Comic Oasis has most everything a comic-book customer might want—killer selection, a laid-back atmosphere and a friendly staff. Now, the shop at the north end of the Valley has something else to crow about—a nomination as the best comic book store in the world.
The shop is up for an Eisner Spirit Award, which honors comic book retailers that have helped better the industry. Named for legendary artist Will Eisner, the awards are like the Oscars of the comic book world. “It’s an honor,” says the store’s genial owner, Derrick Taylor, sporting a Captain Marvel T-shirt. “I’ve got a pretty good crew here.”
The store was named one of 17 international finalists last week (as a point of reference, there are more than 3,000 comic book stores just in the U.S.). The winner will be announced this week at the Comic-Con convention in San Diego, which is sponsoring the award.
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Comic Oasis was nominated three months ago—Taylor’s not sure by whom. He and his staff were asked to submit a video detailing their accomplishments and community outreach efforts. At first he was reluctant even to send the video. Some of the videos, he jokes, “Are done by Spielberg, there’s lights and flying saucers ... Ours was just [us] talking about what we do.”
But if Comic Oasis’ video was modest, its accomplishments are anything but. The shop has hosted luminaries such as ex-Marvel Comics chief Stan Lee and famed Spider-Man illustrator John Romita. Oasis has held fundraisers to benefit veteran comic book artists and has hosted events in conjunction with the local Boys and Girls Club.
Taylor grew up in Los Angeles; he wanted to run a comic book store from age 5. He joined the Navy, where he patrolled the Bering Strait in a submarine. When he left the service, he moved to Las Vegas with a friend. (“I didn’t want to see the ocean again.”) He went to work installing home theater systems, and finally bought Comic Oasis in 2005.
So, what makes for a good comic book store? “Enthusiasm,” Taylor says. “When you go in a store you can tell when someone likes what they’re doing.”