A comics lover's paradise
New store sells variety of trade paperbacks
Walk into Comic Paradise Plus 2 in Westover and you’ll see shelves lined with colorful trade paperbacks, movie props and figurines. There’s even a full-size TARDIS — the time machine police phone booth from “Doctor Who” — outside the store.
But owner Jon Hayes will tell you what you see is not exactly what you get at his new comic book store location.
That’s because while the Westover shop may be new — it just had its grand opening a couple weeks ago — Hayes, and his wife Julie, have back stock of comic books to the tune of about 50,000.
“You’re only seeing on the shelves about the past two months worth of comic books. We, at that point in time, have to pull them off of the shelves that overflow, and it becomes back stock. And in our back stock, we have over 50,000 comics,” Hayes said. “All we need somebody to do is make a request.”
The 2 in Comic Paradise Plus 2 means this is the second location for Hayes. Comic Paradise Plus 1 is at 401 Walnut Ave. in Fairmont. Hayes has owned it for four years; prior to that, it was owned by Jim Wyer for 30 years.
Now, Hayes is reaching out to try to expand his market with the Westover store at 183 Holland Ave. His main objective: Get people reading comic books. The new store was the next logical step in that plan, he said, adding that he also puts together the West Virginia Pop Culture Convention held in August at Mylan Park for the same reason. This year’s pop con is planned for Aug. 22-23.
“That was the goal of that, was to reach new people and get comics and the love of this geeky life that we all live into other people’s households and have some fun,” Hayes said.
Upstairs at the Holland Avenue store, he said there’s a room that can be reserved for tabletop gaming, such as Warhammer and Magic.
He and Julie also have plans to add a coffee shop with light food options, as well as seating in the front of the store and eventually a drive-through window.
For right now, though, they’re focusing on moving comic books. To that end, the store offers a free pull subscription service.
“We just want to know what comics to order. That is our goal in our stores, to put comic books in people’s hands. That is what excites me. That’s what makes me happy,” Hayes said.
While you’ll find all the favorite Marvel and DC comics in the store, Hayes prides himself on offering independents, which, he said, is a great way to get people interested in the comic book world, because the stories often have a defined beginning and end, unlike many Marvel and DC series that build upon each other and constantly change.
Hayes also said if someone is unsure of what type of book to buy, he asks a few questions and can usually point them in the right direction.
John Porter, who lives in Fairmont but works some in the Morgantown area, has been a customer at the Fairmont shop for awhile and now plans to come to the Westover one regularly. He looks for comics with a good storyline and great artwork.
“The art draws me in,” he said. “That’s a big thing.”
Stopping by the Fairmont and Westover stores is a regular occurrence for Porter. So what’s his favorite comic? “It’s basically Batman,” he said. “You can’t go wrong with Batman.”
For Hayes, while he loves independent comic books, his favorite overall is an old Marvel character.
“I still love Spider-Man,” he said. “No matter what they do. No matter how they mess him up. No matter what, I still love Spider-Man.”
Hayes has been reading comics since he was about 10 years old, so he said it’s important for him to promote them as a reading option. It’s an idea that is catching on with teachers and librarians.
“They have those in the library ’cause they find that some kids can’t sit down and have that attention span for just a normal book with no pictures,” he said, “but they find that they’ll read trade paperbacks. So for the teachers and for the libraries, reading is reading, whether it has pictures or not.”
Comic Paradise Plus 2 is located at 183 Holland Ave., Westover. The store is open from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday and closed Monday. Info: Call 304-291-9576, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to comicparadiseplus.com.