By Rachael Eyler and Sara Schabe
Up and down the aisles of Long Island’s largest original comic store, Terrance Fishette, owner of Fourth World Comics, pulls old and new releases of Marvel paperbacks from a top shelf. He’s catering to a father sharing his nostalgia with his young son.
On top of nostalgia on that Sunday, customers of the store also mourned the loss of Stan Lee, former editor and chief of Marvel Comics and co-creator of Spiderman. He was a staple to the comic book world.
“I was at work when it happened, and I was like ‘woah,’” Dallas Giorgi, a local comic enthusiast said. “I felt like he’s been 95 for forever so I really didn’t process that he could ever die.”
Lee’s comics had a strong tie to Long Island as he lived here from 1952 to 1980. The Tri-State Stan Lee Fan Club is hosting a candlelight vigil in Stony Brook on Nov. 15.
Lee lived in Woodmere in Nassau County during a time dubbed the Silver Age of Comics in the 1960s. None of the comic book stores during Lee’s time on Long Island are still open, leaving Bailey’s Comics and Fourth World Comics, which opened in the 1980s, as the oldest standing ones.
Fourth World Comics has been open since 1982 and Fischette doesn’t think they’ll ever close.
“Comics will never die because of all the movies and TV shows starting up people are always watching it and it makes them want to come in and see where the source is from, where it all started so that helps obviously.” Fischette said. “Digital comics are around but I don’t think they have really stuck. Fans want to hold the real thing. We have no worries.”
Across the nation, over 50 comic book stores have closed their doors between 2017 and 2018 due to the change in platform. The downfall has continued with comic book sales dropping 11 percent, its lowest sales since 2011.
Sales may be falling but true comic fans will always want to hold the book in their hands, Zachary Maers, floor manager of Fourth World Comics, said.
“Stan Lee said it best: ‘why would you self pleasure yourself when you can actually touch someone,’” Maers said. “That’s basically what it is with comics. There is something about the collecting aspect where you can feel the book in your hands and that is something that cannot be translated digitally.”
Even with the fall of comic book stores, people are still finding a way to buy and sell an age old favorite.
With Lee’s death, online trading of signed copies of Marvel Classics has seen an uprise. Facebook trading groups have seized the opportunity to raise prices of the original Spiderman series.
Even before Lee’s death, groups like these were an online playground for people trying to make money or find copies of old comics. New comics, however, can be found through online retailers and if one near you still exists, a comic store.
The option to buy online gives people more power to haggle, Robb Lombard, member of the Facebook group, Comic books buy sell and trade, explains.
“For the average Joe, haggling anonymously empowers people,” Lombard said. “People online have offered me 70 percent less, they generally wouldn’t have that level of audacity in person.”
Michael Austerlitz, another member of the group, explains that besides haggling through social media and eBay, large online companies such as Amazon and Barnes and Nobles offer copies of older comics. But if fans want to keep up with new releases, local comic stores are the place to go.
“These sites are big for back issues and sometimes new variants. Local shops are the go to for new releases,” Austerlitz said.