When Will Eisner Foresaw What Comic Book Stores Could Be… In 1972

Over the weekend, one of the earliest comic book retailers and comic historian Bob Beerbohm took time out to remember the passing of Ann Eisner last year, best known to comic book people as the wife of Will Eisner, who died almost 17 years ago. And he also recalled meeting Will Eisner at the Biltmore Hotel in Oklahoma City for Multicon 1972, his second ever comic convention. And how it directly let to him setting up the Californian comic book store Comics & Comix Store #1 near UC-Berkeley campus with Bud Plant and John Barrett, which went on to host comic conventions, and become the first comic book chain store.

When Will Eisner Foresaw What Comic Book Stores Could Be... In 1972
Photo by Patymooney CC BY-SA 3.0

Will and I turned our discussion to how maybe to try to "save" the NYC based comic book companies then in free fall post Batman TV show glut craze slowly re-entering the atmosphere crashing & burning. Will said to me, young guys like myself, a few hundred minimum, need to open comic book stores near as possible to university campuses as possible. He said to me, comics readers need grooming over the years. The early mid 60s readers were growing up. Will saw the future in the alternative creator owned royalty paying comix then mainly coming out of the Bay Area. He was well aware of Zap Comics.

That model was one that many comic book store owners used successfully in decades to come with the emergence of the direct market, ot was rare for a university town, even now, not to have a local comic book shop. He also mentioned Cat Yronwode who gave him the bargain of a lifetime.

Cat called me saying the Eisners were selling a couple dozen complete Spirit stories at $1000 per 8 page story story. Buyer's pick. To fund moving from NYC environs to Florida. I drove up to Eclipse World HQ then in Guerneville (pre flood) and worked out buying three stories. Got my two Eisner ones picked out, then also scored one Wally Wood outer space Spirit story. Gave Cat the money, talked with Ann a bit on the phone, the stories were shipped from NY to me in Berkeley. When the art arrived… I brought in employees to learn inspiration from the master.

Such a visionary in so many ways.

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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