So, as I mentioned in my last piece, I am out of town, and not lucky enough to be at Wondercon either (Someday I have to start going to more conventions,I always try to make to the NY area cons.) Since I am out of town, I can’t swing by my home base for comics in the Big Apple, Midtown Comics, on the West Side to pick up my books for either last week or this week. When I travel I like to visit the local comic shops when I can.
So this past Tuesday I checked out Aftertime Comics, in the Oldtown district of Alexandria, VA. It was a small shop. I think my freshman dorm room was bigger. Aftertime, however, did have everything you would expect to find in a small comic shop. Comics, lots of them(on spinner racks!), and Graphic Novels, a great selection, (I especially liked the collection of Tin Tin and Asterix.) and there are smattering of toys, action figures, etc. But since space is at a premium, the focus is definitely on the books.
As I come to expect in small shops, there is usually one or two staff members to talk to when you are looking for something, The man to see at Aftertime is Howard Marshall. Howard knows his comics, and he is knows the store where he’s worked for 10 years. He knows his costumers, and is knowlegdable and friendly, without being a high pressure salesman. Howard is also the kind of shopguy who is glad to talk to his costumers, both his 120 or so regular subscribers, and the tourists and other visitors that often visit the store during a visit to the shopping and restaurants that line King Street and not just about comics, but about world events, life and his favorite, music. Before coming to Aftertime, Howard told be about how he used to run a specialty music shop which closed as people began to get more of their music online.
Let’s face it, so much of the media we get now is from the internet, we can buy, watch and listen to just about anything we want, movies, music, and television are all available though our computer. And now in this age, we can even get our comics digitally. But it’s always been the shared experiences, like going to the comic shop that I have enjoyed. The spontaneous discussions that can happen. Being at a comic book store, and finding out about a book that someone like Howard recommends to you , because your his costumer, and he knows what you like, and he listens. Amazon can suggest that you get this or that because other people who bought it also bought that. But Amazon may not know you collect appearances of Spider-woman, or are looking for action figures of every member of the Justice Society of America. Sure we can read reviews online about a book, and decide whether or not to buy it from that recommendation. But actually talking to someone in a store can lead to something more. Real socialization, not just a facebook or twitter connection.
So, if you are in the Washington DC area and are looking to pick up something to read, or just want to soak up some classic comic shop goodness, stop by and say hi to Howard. Even if you are just looking, he’ll be glad to answer any questions you might have about comics, or music.
1304 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314