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Gotham City Comics & Coffee gets a new owner

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Gotham City Comics & CoffeeGotham City Comics & Coffee in downtown Mesa has quietly come under new ownership.

Tom Price, who worked as a manager for the now-defunct Atomic Comics from 1994-98, came on board over a month ago after a previous boss wanted to move on.

“The original owner had a love for comic books and coffee knowledge, but comic books took over,” Price said.

And that’s just how he likes it.

Price had been working in commercial real estate, but the former indie comic book writer and publisher in the ’90s got pulled back into the ink because he said he “sold his soul to the book.”

“Right now the store is taking 1,000 percent of my time,” he said. That’s him, plus two other owners and two workers, one of whom is part time.

The store at 46 W. Main St. opened in December 2010 with an urban chic gallery feel, a coffee bar, Xbox LIVE gaming and collectable toys — and lots of back-issue comics. Only recently, in the wake of Atomic Comics’ sudden shutdown late last month, has Gotham begun the process of getting into the new-release business. “It takes two months to get books from the distributor, Diamond,” Price said.  (Right after Atomic folded I began hearing that Gotham was going to start selling fresh ink.) Price said he’s been able to keep up with DC’s New 52 line through a small set of reorders, but that Gotham will be a real player in the new-comics arena starting next week.

Even with the rapid collapse of Atomic, one of the nation’s most famous comic book store chains based right here in the Valley, Price feels the business model can be viable — if you can avoid heavy leases like the kind Atomic took on at Chandler Fashion Center, and make your store a destination for more than just comics.

“We want to keep a strong hangout atmosphere, kind of what we think of as a convention within the store,” he said. And that includes the coffee, gaming and other special events.

Right now, Price is excited about Halloween, and decking out the store with the “classics” like Mars Attacks! and Tales From the Crypt as well as newer horror titles like The Walking Dead and FVZA: The Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency. But first comes this Saturday’s 24 Hours Comics Day Challenge; Gotham is just one of a few locations in the Valley participating.

The store also hosts bimonthly “superhero days” with cartoon screenings and costume showcases, as well as anime nights on Thursdays and bad movie night events.

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