Comic timing

Debbie Griffith


Debbie Griffith and her husband, John, have owned DJ Comic Kingdom & Collectibles for nearly 20 years. The Griffiths are in the process of selling the store, and the new owner will likely move to a new location.

I’m starting the tape recorder …

I know nothing about the comics. … We’ve owned the store for almost 20 years, but not because of me. It was because of my son. We were at the point of anything to get a child to read. And in order to get him to read, he loved G.I. Joe and Star Trek and Star Wars, and so there were comics, and that’s how it kind of started. … We started going to Park Lane Mall. There used to be an antique show once a month in the center of that mall, just in the walkway of that mall, and we would go there and take [son] Paul, and he would pick out a few old Star Wars and G.I. Joe comics, and [Kathy Brown], the lady that owned that little operation ended up in Old Town [Mall]. The name of her store was the Misguided Mouse, but all she had were older comics. And as you read through the older comics you want to know what happens next, and so my husband talked her into going into new books, and helped her get on with one of the comic distribution companies—Capital City Comic Distribution, at that time. And after that, we sort of became a silent partner in the store, so she had a little backing and somebody with a credit record she could fall back on.

When was this?

It’ll be 20 years in November … 1992. … So then, she was having trouble financially and just couldn’t really run the store, and it got overwhelming with her carrying new comics too. She was comfortable with her small operation with the older books, but when it came in with all the new books, it became overwhelming for her. So I looked at John and said, “You know, we’re paying all the bills. We should own 100 percent of the store. So at that point, we went in, talked to her, and it became ours [laughs]. It just kind of happened out of the clear blue. … We ended up with all the new comics over here, and we have back stock too, and we have lots of very loyal customers that have followed us from Old Town to Park Lane and then over here. Some of our customers have been with us nearly the entire time. … [T]he average comic collector collects for about 18 months, and what you see, over the course of the 20 years that we’ve had the business, some of those kids that were in it 20 years ago are adults now. They have jobs, and they’re getting back into it. They find their old collection at home, and then they come back into and they want to start reading again. … Kids who were into it when we first started, some of them are coming back now, and in fact Cody [Laux], who’s going to be the future owner is one of those kids. … Cody was a collector back when he was in high school and got out of it, and been working for someone else doing accounting, and he’s ready to own his own business. He has a child now, and is just ready to own his own business. He approached us several months ago, but we were still locked into this lease, and he did not want the store at this location because of the rent that they charge here. So he approached us again a few weeks ago and wanted to start talking, so we just started talking about, and then last weekend we really talked hard about it. This is not a done deal. We haven’t signed any paperwork or anything like that, but we’re pretty confidant that he is going to be the new owner.

Tell me about the new location.

The new location will probably be in the Moana East shopping center, on Moana just west of Kietzke. It’s on the northwest corner, right next to the Shell Station.

Your initial goal in getting involved in comics was to get your son reading. Was that successful?

It really was. We have a lot of teachers that come in here, and we donate books to teachers and to schools. When people come in and they collections to sell us that we can not buy, I tell them, they’re really not worth a whole lot of money, you might want to think about donating them to a school, and sometimes they say can I just leave them here and have you do that? And we will. We have schoolteachers that come in here all the time.