It is nearly lunch time and the line to the cash register consists of two men and three women. Each person has a different issue of a comic they possess in their hands. One male was holding a My Little Pony, Deadpool, and Dr. Strange comics while the female behind him appears to be clutching to her chest a Justice League and Thor comic. Catching a glimpse of these titles leads one to believe that these people enjoy the storytelling of magic worlds and intense violence dealing with the main character in the comic. Maybe to them, it is their mental release from reality and a break from the social conventions of their lives. In the background, you can hear the pitter-patter of a young child’s shoes across the wooden floor. Another child not too far from the other is grabbing comics off the lower shelves that allow his stubby arms to reach. One by one the child pulls the comics out of the slots and places them on the floor to try and read them. Moments later, the parent of the child embarrassingly puts two or three back upon the shelves and internally prays their kid did not mess up the comic book. Adjacent to the parent, a different kid cries because they could not have the comic they wanted because the material was too pricey for the wallets that paid for their ice cream. The line becomes shorter after fifteen minutes of a nerd and a geek debating who would win in a fight: Superman or Green Lantern. Thankfully before an argument about which DC Comic superhero would win, a group of teenagers come down the stairs and have more to add to the store, which was named Gotham Comics.
This group of teens comes in with stories of their lives and how they made a decision to check out the local comic books store. Some are new and have no idea what or where they are walking into. Almost as if they have taken a arcane transportation to a magical land of some mystery. The owner greets them in a friendly manner. Presumably, the owner has known two of the teenagers for quite some time because he starts a quick conversation and there ensues a few laughing moments between them. Once the moment is over, the owner starts to make sure the shelves are well-organized. The owner, he keeps the shelves filled with comics, board games, action figures, and other stock neat and orderly for a customers’ gaze and consumption. This allows paying individual to feel like it is a professional establishment. It becomes pleasing to the eyes of the buyers and regulars that come into the store from the back entrance leading in or from the front entrance of the store. The store has a counter made of glass and within that glass counter houses fantasy card games, such as Yu-Gi-Oh and Magic: The Gathering. In the back of the store is a large glass case that holds dvds with comic book characters and anime TV shows from row to row. To the right of it is an assortment of full-size action figures that consists of Superman, Aquaman, Wolverine, Sabretooth, Star Trek, Transformers, and more. Horizontal to the action figures is a stand that is holding how-to books on writing for comics and illustrating comics that also have a mix of regular fantasy novels just below on another shelf. It has been this way since learning that the store owner has remained there in the city of Westminster Maryland for at least fifteen and a half years with his store.
One of the teenagers passes by the rows of trade paperbacks that range from titles, such as Superman, Batman, and Preacher to Constantine, Sandman, Fables, and more. Within those books are one to eight issues of comics that are compacted into one volume. Others are complete stories that make it easier and more convenient than having to painfully and painstakingly search through the long-haul section of different comics for a single issue of a comic. The teenager walks away from the trade paperbacks and scours the store some more. More and more people have come in a few seconds later. It is odd for this many people to come in at a time like this on a Thursday afternoon when normal hours consist of roughly two to four people. At this time, I am currently carrying a comic I just paid for, but I find myself lingering around the store because there was more to see and find out what was there. I find that my ear has caught a conversation between the store owner and a new customer.
A male asks the owner of the comic book store if there are any Dungeons & Dragon tournaments to sign up for, but unfortunately, the owner lets the male know that the positions had been filled. The person’s face is shocked by the fact that they have missed their chance. This man, about 5’9’ in stature with square glasses and short unkempt hair, is an employee from the Weis supermarket because he is still in his uniform. The man then looks around for an item for a different game he has, finds what he was looking for, pays for it, and eventually leaves. After ten minutes of witnessing this, I began looking over the board games in a corner of the store that is right next to the owner’s office. His door resembles an atrium design for lavish houses, but it is miniature in comparison. The walls in this corner share a company of games like Risk, Betrayal at The House on The Hill, Payday, Lost Cities, and more. Of course, these games have their own rules and regulations within the confinements of the captivating boxes.
The atmosphere of the comic book store is cozy and quiet on some days, and when talking to other people there is a wholesome friendliness in the store, so that no matter where you come from, young, middle-aged, or older, everyone is treated respectfully by the owner and those that come in the store. Especially the new people who have never been to a comic book store before because the level of respect brings good experience and new customers that just might seek to return. The comic book store is a place of nerds where comics are treated like gold and can be discussed without feeling out of place, geeks who can trade and sell card game characters, and people who want to buy presents for those individuals who are unable to hang out within this place. I should know because I would hang around for the fun of meeting new people, interacting, and talking with them on new and old comics. There is always something more to see since the last time a person was there. That could range from new comics, new trade paperbacks, tournaments, and even comics and other merchandise that go on sale for a limited only. A comic book store in its own popularity is a place to buy these written and artful materials that express imagination, drama, cultural representation, and most importantly great stories with a feeling people will come back again. It is a place that cannot be missed anyone due to a fantastic wonder of exploration and discovery that at times takes a few hours to sift through everything.