Wednesday, July 28, 2010
The Search for Scott Pilgrim, Volume 6
Confession: I'm extremely late to the Scott Pilgrim party. And not fashionably late, either. Just plain old, rather obnoxiously late. I'm That Guy. That Guy who was aware of the book's existence for quite some time, but never bothered to check it out until a month before the major motion picture adaptation. Don't you hate That Guy? That Guy who swoops in at the last second and then tries to act like he's been a long time fan, perhaps he just wants to be able to complain that the book is better than the movie. I may very well be That Guy; but that doesn't mean that I don't absolutely love and adore Scott Pilgrim.
A few weeks ago I was at a Barnes & Noble when I came across Volume 1, Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life. So, I bought that, and also decided to pick up Volume 2, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, just in case I liked the first one. And I did like the first one. Really, really liked the first one. After I tore through Volume 2 I went back to Barnes & Noble and acquired Volumes 3,4 & 5, all the while knowing that the Sixth (and Final) Volume was just released, but only available at comic book shops and The Internet. My love for Scott Pilgrim grew and grew and grew with each Volume. It felt like I'd liked this book for a thousand years. Coincidentally, I also hated myself more and more and more because I could have been reading these books for the past 6 years. It was a similar feeling to the one I had when I first realized that Weezer's Pinkerton was released in 1996. As soon as I finished the penultimate chapter, Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe I simply had to have Volume 6, Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour, ASAMFP (HINT: M stands for mother).
Monday, July 26 is my first day off from work after a four day, 56 hour work week. I start the day where I start most of my days, at The Orange Cat Coffee Co. in Lewiston. This coffee shop is less than ten minutes from my house and they have awesome coffee at a more than reasonable price. I only wish that they were open a tad bit later, especially when I'm on midnights. As soon as I walk in the door a girl says, "Hi, Woody!" Now, Woody is one of my many nicknames, but these days pretty much only people I went to high school with call me that, and even then most of them now opt for something a bit more sophisticated, like Joe or Native American Dragon (NAmDrag for short). "Hi," I reply to this girl who obviously knows me, and therefore I should know her, but I don't. "Do you know who I am?" she says. Oh, boy; this is getting awkward for good old Joe Money here. Luckily, awkward is kind of my thing. I thrive under awkward. So, I come up with this flawless response, "Uh....No." "I'm Kaylin, Shannon's friend." "Oh. Yeah! Yes. Hi." Shannon is my cousin Andy's wife and I recently went to visit them up in Waddington, NY, which is only about 300 miles away. They moved there after they got married last year and that was the first time I had been to see them. We spent most of the time kayaking and watching The Hills (Shannon's idea) and The Bachelorette (Andy's idea). And Shannon did tell me about Kaylin, although I didn't recognize her without Andy there to circle her face with a cursor. It now occurs to me that this girl's sole knowledge of my existence may or may not be that I once drove 5 hours to watch The Bachelorette (which isn't entirely true, but it is also not entirely false, either). We both agree that it was nice to meet each other, and we both agree that we are excited for Kasey's return to The Bachelorette later that night.
My friend Julia is working at The Orange Cat today. She's one of the few people who is genuinely interested in the things I have to say, no matter how mundane or self indulgent. I'll bet she'd even read a 3,500+ word essay on the day I spent driving around Western New York looking for Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour. She likes The Beach Boys more than radio metal, just like the girl in the Jack's Mannequin song, "Miss Delaney." "I like your stars," she says. She's talking about my BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) Status Message. It has a ridiculously low character limit, so the only useful thing I found I could do with it is make it my own personal energy meter using stars (is "useful" the right word?). I tell her how I'm not sure how high it can go, but it can definitely go negative. She apologizes for not replying to my BBM last night, but her hair's doing that thing I like plus she's wearing her glasses and she said I looked dashing today (which is probably just her way of acknowledging the fact that I'm not wearing a Pro Wrestling or Boston Celtics shirt), so right now I don't really care about her not getting back to me last night and tell her that it's OK. She hands me my coffee and away I go with my energy up an additional three stars. BBM Energy Meter: 5 Stars.
Geographically speaking, the nearest comic book shop to me is the House of Fantasy in Niagara Falls on Pine Avenue. However, they do not carry many indie/small press comics, so I don't even bother checking there, even though it's only about a 15 minute drive. The comic book shop that I frequent the most is Halley's Comics in North Tonawanda. The guy who runs it, Randy, I believe is his name, is a really nice guy and I can usually find a copy of whatever I'm looking for, be it a huge event style comic like Secret Invasion or Blackest Night or something smaller like Scalped or The Walking Dead. I consider this to be my Local Comic Shop, or LCS, even though I haven't been there in about three or four months because I've been working so much. I blame the economy. However, his store hours are kind of all over the place. I have it committed to memory that he isn't open on Wednesdays, and I know he's also closed on some other days of the week and I have a sneaking suspicion that today is one of those other days, so I decide not to try there. Sure, I could call him and ask, but where would the fun in that be? Today is about adventure.
Even with a movie coming out, I am still dubious of my chances of actually finding a copy of Volume 6. When it comes to chance and probability, my philosophy is based around three people: Han Solo, Chuck Klosterman and Lloyd Christmas. Never tell me the odds (HS). Everything is 50/50 (CK). So, you're telling me there's a chance (LC). Let's say I knew as soon as I woke up today that there was only a 13% chance that I'd be able to find Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour. I probably wouldn't even bother leaving the house. But I didn't know the odds, and I did leave because I know there are only two possible outcomes; either I find Volume 6 or I don't. I have a 50/50 shot, in theory. And sometimes things get desperate (and sometimes "sometimes" means "all the time") and all I have to hold on to is the faint glimmer of a hope that my chances are at least infinity minus one. If I had to pick one store in all of Western New York, or at least the Greater Buffalo Area, to have at least one copy for sale of "Scott Pilgrim, Volume 6" I'd say that Queen City Bookstore on Main St near the Niagara Falls Boulevard has at least a 50/50 shot. So, naturally, I decide to try Dan's Atomic Comics on Transit Road in Lancaster.
For some unknown reason I decide to take 1o4 all the way down to Wright's Corners where it will intersect with 78, which will eventually turn into Transit Road, which will eventually take me to Dan's Atomic Comics. This is what is commonly referred to as "taking the long way." Part of the reason is that I genuinely like to drive and I'm really enjoying this playlist I made comprised of songs from "Scott Pilgrim" creator Bryan Lee O'Malley's writing playlists listed in Volumes 3 & 5. Highlights include "By Your Side" by Beachwood Sparks, "If We Can Land a Man On The Moon, Surely I can Win Your Heart" by Beulah, "I Summon You" by Spoon, and, of course, "Scott Pilgrim" by Plumtree. I think I was also subconsciously trying to locate Reid's Drive-In, a hidden gem of a burger stand in Lockport that I haven't been to in about 8 years. I find it and make a mental note of it and make plans to go there in the near future (SPOILER ALERT: I did). BONUS: I pass by Grover's Bar & Grill, which was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.
I have been to Dan's Atomic Comics only once before. Or possibly twice. And Google seems to think it's owned by Don, but I'm pretty sure it's Dan. The one time I remember going there I was with my brother, Ben, and our cousin, Jon, who was looking for some volumes of "DMZ." We were in the area in the first place because Jon was looking for a specific Noam Chomsky book that The Internet told him was only available at the Barnes & Noble on Main & Transit. He didn't find it, but I found, and subsequently bought, Wilco: Learning How To Die. Jon asked a couple of young gentlemen sitting around and about what appeared to be a checkout counter of sorts who were listening to one of the various variations of the Metal genre if any of them worked there and one of them said, "Of course I do! I am Dan, THE ATOMIC ONE!" (This sentence does not sound right in my head when I replace Dan with Don, so it must be Dan) We were all mildly terrified. Dan told Jon that he didn't have any copies of the volumes of DMZ that he was looking for, but said he could order them. Jon told him no thanks and that he probably wouldn't be out this way anytime soon because it's kind of a haul (and that was taking the non-long way). Dan said he would order them anyway. That is why I decided to give Dan's Atomic Comics a shot.
"Sorry, we're closed," the sign on Dan's Atomic Comics smugly says. The blow is lessened by the fact that this location is McDonald's adjacent. A Reese's McFlurry greatly aids in the healing process. I'm actually not that bummed because I was kind of expecting something like this to happen. Queen City Bookstore, here I come. 78 intersects with Route 5/Main Street just down the road, and although I suspect that it isn't the fastest way to get there (NOTE: It isn't), I'm in no big hurry.
I discovered Queen City Book Store the same way Columbus discovered America; when I got there, there were people already there. I was attending University at Buffalo and one of my classes had me going to Talking Leaves on Main Street to buy books. I could barely afford my books for class, let alone comic books. In fact, I was so broke then, and am so wise now, that I can say that I had absolutely no business buying comic books at that point in my life. But that didn't stop me from dropping fifty bucks on a healthy stack from time to time, and I gotta say it was pretty savvy of them to accept credit cards. But, hey, I was twenty years old and broke, if I didn't have any comics I probably would've spiraled into deep depression. Or worse, got a job. ANYWAY.
It's been about one year since I've been in this store. I had to take Young Benjamin (who really is that young) to the offices of The Buffalo News so he could get his picture taken for being a Scholar Athlete (or as I like to call it, "Nerd") and I decided to take the long way home (that happens a lot, I guess). I take it as a good sign that there is a stack of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World movie posters and begin to awkwardly look around, trying to figure out what's going on in the Marvel and DC Universes. I stopped actively following them because I didn't have the time to read all the necessary comic books. So, of course, now that I actually have the money to spend on comic books, I don't have any time to read them. Irony. I also try to avoid spoilers because I know one day down the line there's a chance that I might want to read them. The last I knew, Disney owns Marvel, The Avengers are New again for about the fifth time in six years, Batman is not Bruce Wayne or is dead or possibly alive, Blackest Night was happening and is probably done by now, The Flash was Reborn and there was a Siege. Needless to say, I'm pretty clueless and can't really find a good starting point for any new books, so I check out the Trade Paperbacks. Once again, I'm not sure where to start and where to draw the line. If I buy this, then I have to buy that, and so on, and so forth. I do end up buying Volume 4 of Scalped because I have all the single issues except for one of that story arc and ask the guy if they have any Scott Pilgrim, Volume 6. "No, we only got a couple, and that was for people who ordered it. There really hasn't been that much talk about it." "Really?!" I say aloud (I just learned that "?!" is called an interrobang from one "Brewtown" Andy Fleck, although, now that I think about it, it's more than possible that my friend, Shennen, told me about this a month ago, but I think it was like 4 AM and I was literally slipping in and out of consciousness) and "But-but there's a movie and stuff! You got posters and everything!!" to myself (double bang?). I hand him the Scalped Trade and he says how good it is and then asks me if I'm Native American, but he never really finishes a sentence, because we had this exact same conversation last year. And, just like last year, he hands me his card, and he tells me to check back next week to see if he has any copies. He went on to say stuff about how everyone else in town is probably also sold out, and that he might have some next week and maybe something about me not listening to him; I don't know, I wasn't really paying attention. BBM Energy Meter: 3 Stars.
I really, really, really don't know what I'm doing. I am vaguely aware that there are Other comic book shops in the vicinity. I've even been to some of them before. But only once. And it was on Halloween two years ago with my friend, Ralph (I like to refer to Ralph as Ralphus for obvious Chris Jericho related reasons, but I never, e-e-eeeeever call him that to his face). I also remember this as the day Ralphus became obsessed with the idea of me making a "Ghost Hunters" parody video, even though I never once expressed any interest in either the show or a parody. My refusal to make such a video is directly related to Ralphus not talking to me as much as he used to, I'm sure. Of The Other comic book shops, I distinctly remember Seeley & Kane's on Delaware Avenue being the best of the bunch. I also remember unsuccessfully trying to find it last year. Several times. I've driven down Delaware Avenue countless times and every time I think I'm getting to where this place should be, it's not there. OK, there's a church, so that means it has to be coming up on the left right about...where is it? I even once walked up and down Delaware Avenue led by my phone's GPS, and I ended up at a building that said Seeley & Kane's, but it also said, "We've moved." But the thing is, that building wasn't where I was the previous Halloween. I referred to this shop as one of The Others and now it appears as if it actually is located on The Island. I type "comic" into my new phone's GPS and see what pops up. Sure enough, there are 2 locations for Seeley & Kane's. Suddenly I'm not feeling quite as adventurous as before, so I cheat and call ahead to confirm their existence. They do, in fact, exist. On Elmwood Avenue. Which is, coincidentally, not Delaware Avenue.
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I remember liking two things (not necessarily only two things) about Seeley & Kane's: 1) Copious amounts of back issues. When I went last time I was able to get nearly all of the Secret Invasion issues for both New and Mighty Avengers when I couldn't find them anywhere else. 2) A nifty little section devoted to specific creators. They have a section for Warren Ellis, Frank Miller, Brian K. Vaughan, Brian Michael Bendis and other various Brians [(OK, maybe only one other Brian, that being Azzarello, and not Bryan Lee O'Malley) & (It took me years and years and years to break myself of the habit of following 1) with B), or A) with 2). I never could help myself. I thought it was the funniest thing. I also used to face a similar affliction whenever asked the question, "What time is it?" Of course, now I use the word "nifty.")]. I am able to find the first three issues of Siege and the first issues of Avengers and Captain America which are part of Marvel's Heroic Age. I also get Fortune And Glory and Scarlet by Brian Michael Bendis. Actually, only Captain America isn't written by Bendis, it is written by Ed Brubaker. There is a stack of Scott Pilgrim movie posters, but they have a grand total of none Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour. But they might have some next week. That's OK, because there's a nearby comic shop on Delaware Avenue.
Addendum: There's a nearby comic shop on Delaware Avenue that is closed today. BBM Energy Meter: 1 Star.
Now I am really grasping at straws. The remaining search results for "comic" are places I've never been before. One of which, Adventure Cards & Comics, is on Elmwood Avenue, apparently; so I try that one. Pro Tip: Just because two places are on the same road doesn't mean that they are always close to each other; although according to the map I only have to go about four inches. After literally minutes of driving I approach where my destination should be, but I see no feasible place where this shop could possibly be located; but just to make sure I make a right down a side street and loop around. Yup. I can't find it. So I just keep cruising down Elmwood Avenue as my phone tries to route me towards this place that is simply called "The Card Store" on Union near the Greater Buffalo International Airport. I've got a bad feeling about this.
When I was attending UB in the years of 2004 and 2005 I would sometimes try to find alternate ways home, sometimes unknowingly. I knew I was really, really lost when I would start to hear John Murphy's voice in my head. Murph does the radio play-by-play for the Buffalo Bills, and invariably has to plug some sponsors during the action. Those sponsors usually are located in Buffalo. I know how to get to Buffalo, but I don't really know how to get around Buffalo. My Wild & Young years were spent staying in playing video games and reading comic books, not going out on Chippewa Street like Big & Rich. So, whenever I would see road signs for Elmwood, Eggert, Union, Colvin, etc. I would start to hear Murph's voice, and that was when I knew I was lost. And on the way to The Card Store, I hear Murph's voice. But, I am not lost. But, I do see no fewer than three people dressed up in chicken costumes in an attempt to sell jewelry, or at the very least coax people into selling them their jewelry, so that they can sell it again. I have officially driven too far to care.
As soon as I walk into The Card Store, I'm a little put off, as there are cards. Lots and lots of cards. I feel like Michael Bluth looking into a brown paper bag with "Dead Dove, do not eat" written on it. I don't know what I was expecting. I look around a little bit and I see at least a few comic books, but not what I would call a whole lot. Until I see the back room. There are a whole lot of comic books in there. And, of course, there's a stack of movie posters. So, I ask, "Do you have any of the new Scott Pilgrim?" "No, but we might have some in next week." In just one day, "No, but we might have some next week," is making a serious run at becoming my least favorite sentence. It still has a ways to go, though, if it even wants to think about getting a title shot against the reigning champion, "Joe, you're such a great guy, but I just don't see you that way." And then things get interesting. "You can take some passes for an advance screening of the movie, if you want," the guy says. "Um, OK." BBM Energy Meter: Minus 5 Stars.
I head out in the general direction of home, where I will learn from Google what any other form of cartography, or perhaps even my Dad could have told me, that The Card Store is stupid close to Dan's Atomic Comics. I will take the long way home so that I can swing by Halley's comics and double check that he is closed today. He will be. I will try not think about the possibility of The House of Fantasy overflowing with copies of Volume 6. I will order Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour from Amazon and pay the three or four dollars for overnight shipping, which is actually pretty perfect and even almost poetic. I will watch "The Bachelorette: The Men Tell All." I will meet the UPS delivery man halfway down my driveway the next day and thank him. I will go to The Orange Cat, get a coffee, and then go down to the Niagara River and put my headphones on and read Volume 6 with the biggest smile on my face.
But I won't go to the advance screening of "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World." I won't go with Julia. I won't go with Kaylin. I won't go with Ben and Jon. I won't go with Ralphus. I'm scruffy looking. I am ready to be alone now. I am one pathetic loser. Or something.