Sunday, September 21, 2008

A new hybrid?

I've talked a lot about the crossover between comics and the literary; between art and pop-culture.

All I know is this...I want what I read to be new and creative and interesting. I don't really give a fig whether it's accomplished through words alone, or pictures alone, or combinations of both words and pictures.

I don't give a damn whether it's big or small. If it comes in hardcover or paperback. Whether it's new or whether it's old.

I can't imagine why it should matter whether it was created for young or for the old: the young at heart or the young in age but wise in heart.

I care about creativity, about breaking through the mundane and the everyday. Such a thing is to be treasured, however it comes about.

I think I've mentioned that I read a lot. Comics, books, genre and classic and literary, and non-fiction and cartoons. I don't care. I just want something that has heart and has thought.

Until now, though, I hadn't taken the final step of bringing in literary fiction and non-fiction as a full part of the store. Now that I have, I do believe I've become a new kind of hybrid store, and as far as I know the only one of it's kind.

There are plenty of game/book or game/card or game/comic stores; there are comic/game or comic/card or comic/book stores. But there aren't any stores I'm aware of that really encompass them all.

Especially the literary fiction and non-fiction along with comic and graphic novel and pop-culture combination.

It's really pure accident, reflecting both the tourist conditions of downtown Bend Oregon, 105 N.W. Minnesota Avenue -- and my own weird interests.

And as much as I'd like to believe that I'm integrating them for the sake of the customer, what's really happening here is that I'm diversifying my store as broadly as possible to survive, but the different elements -- to be honest -- really rarely crossover, except maybe for me.

It's a bit surprising, I guess, that there aren't more people interested in both literary fiction and comics. I mean, there are, but most store owners don't feel the need to combine them commercially. Ironically, it's probably the literary creators and the comic creators who see the merit in each other.

Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel was the graphic novel that firmly bridged to two worlds for me. And I'm hoping that the Watchmen movie will do something similar. A superhero movie that will astound people by its themes and depth.

Ever since I discovered Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman and Frank Miller, I've never been able to pretend that 'books' somehow were more worthy than comics.

Eventually, through pure longevity and cussedness and interest and for the sake of diversity, I've brought in both books and comics. And they are getting more and more equal in my mind.

But the store has taken longer. Ironically, I'm not a book store that has had to come around to realizing the merit of comics, I'm a comic store who has come around to realizing the commercial possibilities of books.

I've had to do so out of necessity.

I've been selling comics for 25 years. In isolation.

Suddenly, my store is surrounded by new retail and hotels and an influx of foot traffic, and I bring in new books almost as a lark, almost an accident.

And they start selling.

The comic customer barely seem to notice I've added books. The book customers seem to think the comics are "quaint."

And I think -- I believe -- I may have discovered a new kind of hybrid store.

It remains to be seen if the combination will work, if one part won't crowd out the other. I'd like to believe that I can find enough people who appreciate creativity in whatever form and where-ever they find it. We'll see.

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