Nestled at the north end of the little line of shops that make up uptown Vancouver’s Broadway is a place where comic book lovers of all ages and generations can find something that scratches their itch to escape from reality.
“I got into comic books when I was seven. My dad brought home a couple of boxes of comics from the 60s and 70s and it really was just like opening up Pandora’s Box,” Owner of I Like Comics Chris Simons said. “I was lost immediately, as a kid, falling into a world where everything was fair and just and the good guy was always going to beat the bad guy and everything was always going to work out. That’s a good world to fall into.”
Since his first introduction to comics, Simons has been a part of the community as he worked at a comic shop as a teenager when he lived down in Medford, Oregon. After moving up north a ways, Simons found himself working at a shipping company and turned into a passive comic book reader.
“In my early 20s I got married and had a family. It was time to put childish things away,” Simons said. “I would still, every now and then, go into a comic shop with my kids because it’s always a good idea to create readers and comics are a great way to create readers.”
In his 40s, Simons was laid off from the trucking company he worked for and found himself on uncertain ground. He found himself unemployed and looking for jobs around the area.
“It was a pretty hard pill to swallow,” he said about the process.
One day, Simons was on Craigslist and found a comic book shop called Old Skool Comics. He proceeded to go down to the shop and spend $400 (all the money he had at the time) on comics.
“I think my wife assumed that I had finally snapped,” he said.
Later that week, Simons took himself down to the library and checked out a comics price guide, taught himself how to grade comics and ended up turning the $400 into over $2,000.
Simons then went on to buying and selling comics on Craigslist and eBay and later ended up perusing the inventory of Vancouver’s old comic book store, Amazing Stories. Simons ended up purchasing the inventory of Amazing Stories and setting up his first brick and mortar store, I Like Comics, in the same building on Fourth Plain that Amazing Stories moved out of. The store opened up on Black Friday of 2010.
As for the name “I Like Comics,” Simons said he and his wife sat down and asked him, “well, why do you do this?” and his response was, “well, I like comics.” Thus, the name of one of the largest comic book shops in the Pacific Northwest region was born.
Simons moved to the current location, 1715 Broadway St., Vancouver, about five years ago and has over 5,000 square feet of space for comics and collectibles of all shapes and sizes. Next month, Simons is using the “signing space” in the back of the shop for the biggest event in the shop’s history as the entire current Image Comic partners are coming together for the first time ever.
“I can’t even begin to describe how huge this event is,” Simons said. “The fact that it’s happening in Vancouver, Washington, and not a place like New York City is unbelievable.”
The group of comic book producers has never come together for a signing event before and includes Robert Kirkman (of “The Walking Dead”), Erik Larsen (of “Savage Dragon”), Todd McFarlane (of “Spawn”), Marc Silvestri (of “The Darkness”), Eric Stephenson (of “Nowhere Men”) and Jim Valentino (of “ShadowHawk”).
“It’s rare for the Image partners to get together, rarer still for us to make a public appearance,” Vice President at Image Comics Jim Valentino said in a news release “We hope to see you all there.”
The event takes place from 7 to 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 10, and will allow each fan to bring one item for each member to sign (no collectible card game cards permitted). The event staff also informs attendees that no selfies or posed photos will be taken at the signing.
“We are grateful to Image Comics for allowing us to share this with all their friends here in the Northwest and beyond,” Simons said in the release. “When we acquired our large space years ago, we had big dreams of an event like this happening here, and now it’s a dream come true.”
If big crowds aren’t your thing, the shop is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.
“Comics sleep for no man,” Simons said.
However, the shop is planning its “biggest sale of the year” this Friday, Nov. 29, for the shop’s anniversary, which corresponds with Black Friday. The sale will have 50 percent off all new comics and graphic novels.
Never want to miss a comic again? Simons and I Like Comics offer subscription boxes for any comics currently in production.
“Missing a comic is like missing a TV show,” Simons said. “Not only is it (the subscription service) completely free of charge but it also gives you a 20 percent discount.”
As for the future, Simons feels like the shop and all of its antics is still a dream.
“I still feel like every day I’m getting away with something,” he said. “Every day I wake up I feel like someone is going to tell me ‘no, you can’t make a living doing this.’”