Posts Tagged ‘FantaCo Enterprises’

keys-20120131New York Erratic, who needs to use her blog as therapy more often, wants to know:

Who was your worst landlord ever?

I’ve lived in over 30 apartments in my life, and most of the landlords I don’t much remember, one way or another. I suppose I can name the ones who I got miffed with:

The one on Ontario Street in Albany in the mid-1980s who did not take seriously Read the rest of this entry »

Daredevil.ChroniclesComic book connoisseur Alan David Doane, who used to frequent the comic store known as FantaCo, where I used to work back in the 1980s, asked me this on Twitter recently:

“It took me 32 years to wonder — why is the Black Panther in this pinup? Anyone know?”
Read the rest of this entry »

roger2
My old buddy Augustus (who you FantaCo customers might have known as Matt), put this together for my birthday. Pic on the left is from the cover of the FantaCon 1988 convention program, drawn by the late Chas Balun. The image is on the right was John Hebert’s rendition from Sold Out #1, c. 1986.
This is about me because: It was so cool. And he wrote: “Thank you for turning me on to a world of literature far beyond science fiction and fantasy. Your are still an influence on this boychik. Long may you arrange. (books in order).” And you thought I couldn’t blush.

Now Jaquandor KNOWS how to celebrate my birthday. He added me to his sentential links here. He answered my question about football.
This is about me, obviously. (Sidebar: some highly educated person wrote “As is my want” recently in a mass e-mail I received. You have NO idea how difficult it was for me NOT to correct him. Jaquandor would NOT make this misteak, er, mistake.)

Tom Skulan of FantaCo is being interviewed for Theater of Guts.
This is about me because: I worked at FantaCo for over eight years I took the photo of Tom, and also the pic of the late Chas Balun looking towards the ceiling. I find it interesting that my photos of the store Read the rest of this entry »

1977: host Mike Douglas, Phil Seuling, Wendy Pini, guest cohost Jamie Farr

Phil Seuling invented the direct market for comic books. From the Wikipedia: “The evolution of the comic book specialty shop (or “direct-only stores”) in the early 1970s created a whole new system for delivering comics to customers. Before the advent of the comics retailer, most comics were found in grocery, drug, and toy stores. The specialty shop presents a number of competitive advantages over those other venues.” If it weren’t for Phil, there would not have been a proliferation of comic book stores in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Chuck Rozanski of Mile High Comics, once a customer and later competitor of Phil’s, Read the rest of this entry »

As I may have mentioned, I went to the FantaCon comic book and horror film convention in September. If you were not in Albany from 1978-1998, or were not purchasing merchandise from FantaCo’s mail order catalog, including the books and magazine it published, you might not know the significance of that. Until going to FantaCon this year, I’m not sure *I* understood the significance of that place, and I worked at FantaCo for eight and a half years.

FantaCo, nominally a comic book store, especially in its early incarnation, was a hub of the local popular culture. When I recently went through the T-shirts that the late artist Raoul Vezina, who worked at FantaCo, had designed, they represented a certain segment of the life of the Capital District in the early 1980s: Q-104, the best radio station in the area, where FantaCo advertised; minor MTV sensation Blotto, whose records the store carried; World’s Records, the store next door; J.B. Scott’s, THE place to hear live music.

The store became relatively famous nationally from publishing the work of cartoonist Fred Hembeck and magazines about some Marvel superheroes, the Chronicles series.

At the same time, though, the store/mail order was developed its bona fides in the horror market. I remain convinced that those ads in every issue of FANGORIA magazine built the audience’s confidence that FantaCo was not some fly-by-night operation. It helped that Tom Skulan, the owner of the store, would travel to England and ship back items not easily found on this side of the pond.

I realized that people must have thought the mail order, which I ran, must have been some massive operation in some gigantic warehouse, which was hardly the case. I remember clearly, though, c 1986, some tween or young teen boy who was waiting outside the store at 10 a.m.; I got much of the shipping done before the store opened at 11. When we finally let him in, I discovered that he had come from Belfast, Northern Ireland, in the midst of The Troubles, and insisted to his family that he had to make a pilgrimage to FantaCo to get his horror book and magazine fix. He spent a LOT of money, even after we discounted some items.

It was that FantaCo experience that let me know about the importance of customer service, from keeping the sidewalk clear during the winter, to deciding to accept Diners Club cards when we had only a couple customers who used it. It has given me an appreciation of the issues entrepreneurs face daily, which I try to bring to being a small business librarian.

One of my responsibilities was to make the deposit every weekday. I’d walk the half block to the Key Bank. The worst part was getting across Washington and Lark, an intersection that is STILL treacherous. One time Tom, the owner, went to the bank to take out a loan, and the bank employee asked if it were all right with Roger, since I was the face she recognized. Tom wasn’t happy.

Ultimately, though, I left in November of 1988 because I was all “horrored out”. It was never my thing, and I needed to do something else. For years, I thought that was that, end of the chapter. Then I heard about FantaCon 2013, the first convention in nearly a quarter century.

Some guy was supposed to do a bibliography of the FantaCo publications for the program. He knew about the horror pubs, but less about the comics-related items from the early days. I knew that stuff. As it turned out, I did the listing for 1979-1988, which appears in this program (available for Kindle) with the rest scheduled for the next FantaCon program in 2014 or 2015. Physically holding all of those items, some of which I contributed to as writer or editor, made me feel like Paul McCartney when he thinks about the Beatles. He’s not part of the Fab Four anymore, but it is part of what he called his “ever present past.” He’ll ALWAYS be a Beatle; likewise, FantaCo will always have some hold on me.

Seeing old friends at FantaCon, some of whom I had not seen since 1988, such as Steve Bissette and Rolf Stark was tremendous. We all looked EXACTLY like we used to.

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