WASILLA — A new comic book shop is coming to the Valley as one of the select few shops in the state that offer new comics.
Luis and Amie Jo Nieves are set to open the doors for the first time this Saturday at 11 a.m. for the grand opening of Aegis Comics.
“I think it’s something people in the Valley were waiting for because they have to drive 70 miles round trip into Anchorage to buy brand new books. Now they’ll be able to get them right here,” Luis said.
This store was established out of two core principles, according to the couple. They said they wanted to create a safe place for kids to feel encouraged to read, whether it’s keeping up with their favorite series or starting for the first time. They also wanted to establish a local venue for avid comic book fans of all ages to shop for current, independent and vintage comics all in one place.
Luis said that Aegis will be one of the three pure comic book shops in the state, putting the Valley on the map with Anchorage and Fairbanks. MJ Cards and Comics offers some comics but not current issues and they focus more on cards games and regularly host role playing games and tournaments. Luis and Amie said that the focus of their shop is purely comics.
“My wife and I got this crazy idea to make positive place for the kids to show up and the adults who want to reminisce on the golden, bronze ages and silver ages of comics they can come here. We’re the first of its kind in several years here in the Valley,” Luis said.
They have a neighbor downstairs, Game Theory which is a hobby, toy and game store. Luis said they already have a great relationship and the two stores complement each other and will refer customers to each other.
Bosco’s is the only other comic book shop in the state that sells new comics. Luis said they purchases new releases from Diamond Comics, the only distributer of new comics in the world. They work directly with independent comics like TKO. This means all the current Marvel and DC comics come from Diamond. Now Valley comic book fans will no longer have to drive all the way to Anchorage and back for the latest Spider-Man or Bat-Man comic.
They recently picked up 700 brand new comics for the kids section. This is Amie’s favorite section.
“We want to encourage kids reading, give them incentives to come in, pick up a book, read to us, talk to us about it. I think we’ve lost a lot of that. Everything is so digital these days that you miss the excitement of turning the page,” Amie said.
Near the entrance is a glass pillar filled with high priced vintage editions. In the kid’s section, there’s several two dollar bins filled with vintage comic books in plastic casings, from WWII era Captain America evoking patriotism back home to the early editions of “The Uncanny X-Men” in the early sixties addressing prominent social issues like prejudice and the Red Scare. Luis said that growing up, he was influenced by the X-Men, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
“Instead of putting in a racial slur, he put in the word mutant or multiple as the racial slue and people got to see it from a different set of eyes,” Luis said.
He said these two dollar comics are great ways for kids to go back in time.
“They get to actually open up a comic book and look at all the crazy stuff our parents were looking at,” Luis said. “You’re looking at Evel Knievel, you know, the ad for the toys and it’s almost like stepping into a time capsule; all the crazy toys and what was influencing the generations back in the sixties and seventies.”
Luis said the store is filled with stories of good vs. evil and serves as a great tool to teach kids about morality, justice.
“Comics definitely represent that good conquers evil. It allows you to enjoy art and encourage creative thinking,” Luis said.
Luis served in the U.S. Coastguard and was also an Alaska State Trooper and Amie spent many years as a dispatcher.
“With our profession and all the bad we’ve seen, it’s nice to have the good, positive story,” Amie said.
Luis fell in love with comics when he was five and Amie found her adoration of comics later in the game when she fell in love with Luis. They two celebrated their wedding two years ago with a custom Deadpool cake.
Luis had to retire from AST when he was injured in Dillingham. With this store, he has the opportunity to be like Shazam, a kid in a man’s body. He can talk to people born years after his favorite charters were created and connect over those same characters who’ve not only preserved over the years but flourished, bringing multiple generations together under capes, web shooters and epic battles of good and evil.
“It’s been fun to watch him kind of flourish in the new avenue of life compared to our life before, being emergency services. And now, we get to have a little bit of newfound fun,” Amie said.
They want their store to be a beacon, a place that people know they are protected. It’s all in the name of store, Aegis.
“It is a mythical shield that belonged to Zeus and Athena. I learned of it when I served in the Navy as an Operations Specialist aboard USS Vincennes from 1988 to 1992. Vincennes was an Aegis Class Cruiser that was considered ‘the shield of the fleet.’ It inspired me to protect others. In this case, it represents protecting this art form/interest,” Luis said in a follow up message.
Luis and Amie gave away free comic books at Comic Comics at this year’s comic con to promote their upcoming store and keep up with the spirit of Free Comic Book Day, a tradition dating back to 2002. It takes place on the first Saturday of May. Independent shops across the nation offer free comics to encourage new readers. They plan to keep up with this tradition at their store and give out free comics each May.
Aegis Comics is located off Swanson Avenue near Carrs Safeway and Turn A Leaf thrift store. It’s on the second story above Game Theory. For more information, look up ‘Aegis Comics’ on Facebook or call them at 907-376-3400.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org