We specialize in selling American, British and Australian Comics and Pocket Libraries, Story Papers, Science Fiction/Fantasy Books and Pulp Magazines, First Edition and Out of Print Books, Vintage Paperbacks, Vintage Magazines, Records, Children’s Books
“Tell me this,” Tony says, as he reclines in his chair. It’s more like a throne, and he’s surrounded by his plastic subjects that dedicate each of their five points of articulation to their king’s whims. Tony is the proprietor of the Old Book & Comic Emporium in Beverly Hills, which specialises in books, toys…and comics.
“In the first one, you had Lex Luthor with a real estate scheme. In this new one, you’ve got Lex Luthor with a real estate scheme. You’re telling me that there wasn’t another plot they could have used from the nearly 70 years’ worth of stories? For that reason alone,” he says, as he turns the page of the newspaper he’s absently reading, as if to dismiss the matter entirely, “I’m not going to bother.”
He is, of course, completely right, and he should know; he must have well over a third of those stories in his collection.
Faces from throughout decades of pop culture stare back at you as you stand at the counter. There’s Freddy on the far wall, daring you to go to sleep. Behind Tony’s desk is the rictus grin of the Joker, and perched atop his cash register (no EFTPOS) is the withered visage of Emperor Palpatine. They feel as much a part of the place as gruff old Tony. He’s made this shop his own.
I first became aware of Tony’s Old Book & Comic Emporium in about 1999, when I was on a serious nostalgia trip. It’s a familiar story: disposable income, an age that’s both responsible and irresponsible at once, a firm grip on the past and a tenuous one on the present. In the shop window was a factory sealed box of Topps trading cards (with gum) from the 1989 Batman film, a movie I’d originally seen just down the road. I’d never gotten the whole set as a kid, so I had to have them.
But the cards were the gateway drug. Once inside, I marvelled at just how many blasts from my past the owner had accrued. Monsters in My Pocket. Fangoria. The Inspector Gadget doll with the telescoping Go-Go-Gadget neck. Interspersed among these were blasts from others’ pasts: Hardy Boys books. Monkees lunchboxes. Old Playboys below a sign marked ‘Adults ONLY’. Nice try, Tony.
I lived in the area for a few years, and in that time I became a regular. I’d hang out in the shop on a Saturday afternoon shooting the shit with Tony about the latest movies, stuff around the shop, and the past. Never the future. Tony liked my writing style, and one afternoon wrote down the contact details of the editor of a pulp sci-fi magazine called Andromeda Spaceways for which he thought my work would be a perfect fit. I didn’t see it myself, so I never followed it up.
Thinking back now, it’s gobsmacking to imagine a two-storey modern-age antiques shop in a suburb like Beverly Hills.
Fate must have noticed the oversight, because one day long after I’d moved away, I swung by only to find the shop empty. All that remained was the sign on the side of the awning, and the piece of paper with the Andromeda Spaceways details still sitting in my wallet.
If you’re reading this, Tony, I hope your bold and much appreciated experiment didn’t meet too painful an end. You added a bit of colour to an otherwise boring area, and no-one’s ever going to fill your shoes. I mean, I’m sure the world needed another family law centre (especially the long-awaited first choice), but I’m sorry: you ain’t no Tony.