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Ye Olde Comic Shoppe, 519 Meeting Street (West Columbia): 1980s   20 comments

Posted at 10:53 pm in Uncategorized

I didn't read a lot of comics as a kid. I had a stash that was left to me by an older neighbor friend when he moved out of town, and those I read over and over, and when we went to the beach, sometimes I would buy a copy of The Rawhide Kid or Sergeant Rock from the rack at Lachicotts if I had the money, but in general I didn't have the money. Besides, when I got my $3.00 from mowing the lawn, I wanted to spend it on Tom Swift, Rick Brant or Doc Savage.

All that changed in the 80s, when I finally had a little money coming in. Coincidentally, this boom time for me happened about the same time comics went into a major boom. DC was shaking things up with The Crisis on Infinite Earths and Alan Moore was proving with his incredible run on Swamp Thing that comics could be the vehicle for well-written adult horror.

As comics boomed, the distribution model changed from drugstore spinner racks which were indiferently stocked by magazine jobbers and always seemed to miss crucial issues to dedicated comic book stores. At the peak of the boom, Columbia had at least four first run comic stores. There was one on Forest Drive near the Fort Jackson gate, Heroes & Dragons at Boozer Shopping Center, Silver City on Knox Abbot Drive (not at its current location however) and this store, on Meeting Street.

I can't recall now what it was called, but I often checked it on new issue days (I think comics shipments arrived on either Wednesday or Thursday at the time) to see if they had anything I hadn't seen at Silver City (which I considered my main store).

Of course with every boom there is a bust. Comics were hit by a one two punch, first the "black & white" glut and implosion where the market for "indie" (non Marvel/non DC) black and white comics completely collapsed. (Just as an aside, The Teenaged Ninja Mutant Turtles started as an indie b&w comic which was an obvious parody of Frank Miller's work on Daredevil) then second, the industry was gripped by a speculative frenzy based on varient covers for each comic (one comic might be issued with 4 different covers, including gimmicks like embossed or 3-D covers on the theory that that made them "collectible"). Well, of course it turned out that nothing collected by the thousands is worth anything (Action Comics #1 is worth a lot because nobody collected them and almost all of them were thrown out) and the twin busts took out a lot of comic shops. To this day the industry still hasn't fully recovered, and with competition from video games and the Interenet likely never will.

This particular store went into a kind of slow-motion, never acknowledged, bankruptcy. One week I came in to look at the new comics and was told "Oh, the truck didn't come this week", so I browsed last week's leftovers a few minutes and left. When I stopped by the next week, and those were still the only comics there, I understood what was happening: There was not enough money to pay the distributers for new issues, but they weren't going to admit that, and were going to try to sell a few back issues for as long as the rent and utilities were not an issue (which was, I presume, the end of the month).

After the final closing, I think a couple of different operations moved in over the years, but for the last 5 years or so, it's been a tanning store so you can look good in your own superhero costume.

UPDATE 3 Oct 2008: Changed post title to reflect the name "Ye Olde Comic Shoppe" given by "Jim" in the comments. Also changed "Cayce" to "West Columbia"

Written by ted on August 30th, 2008

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