The local comic strip club

The local comic strip club

Natalie Chan

NEWNEWneweditedcomicthumbGoing back to childhood beginnings with the help of comic books

The front door sticks. The lighting is minimal, and the store is only twenty steps long from front to back. Sometimes there is a half-eaten box of Krispy Kremes with lemon or custard-filled doughnuts.  The store fits in with the others in the run-down, fly-ridden strip mall. But the first sign of life in the store is the red, neon one of Superman’s insignia hanging on the front window. It doesn’t have outer beauty, but Comics Conspiracy is full of character—literally.

There is no reason for someone to wander into the comic book store, but once inside it can be tough to find a reason to walk out. As long as you ignore the inconspicuous bookcase marked with the warning “ADULT COMICS +18 ONLY!,” the store could have been dreamt up by a 7-year-old boy. A palm-sized Bruce Wayne hangs from the ceiling in the back, swinging by his neon-yellow bat symbol. A mural of collector’s issues is displayed on the wall for sale. On the opposite wall, a life-sized dummy of Venom watches over the store.

It then makes sense that most of the regulars on a Wednesday afternoon were middle-aged men, people who would have wanted bedrooms decorated the same way when they were boys, complete with a ceiling fan disguised as plane rotors. And after they buy their reading and have bags in hand ready to leave, many don’t. They stay just to talk for a few minutes or a few hours. They debate the value of having signed copies and how they do tend to be more valuable if you don’t leave them out where your dog can get at them. They talk about buying older, used issues and the stains inside that hint at what the previous owner was doing when he read it—apparently, dropping avocado from a sandwich will turn the paper brown. If you find a yellow stain, just hope it’s just mustard. Sporting bald spots or sweatshirts for bands that had their heyday 30 years ago, the Comics Conspiracy regulars make up a league of extraordinary gentlemen.

Even if you didn’t like comics before, this store will make you want to. A decent selection of comics and graphic novels alike, long-standing customer-employee relationships, and a weekly lesson in nerd-culture make the strip mall a place you can imagine returning to. When you do finally leave, remember to pull the door shut tight as you go. It sticks.