Thursday, June 01, 2006

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

comics 6

I recently wrote about "what's wrong with comic shops", and how it would be better for the business of comics and the artform if the comic shops reached out to and included women.

But then again, this tireless inclusiveness smacks of, well, the wussyfication of things.

Comic shop owners and managers can run their places anyway they want to, of course. Time will tell what works best, and I still believe a shot of "Bubble Tea Culture" would do them a world of good, despite my own personal distaste for mangaesthetics. Comics shops can be as grunge and loud and smokey as they want to be -- customers shape the environment.

Some shops will be nerdy and creepy. Some shops will be icy, too cool, too distant, too corporate. Some shops will be pink, and some will be blue. Some will be red and black. Every shop ought to be a little different -- there shouldn't be just one way to run a place, because there isn't just one kind of comics-reader. That's the point: there isn't just one kind of reader.

So run your shop how you like -- your customers, eventually, will make it what it is, and it's their personalities and tastes that end up shaping "the medium" anyway. The danger is in monism -- whether powered by a desire to be just as successful as a Barnes&Nobles, or whether it comes from a need to reach out and "include" everybody (thereby making every place the same, every shop soft).

In the end, I go to lots of different comic shops because I like that each one is a little different. It's the diversity that keeps the game interesting. We don't all want to read superhero stories, and we don't all want to read manga -- it's the differences and variagation that keeps this game alive.

Librarians would do well to remember this too. Give every branch an edge, every section a personality.