Have Comics, Will Travel

 

Manga shop in the Shibuya neighborhood of Tokyo.

Now, first off, I am going to apologize because this is gonna be a shorter article than normal. I am actually in Tokyo, sitting in my hotel room at 10pm, but the problem is that my body thinks it’s 5am this morning so I am having a hard time even focusing on the page.

That being said, though, I still can talk a bit about the past week or so, which has been basically been me on the road, with comics — hence the title of this article.

First off, traveling with comics sucks, if it wasn’t for the Residence Inn Herndon Reston Hotel, especially if you have them in bags and boards — those suckers are heavy! I had a bunch of books that I had not gotten around to reading for one reason or another. I had a bunch to catch up on, like almost 4 inches worth, so I was pretty excited to just be done and ready to read comics on a normal schedule. Of course, I didn’t read the books for a reason — I wasn’t interested in the titles enough to make time to read them — and, with very few exceptions, reading them didn’t blow me away, I just realized it was time to drop them. Case in point, I had the last four issues of The Lone Ranger and although I really, really wanted to like the title, after finally catching up, I just realized I was done. The book is okay but honestly, it’s really just kind of slogging along issue to issue and I think it’s going to be better in trades anyway, John Cassaday’s covers be damned.

I was in Ohio last week and I was so hell bent on getting Final Crisis #7 that I bribed my sister-in-law to take me to The Laughing Ogre in Columbus so I could pick it up. Of course, I left with more than just that one comic… but I will say I really liked that Prometheus oneshot — definitely worth a read. The guy at the counter recommended it and he was right — so far it’s one of the best of the best of the Faces of Evil series. I know nothing about the character, but this was a great way to bring him back into the picture.

When I was more into DJing, I always said that the best way to check out what’s going on in a new city was to go to the record stores, since they know what’s cool and what’s happening that week. I think the same thing can be said of good local comic book shops — you tell them what kind of book you like, and they can hook you up. The guys The Laughing Ogre knew exactly what I needed to read while away from my local shop. Great store.

But the thing with the traveling and the comics and the bags and boards? Don’t do it, or, at least, forego the bags and boards. The bags make it all slippery to pull in and out of your backpack on the airplane and then, after you are done, you have to lug these books back home with you. Makes more sense to bring a trade or a regular book.

Inside The Laughing Ogre comic book shop in Columbus, Ohio

Now, as I said, I am very far away in Tokyo, and I must say, it’s really crazy here, especially with the comics. I have a few pictures that I will post with this article — comics are just a totally different thing here. We all know this, of course — we know that everyone reads comics, it’s no big thing, but I had never been to a comic book shop in Tokyo before. It’s crazy. A few notes:

1)  Foppies? Please. It’s all digests here. Thousands of them. It was just amazing, the sheer volume of digest sized books that were available.

2) No reading — it’s not even possible. All of the books are wrapped in plastic, and there were no unwrapped books around, so you just had to already know the title and just believed in the story and the characters enough to just go and buy it, sight unseen. Massive difference, obviously, and makes for a fairly routine buying experience. The only browsing is for the actual book… I just… it was weird. I mean, it’s hard to come in cold on a book if you can’t even open the damn thing.

3) Crowded with all kinds of people. At the store I was in, it was at least 1:1 man:woman ratio. At least. Maybe more women. And all ages, too. Buying several digest sized books at a time.

4) Bright. Like, ice cream parlor bright. No chairs. Just go in and get your books, for the most part. The store I was in also sold art supplies and features some art on the one of the walls.

This was kind of the opposite experience I had from my visit to Columbus — it wasn’t worse, just totally different. It was like being a drugstore or something. Comics were just a commodity and, at least in this store, there wasn’t a lot of discussion about titles and stories and characters. You just went in and got the books you liked.

I am sure I will have more stories but for now, this entry will have to do — I really have to sleep. I will be back in hopefully more normal form next week.


Mike Romo is an actor in Los Angeles who sometimes get to travel to far away places for his other job as a product manager. He can be reached at mike@ifanboy.com and followed on Twitter and Facebook.

Comments

  1. I wonder what kind of American comics show up on the shelves there, if any? Is it like over here where a lot of local shops don’t do well with Manga, so they offer very few titles?

  2. Alright the Laughing Ogre!!! That’s sooo cool! I go to the one in Landsdowne, VA. I feel special

  3. Chairs in a comic book shop. My jaw hits floor just thinking about the possibilities of that.

  4. Those comic shops are great.  I’d love to have a place like that.  Seriously i should take a picture, because my local comic shop is a guys living room that he converted into a store.  and thats the only choice seeing how i live in a small town.

  5. When I was in Tokyo I didn’t see any American comics at the stores I went to. I can’t remember the names of the shops I visited, but one was in Shibuya and the other was in Akihabara, which is known for a good place to buy cheap electronics, anime, and manga. Also, there were several manga magazines at literally every single newstand I saw, including every train stop. Definitely an entirely different world than over here. Loved it!

  6. Quentin: There’s an American Comic Book shop in Shibuya, I think, somewhere. I remember they had Lost at Sea and Creature Tech there amongst others (including manga translated into English, hmmm). Also I most remember seeing translated Hellboy books in a lot of stores, but I ended up buying part of the Xecutioner’s song Xmen run in Japanese for 100 yen.

    That’s something that needs mentioning, price. Jump size books are 390 yen! That’s about 4 bucks for a 200+ page digest book and they come out every 2 months. The Kodansha books (think Blade of the Immortal and Eden) are more like 500 yen (about 5 bucks) and there’s some weird large size thats about 900 yen (9 bucks), the more adult books come out about 6-9 months. I got a slipcase, hardcover deluxe copy of Clamp’s "Reservoir Chronicle" for 100 yen, but it was still  only 1143 yen unused.

    Not to mention the wealth of used manga stores and Book-Offs with clearance sections with thousands of books for 100 yen. Good times.

  7. <<< Jealous. Have fun in Tokyo man.

  8. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Don’t get Lost in Translation, Romo!  Have fun!  

  9. So much manga. If only i could read  that langauge.  Arg what am I saying I’ve turned away from that stuff. 

    So did you look at prices for those things I’d like to see how expnsive they are over there and see if some publisters are chargeing us how much more for those things. 

  10. LUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. The Laughing Ogre sounds good, better than bloody Forbidden Planet anyhow, i think if you asked then for recomendations the only answer you’d get would be watchmen, watching the watchmen or watchmen the portraits. I love reading runs on long journeys, i usally get through a couple of trades and a few runs.

  12. "At the store I was in, it was at least 1:1 man:woman ratio. At least. Maybe more women." Wow, I wish it was like that here! That comic shop sounds like heaven … except that I don’t read Japanese …