Last week Laurel and I got into a pretty intense discussion about comic book stores and the effect a growing digital market place will have on them.

It is going to obviously be bad for most, but I also think good for some. It will force the bad stores out of business and force the good stores to redouble their efforts, making them even better.

So, why is it going to be bad? Same reason the good stores are good: customer service. I’ve been a comic fan since my age hit double digits, L’s been a fan since she realized Jean Grey existed, but both of us cringe every time we have to go into a comic shop. I’ve found a few exceptions, but she’s never found one that didn’t make her feel uncomfortable for being a girl or that would actually help her find new books to read.

If we can bypass those cringing, awkward moments by buying our books digitally – also free of fear of them selling out – why in God’s name would I want to suffer those moments?

What we’re talking about is a customer service problem that is more of the rule for the industry than the exception.

Which Laurel tweeted about the day after our discussion:

@imatangelo: I have not been to one comic shop where I felt welcome.

A few of us retweeted that, including to #ComicsMarket, a hashtag used by comic store owners. And who should respond?

Fucking @LarrysComics.

With this bit of brilliance:

@LarrysComics Are you a creep? RT @ZacharyWhitten “@imatangelo: I have not been to one comic shop where I felt welcome.” Problem #1 w/ the #comicmarket.

Keep in mind, this is the known racist and homophobe that became Internet infamous after making offensive jokes about the new black Spider-Man.

Needless to say, things got silly from there, and the customer service problem hole got dug a little deeper.

Until anyone from a neophyte fan to an octogenarian collector, male or female, can walk into nearly every store and be greeted with enthusiastic and honest help, the industry will continue to hemorrhage their lifeblood into the digital void.

And I don’t want that. Laurel doesn’t want that. Fans in general don’t want that.

We want stores that make us feel like kids in candy shops and staffers that can help us guide the nearly hundred year history of this wonderful medium.

All it takes is a little customer service.