How The Comic Book Shop Has Created a Haven for Diversity and Inclusion
Now in its 30th year, the North Wilmington business reminds underdogs that they're heroes, too.
The Comic Book Shop owners Patrick and Sarah Titus, with rescue dog Heyzel.//photo by Steve Legato
Traffic is tight inside The Comic Book Shop, even for a Saturday morning. Children, teens, parents and grandparents are all packed into the North Wilmington store to celebrate its 30th anniversary.
Long lines form between display tables covered with plastic-sealed comic books. The line snakes around a central hub where impossibly cheerful TCBS co-owner Sarah Titus gushes with customers over their purchases as she rings them up. Around the edges of the room, colorful displays offer collectibles, card games, board games, role playing games, and endless shelves of comics and graphic novels. A rainbow sign stuck to the front window of the shop proudly displays the TCBS motto: “All Welcome, Just Be Nice!”
March 16 marked 30 years of operations for The Comic Book Shop. Sarah’s husband, co-owner Patrick Titus, has been around for more than half of that time. He’d worked at the shop for eight years when his boss retired, handing the business over to the couple. Since then, the pair have spent nine years making the shop a haven for a diverse and growing community of comic book fans.
Sarah sees the shop’s mission of inclusion as a core part of its identity. “You learn how to be a good person from reading superheroes, and we’ve made (TCBS) a place where, whoever’s being picked on, that’s who we’re gonna help out,” she says. “Who’s under attack right now? We’re going to raise funds for them, we’re going to raise visibility for them.”
Sarah and Patrick Titus have made the shop a haven for a diverse community of comic book fans.//photo by Steve Legato
When a group of young teens wanted a place to hang out after school, TCBS started an after-school program. When members of their monthly book club said they wanted a separate space to talk about more personal issues, TCBS created two new book clubs: one for LGBTQ comics fans and another for women and those who identify as outside of a male-female binary.
When those book clubs had a food-themed month, they organized a donation drive for Food Not Bombs, which prepares and gives away free vegan and vegetarian meals from food that would otherwise go to waste. “It’s great,” Sarah says, “because as many times as we say, ‘Hey, can you bring in stuff for this thing?’ people will.”
Each polychromatic shelf displays pictures of comic book creators alongside their work, part of TCBS’ efforts to show diversity in the medium. Every month has a theme focused on awareness: Black History Month, Pride Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
“As many awarenesses as we have the energy to put on the schedule,” Sarah says. Each month highlights different voices. The couple want to make sure that anyone who walks into the shop can see themselves in the stories and the people who create them.
“We’re on a swing with many other shops across the country that are being open and aware of other people, and we both just grew up that way,” says Sarah. “You just don’t be a jerk. Be nice to people. That’s all you gotta go by.”
The Comic Book Shop
1855 Marsh Rd., Wilmington • 477-1119