The world of comic books is wide and varied, with everything from Spandex-clad superheroes and walking zombies to independently published books that delve into issues of racial and sexual identity.
Finding a comic book that’s right for you can be a daunting task — unless you’re lucky enough to know the gregarious owner of a comic-book store.
“I’m like a bartender. People come in, and they want to talk. And I love talking to them about comics,” said Sang Truong, owner of the recently opened 5280 Comics in South Jeffco. “Many people see the new comic-book movies like ‘The Avengers,’ and they want to start reading comics, but they don’t know where to start. That’s when I start asking them questions.”
Truong helps his customers discover that one comic book that will turn them on to the art form. Yet even finding one favorite hero can be difficult when mainstream characters like Batman and Spiderman appear in different comic books with different writers and plot lines.
Truong, though, says having those options is a good thing.
“This is the new golden age of comics,” he said. “They’re becoming mainstream. The misconceptions about them are starting to disappear.
“In the ‘80s, you couldn’t wear a Batman shirt without being seen as the biggest geek in the world. Now everyone loves them.”
That newfound acceptance for his favorite art form led Truong to take the more than 40,000 comics in his collection and open a store in the back of the building next to Red Rocks Church’s Littleton campus on West Bowles Avenue. Since opening April 26, Truong said, his client base continues to grow.
After running several successful businesses, Truong was looking for a situation that would involve less stress. His wife encouraged him to do something that he loved. And there’s nothing he loves more than talking about comic books.
Along with comics, Troung sells figurines and is hosting tournaments for Magic: The Gathering, a collectible card game, several nights a week. He wanted to make sure his shop was a place for kids to not only feel accepted but where they can do something productive.
“If a kid comes in without enough money to buy that issue he wanted, I let him read it,” Truong said. “I want this to be a safe environment for kids to have fun.”
Comic-book shops also can be a good place for teens and adults to meet people who share the same passion.
“It’s a really nice shop. Before I was going to a shop up north, and the owner was just a jerk,” said customer Justen Templeman, who recently was scanning several rows of new comics with his friend Damon Navrkal. “The biggest thing for me in a shop is having someone you can relate to. I really like talking with (Truong) about what I’ve read.”
Navrkal, whose interest in comics was piqued a few years ago when he began visiting different comic-book shops to play in Magic: The Gathering tournaments, said the shops helped him to make friends whom he still has to this day.
“Comic book shops are great because you can find people to talk to. Some of the best friends I have in my life I met while talking about comics in a shop,” Navrkal said.
“If I read a comic book and I can’t talk to anyone about it, it just sucks,” he said.