My newest discovery is Brian’s Comics, in Petaluma. The store is below street level, at 1 Fourth Street (go down the stairs). The small store is strangely shaped, reminding me a little bit of a pie wedge. Brian Christensen has individual comic books arranged alphabetically by title, which is convenient! He has a good selection of graphic novels.
I went up the counter and said, “I’m looking for a collection. I don’t know the author. It’s about a group of kids who discover that their parents are supervill—“
“Oh, Runaways,” he said, nodding.
Having passed my first test, he passed the second by going directly to a shelf and pulling out Volume 1 of Runaways.
He also pointed out that the two copies of Locke and Key I had picked up were indeed Issue 1… of Volume 6. Brian recommended that I check with Copperfield’s in Petaluma, because he knows they carry Locke and Key.
Brian’s Comics has been open since January of 2013. He said they feel supported by the Petaluma community and are doing all right (just like Brandy always says Mockingbird is “doing all right.”) He said he and his wife love comics and when they had a chance to do this, they took it. Check out his website at brianscomics.com to read about their interesting background!
My only other local comic book experience came from Outer Planes in Santa Rosa; a large space, half of which is devoted to role-playing games, with youthful staff who have their comic favorites but don’t know the field in general, and are not particularly helpful. Brian is a refreshing change from that. He’s helpful and friendly. My underdog support system kicked in a bit too – it’s a hard time for brick and mortar stores of any kind, harder still for book stores and probably hardest for comic books stores, completing with online/downloadable books and Amazon. Plus, he’s underground! While that’s a nice cape-and-mask symbol, it makes the store a bit difficult to find.
Brian’s Comics enjoys working with schools to introduce graphic novels to the classroom. Brian says on his website that he had difficulty learning to read; comic books, with a combination of works and images, helped his comprehension. He’s the second person I’ve heard this from; a friend of mine who had trouble learning to read improved almost as soon as she started reading comics, she said; the images helped her with context.
I treated myself; in addition to Runaways, I bought the first issue of Sandman Overture. In a month or so when the second one comes out, I’ll probably make the trek to Brian’s Comics to get it.