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Favorites of Walt: The Comic Shops #0


When I was introduced to comics in late 1988 and early 1989–ages 7/8–comics were found in a pretty fancy spinning thing at Waldenbooks at the local mall, or in a "traditional" wire spinner rack at Finast (later became Tops), the local grocery store. My grandfather and uncle could get comics at a local drug store, and Kmart occasionally had bags of comics. Hills, a local department store, also occasionally had shrink-wrapped 3-packs of comics.

A couple years later, I discovered a mail-order company that specialized in comics. I’d receive their monthly catalogs: Entertainment This Month, where one could pre-order new/upcoming comics. And American Entertainment, where a select quantity of particular comics was available at marked-up prices.

Back then, I loved getting to stop in Waldenbooks to look for new Superman and/or Batman comics. Sometimes I got a couple issues with consecutive numbering…but in many cases, I’d be missing a "middle" issue. It was just an accepted thing. There just weren’t other outlets for finding those missed issues. Frankly, I don’t think I even fully noticed that. I mean…I was only vaguely aware that Robin had died–and I got that from The Mud Pack chapter 3, where Batman’s confronted on the cover by a ghostly image of Robin, and the story had him referring to Robin being dead. And I wasn’t even sure what was going on with Superman–he was in space and needed some sort of breathing apparatus, while someone was struggling with who they were on Earth and became Clark Kent.

One of my friends was also "into" comics at the time, with a similar background. During the summer of 1992, he’d obtained a Superman #1 comic, and it was really thick. It was about some guy possessing people, starting an even bigger story. Turned out it was Superman: The Man of Steel Annual #1, part of the Eclipso: The Darkness Within crossover.

There was a store in the same mini-plaza where his mom took him for a haircut that sold comics. Like…the store itself was basically selling nothing but comics, and some sports cards and such. It was a comic store. Which was quite the amazing concept to me at the time. Who ever heard of a store that only sold comics and the like?

I was 11 at that point, and was standing on the edge of a whole new world…a world I live in to this day, despite all the twists and changes and events that have happened since then. But it seems most probable that it was my introduction to the Direct Market, to comic shops, that took what I often imagine my parents figured for a casual hobby and turned it into a regular part of my life, that has in one way or another informed much of my life for the last couple decades.

Over the next several weeks, I intend to share a series of short posts about the various comic stores that have been any significant–or at least, a repeated–part of my life. Some are still around, others are long gone.

This weekly journey begins Friday, February 4th with Capp’s Comics…my first comic shop.

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