SILVERDALE — For the better part of a decade, comic book fans have had a place to go for the new, the old, the classic and the critical books in Silverdale.
Avalon Comics and Games, currently located in the Kitsap Mall, near the food court, opened in 2008 and is “always growing,” said manager Michael Burdette.
“We’re always growing, never really shrinking,” Burdette said. “(The owner’s) been in this business since 2008, and he has no plans to go anywhere else. He just wants to look at what the next things are.”
The store is locally owned by Anthony Goodall, and there, he hosts many community events ranging from Dungeons and Dragons adventure leagues to local artist signings.
“People can come in and do auctions on locally done books and art,” Burdette explained, “tournaments where the buy in will be food donations or new toy donations or coat donations in the winter.
“That basically gives people a sense to keep coming here, where they’re not just spending money, but being involved in the community.”
Avalon’s first priority is comic books, Burdette said. They stock the current issues of many comics, published both by big publishers (DC and Marvel) as well as smaller publishers, like Dark Horse and Valiant and more. They stock the big name comics, like Batman and Deadpool (both very popular), but “also hard to find, first appearances, classic key issues.”
Plus, if a customer is looking for a book not stocked in the store, they can special order.
Burdette said Avalon Comics and Games deals with Diamond Comics, a distribution center “for virtually every comic book store in North America.” He said if a book is still available and in print, they can order it. And anyone who walks in, unfamiliar with where to start in the comic book world, can get advice from the very knowledgable staff.
“Comic books are extremely popular because of the movies, but also a niche market,” Burdette said. “My job is to match them up with how to start reading comics, as well. I deal with people who … for example, Deadpool last year. I had a lot of people come in asking, ‘Where should I start?’ I try to give them where he started, or what’s a good starting point.”
In that example, Deadpool got his start in the 1980s-90s series New Mutants (No. 98, published in February 1991). However, the character has been featured in many series, both in team-ups and solo.
Burdette said that while movies, such as Fox’s “Deadpool,” can boost popularity of a character, it also presents a challenge to new fans of the medium
“Something that has a new release, or a new movie … potentially you’re looking at, are you going to spend a lot of money to get into it, or spend money every week?” he said.
That’s why, he said, part of his job is “creating an atmosphere where people can come, get information, decide if they want to be a regular.”
But while comics are first in Avalon, they’re not the only thing.
Dungeons and Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, Warhammer — and Warhammer 40K — and more are all catered to through Avalon.
Burdette said their D&D adventure leagues on Tuesdays bring 40-50 people, which is more than the store can accommodate — so, the league spills out into the mall’s food court.
As well as familiarity with the comic books, staff are familiar with the games, as well.
“We offer tutorials here at the store,” Burdette said. “Most of my employees are very well versed in how to start a game. We do demo days here, coordinated through social media.”
This adds up to a loyal customer base that keeps coming back. Avalon offers comic book subscription boxes (and gives subscribers a discount on new books) that even caters to active-duty military who may have to leave for months at a time. Their subscription is easily maintained throughout the extended absence.
Because of the store’s location in the Kitsap Mall, they get a lot of new customers, as well.
“We’ve had regulars that have been coming here for years,” Burdette said. “We get new people seemingly every week.
“We have a very good sense of community,” he added. “We have done charity drives, we deal with local artists, up and comers, independents.
“I get to meet and hang out with a lot of cool people.”
For more information about Avalon Comics and Games, visit www.facebook.com/avaloncomics.