Remember how I said that Monday’s announcement–that I’m now a comics retailer–was only part of the story? Here’s the rest of it:
l-r: Artie, Marc, Jason, Christy, some clown in custom Superman sneaks, Franco
Y’know who else owns a store? Franco Aureliani and Art Baltazar, a.k.a. Art and Franco, a.k.a. the Harvey- and Eisner-Award winning geniuses behind Aw Yeah Comics! (which you can get right here!), Tiny Titans, Itty Bitty Hellboy and many other fine all-ages comics series. I’ve been to their retail shop in Skokie, Aw Yeah Comics!, several times and I love it. Clean, well-stocked, well-organized, super-consumer-friendly, run brilliantly by their business partner Marc Hammond. One of the best-known and most well-respected shops in the USA. Known these guys forever, have adored them just as long. All three are on the short list of people I’d take a kryptonite bullet for.
When Jason, Christy and I opened our new Alter Ego location a few weeks ago, we asked Marc and Franco to come down for the day and give us their two cents about the way we’d set it up and the way it was run. (We asked Art, too, but one of us had to work that day.) Happily, the boys were really impressed. So much so, in fact, that they asked–quite seriously, money on the table–to invest in our store. Very flattering.
How about we make it a true partnership and invest in each others’ store?
I think Franco’s head exploded, but in a good way. Marc pointed out that, to our knowledge, no one had ever done anything quite like this before in the comics retail community. Some people are dissuaded by the phrase “no one has done this before,” of course, but to the six of us, that’s just fuel on the fire. A sizeable share of our store in exchange for an equal share of their store. A six-way partnership between some of the most prominent and vocal figures in the industry. The Image Comics of Brick-and-Mortar.
We couldn’t wait to get the papers drawn up.
We’ll still maintain our individual identities–one store isn’t being absorbed by the other–but we can pool our resources in unique ways. We can design an Aw Yeah Comics!-branded, kid-friendly “boutique” into Alter Ego that mirrors the Skokie setup. Conversely, we can build more Thrillbent promotion and outreach into the Aw Yeah Comics! storefront. We can meld print and digital in double the locations and strengthen both the stores and Thrillbent.
So now you know the rest of the story (true story!). The big news isn’t that Mark Waid now owns a comics store. It’s that Mark Waid, Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani own two comics stores…and counting.
I think that’s revolutionary. It’s pretty thrilling. Or, as Artie loves saying:
AW YEAH COMICS!
Next: Why Death-Marching Through The Monthly Order Catalogue Reinforces My Love For Digital.