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Comic store franchise aims to expand passion for comics

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Frederick, MD — When Emily Kerr stepped into Beyond Comics to pick up her last two weeks’ worth of subscriptions, what she ordered was waiting before she made it to the counter.

The owner, John Cohen, greets her by name and asks how the kennel she works at is doing.

“It’s amazing how he can keep all the information about repeaters,” Carr said.

With 25 years of sales experience, Cohen knows his regular customers well, but aims to make first-time visitors just as welcoming and helpful. The shop aims to spread his passion for comics and graphic novels as much as possible to curious newbies, longtime fans and avid collectors alike.

Cohen opened the first Beyond Comics branch in Gaithersburg’s Lake Forest Mall in February 1997. The store was 920 square feet in size and in an unconventional location for a comic store. Most comic book stores are in “dungeon corners,” Cohen said, adding that they’re where rent is the cheapest possible. Cohen wanted a location that would help him “justify” his store.

Cohen opened the Frederick Store in 2007 after noticing that many of his customers were driving from Frederick.

To celebrate the store’s 25th anniversary, Beyond Comics has teamed up with Marvel to release two variant covers for the first issue of the Daredevil reboot and the first issue of the miniseries Edge of Spider-Verse.

Cohen has his own twist on the cover. He hopes to expand this image to a total of six comic covers with various publishers, all collected to create a poster.

Cohen opened his shop after 16 years in the comics industry. While working at another store, he realized that the industry lacked stores that focused on comics and graphic novel content.

“My vision is bigger,” he said. “We named it Beyond Comics because we wanted people to understand that there is more to comics than you think. I felt that I could offer more than that.”

His store was one of the first to sell graphic novels, which Cohen said he recognized as a rapidly growing market in the ’90s.

Comics are typically published on a regular basis, with new issues published weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or something in between. According to Cohen, a subset of these comic books will go through the full story his arc.

Take “The Sandman,” adapted from the recent Netflix series comic book series, for example. The series includes his 75 issues released over 75 months. If you want to read the full story, you’ll have to search for all issues from 1989 to 1996.

However, graphic novels combine a single story arc into a single book rather than a series of problems. Graphic novels can also be completely original stories, such as Raina he Tergemeyer’s ‘Smile’ or Cesebel’s ‘Eldeafo’.

The graphic novel combines several issues into one book that makes up one of the series’ story arcs. Instead of delving into all 75 of his issues (some of which may be out of print), readers can buy 10 graphic novels.

Graphic novels are also beneficial to collectors who don’t want to take out expensive or rare comics to read. Many comic collectors buy expensive comics and store them in boxes or filing cabinets.

New Market resident Brian Alt began reading comics at a young age, bought by his grandmother at a flea market. He began collecting avidly at the age of 13, but took a break for a while after the stores he frequented closed during the 1990 market crash, he said.

When Cohen opened a store in Lakeforest Mall, Alt began buying from him. In 2012, he resumed collecting activities. Since then, every Wednesday is New Manga Day, which is lined up in stores.

His collection has grown from 35,000 to 40,000 and is kept in a spare room in his townhome. In order to preserve old comics, especially those published in newspapers, Alto also purchased his graphic novels.

“It can be damaged, and these things are becoming more and more rare and more and more valuable…so I often have whole collections of graphic novels,” Alt said. rice field.

Cohen said Beyond Comics sells $20,000 worth of comics. However, he doesn’t treat his shop as collector’s. Instead, he focuses on average customers.

Cohen believes women’s passion for graphic novels is essential to his shop’s rising popularity. Just like he remembers 20 to 30 years ago, a shop owner who would get angry when a woman came to his shop.

When he opened the store, women would go to the bookstore and read novel-length content rather than read comics. decided to design a store in

Robert Slick, who has been collecting comics since he was a kid in the 1970s, says he loved walking through the Frederick Store. “The atmosphere is great. Just walk in and look at his walls and marvel at what he’s got, down to the statues and everything else,” Slick said.

Cohen wants the store environment to be welcoming for everyone. He joked that no one “wanted to be punched in the face with testosterone” when they walked into the store.

Cartoon culture has grown to encompass all kinds of people. If Cohen had worn a superhero shirt in high school, he would have spent all day in his locker.

“You don’t have to be an outcast or an introvert to read comics,” Cohen said.

TV shows and movies, he said, don’t help sell comics or graphic novels because their content often doesn’t match the storyline of the comic, but they do help legitimize the product.

When newcomers to comics-based content come to his store looking for comic book stories on which Marvel movies and TV shows are based, Cohen and one of the other staff members recommend what they might enjoy. I will try We aim to cater to everyone, not just the avid collector.

“If you want to make money and buy expensive back issues, great,” Cohen said. “But when you come in, buy a stack of comics, read them, come back and say, ‘They were really good,’ we’re just as happy, if not happier.” .