On Monday following X-Con World at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, the Corsair Comic shop in downtown Myrtle Beach closes its door to remodel and rebrand the store under its new moniker, X-Con Comics. “We built a successful convention because we did things differently,” Robin Roberts, co-owner of Corsair/X-Con Comics says. “There are four comic book stores in town and all of them are the same, same product, same attitude. We’re over it.”
Plans call for expanding the game room, putting in a community room offering education and entertaining activities related to comics and gaming. Plans also call for kids’ art camps and adult art classes, in-store artist and writer signings, stage performances, independent movie nights, trivia nights (like bar trivia, only nerd-centric) and a dedicated X-Con gift shop. “We’ve even tossed around the idea of doing a zombie apocalypse preparedness course and making it Myrtle Beach specific,” Roberts says.
“We're in talks with several artists that we met at C2E2 (Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo) a few weeks ago,” Steve Haines, the shop’s co-owner, adds. “And we’ll be bringing in some comic creators for in-store signings this year as well.”
Haines is a 14-year veteran of the Myrtle Beach comic scene, he ran Heroes Hangout for seven years and Corsair Comics for another seven. Now, he and Roberts aim to morph X-Con Comics into a whole different animal. “We’re doing wall-to-wall renovations in a couple of weeks,” Haines says. “New product lines, new ’50s and ’60s décor, we’re taking a whole new approach to our retail philosophy.”
“We decided to make an experience, a comic book store like you’ve never seen,” Roberts adds. “Our product won’t be displayed in a traditional way. It’s like what Disney does with atmosphere. They make you believe you’re in a different world. It will be like a nerd bar where nerds can hang out and socialize.”
Comic shops have gotten a rap for being a pretty exclusive club, where diehard fans will laugh in your face and call you a Nerf Herder if you don’t know the difference between “X-Men” and “Uncanny X-Men.” With comics moving into the mainstream of entertainment and their sales rising, means an influx of new customers discovering this new culture. “We want to make an open environment,” Roberts says. “Comic shops can be intimidating sometimes.”
But newbies are welcome.
“I have customers come in every week that have never been to a comic shop before,” Haines adds. “They’ve recently read a comic on X Box or at a news stand and are looking to expand their reading experience.”
They approach the other comic shops in town the same way, with open arms. “We build more gravity by working together, attract more people to us and that’s better for everyone,” Roberts says. “I’ve even suggested that the different shops start playing ‘Magic the Gathering’ against each other as leagues. It’s all a part of strengthening our community.”
Roberts has a definitive and clear vision of what he thinks a comic book shop can be. And with his army of volunteers, he has the confidence and support to bring his vision into fruition. “I’m getting my minions together, everyone’s welcome,” Roberts says. “Our volunteers are just as invested in this as we are. It’s orchestrated madness. When we’re done, we are going to go out and give presentations in other places to tell people what we did and how we did it, give everyone a chance to join us with our movement.”
When will the big reveal take place?
“We’re reopening on June 1st,” Haines says.
“But we’re not going to cut people totally off,” Roberts says. “We’ll be like a speakeasy. If you know the special knock, we’ll slip your new comics through a crack in the door.”
- Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge