Super-Fly Comics and Games| Photo by Diana Jaber | The Wright State Guardian
Situated in downtown Yellow Springs, Ohio is Super-Fly Comics and Games, a comic book shop providing a haven for geeks from all walks of life.
The business opened in 2007 by current owner Anthony Barry and Thacher Cleveland, who worked with Barry at the nearby Dark Star Books and Comics.
“I’ve been a fan [of comic books] my entire life,” Barry said. “I cannot remember a point in my life when I didn’t have comics in my hand.”
Both wanted to expand the comic and game section at Dark Star more than the owners were comfortable with, so they purchased what is now Urban Gypsy and moved into their current space at 132 Dayton Street a year later. Cleveland left in 2008 due to personal reasons, and current manager Jared Whittaker filled the vacancy.
The stock at Super-Fly Comics and Games includes issues from superhero staples Batman and the Avengers but also books from such series as “The Umbrella Academy” and “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.” The shop also carries Magic: The Gathering cards, Funko Pop! figures, equipment for role-playing games and many other items.
Challenges in the comic industry
One of the big challenges that Barry and Whittaker have been addressing with the shop is the ever-changing comic book industry. When the business started, the biggest comic book movie was “Spider-Man 2” and the Marvel Cinematic Universe was a year from its inception.
“It was not necessarily not a mainstream thing, but it isn’t like the economic juggernaut that powers every industry at this point,” Whittaker said. “[The challenge is] just dealing with that groundswell of public opinion, where it’s truly a mainstream thing which has its own headaches and expectations and trying to keep up with that.”
The shop has also had to deal with employees stealing from them, floods, fires and multiple economic recessions.
“A lot of it ends up being in the financial area, but there’s a whole lot more little things that add up,” Whittaker said.
Adapting to a new normal
According to Barry, sales at Super-Fly were down 40% last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and that number only concerns sales at their store in Yellow Springs.
“That doesn’t account for all of the conventions that we missed,” Barry said. “Normally, I run 20 to 30 conventions a year, and I got to do one of those last year.”
The store adapted by launching a Shopify page and bringing their video podcast back for several weeks.
“It started out trying to have a business-as-usual-on-a-Wednesday kind of thing, since Wednesday is New Comic Day, keeping the ritual and the commitment to it, and then it just turned into a way to connect with people who otherwise couldn’t be in the store,” Whittaker said.
Customer Johnathan Coble has only been to Super-Fly twice, but so far, his experience has been positive.
“I’m not a huge comic guy, but if I was, this would probably be the place to come because it looks like they have everything you could want,” Coble said. “It seems like a really great store.”
For the future of the store, Barry and Whittaker are looking to continue to provide comic books and other media for anyone who comes into the store for as long as they can.
“We are going to be here and we are going to be putting pop culture, comics, media and literature in front of our audience as best we can until somebody stops us,” Barry said.