A couple of weeks ago, Wired.com profiled nine different comic store employees, including Gary Panter's daughter Olive. However, their feature focused solely on stores either in New York or the Bay Area, bypassing the Emerald City and our very own fine establishment, the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery. Therefore, we've taken it upon ourselves to spotlight an employee from our store (whom you might also meet staffing our booth at various conventions across the country), using the same basic questions Wired used for their interviews. Wired.com, you're welcome.
Name: Janice Headley Store: Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery Age: 32 Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Lives in: Seattle, Washington Background: Also runs the arts-n-crafts website copacetique.com (currently on hiatus), and works in the Programming Department at KEXP.ORG
If you could be any comic book character, who would it be? Pupshaw. My best friend would be a kitty, and I'd have a loyal, awesome admirer to romp with. Sounds good to me! Plus, I could make an army of tiny me's spring from my mouth and attack my enemies. Cutest. Death. Ever.
Which title has fallen farthest from grace? Hmmm... I'm gonna get SO much crap for this, but for me personally, I'm gonna have to say Popeye. You see, for me, it all comes down to the Whiffle Hen. In Volume One, I was entranced by the Whiffle Hen. I eagerly turned page after page, wondering, "Where's the Whiffle Hen?" But in Volume Two? No Whiffle Hen. Forget about Volume Three. Nope. Totally off the Popeye wagon here.
Which has risen like a phoenix out of the ashes of suck-itude? Any comic out there that wants to adopt a Whiffle Hen...
How long have you worked in a comic store? How did you start? I guess it's been something like a year and a half now? I took over for the awesome Ms. Rhea Patton, wife of also-awesome Eric Reynolds, who used to work the Sunday shift until she got pregnant with the lovely lil' Miss Clementine. As the spouse of a Fantagraphics employee myself, the application process was surprisingly simple.
What are the best and worst parts about working in a comic store? Best: Getting to talk to customers about comics. What can I say, I love dorking out with fellow enthusiasts. It feels great introducing someone to a new artist, or telling them about new books coming out, and then watching them freak out with excitement. That rules. Also, our bookstore shares its space with Georgetown Records, so I get to spend my shifts listening to obscure 60's garage rock.
Worst: The customers who spend three hours in the Eros corner, staring at me creepily, and then they leave without buying a thing. Quit it.
What's the least nerdy thing about you? Everything about me is nerdy. Everything.
What's the worst misconception about comic books and their fans? Besides the misconception that comics are a "guy" thing? That we don't get any sex. Let the recent Fanta baby boom put that misconception to rest!
Why is there such a big crossover between comic book fans and tech junkies? Is there? I don't know if that's necessarily true in our world. Sometimes when I try to tell customers to check out our website, they shake their heads and frown. I think there's still a large number of comic book fans who prefer the good ol' fashioned storefront.
Do you have any anecdotes about working in a comic store? This really precocious kid came in once, maybe 9 or 10 years old. He looked up at me wide-eyed and said, "These aren't normal comics, are they? These comics are... are..." He scrunched up his face, like he was trying to find the right word from last week's vocab test. And then looked back up, beaming with pride, and said, "These comics are revolutionary!" Awwwww! So right you are, kid.
Kevin Huizenga, Ted May and Dan Zettwoch, co-creators of the recently-canceled (and consistently great) strip Amazing Facts... and Beyond! with Leon Beyond, are seeking to keep Leon alive in online form by accepting commissions (strips on a topic of your choice, prices ranging from a paltry $30 up to $200), donations in any amount, and subscriptions in what they call a "Beyondathon" of fundraising. Read Leon's plea and open your wallet!
20/20 Club members: check your inbox for details on how you can have a chance to buy one of a scant handful of recently-unearthed copies of the outrageously out-of-print #$@&! The Official Lloyd Llewellyn Collection by Daniel Clowes! Plus there's an incredible bonus if you combine it with an order of $100 or more. All the details are in the email; if you're a 20/20 Club member and you don't receive the email, for pete's sake write me at "mbaehr" at this here "fantagraphics.com" domain before the end of the week so I can add you to our mailing list and send you all the details.
Everyone else: we'll have another semi-related contest next week featuring an even rarer Lloyd Llewellyn collectible, so be on the lookout for an announcement because you'll have to act fast. And if you're not a 20/20 Club member yet, this is the kind of crazy exclusive offer we'll throw at you every once in a while, in addition to all the usual benefits (20% off, breaks on shipping), once you sign up...
• Review: Bookforum says of the two volumes of Beasts!: "Covey’s brave band of 180 artists... put these mythological and folkloric beings on vivid display. The distinct and varied styles of the cartoonists, illustrators, and graphic artists give further evidence of each creature’s unique characteristics... The enthusiastically detailed evocations in these books give us all reason to believe."
• Review: Dear Stranger reads The End #1 by Anders Nilsen and declaims "It’s sad. In that way that things are only ever sad when they’re really honest, so it’s beautiful, but you feel a bit guilty for thinking so -- because under the beauty, it’s still sad, honestly so."
• Review: The Star Clipper Blog says "[Esther Pearl Watson's] Unlovable spares no degrading detail, but still remains an ironically loving tribute to the awkward protagonist... these monstrous depictions of early puberty could be found in just about anyone's high school yearbook... perhaps the perfect teenage girl experience."
• Review: In a blog post simply titled "Rave Review," Mark Evanier says of Humbug, "The material is excellent. It's Kurtzman, Elder, Davis, Al Jaffee, Arnold Roth and a few others working at the peak of their awesome powers. The package is excellent. It's well-designed and well-printed, and I can't think of a way in which it could have been improved. We've seen a lot of fancy comic book reprint projects lately but this may be my favorite. Buy it. Just buy it."
• Review: Comics Worth Reading checks out Anywhere but Here by Tori Miki, concluding "Did I like it? Yes, due to how different it was from every other manga I’ve seen, and how I appreciated the way one’s mind is engaged."
• Review: Comic Book Resources gives 4 stars to Boody. The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers, saying it "features some of the nuttiest comics you'll ever read... Boody Rogers presents an off-kilter world of hilarity that seems like an oft-unheralded link between the Golden Age of the newspaper strips and the underground cartoonists of the 1960s."
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