The Toast | A Comic Book Store in Another Time and Place

Recently, I found myself out of my native New York and in the far off and foreign land of Connecticut. I was invited to a wedding, along with my wife and children, that required that we drive up from Long Island to the not-so-far city of Stamford—pre

viously just a giant WWE Flag flapping along the highway into further excursions into New England—and stay overnight in a hotel.

As fate would have it, this hotel was well planned by Isadora and Rich (the happy couple) to be across the street from a comic book store—I’ll say they did it just for me, as I am the fulcrum of the universe even when friends are getting married. I knew it was meant to be. I set a goal. I told my wife that I would go to that comic book store because, dammit, if I’m driving into another state to be across the street from a strange and new comic book store I’m going in it—and unless I’ve been mugged I’m buying something too.

As my wife was getting ready, my son was hopping all over the bed and couch cushions of the hotel room, and my daughter lazily napped after a healthy dose of MSG from the nearby Chinese restaurant I absconded across the street to Another Time and Place. I love that sentence, because of the nature of comic book store names. As I made my way over I started thinking about the nature of new and different comic book stores.

What is it about a “new” local comic’s provider that swells the nerd gland so? What might it be? Is it the opportunity to view another shop’s layout? A glance into the fundamental approach or organization of another fan(boy)? Probably yes. Is it the possibility to find some rare gem, unforeseen, unknown, or missing from your collection.

Whoop. There it is.

While I was walking through the stacks I overheard the storeowner discussing with a patron looking to sell some black and white bagged Superman issues. The shopkeeper was really not too interested in these items—even though they had the platinum white and black bag death of Superman issues and a number of white bag return of Supermans sight unseen. I love a nerd debate and I chimed in remarking about how I have quite a few white bagged Return of Superman issues myself (in truth you pick them up in scores at flea markets—black bagged Death of Superman issues are a little harder to come by).

The patrons left, with the advise that eBay might be a better venue to try and pawn off their comics as the storeowner muttered something to himself about not needing any more 90s comics. Now that I think of it, I think I recall him saying that the Death of Superman was one of the greatest examples of what was wrong with the industry in the 90s—because of the general lie purported to the layman about the consequences of Superman’s death. I generally disagree because my collection started in earnest from that jumping on point.

Regardless, I walked down memory lane as I perused his toy section, ironically enough well populated by the 1990s Superman toyline that was inspired by the storylines following the Death of Superman. He had the talking Marvel toys of my youth…the ones with the exterior talking boxes that you had to clip on the backs of a regular action figure. Several other toys that I had or coveted in my action figure obsessed childhood. Then I went for the jugular—time was growing short at any rate…there were weddings to attend after all. I found myself posed with a dilemma of sorts. On one hand I had Vol 0 of IDW’s Fallen Angel by Peter David(which I have never read)—the spiritual and in many ways “actual” continuation of the story in his amazing supernatural Supergirl series of the late 90s and In the Shadow of No Towers by Art

Spiegelman—the Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist and creator of Maus.

I weighed out the obvious—an adventure versus an endeavor. In the Shadow of No Towers was a series of newspaper sized politically charged strips dealing with 9/11 on a personal and political front while Fallen Angel was a more straightforward and traditional adventure books style trade book. Certainly I would get more reading time from David’s work I felt that it would be more easily acquired in…ahem…another time and place. After carefully weighing the options out—and considering buying them both, despite my limited budget—I went with Spiegelman’s work. I made the right decision.

The storeowner hadn’t even known that this was something in his inventory nor had he heard of the work. Regardless, the book was a little beat up—scratches and dings which I might have used to haggle him down in price, but I didn’t—so he gave me a small discount. I made the right decision you see. Relieved of my fanboy burden to court this new and strange store, and having fulfilled my obligation to the academic as an educator I felt ready. Ready to…make an excuse to read this thing (at least a little) before I went to the wedding. I found one…the Chinese food had spoken to me.

It goes without saying that should you find yourself in the position to pick up In the Shadow of No Towers, I suggest you do so. It is intelligent, engaging, liberal-leaning (fair warning conservatives!), and over all powerful as Mr. Spiegelman’s work tends to be. It’s a quick read but is heavy nonetheless, and the price is right even at full fare–$20.00. If you are in Stamford, I cannot speak for their other LCPs but I would suggest giving Another Time and Place a go as well. There’s a good selection, a nice discount box, and a thing called “hand made trade books” which for a fair price include all the single issues of a story line.

 

(Also the wedding was awesome. Congrats to Isa and Rich!)

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