Friendly Neighborhood Comics Announces Expansion
May 31, 2018 06:00AM
● By David Dunbar
Friendly Neighborhood Comics owner Ernie Pelletier
Batman is getting married. Now if you are a customer at the Friendly Neighborhood Comics in Bellingham, you already know that. Recently mailed was a “Save the Date”invitation for July 4th in Gotham City.
He, along with his wife, Judy, opened the store in 2009. They recently moved to a larger, 3,700 square-foot space at 191 Mechanic Street in Bellingham to “expand the scope of the business to include more room for traditional books, like crime novels and science fiction, and not just comic books.”
Going into his 10th year, now with two full-time employees, Pelletier offers his customers 50 to 75 new titles every week. One comic book is typically $3.99. Collected editions can range from $9.99 upward to around $35. His customers range in age from very young to very old.
Pelletier is on a mission. “Comics are a gateway into the world of reading. We are a teacher’s secret weapon. Comics get reluctant kids to read. And the vocabulary tends to be far higher than what kids usually experience in school.”
For example, he holds up a two-inch-thick version of Moby Dick, Herman Melville’s classic novel that every school kid is expected to read. The “graphic novel” version is half the number of pages. “It’s illustrated fiction and a different language of story-telling where the graphics and words work together.”
Friendly Neighborhood Comics has a website and is on Facebook and Twitter. People come into the store because “they’ve heard about a particular book or comic on social media and want to see it.” Pelletier produces a weekly video that gets posted on Facebook every Wednesday morning to discuss new releases. Wednesdays, which are “New Comics Day,” have become the busiest day of the week, followed by Saturdays.
So there is a lot of reading Tuesday nights in preparation. Pelletier says, “That’s when we select the cream of the crop” of the new releases.
With the new, more spacious location, Friendly Neighborhood Comics is adding more young-adult, horror, and great novels of all kinds to its stock. “We’re taking on Amazon® and Barnes & Noble®. What we do, we do best,” says Pelletier.
He regards his customers as members of a community. He is in touch with them regularly, suggesting particular comics or books that he believes will be of interest. “We know what they like and may suggest a title or two based on their past preferences.”
Three events are planned at the store this month: Pocket Protectors 2 book launch with author Jim Rad and Blackwood and comic launch with artists Veronica Fish and Andy Fish, both on June 2; on June 23 artist Josh Hixon will launch Shanghai Red comic.
Also this month, Comic Book Night will return. People all read the same book and then get together over pizza to discuss it.
Pelletier is out to “promote literacy”and has partnered with libraries, schools and civic groups to spread the word. He also supports local youth sports teams.
“In our culture right now,” he explains, “many no longer value reading. Through reading, we can entertain different points of view, different thoughts and beliefs. We want to create a love for reading.”
For more information, you can call the store, 508-966-2275, visit the website, www.friendlycomics.com, or check out the Facebook page.