As the old adage suggests, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” and in the case of local comics shop, Drawn to Comics, that means “going” to get you your comics, delivered to your door as you are social-distancing or sheltering-in-place during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
For the past 15 years, DTC has been the friendliest comic shop in the Valley of the Sun; and owners Ken Brown and his wife Susan have always been staunch supporters of the local community, sharing their comic-book home with fans and non-fans alike and advocating for the four-color medium they love.
Like the Plastic Man of comic book shops, DTC’s superpowers have always been to be innovative, flexible, imaginative and – most of all – fun. The shop has always been willing to think outside-of-the-box in order to grow and keep their customers happy; so when the coronavirus came to town, DTC was already one step ahead of it.
Can’t get your comics fix? Drawn to Comics has you covered with “DTC2U,” a mobile comics delivery service that will bring your books right to your doorstep. They actually started testing the service months ago, putting them in a position to meet this current chaotic crisis head-on.
Self-quarantining (long before it was cool) in our undisclosed home base, located deep beneath Arizona’s Superstition Mountains, we reached out to Mr. Brown to ask him a few questions about his resourceful new service…
Q: How long have you had this in the works?
A: I originally came up with the idea to help customers who have busy schedules or transportation limitations have an opportunity to have their subscription comics delivered to their door. It has been in Beta testing since November and any customer who we contact about their subscriptions we have offered the service. One customer loved the idea and I already have been delivering to them two to three times a month since November.
The timing of the recent COVID-19 update fast-tracked the program in this time of need. I was hoping to Beta it for a 12-month period and introduce it in the 2020 holiday shopping season. The world has drastically changed over the last 60 days and my wife and I decided this was a good thing we could do for the community of comic book supporters who have so supported us over the past 15 years.
Q: Was it a scramble to get up and running and stay up with the evolution of the pandemic?
A: Yes and No, we have not had many customers take us up on this program yet. It may take some time for people to reach out and we wanted to be ready when they do.
Q: What parts of the Valley are you currently servicing? Do you have plans to expand the service?
A: We currently have delivery customers in Ahwatukee and Surprise. We would like to service our everyday Drawn To Comics subscribers in need wherever they are located in the Valley.
Q: If customers want to order books through the DTC Mobile service, how do they do it?
A: At the current time it is available through the store phone call (623-847-9090). That gives us the flexibility to give correct customer service and ensure that we get all customer delivery details to our customer so they will know when and how their comics will be arriving to them. I eventually would like to institute an easier to use app but that was in the 12-month plan this was only month four, and now we had to fast track with what we can do in the immediate need.
Q: Is the DTC store still open its same hours? Beyond DTC Mobile, what are you doing to keep your employees and customers safe?
A: Yes, we are still open for business. We have instituted the 10-people-or-less gathering mandate currently recommended by the CDC and our local government. We are cleaning rigorously with making sure all high traffic touch areas are wiped down regularly, Lysol sprayed daily, continually doing our best that the store is clean and safe to shop.
We have always had bottles of customer accessible Germ-X since the year we opened. Over the years we have been a welcoming handshake and up to the past week, every customer has been greeted with a handshake and a smile. Now we greet with a fist bump, elbow bump, foot shimmy and, of course, the smile. DTC has always been about a family environment atmosphere, now we just have to be conscious and in tune about what is happening in the world around us as well.
Q: As a small business owner, how has the pandemic been affecting you, your family and employees?
A: It has not been easy. Our staff has been outstanding and very positive and rolling with whatever we have put in front of them. I have been working to administer cleaning protocols, occupancy restrictions, the DTC2U delivery and curbside pickup policies and reading needed information to keep our community safe during this event.
It is our daughter’s senior year and we have no idea what the status will be by the time graduation comes, and this has been a concern to me and our family. My wife and I both have elderly parents we have been checking in on a regular basis and family has been what has been impacted the most during this current situation.
Through it all, the most important thing we have kept in mind is to keep calm, as hard as that is, and constantly ask ourselves, is this a rational or impulsive thought or decision we have to make for us, our store and our community.
Q: If COVID-19 were created by a super-villain, who would be the most likely suspect?
A: Oh, I totally suspect, the Maker (aka the Ultimate Marvel Universe Reed Richards) would attempt the chain reaction that would lead to a crisis of this magnitude. Venom writer Donny Cates has been sandboxing this guy so well over the past year, now that he has been bought into the 616 MU.
The Maker has access to the Council of Reeds, where the greatest minds get together to solve the needs of their own dimension. Unfortunately, this Maker Reed Richards is Bat-Crazy and has access to multi-dimensional resources including bringing the Cancer curing suit that was the Venom of the Ultimate Universe over to the 616 MU. The man is trouble and it is totally feasible for him to have manufactured a world pandemic virus similar to the one we are currently experiencing.
Q: Which hero or hero-team would be best suited to defeat COVID-19?
A: I am not sure there is one. This is the one case where Mother Nature and our own medical experts are our biggest allies. Each of us gets to play the role of a hero in this situation. Scientists working out a vaccine that will contain and eliminate the virus, human kindness and consideration, safe interactions with others and positive outlooks are the most important heroic actions we can take during the current state of events.
Q: Do you have any apocalyptic or pre-apocalyptic comic reading suggestions?
A: Scott Snyder and Charles Soule’s Undiscovered Country is so eerily relevant right now. It is an amazing story and the topics are so relevant in today’s landscape. It is a story of a virus that the word has been recently fighting that has gotten to a pandemic level. The USA had been in world isolation shutting off its boarders and cut all interaction with the outside world.
The USA, for the first time in 20 years, reaches out to try to offer assistance in defeating the virus. However they only request a group of 7 people enter into this meeting. The selected seven get trapped in America and the rest I will have to let you read for yourself. It is very good and I look forward to each issue every month it comes out. Issue #4 just arrived in store this past week.
Q: As a super-community-advocate, do you have a message for the comic-book fans here in the Valley?
A: I may have mentioned it already, but we as humans are the heroes of this story. Viruses do not discriminately choose, where, when or who they will attack. Anyone and everyone they come into contact with is their prey. It takes human responsibility, compassion and care to defeat any virus that we come into contact with.
That being said, humanity has defeated them all and we have always been better off for doing so; this will be no different. Yes, there has been and will be more loss during this current pandemic and we will mourn those lost loved ones.
Together as a world united we can and will overcome this; and as a world working united to conquer this virus we will see open and productive communication become of the utmost importance. Through that communication solutions will continue to develop and this virus will be defeated.
That needed communication will give the world an opportunity to unify itself and put aside its differences and recognize that we are all human and life is short and let’s try to make the best of it for all of us to enjoy and share.
Stay safe, know you are cared for and always reach out in times of need, not everyone may say yes but not everyone will say no either. Be that hero when you can and we will do our best to be the hero that we can.
You can contact Drawn to Comics at (623) 847-9090 for more information or to set up a comic pull-box and/or arrange DTC2U delivery. See a video message from DTC’s Ken Brown at Drawn to Comic on Facebook.