Comic Book Shopping
When I was a kid, I loved spending hours in a comic book shop. Not only going through back issues, but getting new books and checking out the museum of old toys they had for sale. As a kid I had a few local comic book shops I could convince my dad to take me to, or stop in if my parents were shopping elsewhere.
This was a great shop that had the best selection of “mature” books. You could always thumb through an issue of Sin City at Beachhead. This was always the hardest comic book shop to get a trip to because it was in the “city” of Allentown proper, so parking was always a challenge. Luckily my Dad had a work site not too far from there, so If I was with him sometimes we’d stop at Beachhead and he would tell me I had 10 minutes and he would wait outside (he was a ham radio operator so he enjoyed the time he got to spend in his car talking to various other ham ops.) I’d always take longer, and only sometimes come out with something. Beachhead Comics is still in business to this day, and you can check them out on Chew Street in Allentown if you’re in the area.
We had a few malls in my town growing up. I wrote about the “South Mall” earlier when I waxed on about Friday Nights. The other malls were the big “Lehigh Valley Mall” and directly across the street was the “Whitehall Mall” While the bare bones of the Whitehall Mall still exists, the mall itself is gone. The Clover where I got my Penguin “Batman Returns” action figure (and my head stuck in the door) is now a Kohl’s and the Sears is still there for now, but the rest of the mall has been demolished and turned into an outdoor mall with a Bed Bath and Beyond. There is still some fragment of it, and in this fragment, one of my childhood comic book stores still exists, Comic Masters. The proprietor Dominic went to my Catholic school and was a few years older than me, but this man loves his store and comic books. The actual store itself uses half the space and the same entrance as the old “Space Port” arcade that stood there before it. You can kind of tell by looking at the front facade. It’s the same Spaceport they used in the training videos. This store was a refuge for me when my mom would want to go in to Clover for hour or, later to Kohl’s. At least Clover had a snackbar and toy sections. I’ll go into this mall more in depth in a blog to accompany our mall show (show 100).
Tilghman Square comic book shop.
This was my go-to for most of my books for the longest time, and I have two stories about this comic book shop that out of all of them, no longer exists. In April of 1993, on the heels of the Death of Superman; DC started a long intertwined story about Batman called Knightfall, which I was obsessed with. By the time summer rolled around, not only was I buying Batman and Detective Comics each month, but I’d go back and get the Robin books and the Catwoman books, and books that had a piece of the story I had to have. I was sometimes getting a new comic once a week just because I needed a piece of the story. This was one of my favorite times collecting comics, because I was absolutely into the story in a big, bad way. It’s probably why I love The Dark Knight Rises so much because I always loved the Bane storyline. The Knightfall story even got me through school as it concluded in October of ’93, but continued to Knightquest then Knightsend. If you haven’t read any of these, do yourself a favor and get the trade paperback. Knightfall was the first time that multiple Batman titles had shared a single narrative since Crisis on Infinite Earths so this was a major deal!
The other story is about selling action figures. When the Tick came out with it’s own cartoon on Fox Kids, it blew up, and quickly became one of our favorite shows. Finding out it was based on a comic made us HAVE to get our hands on the books. Our local carried the books, and we quickly consumed as many as we could. Bandai put out a line of action figures based on the cartoon and the chase figure was Man Eating Cow, which was just a cow. My friend Matt, who lived down the street and would often be with me at these comic book stores found one and bought it. We immediately took it to this comic book store and I remember selling it for 40 dollars. We thought we just sold the Mona Lisa, it was incredible found money, which was probably blown in the arcade and that store not soon afterwards.
Summer Vacation wouldn’t have been as special without comic books and these great comic book stores. If you still have one in your area and haven’t been in a while, go visit, and you’ll be sucked right back into your childhood.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back with more stories for the Rad Years Summer Vacation!