Webcomic: The Black Wall
Creators: John Kratky, Michelle Lodge, J Chill
Format: Black and white comic book pages
Updates: Tuesdays and Thursdays
Genre: Drama, political, possibly thriller and action
Themes: Surveillance, politics, war, friendship
Characters: Hank Mitchum, Old Robert, Mark Stern
Writer John Kratky has a slow, but steady pace with his story. Centering around Iraq War Vets, Hank has lost his mom and works security. One of his army buddies from his old unit offers him a job in his company that does surveillance and Hank accepts. This is about as far as the story goes to page 36 which is fine. You get a real feel for Hank and Kratky’s style maybe slow, but it’s deliberate. Additionally, he’s big on the tone and feel of the setting, which is Reno, NV. I have to say, I really have a feel for the place just reading the comic.
I’m a big political junkie, so I like politics mixed in my comics. It’s risky and the topics tend to be important. The surveillance in the U.S. is one of the most important topics you can talk about today, besides the various wars. Kratky’s got a vision and a plan for this story and something to say about this topic. That makes it worthwhile to stick around.
Michelle Lodge’s art style is dark, black and white, no grays really. Kind of Sin City. Her lines are clean and her designs spot-on. J Chill’s lettering is solid. Could stand to be one point bigger for this old man, but readable.
This comic is my kind of story. I look forward to its finish. It’s going to take awhile, but I think if you check it out you’ll find the Black Wall worth visiting.
If your birthday is this week: The pizza delivery guy will wish you a happy birthday, but he will not stay for a slice. He will suggest you make more friends.
Aries: Your smart phone will alert you that it is full. If you’re not into Hentai and have no idea what it is, then it’s a virus. Otherwise, you have a different problem.
Taurus: The stars say, no one gives a shit what color that dress was so stop talking about it.
Gemini: The aliens that abduct you will allow you to tweet while you’re being anally probed, but no twit pics.
Lemini: Your parents decide to take a break and see other children, they assure you that it’s them and not you.
Cancer: You will have some cottage cheese after wandering home drunk, but discover later that it’s actually expired milk.
Leo: Your old football coach will call just to make sure you still don’t play for the Jets.
Virgo: Vladimir Putin will cut in line in front of you at the Cinnabon in the food court. You’ll let it go this time.
Libra: Your old Star Wars action figures will briefly come to life and ask you why didn’t you spend your money on getting laid.
Scorpio: Your line of sexually suggestive condiments sells well in Utah Wal Marts.
Sagittarius: The stars say, let yourself have a day off. Being an asshole 24/7 is exhausting.
Capricorn: You will be haunted by the ghost of your old dial up modem and it will take forever.
Aquarius: You will becomes friends with a matador who will send you free steaks.
Pisces: When life gives you lemons, why do you throw them at people from your car?
Life Skills for Fanboys: Customer Service
written by Tony DiGerolamo, Copyright 2015
To further my goal of helping fellow fanboys, I have included an index of links of previous columns with their topics. Don’t take it personal, I’m just trying to help. Previous columns are indexed at the end.
The Same Shit, Different Store
So I’m out at a mall (I won’t say which one for reasons that will become clear). I was looking to score some Magic Cards and just get out of the house for a while. This mall happened to have a gaming store and a store which I assumed was some kind of comic book store. There had been a comic book store in this mall, but I hadn’t been in it in years. By its name, I figured it probably had some comic books at least. I wanted to see what was on the shelves there and maybe check out to see if they had any back issues of my Simpsons comic books. A long shot, but I had some time to kill.
I stumbled across the game store first. It struck me as a War Hammer store and I almost walked out, but upon closer examination, I spotted Magic Cards. There was a tournament going on and the store was full of people at 8pm on a Thursday. (The mall closes at 9:30pm.) The woman behind the counter asked me if I needed help, despite the fact that she seemed a bit overwhelmed with everything going on. She pointed me to the boosters, I thanked her and bought some. Then I picked up a flier for a local gaming con. Overall, a very positive experience. “That,” I thought, “Was a store that shall get my business again.”
I was thinking that I need some sleeves for my cards, but I didn’t see any at the gaming store. I wasn’t surprised since it did have a lot War Hammer figurines. I thought I’d try the comic book store. Sometimes with my credits the owners give me a discount and if they didn’t have any, I could just turn around and hit the gaming store. I had parked at that end of the mall.
So I get to the “comic book store” and it is dark. I don’t mean like “dark” as in closed, but just poorly lit. It’s deep too, with lots of room and it’s not being used particularly well. You ever see a Spencer’s? It was sort of lit like that, but in Spencer’s, there’s so much stuff you can understand why it’s dark. In this store, that didn’t seem to be the case. Nevertheless, I started browsing the comic books. This store, like the gaming store, had its own crowd of fanboys and it was kind of noisy. I mean, the other store had a din because of all the people, but this store’s noise was louder and more chaotic.
The comic book shelf appeared to have nothing but Marvel and DC. I’m not 100% sure because the noise was kind of distracting. I wanted to enjoy flipping through the comics but it was kind of hard to do with all the noise and the lack of light. Maybe that was the point, I don’t know. I instead decided to explore the rest of the store.
When I got to the counter, which was oddly positioned on the right of the store pretty far deep inside behind several shelves (thereby blocking an eye line to anyone that might shoplift the comic books) I found the clerk or owner? He was playing some kind of card game right where one would bring his or her purchase. I sort of hovered in the general area. Remember, I was actually looking for something to buy, but no one asked me anything.
(Side Note: At comic book conventions, a guy my age is often flagged as someone who is not going to buy anything other than very collectible comics. Now perhaps I was flagged by these guys as a looky-loo, not worth their time. Despite that, they should’ve acknowledged me.)
I continued past the counter and into the store. Like the gaming store, they had tables set up for gaming and some card gaming was going on. But there was also three guys recording a podcast too. That was all the noise. And again, it was noise. Imagine three fanboys talking over each other and that was the podcast. After about twenty seconds of that, I decided just to find my target purchase by myself. I scoured the merchandise, which again, wasn’t laid out very well.
Finally, behind the fucking counter, I saw gaming card sleeves. Now I have been playing without sleeves for a long time. This would’ve been my first gaming card sleeve purchase. But I noticed they had different sizes and I wasn’t sure which size to get for Magic Cards. I could’ve called my nephew, my current Magic Card opponent, but the store was noisy and he was sick and probably in bed. Again, I was standing right next to the guy running the store, but he was more concerned with his card game than making a sale.
Fuck it. I was so outta there.
I decided I would write this column, but first I’d do a little research on the store. I went to their website. Guess what? It’s just as confusing. While the store featured comic books, card games and T-shirts, the website had mostly T-shirts and wrestling action figures. What a God damn mess. I thought maybe I could figure out who the new owner was and if I knew him from the old days, when I did a lot of comic book signings. There was a section called “Store Photos”. I clicked on it. There were a bunch of thumbnails, so I clicked on one. Guess what? Those were the actual pictures, not thumbnails. While you could make out the wrestlers in the photos, you couldn’t make out much else because the photos were small. Guess that might be an issue with images for the wrestlers, since some do charge for autographs.
But there wasn’t one mention of the owner, the staff— Nothing. And no podcast link either. Whomever was doing the podcast either wasn’t involved with the store or they just didn’t put the podcast link there. WTF?
What Should’ve Happened
These guys treated their store (located in a high traffic, walk-in mall) like their personal clubhouse. Since I wasn’t in the club, they ignored me as if it was MY job to get noticed there. At 8:30-9pm, when the store and mall closes at 9:30pm, a store should be selling or closing or something. If I owned that store, I’d fire everyone working that night. As a customer, I was ready to buy! I had money in my pocket and they didn’t even acknowledge me.
Bad fanboys. Bad.
When a customer enters a store, you acknowledge them. You don’t play cards on the counter RIGHT WHERE SOMEONE IS GOING TO MAKE A PURCHASE. You don’t blast your terrible podcast throughout the store. You keep it at tolerable volume and post a sign, “The Shitty Fanboy Podcast, Thursday from 8pm to 9pm” or whatever, to let customers know that it’s a special event. Finally, you say, “Excuse me, sir. Can I help you with anything?” Because my answer would’ve been, “Yes, I’m looking for gaming card sleeves, which are best for Magic Cards?” And boom, you get my money.
And, oh yeah, turn on the fucking lights please, especially near the comic books. You’ve hidden them away from the clerk, so you obviously don’t care if I steal them. Put up a light, since you obviously don’t care if I sit there and READ THEM.
Or not. Fuck it.
Usually I like to scope out comic book stores to drop flyers for the Webcomic Factory and Super Frat, but what would be the point in this store? It’s so dark, loud and confusing, I’d be better off leaving my promotional material in the mall Food Court. At least people would be able to see it there.
So next time, when you’re wondering why comic book stores are closing, it’s shit stores like this one. I pray that these idiots stop carrying comic books soon and gaming cards. (I’d like to see the gaming store thrive since it’s run better.) If you want to sell wrestling merch and T-shirts, do it, assuming fans of that product love dark and loud stores.
I’m going to continue to read webcomics so I don’t have to put up with this shit.
Obesity at Cons
The Art of Conversation
The Line Between Fans and Pros
Women and Cons
Get Your Room Party Together
Stop Bringing Your Kids to Cons
The Face of Geek Needs Work
Fixing the Face of Geek
Presenting Your Project
The New Image?
Stop Trying to Make Geek Cool
Rethinking the Comic Book Con
Zombie Stories Should Still Be About People
Geek Stereotypes and the Big Bang Theory
Traveling to Cons on the Cheap
Comics, Sexism and Trolling
Searching for the Words
How to Fix Comics? Stop Reading Them
Shopping at the Con
The Hollywood Double Edged Sword
Beware the Geek Scams
In Response to Chuck Dixon, Paul Rivoche and Janelle Asselin
Dealing with Critics and Haters in the Internet Age
Who Are the Creepers?
The Cosplayer Treaty of 2014: A Proposal
Geek Feminists and DC’s T-Shirts