The door opened and that familiarly sweet, musty smell of old paper and ink swept through Aftertime Comics. Sasha Kaplan walked in, closed the door and breathed a sigh of relief. All around her were the stories of superheroes in colorful tights saving the world.
“I love the smell of a good comic book shop,” said Kaplan, who works at a civics education nonprofit by day, and is a comic book historian in her spare time. “I was going to a thrift shop and remembered this place and thought I’d stop off and see what’s new.”
For the last 35 years, Aftertime Comics at 1304 King St. has kept comic book fans of all ages up to date on the latest adventures of Thor, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Batman, Superman, Archie and thousands of other characters we know and love. The shop is home to action figures, graphic novels and an estimated half-million comics that go all the way back to the early 1940s, including DC Comics, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, Vertigo, Dynamite Comics, Disney, Mad Magazine, Looney Tunes and dozens more. While most of the comics range from $4 to $20, the shop’s oldest book is a 1943 issue of Captain Marvel on sale for $275.
“The backbone of our business is the new comics that come out every week,” shop manager Howard Marshall told The Zebra. “That’s every Wednesday, and we have regular customers who ask us to hold the titles in advance, who come in to get their books for their weekly fix. We’ve never advertised. Most of our business is word-of-mouth.”
A few minutes after Kaplan left, Ed Owens walked in with his five-year-old daughter, Charlotte, to find the latest “My Little Pony” comics. Owens, whose mother threw away his original set of 1977 Star Wars trading cards, is a longtime collector of comics, cards and fountain pens and has passed the passion to his daughter.
“My favorite characters are Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow,” Charlotte said. “I have a lot of comics at home.”
The shop also buys comics from individuals, too, but that doesn’t mean you should bring in loads of boxes from your basement. The shop only buys books from the late 1960s on down.
If you’re new to comics, you can also bring the kids or yourself to the shop for Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, May 4, for free editions from your favorite characters.
Aftertime Comics is open 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday.