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Favorites of Walt: The Comic Shops #12 – JC Comics and Cards

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JC Comics in Cuyahoga Falls, OH should not be confused with JC’s Comic Stop in Toldeo, OH. I find it’s quite a small world, though, that I’ve experienced two totally unrelated comic shops with virtually the same name.

JC is mainly a "backup" shop for me–if something’s not on my pull list at Kenmore and they’re out, I’ll stop by JC to see if he has the issue. Occasionally I’ll stop in to check out the bargain bin stock–I’ve acquired some decent issues from that, and a couple good runs–most of my Archer & Armstrong run came from JC’s bargain bins.

The shop has a decent selection of back issues, though I’ve never really had occasion to poke through it much. Recent issues make up a large portion of the store, with a section for the current week’s issues, and then a wall of recent weeks’ issues, grouped by Vertigo, Misc, Kids, Marvel, and DC…with a few superhero stuff from other publishers mixed in between DC and Marvel’s fare. There’s also an X-Men section.

They have a double-shelf row of collected volumes above the recent issues, with quite a good selection. I’ve found a couple classic Captain America TPBs there for cover price that would run $40+ via Amazon or other internet sellers.

The shop has for the last couple years been a GREAT location for Free Comic Day, attracting a solid crowd. The owner dressed as the Joker for 2010, and Batman showed up at one point.

The shop is a good one, though generally sells through on new stuff very quickly–the last several times I’ve been in, there are more "holes" than not on the current week’s releases, and this the day OF release.

All in all, I like the shop…just that it’s not a "primary" or "home" for me. Never have had bad service, and it’s well worth stopping by to check out the bargain bins, at least.

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Favorites of Walt: The Comic Shops #11 – Kenmore Komics & Games

Though Collector’s Palace was a shop I passed every single day on my way to and from work; once I started my current job, I opted back in December ’07 to see if there were any comic shops near work, as work was a good distance away from my then-current apartment, and would be enough excuse to visit the surrounding area outside my home area.

Using the Comic Shop Locator service, I found Kenmore Komics & Games, and stopped by the store one day after work. I liked the selection of new issues, back issues, their large collected edition stock, and their gaming and miniatures selection. Before long, I’d started a habit of hitting Kenmore for my new comics, which pretty much phased Collector’s Palace out of the picture. When I moved to my current apartment in 2008, Kenmore became my primary comic shop.

This past summer I finally decided to throw in with them, and opened a pull list at Kenmore, making it my first true ‘comic shop home’ since Capp’s.

Kenmore has of course become my favorite comic shop. Though occasionally they’ll sell out of something before I even get there on Wednesday, the pull list has alleviated that, and they usually restock such issues within a week. I’ve also learned that I can shoot them an email, and they’ll add such requests to my pull bag.

They have a great selection of back issues, and I do occasionally poke through ’em when I think of some random back issue I’m particularly interested in; mostly when they’re having a sale.

They usually have a couple months’ worth of recent issues on the shelves, grouped by DC, Marvel, Other, and Vertigo/mature audience books. They also have a kids’ section right when you walk into the store, which holds primarily Archie books as well as Boom/Disney comics and collected editions, as well as the Marvel all ages books and the Johnny DC/DC Kids books.

Their collected edition stock is pretty impressive, and often I at least check them out to see what an edition looks like, even if I can’t afford to buy it at full retail price and order from Amazon or such.

Kenmore also has a bargain table, with many of the greatest bargains I’ve found. A couple years ago, I picked up several runs–X-Force, JLA, The Ray, and others when they’d acquired a collection and were just selling the runs as sets. They also maintain several longboxes as a bargain bin section. About half of one box is dollar comics; the rest are all 25-cents. Most of the time, the bargain bins are fairly random, though occasionally there are some real treasures and runs to be found. Last year, I scored a couple copies of Spawn #1, Superman #75, and most of a 100-issue run of Wolverine as well as most of the Young Justice run. They also routinely have random collected editions on the table for bargain prices. I picked up a large run of a manga series for 25 cents/book, and a couple months ago there were hundreds of old Archie Digests where I wish I’d had the money to buy ’em all. As it was, I bought about $5 worth, randomly grabbing mostly double-digests.

They also have an annual sale around Black Friday/early December where the bargain table becomes a clearance table, and the 25-cent bins become 10-cent bins, and plenty of stock is added to the tables beyond usual fare.

The store owner particularly endeared the place to me when the Batman and Son TPB came out back in ’08 or so. I’d been interested in the story, but was waiting for the paperback release, not wanting to pay the hardback price. When I went to check out, he asked me if I’d be interested in the hardback–he’d sell it to me for the price of the paperback. Once assured he wasn’t pulling my leg, I took him up on that.

The owner is one of the most friendly/personable people I’ve found running a comic shop, and he’s great at working with his customers to make ’em happy–not because they demand it or ask it, but he seems to know simply how to do it (as with my example above about the Batman book).

I’ve also bought several boxes here, as they’ll occasionally sell "used" boxes for $1.50.

Most recently (as of this writing)–the last week of January 2011–they had a random sale of Marvel hardcovers (not the oversized hardcovers, but the "regular sized" ones–"Premiere Edition" and "Premiere Classic" volumes mostly). Flat $10/book…which sucked me in more than I’d’ve preferred…but to get $25-$30 hardcovers for $10 each was a steal on the whole.

All in all…I’d be hard-pressed to find another shop quite like this one…and any other shop that might down the line ever become a "home" for me will have a LOT to live up to.

NEXT WEEK: JC Comics and Cards.

Favorites of Walt: The Comic Shops #10 – Collector’s Palace

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Collector’s Palace is a comic shop in Streetsboro, OH…or at least, it was. It’s been at least a year and a half since I’ve visited the shop, maybe two years now–and they’ve moved since the last time I stopped in. A friend that frequents the shop told me about their move, so I at least know they’re still open.

Where other comic shops I’ve been to may double as bookstores or game stores…this is the only comic store I’m aware of that is a combination comic shop, collectibles, and jewelry store.

The back issue stock I recall is mainly stuff from the 2000s; but the bargain bins often have great issues in them, with many nearly-complete runs. For better or worse, the "trick" to them is the owner might put 4-5 issues of a 6-issue run in the bargain bin, and keep the other issue or 2 (not even the first or last of the run necessarily) in the regular back issue bins.

The new issues stock is pretty good, though they’d often be sold out of one or two issue I’d be most interested in that week, necessitating my turning back to Comic Heaven or another shop to find the issue.

Their collected-edition stock isn’t much to speak of, and while I’d sometimes peruse the selection, it was never such that I’d specifically look for a particular book at this shop.

When gas prices started to skyrocket back in ’05, Collector’s Palace became a main shop for me, as it just was not feasible to make an individual trip to Sports ‘n More or Comic Heaven on Wednesdays. The journey from Kent to Streetsboro wasn’t bad, and I could make the trip between a couple classes in grad school, often finding myself with time to read an issue or two as well before the next class.

I also started my first pull list in several years here, around the time Thing #6 or so was out and there was a fan campaign to save the book, encouraging people to add Thing to their pull lists. I actually started my pull list solely for Thing, to support the book. Unfortunately, that obviously didn’t last (the series ended a couple months later anyway), and I never bothered to add anything else to the pull list.

I did "discover" The Walking Dead here, and I think I would have bought my first couple TPBs here, though I recall buying at least 3 of the first 5 volumes online.

I eventually located another comic shop that was near work, and this one faded to the status of occasional backup shop, and then for the last couple years hasn’t even been part of my comic shop circuit.

NEXT WEEK: Kenmore Komics & Games.

Favorites of Walt: The Comic Shops #9 – Rupp’s Comics

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Rupp’s is another of those shops that I’ve experienced in more than one location. Went to their then-location a number of times in 2004 with a friend (Rupp’s is—I believe–his "main" shop). The shop was more of a meeting point for us, giving a location and to meet at, and of course "new comics" was our excuse.

Back in 2004, they had Michael Turner out for a signing, and that’s–offhand–the only "signing" I’ve ever specifically gone to at a comic shop (though I met Dustin Nguyen in early 2004 at JC’s Comic Stop in Toledo).

They had a great back issue selection, which I recall perusing several times. Mostly I was just picking up new issues.

The owner once brought back a bunch of prints from a trip to Italy (where I believe he said he’d met Simone Bianchi). He also had some Italian prints of Jim Lee art–I bought one of the cover of the "Heroes" cover of the conclusion to Batman: Hush…which is presently framed and hanging on a wall in my living room.

In some ways, my most significant purchase was the first of the 5 G.I. Joe tpbs that Marvel published, collecting issues 1-10 of the Marvel G.I. Joe series.

A couple years back, the store moved to a new location where they’d had a ‘warehouse’…the store now has a main room for current/new comics, that I saw; and has a basement "warehouse" with dozens of longboxes of material–this warehouse is occasionally opened to the public for special "warehouse sales."

I attended one such sale on Free Comic Day 2009–where for $20 one could "fill a shortbox" or for $40, "fill a longbox."  Spent several hours with a friend, his fiancee, and another friend of his as we went through all the boxes, and filled longboxes.

I’ve also bumped into the owner at local one-day shows here in Ohio.

Though I’ve not been to Rupp’s all that often lately…and don’t have a lot of particular memories with the store…it’s still a great store, and one that I wish I had occasion to frequent more often. My writing here doesn’t begin to really do the place justice.

NEXT WEEK: Collector’s Palace.

Favorites of Walt: The Comic Shops #8 – JC’s Comic Stop

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My freshman year at BG, I bumped into someone who turned out to be a kindred spirit–a fellow comic reader! We compared notes, and he told me about his home comic shop in Toledo. He had nothing but good to say about it, and I recall thinking it’d be a great shop to visit…especially compared to the original incarnation of Ground Zero Comics, which at the time was the only comic shop I had access to while at school.

Over a year later, I’d forgotten about this "JC’s" shop. I don’t recall what had us out ‘n about, but I was out with a friend, and as we were stopped at a traffic light, I happened to glance over and spotted a sign: "JC’s Comic Stop." Needless to say…we ended up stopping in. I also realized that this was the shop that Darryl had told me about (and I vaguely recall confirming that when I bumped into him late sophomore year).

When I first had a car on campus midway through junior year, other than trips to Meijer for groceries, many Wednesdays a friend and I would make the journey to Toledo, to JC’s to get our weekly comics. Sometimes we’d be racing the clock to get there and back before a class, and other times we’d be going right after class and hoping what we were after was still in stock…but for the rest of my college years, JC’s was a regular fixture.

JC’s was (is?) one of those shops that lets back issues build up on the long-term racks. They have four sections of new comics–one for the current week, and one each for the other 3 most recent weeks of releases. From there, comics would move to the long-term racks, and remain for however long. I once noticed that they had most issues for almost a 40-issue run of Hellblazer (and I eventually utilized that to catch up on about 15 months of the series).

They also have a huge stock of back issues, which played a huge role in me catching up on a year of Superman comics I’d skipped in the late-90s (1996/early 1997’s run). I also acquired quite a few of my "classic" TMNT comics from JC’s.

Their collected edition stock isn’t all that impressive, though they have a decent selection of some of the "core" editions one might seek. I started my Preacher run here, among other things.

This shop was also where I discovered the new TMNT series that debuted in 2001, when I happened across #2 in early 2002. I asked if they still had #1…and lucked out. I got the very last copy they had in, and they were my TMNT source until I moved to Kent in late 2004.

JC’s also was a fairly regular part of the routine I had with several friends when we’d venture to Toledo to hit a gaming store down the road…whether or not my memory’s accurate, I think JC himself referred us to that store when we’d asked him about the MechWarrior minis game (he carried Heroclix but not the other WizKids games).

In early 2004, one of the times I stopped in, turned out they had a guest in for a signing–Dustin Nguyen, the then-current artist on Batman.

To my knowledge…JC’s is still open, and I keep meaning to stop in again…but haven’t had much excuse, as I’ve generally already got the comics I’m interested in for the week and not really looking for anything in back issues, and wouldn’t have the cash I’m willing to spend on collected editions. The last time I was there, though, in October ’09 I was meeting an old friend, so it was a social experience, and I was able to get a couple back issues of Deadpool.

NEXT WEEK: Rupp’s Comics.

Favorites of Walt: The Comic Shops #7 – Interlude: BGSU’s Jerome Library

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While it’s not a comic shop, I’d be remiss to ignore the impact of BG’s Jerome Library on my comic collecting.

BGSU is one of few schools to have an actual Department of Popular Culture (rather than having a Pop Culture degree as part of another department). They also have a huge Popular Culture Library that I hear is well known in certain circles for some of their key holdings.

For me, the main interest is their comics collection.

And during my time as a student at BGSU, they were still cataloging some of their comics acquisitions. As some part of this process, they had thousands of comics that they were not keeping. These became part of their annual "Record Sale," which was a sale where folks would show up, and be able to purchase excess materials the library was not keeping.

The first time I attended one of these sales…there was a huge line–so many people that there were periodic cutoffs and you’d have to wait til someone checked out and left before another person would be allowed in.

The comics selection was like a small convention…dozens of longboxes of very good condition comics going back to at least the mid-80s. And the best part? 25-cents apiece. The ultimate "bargain-bin" experience.

I bought a small stack that first time. A friend hadn’t known about the sale, so I went back the next day with him, and wound up filling a longbox.

The next year was even more plentiful–my first visit to the sale I filled a shortbox and had an extra bag to carry my purchases. Then I went back for the 2nd/final day of the sale with a couple friends…and wound up filling a longbox. We were there at the end of the sale–I was scrambling to check all the available longboxes before the sale actually ended, and finished jamming comics into my box when it was announced the sale was closing and for everyone to please make their way to the checkout.

Checking out with this longbox proved to be the single most spectacular purchase I have ever made with comics. The checkout lady took one look at my stuffed box…and asked me simply "How does $10 sound?"

I’m pretty sure I responded with a question of my own, along the lines of "Are you serious?!?"

Ultimately, the condition of sale for that comic box packed with comics was $10 + tax, and the promise that I will NOT donate those comics BACk to the library.

That purchase included a complete run of the original Booster Gold series, the 1980s Blue Beetle series, a significant chunk of Simonson‘s Thor run as well as the original Frank Miller Wolverine mini and some early issues of the ongoing series.

The purchase also increased my entire collection at the time by a bit over an entire percentage point.

Not long after the sale, the library set up a table with about a dozen longboxes as a long-term "bargain bin" to gradually funnel out the remaining comics that hadn’t sold at that sale. This time, the comics were being sold for a dime apiece. So…hit the library for books for class, research…and what the hey. Some comics while I was at it.

I picked up most of the Watchmen singles, as well as significant runs of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and more random comics than I can presently recall–usually small "runs" of whatever.

Unfortunately, when I went back expecting a third year of great comics selection, I found a HUGE disappointment. That year…the entirety of their comics for sale fit in 3/4ths of a short box. I think I bought a couple comics for the sake of buying comics, and a paperback or two, and left.

A $10 longbox filled with comics I’d selected myself…that remains my most "epic" purchase, and a personal "legend" of great acquisition.

NEXT WEEK: JC’s Comic Stop.

Favorites of Walt: The Comic Shops #6 – Ground Zero Comics

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To my knowledge, Ground Zero Comics no longer exists. Still, they had a fairly important role for me for a brief time.

When I first moved to Bowling Green, Ohio to begin my career as a college student…one of the first things I did was to seek out a comic shop. I’m pretty sure I used the Comic Shop Locator service from Diamond (it WAS around back in ’99?); if not, it was a phone book. There was a single comic shop listed in the city, and I eventually found it in a tiny room off an alley just off the main street.

My very first visit there was at the start of DC‘s Day of Judgment event and during the then-still-going Batman: No Man’s Land event. I vaguely recall buying the first issue of Day of Judgment, as well as a No Man’s Land tie-in…though I’m not 100% confident this memory isn’t misplaced, blurring with my 1999 involvement with Capp’s, Comic Heaven, and Sports ‘n More on visits home that semester.

The shop was basically a small one-room deal; hardly bigger than my own bedroom now. I recall they stocked basically only Marvel and DC current issues…I don’t remember any specific back-issue stock to speak of. So really, the only reason to even visit the shop at all would be for those few issues they did stock…and having no other alternative shop.

I missed Astonishing X-Men #3 for the shop either not stocking it or selling out (I eventually acquired it more than a decade later, at Kenmore Komics) and also initially missed Wolverine #145 (where he officially got the adamantium back—though I called home, and convinced my mom to visit Comic Heaven and get the issue for me).

Bowling Green’s downtown was in decent walking distance of my dorm, and with the campus shuttle service having a stop at the edge of campus close to downtown, that made it all the more accessible without having my own car or a friend to drive me.

I don’t recall exactly when it was, but the shop closed temporarily for a couple weeks or so, and then reopened in a new location a half-block closer to campus, which was a much brighter, larger space…taking on a much better guise as a comic shop.

Though Capp’s remained my home/primary shop with my pull box, I’d periodically make it out to GZ for one or two issues every couple weeks or so….a small "fix" of comics between pickups from Capp’s.

Unfortunately, Ground Zero closed up not too long after, sometime in late 2000 or early ’01. That was disappointing, but I don’t recall it being that big a deal.

Like a phoenix, though, in late-Fall 2001, an RA mentioned picking up that Heroes magazine/tribute Marvel published after the 9/11 attack. On further discussion, I decided to check out this sporting goods store that was selling comics. Turned out to be a small section of the sporting goods store turned into a mini comic shop–Ground Zero comics had been reborn.

It was here that I recall seeking out the start of the Jeph Loeb/Jim Lee run on Batman, as well as picking up and deciding against buying the first issue of Fables. They also became an occasional source for Heroclix, though there was a game shop across the street. I discovered Crossgen at this incarnation of the shop, and sought out my first back-issues of Crossgen here.

That memory leads me to believe I’m recalling correctly that they were still operating when I moved back to BG for a few months after graduation…though it wasn’t too long after that that they again disappeared.

And for being such a small comic shop that–when I started writing this I figured I’d have very little to say about it–this is quite a bit.

NEXT WEEK: InterludeBGSU’s Jerome Library

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