Comic book stores have a wonderful ability to create a sense of community. (I think all comic stores do this — it’s just the bad comic book stores create a community I’m not interested in being a part of.)
At the Nick Bertozzi and Jason Little signing yesterday at Big Planet Comics in Bethesda, that’s what I thought of — that sense of community. The actual purpose of being there — buying Bertozzi’s Lewis & Clark and getting it signed — only took a few minutes. (Due to not having much money, I was only able to buy that. I do want Little’s Motel Art Improvement Service but since my mom expressed interest in reading Lewis & Clark, that one won out. Little and I did exchange buttons, though.)
And while I couldn’t fault the people who got their book signed and left, I thought it was a great excuse to spend a couple of hours in a comic book store. I saw friends, met a few people and finally met Jim Dougan in person. And in the time I wasn’t talking, I enjoyed looking at comics (that I can’t afford right now). I hadn’t been in a comic book store in a while due to the aforementioned “not having much money” bit so I had fun picking up and looking at quite a number of books I had yet to see in person.
To me, that’s what events like this should be about: Giving people a reason to hang out with each other.
Whether someone is reading them or making them, comics can make people feel a little isolated. Reading, drawing and writing usually take place when people are on their own. It’s also not uncommon to feel like you’re the only person you know who likes comics or feel like you can’t discuss them in the way you want with friends or coworkers (I don’t particularly have this problem with my friends, but I know my social circle is probably a bit different from most people’s).
I like comic book stores (the good ones, anyway). I like the feeling of interaction, of feeling like I’m a part of something. Yeah, online shopping is great and social media is a great way for us to keep up with each other, but it’s not the same thing.
Which is a really long way of saying: Yesterday afternoon was the fun of the best kind. And now I have Lewis & Clark to read and enjoy. All in all, that I came away with a comic after having fun feels like a good bonus.