By Darryl Ayo
This Webcomics Wednesday, I’m going to talk about a comic called OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS by one Mr. Tim. The author is a clerk at a comic book store in the United States–I feel like I heard it was in Boston, somewhere–and he does these little cartoons making fun of the stupid things that people say when in his shop.
I first became aware of OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS one night where the link was being passed around furiously on Twitter. It was enthusiastically “amen-ed” and “that is SO true-ed” by other comic shop employees. It didn’t take long though, for my enjoyment of this strip to sour and my opinion of its author to plummet. Observe:
As you can see on the website’s homepage, there is a general stream of cartoons and then the archive is divided into what kind of person Mr. Tim thinks each customer is. The basic categories are “Creeps, crazies, jerks, fighters and ‘Jus Folks.'” The first instinct is to go for the sensational ones.
That is precious.
Or how about the Crazies:
and some of this crazy:
Or let’s explore the “Jerks” category:
Wow. The balls on this kid.
Take THAT, blacks!
This one actually makes me feel sad. Poor little girl. Call BCW.
There’s hundreds of these things on the site. Fifteen minutes scrolling through the archives and you’ll be ready to torch the world. But then a strange thing happens when you’re looking at the site. There’s a good number of these cartoons that are just…nerds being nerds. Not hurting anybody or being jerks. Just nerding out.
This one was filed under “Creeps.” But what’s so creepy about this? It’s a passing, fleeting fantasy (what would happen if people had unfettered access to our thoughts), but it doesn’t mean that this fellow is a bad guy. Most of us would be horrified if the people around us could see our cruddy thoughts. I don’t think this guy is a creep at all.
See, I just feel bad for this guy. From the description on the website, his sounds like a sad and hollow life.
Then there’s THIS fellow:
You said it, brother.
And this fellow is filed under “Crazies.” Why? This is hilarious! Lex Luthor? Psshh! Doomsday? Take a number! The Man of Steel has met his match in the form of some guy’s buddy named Seth! I don’t think this guy is crazy, he seems like a dork having a pretty funny conversation with his friend! For context, a lot of these cartoons are conversations that the cartoonist/clerk “Mr. Tim” has overheard among his customers, not actually directed at him. So geeky people go into a geeky place and have funny geeky conversations among themselves about their geeky interests. Meanwhile, there’s this creep lurking behind the register, sketchpad tucked under the counter, waiting for them to make a fatal faux pas. Give me a break, Mr. Tim.
This child (yes, it’s supposed to be a kid) is filed under “jerks.” Come on, some child makes fun of stupid Ewoks and Mr. Tim is all “ha-RUMPH!” Get a grip on reality. If I knew/remember that those stupid Ewoks got killed, I would have re-watched Return of the Jedi. Stupid teddy bears.
Poor bastard. He’s filed under “Creeps.” He just wants to buy a naked lady comic because he’s interested in naked ladies and he’s super-nervous about being judged negatively and Mr. Tim BROADCASTS A CARTOON ABOUT HIM, CALLING HIM A “CREEP.” Keep in mind that Mr. Tim’s store is the one that SELLS the naked lady comic. But this poor sonofabitch is the “creep.”
Filed under “crazies” for some reason. Who knows.
(“He said to his friend in a tone of cold, steely repulsion”)
The first time I saw this cartoon I broke down laughing. This is great! I totally LOVE this! I love this guy and I don’t think he’s earned our contempt. Not that we could EVER have as much contempt for him as he apparently had for his companion.
And finally this guy. I want to give this guy a hug. I came across this one as I was researching this review and it made me tear up. TEAR UP! This completely unguarded innocence…this guy. This guy deserves all of the ice cream. And we get to exactly what makes me so angry about OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS.
It’s no secret that comic book readers can sometimes be social misfits, socially inept, socially awkward and otherwise kind of broken as people. They go through whatever they go through in their lives–some of them are undoubtedly pretty crappy lives–and they go to this place that houses their interest. The comic shop is the hub of their interest. The safe place for them to actually talk among their friends and maybe with strangers or the staff about their passion, which is comic books. And then you have this smug bastard who never told a joke in his life that he didn’t overhear from someone else, just picking on them without them even knowing. Using their unguarded and open expressions of interest to mock them and show the world LOOK! TAKE A LOOK AT THESE FREAKS AND WEIRDOS THAT COME INTO MY SHOP! I mean let’s be reality, Mr. Tim has no power, he’s a Blue Lantern, he’s powerless without someone with jokes in his radius. All of this “humor” is just direct quotes of people being funnier than him. He has no insight to call his own, he’s piggybacking on people’s thoughts, feelings and actions–without them even being aware that they’re being “recorded.” It strikes me as scumbaggery. These people came to a place to feel safe and let themselves go and now they’re on the internet (albeit in cartoon form) being called “crazies, creeps, jerks,” or if they’re lucky, “jus’ folks.” But mocked all the same. I have little patience or empathy for the racists, misogynists, homophobes, and pedophiles depicted in some of these cartoons. But I’m like. COME ON, MAN! Some of these people just want someone to talk to. Or are minding their own business, talking to each other. And you’re picking on them.
This comic is the opposite of comics community building, which is what I am all about. So it’s the opposite of “good” and that’s my take on it. Now one more for the road and let’s stop picking on these geeks.
Cartoons (c) Mr. Tim