For followers of comics, fantasy and science fiction, today can feel like a renaissance. The institutions of Marvel and DC are not only thriving, but they are doing so across a multitude of platforms. A Justice League character – Supergirl, The Flash, The Green Arrow and Firestorm – is featured on broadcast television almost every weeknight. Deadpool just set opening weekend records for 20th Century Fox. Star Wars shattered every overall dollar record in the film industry. Even Star Trek has an upcoming return through CBS’s new subscription streaming service, CBS All Access. And if all this wasn’t enough, nearly every major market in America now hosts a convention drawing tens of thousands to celebrate these genres. Yet, despite this success, artists and fans can often feel as distant as ever. So in Aurora, Colorado, a mainstay collectibles store is launching its own effort to reconnect artists and devotees in the Denver community.
All C’s Collectible Shop debuted its first Artist Appreciation Day this weekend, hosting area artists to provide autographs and custom prints. First opening in 1982 as a coin shop, founder Gary Farnsworth changed locations and expanded in 1986 to include comics and cards, growing the business to attract a young and burgeoning fan base. His sons, James and Jason, run the store now. It’s fitting, since it was James and Jason’s fandoms three decades ago that persuaded Gary to make the conversion. Yet, it wasn’t as though Gary was unacquainted himself.
30 years after their father’s successful venture, the Farnsworth’s are also seizing the opportunity to give back. In addition to providing enthusiasts and artists a chance to interact, All C’s also helps local non-profit Aurora Rise continue its mission. Formed in response to the Century Aurora Theater shooting in 2012, the charity maintains its activity to help victims still suffering from the tragedy, particularly those who no longer earn an income.
“It’s the everyday things like helping people afford gas, rent and therapy,” organizer Tim Moret said. “The need is still huge because any government money has run out.”
Comic and game art’s ability to help people endure and heal can reach farther than many people may first expect. Jason Garcia, 39, remembers at a young age sitting by his dad’s hospital bed as he underwent chemotherapy. In the hours his father was able to sleep, Jason passed the time by delving into Frank Miller’s run writing Marvel’s DareDevil. That coping experience blossomed into a passion he carries for the character to this day.
“It’s fulfilling to connect to something that’s been with you since childhood, beyond just collecting comics,” Garcia explained about the event. “There’s just something to having an original piece that only you can own.”
Making connections with fans like Jason, who now works in special education for Aurora Public schools, can also be an informing experience for the artists, themselves. Ron Root, who joined Matt Campbell and Mark May among the variety of illustrators in attendance, expressed gratitude about being able to escape the isolation of the drawing studio.
“It gives you the chance to branch out and experiment with new characters. You get to see what else is out there and it can force you to up your game,” Root said.
And if an opportunity exists to collect some of the best storylines and illustrations, it definitely comes with events like Artist Appreciation Day. As part of the occasion, All C’s offered deals of 5-for-1 comics, 50 percent off back-issues, and even 50 dollars for an entire long box of titles. Equally surprising to all of the store’s specials is All C’s position as the only collectibles store still in Aurora. With much of the area competition condensing inside the Denver city limit, this weekend’s discounts proved a chance too good – and too close by – for many to let go. It’s just another example that there’s no time like the present to be a fan.
Written by Joseph Money