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WALKING DEAD: I’d never heard this before

Brian Hibbs

Obviously, this story had to have happened… it just had never happened to ME before.

Customer comes to the counter, waving a copy of WALKING DEAD #105. “What the heck is this?!” he exclaims.

“Uh…? What do you mean?” I ask.

“This! What IS this?” He’s sort of shaking the comic about, I guess this is the one legitimate time to call it a “floppy”.

“I’m not sure exactly what you mean, sir, do you mean ‘in relationship to the TV show’?”

“No, no, I know the comic is different from the show; what I mean is what, exactly, is THIS?”

I blink a few time, and am entirely unsure what to say. “It’s… it’s a comic…?”

“I don’t understand,” he’s getting frustrated, “is this volume 18 or something?”

“Oh!”

“I mean, I have the first seventeen issues, so what is this?”

I get it now. “Yeah! I mean no! I mean, you know that the books are just collections, don’t you…?”

“What do you mean?” he demands.

“Each of those volumes you have is a collection of single monthly issues! There’s six in each one. Volume 1 is issues #1-6. You’re holding issue #105.”

“So… this IS volume 18?”

“Well kind of, issue #103 is what comes right after volume 18, this is the middle of what will be that book”

“Wow!” he exclaims, all excited, “I had no idea!”

“Yeah, and, actually, I think it’s kind of a better read as a monthly serialization because you get six cliffhangers. In a book, you just breeze through them. Like you remember in vol 16 when [spoilerific content], and you just turned the page, and you knew he was OK? Well, WE had to wait an entire month to find out what was going to happen. It drove us insane!”

“Wow, that sounds great, I totally have to start buying these!”

Obviously, OBVIOUSLY, there had to be a guy who only read TWD in GN form, and never had encountered a monthly comic before. When you say it outloud, it becomes self-evident. I’d just never met a member of the species before. And I was proud to pop his comic book cherry.

God bless us, every one!

-B

12 Responses to “ WALKING DEAD: I’d never heard this before ”

  1. Great story. I hope he really was as excited as you describe.

  2. Huh…I’ve had slightly similar experiences, but I assumed it was because I don’t work at a comic store. All my friends and family know I read comics, but I don’t think most of them understand what that means. I think this because I’ve picked up Walking Dead trades for people before and I’ll toss in a few recent single issues so they can read beyond the trade. They always ask me what the single issues are and I tell them they’re the issues that are coming up next. Then we have a brief discussion of what a trade is and they always give me the, “Oh, cool, I didn’t know they still made comics like this….” I don’t really go into it more than to ask them if they enjoyed the book. But yeah, people I know are usually surprised to learn that single issues exist and how they work. It always reminds me we take a lot for granted inside our hobby.

  3. I remember when I had the realization that comics came out every week, and individual series shipped every month. (I think it was on Fridays, back then.) Previously I thought they just spawned within back-issue bins :)

  4. Bizarre. I’m not that old (I think–I’m 37, that’s not tool old, right?), and I remember spinner racks and such in grocery stores and drug stores. And I’m pretty sure it was common knowledge at my middle school in the late 80s that things called “graphic novels” existed, many of which reprinted previous comics.

    Maybe people younger than me don’t know that? Or maybe my social circle has always been so nerd-centric things that we don’t realize outsiders wouldn’t know? I mean, I wouldn’t expect my mom to know all this, but then, she wouldn’t have been reading the Walking Dead collections anyway.

    I wonder if this could only happen with the Walking Dead–if that’s the only property with enough cachet in non-comics circles that outsiders are coming in and reading the collections. (Maybe Sandman as well?)

  5. That’s never happened to me, but I’d find it completely believable if he was under 30. It’s been, what, 14 or 15 years since the post-boom bust of the 90s? I live in a metro area of about 110 thousand people and for pretty much the last decade, we’ve had a comic shop and the magazine rack at Barnes and Noble and that’s pretty much it for comics. So, it’s entirely possible that someone who’s around 30 and under and wasn’t into comics as a kid would have never seen an actual comic.

    Mike

  6. “What is this?”

    I am imagining him running around the shop touching everything with wonder, like Jack Skellington in Christmas Town.

  7. I’m interested in how a dude who doesn’t know what floppies are ended up in your store. What brought him in? I like to think it could be the great window displays CE always has.

  8. Cute story! Would make a funny promotional short film or something.

  9. I have also totally seen that happen. Sadly. Customer totally got that the TPBs were serials, just could NOT decode that they contained actual “comics”…which were some issues ahead of what he had on his shelf.

  10. Also, the Walking Dead TPBs don’t reprint the individual covers. I hate that, because I think of covers as a major part of the comic experience. In a TPB, covers also serve as chapter breaks; and without them, the rhythm of the trades always seems a little off, because there’s no pause in your reading. In any case, reprinting the covers might go a long way toward helping “lay people” to understand.

  11. I thought the [spoilerific content] worked as a powerful *moment* in the TPB, so we collection readers still got quite a shock even if it was only for a few seconds, but I concede the experience would have been heightened by a month-long wait. But, as great as the series is, moments like that are not common enough to convince me to start getting the singles. Great anecdote, btw.

  12. I’m not surprised that some readers can’t tell that TWD is serialized. I only read it in TPB form, and the transition between issues is relatively seamless. Sometimes I have to count pages to figure out where the break is.

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