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Comic Sanctuary assembles super fans, Deadpool creator


Comic book enthusiasts, assemble! If you haven't heard already, there’s a new comic book store in town and it’s here to stay. Located above the Sanctuary restaurant on Easton Avenue, Comic Sanctuary opened up back in March after 3rd Earth Comics, the previous comic book store, went out of business.

The new owners are a young couple by the names of Bryan Coe, who’s been in the comic book business for more than a decade, and his girlfriend Jackie Fellin.

“I worked at a different comic book store, I worked there for 10 years ... I eventually left there, I loved doing that job,” Coe said. “I love comics, I love gaming and movies and so I’ve always worked retail so it’s just what I know.”

As a young child, Coe fell in love with graphic novels when his older brother and sister first introduced comics to him. The first comic he remembers loving was Usagi Yojimbo, a comic book series that is primarily set at the beginning of the Edo period of Japanese history and displays anthropomorphic animals instead of humans. On the other hand, his girlfriend only began reading comics after the two started dating. When asked why they decided to get into the comic book business, Fellin laughed and said she was only here for the ride. 

Once the two acquired the property, they immediately went to work to refurbish and clean up the "mess" that 3rd Earth Comics called a store. With a new coat of paint here and there, a steam cleaned carpet and an added window, Comic Sanctuary was brought to life.

“Every single person who’s walked in here, who remembers the old place, they’re amazed,” Coe said. “You can tell who shopped here before because they’ll stop and kind of look around. So many people have told us that it's cleaner, it’s brighter.”

To get to Comic Sanctuary, you have to walk to the very back of Sanctuary restaurant, past a black curtain and all the way up the staircase. As you reach the top of the stairs swarming with posters ranging from Batman, Spider-Gwen, A-Force and Marvel’s Civil War decorating almost every inch of the walls, you enter a sunlight-filled room with bookcases full of graphic novels and toys galore. In other words, heaven for comic book lovers.

Each bookcase is filled to the brim with comic books from every universe ranging from Marvel and DC to lesser-known independent comic book companies. The store also carries a huge assortment of trade paperbacks and graphic novels, as well as hardcovers. Multiple shelves have Pop! Funko dolls of all collections, and they even have a cardboard cutout of everyone’s favorite Guardian of the Galaxy hero, Groot. In addition to all of the decorations, which are all for sale, Coe and Fellin are more than happy to order any comic book or toy that they don’t carry in the store for you.

With Comic Book Day just around the corner, having a free comic book signing isn't a bad idea. On Sept. 23, Comic Sanctuary hosted a free signing with comic book writer and co-creator of the Marvel character “Deadpool," Fabian Nicieza. Nicieza is a Rutgers alumnus of the Class of 1985 and has been working for Marvel since he graduated from college.

Nicieza enjoyed reading comic books since he first moved to the United States from Argentina at age 4. He was lucky enough to land a job at Marvel a couple of years after graduating college and worked there as an advising manager and editor before he became a full-time writer.

Coe and Nicieza first met when Coe used to work at Steve's Comic Relief, located in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, where Nicieza was a frequent shopper. Eventually the two became well-acquainted, and the idea for a signing came up a few months back. They decided to wait until the school year was back in session to draw in a larger crowd of fans.

When 2 p.m. finally rolled around, Coe and Fellin were ready to receive the line of fans impatiently waiting to talk to the co-creator of the foul-mouthed, sarcastic, butt-kicking hero, Deadpool.

It’s safe to say that I was the only girl waiting in line to get my two “Convergence” comics signed. When my turn finally came, I didn’t know what to expect from the man sitting across from me. What I learned was that Nicieza is an extremely personable, entertaining, yet also very professional man — but then again, anyone willing to do a meet-and-greet with fans is bound to be down-to-earth.

“Brian asked me, he had just opened up the store recently, I went to Rutgers, I lived on Easton Avenue,” Nicieza said. “I had a vested interest in a comic book store on Easton Avenue doing well. I was more than happy to do it.”

He spent about three hours talking to devoted Deadpool fans, answering any questions they had, even if five other people asked him the same thing before, taking pictures with them and signing every single comic or other type of merchandise they threw his way.

There was a steady line of fans throughout the duration of the event and Nicieza genuinely enjoyed meeting and talking with his fans.

“It's a Wednesday and normally I’m sitting … at home writing something right now and if I’m not writing something I’m throwing a ball in the backyard with the dog” he said. “So it was no big deal for me to come and do this. And if I get to meet some young comic book fans and get them excited about reading comics for the rest of their lives than I’ve done my job and ruined theirs.”

Coe described the event as a success and plans on having more comic book signings in the near future and possibly doing another signing with Nicieza when his new comic book series hits the shelves.


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