And You Want To Be My Latex Salesman?
With alarming, yet frustratingly unpredicatable frequency, Sea Donkey just never fails to really screw the pooch. You never know when he’s going to strike, and he really got me good this week. Exhibit A is Aya: The Secrets Come Out (Drawn & Quarterly), which was a complete no-show. This book was not in the store. This book was not ordered. The second volume of the book is nestled away on the shelves, but no, not this one. Previous volumes of this book have been released to considerable critical acclaim. They typically make appearances on many best-of lists toward the end of the year. Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie are major talents. I just don’t understand. Is there actually a decision-making process involved here? Does Sea Donkey look at the book and think “Hrmm, shall I order this book? No, no, I don’t think I will for these (wrong) reasons.” Or is it more haphazard? Does he simply throw darts at the Diamond catalogue and blindly order whatever The Great Sea Donkey Gods of Old have divinely instructed him to?
Next up, we have Exhibit B, which is the Book of Genesis Illustrated by Robert Crumb (W.W. Norton). Good ol’ Sea Donk ordered one (1) copy of this book. Last time I checked, Robert Crumb was a pretty important figure in the field of comic books. I mean, seriously… one copy? Why even bother? I come into the store at like 12 noon, Sea Donk has only been open one hour, and of course the lucky bloke in front of me gets to it before I do. Good on him. Man, if I had only made that last green light things would be different. Why am I forced to think this way? As Wiki waxes, “Crumb was a founder of the underground comix movement and is regarded as its most prominent figure. Though one of the most celebrated of comic book artists, Crumb's entire career has unfolded outside the mainstream comic book publishing industry.” I feel like adding to that last sentence “Crumb's entire career has unfolded outside the mainstream comic book publishing industry AND poor retailing practices like that of Sea Donkey.” Wouldn’t you order a minimum of like three copies or something? As far as I know, this is the first time it’s been collected since it originally ran serialized in The New Yorker. Robert Crumb! The New Yorker! One copy?!
After striking out on my first two preferences of the week, I move down to my “Considering” list to see what’s available. Exhibit C: Of course, Sea Donkey has the JLA: 80 Page Giant (DC) available. Of course he does. See, it’s published by Marvel or DC, so we can’t miss out on those books can we? I thumb through it. Hey, there’s Zatanna. There’s The Crimson Avenger. Cool. It looks like Silver Age fun, but the art, oh the art. It is passable at best in spots, but mostly it’s full of disproportioned awkwardly posed people and the few and far between bright spots just can’t justify the $6 price tag as I ponder it in my mind. The quality of the JLA 80 Page Giant isn’t Sea Donkey’s fault of course, but it does its humble part in creating the perfect retailing storm for me. I start panicking. Holy shit, what am I going to buy? I don’t remember the last week that I have actually had nothing to buy. What else is on the list?
Ah, Exhibit D: Best American Comics 2009 (Houghton Mifflin). Surely, His Sea Donkiness will have that book. I’ve seen previous volumes on his shelves. I think I even bought last year’s here amid the morass of Mighty Muggs and Spawn POGS. Oh dear readers, do you hear the crickets chirping? I know I do. I scan the shelves. I ask the hired help. No. No. No. We didn’t order that book either.
I walk around the store aimlessly. I guess I’m not going to buy any comics this week. Sniff. Whatever. I don’t want to give him my money for those books anyway. But then I see it. Scrublands (Fantagraphics) by Joe Daly. Yes, this looks good. I didn’t know this was coming out. A short story about meeting down-on-his-luck Bruce Springsteen? Sold. My single, unanticipated, dejected, review for the week is coming soon.