Impressive run

Impressive run

According to the Comics Code Authority rules of 1948, good shall overcome evil and public officials shall not be presented in anyway to disrespect authority.

In the R rated world today, the comic rules hardly stand a chance except in two tiny shops in Alexandria where Superman still reigns.

Some famous characters have taken the test of time, said Dennis Webb, owner of Card and Comic Collectorama in Del Ray. Webb has owned the store for 34 years when it used to be called Capital Comics Center. He even remembered the day Superman died years ago, in the newsprint pages of comics, but was revived. Everybody was calling, there was a line around the corner and down the alley, of people wanting that comic. They thought it would be a valuable comic, Webb said. He recently sold an original print of that edition, number 75 in the Superman series 2, for $25.

Across town on King Street, Howard Marshall is in a similar looking store surrounded by comics and smelling of newsprint, but its another world entirely. Marshall is the assistant manager of Aftertime Comics that deals with the modern day adventures of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Stephen Kings Dark Tower series. Buffys comics have been super hot, we cant keep them in stock, he said.

At Aftertime, Wednesdays are huge when the latest and greatest come out of the new series. New stuff is the basis of the business, said Marshall whos been at the shop for six years. His subscribers, all 120 of them, they know to come in [on Wednesdays] he said.

Both shops claim independence of their genres though. At Aftertime, Marshall does have a few copies of the superhero series displayed on his walls, though most of his customers are looking for recent releases. At the Collectorama, there is every Superman and Spiderman comic available, plus toys, memorabilia, trading cards and gag gifts that keep the kids trickling in on a summer day. He even has a collection of old Mad magazines, including one from June 1973, with Alfred E. Newman spoofing the Stanley Kubrick movie A Clockwork Orange.

The advent of comic heroes in Hollywood have spruced up business lately, at both shops, adding that Superman, Spiderman, the Fantastic Four, and even the Incredible Hulk have brought the comic scene back in vogue.

It helps generate a lot of interest, said Marshall. The ones making movies now have some popularity, added Webb. Comics came in ages the The Golden Age, Silver, Bronze and now the Modern Age said Webb.

Beverly Hills youth Steve Smith rode his bike over to check out the trading cards Webb had in stock. Im more of a Marvel person; I like Spiderman and the Hulk, he said, while looking at baseball cards. The hottest item in his card collection is a Gary Sheffield rookie card while Sheffield was on the Milwaukee Brewers. That card is also for sale on eBay like everything else, but looking at cards in person is much more personal, he said. Usually Im the only one in here.

John Reed isnt a household name for most, but it is the real name of the Lone Ranger, according to Marshall, who is a self-proclaimed Lone Ranger buff. Although he deals in the Buffy comic genre, the old favorites stand the test of time. Marshall likes the Lone Ranger because he was just out to help people; he suppressed his ego, Marshall said.

Webb learned a lot from comics when he was a child. Comic books are a good starting point for people starting to read, he said. It stimulated my imagination, he added.

Marshalls shop on King Street is a 20 x 20 room full of comics and his sound system plays classic rock throughout the day. Webbs place is pretty much the same with plants and a few collectible toys as well, including the squirting camera or the disappearing ink.

Fun little things that make life interesting, Webb said.