FARMINGTON – Stepping into Farmington’s Tales of Tomorrow is like traveling to another era. In fact, upon entering the store, the first sound a customer hears is the door-swoosh sound effect of the U.S.S. Enterprise.
The comic book shop opened on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 25 of last year, making it one of the only stores of its kind in the Four Corners in recent years.
“It’s an idea I used to toy with because I’m a longtime comic book reader,” said owner Steve Clark. “I just didn’t have any capital with which to perpetrate such a thing. I was a schoolteacher for over a decade and socked a lot of money away in retirement funds and cashed them out to start this business.”
Clark is passionate about comics as a medium for storytelling.
“It’s still a powerful medium,” he said. “There’s a reason that it’s hot right now in cinemas and on television, but I assure people the source material will leave an even more significant mark inside you than a movie. The comics that we’ve read and reread still speak to us.
“As you change as a reader, revisiting material you see things – I read ‘Watchmen’ every five years, and it’s a different experience every single time, just because I’m a different person,” Clark said.
When it comes to comic book titles, Tales of Tomorrow has the expected mainstream comics by publishers such as Marvel and DC, but it also has indie and self-published comics the likes of which would be difficult to find anywhere else. For instance, the shop sells “The Sixth World,” written and illustrated by Durangoan and Fort Lewis College graduate Kayla Shaggy. The sci-fi comic is about a Navajo girl who fights giant insects and the like on Mars.
Clark also plans to create comics in-house.
“We’re planning to produce our own ashcan of locally written and illustrated work called ‘Tales of Tomorrow,’” he said. “We have a drawing night every Wednesday, so we already have a community of artists that likes to hang out and participate. We’ll self-publish something and that’ll be kind of fun.”
In addition to monthly comics – a new batch hits the shelves every Wednesday – the store sells trade paperbacks and graphic novels, manga, cosplay materials and how-to books, model kits, toys, used books and LPs .
Cosmic CaféThe comic book shop, is only half of the business. Sharing a wall and taking up a similar amount of space, is the Cosmic Café, a sci-fi themed café run by Ren Harris.
“We knew that we wanted to open up a comic book shop, and I knew that I wanted to do some sort of baking aspect to it,” Harris said. “So originally, we wanted to find a space that maybe we could have had a very small little corner café in. But while we were looking, we found this really cool spot … it’s two store fronts and we thought maybe we should just go for it and do a full-fledged café.”
Harris hopes to have the café up and running by late July or early August.
“I just want to provide a cool place for people in this town,” she said. “I just really hope that when I open up my café, it gives the different teens a place that they can call home.”
Tales of Tomorrow Vol. 2The comic shop’s business is trending upward, and after just six months, it is approaching a break-even point, Clark said.
“I think that is not easy for a specialty store in this economy, but it does sort of demonstrate that we are serving a need – that there’s an underserved niche in the Four Corners. We have customers as far as Utah,” he said.
“It reassures me that even though we have toys and a few games and the other sorts of nerd paraphernalia that one would anticipate in a comic book store, really, people are coming in for comics,” Clark said. “That’s great … that’s what I’m passionate about. There’s something about the ability to read and reread something and that enriches you.”
Is there a chance that Tales of Tomorrow may expand across the state line into another town with no comic book shop? Clark and Harris both see it as a possibility.
“We didn’t see any place like it in Farmington, so we decided to make it,” Harris said. “We eventually want to get it up in Durango.”
“I’m a firm believer that if you want something and it doesn’t exist, you should make it,” he said.