The woman behind the comic shop's counter had read her comics. She knew the names of the Robins. She was a sister to The Daughters of The Dragon.
Her knowledge was born in the daily glow of Batman: The Animated Series. She studied the comics masters; Jack Kirby. Stan Lee. Neal Adams. She came well-versed in the new masters of the Modern Age of Comics; Matt Fraction. Jason Aaron. Gail Simone. Brian K. Vaughn. Her trip to see The Avengers was her visit to Mecca.
She came to this place; this comics shop because... well, she needed a job and if she could preach the gospel and share her love of comics and receive a paycheck well, all the better.
She got the job because she reminded the manager of the comics shop of himself. Many years before, his love of comics was forged in the ridiculousness of the 1960's Batman live action TV series. He, like her, did this job out of love.
Like many days before, she takes her place behind the comics shop counter, knowledgeable and eager to share and to help. A man, only he and God knows where he came from, walks into the shop, looking for only he and God knows what. The first thing he sees isn't the comics where heroes fight, die and are reborn every day on the comics pages.
No, what he sees is an opportunity; a rival. He flips through the books, glancing over at the counter. The contents of the books are familiar to him. He sets it aside, he sees something he doesn't normally have; answers. The woman behind the counter is quietly reading and puts down the book as the young man approaches, "Hi. How can I help you?"
The young man doesn't necessarily want help. He wants to know. "So... do you actually READ the comics?"
And common sense died yet another slow and fucking painful death inside of another comics shop.
Comics, since it can be such a singular hobby, seems to have its own special kind of fan. They almost always have read their comics within the solitude of one, taking a particular ownership over this thing they love. For reasons I'll never quite understand, the idea that someone could possibly love this thing as much as they, seems to set off some sort of dread within them. And if this happens to be "girl", well, God help her. God, help the hobby because she must be vetted.
He must know why this girl is sitting behind this comics shop's counter. She's pretty so that has to be the only reason she's there, right? Personable AND pretty?!? It's a trap. She's eye candy, there to put "bad" comics into the hands of unsuspecting and impressionable fans and pry their hard earned dollars away from them. This comics shop and more importantly, this hobby must be protected.
When she's working with a customer, her every choice will be the wrong one so he must "gently" correct her IN FRONT OF THE CUSTOMER!
"No. No, Other Person In The Comics Shop, you don't want that Batman comic. It has violence. Let me show you, for free and because I think I'm an expert, something more appropriate for you. Let me lead you to the thing I believe you should be reading."
If you want to see fire, get between one of my employees and their love, comics. If you prevent them from doing their job, you will lose every time you walk through the door.
I've seen some things and chief among them, there is no greater sight than a fangirl at work.
See, here's the thing and it's a radical idea: comics shops, like any good business, hire the people they do because they want to make money. Strange, I know. That person, male or female, is behind the counter because they know their stuff. That person is there in the trenches.
A woman behind the counter of a comics shop is like any man behind the counter.
She isn't there to be talked down to or judged. She doesn't "actually" have to adhere to anyone's preconceived notions. It's simple. She's there because she reads and loves comics. She would love to sell some to you.
You see, she took that bold leap from loving this thing on her own to wanting to share it with others. She's grown evangelical about it. She thinks Matt Fraction's Hawkeye is the best thing going and she wants to bring new eyes to it.
She loves being able to talk with her customers about her love of Brian K. Vaughn’s Saga and how it reminds her of Star Wars meets "How I Met Your Mother." She loves this stuff and it shows in the ways that she presents the product.
She's read Greg Rucka's Wonder Woman and clutched it to her chest, lamenting what it could have been if the publisher hadn't gotten in the way.
She is there because she deserves to be. She put in the time. She is a fan, first, making her the best kind of salesperson. She is there for own reasons that make sense. To put good comics into the hands of people who want to be helped. Not to be vetted. She is there because she wants to be there. She is there because she is everything you aren't. She is gracious.
She will, despite your question, still offer you help and humor you, up to a certain point. She will always do her job.
She will gracefully excuse herself and her customer away from you and despite your best effort, help create new comics fans.
She will do this every time because she just gets it.
She quietly and hopefully wishes you did, too.