Arizona’s World Famous Atomic Comics Closes For Good

Posted Monday, August 22nd, 2011 08:00 pm GMT -4 by

It was announced officially this morning that Atomic Comics, one of America’s best known comic book stores, has closed up shop for all four of its Arizona-based stores. The abrupt shut-down came as surprise to employees, fans, and the comic industry in general. Word started leaking out yesterday but the worst fears were confirmed this morning in a newsletter from Atomic Comics owner Michael Malve.

In the newsletter, titled “My Final Report”, Malve blames the decision on the economy, stating, “I had hoped to be the superhero and triumph over the recession, but sadly the economic downturn of the past 5 years has proven to be unsustainable.” He goes on to pinpoint one event as the beginning of the downturn. In 2006, the Mesa Atomic Comics shop lost over a million dollars in inventory when a car crashed into the store’s main window, bursting a water main the process. The store was closed for several months for repairs and, when it reopened, many of the shop’s regular customers did not return.

When word broke about the closing, Twitter lit up with kind words and condolences from the comic sector. Comic creators Jim Lee, Brian Michael Bendis, Joe Quesada, Dan Slott, Kevin Smith, and Warren Ellis had nothing but nice things to say about the shop and its owner. They called the shop “the best retailer ever” and said that Malve was “pure comics”.

A more dire reaction from others in the comic industry was the cry that the closing was a sign of the death of print comics. While it’s true that digital comics are becoming more and more common with DC Comics even announcing that all of their books will be coming out day-and-date in both print and digital formats beginning with this September’s ‘New 52’, I have no doubt that print comics will continue. The closing of a single shop, especially one that’s been suffering financially, isn’t the end of the industry. Atomic Comics did not close down overnight. What I’d be more concerned about is that Atomic Comics was allegedly one of the biggest customers of Diamond Comic Distributors and what that will mean for the distribution powerhouse since it distributes comics to pretty much every comic shop in America.

What do you think? Is the closing of Atomic Comics a sign of a coming comic book apocalypse or merely a sign of bad economic times in general? Do you read comics in digital and, if you do, are you finding yourself reading fewer print comics these days?

Leave your thoughts on the closing, the state of the comic industry, and whatever else you want below.

  • Chris Nixon

    This indeed sucks.  Luckily my local shop seems to be going strong at the moment.

    • Hopefully it continues to do so.

  • I agree that this really does suck but I think this could be the beginning of the end of traditional brick and mortar stores.  Even the publishers seem to be realizing this.  DC going to digital distribution on the same day as paper release is going to continue to hurt the stores.  The spreading of digital comics is what I think could truly spell the end of your local comic book store which is something I will be very sad to see.  There are 2 comic books stores within 15 minutes of me and both are bound to be feeling some of the hurt.

  • This is tough. Part of me would love to see everything digital, easier for storage. Problem is not everything I want is on digital so I’ve invested a few bucks into buying original print copies. What I don’t want is to own both, for me it’s one or the other. Well, maybe buying that one or two rare comics for collection sake, but never open.

    • For me electronic just isn’t quite the same. There’s something about the feeling of the paper in your hand that make the experience better for me.  Its strange because I love using my Kindle to read books.

      • I do prefer print. The main issue comes with older comics, they range anywhere from a few dollars to hundreds. If available on digital they would only be $2-$3 and condition would never be an issue. 

        • I do like the idea for older comics.  It ensures that they won’t be lost or destroyed due to time, weather etc.  In fact I did buy the DVD Marvel put out of all the old Iron Man comics.  Its incredible that so many comics fit on one DVD and I enjoy reading the old books.  I just wish I could print them out and read them haha.

      • Ze

        I wish I could hit the like button over and over on that one. There is something about sitting back all relaxed on my bed with the comic in hand, flipping through pages and seeing the art on paper as it was originally meant to be seen.  I saw some samples online and while it looked amazing, the experience was different…there’s a disconnect for me. 

        • That’s it exactly. It’s a disconnect! Reading books of any sort on a screen doesn’t have the same emotional impact on me as reading a ‘real’ book. I have tried a friend’s Kindle and Nook. I’ve read some comics on my iPod. And, while I see the convenience, I just can’t bring myself to read a book that way.The only exception is Marvel’s Unlimited subscription service and that’s simply because it gives me access to thousands of back-issues on my desktop for a few dollars a month. If I had to buy these same issues in print, I’d have to have millions of dollars to spend. Of course, if I did have Bill Gates levels of cash on hand, you can bet I’d have a library of key back-issues.

  • Bob Hasten

    I was a box holder and lost a box full of comics that I paid for.  They didnt send me anything saying they were closing and by the time I figured it out it was too late.