What a pleasant surprise it was to wake up this morning to find that Ash Avenue Comics was named Best Comic Book Shop in the Phoenix New Times 2022 Best of Phoenix poll! There are so many amazing comic book shops in the Phoenix area that to be singled out for recognition among them is a high honor. Thanks to all of our families for putting up with our weird hours, our staff for all of their passion and hard work, to the New Times for their kind words, and most of all to our customers both locally at our brick-and-mortar store and online nationwide. We’re fortunate to be able to scratch out a living making sure that the books we love end up in the hands of people who are excited about them as we are. Thanks for helping us make it happen, and we look forward to many more years of serving you.
Check out this article by Benjamin Leatherman on the new Double Nickels collective shop in Tempe, located on the SW corner of Southern and Mill (right by the Yucca Tap Room). Ash Ave Comics is proud to be a participating vendor in the collective, so stop by to pick up some comics, clothes, and music.
One of the first things that Michael Pawlicki wants you to know about Double Nickels Record Collective is that — despite its name — the place isn’t only about records. Yes, there are a slew of vinyl platters available for purchase at the new Tempe cooperative pop-up shop, which opened its doors this past weekend, but new and used wax ain’t the only thing for sale.
That’s because several local non-music-related retailers are involved with the collaborative boutique, including such familiar names as Ash Avenue Comics and Meat Market Vintage. Pawlicki, who owns the Ghost of Eastside Records and will be stocking his voluminous selection of LPs and 45s, says the intent behind Double Nickels is to offer “all sorts of stuff.”
“It’s way more than just records at the store,” he says. “There are clothing people involved, comic book people involved, and other people involved besides record geeks.”
That’s how Pawlicki envisioned the project when he first started looking for a new location for the Ghost of Eastside Records. Over the past couple of years, the 50-year-old Valley resident has opened several pop-up versions of his store around Tempe during the cooler months before heading out of town for the summertime.
And when Pawlicki was hunting for a place to open the latest incarnation of Eastside, he decided to change things up a bit, both in size and scope. First off, the 2,100-square-foot space (which is situated in Danelle Plaza near Southern and Mill avenues in Tempe) is a bit larger than the other locations he’s occupied in the past.
“I was about to move into a smaller spot, but went with something bigger,” he says.
And secondly, it’s a collaborative endeavor. Pawlicki reached out to Kimber Lanning of Stinkweeds, Ben Funke of Meat Market, Drew Sullivan of Ash Avenue Comics, and other independent businesses of a music or cultural bent to get involved with the project and feature their respective wares at Double Nickels.
Each partner will have its own portion of the space to display and sell items. Meat Market, for example, built several wooden racks for secondhand vintage fashions and clothing.
“I’d seen this in other cities and wanted to try something different. Almost like an antique mall but geared toward younger people of that culture,” Pawlicki says. “Just throw all sorts of crazy stuff into one place and see how it flies.”
He also brought in prolific local artist Corey Busboom, who is renowned for his unique thrift store finds and the funky belts and other items he creates under his Strange Pursuit label.
“Corey is going to bring in whatever the hell he cares to,” Pawlicki says. “Probably whatever sort of things he dug up lately, like maybe old video games or cassettes or weird electronic equipment.”
Busboom says he plans to bring in “belts and things” to the store, as well as possibly some local band shirts as well.
“I can bring whatever I want,” he says. “I might bring some roller skates.”
Ash Avenue Comics, on the other hand, won’t be as scattershot with its offerings at the co-op. Sullivan says they will feature a selection of small press, indie comics, and alternative titles — such as “old issues of Weirdo and Zap Comix to more current titles like Black Hole” — as well as more mainstream books by the likes of Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman.
“We will have the sort of stuff I used to see when I went to old Tower Records or what they had for sale at the [original] Eastside Records,” Sullivan says. “What we’ll have depends on what people are buying.”
Pawlicki says that they’re open to including other sorts of vendors and retailers who’d like to become involved.
“We’re gonna leave a little space for other people to come in with other ideas, like anything that involved with culture: stereo equipment, electronics, or even art for that matter,” he says. “Whatever someone wants to bring in that they think is appropriate. Anything that would be interesting to the type of people that would come in here is something I’d be open to seeing.”
Double Nickels Record Collective is open daily. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Thanks to the Phoenix New Times for once again selecting Ash Avenue Comics & Books as the Best shop in town for comic readers.
Best Comic Book Shop – 2013
Perhaps a trip to the comics shop sounds like a nostalgia-ridden adventure down memory lane. While it can certainly serve that function, Ash Avenue Comics is big on the now. With a solid selection of fresh indie books, notable graphic novels, and big-name serials, too, the Tempe standby eschews an old-timey feel for a selection that’ll surprise anyone who’s been on a hero hiatus. Not sure where to begin? Consult owner Drew Sully. The shopkeeper is (surprise) an avid comics reader and readily dishes on his favorite ongoing series like Uncanny X-Men or Hellboy in Hell.
from ASU’s State Press
Best Comic Book Shop: Ash Avenue Comics
810 South Ash Avenue
Th-Sa noon-8 p.m., Su noon-5 p.m., M noon to 7 p.m., Tu noon-7 p.m., W 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Located in an oasis of other local businesses like Cartel and Cowtown Skateboards, the shop is well organized and gives enough space to peruse the thousands of comics it offers. One of our favorite parts is the stand featuring the work of local comic book artists, from the abstract to the average hero. There’s also a “recommended” section near the front with some great starter-uppers for new comic book readers.
Re-Launched Titles, Store Closings Have Comic Industry in Flux
DC Comics recently published the first of its re-launched comic books as part of an initiative in which 52 comic book series, including “Batman” and “Superman,” will re-set to issue No. 1 with revamped characters and retooled storylines and run online for the first time.
Last month, local comic book retailer Atomic Comics closed the doors of all four of its Valley stores.
Are the two interlinked? Maybe. The owner of Atomic Comics in a letter to industry folks said online purchasing and downloading of comics may have had some impact on his business.
What’s really happening on the larger scale, said Albert Ching, a contributor with Newsarama.com, a site that follows happenings in the industry, is that the comic book industry, both locally and nationally, is in flux.
DC Comics is the first outlet to offer its books in both a print and digital form. They plan to release the digital incarnations of their hardcopy comics on the same day as their print versions.
Chingsaid DC has been losing its market share to rival Marvel for years, and that’s one of the reasons they went with a re-launch.
“I think they wanted to do something splashy that would return to them to the forefront of everyone’s minds,” he said. “They’re looking to attract new readers while at the same time not alienating their current audience, which is a tricky thing to pull off. Digital distribution is definitely part of their strategy, and we’ll see in the coming months if it all pays off.”
Ching, who worked at Atomic Comics from 2002 to 2004, said that while some may think this shift to digital property was the force that led Atomic Comics to close their doors, he doesn’t think that’s the case.
“[Digital distribution is] an area that’s definitely growing, but is still too proportionally small of a market at this point to have that kind of impact. In a few years, the landscape will probably have changed quite a bit, but ultimately, I think it’s hard to own one locally-owned shop in this economy, and Atomic had four, all in high-profile – and thus, presumably high-rent – locations.”
Mike Malve, founder and owner of Atomic Comics, wrote in a blog-style letter entitled “My Final Report” that was sent to industry insiders and widely circulated online in comic book blogs that the slumping economy had been a growing problem for the chain, which had been in operation for over 20 years. “The villain in this tragedy is the economy,” Malve wrote. “I had hoped to be the superhero and triumph over the recession, but sadly the economic downturn of the past five years has proven to be unsustainable.”
He goes on to write that an October 2006 car accident in which a 16-year-old uninsured driver drove her car into Atomic Comics’ Mesa location pushed the company over a financial ledge they were never able to come back from.
The store was closed for several months so it could be reconstructed. That was traumatic enough, but Malve wrote that it was the loss of customers that really stung.
“It seemed as if half our customers never returned,” he wrote. “The great mystery to me is what exactly happened to all those missing customers. … I can only assume customers found other means to obtain their comics, maybe they started driving great distances to hit up other stores, some possibly went the way of the Internet and are now ordering their books online or perhaps even downloading their books illegally, or maybe even some stopped collecting comics altogether.”
Malve wrote that he remains hopeful, however, especially with DC’s re-launch.
“With DC’s September release of the #1’s, Marvel’s makeover of key books and continual growth, and other publishers working hard with some amazing new and exciting content, there is hope on the horizon for the direct market,” Malve wrote.
Drew Sullivan, owner and operator of Ash Avenue Comics in Tempe since its opening nine years ago, said the expansion of DC’s market makes sense.
“If [DC] can find any more markets to expand in to, then they’ll do it,” he said. “Six or eight months ago, people were probably scratching their heads thinking, ‘Where are comics going to go?’ and ‘How are we going to maintain interest?’ I think they did a great job as far as getting people re-interested in comics. It’s pretty exciting, a lot of customers are excited about it and I’m looking forward to a lot of the new books.
Sullivan said he’s not a fan of digital comics, but added that he understands that DC had a business decision to make.
“After a day of staring at a computer at work, I get out of here and I go home and I read some of my books that I’ve picked up for the week,” he says. “It feels like I’m giving my eyes a break, like it’s almost like therapy, to not stare at a glowing screen hurting my eyes again, I love that. It’s a relief in a world where we’re constantly having flashy bright screens in our face.”