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Thank God November’s Done, Part II: The Post Jeff’s Been Waiting A Month to Make….

Jeff Lester

Whew. So, the twin vices of Nanowrimo (slow to get going, but a blast by the end) and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (a bazillion times more shallow than Freedom Force but if you’re a button-mashing console-owning Marvel fanboy–and boy, am I!—it’s insanely compelling) kept me from posting nearly all month, which is a drag because I was sure I’d blown my chance to write about my trip to Vegas, but Graeme’s Friday post at Newsarama about favorite comic book stores gives me another shot.

Now, of course, Comix Experience owns my heart (well, technically, my soul–damn that Hibbs!) but I just gotta give the mad love for Ralph Mathieu’s Alternate Reality Comics in Vegas:

Ralph’s shop is well-lit and just jammed with awesomeness. The three following pics form a very sloppy panorama shot, but it gives you a bit of an idea of what’d you see if you walked in the door and turned your head from left to right:

I think even at this thumbnail size, you can see the crazy amount of variety–like that last picture with Ralph. See how Uncle Scrooge is right next to first volume of The Ultimates (or, to use the shorter nickname by which it’ll likely be known in the industry, “the good one”) next to Kinetic right above Desolation Jones? Or, if you look over his left shoulder, there’s The Waiting Place next to Tomine’s Sleepwalk, adjacent to Promethea and crowned with that Challengers of the Unknown archive? That’s a whole bunch of mighty good–and mightily diverse–comics right there.

When my wife and I showed up there, Ralph was incredibly kind even before I introduced myself. Once I did, however, Ralph and I did an incredibly truncated version of the Retailer Talk–truncated because I’m really a counter monkey, not a retailer. (The Retailer Talk, by the way, is kinda like how dogs have to sniff each other’s butts when they first meet. Nobody’s really going to relax and feel comfortable until each has asked the other: (a) how much square footage is your store? (b) how do you rack your books? (c) how’s this year/quarter/mutually agreed upon fiscal period been for you? (d) [other stuff I don’t know because I’m not a retailer and I usually don’t pay attention this long] and, more often than not, (e) how is ____________________ selling for you? [__________ this year being, like, 52 or Civil War tie-ins.] And at that point, question (e) is usually what leads into the first rate story-swapping, rumor-trading and/or dirt-dealing that makes the conversation interesting for non-retailers like myself.) Ralph’s also got a great conversational gambit in the form of all the amazing original art he’s collected over the years which he has up in one section–Edi pretty much just stared at in awe while Ralph and I continued to bullshit.

I didn’t take a picture of the section, by the way, but Ralph’s manga-fu is awesome: I picked up a whole bunch of stuff Hibbs usually doesn’t stock because the early volumes didn’t sell–Love Roma and Azumanga Daioh, for example, and the first three volumes of the Great Catsby (which was my birthday splurge because that shit ain’t cheap)–and was just generally agog at how well Ralph had, like, arranged a separate yaoi section in the bulk of the manga section.

So, yeah, to sum up: Alternate Reality Comics is an awesome store, well-lit, friendly and jammed with great books. Next time you hit Vegas, you should check it out if you consider yourself a comic store aficionado. It’s a great shop.

Whew. You can’t believe how long I waited to tell you that.

Next: Reviews of books! Provided I can think of something to say that’s not parroting Mr. McM’s reviews, that is.

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