Many of us have known what it’s like to be an outsider. Whether it’s because you dress differently, or you’re into a particular hobby that only a few or perhaps no one else seems to share. Or maybe you’re the new kid in town and haven’t made any new friends yet. Actually, everyone probably knows what that’s like to some extent. So we seek some sort of comfort zone. A place where we can go to be with others that are like us and we are free to relax and just be ourselves and talk about the things we enjoy talking about. We see examples of it everywhere. For some it may be the American legion hall, or the barber shop, or possibly even the local tavern. Truthfully, I used to be kinda partial to the local tavern example myself when I lived in a college town. But the place where I’ve always felt was that safe, comforting place, wherever I have lived, has been the local comic shop.
I knew about comic books as a kid, but when my friend back in freshman year of high school took me to my first comic shop, it opened me to a new world. What I didn’t realize at the time was what an effect it would have on the rest of my life. Not only have I been a comic fan since, but I ended up working in one comic shop in college and managing another for 7 years. In fact, the way I ended up discovering the second comic job was because I saw a comic shop in the area and immediately gravitated towards it. I also happened to need a job and they happened to be in need of an assistant manager. And that’s where I began to see that the comic shop is more than just a place for retail sales of comic related merchandise. Every week I would see many of the same faces come in to buy their books. And the more I would see them, the more we would learn about each other’s lives. I made a few good friends that I still have to this day, and many more fond acquaintances that I still remember years later. Then I moved to a new state.
I was starting fresh, as I had no friends already living here, and I had a home based job so there was no opportunity to make local friends through work. But one of the first things I did was look up where the closest comic shop was located. I knew even before I stepped in that it would at least be a familiar world that I could dive right into. And that’s how I met the good people at Titan Moon Comics. Like the shop I used to run, I knew it was the kind of place I could go and spend some time talking about something I was passionate about with others who shared the same passion. And whether I’ve had a rough day at the job, or the baby kept me up late the night before, the moment I walk through the doors, I know I’m myself again.
Whatever your sanctuary may be, I think it’s extremely important to have one. Life seems to be more difficult without that place that keeps you centered. At the very least it’s less enjoyable without one. So if you haven’t realized the power of your local comic shop to be that sanctuary, maybe give a second look the next time you walk in and see the kinds of things they have to offer you besides just selling you your favorite comics each week. I can almost guarantee there’s something more there for you.
Rudy Hernandez has been a comic book retailer, podcaster, a comic book fan since the age of 13, and Star Wars fan since the age of 2. He can be found every month attending the Titan Moon Comics Adult Graphic Novel Book club.