You could say every comic book shop, like the stories on the shelves, has its own arc.
There’s Collector’s Inn in the Village of Kenmore, which in addition to comics offers designated areas for “unplugged gaming.” That’s a space for gamers who dabble in Dungeons & Dragons, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Magic or Pokémon. At Gutter Pop on Elmwood Avenue, there’s a lot of real estate dedicated to indie or alt comics. These are often small press or self-published titles. Then there’s Pulp 716 Coffee & Comics in Tonawanda, a woman-owned shop with an impressive beverage menu for those who like to sip bubble tea (or even J.K. Rowling’s butterbeer) while they read.
Comic shop arcs share themes too, often influenced by the big and small screens. During the record-breaking run of “Black Panther” in the cinema, comic shops were scrambling to stock these titles.
“When a [superhero] movie comes out, people want to know more about these characters. There’s a desire to understand where they came from — their origins,” said Amy Berent, owner of Pulp 716 Coffee & Comics.
These surges aren’t a surprise to big studios.
“Marvel has it down to a science, going beyond making good movies but really understanding the correlation and synergy between these live-action adaptations and the comic world,” Adam Weekely of Gutter Pop explained.
Promotional events often supplement these blockbusters. Prior to the April release of “Avengers: Infinity War,” Marvel released “Infinity Countdown,” a comic series that led directly into the movie storyline. Fans scoured the pages for potential film spoilers.
“The upcoming movies are a really easy telegraph for us, as far as titles that may take off,” said Stephen Floyd, owner of Gutter Pop.
A very similar formula plays out for the small screen, too. Netflix airs several Marvel shows – “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones,” and “Luke Cage” are among the strongest efforts. And DC Comics found a home for “The Flash,” “Supergirl,” “Arrow,” and “Legends of Tomorrow” on The CW.
“Riverdale” is a dark teen drama, also airing on The CW, based on the characters of Archie Comics but with updates for the 21st century. The show has helped boost interest in several new launches for Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica.
Other treasures from the tube include “Doctor Who,” “Rick and Morty” and even “My Little Pony” and “Rugrats.”
“If it’s been a popular cult series, it’s going be a comic book at some point,” said Jeremy Flinchbaugh of Collector’s Inn.
But this phenomenon also works in reverse. “A really good comic will make you feel like you’re in a big budget movie or TV show. The art and the writing can truly transport you,” said Flinchbaugh.
That passion is evident in all the local comic shops.
“When someone new to comics comes in, that’s always a fun day for me. I know I’ll be able to make a mess and pull out books, which is the nice thing about comics. You can page through it and get an immediate sense of it,” says Floyd.
Maybe your next summer reading selection is hiding at one of Buffalo’s many comic book shops? But be warned.
“You may not come in as a comic book fan, but you may leave one,” predicted Berent.
Spoken like a true comic book hero.
Story topics: BufFYI