On Tuesday, I decided to blow off my day job, protecting the citizens of the commonwealth, to promote my science fiction books, so I hopped on a train to Red Bank, NJ home to Kevin Smith’s comic book store. I took some of the small posters for Q Runner. This was not my first pilgrimage to a comic book store, in the mid-80’s I had gone to Mile High Comics in Denver which back then was probably the most famous comic store in the country, it being listed in every comic book I ever bought, so now I was off to Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash.
My intention was to see if I could put up one of the small posters in the store and maybe if the god’s smiled on me get on the AMC show Comic Book Men and promote my book. The Q Runner poster is up at Blue Line Collectibles, where I get my comics, and a few laying on the freebies tables at South Philly Comics and Comics and More, so it was strategy I had tried before, and met with a modicum of success.
Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash is a great comic book store, the place is well lite, organized logically with plenty of space to move around, and the AC was great on a hot summer day. Working in the store were Mike Zapcic, Bryan Johnson and an unknown staff member. Sitting near the rear counter was Rob Bruce a frequent guest on the TV show. About ten to fifteen customer moved in and out during the twenty minutes I was there so the place was not crowded. The store front was different from the television show, you could not see in from outside and after some post trip internet research I discovered it was changed because of the reality show.
I did ask Mike Zapcic if they had any of the Buddy Christ Statues from the movie Dogma and he briskly told me ‘no never had them, never will’, and he continued with store business. I was a little put off by his terseness at first but then while looking thru the View Askewniverse merchandise I heard him on the phone with two callers. Just from his end of the call it sounded like the people were asking some very asinine questions. One question I am betting was something along the lines of “Is Jay or Silent Bob there?” or “Is Kevin Smith or Jason Mewes there?” To which Mr. Zapcic responded ‘no they are never here’. Another answer I heard was, ‘no sorry I am not your friend because I do not know you’, which I am guessing was something about Facebook. He then had a conversation with some customers and then posed for pictures and joked around with them.
I know I would not be as polite as he was over the phone if people asked me extremely stupid questions when I was trying to get other things accomplished. It was not till I saw Mr. Zapcic doing inventory that the significance of it being Tuesday dawned on me. The next day was Wednesday making it new comics day in the universe. (That might have been why so many slots on the wall were empty of new issues.)
I eventually wandered back to the graphic novels after a quick search thru the bagged and boarded older comic books for some missing stuff in my collection. Brian Johnson (who looks like he lost some weight) and Rob Bruce seemed to be just talking, and by this point I had decided not attempt to promote my book, the store did not appear to have a freebie table, and no bulletin board for local events or announcements. Plus by this time I had the distinct impression that if I asked the question the answer would have been ‘no’. (Not that this is uncommon a store in Philadelphia told me the same thing.)
I found a trade paperback novel I wanted, The Return of Superman, from 1993, a 480 some page book for only $20.00, a good deal anywhere. I also decided to buy two Buddy Jesus postcards, $3.50 a piece (only $1.25 on the Website, so I feel a little cheated)
and went to the front counter. Mr. Zapcic was continuing with his inventory work and the other staff member waited on me, I told him I was surprised by the size of the store because it looked smaller from the street but I chalked that up to not being able to see inside.
I left Red Bank a while later taking the train back to Philly, and on the way I came to a couple of conclusions.
1. It must suck to have a reality show at your place of work, especially one where you are in the public eye all the time like in retail when you never know who is going to wander in the front door. (I am sure the money is nice of course), but to be constantly under the microscope like those guys are now, would be more than I would care for. Don’t get me wrong I want my books to sell, heck I would love to be a full time professional writer with my books having a good bit of success (movies, comic books, animation, merchandizing, anyone wants to offer I will gladly jump and on the way up ask how high). But to live in the public eye, even as reality show star does not interest me. Luckily very few writers are recognizable walking down the street. If Spider Robinson walked by me I would never know it. (Some people are out there are saying ‘I have read your stuff A.A., no chance in you becoming famous for writing, you suck.’)
2. I need to just concentrate on writing. I want my books to be good enough that the content sells itself, word of mouth is the most surefire way to sell anything because everyone ,especially readers, want to share good stuff. I will just put my book out there in the universe if someone comes upon it and they like it they will tell someone. Just like I like to promote the podcast, Fatman on Batman, to anyone who is interested in storytelling or creativity, or if they are into travel/history then I tell them to read Bill Bryson. If my stuff is good enough, it will sell itself. (I have made some attempts to promote my books that I have not heard back from yet, if they come thru I will be follow up on them.)
What would I do if I suddenly became independently wealthy, well I would write a lot more.
Bryan Johnson Rob Bruce
This post then lead to Travel and Diversions: Walt Disney World’s Wilderness Lodge Lobby
and Bellows Beach, Windward Side, Oahu