Ever spend an hour arguing with friends over who’s stronger, Superman or the Hulk?
Get uncontrollable pangs of anger at the mere mention of the last Wolverine movie?
Then there’s a good chance that you’ve at least stopped by M&I Comic Book Heaven, located inside the Hamilton Mall at 200 Hamilton Ave. in White Plains. The store’s owner goes by the name Bishop.
“I was a fan since I was 8, but I never imagined that I would be running a store,” Bishop said. “But it’s always been one of those things that I always wanted to do. I always wanted to run a store that was for the fans by the fans. A lot of shop have this business ethic while we’re actually fans. We’ll get into these 40 minute conversations about who’s stronger, Superman or the Hulk. You don’t always get that at other shops.”
The shop has been in business for about 18 years. It was originally located on Court Street before moving to the White Plains Mall about seven years ago.
The shop has seen a lot of changes through the years, from the proliferation of comic book movies to the introduction of digital comics.
Bishop said digital comics haven’t had too much of an impact on sales.
“Even the people who do read digital comics still come in too buy the hard copies, because it’s not even read the same,” Bishop said. “It’s more like a page by page format and it’s not even broken up into panels and some of the readers miss that. I have to many diehard fans and the collectibility is a very strong aspect of it.”
Bishop said the main reason comics gained their value is because of all the collections that moms threw away when their kids went away.
“When they would throw stuff away, that would make the value of books skyrocket,” Bishop said. “Whatever was still in circulation went up in value because there were fewer books. It was even worse during WWII because they needed to recycle paper.”
Ricky Whiting, who works at the shop agreed.
“Digital sales aren’t even that high,” Whiting said. “Marvel, DC and a lot of companies in general, have this notion that people just want to read and the don’t care. A lot of times, people will buy comics after they read something in the newspaper like Captain America’s death.”
But it’s much harder for comic books to gain value these days, according to Bishop. He used the last year’s reveal that one of the Green Lanterns is gay and “The Death of Superman” series that was released in 1992 as an example of the oversaturation that has taken place in the industry.
“The Death of Superman is a very keyed in book that most people know of or have at least heard of,” Bishop said. “It’s not worth very much. Last time I check, It was worth about $19 and it may not even be worth that much now. They overproduce the book so there’s tons of them. Most stores have copies of it. I still have copies of it. Back then, people would buy five or six copies of it, open one and save the others. But the books don’t go up in value that much anymore.”
There are few exceptions when a book becomes more valuable due to the appearance of a guest writer or character, but even those books don’t rise in value like they used, according to Bishop.
As far as the recent flood of comic book based movies that have hit the big screen, Bishop said they haven’t really impacted sales.
“When the very first Batman movies came out, we had people coming in and buying t-shirts, statues, posters, comics, trade paperbacks...I had everybody buying everything because it was the hot new thing,” Bishop said. “It’s not that way anymore. Superhero movies have become more commonplace now. You have your diehards and you have your newbies who swear that the Joker killed Batman parents, which is not even close. It’s all entertainment, but some of it is more for the norms than it is for the nerds.”
Bishop gave X-Men: First Class as an example of movie that is still entertaining despite straying away from the source material.“Not just as retailer, but also as a fan, I found it less than perfect,” Bishop said. “I just didn’t like the changes. If someone really wanted to find out more about it and they came back in here, I would have tell them that was the movie and this is the comic which has nothing to do with it.”
At the end of the day, Bishop his goal is to give whoever stops by a 20 minute break in their day.
"Whatever problems you're dealing with, I want you to be able to come in, relax and lose yourself," he said.