Sunday, February 20, 2011
Ever since I've had an apartment in LA, Meltdown Comics on Sunset has been my primary comic book retailer. Yes, it helps that I live a few blocks from there. But, as dorky as it is to admit...the fact I could walk to a comic book store did play a role in picking where I live when I'm on the West Coast.
Picking up comics on Wednesday (for those of you who don't read comics regularly) can be what helps you make it through get over the hump of a long week. It gives you something to look forward to Monday and Tuesday when Friday seems so far away.
But for me, Meltdown isn't just a place where I pick up my books, it's a destination. I work from home, primarily, so it's an excuse for me to get out of the house. But even if it weren't for the comics, or the oasis it represent from work, it would still be a great place to hang.
There are great events there, from signings to art exhibits to comedy shows. Most of which have free alcohol. Having grown up in an era when comics were dorky, it still blows my mind that it's considered a cool place to hang out, even for - maybe especially for - civilians. You can take your girlfriend there without having her feel out of place.
(Let me take a quick break here to say that Meltdown is by no means the only great comics store in LA. I'm sure I'll leave some out, but I'd note that Ryan Gottlieb's Golden Apple on Melrose is super well stocked and run, and Ed Greenberg's Collector's Paradise in Winnetka - the valley - is as well, in addition to being kid friendly. And when I'm in Manhattan, I always love stopping by Jim Hanley's Universe in the shadow of the Empire State Building, where Vito and friends have included me in some fantastic signings. I promise I'll give them some ink here at another time, as they've been great to me as well.)
As much as I enjoy the events (particularly when they are about me and my work), it's the weekly conversation I look forward to the most. It's rare to walk in there and not run into a fellow comic creator. In an industry where we're spread all over the world, and in a city when people don't like to travel very far, that's no small thing.
My favorite conversations are with staff, although the line between staff and comics professional is a blurry one. It started when my good friend Matt Gagnon, now the frightfully young and talented Editor in Chief at BOOM! Comics was manager. Caleb Monroe has been behind the counter for as long as I can remember, but it hasn't stopped him from writing books for BOOM! and Archaia, including UNTHINKABLE artist Julian Totino Tedesco's American debut.
Caleb is still there, but now I spend much of my time talking to manager and fellow New Yorker Chris Rosa. Yes, we spend an awful lot that time commiserating about our Knicks and Jets, or Chris' obsession with Namor, the Sub-Mariner. But Chris is also the host of one of, if not the best comics podcasts in the business - THE MELTCAST.
Along with Caleb, former MySpace comics guru and current CBGB/Fraggle Rock writer Sam Humphries, and engineer Aaron Brewer, they've recreated the same atmosphere that makes the store so much fun. The Meltcast is many things - smart, funny, wide-ranging...but more than anything, it's just a great place to talk comics.
They were nice enough to have me again on this past week. Like always, we talked about what's new in the world of comics and about our trade paperback picks of the week (mine were James Robinson's STARMAN Omnibus and Brian K. Vaughan's EX MACHINA, both drawn by Tony HARRIS) - which are offered to Meltdown customers at a substantial discount.
I also got to talk about my work. Because I don't have anything new for sale, it wasn't about plugging, it was a chance to look back at the process of writing TEEN TITANS: COLD CASE and WHAT IF? SPIDER-MAN. I didn't have to shill, and instead I thought I could share some insight on the challenges that come along with writing continuity heavy titles for Marvel and DC.
It's a great episode of a great podcast, and you can listen to it for free here. Since it's not a call in show, I'd love to hear your opinions, and I'm happy to answer whatever questions you may have.
Thanks to the entire Meltcast's, er...cast, for letting me go off on tangents and find my way back, and for not letting me burn TOO many bridges.
Next post: updates on what I'm working on, with art!