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Avril Brown Presents:


Let’s talk shop.

Comic shops, that is. Heavenly meccas for the dorkly inclined. Crackhouses for geeky junkies. The few places on this green earth where comic book fans gather en mass to celebrate our nerdy nature.

But for what reason, other than to simply pick up our books, do we go to our comic book shop? What is it that draws us to a particular shop?

When I first started collecting comics I picked them up from my local Walgreens. They sat on a little wire stand, pages already a bit worn from browsers or kids who can’t afford to get all the titles they want. When they stopped carrying comics I was forced to find my first comic shop. (And how sad is that when upon walking into your local pharmacy you can still find the latest romance novel, guaranteed make your bosom heave, and you can’t find major comic book titles?)

I don’t remember much about my first shop, save I loved it. I didn’t fear the odd looks from people at the register (I’m a sensitive soul). I was the recipient of indulgent, ‘Aw, isn’t she cute?’ genuine smiles rather than the ‘Is she drunk?’ wry smiles I received at Walgreens. But then my shop closed, unexpectedly, and without warning. I went one day to pick up my books, and the doors were locked and ‘Out of business’ signs were up. I felt betrayed. I wasn’t the most generous patron, and certainly not the most experienced, but this was the first place I felt accepted and welcome for my new found addiction. The shop’s closure made me realize what I needed. Not just a place to buy my books, but a place where I felt comfortable and confident to ask questions and talk about my books.

That’s when I found ‘Something Wicked.’ It was mainly a mystery book store, but it had a comic book ‘cave,’ complete with a knowledgeable employee who looked and sounded a lot like the comic book store guy from the Simpsons. Thankfully he was a lot nicer than his bitter cartoon alter ego. Still, my dad could hardly keep his countenance the first time he went to the shop with me.

Visiting ‘Something Wicked’ was like getting a drink at Cheers. Everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came. Comic book store guy was always there with my books and the latest information on what was coming next week. He was the one I pitched my schpeal to when Wolverine was apparently killed in Astonishing X-Men #3 in 1999. I launched into all the reasons why this was impossible, a passionate if a bit incoherent plea. (This is back when I was still relatively new to comics, therefore ignorant of the fact that Wolverine seems to die more often than Jean “Just kidding, I’m not really dead” Grey.) He smiled and let me rant, occasionally offering his own theories on the subject. After I went off to college he shipped my titles to me so I could easily follow my beloved mutants from the comfort of my dorm room.

When ‘Something Wicked’ folded I at least had some advance warning, coupled with encouraging news. The owner of the shop was opening a new store, a true comic shop. Glory be and hallelujah! ‘Evil Squirrel Comics’ (gotta love that name) has changed locations once since it opened its doors a few years ago, but now permanently resides at 6928 N. Glenwood Ave. in Chicago. Shawn, the owner, is a warm, engaging guy who’s always up for a chat about the latest happenings in the books. Carrying this practice over from ‘Something Wicked,’ if you’re a subscriber (which is no extra charge), he pulls your titles every week AND you get either a ten percent or fifteen percent discount, depending on how many books you get. Plus, they’re all bagged and boarded, again at no extra cost. How awesome is that? Couple that with excellent customer service and my deep-rooted sense of loyalty to the people and things I care about, why would I go anywhere else?

We go to our comic shops to feed our need, and not just the need for twenty-two shiny pages of colorful art and emotion. Humans are a social species, and even self-described loners need some contact with another person once in awhile, and especially when it comes to something we’re passionate about. I love going to my comic shop because I can talk about these characters I love, and someone is going to talk back. My family was, and continues to be, loving, caring and supportive of my habit. But smiling and nodding when I bitch about the latest monkey wrench in Rogue and Gambit’s love life is not the same as someone voraciously agreeing with me and ripping Peter Milligan a new one for breaking them up AGAIN.

Like I’ve said before, comic book fans love to read comics and talk about comics. Our beloved shops are some of the few places where we’re guaranteed the opportunity to do both. Plus, in your local comic book shop, you can see our troubles are all the same.

Learn more about Evil Squirrel Comics here.

Avril Brown

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