This is the start of a new feature here on Comic Booked. We have asked each of the writers on our staff to go to their LCS, also know as their “local comic shop”, and take some pictures and do an interview. The comic book industry is really nothing without a delivery system, and the LCS is the way that many comic book fans get their weekly fix of their favorite characters. I know that I try to make that weekly pilgrimage, or at least bi-weekly, to pick up too many comic books. So, let the “LCS Spotlight” begin.
Beyond Comics is located in Frederick, Maryland, with a second location in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Owned by Jon Cohen, they have been in business since 1997 serving Central Maryland and the surrounding areas that anyone is willing to drive from. This has been my LCS for almost two years and I have enjoyed getting to know Jon and the staff. I took time to take some pictures and ask Jon some burning questions.
Me: Jon, thanks for taking the time to talk to me and our readers about Beyond Comics and your involvement in the comics trade. My first question for you is, how did you get started in comics, both reading and owning a store?
Jon: I started reading the hand-me-down comics from my brother when I was 8-years old. I got into Mad Magazine and later got into Sci-fi books like the Conan series by Robert E. Howard. My mom bought me a Conan comic and that was all it took to draw me back into comics. I worked for someone else for years. This was a store that only sold cards, no comics, so I worked with the store to get comics for sale. We were one of Diamond’s first 25 stores. Working at that store, I mostly just learned what not to do and in 1996, left there. I started Beyond Comics in 1997.
Me: Tell me about the history of Beyond Comics.
Jon: Our first store was in a mall, no more than 900 square feet. It was unusual to find a comic shop in a mall. We originally had about 150 long boxes which took up half the store and only sold about $200 per week. It was an easy choice to move them out of the way to make way for more of the fun merchandise that we were trying to have in stock. We started getting more and more of a focus on trade paperbacks, but that can just turn a comic shop into a book store, so we tried to keep a balance.
Me: What makes Beyond Comics unique?
Jon: I’m not going to say that we are any more unique or better than any other store. If there is one thing I have learned, you create your own environment. In this region, we have the largest selection, most graphic novels and trade paperbacks, and we try to have fun merchandise for all ages. We have one of the largest selections of high-end collectibles for about 300 miles in any direction. Customers come here from up and down the Eastern Seaboard. We are always trying to do something else, not just comics.
Me: What are some of the biggest problems that you have experienced?
Jon: One of our biggest problems has always been inventory. I can’t devalue my inventory by having constant sales. The value of a product is only equal to what someone will pay for it. If you buy a $150 comic for $75, it was really only worth $75. Another issue is that the collectibles industry does not really have a returnability policy, so all of our ordering is based on speculation. We order what we think will sell.
If we are wrong…
Jon: What am I reading? Not nearly enough. Walking Dead is a must because the public wants it. I have Hawkeye and Saga in my pile of stuff to read. I am looking forward to my clone being fully grown next year, haha. No, I am really looking forward to collected versions of Miracleman, once they get done reprinting the single issues. I am also looking forward to the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Of course, as any business owner, we are looking for more comics growth.
Me: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, I really appreciate it.
Beyond Comics has a great selection of comics, toys, and lots of cool statues. They also have a gaming section and regular weekly events for Magic the Gathering, Heroclix, and Dungeons & Dragons. If you ever in the area, look them up. We thank Beyond Comics for being our first LCS Spotlight victim… I mean candidate.