By Max Bowenfirstname.lastname@example.org
After 40 years of collecting comic books, Kevin Cole wants to share this passion with his fellow fans—along with a few favorite titles.
Cole and his wife Pam will be opening the doors of The Laughing Shield Comic Shop on Wednesday, July 1. Along with a slew of books for all age groups, the stock will include complete series that he has collected, all bagged and in mint condition, and many signed. There are also some collectibles on the walls, each of which has been graded for quality.
“This is my life. I’ve always wanted to have my own comic store,” said Kevin during a break from the setup process. “It’s been my dream and I wanted to have enough comics to fill the shop—take what I love and bring it to my community and enjoy what I have spent my life doing. I can talk about the books. If you’re passionate, I’m passionate, we can talk about it for an hour.”
Opening a new business right after an economic shutdown may seem a questionable move, but Kevin joked that the timing was all coincidence. Located at 1 Bank St., the building used to be home to Yarn It All, and the Coles learned it would be closing back in December. They spoke to the landlord and signed the lease in March, right before the shutdown occurred. During the last three months they’ve been busy getting Kevin’s collection onto the shelves and racks and making the necessary changes to the building. Kevin said it was actually a smooth process, since the workers could come in and lay carpet or set up shelves by themselves and maintain social distancing.
The result is a store with an open layout, which Kevin said was the plan all along. He grew up in the area and recalls years spent as a customer in comic shops in Mansfield, Bellingham, and South Attleboro. Kevin said he wanted a place where people could walk around easily and not have piles of comics all over the place.
To keep with state guidelines, only eight people will be allowed inside at a time—including staff—and masks are required. A sanitization station has been set up at the front door. If someone wants to peruse the stock but is uncomfortable around crowds, they can arrange for private browsing sessions before or after business hours. Delaying the opening day was never considered, said Kevin.
“We were too positive,” he said. “I had the place, I know this is a good spot. We’ll get through this pandemic and come out the other side and we’ll already be here.”
Kevin cited Batman as his favorite title, saying that he has read anything connected to the Dark Knight. Pam is a big fan of the Star Wars comics, and just finished the Doctor Aphra spin-off, joking that the flawed lead character is far from a good person. Kevin said that a good villain is one that is written in such a way that it draws people in to learn what makes them tick.
“What you want is for them to challenge the character in a new way and I think that’s what villains bring to the table,” he said. “The better the villain, the better the book will be.”
The selection at Laughing Shield goes far and wide, with lots of Marvel and DC, but also plenty of indie titles. The selection can match any desired genre, from the fantasy epic “Birthright” to the mystery series “Papergirls” to the comedic sci-fi “Saga.” Kevin said the indie titles offer something new—an engaging story and characters without the years of backstory.
“You really get to enjoy a new characters and new stories that don’t overlap with 16 titles that you maybe do or don’t want to follow,” he said.
There’s also a young readers section with titles such as DC’s “Super Hero Girls,” Marvel’s “Champions,” and “Legend of Korra,” sequel to “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” Kevin said that setting this up allows parents to choose a title without worrying that they’re going to find material inappropriate for young readers.
“Don’t come in and buy every number one because you think it’ll be worth money” he said. “I don’t want to sell it that way. Buy what you like and what you think you’re going to enjoy. Because if you’re going to hold onto that book for 20 years, I hope you loved it.”
For more information, visit http://laughingshield.com/.