Friday, February 3, 2012

Unsinkable

I love visiting comic book stores for the first time. One of the more endearing facets of the comic book industry is that our retailer base is made up almost entirely of idiosyncratic, personality driven businesses that reflect the characters of the people running them. There's something refreshing about that kind of authenticity in this era of corporate homogeneity. It's one thing to expect the same product from any Denny's that you visit anywhere in the USA. But for story driven businesses to all look and feel the same, well, that's just downright depressing. The individuality of comics retail is unique in this big box world, and it's something that I hope never gets washed out of our industry culture.

For a case in point, today I got to visit More Fun Comics, located on 8200 Oak Street in New Orleans' East Carrollton neighborhood. When I walked in the door, shopkeeper DC Harbold was standing at the counter scrolling through a VHS tape that turned out to be full of footage from the early 90s Howard Stern TV show. I haven't seen that stuff since I was a kid and I watched it late at night, to my parents' chagrin. We cracked up over a bit where Stern played Michael Jackson in a painfully funny skit. "That's why you gotta check these VHS tapes," DC said, "This one was marked 'Comics Restoration!'"

Stern's old show wasn't the only cool thing I saw there that resonated from childhood. More Fun is one of those treasure trove types of stores that you see less and less of. The space is packed from floor to ceiling with cool stuff new and old. This is what you see when you walk in:


I fell in immediate love with that Silver Surfer painting.


Coming from New York, where real estate is insanely pricey, it's always a treat to see a roomy space like this, and to see such full use made of it. Here's a couple of other views:




DC told me that the shop was started in the early days of comics retail when the original owner acquired a full run of "More Fun Comics," providing the name for the store. From its inception to the moment when the current owner, Steve Thomas, took over the shop, DC told me it was floor to ceiling gold and silver age comics. It must have been a real sight to see.

When Katrina hit in 2005, Steve & DC lost their houses, but the store was barely effected. "It was eerie," DC said. "Both our houses were underwater, but except for some broken glass, the store was pretty much how we left it." The pair got back to work immediately, opening the shop a mere six weeks after the storm. I was astonished that they could do it so quickly.

DC has a double life, like so many in comics retail. By day he runs the shop and at night he plays in a large array of bands, with excellent punning names like Bi-Polaroid and A Clockwork Elvis. Here's a picture of DC with a Clockwork Elvis doll that a fan made for him:

More Fun Comics is located on 8200 Oak Street in New Orleans.

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