New Tumblr lists welcoming comics shops—but do we need it?
Comics shops are like any other retail establishments, I guess, in that there are good ones and bad ones. The difference between comics shops and coffee shops, though, is that people seldom accuse coffee shops of being unwelcoming to women. The food may be bad, but everyone’s money is the same color to them.
Comics shops, on the other hand, have developed a reputation for being uncomfortable places for anyone who isn’t a straight white male. I used to live down the street from a place like that, and I quit shopping there because of it—but that was in 1986.
That’s why I have mixed feelings about the Tumblr Safe Spaces for Comics Fans. On the one hand, I think it’s great to have a place for people to recommend (or warn against) particular shops. On the other hand, just by its very existence, it perpetuates the notion of comics shops as unfriendly to women, gay people, and people of color, and I’m not so sure that stereotype is true any more. Are there bad stores? Yes there are, but if you look at the blog, most of the comments are positive, with people giving shout-outs to local comics shops that treat them well. I think—I want to think—that this reflects reality. I want to think that the default is a friendly comics shop with good customer service for all its customers, and that places like this are the exception. The problem is that the bad places are more visible—that photo in the link has been reTweeted and reblogged all over the place—while the good places get taken for granted. So I guess in the end I am glad that the Safe Spaces Tumblr exists, if only as a place to recognize the retailers who get it right.