In an interview for my book, Joe Field told me a version of a saying he’s had for years, that comic shops are “the cockroaches of pop culture.” Some background on Joe: He came up with the idea for Free Comic Book Day, and is one of the deans of comics retail. He owns Flying Colors Comics & Other Cool Stuff in Concord, California.
His quote to me was, “We are the cockroaches of pop culture. We will survive a nuclear fallout.” I told him this week that I was planning to use this as an epigraph, and asked if he could give me some background on it.
Here’s what he said (via email):
Pretty sure the first time I was quoted as saying that cockroach line was in the San Francisco Chronicle [Free Comic Book Day] interview from three years ago, although I’m sure I was using that among peers for sometime prior to that.
The backstory to that quote is this: Over my 30 years in this business, there have been supposedly cataclysmic events that would lead to the complete shutdown of comic specialty shops. Video games, internet, iPhones, movies, the mega-corporations taking over the largest publishers — essentially the takeover of comics culture by others. But we’ve always been able to pull through and get stronger in the process. We may not be as well-heeled as other facets of this industry, but we’re nimble and can turn on a dime. That’s been an essential part of our survival in down times and our thriving in good times.
In the battle of metaphors, that’s pretty good.