I see that you have made the brilliant decision to start reading comics, and want to find a comic shop that will meet your needs.
When I was younger, I worked in a few of comic shops, and been a customer in many. This is based mostly on my observations.
Your first option is to go to a mass book dealer like Barnes & Noble, but I strongly urge against this for two reasons.
1. There are a lot of small comic shops that could really use your money.
2. Those smaller shops will probably treat you a lot better. Many will hold your books for you, and/or give you a discount off of the cover price.
So, now that you have chosen to go with a smaller shop, there are a few types.
1. “The Batcave” – This cave-like comic shop is poorly lit, and probably fairly dusty. Über-Geek Kevin Smith has articulated his belief that this is “how a comic shop should be.” This type of comic shop is frequently uninviting to non-comic geeks. That doesn’t mean they won’t warm up to you though, if you are new.
2. “The Fortress of Solitude” – Much like Superman’s personal hideaway, this shop is well-lit, and clean. The store is open and friendly
(For a good example of this kind of shop, visit Alternate Realities in Scarsdale, NY. In my opinion, this the best and most friendly comic shop that I have ever seen. The owner’s name is Steve, and he’s pretty rad).
3. “Geek Central” – You local gaming/ comic store. These are usually fairly large, and are a hangout for all of the kids who you never saw in the trendy places. There will be plenty of kids and man-children playing table-top games. Geek Central will be open to anyone, but if you stick around, you will quickly discover that there is a social hierarchy that doesn’t make a lot of sense. Some of the biggest bums you will ever meet will be insanely popular in this store.
Behind the counter, you will find one of a few characters:
1. “The Comic Book Guy” from the Simpsons. He really exists. If you find this dude behind the counter, just leave.
2. “The Dirty Old Artist” – This guy is hard to recognize, because he won’t show his true colors until he knows you. He has been an aspiring artist since the dawn of time, and is just plain vulgar. If given the opportunity, he will be happy to discuss all of his many sexual fetishes with you.
3. “Cool College Geek” – He knows everything about comics, but isn’t judgmental about it. This is an easy job for him, and it get’s him his comics for free (or discounted). Ask him question, he will love to answer them.
4. “The Superior Intelligence” – This guy is a loser and an asshole. He knows all – Just ask him. He is also utterly condescending. He has never accomplished anything, and is full of plans that he will never carryout. He either lives in his parents basement, or is leeching off of his girlfriend (who has no self-respect).
5. “Accomplished Gentleman” – This guy has done something with his life, and decided to open a comic shop in retirement, or to get out of a profession he is no longer passionate about.
6. “The Nice Guy” – Just a nice guy, not much personality either.
7. “Alpha Geek Chick” – This girl has discovered that being a geek, and being open about it has made her queen of a small kingdom. She loves Batman, horror movies, and is probably a pretty cool person. However, she probably has an enormous ego because she is constantly the center of attention. Note to ladies – Don’t cross her on her turf.
8. “The Slave” – The intern of the comic world. This kid is barely paid (if he is lucky), but is just happy to work in a comic shop. Be nice to him.
Please support your local comic shop.