The Local Comic Shop of my youth...

~Check it out, Mental Organisms!
 Yup, that's fourteen-year-old Me, at my local Comic Shop of the time, as "A customer"!  
In retrospect... it is kind of worrisome that I had NO idea my picture was being taken by a stranger...

No one came up to me, identified themselves as being from the local newspaper, asked permission to snap a shot, or even gave me a heads-up that I'd be in the paper.  I mean, yeah- it's JUST the local newspaper- but in 1993 that still would have seemed kinda cool to a 14-year-old.  I guess a week or two later someone my Mom knew said something to her like "Was that your oldest in the paper this week?" to which she was like "What?" and went and bought one to see. 
They had even ran it the month before in a slightly different article:  

Right-click/View Image or center-click to read...
I had forgotten all about this until just this past Christmas when she brought it up for some reason and I was like: "What?"  -I asked her if she still had the clippings someplace, because: Nerd-cred!  And she dug them out and I scanned 'em and here we are now.  Memory-lane, bitch!

I wish I could tell just what I was looking at. I can't quite make anything out. You can see I'm holding about ten books in my hand... and I already had a pull-list too, so those were all extra.

-I had an addiction.

You should embiggen and read the articles too- because they're pretty fucking dated and terrible, and I'ma share some thoughts, and personal experiences, from being "A customer" there for so many years:

  • So, 1993: $1.25 Comic-books?  Pretty fucking sure that was on the cheaper side of things... They were mostly a bit more than that by then. But, you know- gotta mention the lowest cover-prices to get people to the store, right? 
  • I remember that Spider-Man jacket!  It was always there... I don't think they ever sold the damn thing asking that much for it.  Also- it was this ugly denim affair with leather elbow patches.
  • I did get quite a few tee-shirts from there... from when they'd have sales, or eventually hit the clearance-rack.  My favorite was a white one that had the cover from Venom: Deathtrap, The Vault on the front... with that sweet Ron Lim art.  I also remember having some random McFarlane Spider-Man shirt, and a Liefeld Deadpool one. 
  • Ahhh- the "Personal-Friend Club".  Ever LCS had/has one, right?  You got to hold titles in a "file"... basically your pull-list. You got a free Previews every month that you could make special orders from, and you saved 10% every purchase.  It was free at first... I remember they eventually started charging like, ten bucks a year... But with the amount I would spend in there each month- it was still worth it.
  • Their "parties" were so lame.  -A lot of fat nerds playing D&D.  Not that there is anything wrong with that- just never was my scene...There was pizza and punch, though. And the sales were decent, depending on the time of year. But I'd always notice new, more expensive prices tagged over the old ones, on the back-issues; before a big sale.
  • They did have A LOT of back-issues, though!  But never any cheap-boxes...  And they moved new comics to the long-boxes too quickly, so they could jack-up the price.
  • Ahhh, 1993: When you could brag about being able to fax stuff!
  • I love how they're hawking Spider-Man: Mutant Agenda so hard.  I remember when that came out.  Was it really THAT big of a deal?  I don't think so.  It was a neat concept, but it wasn't even that good.
  • It was a clean, well lit store- with lots of space. I'll give it that. Two other shops I've frequented in my life were very cramped, and were actually "dank and dark" so to speak.
  • "Marvel is making Spider-Man a more aggressive figure who is less nice with the bad guys."  -The more things change- the more they stay the same, eh?
  • Of the three owners- Susan was the one who was always there working the register.  I remember her being pretty nice overall. But I can also remember her being a tad bitchy to me a few times... It only stands out because I was younger.  The store did originally open when I was twelve.  -I also remember seeing her fight with her husband Jim (another owner) quite a bit.  And I also recall he and the third owner having a huge blowout/screaming-match behind the counter once.  -Other dude stormed out after.
  • The part about "Scavenger hunts, disc-jockeys and games" made me laugh.  I remember ONE time they had a Cleveland radio-station there. And the prizes were, like- unsold Malibu/Ultraverse comics... and there was 20% off- but only on back-issues.
  • I like how they are bragging about how no other store offers service like they do... they were literally the only comic shop in the area. In the county. In the surrounding counties! The one I used to go to before them had long since closed (it was a butcher-shop, I've talked about it before in videologs).  And the one I went to after Thee Keep closed down was a newer shop, years later, and a thirty-five minute drive away. There was noting else. -They were the only game in town for their entire run!  
  • This run included filing for bankruptcy THREE separate times and changing the store name (with different relatives or friends listed as the primary owners) to, I can only assume, void their debts and cheat on their taxes.  They were originally called Funny Cards & Games Inc.  Then: Thee Keep, and then: Reality Recess.  They would have going-out-of business sales and close for a month (during which I would panic- "Where will I get my comics now!!!") then they'd just  reopen with a new name. At first it would be someone new working there, and then eventually Susan would show back up full-time behind the counter, and you'd catch the other two guys in there on occasion. (Once Reality Recess had a Going Out Of Business Sale, closed for a few weeks- and then was just open again one day like it never happened.  I remember thinking that was it- they were gone... and one day I was in that shopping plaza with my parents and we saw it looked open, confused- I went in.  I remember asking Susan "What happened, I thought you guys closed? You had that going out-of-business sale..." to which she replied: "No we didn't." and smiled and winked at me... I was like: whatever- COMICS!)
  • That whole theme-store thing, with a castle motif?  Never fucking happened.  I never even heard about it!  ...and I was in that place weekly.  Pretty sure they were just telling The Local Paper stories... The furthest they got is when they were Reality Recess they bought out the eye-glass store next to them in the plaza and connected the two shops with an archway- one side for RPG/CCG games and the other for comics...  I liked the place a lot less as Reality Recess.  
  • They eventually tried to branch out- and open a second store about 20 minutes away.  Not long after- this location closed for good (and for real this time!).  I went out to the new store, once- years later; after finding out it was even still in business, and it was nothing but AD&D stuff, a small LAN of computers, and a crappy coffee bar.  Maybe eight long-boxes under a table... One small table of new books- and only the big titles form Marvel & DC.  It was sad.  -It went under about a year after that, but not before changing locations to just up the street a bit. 
  • Then, one time after that (years later)- I was out at The Mall in that area, which I did not frequent, and there was a comic shop in there- called 'Jim's Comics' or some shit. So, I went in to look around and the books all had price-tags that were from Reality Recess and Thee Keep on them still.  It looked like they had rented the spot and just threw a bunch of leftover stock in there at 30% off the price listed, trying to get rid of it and make a quick buck. The store wasn't even put together nice. Everything was just kinda piled against the walls.  I'm sure they had written all that merch off as a loss already.  Man, they were some shady fuckers...
Still- that was my comic book shoppe!  Not my first, or last.  But it was the one I went to the longest- for all of my teen years! -During, and after, that 90's comics-boom and eventual bust...  In retrospect, if I'm completely honest with myself- it was not the most awesome.  -But I'm glad it existed, and was so close!  It fed my habit... and I've seen worse stores.  At the time- I fucking loved the hell out of that place.  Because I fucking love comics!

So what do you think?  Feel free to share some of your old Local Comic Shop stories/memories below! What was your main-store like?  -Is it still in business??  What's the worst comic shop you've ever been in???


  1. Damn dude. So the King's a local celeb eh? But of course you are good sir;)

    I myself didn't do the comic store thing until I moved from Germany to Florida. Legends Comics is what it was called. I think it's still there. Hell I even have an old of theirs in one of my keepsake folders somewhere. I went there until I moved 3 years, but never had a bad experience. Plus I got free comics on my birthday, and that never sucks.

    My current one, Nuklear Comix is the shiz. I just can't stand the fucking Heroclix/Magic card people. Hey, to each his own and all that, but that shit's taken over the store, as most business now comes from gamers. Fucking kids....

    Other than that, loving the place, and I know most of the people there, just like an episode of Cheers;)

    Damn, 1993. I was 12, so I was probably into the same shit as you. Fatal Attraction and Marvel Cards(And the DC ones too) were the only thing on my mind back then. real attention to girls would come later. Ahhh HBO. Good times. Hey, between sex ed and Real Sex and the numerous documentaries like "Pimps Up, Ho's Down", I was set as far as sex education was concerned. Thank you HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax. You made a man out of me;)

    Nice insight into the early life of a young king. Nice article man.

    1. I know, right? Maybe one day I'll reprise my role in a commercial as 'A Customer'.

      You lived in Germany? Huh.

      Free comics on your birthday!?!?? That is a sweet deal. Never had anything like that at any of the shops I have gone to.
      I hear ya on the game stuff taking over- at this shop back then it was the Warhammer and Magic stuff, and at the shop after this it was Pokemon.

      My last shop was strictly comics, which was nice... but the guy turned out to be kind of an asshole. I quit going there. It's like- don't treat me wrong when I'm spending $30-40+ in your little shop WEEKLY.

      I have not bought new comics in a few years now... not because I'm mad at Marvel or anything like that (and DC- I'm just not their target audience anymore...) but because having/fixing up a house takes a lot more of my money... I still read the odd book online, and get trades from the library... plus old books I never got to have from The Dirt Mall- so it's all good!

      Oh, man- Marvel and DC cards... I was an addict! Hahaha! Oh, if only I would have put all the money I spent on those into comics instead! What was I thinking? A lot of the art on those card sets doesn't even hold up! I still have a binder full of any "special-cards" I managed to get. I sold off all the sets a decade ago. Only one I want to get back are the very first Marvel and DC ones that came out. Just because of nostalgia. Good thing they're practically worthless now- I can pick up a whole set for $7-15 bucks!

      Thanks for reading, thanks for sharing! Looks like you have been lucky in your LCS experiences!

  2. mmmm . . . i've always lived within a stone's throw of nearly a half a dozen comic shops but this posting makes me think about one in particular that will always be my favorite in terms of cool shit and good memories. i think a posting on the matter of my own might be warranted, thanks.

    1. Cool, cool, cool.

      You're lucky to be around so many comic shops... Seems to only ever be one in operation at a time in my immediate area. And when another new one has popped up in the past- it usually sucks, and closes after a few months to a year anyhow.
      Like- one opened real close to me, downtown just last year- I never even got to go to it! Thing closed down in under 3 months...

    2. the before mentioned possible posting of mine has been made into reality.

  3. Rad story and really cool you made the paper . My lcs from 1992 was a kid out of hign school .opened a shop with his dad called tates comics in south florida. They moved a block down the street twice in 10 something years. Its still open and a mega store now with everyting and i mean everything comics and collectible toys.always brings a smile when i see so many hipster kids enjoying comics so much. Same guys at the counter that were there in 1992 plus some new cute chicks. Before this shop comic shops by me were always so short lived. I thrived on walldeens books in the mall or random 3packs for comics before this place opened and stayed open

    1. Damn, hard to believe a little place like that would still be alive & kicking today! It's probably because of the cute chicks. That's awesome it's still there though!
      Hahaha- hipsters; they'll buy anything. I always like when I get called one online. It's like, I'm not a hipster, man- I'm 34... I'm nostalgic. I was actually around when the stuff I still like came out!
      Oh, shit! I'm right there with you! -Those big clunky spinner-racks at Waldenbooks in The Mall! Or the "Hey, Kids! COMICS!" spinners at the grocery-store... Hell- even the magazine rack at the local corner-store (Dairy-Mart) had comics when I was a kid. -I can remember getting Punisher War Journal, and Deathlok's there!
      And Toy's R Us always had those 3 Packs of comics for a couple bucks- I'd beg my parents for... with that mystery middle issue. I would scour over that box of those every time, trying to find the best ones. What sucked is when you'd get doubles!!!
      They put NO thought or care into packaging those- I remember getting Mature Reader comics in there as a kid.