Showdown at the discount store

Posted: January 27th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | No Comments »

Somewhere out there, I’ve got a rival. I don’t know anything about this person – young or old, man or woman, douche or righteous dude.

All I do know is this guy is buying all my comics.

Besides regular trips to my comic shop. I also tend to hit second-hand stores, library sales and used bookstores. (I’m still waiting to find that mythical garage sale where I’ll find a box filled with old titles that the owner is just giving away. And then, THEN my geek fortune will be made! I’ll be a king among nerds! Bwa-ha-ha-haaa!)

One place I’ve been hitting lately is Savers, which is sort of like a nicer and better organized Goodwill. Someone must have just recently donated part of their comics collection because I’ve been finding the most unexpected books there lately. Y’know when you go to a coffee shop and then when you get there you find out they serve pizza, too? Like that.

If you’ve ever pawed your way through boxes and jumbled shelves of books, you know that finding a decent graphic novel or trade -  much less one that’s in good condition – can be rare. When my wife and I were in Savers a few weeks ago I was poking around the books when I noticed a nearly new copy of The Chronicles of Conan, Vol. 14. “Huh,” I thought. “That’s pretty cool. And it’s going for four bucks?”

A no-brainer, right? I must’ve been in a coma at the time because I passed on it. First, I thought, “Oh, c’mon, this will still be here next time. Who else is going to be looking for comics here?” EXCEPT THAT THERE WAS. And the next time I looked for the Conan, it was gone – along with a couple of other titles I was looking at. Someone else was trying to ride the sudden wave of comics, and from then on it was a race.

There’s also the added twist of the store’s wholly inscrutable tag system. It’s more complicated than I want to get into, but the important part is that on Thursdays items with whatever colored tag chosen for that week are a dollar.

One. Dollar.

So not only was my recently discovered trove of trades going for cheap, one day out of the week some of them were really cheap. No wonder the good stuff was disappearing!

After that, if it was Thursday I was at Savers. There were some books I picked up tag or no tag – my rival was out there, circling like a shark waiting to gobble up what he could – but I’ve still managed to load up on trades and graphic novels for a buck each.

Not everything on the shelf have been winners (a lot of it, honestly, is crap), and some of it – like Dan Slott’s run on She-Hulk and J.P. Stassen’s Deogratias: A Tale of Rwanda – are books I already have. But what I have picked up is either something I was interested in or could replace singles squirreled away in longboxes.

So far I’ve managed to pick up:

Three Shadows – Cyril Pedrosa

Betsy and Me – a collection of Jack Cole’s syndicated newspaper strip, sadly cut short after just more than two months by the comic master’s suicide in 1958.

Red Eye, Black Eye – A chronicle of the cross-country Greyhound travels of K. Thor Jensen

The Amazing, Remarkable Monsieur Leotard – The amazing and remarkably beautiful book by Eddie Campbell and Dan Best.

Superman: The Bottle City of Kandor – ‘Cause Daddy’s got to have his Silver Age Superman.

Desolation Jones, Vol. 1 – Warren Ellis writing, J.H. Williams III. ‘Nuff said.

The American Way – An entertaining, if sometimes heavy-handed, superhero story set in the simmering American South on the edge of the Civil Rights Movement; written by John Ridley and penciled by Georges Jeanty.

Flaming Carrot Comics, Vol. 6 – Absurdity in its purest, finest form as rendered by Bob Burden. Don’t you judge me.

Lone Wolf and Cub, Vol. 2 – The second book in the iconic series by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima. I somehow managed to pick this up for just 69 cents.

All told I’ve managed to  bring a  little more than $140 worth of comics home for about 10 dollars. I love my comic shop, but there’s no way I could (or should – they have to make a living, y’know) get even two of the same titles for nearly that price. Besides, any money I save is usually destined for monthlies and other trades anyway, so it’s all part of the comic book cycle of life.

And in any case, like most unexpectedly rich veins of precious gold, this one is about to run dry. Trades and graphic novels are becoming harder and harder to find lately – I’ve even taken to squinting at the children’s and non-fiction sections just in case there’s a mis-shelved book. I may have to admit that I’ve had a good run, but the inexpensive fattening of my collection is probably going to be a lot tougher from now on.

At least I can comfort myself knowing that times are lean for my shadowy rival, too. And it’s not like I’ve been sharing this sweet spot with anyone el …

Ah, crap.