- Category: Arts
- Written by Melvin Bakandika
|Walking along Queen Street West, one cannot miss the big sign featuring the Hulk smashing to the ground and pointing to the 3rd Quadrant comic book store. At the store entrance, your friendly neighbourhood Spiderman crawls towards me. Cool. As I walk in, I feel like a member of a secret society entering a place reserved only for “true believers”. A giant-sized figure of “The Predator” leads me to the store located in the basement. A tall dreadlocked black man welcomes me at the counter.
“Are you the owner?” I ask.
“Yes,” he replies to my great surprise. “A brotha owning a comic book store,” I wonder. Unusual, but very comforting. We set a date for an interview.
Like most comics aficionados Daryl Collison started collecting at an early age.
“I always knew that I was getting into comics as a business,” he says. “I lent my comics to a buddy when I went to a music camp one summer and when I came back, I got like 15% of my book back. I was not impressed. His name was Donovan.” Leaning into my recorder, Darryl erupts. “I’m not happy about that Donovan!”
In the early 90’s, with a few high school friends Daryl decided to open a store. However, everybody slowly drifted away from the business for various personal reasons. Eventually they closed the store. Daryl then decided to launch on his own. 3rd Quadrant Comics was born.
“When I decided on the name, I think I was misinformed as far as the template I was using. I remember looking at a map of our galaxy that was supposed to be taken from an aerial view and the outer points up to where our solar system is in it. So we are basically in the 3rd quadrant of the galaxy we are living now. That’s how I got the name.”
Owning a comics bookstore is no different from any other type of business,” Daryl explains. "The most important thing when you are in any kind of business is to pay attention to little details or they will come back and bite you in your posterior.”
3rd Quadrant Comics is as busy as any other normal bookstore. Tending to customers occupies most of Daryl Collison’s time as well as handling deliveries which include comic books, posters, lunch boxes, bobble heads, art supplies, instructional books and more.
Outside of our bread and butter which is comics, trade paperbacks and graphic novels, are near the top of the list of our sales volume.”
Even though I read comics primarily for entertainment, I wanted to find out a little more about the representation of visible minorities in the industry.
In terms of storyline and writers, I can’t tell from their name, if they are black, Oriental or whatever. But I don’t’ think there’s equal representation. It’s not equal,” Daryl says.
Some effort is being made in that direction. Marvel Comics for instance based two of its major characters on two prominent African American leaders: Magneto as an archetype of Malcolm X, and Professor X as Martin Luther King. In addition, the X-Men’s purpose is sometimes referred to as an achievement of “Xavier’s dream," perhaps a reference to King’s historic "I Have a Dream" speech. In fact, the entire X-Men franchise is built on sociopolitical undercurrents; mutants as racial, religious and other minorities facing external oppression.
Over and above running the store, Daryl Collison keeps an eye on the happenings in the industry.
“One of the biggest obstacles that the comics industry is facing right now is the competition for entertainment dollars,” he explains. “It’s just getting harder and harder to make people spend money in a particular venue when there are so many other things that scream for their money.”
The industry is fighting back trying in many ways to entice readers. First by reaffirming that comics are not only for children or teenagers.
“Most of my buyers are between 20-35 years of age. Most of my clients have a career position. People think comic books and they automatically think children. But that’s not the case. I can pull out 4 to 5 books where some parents can look at it and say ‘I don’t want my 8-year old reading this,” Daryl says.
I also found out recently that Reginald Hudlin, director of such big hits as House Party, Boomerang and The Ladies Man (also the new President and CEO of BET), has a regular gig in the comics universe joining Marvel Comics to participate in one of their most anticipated new series: The Black Panther.
In addition to an amazing collection, 3rd Quadrant Comics takes part in two major conventions every year: The Paradise Comics Toronto and Comicon geared specifically towards comic books and comic collectors. Next year, the show will be held on April 28th - 30th and will feature Stan ''The Man'' Lee, the father of the modern comic book.
|>> Reginald Hudlin|
3rd Quadrant Comics is located at 226 Queen Street West. For information call 416.974.9211
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