Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dissipating disappointment

Back when I was a kid buying my comics off the comics rack at the book store or lottery shop in the neighbourhood plaza, unaware of shipping schedules or even release days, it was not only common, but rather expected that I would miss an issue of some series I was reading. It was ever so frustrating, that hole left in a series run.. it would natter away at me, taunting me, a big gaping void longing to be fulfilled, subsequent issues only a bigger tease at what I might have missed. Thus the completist mentality was born, lists were made and the hunt began.

Once I discovered there were actual comic book shops, and was old enough to earn my own money and convince my mother to take me to the brick and mortar stores (aside - the only one in town for a long time was a used book store, run by a chain smoking couple and you had to walk past their dirty magazine section to get to the comics section, so I understand her reluctance. In 1991 three or four new shops opened and the cleanest one became my home away from home for a decade), I came to understand the cycles of publishing, and also made sure I would never miss anything again by having a pull-list at the shop. Every so often though, despite having the pull list, an issue would be scooped out from under me, sold out before the shop got around to filling subscription (in the heyday of the speculator boom, this often happened with guys buying multiple copies of things). Frustrating and disappointing, but now familiar with the ways of the direct market and back issue diving, few gaps in collections were ever left remaining (one I never did find, and still haven't gotten around to: Batman: Shadow of the Bat #4 of all things).

I haven't had a regular pull list since the turn of the century/millennium. I went primarily trade-only for around four years but for the past six or seven years I've been working only a block away from a comic shop and have been frequenting it every New Comic Book Day (NCBD) at lunchtime ever since (becoming a firm ritual after meeting my now-wife while she was on her own NCBD outing). In the past decade, to my knowledge, I've only missed out on smaller-press/indie titles that I was interested in but the store doesn't regularly stock or only come out sporadically and are thus harder to track. For example, I have a few gaps in my Tales Designed to Thrizzle collection and I'm behind a few issues on Big Questions and I'm still searching for the last issue of SLG's Tron series from a few years back, but missing out on any of these has caused me any real disappointment. Truth of the matter is in this day and age, you can get pretty much any mass-produced product you want with a few clicks of a button, so I know that I can start closing gaps whenever I really, really want to.

But genuine disappointment, the kind that comes after unbridled anticipation, is so rare these days. We're so used to consuming, and consuming a lot, that any disappointment is generally mild and can be supplanted by consuming something else. Like last week, for the first time in I don't know how long, neither my wife nor I were able to make it to our NCBD rendezvous. By the time I made it to the shop on Friday I discovered I had missed out on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Infinity one-shot. I was disappointed, sure, because I'm a big Johnathan Hickman fan and I enjoy the series, but I wasn't that disappointed because it's Marvel, afterall... I'll be able to find the book at another shop or when my store reorders it or whatever. It'll be around. I still had six other books I picked up last week to fill whatever void there might have been for digesting new material.

But this week... good god... this week I nearly threw a temper tantrum like the ones my almost-2-year-old has recently started throwing when I discovered the store had ordered a measly four copies of Black Dynamite: Slave Island and sold out of them in the 2 hours it had been open.

If you haven't seen Black Dynamite, you honestly don't know what you're missing. I could say it's the funniest film of the past 10 years and I'd still be underselling it. It's an absolutely genius homage to Blaxploitation and 70's kung-fu movies that rivals, if not surpasses in hilarity the early works of the Zucker Brothers parody films like Airplane and Naked Gun. I'd weaned myself off of my buy-everything-I-like-on-DVD habit for about 2 years, having gotten very good at satiating myself with renting and not owning, but after renting Black Dynamite (and watching it twice in the same evening) I knew I had to own it. I've watched it multiple times since, sometimes with friends, sometimes alone, and I'm more in awe of it every time. As much as I love it, I have a huge appetite for more, and when I found out about this one-shot comic about two months ago, I've been tracking its release ever since, patiently waiting. Seeing it in the "upcoming release" list last week has made the past 7 days excruciating, as the anticipation has been building to a boiling point where I was bouncing in my chair, counting down the minutes 'til lunchtime today, and immediately jumping down my wife's throat to head out the door the moment the clock struck noon.

Hey, I know that there's a chance that it's not going to be any good, as there are ever only a few movie-tie-in books that measure up to their source, but even in my aging objectiveness, I can still succumb to pure, unrefined geek fandom. It is so rare, however, which is what made this disappointment all the more crushing. I quite literally was ready to leave the store, trying my hardest not to take my frustration and disappointment out on the staff who I call friends. Fuck Green Lantern and X-Factor, screw Classic GI Joe volume 11, I want Black Dynamite or I want nothing at all.

And my wife stood next to me, patiently, as I worked through my problems, and ultimately I did pick up the rest of this week's books but I'm still seething and they're not filling that void, that black (dynamite) hole that reminds me there's something out there I really want to read and can't, at least not right now. Amazon isn't shipping the comic until May 3rd, and I'm not certain that any other local stores (easily accessible) will have copies on hand, because, truth be told, it's a pretty niche book spawned from a still-developing-cult-status film put out by a small-press company that doesn't get a lot of traction against even the mid-sized publishers like Boom or IDW. I suppose I'll do what I have to do to make it through these difficult times, while my life is so empty outside of the love of my family, relatively secure job, good friends, and all the other good stuff I got going for me.


Jillian said...

Hey Graig -

Jillian Apfelbaum here of Ars Nova.

We're very sorry you were unable to secure a copy of BLACK DYNAMITE: SLAVE ISLAND.

As a token of our gratitude for your appreciation of the film and its many iterations, we'd like to send you a copy.

You can reach my office at Send along your address and expect your copy soon.

Also, if anyone else you know finds themselves equally frustrated, they can purchase a BLACK DYNAMITE comic here (there are still a few left):

All best,


Graig Kent said...

in my best Bullhorn impersonation (which is only good in writing, in person not so much...)

disappointment leads to delight, all thanks to Black Dynamite,
it's fine creators are lovers, not haters,
sending this reviewer a hail mary through the mail carry-er

Thanks Jillian. Email sent.

samax said...

As a fan of the movie, you'll love the comic! That's all I'll say for now...

Devon Sanders said...

Great bit of writing there, Graig! Made me remember why I love comics.

And major props to Jillian for taking the time and care to hook our kid, Graig, up.