Canterbury comic shop Whatever Comics is holding a grand re-opening celebration on Saturday 18 October to mark its 20th anniversary and relocation to a fantastic new spot on the city’s main high street.
Laurence “Punisher” Campbell and comic book writer and journalist Rob “Indy /2000ad Jones” Williams are confirmed guests at the event, along with Cy “Starship Troopers” Dethan, Nic “Cancertown” Wilkinson and Ian Sharman, co-founder of Orang Utan Comics.
In a posting on the shop’s blog (boy, these guys are organised when it comes to making the most of their web presence), shop owner Manny Amariohas written about the reasons for the continued existence of what has become known as Whatever Comics and the decision to relocate in such uncertain times for retailers. Here are the edited highlight…
“The answer is simple. Faith,” he writes. “I started Whatever Comics at a time when everyone told me that it was insane to start a business of any kind, let alone a comic shop. ‘A what shop? is that like, jokes?’
“”No, it’s like in paper pamphlets which tell cartoon style stories,’ was the easiest way to try to explain it to the average Sun Reader.
“‘You’re MAD!’ was the usual reaction.”
“‘You need to grow up was another,’ and this coming from someone clutching the Sunday Sport. Yeah right.. We had, negative equity in those days, not to mention unemployment, banks and stock markets crashing and burning… bit like a credit crunch, same soup, but in a different kitchen.
“It had come to a point where I could have walked away, or stayed doing what I do… so in the spirit of Whatever, in the face of all opposition, and also finding myself without any ties, I decided that now would be a good time to go mainstream and hit the high street.
“…So why not walk away, after twenty years? Simple answers is, I wasn’t ready too, after years of believing in something, and then seeing that something become mainstream, with blockbuster movies, TV shows, and Superhero outfits available at Argos for your Friday Night fancy-dress party, it would have been rude not to have stayed, after all, it was down to the likes of myself and other forward thinking people that made it has come to pass… I may be at the bottom run of this industry as a retailer, but I am working in comics. I like to think that I have in some small way helped to open the doors of perception which could have very easily have been closed.
“…What was it like to move twenty years of life in three days? Hellish, much blood sweat and heated moments. Was it worth it? Hell yes, I am doing what I want to do, rather than doing what I am told to do, it doesn’t get much better that, discounting a date with Gillian Anderson that is… so as a summing up, wanting to believe is not enough, you actually have to believe.”
Congratulation to the Whatever Comics team and if you’re in Kent, look them up. Especially on the Saturday 18 October!
• Full details of the event can be found on the Whatever Comics website. The shop is located at 9 St. Peters St. High Street, Canterbury, CT1 2AT.
Telephone 01227 453226.
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.