I stopped by my friendly neighborhood comic book store the other day just to browse and hangout a little. I like the store’s friendly atmosphere and enjoy listening to the witty repartee that goes on between James Nurss, the owner of First Aid Comics, and his customers.
As climbed the stairs to the loft to check out the graphic novels I saw something that stopped me in my tracks. There was a life sized image of First Aid’s Igor- like mascot spray painted on the wall. He caught my eye and pointed up. “Just a few more steps master,” he seemed to say, “the heroes are waiting for you in the loft – may I recommend Iron Man: Stark Resilient, master?”
Cool! I thought, very cool, they should tell people about this guy. So, I got together with Terrance Curtis, the artist, and James to get the story behind First Aid Comics their very cool mascot.
A: When I was a kid my mom went to Erickson’s Institute which at the time was in the Hyde Park bank building and she’d drag me down and we’d go to the book stores…we’d go to Dr. Wax and I’d ask, “where’s the comic book shop mom?” And she’d say “there isn’t one.” So when I started thinking about opening up my own shop it was always in the back of my mind that Hyde Park should have a comic book shop. It’s a nice neighborhood.
Q: How long have you been open?
This is our fourth year. We were on 53rd Street. We’ve been in this location (1617 E. 55th Street) since May 2011.
Q: What kind of shop are you?
A: We’re a full service comic shop focused on the reader. We have clearance books, fifty cent books, lots of graphic novels and the latest releases. We also have collector books, but we sell those mostly at trade shows, so we’re definitely a reader shop not a collector shop.
A: People at comics conventions told me a store wouldn’t work on the South Side. But, but I had a sneaking suspicion from working in shops on the North Side and seeng how many South Siders were coming in that we were going to pull a lot of them and that’s been the case.
And we got lucky. We moved in right when (Marvel Comics) published of Spiderman meets Obama, which was a huge mega seller. We were in the perfect spot here in Hyde Park to benefit from the demand on the South Side. That’s what put First Aid Comics on the map.
Q: Terrance, tell me a little about yourself.
A: I’m a graphic artist working for retailers in Hyde Park as well as doing my own thing with air brushing and mural illustrations. I worked with Reggie’s Rock Club and a few other places…Christian Fields Style Bar, I did the logo for them and I pretty much did the logo for Reggie’s and a few other places…etcetera…etcetera
(James) Where’s that at?
A: (Terrance) I think I talked James into it.
Q: Tell me about that.
(Terrance) One day I realized that with the concept of First Aid James could really push the envelope by creating a mascot for his store, something kids would like.
I had a couple of ideas and they all dealt with the fifties. I guess the reason for that is because it’s the kind of stuff that me and James grew up watching. The old fifties monster movies, Dr. Frankenstein type stuff with Igor, his little henchman helper, and I thought maybe we could do something cool along those lines. That’s how Edgar came along.
Q: The character’s name is Edgar?
A: (Terrance) Yeah, James came up with the name.
(James) After Edgar Allen Poe
(James) It was pretty shortly after I opened, so it’s like three years old. It hasn’t been a huge image with us until we moved to this spot and then it really took off for us.
Q: So when Terrance came up with the idea for a mascot what did you think?
A: (James) I thought it was great. You want recognizable things. When we go to a (trade) shows people remember our booth because we’re wearing a lab coats and because of our logo. The same thing with Edgar, you brand things so people will remember your shop.
A: (Terrance) I definitely feel that Edgar has a personality. If you need to find where something is he’d hold the burning torch and have you come along with him and he’d show you which way to go… “this way! The Dr. is out but I’ll show you where that book is.” It’s not a reflection of the people who work for James – It’s just in a mascot sense.
(James) And I think his personality is still developing. He’s going to evolve with us.
(Terrence) Thanks for helping me out there.
(James) No, I don’t disagree with your, but he’s going to evolve with us as we figure out who we are and as we use more of Terrance’s images.
(Terrance) We’re thinking of using the image on the website and maybe as a character for First Aid’s comic strip. In the future, I see someone wearing an Edgar mask at trade shows to walk around to draw attention to the store. It has endless potential.
One of the reasons I’m into what James is doing here is because you want kids from this area code to have access to comic books.
I was talking to a guy at a comics convention last year and (D.C. Comics) about donating some comics for kids on the South Side. You’d be amazed at how many kids out there have never touched a comic book. So this guy gave me a bunch of books and I went home and passed them out to the kids in the neighborhood. It was something to see a 10 year old flip through the pages and watch his eyes light up. That’s what it’s all about.
A: (Terrance) Well, we agreed that he was going to be like a fifties tales from the crypt type character
(James) When Terrance asked me ‘do you want a mascot?’ I said yeah, give me a mascot, and he said this is what I’m thinking about, and I said yeah – do it. It’s my assumption that the more freedom I can give him the better the product. So he came up with Edgar. It’s pretty strongly Terrance.
A: (James) Well it’s pretty easy to be synced when somebody’s producing good work.
(Terrance) You’re just going to make a black man blush.
A: (James) I find that artistic people tend to do better if they can go and create first and when they come back you can say ok, but I need this.
A: (James) I said this is perfect…yeah. The only thing we discussed is putting bandages on his forehead.
(Terrance) He’s kind of like a mummy wrapped in bandages and also some kind of medical doctor.
Q: What’s been your customer’s reaction to Edgar?
A: (James) The piece on the wall gets a lot of reaction because it looks so good and it’s so much bigger. People ask ‘has this always been here?’ you can’t help but see it and react to it.
A: (James) The probability of a second location on the south side. But we haven’t announced where. It was supposed to come early this year and it hasn’t happened but by the end of this year we hope that it’s opened.
Q: Will it be further north or south?
A: It will be further south. That’s all I’m saying.
(Terrance) Awww, it must be a cool one. Will it have a roller coaster Mr. Nurss?
(James) It’s going to have a roller coaster.
Q: What’s next for you Terrance?
A: Very soon I want to do a book signing here at First Aid Comics of my own book. I’m in production trying to get it together now. I’m also working on a mural for this wall (In the loft).
Q: What’s the mural going be about?
A: (Terrance) It’s pretty much going to be a bunch of super heroes and super villains tearing up Hyde Park. Edgar’s going to be there. So right now we’re putting together the concepts and in about a month it should be up there and looking good and beamin.’
Q: Anything else? Anybody?
A: (Terrance) Oh! And I’m a Leo and looking for a Sagittarius, naw, I’m good.
A: (James) Thank you.