Noelle Stevenson aka Gingerhazing is the model of the modern cartoonist. While still in her early 20s (very early) she’s built up a huge following via Tumblr and other social media, leading to a two book deal with Harper Collins for her webcomic Nimona, while continuing to pursue her online ventures, working on Adventure Time comics and so on. Thus reading her report on what happened when she went to a comic shop to pick up a copy of a comic with her work in it is depressing in the extreme. This did not happen in 1977 or 1985 or 1992 or 2001, it happened in the recent past. As shown in the above comic, the clerks made disparaging comments based on her gender, and in general treated her like a freak.
I hate to say that I’ve been there, but I have. It didn’t stop me and it never has but it’s so so so unnecessary. And how, in this competitive day and age, can any business tolerate workers who repel potential customers?
I would also note that this comic racked up more than 50,000 shares un Tumblr in a mere 11 hours. That’s juice.
While commenting on this story, several people linked to a different tumblr, Hater Free Wednesdays, that has a list of comics shops that friendly to new customers and don’t insult women who come in. It also has reviews of bad shops, like this one of Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, of Comic Book Men fame.
NOT friendly to women. The guys behind the counter openly ogle and discuss female customers, often loudly enough to be overheard. What may make good TV makes for really shitty service.
Rude about small purchases, always trying to sell “just one more thing.” Will ignore small purchase customers over those making a larger purchase.
Openly mocked an out Lesbian and Gay man while I was in store. Then they started to mock my weight and hair. Until they realized I could hear them. No apology (or Chase) was made.
Not handicapped friendly. Not friendly to anyone except “dudebros” or people they know.
Just to wash the taste of that out of your mouth, here’s the review of The Laughing Ogre in Columbus, OH
I’ve been going to this shop for three years, and never had a problem nor witnessed one.
The staff is polite, very helpful and knowledgeable, and more than willing to order a trade or anything else if they do not have it in stock. They often take the time to chat about your purchases and will recommend other books by the same authors and artists or in the same style, or chat about the authors (they organize a lot of signing days and events, a lot of big names came here). I’ve seen two guys who are, I think, the managers, and two women.
The store is pretty quiet and very big— plenty of space between the shelves to walk through. While I do not know if it is handicapped accessible or not, the shop opens directly on its parking lot and there are no steps, high sidewalks or trickery involved to get in, and it’s right on the bus line number 2 on High Street.
They have an amazing amount of back issues in the back of the store, from 3 months old ones to 30 years old ones, an amazing amount of current issues and trades, manga, statues and models, staff picks (they have good taste), local comic books, European comics, a few artbooks, and my favorite part, the front of the store is specifically for children. There is a nook of the front store filled with children’ illustrated books and comics, and I’ve seen parents leave their kids there while they stocked up on ‘grown-up’ comics.
Plus there’s an ice cream shop on the other side of the street.
Just to throw in a plug here, my locals, JHU, Forbidden Planet and Midtown are all exemplary stores, and while I haven’t been in Midtown in a while, I know FP and JHU both employ a number of women.
It’s a shame that the dudebro culture of Comic Book Men remains the icon of comic shop ownership as far as AMC and some medieval retailers. I didn’t want to jump into gender wars again so soon, but we keep seeing these things. I’m sure the jerks who worked at the store Stevenson went into are rude to customers in other ways—it isn’t even just a gender thing. It’s called customer service and a friendly store.
It’s 2014 for Christ sake. We can’t tolerate this.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.