Hello, and welcome to Ask a Bookseller, in which we at Turnaround ask a bunch of questions to various booksellers. Next up is Steven Walsh, who works at office-favourite Gosh! Comics in Soho, London.
What do you get up to during a normal day at work?
I spend most of my time on the till-point upstairs, so a lot of my day is putting through transactions and dealing with customer enquiries alongside working in the Books Department within the shop, which means I’m responsible for ordering books and shelving deliveries as they come in. I also buy in for our Small Press section so I’m always on the lookout for new, exciting self-published stuff.
What are you reading right now?
I’m currently working my way through Jacques Tardi’s comic book adaptations of the crime stories of Jean-Patrick Manchette. They’re great, pulpy crime tales that tend to see normal people thrown into horrific situations and having to fight their way out of them. There’s a definite feel of Elmore Leonard to them that I love, and Tardi has done a terrific job in visualising them.
Name three books on your reading list?
Over the next few months I’m really looking forward to Twilight Children from Gilbert Hernandez and Darwyn Cooke, Butter And Blood by Steven Weissman and The Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin.
What is the one book you wish you could sell to everyone who walks in your shop?
From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell is my favourite THING made by humans, let alone comic, so I’d love for more people to read it. I think it’s a tremendous example of a piece of work that showcases what comics are capable of, as well as being an incredibly rich and rewarding read.
Do you have a favourite publisher? If so, why are they your favourite?
Right now Image Comics are knocking it out of the park. They took the money they made from lucrative properties like The Walking Dead and created a space for creators to develop some lovely high concept titles that just didn’t really have a home. The really nice thing is that they’re having great success with that, which will hopefully be a bit of a way marker for the industry at large.
What kind of books would you like to see more of, and what kind do you wish publishers would stop publishing?
I’m a huge fan of comics that are unashamedly fun, especially if they are part of a new series that encourages new readers to get involved. Conversely it would be great to see publishers provide more genuine ‘jumping on points’ for new readers with books that have decades of continuity behind them. It does seem that too many efforts end up pulling out some arcane bit of history all too quickly to be able to keep new readers interested.
What’s the weirdest book-question you’ve ever been asked by a customer at work?
I once had a guy come in looking for ‘Donkey Hotel’ which baffled me, our stock system and Google, despite his repeated assertion that ‘it was a classic’. Five minutes in I realised he was after ‘Don Quixote’ which, in his defence, IS a classic.
Favourite book jacket OF ALL TIME?
I’m going to cheat a bit here and go for a comic book cover, Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #98, which is an absolute joy. A Google image search will quickly show that EVERY cover in this series is pretty amazing, but this is my personal favourite. Even ignoring the odd sight of Superman as a Witch Doctor you have the alarming vision of Jimmy protesting about marrying a gorilla AS HE PUTS A RING ON THE GORILLA’S FINGER and the gorilla looking furious AS IT OFFERS UP IT’S FINGER FOR THE RING.
Thanks Steven! These drawings are amazing.
And let us say again that everyone at Turnaround HQ is totally enamored with Gosh! Not only are the staff super friendly and the range of comics fantastic, they also host some really great events. So if you haven’t been, be sure to make it your next stop!