Thursday, August 02, 2007

Two Days, Two Road Trips: This One to Wolkville

So I didn't get to read any new comic yesterday because I was on a road trip with the family. Today, I didn't get to read any new comics because I was on a road trip by myself: a cross-state journey to listen to Douglas Wolk speak at the Brookline Booksmith, nearly three hours from my house.

I like Douglas, and I've worked with him on a Sequart.org piece (and an upcoming Legion project), but I wouldn't have driven all the way across the state just to hear him speak (although I did want to finally meet him in person). After all the great finds yesterday in the less-than-50-cent bin, I decided to spend the day on a trip to some of the comic shops in the state that I've never got around to visiting. I wanted to see what other inexpensive treasures I could dig up.

With the 7:00 PM Douglas Wolk reading as my final destination.

So, I mapped out my quest: First, I would hit my local comic shop to get the new releases I couldn't pick up yesterday, then I'd drive to Northampton and hit a few stores in that college town full of abundantly cool shopping. Kevin Eastman's Words and Pictures Museum used to be right there as well, and even though it's no longer open, downtown Northampton still has some of the hippest stores in the northeast.

Then I'd swing down to Springfield and that area, hit three of the stores down there, before driving over to Boston to visit some of the legendary shops in the Big City. One of the famous New England Comics Stores is, in fact, right across the street (give or take a short block) from the Brookline Booksmith--my very final destination.

Perfect.

You probably know how it's going to turn out.

First of all, after hitting the bank, and Best Buy (to pick up Hot Fuzz and 300, which I hadn't had a chance to get earlier in the week), and then the local comic shop--well, it was 2:00 before I even left town.

So I had to rush in the Northampton stores, not really having time to look through any bins, and managing to pick up what became my ONLY PURCHASES OF THE DAY. (And I had budgeted a few hundred dollars, figuring I could get a million cheap comics on this trip.) I bought a Catalan edition of Joe's Bar by Munoz and Sampayo, the collected Girl Crazy by Gilbert Hernandez, Archie Americana Series: Best of the Forties, Killraven, the McGregor/Russell graphic Novel, and a copy of Superman #400 which features pin-ups and stories by Bolland, Chaykin, Ditko, Eisner, Grell, Kaluta, Kirby, Miller, Moebius, Sienkiewicz, and Steranko, just to name a few. Really great stuff obviously, and I got it all for about $25 total. Good deal. And I thought that would be just the beginning of the cool stuff I'd find at other shops.

Well, it wasn't. It was the end.

Because I only had time to visit one Springfield shop before I had to drive to Boston, and that Springfield shop didn't even have a single sale. Not one back issue box, not a junky pile of old trade paperbacks. Nothing. Just new comics. At full price.

Then, I headed to Boston, except I realized that it was so late I wouldn't have time to stop at any store other than the one across from the Wolk reading. And my Google Maps directions didn't account for that. So I had no clue how to get from I90 to the Brookline Booksmith. I thought I could figure it out. I couldn't.

So I called my wife from the cellphone to see if she could Google Maps me back on course and navigate as I was driving. Yeah, I could have stopped and asked for directions, but I can never follow directions people give me verbally. Or I get the wrong directions. Or I don't trust people. Whatever. I called my wife.

She finally got be back in the right direction, but after an hour of sweating in my non-air conditioned car, utterly lost in Boston, I had missed my chance to even stop at the shop right across from the Booksmith. It was too late. I had to get into the Wolk reading.

And thus, my day-long comic book buying extravaganza ended with Douglas Wolk talking about why comics are so great.

And me? I was just sitting there, wondering when I'd be able to take another road trip to stop at all those other stores I missed.

Tomorrow, Judy wants to take the kids to a Children's Museum about an hour away. I wonder if there are any comic shops in that area?

3 comments:

Ryan said...

Nice piece. I have one question: If you are unable to follow directions given to you verbally, how were you able to follow Judy's directions? Did she fax them to you? Did she use Morse code or semaphore? Do you have a computer screen behind you eye like a robotic killing machine or supercop from the future? These are questions I need answered!

Steven Withrow said...

Damn, damn, damn. I not only missed my chance to meet Douglas but I could have also met you, Tim. I couldn't get out of work early enough to make the drive up to Boston in time.

We should coordinate a trip to the Boston-area comics shops. I know a bunch of great ones -- Million Year Picnic, Comicopia, NEC. Definitely a good fall trip. Probably tough to combine with a Children's Museum visit, though, since that's out on the waterfront away from all the comics shops.

--Steven Withrow

Timothy Callahan said...

Ryan: I kept her on the line as she told me where to make each turn. I didn't have to remember anything. So, basically, I was like one of those voice-activated robots we used to have when we were kids, except sweatier.