Showing posts with label comic book stores. Show all posts
Showing posts with label comic book stores. Show all posts

Monday, March 04, 2019

Local comic shops in 1979

Dan Gearino has posted a list created by Murray Bishoff  of comic shops in 1979. The list is definitely not complete because it doesn't have the shop I was going to in the Bergen Mall in Paramus, NJ at the time, but it does show a lot of shops around Washington, although none in the city itself.

Here are some clips showing the local shops, only one of which still exists, I think. The Maryland list shows  Barbarian Book Shop, now Barbarian Comics, which is still roughly at the same location.  UPDATE: It's beyond our coverage area, but Randy commented that Zeno's Books is still in business too, and on their Facebook page, they say "40 years of serving Tidewater Virginia’s oldest Comic Book Store."






Friday, November 17, 2017

Book Review: Comic Shop: The Retail Mavericks Who Gave Us a New Geek Culture


reviewed by Mike Rhode

Comic Shop: The Retail Mavericks Who Gave Us a New Geek Culture

by Dan Gearino, Ohio University Press' Swallow Press, 2017. $26.95
Despite the title, Comic Shop focuses at least as much, if not more, on the growth of the Direct Market distribution network that gave rise to independent comic shops and sustains them today. Gearino is a journalist and has written an accessible popular history that relies largely on interviews, much like Slugfest, which we recently reviewed and which works well as a complement to this book.
Gearino focuses on his local comic shop, Laughing Ogre, perhaps slightly too much at times, but it's understandable that he chose a long-lasting, respected store as one of the pillars of his book. He returns to the store's history time and again, while recounting a chronological history of the transfer from comic books as a mass media product sold everywhere on newsstands to one that requires a visit to a specialty shop.

From the 1920s through the 1970s, comic books were sold in newsstands, mom and pop shops and anywhere a distributor could place a rack. Personally, for me, the 7-11 was the main site. The books were dumped on the store which was expected to rack them, and return them for credit when they didn't sell. The comics had a profit for the store in the pennies, so little attention was paid to them. At many times, the books weren't delivered or racked, but a refund was requested anyway, leading to fraudulent losses for the publishers, or misleading sales figures.

In 1973, Phil Seuling, an early creator of Comic Cons, made a deal with DC Comics to buy books for them at a larger discount but on an nonreturnable basis, and get them shipped directly from the printer. Seuling's new company was Sea Gate Distributors. It was soon joined by many competitors who split the United States up between them. As in most businesses, the early wide-open days with multiple distributors and thousands of comic book shops saw financial peaks and troughs as well as widespread consolidations and bankruptcies. Gearino also weaves through the rise of independent comic books such as Elfquest, Bone, Cerebus and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and talks about the importance of a retailer hand-selling these types of comics. Today, one distributor remains standing - Baltimore's Diamond Comics, and we're currently seeing a lot of independent books, small publishers and tactics such as variant covers that usually precede a bust in the market.

Gearino did a good job in doing interviews for his research on the book, but is lighter on using archival and printed sources. His focus on Laughing Ogre's small chain occasionally slows the book down, but I think proved to be a good choice to center the story. An odd choice was made to add in profiles of various stores at the end of the book - not quite an appendix, but not quite part of the book either. I think those could have perhaps been integrated in more seamlessly, although when he invites guest commentary in the main text, it is set off at the end of the chapter and is rather jarring. On a local note, Joel Pollack of Big Planet Comics has a two-page profile in the stores section.

This won't be the definitive study of the rise of the Direct Market and specialty comic book stores, but it's a good early step and a fine choice for the casually-interested reader. I enjoyed it and would recommend it.



Thursday, April 06, 2017

Fantom Comics named City Paper's Best Comic Book Store (UPDATED)

It's its annual Best of D.C. edition, the Washington City Paper named Fantom Comics the city's best comics book store. Big Planet Comics and Third Eye Comics were runners up. 

The issue also had a nice-size photo of Fantom Comics manager Jake Shapiro stocking the shelves.



Perennial WCP staff favorite Exotic Planterium and Card & Comic Collectorama in Alexandria also got a shout-out.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Q&A: Bishop and Klokel on 10 years of Fantom Comics

by Matt Dembicki
 
Fantom Comics on Nov. 9 celebrates its 10th anniversary. The Dupont Circle store will celebrate on Nov. 7 starting at 5 p.m. with a 10-year retrospective, award show and more. Below, owners David Bishop and Matt Klokel answers a few questions about their store’s decade in the District.

The store has had several locations over the past decade, settling over the past year in Dupont Circle. In retail, it’s often said that it’s “location, location, location.” How is the new location compared to the previous ones?

Matt Klokel and David Bishop
Bishop: No disrespect to Tenleytown, Union Station or Pentagon City Mall, but wow do we really wish we were in Dupont from the start. It's just a fantastic cross section of everything that's happening in DC, and while new neighborhoods have sprung up around DC over the years the vibe of Dupont Circle as a hub for a lot of cultural and business and residential activities is helping to bring all sorts of different folks.

Klokel: Dupont Circle is the perfect mix of residential and business traffic. Union Station had the work crowd, but no weekend traffic. Dupont has them both. It's also a neighborhood, where Union Station wasn't, and that shows in the warmth we've received from residents since our arrival.

Is there something other than location that fosters success?

Bishop: This one is easy: Our staff. Finding the right folks who are energized about comics and about meeting and talking with new people and helping to link Fantom to the broader comic book scene with conventions and creators has had a huge impact. Matt K can add more to this thought.

Klokel: I second Bishop's 'staff' conclusion. We're a success because of them. Equally valid is that a major key to our success is that we've stopped looking at our business model as "selling comic books." We've moved the focus toward "building a community" instead, and as we've done that, with the help of our excellent staff, the books move off the shelves a lot more frequently.

The comics retail business is notoriously tough. What inspired you to give it a try back in 2005? Is it still what drives you?

Bishop: I imagine lots of people who have a love for comics have had some inkling about what it would be like to own a comic book store. Back in 2005 when I ran into Matt, I was looking for some business idea that could plug into one of the many empty storefronts in my neighborhood and even scale to open additional locations in other retail strips that were losing businesses. It was a thought about tipping the scales back toward a more vibrant and diverse mix of retail. But then I met Matt and he had already signed a lease for Tenleytown and we rolled in that direction.

Klokel: I was 28 and it was my last chance to start a business — something I'd always wanted to do — before heading back to grad school and pushing forward in my think tank career. It was now or never was how I looked at it. I'd loved comics when I was younger and was aware that the quality and sophistication of the stories has significantly increased since I was a kid so I did a lot of research and had already committed when I ran into Bishop and it really came together. Back then I went into the comics business because I wanted to start a retail store and comics seemed like the smartest bet. What motivates me now is the community we've managed to build. They're good people, and they're the reason its fun coming to work every day. 

What are two to three things that you’ve learned over the past 10 years that are imperative to succeed in owning a comics shop?

Bishop: The number one thing that we are still learning is how to properly manage cash flow. There are new comic books coming in every week and that means that there is cash going out to pay for those new books and cash coming in when those books are purchased. So it's very challenging to keep a sharp eye and to make sure that things are balancing out. Related to that is how cautions we need to be when taking the available cash and reinvesting it into the business. We made many, many bad bets on investments in the early days, and we are now much more cautious about spending money to ensure that any investment will bring back positive value to Fantom. 

Klokel: I agree, inventory/cash flow is a hard lesson that needs to be learned. We can't return comics we don't sell, yet we upset customers if we don't have enough to sell. This is EVERY comic book store's top concern, and if a store doesn't master it, they won't be around too long.

What have been your proudest moments over the past decade?

Bishop: Making it to 10 years is very satisfying. And seeing the bet we made on a larger store that could support in-store events rather than a smaller newstand-sized store paying off is also something to be proud of.

Klokel: Frankly, every day I wake up and know we're still in business — and actually killing it — when Borders isn't is a source of pride.

What plans to you have to celebrate Fantom’s birthday?

Bishop: Matt K can answer that one.

Klokel: We'll be updating the Facebook event in the coming 10 days as we fill the agenda. There will be a retrospective at the beginning of the party.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

ComicsDC on the road: Mountain Top Comics and Collectibles of Cookeville, TN

I visit Cookeville, TN regularly to see my wife's family and off and on have visited local comics shops. I thought they were all gone, but last year for Free Comic Book Day, my in-laws heard about Mountain Top Comics and kindly stopped in for me. I took the opportunity to visit recently and met the owner Michael Hargis. It's the only shop left in Cookeville, which at one point in the 90s had at least three of them. The shop at, 1683 S. Jefferson Ave, has a good assortment of new comics. Hargis probably stocks more new floppies than the Big Planet stores around DC that I regularly shop at.  Hargis has a good run of the non-big two comics, including a reasonable shelf of indy graphic novels, and lots of Image and Boom comics. He also has a fun selection of comics-based toys, a decent amount of back issues and a little bit of games. If I lived here, I'd be perfectly happy with this as my regular shop. Today's purchases were Camelot 3000 chosen by my daughter, Batman 66 trade for me, and a Conan print and The Haunt of Wylding Wood minicomic by local cartoonist Matt Knieling (pictured below).













Back issues for sale in a side room


Monday, July 15, 2013

New Comics and Gaming store in Fairfax City

101_5923I was driving through Fairfax City today and saw a sign for a grand opening of Comics and Gaming. I stopped in, and they are mostly selling games to not butt heads with The Laughing Ogre. However, they do have collectible comics for sale. I'd recommend the first 1970s issue of DC's Shadow if you stop in. The store is at 10385 Main St, Fairfax, VA 22030; 503-865-8110 and is a spin-off from the Gainesville store of the same name. They're open M-S 11-8 and Sun 12-6.

101_5924

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Joel Pollack on moving Big Planet Comics' Bethesda store

Big Planet Comics Bethesda just moved for the second time in 25 years, once again staying within two blocks of its previous location. In fact, it's within fifty feet of its original 1986 location now. Chain founder Joel Pollack showed me the store yesterday, and answered a few questions by email.

Mike Rhode: How come you moved the store?

Joel Pollack: My cute answer is we either had to clean or move. The real answer is we've known for several years that our landlord intended to raze our building to build a 14- (or 17-) story condo. When we were given notice (subsequently rescinded) to vacate at year 2011's end, we realized it was time to go.

Why did you want to stay in the Woodmont triangle?

We briefly considered "North Bethesda" (really south Rockville) near White Flint Metro, but we always preferred the Woodmont Triangle, and were lucky to find a space 100 feet from our original second story location. I couldn't be happier.

What are the advantages of the new store?



Immediately, larger space, cheaper rent. Also, with Fairmont Ave. likely to be a construction mess for the foreseeable future, Cordell Ave.now becomes the per-eminent shopping/dining street in the Triangle.

How was the move?
Couldn't have gone better. Agent Tyke Papanicolas greased the wheels, every contractors' promise was fulfilled (special shout-out to Carlos Sanchez who did our build-out), the landlord granted us numerous concessions, and Carlos (not a mover by trade) got us moved with minimal problems. We did the entire move in three days, packing with the help of volunteers and employees on Sunday, moving on Monday, unpacking on Tuesday, and re-opening on Wednesday. Store monkey (his choice of words), Jef Thompson, did at least 70% of the unpacking. I'm convinced I used up any accrued good karma I had.

How many times have you moved the store?

The old location with the proposed condos sign.


This will be the second time - we previously moved from Cordell Ave. in March of 1991.

Will you be participating in Free Comic Book Day on May 5th?
But of course - it's our favorite comics-related event of the year.

What can people expect?
We will again have our kid's packs - a pre-pack of at least ten comics. Also, a nice variety of freebies for the so-called grown-ups. And another specially imprinted DC Comics sampler, with a terrific coupon, guaranteed to save customers money.

Anything else you'd like to mention?

Everything about the move has been positive, and I'm re-energized for another ten years of comic book sales.


Joel Pollack

Big Planet Comics
Bethesda
4849 Cordell Ave
Bethesda, Maryland 20814
301-654-6856


Friday, October 29, 2010

Post reviews Victory Comics in Falls Church

Falls Church neighborhood guide
Justin Rude, David Malitz and Fritz Hahn
Washington Post October 29, 2010

Here's a direct link to the part on Victory Comics. As an aside, across the street from Victory Comics, on the Maple Ave side, is the Galifianakis exhibit which is open on weekends.


The Post also reviews Howl and Eric Drooker did some animation for the movie.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Monday, November 23, 2009

Post-Thanksgiving comics sales in the area UPDATED

Beyond Comics:
Thanksgiving SALE!
Friday November 27th to Sunday November 30th
25% Off Comics & Graphic Novels*
10% Off Everything Else*
Up to 75% Off Select Store Items
(Visit individual stores for sale items)
T-shirts 30 % OFF
Friday 9:00 am to 9:30 pm
Saturday 9:00 am to 9:30 pm
Sunday 11:00 am to 6:00 pm
* Certain exclusions apply including recent arrivals. Not combinable with any other discount.
May not be used on subscriptions, special orders, or held items.

Cards, Comics & Collectibles (Reistertown, MD - 410-526-2321)
Friday-Sunday
New Comics 20% off
Graphic novels and collections 50% off
Modern back issues 70% off
Vintage comics 30% off
Toys and statues 50% off

Fantom Comics

Black(est) Friday... 25% Off EVERYTHING

Yeah, that's right, it's a Blackest Night week. But its Dark Reign stops here. We Siege control from this runaway Goblin by offering the deal of the year. On November 27th from 5:00 am until 9:59 am at our Pentagon City Mall location only, we are offering 25% off EVERYTHING! The perfect time to pick up multiple volumes of a series or upgrade your favorite graphic novel to the Absolute edition!

33% Off Back Issues All Week

Starting Monday November 23rd and ending Sunday November 29th, all back issues are 33% off. We recently cleaned out old subscriber folders, which has supplied new titles to our back issue section. Come early and often to get the series you may have missed, want to get caught up on, or want to start. This sale is limited to comic books within the white back issue boxes.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Spider-Man and Obama cover at Annapolis store

This letter came over the e-transom today; I think Annapolis is close enough for real comics collectors, don't you? By the way, those three links are the most I've seen for a comics store - the Web 2.0 idea is spreading.

Not sure how close you'd consider Annapolis in relation to the DC area, but we will have a good number of the Obama cover on hand, to at least last us through the week (I might be overly optimistic about this though). Just wanted to give you the heads up after seeing your blog post on this big event. We plan on tomorrow being a very big day here at the shop.

Thanks!

Steve

http://www.thirdeyecomics.com
http://www.myspace.com/3rdeyecomics
http://thirdeyecomicsblog.blogspot.com
15 Old Solomon's Island Rd
Suite 102
Annapolis, MD 21401
(410)897-0322

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Aftertime Comics store

100_6609 Aftertime Comics
Since 1985, Aftertime Comics has been in Old Town Alexandria on the end of King Street closer to the subway. It's a small store as you can tell from the photos, but they've always crammed a good assortment of comics and books into it. When I stopped in yesterday, I found some obscure stuff:

You Are Maggie Thatcher by Hunt Emerson and Pat Mills
Fandom: Confidential by Ron Frantz
Don Rosa Collection II: The Adventures of Captain Kentucky (Swedish edition!) by Don Rosa

This isn't stuff you could find in most comics stores, including my store, Big Planet. Joel Pollack, founder of the BP chain wrote in to say, "Aftertime is an amazing use of space. Great store, and you can quote me on that."

The address is 1304 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314, 703-548-5030.

100_6608 Aftertime Comics

100_6606 Aftertime Comics

100_6605 Aftertime Comics

100_6607 Aftertime Comics

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Finding back issues of comics in DC UPDATED

A reader (!) wrote in asking for recommendations about back issue stores in the area. Here's an edited version of my replay and suggestions are welcome -

Very few back issue stores left - there's one in Vienna, VA - which is not the Big Planet Comics store there. According to Randy T in the comments, it's EG Comics, which is not on this this Google search, but is on Maple Ave in one of the strip malls. Aside from that - Barbarian Books in Wheaton - call first as they have odd hours and are closed on Monday I think, although they are close to a Metro. Maybe the closest.

Obviously I'm a fan of Big Planet - I go to the Bethesda store - but they're all good and they all have almost no back issues now (except for College Park - see Joel Pollack's comment below). Another good store is Fantom Comics in Tenleytown and Union Station, both locations right outside the metro. No back issues, or not many, though.

Most back issues turn up at the two local cons - the Capital Associates one is bigger and had a good selection of back issues when I was at it last Sunday.