Comic Book Heaven

If I had to pinpoint what fueled my childhood addiction to comics and cartoons, much of the credit would go to the ready supply of comic books available from the local used book store run by a portly old guy named Victor. Half a century ago, the empty store  in the photo above was, for me, comic book heaven.

Victor, always in a rumpled dark blue suit, always with a cigar in his mouth, held court at his cluttered desk, his back to the storefront window.  The store was long and narrow with a main display area smack in the middle running lengthwise, separating the store in half, creating two aisles. The aisle to the left was exclusively for books, the aisle to the right was dedicated to books and comic books. I’ve no idea what Victor charged for books, but comic books were three for ten cents — a real deal.

Unlike well-lit modern comic book stores, with their wares sitting upright for easy browsing, Victor’s store was dimly lit; his comic books were stacked at least two feet high. The comic book stacks began with Disney titles and petered out with Classics Illustrated.  In between were Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, The Flash, etc. — each character occupied their own stack.

Every once in awhile Victor would come out from behind his desk and navigate this way through the crowded books aisle to fetch a book, then slowly make his way back to his desk.  He never interrupted my browsing, never spoke other than to say, “Whatcha got here,”  as I placed my three comic books before him. I’d hand him a dime and say, “Thanks,” as I headed out the door.  The perfect conversation between a seven year old buyer and an elderly seller.