Ever since I was 6 years old I wanted to be a cartoonist, or Superman. I also knew that if by chance those two options were unavailable to me, I also really wanted to work in a comic book store.
Throughout my professional life I became a little too familiar with the world of retail and customer service. I spent my 20s like many do, folding and re-folding sweaters and ladies jeans on table displays, steaming low-fat decaf cappuccinos, emptying garbage cans overflowing with sun-curdled dairy products, being written up by sweaty and disappointed assistant managers, enforcing return policies that I didn't agree with, getting chewed out and spit at and ALWAYS asking "Can I help you?" I couldn't imagine what it would be like to work in a place where I actually wanted to be. To be surrounded by things that I knew and loved and to look forward to going to work everyday, where the customers wouldn't be shrieking lunatics, but peers. Folks with whom I shared a huge common interest and could converse at length on the many topics that often hang heavy on the mind of the modern comic book fan. Then after years of persistence, I was hired to work in the comic book store in my neighborhood.
On my first day, my boss told me that this job wasn't like any I had worked before and she was right. There are no better folks than comic book folks and while customer service will always be kind of awful no matter where you work, customer service sure doesn't feel like it in the comic store. As anyone who has worked in a record, book or video game store will tell you, the more specific a clientele your store caters to the more interesting your customers tend to be and the comic shop is no exception. There was a focused intensity in so many of our customers that caused even the most casual of interactions to end in me smiling over something funny I had heard.
It wasn't long before I started drawing some of these stand-out moments and soon I had a pile of cartoons that would eventually become Our Valued Customers. Here are some of my favorites that appear in Our Valued Customers: Conversations from the Comic Book Store. Also, be sure to check out www.ourvaluedcustomers.net to see more of these magic moments from the world of comic book retail.