copy. Fair enough, they are a business, they need to make money. Would have been nice if they had told us before they sold all their copies though, so we could not make a list for June, this not including the fact that they called me at work to demand their copy back. The one I hadn't borrowed...
I don't want this to turn in to a list of complaints about a shop that won't be able to respond (they are all technophobes after all) but the other main issue I had was their organisation. I am a creature of habit. Every Wednesday I leave my office at the same time, take the same amount of time to walk to the lcs, and every week - without fail - they will not have pulled my books for me. They have a book of orders you see, and we are pages 63 - 66 in the book. The lady that pulls the books doesn't make it past page 43-ish by 2:15pm on a Wednesday. Even if I phone ahead and remind her that I'll be in at 2:15pm. Sigh.
If I am going to spend £200+ in a shop each and every month I at least want them to show me a modicum of respect as a customer, and to make a bit of an effort to get my order right, and ready when I want it. Maybe I was spoiled by visiting the wonderful Tor Comics on Long Island, but the sense of community in that store, and the solid organisational core they had, was something to behold. Bearing in mind the relationship we thought we had with the two owners (they offered me a job recently), the fact that neither have been in touch to ask about our cancellation speaks volumes to me.
So, for the future (we will still take our books up to May due to their ordering process), who knows. After a recent visit to Orbital comics in London we might try their subscription service, if not it might be the corporate giant that is Forbidden Planet. We aren't going to go without our comic book, we just need a way of getting them into our desperate little mitts...