Popular comedian, noted comics evangelist and occasional comic book writer Patton Oswalt has purchased his last book from DC Comics following an unpleasant encounter with a survey worker hired by the publisher. On his Twitter feed, Oswalt described being accosted at Meltdown Comics in Hollywood, California by a man from the Nielsen Company, whom DC has commissioned to conduct market research with respect to its New 52 initiative. According to Oswalt, the man from Nielsen was so "douch-ey" that Oswalt had to decline to take the survey three separate times. Consequently, the comedian has sworn off DC Comics for good."Don't go to Meltdown Comics today unless you like getting buttonholed into douch-ey, stultifying 'New 52' surveys," Oswalt Tweeted on Wednesday. He later wrote, "I also bought my last DC comics, EVER, today."

As part of its aggressive New 52 initiative, DC is gathering market data with the help of the Nielsen Company, best known for their work in television ratings. In addition to the online component we discussed earlier this week, Nielsen is conducting field research in comics stores like Meltdown in Los Angeles, where Nielsen was set up with several staffers and computers. Participants were asked questions about how long they were reading comics, how often they shop for comics, how they heard about DC's New 52, and what they thought of each of the titles they'd read. Questions also included what was "important" to the reader, such as diversity in characters or story or art or suspense or action. The Nielsen people also asked customers about Meltdown in particular (and presumably every comics store they're working with), with specific points about selection of new comics and old comics and customer service. Finally, participants were asked about their demographics, i.e. marital status, zip code, gender, age and income.

A separate survey was given to Meltdown's owner, Gaston Dominguez-Letelier.

Oswalt was quick to point out that his frustration wasn't directed at the store itself, tweeting, "Everyone -- Meltdown Comics is cool, they got f***ed just like their customers. But DC Comics? Bye!"

The comedian's story of a survey worker so uncommonly aggressive that it turned him off DC Comics altogether might be greeted with some skepticism, but Oswalt's characterization of the man was corroborated by comics writer Mark Sable. The writer of Image Comics' Graveyard of Empires was also at Meltdown this week, and wrote about the encounter in a series of Tweets that read as follows:

Strangest part of buying comics today - creepy close talker comes up, asks if I bought the new 52 and wants to talk to him in back about it. Thought he was a pedophile, but evidently someone hired the Nielsen people to do some kind of survey.

Other Los Angeles residents have confirmed for ComicsAlliance that the Nielsen employee was indeed a memorable character. One Meltdown customer told us the man was "super aggressive, like Gil the desperate salesman on The Simpsons."

On the surface it seems pretty unfair to blame DC for the actions of a subcontractor, but like the famous Soup Nazi from Seinfeld, this Nielsen worker sounds like someone you have to see to believe.

DC Comics and Nielsen's New 52 survey can be taken online through October 7.

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