Comics Shop Saves Universe! (On Dora Drawdy Way)

Every day’s a comic book convention at Alleyway Comics

Around the corner from their parent bookstore Barrel of Books and Games, down the alley next to Goblin Market, imagination runs wild in Alleyway Comics.

Into its narrow confines are crammed collectibles, games, manga, graphic novels and more than 20,000 comics books dating back to the golden age of superheroes.

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For the comics collector, Alleyway comics is a chance to stratify collections as well as sell or trade on titles. Some patrons also carry subscriptions to specific titles and come in every week to pick up the latest installment.

Collectibles are very popular, especially the Funko Pop line of figures, which run the gamut of popular culture from TV series comic books, wrestling and even old movies. Hikari collectibles are limited-edition pieces, with no more than 1,400 cast from a mold that is then destroyed.  Star Wars enthusiasts will find plenty of collectibles up their, um, galactic alley as well.

Katya Rogriguez
Katya Rodriguez

Alex Holmes and Katya Rodriguez staff the store, and they’re both serious enthusiasts.

The recent success of Marvel and DC comics-based movies are bringing in a legion of new comic book fans into the store, says Rodriguez. The Avengers and their individual heroes Captain America, Iron Man, Spider Man, Black Widow and Wolverine are especially popular, Batman and Superman are riding high in the wake of the recent movie, as are Deadpool and Daredevil.

And there’s always more. This summer, the Marvel movie Captain America: Civil War casts division in the Avengers ranks (Captain America faces off against Iron Man) and bringing forward a character named Black Panther who back in 1966 became the first black superhero.  Ta-Nehisi Coates, Pulitzer-prize winning author of Between The World and Me, has written the script for an 11-issue Marvel series that will launch this month.

Holmes has been a collector since he was 12 years old and is seeped in the comic book industry’s labyrinthine otherworld of characters and story lines.

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It is in places like Alleyway Comics that you see how digital culture is finding stiff competition from the old guard.  “You might be able to collect a lot of digital comics,” he says, “but you only really lease them. In fifteen years, I will have still have my collection.”

Rodriguez, also a collector, aspires to become a makeup artist and frequently attends local comic book conventions in full in cos-play regalia.

“It’s fun,” she says. “You get to dress up as your favorite character. It’s kind of like an extra Halloween. And there’s a bunch of people there who are just as passionate about these characters and comics in general as you are. which is kind of hard to find. it’s become more popular now, but years ago it was really hard to find others who were like you.”

On that day, the shop was busy with enthusiasts of all ages. Both parents and kids seemed equally engaged and knowledgeable.

Obviously the love of bold adventure in bright colors has a long history, and its future—as well as, perhaps, the fate of the universe!—seems secure in places like Alleyway Comics.

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Alleyway Comics is located 342 Dora Drawdy Way. Summer hours are Tuesday-Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Like ‘em on Facebook

David Cohea, Writer (