Sunday, June 14, 2009

After the Fire : Renton's Comic Den to reopen this Wednesday!

Even though fire and water are surely no friend to a comic book, Howard Wheatly, owner of The Comic Den, is rebounding with amazing speed and with tons of good spirits. Today, while visiting with him at site of the fire in his old shop on Wells Ave., things were being cleaned and moved and sorted by a team of friends and customers. The owner of the building at 822 S. Third Street, Bob Delancey, is also the owner of the now totaled building on Wells Ave. that was completely ruined a couple of days ago by a 5 Alarm Fire that struck. Howard is now in the process of moving into half of that store presence on South Third with the intention of opening his doors for business on this coming Wednesday at noon. That's right folks - new comic delivery on Wednesdays is back!

Howard is taking everything in stride these days. Approximately 80% of his stock was lost in the fire, but the remaining 20% was the stuff that was worth saving. In it were his gold and silver age comics. There was more to salvage than you would think - because of the plastic sleeves that covered the comic issues which lent needed protection . At this moment, the sorting process is taking place and those that can be recovered are being put into new plastic sleeves and being readied for the store's reopening in just three days.

Howard explained that at least all of his store inventory had been paid for and that most of his business is in new comics, and that is where he derives most of his revenue. Howard is looking at the cup half full these days - I mean, what else can you do? Which is why Howard struck the pose up above in the photo. Living proof that you can make lemonade from sucky situations.

While there I was amazed at the industriousness of everyone who scuttled around the wet and soot filled rooms that once was home to The Comic Den for nearly two decades.

This shot reminds me of Michelangelo's "Hand of God" - except that what we are looking at here is nothing pretty. That is where the ceiling used to be and where all the water from the firemens'
hoses rained down. Side rooms off of the main area were almost a complete write off as far as comics were concerned. Howard said that they would be lucky to scrape together 10% from the inventory in those rooms. I looked into these rooms and all I could really see was blackened and shriveled pages upon pages of books. Yuck.

The new location for The Comic Den is so close - just across the street. Handtrucks and armloads of rescued goods were being taken over as fast as they could be carried. No one seemed to stop to take a breath or take a break. Pure dedication. Determination at it's best.

Someone put this water bottle up against the temporary wire fence that surrounds the building front on Wells Ave. Change has been accumulating as people already start to pitch in and help. The biggest help, however, will be for all of the former customers and hopefully a whole generation of new ones, to come by on Wednesday for the delivery of the new comics with your greenbacks in hand. Now that would make a great start for The Comic Den Recovery Plan.

Ah, Joker - foiled again!! Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, The Comic Den will live to rule another day!

The Comic Den 822 South Third Street Renton WA
(their new digs!)
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1 comment:

Andy said...

That's some quality news there. I'm happy to hear the comic den isn't gone forever, and I must say, especially in recent days you've done an absolute first class job at covering everything happening around here. I don't know how you manage to do it.

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