I still feel bad about the John Ritter thing.

§ July 24th, 2017 § Filed under question time § 13 Comments

Okay, finally back to more of your questions:

CP Bananas appeals to me with

“If you had unlimited funds, what’s the one thing you’d add to your store? Signage? Fixture? Ice sculpture? Water slide? Something more/less ridiculous?”

Crazy idea: movie theater. I have two rooms in the back of the store, and I can store stuff in the smaller room, and use the larger part of the backroom as an indoor theater of sorts. The walls would need repainting, and I’d need to cover that concrete floor with something, but that’s a lot of space that needs some using. Plus, I’d have to look into what sort of licensing I’d need to have in order to screen films, and some reasonable form of air conditioning that wouldn’t be too loud…but I could probably seat, I don’t know, a couple dozen people back there? It’s something to think about.

More realistically, I could knock out part of the wall that divides the store between the front and the back, and expand into that larger backroom area with more fixtures and products. “WELCOME TO MIKE’S COMICS AND POGS” the sign in front of the store would boldly declare to all passerby.

• • •

MrJM asks

“As I recall, every iteration of the team had substantially the same origin: the Legion of Superheroes started as three kids from different planets with different powers joined together to combat the powers of evil in the 30th/31st century.

“But why would anyone dub the founding trio of Rokk Krinn, Imra Ardeen & Garth Ranzz ‘the LEGION of Superheroes?’

“A Roman legion was a unit of 3,000–6,000 fighting men. Even colloquially, ‘legion’ is synonymous with horde, throng, multitude, host, crowd, mass, mob, gang, swarm, flock, herd, score, army. No matter how you slice it a ‘legion’ is a whole bunch of folks.

“While the group would certainly merit the name in the end — including everyone from Bouncing Boy to Invisible Kid to Quislet to another Invisible Kid — at the founding no one could have know that. It was just three people.

“Within the continuity of the story, ‘Legion of Superheroes’ simply made no sense as the name for the original trio!

“And so my question: Has this ever bugged you?”


• • •

Thom H. inquires about

“I love reading stories about customers. Can you share a good story about a memorable customer, whether it’s good, bad, weird, surprising, or something else?”

I’ve had several memorable customers over the years, but aside brief, amusing (or occasionally aggravating) incidents, I have a hard time relating actual stories about them, I mean, I have written about a couple of longtime customers who had passed away (like Errol, or Bruce, or Sean and his tragic end – they did end up catching the guy who killed him).

There was the fellow who always wrote enormous checks for expensive comics, the only personal information on his check being his name…my old boss had been dealing with him since long before I worked at the shop, and he always told me “the check’s fine, don’t worry about it.” And, far as I know, his checks always were fine.

There was the kid who collected Adam Strange comics…because his name was also Adam Strange.

There was the time, shortly after I started working in comics retail, when the shop was suddenly filled with lady wrestlers all in costume. I was like “is this what selling comics is going to be like all the time?” And the answer to that was, of course…yes, yes it was.

There was the young lady who’d been coming to the shop since she was a kid…and now, college age, she had come to the store and asked me if I wanted to see her new tattoo. I said “sure!” and before I knew it she had basically removed her top with her back to me, presenting her new full-back tattoo in all its glory. (Coworker Sean, who was working on the other side of the store at the time, later asked me “what the hell was going on over there?”)

There was the teaching assistant at the college I was attending who found out I worked in a comic book store, and would request comics that I’d bring up the next day that he’d then pay me for.

There was customer Marlon, who dressed as the Milestone character Icon one year for Halloween, and as the John Stewart Green Lantern another year, in absolutely perfect costumes with the perfect physique. It’s like the characters had literally come to life in our store.

There was the fella researching vampires in comics, and was trying to buy every single comic featuring a vampire appearance. On one visit we stayed for hours after closing assembling his several-thousand-dollar purchase.

There was MC Chris, who stopped by the shop prior to performing at the local music venue, and proceeded to plug the store onstage.

There was the time I thought John Ritter was just some creepy guy planning to shoplift from us.

Those were all at the previous place of employment. I’m trying to come up with any really unusual stories from the new store, but aside from the endless repetition of “this is just like Big Bang Theory!” I haven’t had any really weird stories burn into my brain yet. I’ve had lots of great, friendly customers who have been very supportive, I’ve also had the occasional time waster or problem creator (like the mom who was upset that I made her pay for comics her children destroyed…and to this day, when she passes by I here her tell her kids “no, you’re not going in there”). Or the elderly gentleman who just did not seem to understand that, no, I didn’t want to carry the sports jerseys he was wholesaling.

But I don’t want to focus on the bad things, really. I prefer to think of the helpful folks, like customer Mark, whom I’ve met since opening my new shop, who will occasionally show up at events at my store (like Free Comic Book Day) dressed in his great Batman costume and entertaining the other customers.

Or the mom who told me that her little girl loves Squirrel Girl comics so much that she takes them to bed and sleeps with them at night.

I haven’t had anything really epically strange happen yet…mostly just nice people buying comics nicely and doing nice things. …PLEASE DON’T TAKE THIS AS A CHALLENGE, ANYONE READING THIS.

• • •

Oh, okay, back to MrJM’s question…no, I never really thought about it, to be honest. Looking back at the Legion’s origin as presented in Superboy #147, I don’t see where it’s established who names the team thusly. Given that the fella financing the team, R.J. Brande, is responsible for naming two of the founding members “Lightning Lad” and “Cosmic Boy” (and probably named “Saturn Girl” as well, though not explicitly stated), it’s likely fair to say Brande dubbed the team “The Legion of Super-Heroes,” too. Calling it a “legion” from the get-go is surely Brande anticipating that new members would eventually join…and it’s probably also just simple marketing. “Legion” sounds impressive. “The Three Kid Band of Space Heroes,” not so much. R.J. Brande is the richest man in the 30th Century…he knows how to sell stuff!

• • •

So long to Flo Steinberg, original member of the Marvel Bullpen, who passed away on Sunday. She was just as much a part of the team as Stan, Jack and Steve, and Marvel wouldn’t have been Marvel without her.

Several years ago a bunch of comics folks were swapping mix discs, and as a “bonus” at the end of my disc was a recording of a Merry Marvel Marching Society record that I digitized from a copy of the flexidisc that had turned up in a collection. I later heard from, I believe, Fred Hembeck, who thanked me for including that on there. “It was so nice to hear her voice” he said. It sure was. That gal had character to spare!

13 Responses to “I still feel bad about the John Ritter thing.”

  • Scipio says:


    I cannot tell you how happy that made me.

  • Jon H says:

    I wonder if anyone’s ever converted a former porn shop to a comic store, and used the gross video booths in back to show clips of the Nicholas Hammond Spider-Man show, etc.

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    ” but aside from the endless repetition of “this is just like Big Bang Theory!””

    So you only carry DC comics?

  • Thom H. says:

    My question! Thanks for answering it. I especially like the Adam Strange-collecting guy named Adam Strange. And I’m glad you have so many positive customer experiences at your new store.

    I always assumed R.J. Brande had big plans for the Legion starting from the beginning, too. I mean, he did give them an entire clubhouse, which isn’t something that just 3 kids would need.

    Part of the confusion about the “Legion” name might be a lack of proper context — back in the ’60s, I think it was more common for kids to be part of clubs that revolved around common interests. So if 3 kids started a club, you could expect that more would soon join or be recruited.

    I might just be making that up, but I feel like that was the ’60s equivalent of Reddit or blog comments.

  • Brad says:

    Re: the Legion — Remember the PvP bit about the Justice Eight?

    As for showing films — I’m not positive, but I don’t think you’d be able to advertise them without paying royalties, and then you might not get enough custom to make it worthwhile. There was a movie theatre I knew that tried showing repertory films but had that problem.

  • BobH says:

    Maybe RJ Brande was a fan of the Newsboy Legion (four members, but all very short).

  • JWRollins says:

    Didn’t you have folks lying down in the shop, or something like that?

  • Lane says:

    At our local comic shop, we had a customer named Alan Moore. It was always funny when he would go to conventions and he would get stuff personalized by artists and they would ask if that was really his name. If I was there I would verify that yes that was his real name.

  • Synonymous says:

    Not directly pertinent to the above, but have you read any of gaming site Waypoint’s features this week on playing D&D in prison? There’s a feature on the improvisations prisoners are forced to make to get equipment (dice, spinners, etc.) that brought to mind your stories of sending D&D books to incarcerated customers and the problems encountered therein.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    A fact that is always overlooked is that, in the Superboy story that introduces the Legion of Super-Heroes, the team consists of more than three members. Lightning Boy (not Lad then), Cosmic Boy, and Saturn Girl are the only ones named and clearly shown, but there are a half dozen or so shown from the back, cheering on Superboy’s admission into the team.

    For whatever reason these shadowy members were immediately forgotten, and ever after there was a pretense that Superboy was the fourth member.

    Though, when DC did finally get around to providing an origin for the team, it did show those three and those three alone as the founders, so MrJM’s point remains.

  • CP Bananas says:

    A movie room sounds like a great idea! Thanks for answering my question!

    You’d be running a continuous loop of Swamp Thing, The Return of Swamp Thing, and The Spirit, I assume?

  • Chris G says:

    “For whatever reason these shadowy members were immediately forgotten, and ever after there was a pretense that Superboy was the fourth member.”

    That’s not quite so – identifying those members became a parlor game among Legion fans, and at least one reprinting recolored one of them to look like Brainiac 5. Superboy, officially, was around the eighth or ninth member.

  • Andrew Davison says:

    That first clubhouse was only the size of a garage, so perhaps they had to restrict membership.

    Those members in the shadows were probably cardboard cut-outs made by Lightning Lad during quite times.