Shit! Crap! Dreck! Fooey!

After over a year of living in San Diego, I finally did it. I've been to every single comic book shop I can find on the web, in the yellow pages, by word of mouth, and by aimlessly driving around. And, guess what? For the most part, they totally suck! I just don't get it. Keep in mind, this is all in relation to the San Francisco Bay Area.

From a population standpoint, San Diego is over 3x larger than San Jose and the surrounding South Bay Area. That's 3x the people, 3x the restaurants, 3x the professional sports, 3x the inbound travelers (yes, I know San Diego is a more popular tourist spot than San Jose, but notice I said "inbound travelers," and not tourists, San Jose is just as popular a destination due to all the many business professionals en route to Silicon Valley), it's just plain bigger. There's more of everything. However, according to my loose calculations, there's about half of the comic book shops in San Diego as compared to San Jose. That's 50% of the comic shops for 200% more people! So yeah, point 1) there are fewer shops to choose from in the first place.

Point 2) The stores I've found, with the exception of a mere 2 are complete dogshit. No need to name names, that would only be providing them the slightest form of free advertisement. Overall, they are small, dirty, unorganized, difficult to find, have crappy customer service, fulfill every negative stereotype the industry should be trying to avoid, are unwelcoming to kids, unwelcoming to women, unwelcoming to any modestly discerning fan, have been co-opted by cards, gaming, sports, and anything *but* comics, lack breadth of selection, lack depth of selection, have antiquated bent up back issues full of dust, are dimly lit, musty smelling, and I don't know how they've stayed in business. One shop in a rather trendy part of town, has been there according to the register jock since the 70's. Well, it looked like I stepped into 1978! Like it's literally been sitting there, fading in the sun, gathering grime, while the rest of the modern world has marched on. How do you afford the rent? How the hell are you still in business? Why do people shop there? I'm pissed!

And don't even get me started on customer service. In one place the dude asked me out of nowhere, "what do you like better, DC or Marvel?" As if that's the only choice? I decided not to play along and rejected the whole premise of his question. I retorted "umm, I really prefer something like Oni Press actually." And you know what his brilliant response was? "Snob," he muttered under his breath. "What was that?!" I snapped back, incredulously. Of course, he didn't have the balls to respond. Instead, he started blabbing about how cool 52 is, what about 52, I like 52, do you like 52? "52?" I say. "Yeah, I read it. 52... is shit," I over-enunciate for him, turn and walk out in disgust. Dude, you don't even want to fuck with me today.

I'm apalled. This is San Diego. Home of the San Diego Comic Con-International. The fucking *Mecca* of the comic book universe in the US. And these are the stores? Pitiful. Why is it like this? I can't figure it out. Someone suggested it's because the real estate and cost of living is so expensive. Hello, bitches. I'm from Silicon Valley, the Bay Area. Where $200,000 houses sell for $1,000,000. Don't even tell me it's that, that ain't even it. It's a wash. Is it solely because SF was the birthplace of the underground scene and the entire industry has thrived under that lingering banner of culture to this day? I don't know. Possible, but seems like a stretch. I just don't get it. These places are so out of it.

So, I'm left with a mere two shops in all of San Diego that I even feel remotely comfortable supporting with my money. And really, each is strong in their own right, but it would take combining them both to achieve my favorite store in the Bay Area, Lee's Comics. I have Comickaze, which is pretty cool. It's close to my home and work, easy to get to. The staff is great, and 99% of the time they have what I want with new books. Their ordering practices are solid in terms of depth and breadth. Then there's Southern California Comics, my secret location (which I've now outed!) for all things Silver Age, including my recent Uncanny X-Men acquisitions. But again, if I take both of those, the 2 best stores in all of San Diego... all I get is Lee's Comics from the San Francisco Bay Area.

I'm just shocked.


At 1:00 AM, Blogger Lee Hester said...

Bless you, my child.

- Lee
Lee's Comics

At 8:48 AM, Blogger Justin Giampaoli said...

Hey Lee! Thanks for stopping by. Not sure if you caught it, but there's a little ode to Lee's Comics back in the November 2005 archive. Cheers!


Post a Comment

<< Home