The enchanted cottage

The building that housed the comic book store I frequented as a kid in the ’80s and ’90s still stands, according to the most recent google street view images.

It was a small-ish two-bedroom house with the front room containing all the new comics, along with posters, toys and other random merchandise, the living room racks of old paperback books, the dining room all of the old back issues of comics in longboxes, and one of the bedrooms old sci-fi/horror mags like Starlog and Fangoria. Another bedroom was closed off by a beaded curtain. I never looked inside of it, but I always wanted to.

To anyone driving by, it was a dumpy little shack, I suppose. To me, it was a portal to other worlds and dimensions, an enchanted cottage that was bigger on the inside than the outside. A passport to adventure!

I’d get my parents to take me once a month, and I’d spend between eight and ten dollars. X-men and Batman were the new titles I bought faithfully, but then I’d always find some random treasure from the ’70s or late ’60s in the “dining room.” It was always so hard to choose, with my limited budget. I wanted to soak up all of the images on all of the yellowed old newsprint pages in all of the comics. I wanted to read every article about Star Wars in every old Starlog in the back.

I loved the smell of the place. The old paper, the new paper. I probably spent a half hour each visit, at least, gathering my selections carefully and thoughtfully.

Before I checked out, I always perused the box by the door that contained promo posters for 50 cents to a dollar, depending on size. Between those posters and the pinups from Metal Edge, I had my room pretty thoroughly wallpapered.

I get chills looking at that place, as it exists now, thinking of the magic it once contained, wondering if that magic is still contained within its walls somehow, as I stumble through the hazy, empty streets of adulthood searching for the feelings of joy such places used to invoke in me.

I remember what it felt like to walk in there. So clearly. The memory is all sunlight, paper smells, bright colors, excitement, discovery… I know I’m looking back on my life with rose-colored glasses, but I miss being a kid. I miss being able to feel like that about something so simple as a visit to an old shack that’s been converted into a comic book store. My sense of wonder needs recharging. I wish I could look inside. Stand inside. Absorb its nostalgic energy. Like Rogue.

Now, of course, I’m a jaded old fuck who complains about how expensive new comics are and how much they suck anyway so who cares. I have no desire to set foot in a comic book store. I can read old comics in graphic novel form or online for free. Comics are over for me as a living, thriving thing, as far as superhero comics go.

This isn’t a new development, though, so I can’t blame age; I lost interest in new comics around 1994. I just didn’t like the way they looked anymore.

I don’t want to set foot in any comic book store.

Except one.

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