It’s getting increasingly easier to get all of your comic needs fulfilled online these days, with companies like Things From Another World there to conveniently ship them to you, and now that companies are selling their comics in digital form (after the relaunch, every new DC issue will be simultaneously sold as an ebook). For these reasons, visiting your local comic book store is more important than ever.
Let me backtrack a little bit. I live in Vancouver Washington, and last year I saw three comic book stores in the area close down. As far as I know, there are no comic book stores in Vancouver anymore. Barnes and Noble recently started selling tons of DC and Marvel issues, but going there is just not the same. To find comics that are older or not mainstream, I have to drive to Portland, where there are, for some inexplicable reason, three comic book stores within five miles of each other (and a fourth not so far away). It saddens me to think that there’s nothing like that in Vancouver, and with Borders shutting down, there’s only one book store and two used-book stores that I know of in the whole city (and Vancouver’s pretty big).
If more comic book stores shut down, well, the world will be a shabbier place.
One reason to support comic book stores is because they play a big role in making the world of comics a subculture. Comic book readers have whole different sets of referentials that the mainstream culture lacks, and part of this is housed in the shops.
Looking at the physical wall of new comics is always exciting. The important thing is, it gives you an opportunity to find comics you wouldn’t normally read. If everything switches to digital, I’m sure a lot of indie books will go from marginalized to vaporized.
Also, it’s worth checking comic book stores time to time to riffle through bargain bins. Oftentimes you can find good stuff for less than a dollar, for example, I found an issue of Green Arrow signed by Matt Wagner for seventy-five cents or a dollar.
I understand there’s a few bad things about comic stores. For instance, I’ve definitely been to some where the workers have no concept of costumer service, and it can often be frightening to be a relatively nerdy person going into a place and suddenly be surrounded by overly nerdy people, but I think these are hazards worth overcoming to keep comics culture alive.