The Comics Place: A happy hub

by Brent Cole

photo by Aireekah Laudert

With a new home, new owner and a strong staff, The Comics Place aims to take comic books and gaming to a new level in Bellingham. New owner Django Bohren (#12monthsofdjango) along with Jeffrey Figley (shop manager), Justin Cassatt (“assistant manager”), Mike Watne (game order) and Colette Penketh have a love for comics, games, and their respective communities, helping to create the ideal space for those who love the same.

The Comics Place opened in 1982 by “a guy named Mike,” who ran it for years, then, according to Django, “performed a Lamont Cranston/Shadow – level disappearing act.” Over the last few years it went through different owners with Art Delgadillo owning it in 2015. Django had helped Art build a new website for the shop and started hanging around, helping with shelf displays and working on retail merchandising, something he’d done at his former downtown business Merch Bot.

After a few months, Art called Django and told him his cancer had returned and he was given two years to live. Django was asked to take over the store when the time came, along with employees Jason Ufkes and Roman Stadtler. A few months later Art suffered a “couple of brain events” that affected his communication; the community rallied and kept the shop going and paying the bills. Art passed away in August, and in December his wife Ardell gifted the shop to Django after Jason and Roman were unable to keep up ownership for different reasons. “So here I am, weird king of a 34-year-old comic shop,” Django said.

His love of comic books began with issues of Indiana Jones, a favorite as a kid. “The first comics I bought to collect were The Shadow #13 and Legends of the Dark Knight #2 (my brother, André, bought #1). Those comics sent me off on an addiction to comics that continues to this day. I’ve even managed to acquire all but one issue of The Shadow published since 1945. And a comic store. A whole store full of comics!”

Last month, The Comics Place moved from their old location on the corner of Bay and Holly, up a couple of blocks to the Bellingham National Bank Building. “It’s beautiful,” Django said. “Carpet, air conditioning, an upstairs game room. This new spot lets us show off our amazing inventory much better. Instead of having all of our board games sideways to save space, we can show the fronts and really let things breathe. We also gained room for a giant board game room upstairs. Anyone can schedule game time at no cost, and we hope to be running some tournaments for popular games once we’ve finished the move. We also added three pinball machines thanks to the Bellingham Pinball Collective.”

Django hopes this new location benefits the local comics and board games community. “My immediate goal here is less about making money and more about helping to foster the most fun community we can for these things we love so much. I know that sounds cheesy, but since I make my living doing custom shirts, stickers and buttons as Seatthole Shirts and doing marketing for La Fiamma :: Wood Fire Pizza and Fiamma Burger, I’m able to put everything back into The Comics Place to help make my dream comic and game shop.”

So far the shop has gotten positive reviews, according to Django. “I don’t think we could have asked for a better reception. It’s obviously still a work in progress, and we have a lot of cool tricks left to install in here, but the general vibe has been overwhelmingly positive. I can’t wait for more people to come in and check us out.”

While Django and crew continue to work on a new spot, they have huge plans for the short and long term future, which includes a podcast, regular gaming, having comic book writers and artists signings, a book of the month club, quarterly swap meet and much more.

For comics and gaming fans, the already cool shop will become a home away from home.

The Comics Place is located at 105 E Holly Street. Stay tuned to their Facebook page for updates and events. For more information, call (360) 733-2224 or see www.thecomicsplace.com.