Tag Archives: comicbookstore

Meet We Can Be Heroes

Photo Credit: We Can Be Heroes

BY LUIS SAYO

When you think of comic book stores, the first image many of us think of are the small, cramped, and quite frankly, uncomfortable stores of yore. One store defies that thinking, along with other stereotypes people may have about the comic book store.

Nestled in an all too familiar looking strip mall in the San Fernando Valley, is We Can Be Heroes Comics. Easily accessible off the usually busy Devonshire Street, you can’t miss the gigantic banner emblazoned on the storefront. The store specializes in all sorts of pop culture goodies – from comics to trade paperbacks, to collectibles like Transformers and rare Lego sets. The store itself is huge, plastered wall to wall with rare and graded comic books. They have enormous shelves housing hundreds of trades paperbacks from practically every publisher, going back from the 80’s to the present. The first thing many ask is where the name of the store came from. Owner Julio explains that as huge (HUGE) fans of David Bowie, it was only natural for them to name it after one of Bowie’s most popular songs. The homage doesn’t just end at the store’s name, as the store is decorated with awesome original artwork homaging the superstar. 

What makes the store different is not just the great selection and awesome prices, but the service! Starting from the top, owners Julio and Reza are incredibly hospitable, funny and welcoming! This is what differentiates their store from the rest. I was lucky enough to walk past their store when they were just opening earlier this year. I was curious and walked in while Reza, Julio and a few others were still stacking books, putting down flooring and labeling merchandise. Even in a surely stressful and difficult time, both owners took time to greet us, walk my wife and I through the store, and shoot the breeze. The owners and their staff told us that their goal isn’t to just sell great stuff, but to run a place that people would want to come and hang out at. A neighborhood spot where people know you and you can just hang. 

The owners have a robust online presence, with almost weekly Instagram live feeds, an Ebay shop and almost daily posts highlighting their newest swag to store regulars. On Wednesdays, the store hosts All Elite Wrestling (AEW) watch parties for wrestling fans and casuals alike. I highly recommend following them on their social media accounts, as they’re almost always having an event or doing something fun. 

The heyday of comic book stores has unfortunately come and gone, but the presence of heroes has never been more prominent. If you’re a fan of pop culture and ever in the Chatsworth area, We Can Be Heroes is a definite destination.

We Can Be Heroes Comics 

20936 Devonshire Street, Chatsworth, CA 91311

(818) 960-4699

www.wecanbeheroescomics.com 

facebook.com/wecanbeheroescomics1

Instagram: @wecanbeheroescomics eBay store: ebay.com/str/wecanbeheroescomicbooks

Meet The Perky Nerd

When The Perky Nerd opened its doors in 2016, the San Fernando Valley was in for a treat—a unique alternative to the traditional comic bookstore. It was the comic bookstore the neighborhood didn’t think it needed, a safe haven for all things geek with a definitive feminine touch. An art gallery, gaming space, collectibles shop, cold brew coffee counter and comic bookstore housed in a store front. The Perky Nerd invited and welcomed all comic book fans—from the newly initiated to the veterans of fandom and everyone in between.

Owner Tiffany Melius’ early foray into the world of comics began with her hero, Captain Marvel.

“I went on a comic book hunt with my husband and he was like you should find a comic, too. I was definitely overwhelmed by the choices. Then I saw Carol Danvers on the cover of a Ms. Marvel issue and loved everything about her look. A badass in a leotard with thigh high boots that can fly. I’m in. I got all the issues they had and then never stopped reading. I loved her strong personality and how she seemed like someone I would want to be friends with. Plus, she had a cool style and a cat named Chewy,” Tiffany shared.

One of the reasons she opened The Perky Nerd was to provide a space for nerd just like herself to feel welcome and comfortable to explore, and evolve in their interests while making lifelong friends who share in a common interest.  Motivated to make a positive impact on the community, she provided a venue where people can escape their routines and the general hustle and bustle of the daily grind, somewhere where she herself would want to go if she didn’t open her own store.

Initially, Tiffany thought about opening a cat café because of her love of both cats and coffee.  But, it was a much bigger financial venture than she expected.  The cat café evolved into a comic café hybrid after she visited a woman owned comic book shop in Wisconsin.

“Being a very eclectic person and loving so many fandoms, I thought let’s put together all the things I love at cons.  Like artists alley by having local artists participate in art shows and featuring some of my favorites on a daily basis with their prints on hand to buy.  Funko Pops, apparel, bags, home goods (we’ve actually had an R2D2 french press in stock) just random awesome things like that in one place.  Plus, form the community by having book clubs and gaming in addition to supporting the behind the comics with signings and panels.”, said Tiffany of the store’s conception.

The name Perky Nerd was a merger of an emphasis on both the coffee and nerd aspects, a place in New York called the “Perky Peacock” and a love for Central Perk on television series, FRIENDS.

Because a female designed, owned and operated comic bookstore is a rarity, Tiffany was asked about any challenges she’s had to face: “Running a business, not to mention a brick and mortar, is a beast.  There’s so much that goes into it, including tremendous stress about money.  I’m just going to be honest—I worked the store seven days a week with a baby on my hip and I questioned my decision daily, especially when no one comes in during the day because they are at work.  Being a woman in this industry was something on my mind, but I didn’t have too much time to think about it because I was constantly planning and running events to get our name out there and get more awareness of our existence.  I’ve had such a positive reception in Burbank on Magnolia Blvd.  It’s made things easier and not going to lie, cuter.  I got lucky finding such a perfect storefront that attracts foot traffic, even if I’m not by Porto’s (bakery).”

The Perky Nerd hosted (and continue to host) a number of events, from signings to book club meetings to the gaming tournaments.  One of their favorite and most popular event was the Carrie Fisher Tribute Art show, in honor of the late Carrie Fisher.  The store was packed with cosplayers and fans and the event included a light saber salute as well as a glitter bomb outside of the store to celebrate the late Ms. Fisher’s favorite thing:  glitter.

Nominated for the 2019 Will Eisner Sprit of Comics Retailer Award, Tiffany expressed being both overwhelmed and surprised but after reading the details of said award, she feels that the Perky Nerd is a definite contender.  Though the store was initially designed by Molly Rainze, Tiffany and her team constantly strive for excellence in their presentation by shaking up the common comic book store look with their own style.  The nomination is definitely an opportunity for The Perky Nerd to be recognized for their unique approach and possibly enable them to expand their ideas to the next level.

And, what exactly is the next level for The Perky Nerd? 

“There’s more to the Perky Nerd that we haven’t gotten into yet.  We want to expand the coffee biz into hot coffee.  We want to get a beer and wine permit.  I want to have a clothing boutique and possibly design some things I’d love to wear or wish were in existence.  I want to expand on the Mini Con idea.  I’d love to franchise.  I’d love an investor.  I have so many ideas that haven’t seen the light of day yet.  In looking back on the three years, I have forgotten HOW MUCH we’ve done—and the amount of events and variety of things I’ve tried.  I think the next three years could be pretty awesome if I keep up this pace.  Let’s see what the universe holds…stay tuned.”

The Perky Nerd is located at 1606 W Magnolia Blvd., Burbank 91506. For more information, call at (818)823-7511 or visit their website http://www.theperkynerd.com. Like them on Facebook and follow them on Instagram @theperkynerd.