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Welcome to “Sunday at the Shops”, our weekly column that celebrates your local comic shop, no matter where that is. This week’s instalment is going to look at Houston’s comic store chain, Bedrock City Comics. The first store opened its doors in March 1990, and 26 years later, Bedrock City Comics has five locations around Texas, with a focus on providing something for every kind of nerd, geek or newbie that walks through the doors.
Bedrock City Comics was founded by Richard Evans, who became a comic book fan at the age of 9. As he told the Houston Chronicle in 2013, after picking up his first comic books at a shop, “I was there every week from then on. It was all I ever thought of from then on.” Evans would work in comics stores in the late 1970s, all while amassing his own collection of comics. Then, after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in computer science, he had a different kind of experience in a comic book store.
As he described in a video on YouTube while at SpaceCity Con in 2014, “I had an experience in a comic book shop that was just kind of profoundly silly to me to be treated that way in a comic book store.” When he followed his dream and opened his first store in 1990, he didn’t want his store to reflect that experience. “…It was always important to me to have my shop be a place that would be fun for people too…that was our most important thing for us from the get-go.”
The store’s good location helped it become an immediate success, and in 1992 Bedrock City opened another Houston location. The comic book industry bust of the late 1990s didn’t affect Bedrock City as much as it did other shops, and their stores were able to fill the void left by other stores going under during that time. They expanded to a third store in Webster, TX in 2000, and opened another Houston location in 2010. In 2014, they opened their fifth location in Missouri City, TX.
Part of what has made the store popular with customers is its willingness to diversify its products beyond comic books and graphic novels. Like most successful comic book stores these days, Bedrock City Comics has embraced selling comic book and pop culture related memorabilia and clothing. So, even if a customer comes into the store after seeing the latest blockbuster comic book film or TV series, they’ll be able to find something that appeals, even if it isn’t a traditional comic book.
In another interview with POW TV on YouTube, Evans mused on the change to both the perception of comics and his clientele over the years. “Comics have become kind of cool. I never figured that would happen when I was, you know, in high school and hiding it from all my friends, you know!” As for his customers, and how they’ve changed over the years? “Where we pick up most of our new customers now are in that 16-18 year old group, and in college, and you know those are people that never would have come into a comic store 15 or 20 years ago.”
Bedrock City Comics has become a Houston institution, a place that prides itself on being welcoming to new fans as well as providing hard to find and rare comics for the hard-core collectors. As Evans told the Chronicle, “Comic book stores are meant to be escapist, fun stuff; No one should ever have a rotten experience going to buy a comic. My mission was to create a cleaner, better-lit, better-stocked, better experience where moms weren’t going to feel uncomfortable and kids weren’t going to be taken advantage of.”
So, if you’re in the Houston area, and hankering for a funny book or a Deadpool coffee mug, head on down to one of Bedrock City Comics’ locations. Keeping comic book shops healthy keeps comics healthy too, and a good, welcoming shop is good for the soul.
See you soon for another loving look at comic stores, and enjoy your “Sunday at the Shops.”