Gary’s Comics keeps Morgantown’s comic scene alive
Published: Monday, August 20, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 20, 2012 01:08
Take a stroll down High Street. Do it.
Once you wander past the traffic and students in disarray, your eyes adjust and something else appears – an economic system with personality and charm.
Small shops, prone to service and aesthetic charm, populate the concrete side skirts; the automaton that is Wal-Mart cranks along somewhere in the distance.
Restaurants with taste, boutiques with idea and oddball establishments hinge their doors open. Trot far enough and the sight of blue paint and a neon Bat symbol should stop you.
Such a calling card belongs to Gary’s Comics and More, a college town comic book store.
Founded in 2004 – a day after Thanksgiving – Gary’s Comics hit the ground running with a "strong" public interest. Gary Loring, owner of Gary’s Comics, cites the excitment as a reaction to another local retailer’s poor services.
As Loring suggests, "they were not serving the public."
In response, comic readers migrated to the new business, and local residents and West Virginia University students have supported Loring’s business since.
The physical store takes pride in its appearance by way of its clean space and favorable lighting. Gary’s resembles nothing of the expected comic book store experience. Product is organized, plain and simple, and the business’ employees provide friendly interaction. Loring makes a point to emphasize a personality as well as a sense of care.
"An employee at Wal-Mart probably doesn’t know much about what you want to buy," Loring says. "I employ people who are knowledgeable about the product as well as eager to talk."
This strategy shapes Gary’s Comic into not just a place of purchase but also a hangout, or as Loring describes it, "a safe haven for nerds."
The store seems to be the focus point of Morgantown’s comics scene. Walk in on any given Wednesday, and you can expect at least three or four people hanging out by the register, and in the background some new release will buzz on the store’s television set, providing inspiration for conversation.
Organization also plays a big role in Gary’s success. The store makes a shopping experience easy with its attractive layout. For Loring, it is a simple manner of keeping things "easy to find."
"There’s already a confusion in comics [numerous titles, an extensive backlog of reading material], so organization is very helpful for interested people coming in off the street," Loring said.
Gary’s Comics offers a specialized stock as well. Marvel and DC comics populate the shelves like any other retailer, but if need be you can find a copy of Dave Sim’s "Cerebus" or a volume of Robert Crumb’s work.
These choices in stock show that Gary’s Comics is concerned and aware of a variety of audiences rather than a single core group.
Comic books are comic books, though, no matter the genre or subject matter they present, and for Loring it all comes back to a love for the books.
"I love what they [comic books] do to people," Loring says. "It’s a good field, and comics do good things for people.
"I wanted to be a part of that."