Ambassador to Comics

The Mrs., the munchkin and I spent the day floating around the Shinjuku area of Tokyo. I could probably write a whole separate post about our hijinks, but I want to focus on the last adventure before heading home.

We stopped off at one of the largest bookstores that also has an expansive English section. A section that also includes an impressive (for Japan) amount of comics in graphic novel form. I like to peruse this section on occasion and see if there is anything pretty enough that wants me to take it home. I keep looking at the hardcover copy of the complete Glory by Keating and Ross, but I just can’t at the almost $70 price tag.

While I’m looking there was a Japanese couple in their thirties also looking at the shelves. There is something in their posture that reminds me of how I imagine I look when I am staring at something I have an interest in but really no idea how to unlock, or make sense of what I am looking at. They just seemed a little lost.

I asked, in Japanese of course, if they were looking for something in particular.

There was a moment of hesitation. I obviously didn’t work at the store. Then the wife started talked. She was looking for something with high action and dynamic fights. So I started talking about the comics on the shelves I could recognize while asking questions. Where there any particular heroes they were looking for? Color or black and white? I showed them the Glory I was looking at, and they really like the art and were taken with the ho wit shifted from cute to grotesque. But that price tag. I let them know that if they wanted something on the bloody side, Marvel and DC might not have as much to offer with their traditional heroes. But maybe Walking Dead.

If possible, they said, they also wanted something that might have sword fights. Preferably with katanas. We shifted back towards Marvel. Daredevil has some ninja fights. As does Deadpool. And if they want Deadpool with some in credibly art there are the Opena issues of Uncanny X-Force. They also wanted something that might have some crazy fight effects. Sadly, there was no invincible on the shelves to offer them. They were tempted by a lot of what they say. But graphic novels are not cheap in Japan. Even the slimmer trades can go for $30-40.

Then they asked what I liked. I showed them some Abnett and Lanning Guardians of the Galaxy. Between Deadpool and GotG there was a lot of movie recognition going on. I looked to see what else was on the shelf that I would consider a classic. And like a shining yellow and black beacon, there it was.

Watchmen.

I look it off the shell and that yellow smiley-face cover with the blood droplet got a big, positive reaction. Like most of the comics it was shrink wrapped so I couldn’t open it up. But I told them it was older, so there were some stylistic differences with the art. It wasn’t as flashy, but it was still incredibly good. Again, movie recognition. They had heard negative things. I shrugged my shoulders. I enjoyed Watchmen, but not everyone does. I told them that opinions run the gamut. Some people can’t stand the movie version. Others think it is awesome. But regardless of the movie, the comic of one of a few that has had impacted how modern comics are written.

In the end they went with Watchmen. I basically made a sale for the bookstore and hopefully shared a little bit of comic love with some strangers.

Now, here is my mistake. After all that chatting and helping they asked what I did. I guess it just seemed strange that a random person would offer so much help in a bookstore. I should have said, I am an independent fantasy writer. I should have had a business card ready with an easy way to find where I am online. Instead I just said I teach elementary school here in Tokyo.

I spent maybe ten minutes helping them find a comic they would like. Why did I get embarrassed using one minute to plug myself?

Still, at least they found something good. And I enjoyed being an ambassador to comics. Now I just need to be an ambassador to my own works.


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