Sunday, April 30, 2006

Making Assumptions

Store owners and clerks take note, because nothing cheeses me off more than this.

I walked into a store in Georgia. I got a few of what I call "It's a stranger" stares, and no one said a word.

Behind me are the two men who rode with me to the store, Joe and Max. The man behind the counter greets them as they walk in together. After we left the store, I asked Joe if he'd ever been in the store before. It was possible, though I sincerely doubted it because a) he'd driven us to two other now closed stores before this one, b) Joe reads very little that isn't Manga and there wasn't any Manga or Anime there, and c) the comics Joe does read are the ones I buy, think are cool, and send him for his birthday or Christmas.

"Not for a few months," he replies. So I ask him why I wasn't greeted and he verifies my suspicions about the clerk. I actually felt better, because I'd almost walked right out.

Because it's the only store in the town and I insisted on visiting here in my neverending search for back issues, I actually did bother to take a look at the boxes, though. I find a few from the seventies but almost put them down because I'm pissed off that he greeted Joe and not me. Then I see them.

Quarter bins.

There aren't many quarter bins in Oklahoma City, you understand.

There are even fewer I haven't already picked through on Saturday afternoons.

I couldn't just pass them by. I was in town for a single day to visit Joe. We had to be back the next day to get ready for class. There were six quarter bins.

I looked through the first one. Volume 2 Starmans, written by James Robinson, in good condition, for a quarter. Five for a dollar! They cost two-fifty back in Oklahoma! Clearly the owner was insane and I needed to take advantage of this. When I walked back to the register, with nearly sixteen dollars worth of project, I found Joe and Max sitting by the door, looking very bored. They hadn't bought a thing and had found nothing to chat with the clerk about. While the clerk, who was actually a fairly nice person who I hope will know better than to make assumptions next time around, rang up my purchases, Max made the joke.

"Excuse me?" I asked.

"I said, some women shop for shoes, some women shop for clothes..."

I look at my watch and rolled my eyes. Forty minutes for picking through six full long-boxes. That was not bad at all and I don't know a male comic book fan who wouldn't do it either. I said so.

They bitched about the time. I politely reminded them that they had spent longer in the video game store, which I had no interest in, the night before. They pointed out that I had spent my time looking for Lovecraft games and making fun of the Tomb Raider intro (it's actually pretty funny, she seems to realize that guys are staring at her breasts and fidgets nervously) they were showing.

Like they couldn't have made the most of being in the comic book store. But no, they only like Manga!

That's when I made the decision. Back in Mississippi there was a comic book store that was a close walk to our hotel, twenty minutes, thirty at Max's horrificly slow shuffle. There was another store ten minutes (fifteen by Max's pacing) beyond that that I hadn't felt a need to visit. Well, suddenly I did. My passive-aggressive vindictive energy was now focused on marching his sexist ass to that store and back. Sure, he could have said no, but that would have meant he had to stay home alone all night and study. He was going to have to do that after I left Friday. So on Wednesday, Max agreed to go.

He whined the whole damned way there, and dragged his feet.

Then he humiliated me by reading the product off the shelves.

But it was worth it. There were no quarter bins, but there were dollar back-issues. From the seventies. I loaded up, and headed home with whiny guy in tow.

I did get more than vengeance out of the walk, though. One of the dollar-issues I found contained the three most awesome Power Girl Panels I have ever seen. You see, I'm a King Arthur buff. I think medieval clothes look cool. Swordfighting is fun to watch, and horseback-riding has a charm cars just can't replace. I'd never live in Arthurian times, though. Because I'm not just a casual movie-goer, or a TH White (short for White-wash) reader. I'm an obsessive researcher of Arthurian Lore -- particularly the grim and gritty pre-Malory legends. I have had periods where I've thrown all of the intense fervor currently directed into Green Lantern fandom into King Arthur Stories (especially the ones about Gawain, my favorite knight) or Sherlock Holmes pastiches. As such, I'm well-acquainted with the odious rules of chivalry, particularly the ones about ladies left alone. Much as I love these legends, there are days when I really wished Morgan Le Fey would just up and kick all of their asses for their rampant stupidity regarding women.

Which brings me to Power Girl.

Anyway, my point is that I really, really love Power Girl.

Oh, and that you should greet both genders of customers when they walk into the store, whether you think they'll buy or not because stereotypes are utter bullshit.


  1. Those Power Girl panels are choice. But how likely that guy is to surface again while wearing chainmail? I don't mind if Kara doesn't...

    As for the rest, my word but socialized gender norms inculcate some lazy thinking, don't they?

  2. Not likely, my SCA friends say armor weighs like 300 pounds. It was the 70s, no one thought of stuff like that yet. In this particular issue (All Star Comics 64) the editor seems to have been sleeping, but that's an entire other post.

    It's a fair assumption that her bleeding heart cousin Superman fished the jerk out once he was finished with the twelves knights who attacked him (Power Girl was one of five JSA members who realized how one-sided that fight was, so they just sat back to enjoy the show).

  3. Power Girl might have fished him out herself. She's made her point quite well, so she could afford to be magnanimous. He's undoubtedly learned his lesson after all. :-)

  4. Hmm... Maybe she just had good enough aim to throw him into the shallow part on the other side, or even the soft dirt of the bank.

  5. Mind you, Power Girl's cousin was the Earth 2 Superman, and I'm not at all sure he ever adopted a code against killing. He sure didn't seem to have one in the Thirties and Forties.

    If you ever visit New York City, I'll be happy to point you to comic shops where women read comics, women buy comics, and women even work in comic shops. What's more, I'm almost certain no one here ever says "Buying something for your boyfriend, eh?" or "Oh my God, an actual female, I might get cooties if I speak to her with civility!" I think it's a municipal law or something.

  6. Are you staying in Georgia or just visiting? If you come back to OKC, check out Ultimate Heroes in Edmond. The owners are awesome--and one's a woman, which is nice.

  7. Ragnell, If you can find a copy, check out "Arthur Rex", by Thomas Berger.
    It's my all time fave take on King Arthur.

  8. Bottom line, he probably survived. :-)

    Anyhoo, the casual way she's overhanding him, and his "YEEAARRGGGG!", are things o' beauty. And well-drawn by gum--you can almost see it move. Is that Wally Wood?

  9. Rab -- I think Roy Thomas might've softened him, but I could be wrong. I haven't read much All-Star Comics, but now I aim to find them. That trade they solicited in July will be mine.

    xoco -- I've been there on back-issue hunts, just not for a while. Edmond's across town and I go to Atomik Pop (where much of the clientele is female to begin with, though I thinjk I'm the only woman who spends all my time in the American comics side of the store) regularly already.

    anon -- I'll check it out/

    chawunky -- Yep, Wally Wood drew, Levitz wrote and I'll spare you the editor because I'm planning to humiliate him in a later post when I point out the continuity errors.

  10. I'm not surprised the comic shop owner didn't greet you when you arrived at the comic shop; I've found that here in the south (I live in Tennessee now) people are generally VERY VERY proper and odd in their social customs... generally men will only talk to other men, women only talk to women... It's VERY weird.

    Because on the one hand, men appear to behave more respectfully of their women, but on the other hand there is among some an element of being "chattel"'s really strange.

    The Power Girl panels are excellent --