It was an early Saturday morning in February, and I am sitting in a Starbucks with my usual order of a caramel latte. Despite the cold weather and very early morning, I was in a rather good mood. Why? well because I had just passed my theory test on my first attempt and I had been meaning to sit the test for a very long time.
So after I had phoned my parents and told the good news, I sat back with my coffee and waited. See, I was sitting in Starbucks because I was meeting Tessa Cruse. A lady who I had got in contact with a couple of weeks earlier. As I have dedicated this website to the local comic scene in Aberdeen I thought it would be important to talk to more comic book fans up here.
When Tessa arrives she immediately comes over to me. Much like the rest of the comic scene in Aberdeen, Tessa is kind and easy to talk to. At the beginning of the conversation, Tessa tells me that she has just moved to Aberdeen from London, and I thought that this would be an excellent opportunity to find out how the local comic book scene compares to that of a much larger scene.
“It seems much more personal” Tessa says when asked how both comic scenes differ. She goes on to tell me that there are three major comic books shops in London, and compared to our local comic books stores here in Aberdeen, those down in London always seem more ‘business-like’.
It’s not the first time I have been told that there is a sense of community within Aberdeen’s comic scene, and it’s refreshing to hear from a comic book fan that our local comic scene is succeeding in making everyone feel welcome. I know that when I started this website and began contacting comic store owners, I was nervous at first, but after initial conversations you become part of the family.
“Since coming to Aberdeen there has been much more of a first name basis, and friendly chat sort of attitude” she continues, after telling me a bit more about the comic book stores down in London, such as Orbital comics, which is situated right next to the tube station. Considering the size of London it’s understandable that Tessa then describes that, obviously they get a lot of foot traffic. “Every time I went there, there were at least ten to fifteen people moving around, and on weekends 40 or 50 people all day.”
Much like here in Aberdeen, London has different comic book stores that cater for different needs. Tessa begins to describe one comic book store, Gosh! Comics, that caters entirely to the independent and art comics. Compared to that of Orbital, which only has a section for the independent comics. This is reminiscent of Aberdeen’s comic scene, where there are three comic book stores that cater for the different needs. Each store with it’s own unique selling point for it’s customers.
Tessa does observe that if there was one thing that the Aberdeen comic scene is lacking, it’s that of a section for the independent local artists work. She explains to me that one of the stores in London has a section dedicated entirely to the work of London’s local and independent comic book artists. However, she does note the difference in size of both cities. Aberdeen is a much smaller city compared to that of London.
After she tells me a bit more about the comic book stores in London, Tessa tells me that since she has moved here to Aberdeen she has been buying her comics at Asylum, which is where we will both head together afterwards for a signing and sketching session with the comic book artist Kathryn Briggs. Much like I have experienced myself with Asylum, she tells me that it is mainly because they are ‘personable and friendly’.
When I first began this website, Asylum was the first place I visited, and I remember Mike telling me about the community aspect of the local comic scene. Tessa reinforces this idea, by saying “there is a slight community aspect. Occasionally they will be playing board games or there will be events and signings.”
Once we have thoroughly discussed the how both of the comic scenes in London and Aberdeen differ, Tessa begins to tell me a little bit about when she began to read comic books.
“I remember that I really liked the X-men” she laughed as I agreed with her. For myself it was the same, the X-Men were something that I loved when I was very young and essentially started my interest within comics.
Tessa tells me that years later she would become an artist herself, which would lead her to being very interested in independent comics. Making a keen observation about the comics industry at the moment, Tessa admits that the mainstream is completely dominated by superheros, when there are a lot of very good comics that are not superheros.
We talk some more as I finish my latte, and then we both decide to head on over to Asylum for the sketching and signing with Kathryn Briggs. During my conversation with Tessa one thing is clear, Aberdeen’s local comic scene has a sense of community that may not always present within the bigger cities. Despite being a small city, for those in the comic scene it’s sort of like being part of a large family. I noticed this aspect when I first began going to the local comic book stores when I first moved to Aberdeen as well as starting this website.
As both me and Tessa head from Starbucks to Asylum, we talk the whole way there. We discuss many things from comics to personal interests and somehow this reinforces the idea that our local comic book scene can bring people together. After my discussion with Tessa today it is nice to know that she can also sense a community aspect with our local comic book scene.