Dennis Barger is a well known comic book retailer and dealer in the Detroit, Michigan area. It's an area that has come under some national attention during the coronavirus lockdown. Like the rest of the US, a large majority of Michigan's citizens most important concern was their health three times more than those who valued personal finance and twice as many are worried state governments would lift restrictions too quickly than too slowly. However Michigan, as in other states, have seen street protests against shutdown measures, including rallies and protests by thousands. Michigan has gained international media attention, even reaching to me in London, first as a US hotspot of infections, then for a rally against Governor Gretchen Whitmer's "stay-at-home" order. Michigan ranked behind only New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts in number of positive tested cases, and behind New York and New Jersey in number of deaths. Michigan has a highly globalised economy centred on the auto industry, and is serviced by a major international airport that has kept planes flying to Europe and Asia throughout the crisis.
In Michigan, the shutdown has for the most part been closely observed, and its spread as a state has made curbside delivery and social distancing easier that some areas, as well as bigger spaces for shoppingand exercising outdoors. But protests have been increasing, especially wth an unemployment rate of 25 per cent, the highest in the US, and limited welfare coverage. Some consider some of Governor Whitmer's shutdown requirements excessive, such as forbidding gardening or travelling to second homes. It probably doesn't help for the protestors that the governor is a Democrat, Michigan is a swing state and this is a Presidential election year.
Even for comic book retailers like Dennis Barger, who said goodbye to dealing with Diamond for monthly comic books, it can be tough. Customers no longer coming by the store, unemployment and job insecurity reducing disposable income, and even his much-loved Amazon Marketplace prioritising 'essential items' orders at this time, coupled with a reduced postal service, it can all add up. So when opportunities come up, whatever the Governor says, a man's got to do what a man's got to do. And in Dennis Barger's case that means do a deal to sell around a quarter of a million comic books. He posts to Facebook, "what did you do today? Sold 1,000 longs, loaded a semi and headed home, bammm!!!" A thousand long boxes. Each usually contains 200 to 300 comics. That's a quarter of a million comic books he just sold. And this is what they look like.
While this is what Dennis' journey home after the deal was done looked like. He may not have had the governor to deal with, but the Almighty saw fit to pelt him with hail for his sins. I wonder if he filled the truck back up with toilet paper, soap and hand sanitizer?
No, instead he found this old comic book store sign. He has no idea who it belonged to, does anyone in the Flint/Brighton/Detroit area recognise it?