This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on June 7, 2017.
The foundation of ComicBook.Com is comics. While we love to cover all aspects of pop and geek culture, our roots lie in the comics community and the plethora of characters and stories that have sprung from it. If you speak with anyone in the comics community about what has made the medium successful in North America, you’ll quickly discover one answer that stands far above the rest: local comics stores. They are the bedrock of comics in the United States and Canada, supporting fans, communities, and conventions with open doors and a dedicated staff.
This year on ComicBook.Com we are highlighting this important aspect of comics and culture by taking a look at one local comic store each week. These are stores that embody what it means to support culture and community. We hope you can visit some of them throughout 2017.
Some places are defined by where they have been and others are defined by where they are going. Visionary Comics in Riverside, California belongs to the latter of those two categories. The store opened just over one year ago in May of 2016 and in that brief span of time has seen so much support that it is already prepared to move. It is a local comics store defined by big dreams and big hearts with plans to become the heart of the comics and geek community in this California community.
Visionary Comics is owned and operated by Jazmine and Nestor, two comics lovers younger than the staff at many other stores. They opened the shop intending to create a space where anyone could gather to relax, hang out, and enjoy their favorite hobbies. “[We also wanted] a space where we can hold classes and events” says Jazmine. That plan has come together quickly over the course of 12 months. The shop holds weekly movie and gaming nights that attract a big crowd, especially within the current location’s small space.
Events hosted at the store have ensured lots of good word of mouth spreading around Riverside and beyond. People who come to Visionary Comics tend to fall in love with both the store and its owners. “We try to make sure every event is special and that everyone is having fun” says Jazmine. One of the key goals of the store when it opened was to be more than a retail space and these events have shown people they’re welcome to spend time at the store just like a second home.
Between Tuesday and Saturday, it’s a guarantee that either Jazmine or Nestor will be in the shop. They take their role as curators of both comics and community seriously. “Nestor and I are accessible to every customer. So if there is any feedback, they come straight to us, and we will listen” says Jazmine. Whether it’s a request to carry a new comic or an idea for a new event, Riverside residents can be sure Visionary Comics will do what it can to help.
Click ahead to see what the future holds for Visionary Comics and how they are receiving support from their community to do more.
In spite of how much has been accomplished at Visionary Comics in the course of just one year, the store has already encountered obstacles and limitations. “It’s still a place people come and talk about art, books, and movies, but we can’t do the classes in such a small shop” says Jazmine. People are comfortable squeezing into the store for events, but it’s still a squeeze. That’s why Jazmine and Nestor have decided to go to Kickstarter for the funds to move to a larger location.
Kickstarter wasn’t the duos first choice. They originally sank their own capital into opening the store: renting space, buying comics, decorating the walls, and much more. More money is required for a move and additional square footage. Unfortunately, banks don’t look at comics stores as safe bets. Even after a year of successful sales and with a dedicated customer base, loans are not easy to come by at a reasonable rate. So now Visionary Comics is looking to their community to give them the extra boost necessary to grow the dream.
They also like the idea of using Kickstarter because it creates a relationship between Visionary Comics and its backers. “It had a way for us to say thank you to all the people who donate through our pledge rewards” says Jazmine. Those rewards range from a spot on the new store’s thank you wall to a variety of Visionary Comics swag. Ultimately, the rewards from the Kickstarter will make the store’s patrons a part of the store and help carry its name further into Riverside, CA.
What’s most exciting about the store’s expansion are the plans for what to do with all of the new space. “I expect us to be holding classes every week on stuff like zine making, screen printing, button making, etc.” says Jazmine. She and Nestor also want to make the store a more important part of their city, able to hold more people and collaborate with organizations looking for educational and arts space. The opportunities for the business and its fans will grow along with the floor plans.
Visionary Comics is a young store, but in its short history and the Kickstarter that represents its future you can see the ambition and creativity of the comics community. Two young fans have created a successful business that both supports their passions and the Riverside community of comics readers. They filled a space where no comics store existed and made something that is special to many people. The weekly events, wide array of comics, and personal touch all contribute to making Visionary Comics something unique. Just like with the comics medium today, it appears the best is still yet to come for this little, but growing, comic book shop.
Click ahead to see full details and photos of Visionary Comics, and consider supporting their Kickstarter event if you live in the Riverside area.
Name: Visionary Comics
Address: 3257 Market Street #10
Riverside, CA 92501
Phone: (951) 999-8268
Website: Visionary Comics
Facebook: Visionary Comics
Kickstarter: Visionary Comics