2007-05-30: A Little Light Reading


Lee_icon.gif Ryan_icon.gif

Summary:Lee's usual day at the store turns profitable when Ryan walks in looking to start a collection

Date It Happened:May 30, 2007

A Little Light Reading

East Village, NYC - The Secret Lair

Lee is loitering around the counter ostentatiously reading 'La Tentation de Saint Antoine' by Gustav Flaubert, in the original French, mainly so that he can sniff disdainfully at the hyper-colored superhero nonsense that Tito, behind the register, is ringing up. At his feet is a violin case adorned with band stickers. Clearly he has some purpose for loitering here, and some authorization from the ownership to be here, since he is neither being kicked out nor hassled even though he's definitely not a customer.

Ryan comes walking into the store, looking around and taking in the atmosphere. He's never been in a comic shop before, and he looks a bit confused. Seeing someone near the counter reading, he walks over to Lee and says, "Ummm…excuse me…."

Lee says, maybe a bit too loudly, "Yeah?" Tito is more polite: "Can I help you?"

Ryan looks between the two of them. "Ummm…Yeah…I'm looking for some comics. Although I'm not all that sure about what I'm looking for." He smiles nervously. "I'm kind of getting interested in comics after all the films that have come out. So…care to help a newbie?"

Lee's eyes light up. "My advice is stay away. /Real/ literature…" Tito says, "You drive off a customer this month and your sister's going to cut your throat in your sleep." Lee sighs, rolls his eyes, but stops. Tito says, "We actually have a newbie tour. Here's a pamphlet. Look for the little red dots on the shelves, browse whatever you want and if you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer them." Lee adds: "God help you."

Ryan chuckles at Lee. "Real literature, huh? Didn't a comic book make Time's list of 100 Greatest Novels of the 20th Century?" He looks back at Tito. "Well, I'm really interested in X-Men. I liked all 3 of the films. And maybe anything that you can suggest? Like Superman, or what's the name of the team he's on….with Wonder Woman and Batman?"

Lee says, "Says more about the decline of the magazine than the quality of the work, I'd say. Time. Pfff. The closest they ever came to Les Miserables was the musical." Tito prompts: "X-Titles are over there under, well, the big X. You've got the early stuff towards me, that's sixties, very colorful, very simple storylines, then things get more complicated as you go further towards the wall. The Justice League is underneath the model of their satellite base." He points them out eagerly. Clearly Tito likes comics a lot more than Lee….and he's used to dealing with him.

Ryan nods. "What about specific characters from the movie like Wolverine or…Storm? Do they have their own books like Superman does?" He starts looking around the shop where Tito has indicated.

Lee says, "God help you, the answer to your question is yes. Every conceivable character you could ever imagine is in here somewhere, except if you were looking for an interesting or well-rounded one." Tito adds: "It's alphabetic on each shelf, so look for Wolverine under W and Storm under S. Wolverine was in about nine thousand comics during the nineties, so his section is pretty ridiculously big."

Ryan nods. "Okay….any other recommendations? Anything that you consider good or…" He smirks a bit. "Literary worthy?"

Lee says, "Get a library card?" Tito says: "Try the graphic novels marked with the red dots, those are good jumping on places for new people. They have good introductions of characters and set up good situations that you can then start to follow."

Ryan nods and starts to browse. "Out of curiosity, how far back does your collection of X-Men go?

Tito says, "We have some right back to the very first few issues, but those are collectors items. You can see them in the gallery over there. If you want to get your hands on some of those early issues, there were some really good reprints that are a lot more affordable. Look under Marvel Classics? And if you /really/ like early X-Men, there's a hardcover version against that back wall with the rest of the Marvel Archives." Lee harrumfs, but lets Tito pitch and Ryan browse, ostentatiously returning to his book.

Ryan nods. "Okay. So…to get the 'reprints'…..what books would I want to get to have the complete series for X-Men? The tie-in series included."

Tito blinks, "All right! A real enthusiast!" he says brightly. Lee groans. Tito talks right over him: "You want to go right to the Archives. Here's the Complete X-Men volumes 1-30. Now they're expensive, each one's around fifty dollars, but if you sign up for our frequent buyer card, you can get ten percent off right away. You seriously want a complete run, from 1963 to now? Wow!" Lee rubs his forehead, keeps his mouth shut. A sale that size, his sister would not fool around about.

Ryan nods. "Yeah." He smiles. "What about if it were the complete run of the original issues? I understand that if they're taken care of, the value can go up alot."

Tito says, "Ah…Well, we don't have everything, like I say. Some of the original issues are very hard to find. We could probably get you ninety-five, ninety-eight percent of the run, though…and if you wanted to commission us to find you the originals, we could try to find some on auction…" His eyes are huge. He doesn't want to lose this sale. Lee is now almost suspicious.

Ryan nods. "And how much do you think that's going to cost, overall? If you need to total it up, I can browse some more." He notices Lee's skeptical glance at him and reaches into his pocket to pull out his wallet. "And jsut to show you I'm serious here…" And he pulls out his American Express card. "Plastic okay?"

"I'm just wondering why you're so eager." Lee says. "Seriously, sneering aside, what if you read it and you hate it? What if it's terrible?" Tito says: "Let me ring up what we've got, and I'll give you Nima's card. She'll help you acquire whatever's missing." He goes back and starts working on the adding machine.

Ryan looks at Lee and smiles a bit. "Well, look at it his way….if I don't like them, I can always put them in storage and hold onto them for a while before I sell them back on the market for a nice profit. The first issues with Superman and Batman auction off in the tens of thousands of dollars for an intial, what? Ten cent investment? That's a nice profit margin, even if it does take a few decades to mature. A nice nest egg for when I retire,maybe."

Lee says, "Comic books aren't a great investment, not even the best ones, these days." Tito is about to protest, but even he shrugs a little. Lee presses on: "My dad used to say that using them as investments was what brought the industry to its knees in the late nineties. I don't want to discourage you from throwing a lot of money at our family, but…well, Nima knows more about the market than me." he admits. Tito gives a receipt to Ryan with a very large number at the bottom. "That's what it'll cost, with the ten percent discount, to get one of everything we have."

Ryan nods, "Well, any investment is a risk. But I have a feeling that I'll enjoy them." He brings over a selection of graphic novels as well. "Add these in there too, thanks."

Tito obediently rings it all up. "All right…here's the total total." he says. Lee grins. "If you /do/ enjoy them," he says, "god help you. If you don't, well, I hope the investment thing works out. I'm Lee. My sister, Nima, runs this place, and I'm supposed to meet her here later, we have practice."

Ryan nods. "I'm Ryan. And it's nice to meet you Lee. And what are you two going to practice?" He hands Tito his AmEx card and his California Driver's License.

Lee bumps his violin case with his foot. "We're in a band." Tito runs the numbers, gives him the receipt to sign: "Now, where do you want us to deliver this? It'll take us some time to get them boxed properly and securely…"

Ryan nods to Tito. "Right…." He writes down his address on a piece of reciept paper; at the Prestige Midtown Apartments on the East Side. He also pulls out his iPhone and starts entering the store's contact info as well. "A band with a violin? Like The Pogues or Dropkick Murphys?"

Lee says, "Electric violin, actually. We're sort of an experimental electropop band." And he said 'god help you' about /comics/? "Love the Dropkick Murphys, though. Big, big influence. Well, was good to meet you, Ryan, though keeping the store solvent keeps my sister saying 'I told you so'."

Ryan chuckles. "Well, good luck to you guys too. The music industry's rough, but with the ability to get your stuff heard on the Internet, it makes the big breaks a bit easier. I'm a transplant from the San Francisco area, and I took a couple classes with MC Lars at Stanford just before he broke big."

Lee says, "Oh yeah? Well, I have a day job. Civics teacher at a middle school. The band is just a side thing." Tito adds: "A twin thing." Lee grins, acknowledging it.

Ryan winces and chuckles at Lee. "Middle school civics? Man, you have my sympathy. I remember all the crap we put our teacher though. We were so bad on this class trip to Washington DC, the guy decided to take early retirement."

Lee says, "Oh, there's no danger of me doing that. Our retirement plan went down a dark hole last year." with a sarcastic smirk. "But, ah, thanks for the sympathy. Enjoy your picture books."

Ryan nods gravely. "Yeah. Teachers really do get shafted. I guess that's something that I realize now that I'm older and I feel bad about the way we razzed our teachers."

Lee says, "It's a good thing I like complaining." in the understatement of the year. "Did you finish college?"

Ryan shakes his head. "Not yet. I'm transferring out to NYU as a pre-med major. Hope I can make it through in another two years."

Lee says, "Yeah? I'm dating a doctor, she'll tell you stories about residency that will make your toes curl. Good luck at NYU."

Ryan nods, "Thanks. And I'm thinking of going into genetics instead of general practice." He smiles a bit awkwardly. "Biotech is the future, you know"

Lee says, "So I hear, assuming they let the schools teach evolution a few more years. Otherwise you might get outsourced to someplace that's advanced to the 20th century."

Ryan smirks and chuckles. "That's just in the midwest Bible Belt. San Francisco's poised to leap on the biotech market in a few years. But yeah, I know how you feel. Ever see that movie, 'Idiocracy'?"

Lee says, "Ahhh….no. No, I didn't." He sort of puts a punctuation mark on that. He must have heard about it a lot from his students.

Ryan smiles."Well, let me say that if you've already got a negative view of where the world's headed, it won't improve it any." He finishes the transaction by signing the sales slip and retrieves his card and ID. "Well, I should probably get going. A pleasure doing business with you."

Tito says, "Thanks for coming, and here's Nima's card. I'll have her call you about the other issues, okay?" Lee says, "See ya around, Ryan."

Ryan pockets the card. "Thanks, you too Tito." And with a smile and a nod to both Lee and Tito, he heads out of the store.

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