Atomic Comics: R.I.P.
By Libbi Rich

I have a long list of things to write about; near the top of the list is a long overdue Local Lifesavers: Atomic Comics. Now it’s too late.

I learned yesterday evening that Atomic Comics has shuttered all four locations. My first reaction was to yell, very loudly, WHAT THE FUCK?!? Next, I called my good friend, and Atomic’s social media director, Glen Curren, and screamed, loudly, WHAT THE FUCK?!? He confirmed the bad news and I sent him off with condolences, orders to buy a round for the staff (he was at a bar with some of the crew), and apologies for screaming in his ear.

I’ve tried to write this post a few times since then, but all that comes out is sentimental drivel. But Atomic Comics was not just a comic book chain to me; it was the first place I ever felt at home in Arizona. For four years I had struggled in Scottsdale; the middle-aged, liberal *gasp*, punk mom who read B.P.R.D. instead of BH&G.

Then I got the gig here at DOOM! The very first event I was going to cover was Calabrese at Atomic’s Fright Night. I walked in to the Mesa store to introduce myself to the manager and get clearance to shoot the event. Julian Moraga was the first person I met at this fantastic emporium. He welcomed me warmly, and said it would be no problem at all to cover the show. He set me up with all my contacts, and all was smooth sailing.

From that day on, I began buying my comics at my local Atomic, in Paradise Valley. Wednesday mornings became more than just a trip to pick up my comics, but a time to hang with a growing group of like-minded friends. I actally scheduled my therapy appointments for early Wednesday, so I could hit Atomic right after … kind of an extended therapy session.

I got to know so many knowledgeable, talented, funny, kind, awesome people during the past year of Wednesdays. Atomic PV was homestore to Tony Parker, who had done me an incredible kindness at Phoenix Comicon 2009, when I was still just any other fangirl, and he has become a real friend. He gives the best advice and hugs ever.

I spent hours talking photography with manager (and Fiction House Mafia co-founder) Thomas Healy. I got to know Whovian artist extraordinaire Dennis Kanenwisher, a quiet guy with a sly sense of humor and a warm heart. Yvette Arteaga and I talked about the sins DC was committing to its female characters. Glen Curren was almost always there, and that always made me feel happy. Just a few weeks ago, at the store, I gave artist Justin Miller a pair of bunny ear booties for his newborn baby girl.

Words that keep coming up: warmth, friend, humor, advice, hugs. Kind of sounds like family to me.

And I met Shawn Demembrum, owner of Spazdog Press (publisher of the international buzz-comic of the day, “Unite and Take Over: Stories Inspired by the Songs of the Smiths”) at an Atomic event. Without Atomic Comics I would not be where I am today, personally or professionally.

To all of the above, and to all the rest, Justin, Jeff, Jen, Sam, Mike and Mike, and everyone else (y’all know me; great with faces, terrible with names), I offer thanks and best wishes for the future. I hope you all find the jobs of your dreams, that all your dreams come true, and that you all find a share of the happiness you’ve brought to me.

Atomic Comics, Rest in Peace. It is the end of an era.

Libbi Rich (40 Posts)

Middle-aged punk princess; pop culture hound; geekgirl; liberal activist and general shit-stirrer; reader of nanopunk/cyberpunk/comics/ anything-I-can-get-my-hands-on; wife and mom.