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Baltimore sees first new comic book store in a decade

As if Baltimore Comic-Con weren't enough to look forward to, comic book and graphic novel fans can now anticipate the arrival of Alliance Comics, the first comic store to operate in downtown Baltimore in roughly a decade.

Amy and Gerard McNeal Sept. 2 will open the doors of their shop, which is being relocated from Bowie, in what used to be Theodore's Cleaners at 904 Light Street in Federal Hill. The couple will sell new issue comic books and graphic novels ("silver" and "golden" age materials and back issues are available only at the couple's Silver Spring store), as well as toys, tee-shirts, card games, and merchandise related to video games (but not the games themselves).

Amy says the store will carrying "stuff for the littlest reader, stuff for grownups, and stuff in between."

"Comics in general are a great thing for established readers and new readers alike," Amy says. "There are so many different types, from action adventure to super heros, to science fiction. There's a lot more than people generally think there is."

Shoppers at Alliance Comics, which will host a grand opening on Oct.10 during the weekend of Comic-Con, should expect a visual feast, Amy notes. The couple painted the store in a silver-grey tone and used mostly black shelving.

"We were going for a monochromatic background with a clean, modern feeling because our product is so colorful," Amy says. "The comics have such vibrant covers they need no enhancement or competition."

The McNeals started their comic store business 13 years ago, harnessing Amy's retail knowledge with Gerard's passion for comics. "I knew virtually nothing about comics!" Amy says. "I did a lot of reading to learn about them so I can help explain them to people and help them fit their needs."

The couple, both originally from Baltimore, have been itching to get back to the city for awhile.

"In the last five to ten years, Baltimore has really changed and grown as a city from what we knew growing up," Amy says. "It had a lot of problems back in the day that have become less of an issue now. We're fond of it; it's a fun place."

Writer: Lucy Ament
Source: Amy McNeal, Alliance Comics
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