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Friday, October 24, 2003

Expanding Borders -- I stopped at the Albany, New York Borders yesterday afternoon. My mission, specifically, was to pick up Season One of The Office, which I did find, although it was not on sale, damn it. So I got the set, six episodes plus some extras, thirty bucks. Haven't watched them all yet, but the show is brilliant and funny, appealing as it does to the side of me that continues to love Fawlty Towers decades after first seeing it. And as I often have to remind people around me, I really dislike comedy as a genre. It has to be especially sharp, dark, and intelligent to get my attention. The Office is all of those and more, observing venal human nature (that of lead character David Brent) through an astoundingly facile combination of words, images, and most importantly, silences. The silence is the best part of this show, the place where the astonishingly stupid things David Brent says sit and fester in your consciousness while he thinks up something even more wrong to say. Don't miss this series.

Now, as to that "Expanding" in the title of this blog entry, I noticed that comics have taken up a lot more real estate at this Borders since the last time I was there. Graphic novels now occupy five full sections of one of the walls in the upstairs section, with two of those devoted to Marvel/DC/D&Q/Top Shelf/Fantagraphics/Dark Horse and the like, and three more for a huge array of Manga titles. I can only presume the store is making money on this stuff, as this section has been rapidly expanding over the past couple of years and is now literally unbelievable well-stocked. I say "literally" because when I was first faced with this massive wall o' comics yesterday, I didn't notice at first how large the selection had become -- and when I first did notice it, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. They're not, graphic novels are now a huge part of this store.

They've also, downstairs, installed a large number of racks to hold floppies from Marvel, DC, Bongo, Dark Horse and Image, and over and above that there's also a decent area set aside for comic strip collections like Get Fuzzy, Garfield and the like. I don't know what this new comics presence signifies, exactly, but in over three decades of buying comics and looking for them mostly in vain in bookstores, this was a revelatory moment. Something is changing for comics, and I hope this is the sign of a long-lasting new infiltration into the mainstream.


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