James Sime seems like a bit of a pretentious ass, but honestly, he’s the best thing to happen to comics retailing since… ever.
His essay at Millarworld Magazine #2 lays out his whole deal. He tends to do this a lot, but as he wrote somewhere else, the greatest lesson he learned from Stan Lee is “every issue is somebody’s first.” So props to Sime.
Sitting here behind the counter of my new ultra-moderne storefront isn’t just the realization of a dream, it’s the next step in the evolution of comics retailing as I see it. For the last four years my staff and I broke every rule in the old boys club handbook in the service of a better place for comic readers like you and me to enjoy the books we love. My mission was to drive a wrecking ball through the wall that stood between what was happening and what was possible in the world of comic retail by proving there were more options in the way comics could be marketed and sold in the direct market. And no doubt that mission has been a success. Business at the Isotope is hopping, and the next generation of retailers coming up behind me are adopting the model and tailoring it to their specific cities and personal tastes. The times, as they say, are a-changin’ and I couldn’t be happier to be part of it.
Edited to add: why I need to work in a comic shop [from Nora Lally-Graves, one of the “guest retailers” who ran the Isotope while James was at the San Diego Comic Con]:
It’s funny, working retail at a comic store, especially one with as nice a vibe to upkeep as the Isotope, I find that talking about comics all day isn’t anything like a strain for me. I’ve never been too much of a rabid fangirl (Ellis and Harmon notwithstanding), but I always loved chewing the fat about my favorite titles. And now, it’s like someone’s paying me (well, in spiritual capital) to talk about my favorite stories all day long. As if they were saying, “Tell me why you love your favorite band. And then go tell that guy over there. And then that girl. And feel that rush when they’re just as excited about it as you are. Spread your particular brand of insanity.” It’s a great way to spend the day. You meet so many different kinds of people, all into comics for different reasons, and you start to realize what you look like from behind the counter. You see yourself as one of those people, pulled into comics by a specific gravity that is particular to you. They usually fall under the heading of “I love reading them” or “I love looking at the art” or “I can’t wait to see where my favorite character is going”– but people who come into the shop seem to see you as the gatekeeper to all of these worlds, and if you appreciate them as well, if you can talk to them about those worlds… it’s fabulous.