Sunday, July 03, 2011

Now I Know How That Little Girl Felt

Last week, when I’d taken the day off, I went to the comic shop on Friday.  Normally I go on Saturdays, and the employees working there know me, so one of them – usually the cute girl – will go in the back to grab my stack as soon as they see me coming.  One time, on my way into the store, the cute girl was actually coming out the door and told me that she’d seen me coming and set my books on the counter.  So they were ready for me before I even set foot in the place.
Not so on Friday, when there was an employee – I think it’s the owner, actually – who didn’t immediately recognize me on sight.  He was stocking some shelves when I went in, and, not realizing that I had a stack of books set aside for me in the back, he kept up the stocking.  While he was doing so, a little girl – I’m lousy at estimating ages, but I’d say she was no more than 10 – approached him and tried very hard to ask him for some specific comics that she was looking for.
I say that she tried very hard, because she was so excited that she could barely speak.  Eventually she managed to communicate to him what she was looking for – some sort of Pokémon comics – and the employee/owner led her over to the area where the Pokémon books were and proceeded to ruin her day, as they didn’t actually have the comics she was looking for.  He could see how crestfallen she was, and was extremely apologetic, and tried to raise her spirits by telling her that they get new shipments all the time ant that the books she was looking for might be in the next week.
It didn’t help.
At that point, the girl’s grandmother came in and let him know that they had actually called the other day and had some sort of “Pokey-man” books set aside.  The girl helpfully provided the names of the particular books.  With that information, he went over to a cabinet, pulled out two books, and set the little girl’s spirits soaring.
Now, being an old curmudgeon, I don’t really approve of Pokémon – or, really, children, for that matter – but seeing how excited that little girl got was enough to melt even my cold, disapproving heart.  Especially given that she was that excited about comics.  (Even if they were Pokémon comics.)
This week when I went to the comic shop it was on the normal day, and it followed the usual pattern, with the exception being that I only had one book in my stack.  A single comic hardly seemed worth the trip to the shop, so I spent some time looking around for something else to buy in order to justify venturing out into the world.
I settled on a trade paperback of Daredevil:  Born Again, the classic storyline by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, which represents a significant gap in my comics reading.  Throughout the years I’ve heard and read a lot of good things about it, and I’ve read a lot of Miller’s Daredevil work, but while I know the basic plot of this particular story, I’ve never actually gotten around to reading it.
So now, all these years later, I’m finally correcting that oversight.  And I have to say Holy Dammit Christmas, it’s fantastic.
These days, Frank Miller has become a bizarre parody of himself, but this bit of his bibliography is a clear indication of how and why he became a legendary figure in the medium.  Sure, the elements of his later descent into self-parody are already there – specifically the “whores” thing – but they’re very far from the over-the-top ridiculousness of his more recent work, and the whole thing is just so skillfully crafted, particularly when viewed within the context of what comics where like back when he originally wrote it, that it’s almost possible to forget the sad, baffling downward spiral that awaited him in his future.
As I’m reading it, I realize that I know just how that little girl felt when she got her hands on those Pokémon books.

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