The foundation of ComicBook.Com is comics. While we love to cover all aspects of pop and geek culture, our roots lie in the comics community and the plethora of characters and stories that have sprung from it. If you speak with anyone in the comics community about what has made the medium successful in North America, you’ll quickly discover one answer that stands far above the rest: local comics stores. They are the bedrock of comics in the United States and Canada, supporting fans, communities, and conventions with open doors and a dedicated staff.
This year on ComicBook.Com we are highlighting this important aspect of comics and culture by taking a look at one local comic store each week. These are stores that embody what it means to support culture and community. We hope you can visit some of them throughout 2017.
For many readers comics are just something that come out every Wednesday, whether there’s snow, rain, heat, or gloom of night. They’re part of a reliable cycle of entertainment that always delivers. Once you dig into the industry though, you learn that the seemingly effortless arrival of comics requires a lot of work. If you want to make comics work, much less work in comics, you have to be scrappy. There are few local comics shops that show off their hustle quite as well as Jetpack Comics in Rochester, New Hampshire. Quite frankly, they deserve more hype.
Jetpack Comics has been around for just over a decade now. They missed out on the bubble of the 90s and have been part of the rising tide of the current revitalization of the medium in America. However, the store’s owner and manager Ralph has been part of the comics game for much longer than that. He started working with comics by buying and selling books at a flea market in the late 1970s. What some might describe as his “big break” came in 80s though.
Two of his frequent customers at that flea market were young men by the names of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. If you don’t recognize them, then you’ll surely recognize their best known creation: the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Ralph became friends with the pair of ambitious young artists and eventually found himself organizing the show where they debuted the first issue of their new comic book. That’s how Ralph wound up with 500 issues of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (worth thousands of dollars today depending on quality) and two lifelong boosters for Jetpack Comics.
A long history of selling comics, organizing fans, and working with talented new creators is what led Ralph to found Jetpack Comics in 2007. He had the knowhow already, but there was still a long hill to climb in order to find success. The store began with list of customers from a local shop that had just failed and support from Larry’s Comics in Lowell, MA to obtain their early order. Despite that ominous bit of news, Ralph was not deterred. He says, “I approached it from the ‘’if you build it they will come’ attitude.” Having watched other shops fail in the area, he used that experience to avoid pitfalls and give Jetpack Comics its best possible shot. It began with just Ralph and a teacher-friend off for the summer. From there it has grown significantly.
What did Ralph do to make Jetpack Comics the success it is today? Click ahead to find out more.