Sunday, December 27, 2015

New comic book store flying high in Benicia

(Originally published in the 12/27/15 edition)

   Comic book stores: the final frontier for Benicia. This is the story of the newest specialty shop in town: Zeppelin Comics. Its long-term goal: to sell unique goods, to frequently bring in a variety of customers, to boldly go where no local business has gone before. 
   Zeppelin Comics opened its doors to the public on Dec. 5, but the new comic book and collectibles shop’s staff had been promoting the store on sites like Facebook as far back as June. The store is run by husband and wife Dan and Natasha Curtis with Natasha serving as the primary owner. The couple had wanted to run a business in Benicia for a long time and settled on a comic book store to fill a void in town.
   “There really hasn’t been a comic book shop in town for a while- I don’t know if ever,” Dan said. “The nearest neighboring store is over 10 miles away, so my wife and I would have to constantly drive to Berkeley, and I know other people in town were driving out to Concord and Suisun. We’ve always wanted to have a store in Benicia, so we figured comics was the way to go.”
   Zeppelin Comics differs from the typical image of comic book stores in two ways. The first is that it sells more than just comic books. Patrons also can pick up graphic novels, T-shirts, toys and collectibles related to the worlds of superheroes, science fiction and fantasy. Among the available items are a plastic model of the Starship Enterprise from “Star Trek,” a plush of Marvel’s Deadpool character and a figurine of Daenerys Targaryen of “Game of Thrones,” complete with a dragon.
   The other major difference is in the store’s design. Unlike the typically dingy, dimly lit comic book shops, Zeppelin Comics is brightly lit with a shiny wood-panel floor and metallic-colored walls. In fact, the store’s industrial look is paying homage to the Cold War era, which coincided with the silver age of comic books where Spider-Man, The X-Men and The Flash all made their debuts. The appearances of zeppelins in many of these comics provided inspiration for the name.
   “It evokes a time period and style that we’re trying to convey to our customers,” Dan said. “It’s an old-time, peaceful, world-traveling silver-aged motif.”
   The shop also has a game space where people can bring their games, tabletop and roleplaying games. The store also hopes to host a variety of events.
   “We’re trying to bring in local artists as well as some others to do signings,” Dan said. “We’re also looking to do launch parties, game nights and book clubs based on various genres and genders.” 
     In the few weeks the store has been open, Dan says the response has been very positive. 
   “People have been stopping by, and they like the store,” he said. “It’s got a different feel than your average comic book store. It’s open, well-lit, well-adorned and peaceful. It’s a place that people can come, browse and enjoy talking with others about all things comic and comic-related.”
   The Curtises hope their store can become a major community hangout.
   “Mostly we hope to be a spot that people come to and know about,” Dan said. “We want to partner with the libraries in town- both the public library and various school libraries. We want to have regular events and just be a place that’s known for not just the youth but also their parents and everybody in town.”
   Zeppelin Comics is located on 191 East H St. and is open from noon to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays through Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. The store’s website can be found at

(All photos by Nick Sestanovich)
Star Wars merchandise on display at Zeppelin Comics in honor of "The Force Awakens."

Mannequins Lynn and Zep, seen here dressed as Princess Leia and Obi-Wan Kenobi, will continue to have rotating outfits. 


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