By Laurie Dietrich
John Minton is getting ready to open another show. With two weeks to go, he's cutting out Masonite, painting it black, and stressing about getting everything done on time. For one of the founders of Firelight Theatre Company and, most recently, the Artistic Director of the Contemporary Theater Arts Series at the Magik Theatre, this feels like just another pre-show "hell week." The difference is that this should be his last opening for a long, long time.
Friday, May 28, kicks off a grand opening weekend at Atomic Comics and Gaming at 4902 Broadway. Atomic is Minton's latest venture, undertaken with partner and experienced comics retailer Mark Ramsey. I sat them down next door in Souper Salad and had them answer some tough questions from comics aficionado, retired thespian (and my husband) John Poole.
John Poole: The most important thing, of course, is the free Krispy Kreme donuts. When does that happen?
John Minton: New comic day, Wednesdays, for sub box subscribers while they last, and we're going to liberally buy...
Mark Ramsey: We'll probably go overboard the first week. By the end of the day we'll be handing them out at the bus stop.
JP: Now a sub box is?
JM: A sub box is, you get these books every month, you love these books, you let us know what you want, we'll pull them for you, you never miss a book. And you get a 20 percent discount on all books in the store.
JP: My guy doesn't do 20 percent!
JM: It's like breaking up with a girlfriend to leave your sub box, so our sub box has to put out better than somebody else's sub box. We're having a contest, collecting the best lies you tell your current sub box to get out of it. You know, your sub box is not putting out ...
MR: The love is lost ...
JM: There is no love. You gotta come to where the love is.
JP: And a big screen TV with a couch to sit on.
JM: And an X-Box to play.
JP: And you got `artist` Stephen Montalvo to paint the gaming tables ...
JM: I didn't want to go and just get those faux-wood fold-out tables. I wanted people to come in and say, "Wow, this facility must really care about gaming because look at the care that went into where we sit down and play."
JP: I've been saying that for years. I see those gaming rooms at the comic shops and they look like something set up in the back of a ...
JM: These poor guys stuck in a corner ...
MR: Like something you do in your garage, you know?
JM: But here, if your D&D club wants to meet here, your anime club wants to meet here, your comics club wants to meet, this is the ultimate clubhouse. And, most importantly, a store that treats comics as a legitimate art form.
JP: And political and social commentary. A lot of people might be surprised.
JM: I read things saying when are we going to have an artist step up and say something about 9-11 ...
JM: Comics did it before any other medium. You had the super heroes in the rubble.
JP: What titles would you recommend for somebody who has never read comics or who hasn't read them in a long time?
JM: If you like Dean Koontz and Stephen King, I would recommend the things being written by Steve Niles like 30 Days of Night. If you're a fan of sci-fi I'd recommend Y the Last Man. If you just haven't read a comic in years and are thinking "I'm an adult now. What's for me?" I'd probably recommend something like the Ultimates or Daredevil, or Supreme Power by J. Michael Stracyznski.
JP: Would you say there are comics that you like but would not recommend to a first time reader?
JM: I'd say no, go for it. Hey, if you're an adult and you're literate there's nothing I wouldn't throw your way.
MR: There's pretty much a book out there for everybody.
JP: Getting 'em to open it is the trick.
JM: We want to have some nice signage on the shelves like: If you like Tom Clancy you might want to try this book, if you like William Gibson you might want to try this book, this book is hot because of such and such. So when you come in it's going to be a nice open airy friendly feel. We're gonna have a snack rack and some cokes and the X-Box going, anime on the big screen, and Krispy Kremes, and new books ...
MR: Disco ball, balloons ... Laurie Dietrich: You're just going to have company all day.
JM: I hope so.
MR: At least until their bus gets here. •