I can’t explain why, but this week I started reminiscing about one the comic book stores from my past. It’s not the first comic book store that I ever frequented; that would be Fantasy Comics. Fantasy Comics is still up and running and it’s some place that I make sure that I visit whenever I’m back home.
No, the comic book store that I was thinking about was Captain Spiffy’s.
Captain Spiffy’s holds a special place in my heart. I’ve got so many fond memories of that store and it’s been gone for years. But Captain Spiffy played a huge part in my evolution as a comic book reader.
For instance Captain Spiffy’s was where I first ventured into big event comics. It’s where I picked up the debuts of Cyborg Superman, Superboy, Steel and The Eradicator during the Reign of the Supermen storyline. Those heavy stock covers with the Superman symbol cut out.
I got those four issues and brought them back to school with me. Everyone was so excited to see who was behind those covers, who was trying to replace Superman. Of course this was before the internet and before Previews as a part of the comic book experience. We literally had no idea what to expect behind those covers.
We did the same thing with Knightfall. When Az-Bats made his debut in the new armor, everyone at school went crazy.
There was a similar excitement behind the launch of the Milestone books. I’d seen the house ads for the books in the DC books and I was really looking forward to those books. And while the line was called Milestone, they could have been called by the name of another DC imprint; Impact.
The impact those Milestone books had on myself and my friends was impossible to measure. First off, we were getting in on the ground floor of a new universe. But most importantly, we saw characters, heroes and villains, who looked like us. And again, those books were purchased at Captain Spiffy’s.
Because Captain Spiffy’s was centrally located, on the campus of the University of Arizona, it was an easy place to pop in and pick something up. That’s how I stumbled upon Starman.
I’d seen Starman on the stands before. The covers looked pretty cool, like a cross between the cover of a Vertigo book and that of a mainstream DC title. I’d seen Tony Harris’ work before in an issue of Green Lantern Corp Quarterly and I really liked it.
But one day I pop into Captain Spiffy’s looking to spend some money. I’ve got extra money burning a hole in my pocket and decided to venture outside of my comfort zone. I see Starman Secret Files & Origins and I think “what the hell?”
That book completely opened up my horizons on comic books. Because of Starman, I a) wasn’t afraid to try a comic that didn’t feature a costume b) was willing to try to catch up on a book that I hadn’t caught from #1 and c) learned that trying something new could reap great rewards.
I devoured that Secret Files & Origins and quickly went back to Captain Spiffy’s to pick up every issue of Starman they had (I think I managed to cop #41-44, a few issues in the 30’s and maybe 27 or 28.) I did mange to track down all previous issues and of course signed up for subsequent ones as well.
To me, Captain Spiffy’s symbolized everything great about comics in the 90’s. It was a fun to place to visit and because it was at the U of A, it felt cooler and older. And I just went there for comics. Captain Spiffy’s also offered classes on comic art, an art gallery and they supported local artists, comic and otherwise.
Captain Spiffy’s was a special place.
I don’t know what happened to Captain Spiffy’s. I don’t know why it closed; it’d left for school by then. All know is that one summer I came home and it was no longer there.
But even though it’s gone, I’ve still got my memories.
Well, it’s Wednesday, you should go out and pick up some new comics from your local comic shop.