Ah, comics!

When I was growing up in Olney, Ill. (population 9,000), in the 1970s, there were a half-dozen places you could buy comic books: three or four grocery stores, a convenience store and a newsstand, plus a used bookstore and a five-and-dime that had some pre-bagged comics. I don’t think you could buy a new comic within Olney’s city limits today. You certainly can’t in many Inland Valley cities. What kind of a world is this??

Chris Peterson, owner of Claremont’s Comic Bookie, started reading comics in 1972 while growing up in Claremont. He rode his bike to the 7-Eleven in La Verne to get his comics and often stopped at the Mount Baldy Drive-In’s swap meet next door (now a Target) where vendors sometimes sold older comics. He had an allowance of $2 per week, which would net him 10 new 20-cent comics.

He also patronized two stores in Claremont.

R.U.R. was a used bookstore on Yale run by two hippies in the space that became Claremont Books and Prints, and it sold new comics and some older issues. (“R.U.R.” was a sci-fi play from 1921 that introduced the word “robots.” Shades of Android’s Dungeon!)

There was also a newsstand at Indian Hill and Arrow whose name Peterson never knew. The sign’s biggest word was Paperback, except the B was missing. Peterson and his friends would routinely say, “Let’s go to Paper Ack.”

In the 1980s, there were comic shops. Pomona had Funny Business (and still does) and also Fun Time Comics on Antique Row, run by an older couple who, surprisingly, kept up on Watchmen and Wolverine. Upland had The Comic Room downtown; the store later had a satellite store in the Claremont arcade near today’s Viva Madrid. Claremont’s packinghouse had a small vendor space named Packinghouse Books, a used bookstore with old comics run by Dwain Kaiser (of today’s Magic Door Books in Pomona).

Comic shops popped up in every valley city during the 1990s but virtually all of them are gone. Er, the shops, not the cities.

The current generation has pretty much given up on comics, if they even know comics exist. But for older generations — anyone over 30 or 40 — comics were part of childhood. Even if you didn’t read them regularly, you probably got one as a treat at some point.

Young or old — where did you buy your comics?

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  • Stephen

    I blame the Internet and video games for stealing hours away from the joys of curling up with a good book, whether it be illustrated or not.

    [Agreed. — DA]

  • http://rialtus.livejournal.com Carl Knecht

    Until recently, the Comic Bookie. *sigh* Now, I drive over to 4 Color Fantasies. Truth be told, I’m considering doing exactly what is hurting the whole industry — going to trade paperbacks only. $3 a pop for a story that lasts six months versus $10.50 on amazon.com for the complete story is compelling.

    [Understandable. On the other hand, bear in mind that a few dollars here, a few dollars there, and the Bookie might still be in business. — DA]

  • Bob

    The local drug store was the first place I used to buy comics. In the mid-’80s, I walked into my first comic book store. I forget the name, but it was on Central next door to the UA-6 movie theater in Montclair. The Bookie was the best though. I’ll miss it and Chris’s friendly demeanor. And I’m really bummed I won’t be able to make it in before Friday because of my work schedule.

  • Linda

    We bought comic books at the grocery store, drug store, Newberrys and Woolworths at 10 cents each. Now does that date me or what? Trading comic books with each other was time well spent. Kids today don’t know what fun is!!

    [Thanks for the comment, Linda. — DA]

  • http://www.myspace.com/the_ron Ronald Scott

    Well, I spent my younger years in Redondo Beach, and on the corner of Grant and Aviation Blvd there was Galaxy Comics, which would often have 10 comics for $1 sales. After Redondo we moved to Cerritos which had no stores so I was left with buying comics at 7-Eleven.

    Then we moved to Chino in 1986 and the stores I remember were the one on the corner of Mountain and Philadelphia behind Taco Bell, which was run by two old ladies who would smoke inside of the store.

    I also remember the store in Pomona, but also Paper Hero Comics in Chino, in the shopping center that had a Newsboy Book Store and a Mexican restaraunt on Central and Walnut.

    [That’s for the smokin’ (two old ladies) note! — DA]

  • Will Plunkett

    As far as comic shops go, I frequented The Comic Room (in most of its locations around downtown Upland), one out in La Verne (cannot recall its name, but I think it was something simple like The Comic Stop), M&W Comics and Gems (in Cucamonga; it’s now a collectible card shop), and the various stores like Thrifty’s, 7-Eleven, Circle K, etc.

    I’ve stopped in the Comic Bookie in its new location a few times, a few more at its Griswold’s spot, and 4 Four once or twice. It’s not a genre of reading I get to much anymore, sadly.

  • Newsboy Books

    YES, YES, yes, this is the same as those stores from the past. Yes we continue to sell magazines, books and newspapers in Downtown Ontario. Thanks for remembering and please come down and visit us! Our hours are now 10am to 7pm Monday thru Saturday. Also, please see our advertisement in the 10/30/08 Special Section inside the Daily Bulletin “Celebrating 125 Years.”

  • http://www.comic-book-forum.com Comic-Book-Forum

    It’s great to see so many comic book collectors and information relating to the world of comics. We recently started an online forum dedicated to comic books and superheroes. If you have a chance, please take a look at our site by visiting the following link: Comic-Book-Forum