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The secret life of a Fantagraphics Bookstore employee
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under staffFantagraphics Bookstore 11 Mar 2009 4:29 PM

Fantagraphics Bookstore employee Janice Headley

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.

Biggest pet peeve about customers?
When they talk down to me because I'm a girl. It's such a sucky stereotype that comics are a "guy" thing. With amazing artists like Ellen Forney, Miss Lasko Gross, Megan Kelso, Esther Pearl Watson, Renee French, Leah Hayes... Do I even need to go on? Jeez, aren't we past that yet?

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.