Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by retailer Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  This week, Bennett talks about robocalls, comics in tough economic times, Tinker Bell comics, and comics that need advisories.


Actor Edward Norton robocalled me for the Obama campaign a week before the election; I was polite enough to listen and kept what I thought about The Incredible Hulk movie to myself.  Though to be honest, my problem with it wasn’t so much him as it was Marvel; I mean, after finally getting the movie rights to the character back why would they ever give so much responsibility for the sequel to a serious actor not exactly known for being able to “open” a movie?  Especially after the first attempt almost tanked the franchise doing pretty much the same thing by deciding Ang Lee was the perfect choice to direct a monster movie.


In spite of the fact that I’m no longer involved in the day to day operation of a comic book shop I delude myself that I’m still a real retailer, but truthfully I hadn’t seen the inside of one in nearly a month.  Though I did manage to swing by Super-Fly Comics & Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio last Saturday and found a nice mix of the faithful and civilians milling about, no doubt encouraged by the inexplicably sunny November weather.  If there really is a recession going on you sure couldn’t tell from what was going on inside.


Not only was last month our best October in Super-Fly history, early in 2009 the store will be expanding, relocating to the empty storefront next door that’s twice the size of our present location (which would be a lot more impressive if I could tell you Super-Fly’s actual square footage, which I can’t at the moment).  The best part of this development is that it has absolutely nothing to do with me,  I suppose I should feel at least a little sad that I’ve reached a stage in life where no one automatically thinks “Steve” when an occasion calls for heavy lifting.  I’d like to think it has to do with the respect in which I’m held by my peers but I’m guessing it’s mostly because at my age I’m an on the job accident waiting to happen.


In spite of this anecdotal evidence I don’t believe the comic book industry is any way recession proof though I can’t ignore that in spite of all the pundits who did everything but say “put all you can into canned goods and shotguns” (to quote Gremlins 2) and insane gas prices Super-Fly beat our best expectations.  Maybe we just haven’t felt the real pain yet and things will escalate into a depression -- but if that happens we’ll have a lot more to worry about than whether a retailer should trade a wheel barrow full of money for a variant cover of Secret Invasion #8.


But I generally think our industry is going to be ok because comics are neither an impulse purchase nor a luxury item; they’re a necessity for the people who buy and read them.  And during dark economic times people gravitate towards comfort food* entertainment, which is why CBS is getting such impressive ratings from their slate of conventional cop shows and innocuous sit-coms.  I think that’s probably a part of why we’ve been paying so much attention to such “traditional” titles as Hulk, Captain America, Superman, Batman, Thor, and Wonder Woman these days.  Even the much maligned (by me) events like Final Crisis and Secret Invasion are no doubt appealing to fans because they offer the comfortingly familiar.


One magazine every comic book shop should be getting unfortunately isn’t available to us; Disney Fairies Tinker Bell, a 48 page collection of puzzles, games, activity pages and, as the cover cooed, “Cool Comics,” I found at a local Barnes & Borders.  To be specific, it features eighteen pages of comics by Augusto Macchetoo and Antonello Dalena revolving around the new Disney Fairies franchise that will undoubtedly appeal to its intended audience of little girls. But it could also enjoy strong crossover appeal with both girl Goths and the art school girl crowd, neither of whom can seem to resist either kitsch or cute.


On the night of the election at 8pm I swear I got a robocall from Barrack Obama who urged me to go out and vote.  The only trouble; in Ohio the polls closed at 7pm.


Terror Titans #2
* Not that I find many of them particularly comforting these days, in particular Terror Titans; with #2 the title seems to have wandered over into ‘torture porn’ territory.  If DC really wants to publish material like this I have no problem with it, except these comics are indistinguishable from titles which don’t include bloody mutilations.  Since no one likes cover advisories, can’t DC just let us retailers know about titles like this in advance?


The opinions expressed in this Talk Back column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of