Monday, February 05, 2007

Nostalgia & Comics & Me part 10
The Basement pt 4 - finished for the first time

Where the devil was I after the last post?

I'd been working at Nostalgia & Comics Birmingham UK - one of the oldest comic shops in the country, one of the biggest and certainly one of the best - since 1987 when I was a tender youth of 16. This post takes us up to about 1993/4 and I'm fresh out of University, looking for work, but still carrying on with the Saturday job I loved, working on the shopfloor and carrying on my ever increasing obsession with sorting out the basement........

Ah yes, when we last talked toys were invading my beloved comic basement and taking up far too much space with their excessive plastic packaging. People like dear old Todd McFarlane had decided that the sole purpose of action figures was to cram as much detail and articulation into their little plastic bodies as possible, whilst making the plastic packages they came in as difficult as possible to fit into the long comic boxes we used to store things in down in the basement. So where a couple of boxes of action figures would have fitted into one comic box before Todd, suddenly I'm lucky to be able to fit three of the buggers into one box. Bastard.

But I carried on, until I finally managed to get it to a stage where I was pretty much happy with it but knew I had to do something about the third of the basement that was just a dumping ground:

Of course, this involved finally getting rid of all the junk in the basement once and for all. A mammoth task, not helped by still having the owners shit all over the place.

But one fateful day I decided that enough was enough and if I ever wanted to defeat the damn basement and literally beat it into shape I had to do a major clearance.
And it was ruthless. We got rid of a huge amount of stuff. All sorts of things, most of which had been stored for year after year because (and oh, how I hated to hear this line) "we might need it at some point"
In fact I still hate that phrase. I'm incredibly ruthless at getting rid of stuff in my own life. I love a good sort out and always think in terms of getting rid of as much stuff as I can. So working somewhere that the prevailing view was always to keep stuff "just in case" was a constant pain!

By the end of it, we'd removed enough crap from the basement to fill several skips.
But of course, because the boss was far too tight to actually spend the money on a skip we had to carefully break it down to fit into commercial bins - carefully, as in jumping on it, kicking it and stamping on it to break it. Have you ever tried to completely break down a wire racking display? It's bloody difficult & bloody painful. Overall I won on submissions.

Over the course of a few weeks we managed to rid the place of so much shit you would not believe. In the end the basement was looking fantastic. I was ridiculously proud of the achievement. Silly really.

The only bugbear was the shitload of stuff still in the basement from the owner, but as well as getting rid of crap I had also spent my time moving his stuff so that it took up less and less space.
It's one of my great skills that I can manage to organise and organise and organise a space so that it actually occupies less and less space. I'm incredibly good at it. Sadly, there's not a job that I know of that really requires this skill. Shame, because if there was it would be mine.

Eventually I had the whole basement reorganised and moved some dexion around so that the owner's stuff effectively disappeared. It was an amazing bit of construction. Basically I left a 3 foot wide gap between the end wall and the 20ft of Star Wars dexion. Then I filled in the gap with box after box after box full of assorted crap. It was like playing Lego with huge boxes. Boxes full of issues of Poot, Oink, Viz, 2000AD, Radio Times, old western comics, files, phantom comics, original artwork. There were even boxes of clothes down there (strange but true).

Sure it was completely inaccessible, but out of sight really did equal out of mind.

And while we're on the subject of comic store owners, I know it's a stereotype, but the image of Comicbook Guy from the Simpsons is so sadly apt in this case.
Except ours wore a suit.
Of course, it wasn't just our boss. From what I've observed on my travels around the countries comic shops,an awful lot of owners & managers seem to aspire to that image.
We really, really don't help ourselves sometimes in this wonderful medium we call comics.

Anyway, it was done. I had finally finished.
Well, finished for now anyway.
Next came the biggest change in the history of Nostalgia & Comics and that meant the obsessional behaviour could only get worse......

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