Monday, June 5, 2023

To retcon a comic shop

JC’s Comic Stop is dead and gone … at least, that’s what owner James Collins tells everyone. “It’s a rebranding, like the phoenix rising from the ashes,” he says. “I am burying the old and moving forward with the new.”

The new is JC’s Comics N’ More: Your Pop Culture Super-Store. Collins’ improved shop recently relocated to St. James Plaza, near Central Avenue and McCord Road.

He also invited a couple of his famous friends to celebrate the transition: Randy Blythe and John Campbell of Grammy-nominated metal band Lamb of God. Collins says Blythe and him bonded over comics and politics about 10 years ago at Ozzfest, and they get together whenever the band’s tour schedule brings them near Toledo. (You can read the interview here.)

“I’m very, very honored to have Randy and John here to do this for me, to lend their time,” Collins says. “I know they’re busy, busy guys, too.”

Busy is an understatement for Collins—all of his time and energy is devoted to the move, to the point where his to-read stack of comic books is taller than one of the 12-inch superhero statues in his shop.

“Right now, I’m most interested in sleep,” he jokes.

Collins describes the process as 28 years in the making. He opened the original shop at Meadowbrook Shopping Plaza in 1985. He was one of the few survivors of the ’90s comic book implosion, when publishers oversaturated the market with collectible and special edition issues that never sold, which forced over hundreds of comic book stores to close.

While Collins kept JC’s open, the shop was cluttered with old issues, figurines and other paraphernalia that made it difficult to navigate. “I was at the point where there wasn’t much I could do,” he says. “Over there, I’d get new products and I was like, ‘Where is this going to go?’ And I’d usually just toss it on top of something else.”

Collins also feels the location wasn’t doing him any favors. “The old location was just way too dead, quite frankly. The plaza, the businesses around me, there wasn’t really much,” he says. “There were a lot of churches there, and I view plazas with churches as dead plazas.”

So when he was approached about relocating to St. James Plaza, Collins jumped at the chance. “I thought that this was the spot to move into. It has so much going for it as far the destination,” he says. The new shop’s neighbors include restaurants like Frogtown Johnnies and specialty stores like CheckMate Games.

Collins hopes to attract people who are curious about comics after seeing the characters on the big and little screens. He also plans to reinvigorate his online presence with an eBay page and website, while possibly looking into digital comics. He wants the shop to become the go-to spot for everything pop culture. “Stuff like the action figures and statues, there’s really no way for them to download stuff like this, so they still have to buy the physical items,” he says. “I think if I was on the other side of the counter, I’d be like, ‘Wow! It begins and ends right here.’”

Even after the shop’s opening, Collins still has boxes upon boxes to sort through at the old store, but he is optimistic and he sees the move as an opportunity to reinvent himself and the store. “This gives me a fresh canvas to paint upon,” he says. “[I can] do it the way I truly, truly wanted to do it.”

JC’s Comics N’ More is open from noon-6pm, Mondays and Tuesdays; 11am-8pm, Wednesdays-Fridays; 11am-7pm, Saturdays; and noon-5pm, Sundays. 6725 W. Central Ave., Suite DD. 419-531-6097. For more info, email or search JC’s Comic Stop on Facebook.

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