Comic shops ride revival wave – Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Craig DeMeyers calls traditional comics âsoaps for guys.â
Maybe that helps explain why comic books have survivedÂ for nearly a century, even as other industries based on paper and ink have slowly faded from the limelight.
But as recent movies and television shows have made superhero stories larger than life, comic books are back with a âPOW,â drawing people of all ages and genders with their colorful characters and epic storylines.
âComics arenât a subculture anymore âÂ theyâre very much in front of everyone,â said DeMeyers, of Farmington, who acted on a lifelong dream and opened his Victor comic shop Two Kings Comics about five years ago.
While some people do shop for their comics online nowadays, the paper businessÂ hung onÂ throughout the technology boom, said DeMeyers, who routinely adds new titles to his inventory and fills labeled shelves with new weekly issues for his regular customers.
âComics have had a revival over the past few years,â said Andy Battaglia, who owns Comics Etc. on Main Street in Rochester. He credits Hollywoodâs push of all types of comic stories, as well as publishersâ desire to attract a more diverse fan base.
When it comes to digital versus paper, thereâs nothing like flipping pages, said DeMeyers âÂ âWhen people read the comics, you can see their face light upâ¦it adds something thatâs not possible any other way.â
DeMeyers stocks comics of all types, appealing to modern zombie enthusiasts with âThe Walking Dead,â die-hard superhero fans with an array of âtights and flightsâ sagas, and of course, sci-fi devotees with âStar Warsâ comics that bridge the plot gap between the end of the sixth movie installment and the upcoming new release.
His shelves are chock-full of figurines in various action poses, T-shirts and games, and a classic gumball machine greets customers with âmagic gumballs.â Parking spots out front are emblazoned with superhero logos.
Farmington resident Dan Fafinski was into comics throughout his teens and 20s and got his comics at bookstores until many of those went out of business.
He was drawn to Two Kings because it sells a superhero-based game called HeroClix and hosts tournaments on Friday nights.
His events sometimes draw such large crowds that DeMeyers has to turn people away, but thatâs the kind of community heâs hoping for in the store, he said.
âTwo Kings is really unique, because thereâs so much space in here not dedicated to selling things,â said Fafinski, noting the seating areas inside the shop for people to hang out during events.
Watching customers run into each other at the store and recognize each other from work or the gym is a regular occurrence, said Battaglia âÂ âTheyâll look at each other and say, âyou collect comics?ââ he said. âItâs kind of a nice social thing.â
DeMeyersâ regular customers have become close friends, and often help him sort through inventory, he said. In fact, the camaraderie around comics is almost better than the products themselves.
âWeâve got moms, dads, girls, boysâ¦everyoneâs trying it,â he said. âTo enjoy this stuff, you have to be able to talk to other people about it.â