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Baltimore gets double shot of comics with Graphic Novelty

After waiting nearly a decade for a new source to feed their love of comic books and graphic novels, Baltimoreans are getting not one but two new options for their fix. We told you last week about the Sept. 2 opening of Alliance Comics in Federal Hill; now we'll fill you in on Graphic Novelty, which is slated to open a week later at 1712 Thames St. in Fells Point.

Co-owners Benjamin Greene and Heiko Spieker call their new labor of love Baltimore's "one-stop geek shop." The shop will offer "anything geeky," Spieker notes, including toys, card games and board games." While shoppers will find mostly new issue comic books and graphic novels at the store, Greene and Spieker will be selling portions of their personal collections and will also allow patrons to sell their own collections on a consignment basis.

Spieker said he and Greene, who owns the Waterfront Hotel and Miss Irene's in Fells Point, had tossed the idea of a comic store around for years. They decided to pounce when the 1712 location was vacated this summer by Fells Point Frame and Design (which moved to a larger location down the street).

"We both have a firm grasp on the realms of geekdom, but there are little subdivisions within our expertise," Spieker notes. "He knows more about Star Trek, while I know more about Star Wars, Angel, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But overall I'd say we're about equal."

Spieker says he and Greene designed the shop "to look like comic book in its own way," with yellow and red walls, custom-built black shelving units with plexiglass to allow maximum visibility, and a wrap-around glass counter will display special items. The duo have also set up a gaming room in the back of the store with wireless Internet for patrons to play games.

Interest in the story has already been high, Spieker says.

"We've been keeping the door open as we've been setting up here, and people pop in every day to say their glad we're here." In fact, impromptu visits from parents with their children have persuaded Spieker and Greene to carry kids' book, which wasn't in their original plan.

Spieker chalks up the opening of two comic book stores in Baltimore just one week apart to a case of "great minds thinking alike." He's anticipating the month of October, which will bring with it both the Fells Point Festival and Baltimore Comic-Con and, hopefully, a lot of foot traffic.

Writer: Lucy Ament
Source: Heiko Spieker, Graphic Novelty
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