Transformaciones 010: El oficio del minorista

“Vender cosas con un potencial comercialmente limitado es una de las cosas más importantes que hace el detallista de cómics.”

“Transformaciones” es el título que le he dado a un grupo numeroso de publicaciones que he recopilado a lo largo de mi vida siendo aficionado a los comics, y que iremos compartiendo paulatinamente dentro de este blog. Algunas de ellas datan de décadas atrás y en los albores del Internet como plataforma de expresión escrita, incluyendo artículos de opinión, entrevistas y contribuciones esenciales en los años mozos de la “blogósfera”, repleta de voces con gran poder y con algo que decir acerca de este hobby que tanto nos apasiona. Todas ellas diseccionan al mundo de los comics desde diferentes aristas y matices. Algunos de ellos representan un retrovisor bastante interesante, y necesario para entender a su evolución como manifestación de las artes y plataforma multi-género. Sin mayor preámbulo, continuamos…


A continuación, compartimos un artículo de opinión de Matt Séneca, ilustrador y crítico de comics a quien tengo en alta estima. Con su acostumbrada elocuencia, comparte verdades importantes acerca del detallista de comics, un oficio que poco a poco ha venido a menos una vez que la brutal realidad del mercado lo va reconvirtiendo a un simple vendedor de publicaciones comerciales, dejando de lado la importante tarea de abrirle las puertas al consumidor de un mundo literario y artístico como pocos, y lleno de obras tanto oscuras, curiosas y revolucionarias, todas ellas capaces de ofrecer experiencias inusuales y con un gran valor por su dinero:

“Vender cosas con un potencial comercialmente limitado es una de las tareas más importantes que hace el detallista de cómics (se podría argumentar que esto es lo único que hace el comercio minorista de cómics). Tanto el mercado de los cómics como la industria minorista en general son lugares brutales en este momento, y ambos pueden beneficiarse bastante si se les empuja más seguido a que sean mejores en lo que hacen, y cada vez que tengan la oportunidad de escucharnos.”

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Closing Up Shop
Por Matt Séneca
Publicado originalmente en death to the universe dot blogpost dot com entre 2009-2011.

Good comic stores (and stores with good comics sections) are able to put together one puzzle: to place Judge Dredd in between Moebius and V For Vendetta, or Parker with Steranko and Sin City. A trash heap made out of comics—a quarter bin, a Goodwill shelf, an everything-must-go—is appealing to a true fan because it’s always bound to hold some treasure. But what’s easy to do if you’re more in love with the medium than any individual title or creator is miss the forest for the trees. That trash heap is still a trash heap, which means it’s mostly made of trash.

I wrote about this particular bookstore because I’m hoping you, dear reader, have a bookstore or comic store around where you live that resembles it: an independent book vendor that deserves your support in theory, but never earns it. A place that sells comics, but doesn’t care about what comics is—and doesn’t care, in all probability, about anything but the idea of selling books for money. There are a lot of places like that around still, but they won’t be for long. When they’ve gone they’ll be rose-colored and romanticized by a lot of people, myself included, because of the horror of what’s taking their place. But it’s not just Amazon that’s putting these places out of business. The ones that die fast and hard also do it to themselves.

Selling things with limited commercial potential is one of the most important things comics retail does. (One could argue it’s the only thing comics retail does.) Not every book that doesn’t sell is a stinker, as the history of excellent but shuttered publishers from Catalan to Picturebox attests. A good store will find a way to make people see the value in the valuable books, regardless of how they move in places where neither seller nor buyer cares about them. But plenty of books, including a few I’ve looked at here, simply aren’t good enough to sell, getting by for however long they do on impulse purchase, accidents of taste, misidentification. And so they pass from unsatisfied customer to unsatisfying used bookstore and back again until they’re too dog-eared and yellowed to be resold, and finally take up residence in the round file that’s been their true home all along. Both the comics market and the retail industry at large are brutal places at the moment, and both can benefit from being told to be better at what they do whenever they might get the chance to hear it.

And yet…

And yet I do so love the trash heap, because it serves me something I didn’t ask to eat. I don’t want to live in a world where the only comics are the ones good enough for lots of people to buy them, where the majority of sales are the result of recommendation algorithms. There are so many more ways to fail than there are to excel, and I want comics to explore every last one of those pathways, to write a history so wide and variable that what it’s already set down looks narrow and hidebound by comparison. I want to leave room for a place where I can be forced into discovering things that look weird next to my favorites because there’s nothing else on offer. Sometimes those are the things that stick with you, that make a difference. The reality is, though, that the burden of keeping the poorly put together places and books around is also on the good stores and the good comics. A rising tide lifts all boats, and more shitty bookstores and shitty-with-qualifications comics only mean that eventually, there will be less of both. More that is good, however, and there’s more freedom to be bad alongside. I have a soft spot for bad retail and bad comics, because for so long you had to deal with both to find what little of value this medium did offer. I don’t think that’s the case anymore. But it’s still hard to let go.