Hi, my name is Alex Carter. I’m a comics nerd. I’m also a fan of private detective and spy novels along with superheroes. I wear superhero t-shirts with my jeans and Reeboks. I consider the t-shirt and jeans my business casual clothing. I’m balding but keep my hair short even though I sometimes think it makes me look like my dad. I wear glasses as I can’t get beyond poking myself in the eye every day to wear contacts. I’m weight challenged; despite this I love hamburgers and onion rings. And Chinese food is my kryptonite, which is why I work out with Loire my personal trainer and I’d rather drink a rum and coke instead of a beer. And if I’m wanting a soda it’s Mt Dew as any nerd will tell you is the nectar of the gods. I was born in the Eighties but don’t worry about birthdays as they are just numbers. I feel young and plan on living forever. If only some scientist would discover the fountain of youth, I’d be good.
I own the Comics Clubhouse in the wet city of Seattle, Washington. Specifically, in the University District which is called that as it’s a few blocks away from the University of Washington. It’s an area of small businesses that grew up around catering to the students who attend the University. Including bookstores, restaurants, and tattoo parlors. I bought it almost five years ago from the previous owner. Along with my comicbook store there are a couple of others. One of those stores, Wicked Words & Pictures, being my rival, I might even say my nemesis. Run by a shady woman named Cyan Bloodworth. Ya I don’t think that’s her real name but that’s what her business cards say. How do I know she’s shady? And no, it’s not just because of her “fake” name. She certainly fits the part. Hair as dark as night and skin as pale as Caspar the Friendly Ghost. She dresses in black leather. Her lips are high-lighted by red lipstick the color of blood and fingernails to match. Her eyebrow is pierced, along with a nose piercing. When she shows skin there are tattoos peeking out from under the leather. Frankly, I don’t know if she’s shady but there are rumors. And yes, there’s been no evidence to support the rumors. Just you know you hear things. I know I shouldn’t be saying this, and I’d never say it in a public forum. I don’t think Loire, who is not only my personal trainer but my lawyer also, would approve of my making that kind of statement without evidence to back it up. Let’s just say I’d be careful of buying any comic signed by the creators. Even if it does come with a certificate of authenticity. I do know of one incident where a customer bought a Superman comic supposedly signed by the creator and when they sent it off to be authenticated it came back as fraud. Cyan did make good on it, telling everyone she got taken in also. I would have thought though as an expert comics buyer she would have vetted the comic before purchasing it. At least that’s what I would have done. But then obviously I’m not her. Did I mention we’d dated before Wicked Words was opened? To my chagrin yes we dated.
I used to be a radio DJ. Something I’d dreamed of since I was old enough to imagine what I wanted to be when I grew up. I had it all planned out. I focused on radio as the career for me. Once I was granted my dream job it soon became apparent the idea was way more exciting than the reality. My imagination had made it considerably more fun and less work-like than it turned out to be. I stuck with it though and was able to fulfill the ambition I’d created as a youth. That is until the station I was working at decided rock-n-roll wasn’t cutting it financially. The rumors started to swirl around the station going to soft rock. I became way less happy with my dream job. I really didn’t see a life of soft rock in my future.
As a kid I loved reading. Anything. And comics were one of those anythings I loved to read. That meant that I searched for comicbook stores all over the Seattle area. I may have made my parents crazy with my requests to be driven to a comic store I either read about online or one of my friends told me about. The one I remember most was this small hole in the wall location that was dark and dusty and wonderfully full of the written word. One day I was out riding my bike, exploring, when I stumbled onto the store. It didn’t have a name, that was visible, due to the decades of weather and time. The facade was in need of a paint job and the windows were so caked in dust you couldn’t see through to the interior. The neighborhood was just south of where I lived. It was a strange looking building right in the middle of the neighborhood and certainly seemed out of place. The building almost seemed to appear out of thin air as I’d biked around my neighborhood for what seemed like forever. but I’d never noticed the store before. When I ventured inside though I was in comicbook heaven. The owner was a gruff older man, until you got to know him and he you, who gave me a real appreciation for comics. Actually anything with words. The store was stuffed. If you were looking for a comicbook the owner would probably have it and if it were a book you were looking for, he’d have it and if you were looking for magazines or even newspapers from the past guess what he’d more than likely have it.
When I discovered, through a recommendation, the store that eventually became the Comics Clubhouse I was immediately reminded of that store and great times I had there. I always thought that would be a fun way to spend your day, reading and talking about comic books.
There were times when my parents needed “alone time” and they’d drop me off at the movies or the library or the comicbook store. I grew up reading comic books and private detective novels along with James Bond novels. My young world was superheroes, private eyes, and spies. Even my TV watching was inhabited by those ideals.
Then as I grew older, I discovered the Comics Corner. After a brief sojourn into cars and girls, I found I was a shy nerd when it came to the fair sex, my love of comics returned. Comic collecting was way easier. Discovering the Comics Corner was a breath of fresh air after trying to buy this month’s latest Spider-man of the rack at 7-11. The Comics Corner was a small comic store at the edge of the U-district. It reminded me of the first comic store I ever shopped at in my youth. I ended up becoming quite good friends with the owner an older gentleman named Stuart. It was interesting that Stuart was that first shop’s owners name. That appreciation can be seen in the Comics Clubhouse to this day.
My friend Jimmy, who you will meet later, helps me with my computer stuff and my parents also help me out when needed. The building that houses the Comics Clubhouse is also home to series of apartments and my parents, Betty and Chester, live in one of the units about my store. Convenient and scary. The scary part is Betty believes I will starve unless she brings me food. The problem, for me, is she can’t cook. Yes, me, hell, I get it. I’m sorry but that’s the truth. Convenient part is I have someone to cover the store when I need to not be there. Conventions, vacations, and mental health days are so much easier with the parents for backup.
I do struggle with relationships with women. I tend to jump to conclusions over their feelings for me. My imagination kicks in with a fantasy and before I know it, I’m stuck in an embarrassing situation of thinking a woman is interested in me and in fact she’s just been friends with me. Nothing romantic at all. Part of that is my growing up reading about hero’s and fantasizing about being that hero. Then TV is rather careless in showing the guy always getting the girl. And yes, I know it’s all for the story but when you’re a shy, overweight, guy with low self-esteem with an active imagination it’s hard to understand the real world when it comes to women. Not making excuses just putting it out there. And there you have Alex Carter comic store owner extraordinaire. The adventure is just beginning.