The Seattle area is losing two of its comics staples. Comics Dungeon and Corner Comics, a pair of non-profit comic stores owned by Scott & Lainie Tomlin, are closing their doors for good in the coming months.
In a Facebook post this morning, Scott Tomlin explained the reasoning behind the decision, citing business conditions in the region, changes within the comics industry, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic:
After 28+ years the time for Comics Dungeon and 39+ years for Corner Comics it is time for both to close. We are all so grateful to each person we have met over the years. The 15 years that Lainie and I have owned the stores have been amazing. The foundations that Marv and Steve put in at the Dungeon and Ron and Paige at Corner truly shaped businesses that are reflections of the communities they were built in.
We are proud of the changes both stores have made over the years, becoming businesses that welcomed diversity, inclusion and that created an atmosphere for families and kids. We are proud that over the last 3 years we have been able to help local schools create willing readers at all levels and embrace comics as a medium for education. None of this would have been possible without your support.
However, changes in the business climate in our area, major shifts in the comic industry plus the devasting impact of Covid-19 have put too much stress and costs on the stores. We have been working hard to put this off and we appreciate all the support we have received over the past few months. We will never forget the support we received from the GoFundMe that so many of you participated in as it has made the landing for our staff that much softer.
The post goes on to say that Corner Comics, which has already closed its storefront for good, will still be available for pickup for a few weeks, while Comics Dungeon will stay open and continue serving file customers through July 8th, with their last day overall in the store on July 18th.
The Tomlins bought Comics Dungeon in 2005 from original owner Steven Beard (who co-founded the store with Marv Brost in 1992). In 2017 the pair turned the store into a non-profit and founded the 501(c)3 non-profit C4C3 (Comics for Community, Compassion and Culture), an outreach program dedicated to putting comics into schools and libraries. The following year The Tomlins purchased Corner Comics, which opened in 1981.
Washington’s King County, where Seattle and the neighborhoods that Comics Dungeon and Corner Comics call home are located, has been hard-hit by the pandemic. Seattle was the first major US city to experience an outbreak of the coronavirus, and while many businesses in surrounding counties have been able to reopen already under the state’s phased approach, King County is still in Phase 1 of the reopening rollout (albeit a slightly modified version that allowed the stores to open in a limited capacity). A GoFundMe campaign had allowed both Comics Dungeon and Corner Comics to continue to pay their staff while waiting for federal aid.
It’s a shame to see two comic stores which have been in operation for so long closing up, particularly shops with such dedication to the community and expanding comics readership. It’s hard to deny the hardship placed on small businesses by the pandemic, though, and one wonders if the “major shifts in the comic industry” Tomlin notes on Facebook isn’t a reference to DC’s departure from Diamond and the complexity that comes from dealing with multiple distributors. On a personal note this is a big blow to the Seattle comics scene, as both Comics Dungeon and Corner Comics have some of the better back-issue selections in the area, and I’ve come to look forward to seeing the Tomlins at local cons, digging through their always-huge selection of 3-for-$1 comics and knowing any money I spent was going to a good cause. I sincerely hope that they and everyone who works at these two stores are able to land on their feet on the other side of this pandemic.
If you’re in the Seattle area, show some love to Comics Dungeon and Corner Comics by placing an online order or stopping by Comics Dungeon before they close their doors for good next month.