The Charlotte Geeks are so grateful to Spandex City for being this year’s Geek Gala sponsor! Mike and Baoding Fan just recently opened Spandex City, which features a great lounge where patrons can hang out, try out new games, and just socialize. I recently asked Mike and Baoding to participate in my 5QW series, and they graciously agreed.
What inspired you to open your store?
Short Answer: We love superheroes!
Longer Answer: Especially in these trying times, it’s comforting to escape into a world where extraordinary individuals with amazing powers champion good, while sharing enough flaws and weaknesses that we can still relate with them on some human level. We were looking for something uplifting and fun to bring to the community, and Spandex City was born! From the beginning, we wanted to be a different kind of comic shop. We envisioned a fun, bright, family-friendly environment that’s accessible to a wide audience of all ages and interests.
I noticed you tend to carry a lot more books vs. just comics – why is that?
A lot of people don’t realize that “comics” come in many different forms, including bound as “graphic novels”. We carry a lot of trade paperbacks and hardcovers because there are a lot of great stories out there that we want to share with our customers! We have a large selection of books for pre-readers developing the important inference skills necessary to reading comprehension, as well as graphic novel adaptations of familiar classics like “Treasure Island” and “The Three Musketeers”…and even non-fiction “cartoon history books” and “comic book biographies.”
You seem really invested in giving back to the community – what organizations are you involved with?
As a “neighborhood store”, we want to be good neighbors, and, as such, we are committed to being active members of our community. We host “parent education nights” at local schools to teach families how graphic novels can improve literacy, and we have “graphic novel fairs” to bring more books to school media centers. We also work with school literacy programs to provide incentives to students to read more! In addition, we have held three fundraisers for the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. We’ve sponsored a Little League Baseball team (the Couloak Pirates) and the Charlotte Browncoats’ event “Can’t Stop the Serenity” for Equality Now and Chai Hopes of Charlotte. Most recently, we signed on to be the title sponsor for Charlotte Geeks’ 2010 Geek Gala. We’ve also donated graphic novels to the USO Charlotte, and we gave away comics and books at “National Night Out” recently.
I know you have a family – has your view of comics and related genres changed now that you are seeing it through their eyes? Are there any characters that were your favorites that they love or hate?
When reading comic books as adults, we tend to focus on intricate artwork, epic action sequences, and complex character development — all of which are present in many titles. What we sometimes forget is how satisfying a straightforward ‘good vs. evil’ story with a solid dose of humor can be. Reading comics vicariously through a child’s eyes allows us to rediscover that superheroes can be great just because they’re super! Our kids love a lot of the same characters we grew up loving, such as Batman, Spider-Man, and Green Lantern. It’s also wonderful to see them fall in love characters we didn’t know (or pay much attention to) growing up, such as Thor, Zatanna, and War Machine.
Now, here’s the big question: If you were to suddenly find yourself in the League of Evil, what would you want your villian name to be?
We would never join the League of Evil (even if we were evil), because the lesson you learn in every story is that alliances of villains only last until someone has the opportunity to betray the other members for personal gain. That being said, we would want our villain names to be “Baron and Baroness von Backstabben” .
Find out more about Spandex City online at http://www.SpandexCity.com/or @spandexcity on Twitter