Another closing of a comic shop; another end to a piece of one’s comic community.

For the last six and a half years, Villainous Lair has served as not only a comic and game store, but a hub for many comic book and popular culture fans in San Diego, California.

Villainous Lair Comics first opened in 2011, located in the neighborhood of Normal Heights. The following year, they opened a separate but nearby store for gaming, appropriately called Villainous Lair Gaming. When the opportunity arose a couple years ago to join the two stores into “one-nerdy-entity” in a larger location still close-by, they jumped on it. Since then, the fun décor, the knowledgeable staff, and the caring management had always set the store above others.

I wish I could say here that Villainous Lair lived happily ever after, but then there would be no point to this article. By various sources, it seems that the increased cost of the new location’s rent coupled with stunted sales throughout 2017 made it all too apparent to management that they couldn’t keep it going for too much longer. Despite attempts at finding buyers or investors, as well as a Gofundme page with a goal of $40,000, the store couldn’t find a way around the closure, now slated for the 31st of this month.

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On their last day, Villainous Lair will stay open “till the stroke of Midnight,” as their website announced. Though they will still be open for a few days afterward to give customers a chance to pickup their final pulls, they will be done with normal operations. Posted on their website, owner Alison Flynn had this to say at the end of the store’s closure announcement:

“I’m taking solace in the fact that, for the last six and a half years, I’ve owned a community space that has brought some measure of happiness to some of the awesomest people I’ve ever met. You guys have been the best minions and customers an Evil Overlord could ever have asked for. The creative energy, the nerdy camaraderie, the long nights of geeky discussions, the dreams and the quests and the stories, oh, all of it, the stuff makes us human, it all comes back to the storytelling…”

It’s not hard for us all to become numb to these stories of independent comic shops having to close, the last couple years seeing the end of Bonanza Books and Comics, Zanadu, and Legacy Comics. Though, still, at the end of the day, we are all left with the holes that these fine establishments have left behind, of which no online store can truly fill.

Goodbye Villainous Lair. From one San Diegan, you will be missed.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Main problem for me is the same it’s been for a while now, I simply can’t afford comics at 3.99 and 4.99 an issue.

  2. Feels like a return to the mid-1990s, with all these comic shops going under.

    I recall a comment I saw tweeted: it may be a mistake to aim comics at anyone but “traditional fans,” because only traditional fans are stupid enough to pay current prices for them. Even that doesn’t seem to be true anymore.

  3. That really annoys me that people say they can’t afford comics. I bet half these people that complain about comic prices also go to bars and coffee shops and get either $5 beers or lattes almost every day.

  4. Nope, I don’t like coffee and I don’t go to bars. My money goes to food and utilities and every month I’m on a knives edge and that’s the way it’s going to be for another year at least. Think of the average comic book storyline and how long it goes, five or ten issues, crossovers, special events… Add it all up and you’re looking at a minimum credit card payment or paying an ever increasing electrical or tuition bill. Comics are entertainment for those who can afford it, and they aren’t affordable to me at 3.99 or 4.99 an issue.

  5. @Mark

    I’m sorry about your situation. Going to school and paying bills is tough. Still I believe comics are affordable and a lot of people could afford more if they budgeted better. The amount of work that goes into comics, from conception to print is insane. I honestly believe $4 is a reasonable price. For me, I’m more likely to believe that comics aren’t selling as well because of quality instead of cost.

    But really the whole comic book industry is in a bad situation. Right now there are so many free comics online that people can read (regardless of quality) so why would people want to buy a $4 comic? I’m sure internet caused a lot of competition to print comic but at the same time a lot of internet comics are giving away their work for free just for exposure. I think a lot of problems come down to the fact that the average person feel that art should be free.

    This probably sounds like a bunch of rambling but whatever, this is just what I’ve been thinking about comics and art lately.

  6. One of the great things about collecting comics is that you can spend as little or as much a month as you like. While I agree Marvel raised cover prices to $4 just because they could and should lower their cover price to $3 that’s not likely to happen. My recommendation for fans on a tight budget is to find just one monthly title they like, follow that title, and resist the urge to be a completist.

  7. If you scratch beneath the surface of many “I can’t afford comics” comments, you often find that people aren’t literally saying “I don’t have $4.99 to spend” but rather “it isn’t worth it to me to spend $4.99 on that comic” That is–it’s a comment not about price, but about *value*. If people who don’t feel that they get $4.99 worth of enjoyment from 20-some pages of stapled-together comic book goodness nonetheless feel that they do get $4.99 worth of enjoyment from a latte or a beer, that’s certainly reasonable.

  8. @Lamont and Tommy:
    Yeah these are both very good points. Right now I only regularly buy one comic series because there aren’t many comics I think are worth it right now quality wise. I actually buy a lot more graphic novel collections of comics because they keep better than stapled comics and I can trick people into thinking I have a real book shelf.

  9. Agree, the cost of comics, games and figures has risen higher then the price of inflation. Adjusted for inflation and cost of living from 1960 Marvel – DC titles would be around $1.50 each. The stores are probably just adding a normal retil markup-doubling their wholesale prices. Add on rents in trendy neighborhoods like Normal Heights, where Villianous Lair was, and the fact that large numbers of gamers spend nothing in stores. All those things should change.

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