Arts & Culture / Mosaic / April 17, 2014

Comic culture revives local business Alternate Realities


Comic and game shop Alternate Realities stands empty on Main Street after two months of closure. It is expected to reopen this month under a new name and ownership. (Anna Takashima/TKS)

Comic and game shop Alternate Realities stands empty on Main Street after two months of closure. It is expected to reopen this month under a new name and ownership. (Anna Takashima/TKS)

The shut-down of Alternate Realities, a local comic and gaming shop on Main Street, was upsetting to many Knox students and Galesburg residents alike. However, the doors are now scheduled to reopen at noon on Friday, April 18, after approximately two months of abrupt closure. Many question why the shop closed and whether this is a glimpse into the future of comic book culture.

Sources say that a digital format of comic books is on the rise and that big comic book publishers, such as Marvel, are pushing for online webcomics. These are comics that are created online and can be sold directly to the reader.

Of these online, or infinite, comics, senior Paul Kenney remarked, “They’re written and drawn online in a way that’s really interesting, because it’s not page layouts. It’s one image, it’s one page and you click and it goes on to the next one. It’s the new way they’re meant to be viewed.”

The appeal of print, though, still exists and can be found within the shelves of the pull files for regular customers at Stone Alley Books & Collectibles on Seminary Street. The owner of the shop, Ben ‘Stone’ Stomberg, was among the many disappointed to hear of the upset in Galesburg’s comic book community, yet remains optimistic about the future of small bookshops and the life of print.

“The very worst case scenario print has coming to it is vinyl. I mean that same sort of thing about it — it’ll be a collector’s item, you’ll want it for your collection, and so on and so forth. That’s like the worst case scenario for books and comics, because you can’t collect a downloadable file,” Stone said from behind the register.

Stone Alley Books certainly has the vocal and monetary support of its customers to back it up. It has been in business since 2009 and was a refuge for customers of Alternate Realities during its closed months. Both shops offer a physical space for comic fans to share interests, ideas, comics or simply a resonant silence.

Sophomore Anna Clifford remarked of Alternate Realities, “I went over there a couple of times and the guy was very friendly. Really helpful. It was sort of a gaming based atmosphere in a way, which isn’t a bad thing. It really sucks because he was robbed a couple times of all his Magic stuff and all his Yu-Gi-Oh! cards.”

These robberies, the rise of infinite comics and other financial factors may have contributed to the closure of Alternate Realities, but currently, the relief of its reopening is at the forefront for its fans and followers.

As a book and comic vendor, Stone does not feel a threat from the almighty internet. On the contrary, “Use the internet to sell your stuff as well. Don’t just be like ‘Ahh its killing me!’ Build yourself a life raft and swim. That’s what we’re trying to do here,” Stone said as he walked away to help another customer.

Friday’s reopening of Alternate Realities, under a possible new name and potential new ownership, will bring together many fans to rejoice over pages of comics and a 6 p.m. ‘Standard Magic Tournament.’

Emma Colman

Tags:  Alternate Realities comic books comics digital Free Comic Book Day print

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