Blastoff has hit the NoHo Arts District. | PHOTOS
The new pop culture store with an emphasis on vintage and current comic books, other publications and original art celebrates its grand opening Saturday, Nov. 10.
Located on Lankershim Boulevard half a block south of Magnolia Boulevard, the shop with the distinctive rocket ship sign will play host this afternoon to such luminaries as comics writer Mark Waid ("The Flash"), crime novelist and Batman scribe Gregg Hurwitz, Blastoff co-owner Scott Tipton - who also writes Dr. Who and Star Trek comics - and science fiction legend Harlan Ellison.
Selections of Ellison's 70-plus-year-old comic book collection are on sale through Blastoff.
"We're titling ourselves as a boutique," explained Blastoff's other partner, Jud Meyers, who oversees the retail side of the operation, which also includes his and Tipton's year-old website, blastoffcomics.com. "We're not just a comic book store," Meyers said. "We're only putting out the things that are the best of the best."
Blastoff has a vintage inventory, which includes complete runs of titles from the medium's early Golden Age (late 1930s through World War II), Silver Age superhero revival period (mid-1950s through late '60s, which saw the birth of such Marvel icons as Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and The Hulk) and great stuff that came in between and later, such as EC horror comics from the early `50s.
A fine set of the first six issues of "The Amazing Spider-Man" adorned Blastoff's walls as Meyers hurried to prepare the shop for business earlier this week. Cherry wood shelves and fixtures, custom made in unique, curving designs, presented the colorful merchandise in an aesthetic manner rarely seen in usually messy, overlit comics emporia.
"Every store has its own personality, and normally it's the personality of the owner - which is why there are many stores that a lot of people don't want to go into!" joked Meyers, who's been in the business for 30 of his 42 years and still has an interest in the Earth 2 stores he co-founded in Sherman Oaks and Reseda.
He said he wanted Blastoff to have a warm, inviting feel to it that would not only welcome collectors, investors and geeks, but families (there's a kids section), women, entertainment industry professionals from the nearby studios and the ever-growing number of culturally aware pedestrians that wander North Hollywood's booming cultural center.
"We'll be a little bit more high profile because we're in North Hollywood," Meyers predicted. "In a month, comicbookresources.com is moving in a block away above the Laemmle NoHo 7 theater. It's the biggest and best-known comic book site on the Web."
Ellison, for one, expects the store to succeed.
"What Jud has put together is going to be visually exciting and it's in a lively neighborhood that's got a lot of foot traffic," said the widely awarded author and scripter of classic "Star Trek" and "Outer Limits" episodes. "I think it's going to be one of the regular stops on the underground railroad of people who spend time with popular culture."
Plans are to bring in stars and directors of the industry-dominating superhero film and TV business for signings alongside artists and writers. Blastoff will also sell original art - the one-of-a-kind pages the artists draw their books on - from hot new talents such as Italy's Elena Casagrande.
A comics historian and critic as well as writer, Tipton hopes the shop will also be a monument to the artform he's loved since childhood.
"What I really want the store to be about is getting good comics into people's hands, and for there to be a focus in the store on history," said Tipton, 41. "The key is just having a very cool environment that can always find people what they're looking for.
"I'm trying to create the store that I'd want to go to."