Comic Book Curious

More Than A Customer

October 18, 2021

I haven’t been to my Local Comic Shop (LCS) in over a month and I feel really bad about it.

I have a pull list with about 40+ books in it and an account through Previews World that allows me to order stuff in advance to be shipped to my LCS. The Previews World account is not something that every pull list member gets access to, only folks who have shown that they are true lifelong patrons can get such a privilege as to be able to submit orders on behalf of their local comic shop.

The pile of comic from the LCS Frank needs to read

So I feel real bad that I have a pile of over $300 worth of comics sitting there and I just have not had the time to get there and pick them up. Over the years I’ve built a relationship with the folks that have owned Androids Amazing Comics in Sayville, New York, and that’s what this article is going to be about. The relationship that is built between you and the owner of your local comic shop.

I have an extremely unique experience in life, in that I have been buying comic books from the same store for the past 27 years. Since I was 10 years old I have been picking up books from the exact same establishment with just a couple time periods where I went MIA. In that time frame I have experienced a lot, from graduating school and starting a career to getting married and having a kid.

When I was ten years old Spider-Man and X-Men were the hit afternoon cartoons. I got hooked on the weekly storytelling format and the continued tale that was being weaved. I wanted to figure out where the lore came from and dig deeper into the stories that inspired the cartoons I was coming home to watch every day. So I asked my mom to bring me to the nearest comic shop at the time to check it out and figure out exactly how the periodical medium worked.

I walked in to Baileys Comic Shop in Lindenhurst, NY and the very first comic book I ever purchased was DC Versus Marvel #1. Just a couple weeks later my family up and moved to a new town about a half hour away and I was hooked on the first two issues of DC Versus Marvel. I needed somewhere to pick up the last two issues and scratch that itch and Amazing Comics was literally a 5 minute walk from my front door.

The first comics Frank loved

I walked into Amazing Comics for the first time and saw the hand painted sign out front that said it had been in business since 1979. I met Bob, the owner of the place and asked him all about how often comic books were released. Up until that point I hadn’t been exposed to Wednesday being the day for new comic books, I would just show up to the shop and hope to find something new.

Bob taught me everything my young mind could contain about the process of buying comic books and how the industry and back issue catalogues work. I was so curious and he spent the time answering my questions and never seemed to get annoyed by it at all. I would spend hours sorting through the back issues in the store and just chatting with him about characters and storylines.

No one else worked at Amazing Comics, it was literally run by Bob all by himself for something like 30 years. I shopped there from 1994 till about 2004 which is when I went away to college and started to get my comics shipped to me by Midtown. I was still reading and collecting, and I LOVE Midtown Comics, but getting them mailed just wasn’t the same feeling as going into the shop every week.

For about 5 years I went completely digital and read comics on an iPad; I had a kid, got married, started working and life got away from me. I moved to Texas and distanced myself from Amazing Comics by over a thousand miles. In 2017 or so I started getting that physical scratch again and having such nostalgic memories of my trips to Local Comic Shops on Long Island throughout my youth.

So I started seeking out a nice LCS in Austin and found Titan Moon Comics in Cedar Park. Over the months I went there I casually met the owner once or twice and each time I went I felt like it was someone different at the register. Over the span of almost a year I don’t really feel like I got to know anyone and they were still definitely asking my name any time I went to pick up my pull list.

This is no shame to Titan Moon, they are in a bigger market and have more employees, but still my LCS itch just wasn’t being entirely scratched. I was getting the vibe of the store but not necessarily the passion of a local community. In 2019 I moved back to NY after ten years in Texas and one of the first things I did was head to Amazing Comics in hopes that Bob would be there just as excited to see me as I would be to see him.

I walked up to the store, and it is a hair salon or some silliness like that.

I walked away completely heartbroken wondering what had happened and started to stroll down the street a bit wandering around my home town that I had not been to in over a decade. I didn’t even get two blocks away before I saw Spider-Man in the reflection of a window I was walking by. I turned to look across the street and was shocked to see the newly named “Androids Amazing Comics”.

The exterior of Androids Amazing Comics, Frank's LCS

Bob had retired and one of his customers bought the store from him and moved it to a larger location. The new owner Anthony brought on a manager named James and one other employee named Hunter. My very first week there setting up my pull list I knew I had stumbled into something special. All three of the guys who work there are super passionate about comics and spend time getting to know every customer that walks in the door.

Over the past two years I have gotten to know them outside of the store by helping them set up at local comic cons and being active with them on social media. I knew when James' wife was pregnant, and I update Anthony on how my daughter is doing when I see him in the store. We talk about comics, but we also talk about our lives and the world and whatever else comes to mind.

I have found the community I was looking for; I have found the vibe of the LCS and the passion of the physical comic book again. I will never go back to reading only digital comics or getting all of my books shipped to me because the best part about being a comic book collector to me is walking into my Local Comic Shop on any given Wednesday to pick up my books and chat with some cool dudes who know my name.

If you haven’t made friends with the employees at your Local Comic Shop yet, go start a convo with them today. Introduce yourself and learn a little about them, then go back next week and talk about something else. Over time, you will be shocked how much you learn about each other just in small incremental conversations each Wednesday while you buy your new comic books. Get on it!

For more about LCSs, check out this interview with Katie, the owner of Books with Pictures.

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