A Journey to Seattle
As mentioned on our episode covering issue two of “Dastardly and Muttley” I, Davis the obnoxious one, took a trip recently to Seattle. The trip was magical. It lived up to the wonderland of beer and coffee I expected it to be and overall I was not disappointed with my decisions I made while there. The life of an amateur comic book reviewer is always filled with comic books and other nerdly-oriented things. So on this trip I knew I had to go to a comic shop and see what variations, or at least local flare, they could throw into it, and after a brief search I found the one I knew I had to visit: The Artful Dodger. This was a comic book shop and tattoo parlor in one. I mean...it's poetic. Ink on the paper, ink on the skin. It’s a great synergy between the art of comics, tattooing, and having people buy things from you in the sense of stories and body modifications. Imagine if a comic book artist was also a tattoo artist: You could literally have the artist draw your favorite character that they created on your arm.
When I arrived in town the weather was almost nothing like I planned it to be. Bit of sun, bit of clouds, no rain, little dreary. Honestly, it was downright pleasant when I arrived. It was perfect weather to walk around in, so I did (topography is overrated. I did enjoy actually having the option of walking up or down a hill, but I’ll stick to the flat lands for now). During that walking I went to the Pike’s Place Market and I ended up at a comic book shop its wooden catacombs. Immediately I noticed the various racks and counter space filled with multiple licensed pop culture mystery figurine boxes and the normal accoutrement that is found in my local comic shop. The place was organized and laid out as per normal. The deviation in this place was they had two large shelves with movie scripts, ranging from fifteen to twenty dollars in price. There were the nerd classics like “Star Wars: Episode IV The Empire Strikes Back” and “Blade Runner” but other random movies like “40 Year Old Virgin” making that fixture the most unique aspect of any comic book shop I’ve been to.
After this shop the seal was broken and my interests were piqued. What other unique features do other comic book shops in this town have? Why did I not check to see if they had Sleepless in Seattle? Do they have comic Shops in Los Angeles that sell signed copies of scripts or non signed ones you can buy to have the director sign if you see them? Wait, do these people just go online, download scripts, print them off at Fed Ex/Kinko’s with a nice cover, and sell them at a high cost? Now my vacation had a new side quest. Find comic book shops so you can blog about it for your podcast. Yes sometimes you just can’t turn some things off.
A few days into my trip, after a wonderful streetcar ride and a breakfast that came with a light salad for some reason, I wound up at another comic book shop shaking off the slight drop in weather and getting out of the way of a disheveled man with red face paint covering most of his skull yelling at his belle on the streets. The shop was simple, quaint even. Half of the shop was nothing but trades and board games, and the other half was tables and chairs for various tabletop games. The store worker was kind enough to let me meander through the same five shelves to stave off the cold (if you're reading this, thank you!)
From this shop there were only a few blocks between The Artful Dodger and me. I went there and was greeted by two shopkeepers at a body jewelry store. We laughed about how I obviously looked like I was waiting for the comic store to open and, as someone who has never participated in that scene, the jewelry was gorgeous. The shop opened and I walked into exactly what the description said it was. It was a comic book shop and tattoo parlor. The walls were adorned with Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace action figures, a bunch of older trades, and a relatively small collection overall. Unfortunately when I left the store, I left a little let down. Going to a large city I was expecting a giant full size comic store with a full sized tattoo parlor attached to it. That being said, the venue was very cool and is worth a visit - just know that it seemed to be a tattoo parlor first and comic book shop second.
This was the start of my day. The rest of my continued and I found myself at the final comic shop I would visit on my trip. I popped in and from what I can recall (again I was in Seattle that town can get crazy) when left to your own devices, it was a comic shop just like the one I frequent back home. Tall shelves, kind staff, local books, and it had the same feeling of familiarity that I get every time I walk into my frequented comic shop. I bought a copy of The Jetsons comic there.
Get it if you like impending doom literature...but honestly it wasn't for me.
All in all I enjoyed the comic scene in this corner of the Pacific Northwest. I feel there is a degree of homogenization in comic shops today. I can to almost any shop and pick up a copy of Watchmen or Death of Superman, and its great that new readers and old readers alike can go to any comic shop and either start scratching the surface with known classic or delve into nostalgia. The individuality comes from the shop itself, and what it needs to bring to the neighborhood its in. I hope in the future I can travel and go to more comic shops to find more local individuality in the ever evolving and widening scene of comic books.