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Monday, April 18, 2022 

Vintage specialty store opens in Monroe, MI

The Monroe News covered a new specialty store called Wonderworld Comics that's opened at a mall in the city, and is dealing with vintage items from nearly 3 decades back:
Wonderworld Comics is a new tenant at the Mall of Monroe, taking the space once occupied by Game Stop.

Owned and operated by Dennis Barger, the store offers a wide variety of vintage comics, games, toys, and Beanie Babies displayed in a retro, 1990s style.

The Carleton resident, who started collecting comics at age 11, has been in the comic book industry for more than 30 years and has owned businesses in the Downriver area.

Last December, he was celebrating his 50th birthday at Phoenix Theatres and was “shocked to see the number of people at the mall.”

The activity piqued his curiosity and he contacted mall owners about opening a retro comic store where he would sell old comics, games, toys, movies, and general merchandise.

In addition to selling, Barger also buys comics, games, and toys.

He said 99 percent of comic book stores in the country relegate their vintage offerings to long white boxes located at the back of the store with a $1 sign.

“I’ve always said this stuff is too gorgeous to shove in a box and I’ve been playing with the idea of putting those books on a wall so people could see all that gorgeous art, charge slightly more for it and get people to buy it,” he said. “We’re going to be using a 90s theme. Everything that was hot in the 90s, we’ll be doing it.”
But why does it sound like he's more interested in selling back issues than in selling trade collections of the same? That's what bugs me about this report, along with the announcement he's going to price it higher. It reeks of greed at this point, IMO. And then, the guy says:
Barger has seen a correlation with sales and comic book movies recently featured at the mall. On the day Wonderworld Comics opened, he sold large volumes of “Sonic the Hedgehog,” “Batman,” “Spiderman” and “Spawn” comics.

“One thing the comic book industry has been good at is refreshing the brand for the next generation,” he said. “Classically, from the late 80s to the early 90s is when most of the characters got a new look. Spider-Man got the black suit, then the black suit became (the character) Venom and at that same time, animated series like ‘Batman’ were being developed and produced.”
Selling big amounts following a movie may not be new, but neither is whitewashing the conduct of the industry, and that's something they haven't been good at from an ideological perspective, if you consider all the ultra-leftist politics now clogging comicdom. Not all those costume changes and other redesigns were popular in the long run either, and certainly not if the writing and art got bad.

One plus about selling nostalgia from 3 decades ago is that there are still decent gems from that era making a distinction between then and now, demonstrating how far quality's fallen in the past decade as compared with the late 20th century. But unwillingness to take a deeper look at how things have changed to fit political correctness, including commercial marketing, is exactly why the dire state of mainstream comicdom won't improve.

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