Comics/Graphic Novels

The Hermione of Comic Shoppers



Always books. Never boring.

In school, I was pretty much a Jane Lane: get through it but spend as much of your time as possible getting really good at the thing you love. Hers was art; mine was writing. I spent exactly as much time as needed on my schoolwork, not because I cared about it but because I knew I wouldn’t be going to college without a scholarship. So basically, this:


I entered some writing contests, but mostly I posted my poetry on Tori Amos fan sites devoted to our own creativity. Deep in the annals of the internet, I’m sure there’s still at least one of my own old websites kicking around with its black background and eyesight-wrecking fuchsia font. I WAS AWESOME, SO SO COOL, YOU GUYS.


Same went for college. I knew I’d be going to grad school, so I kept my GPA not a tenth of point higher than it needed to be to get in. I was going for English, so I didn’t even try on the “math part” of the GRE. Apathy has always been the tune I sang where schoolwork was concerned. It’s not that I loved the material any less than my more driven peers—the Romantic poets, the Modernists, Yeats Yeats Yeats—or any more, for that matter. It’s just that I’ve always been more feelings-ruled than intellect, and while I value knowing that I’m pretty smart, it’s my soft heart that always leads me into battle and my uninhibited enthusiasm that wins them. My passion for the material is one hundred percent of the reason I made good grades in the areas I did in high school, college, and beyond, and I’m so incredibly privileged that I got to spend years of my life reading and writing for hours of every day. How cool was that?! Then there was work, then there was quitting work to write write write, which has been the best. I get to run on enthusiasm again.

Which brings me to getting into new things with my newfound free time. Which brings me to COMICS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My comic fandom goes back a little ways, to high school, when I borrowed Sandman comics from people who were cooler than I was, but who I could always talk to about Tori Amos, my first actual fandom, because Tori and Neil were friends. That led to exchanging mix tapes (yes, tapes) and some pretty good, dark, brooding friendship with my fellow weirdos, all non-athletic and dressed in black. Then there was a lit-snobbery phase that lasted into my mid-20s, then there was a long YA binge, and finally, last summer, there was Saga.

I was sold.

I was enthusiastic.

I was all feelings, falling all over themselves to learn the rules of a new world.

I binge-bought trades of this and more trades of that online and from my local-ish chain store. Then I discovered the comic shop and found that the staff were super-friendly to any and all enthusiastic comic fans, including women. What a world.

I set up a pull list of mostly Image titles, The Wicked + The Divine and The Fade-Out and Supreme Blue Rose. I planned to collect Saga trades. I started getting hardback collections from the library.

No Jane Lane here! I Hermioned all of the comic resources I could find. I learned the lingo with all the passion of a convert to a new diet or religion. I researched release dates and made spreadsheets and generally became a nuisance, I feared, to the super-nice staff at the comic shop. I added new titles to my pull list all-the-freaking-time, Storm and Lumberjanes; Wayward and Bitch Planet. I dropped titles: Storm and Thor; Supreme Blue Rose and The Fade Out. I evangelized to the converted about Image’s gorgeous art. I laid out comparisons between Wayward and Buffy. I pulled up release dates on my phone if something didn’t show up in my subscription box. I corrected everyone’s pronunciation of Wingardium Leviosa; my hand shot into the air before the question was out of the teacher’s mouth.



I have myself under control now, but I do wish there were a way to manage my pull list online (which I know some shops have, but mine doesn’t yet). When I learned how to use the library’s online system for renewals and holds, you don’t even know how relieved I was, no longer required to ask an actual human on the phone to do me a favor, essentially. For now, I still have to talk to a human at the comic shop, but instead of doing it in my former know-it-all, overcompensating-for-not-knowing-enough tone, I do it a little apologetically, a little self-deprecatingly. I try to marry my Jane Lane tendencies to my Hermione ones, you know, for balance.


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