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Wednesday, May 2,2012

Taking comics seriously

Capital City Collectibles hosts Free Comic Book Day

by Rich Tupica
Often sporting a top hat and tailcoat, the late Stephen Jahner was a unique character, much like the ones in the thousands of comic books he sold at his East Michigan Avenue shop.

Jahner owned Capital City Collectibles for three decades until he passed away on Sept. 22, 2010, at the age of 55. Jahner’s love for rarities kept the store packed with thousands of comics, action figures, books, memorabilia, films and more. 

The shop has been kept alive by owners Peter Ryan and Monica Jahner (Stephen Jahner’s sister). Capital City Collectibles, now sharing a space with Everybody Reads Books and Stuff on Michigan Avenue, is still very much open and is gearing up for Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, a national one-day event.

(Clem’s Comics & Games, located at 216 South Washington Square in Lansing, also has events planned from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; visit www.clemslansing.com for details.)

Ryan worked alongside Stephen Jahner for years, finally becoming his business partner about six years ago.

“Stephen was doing exactly what he loved to do right up until the very end,” said Ryan, who recalls finding his friend and co-worker unconscious at the store’s previous location at 1723 East Michigan Avenue.

“He was working on the comic order form for that month,” Ryan said. “He’d been put on some medication and it was too much for him. He literally fell asleep on the comic order form. My mother Jean and I came in the morning to open the store and found him there.”

Since then, Ryan said it’s been somewhat of an uphill battle for the shop, but things are gradually picking up. 

“There’s a whole bunch of people that are just rediscovering us because they thought when Stephen passed away that the store closed — we just moved locations,” Ryan said. “It’s been a rebuilding process. We’re trying to not be the best-kept secret in Lansing.”

Monica Jahner said her brother always loved getting geared up for Free Comic Book Day.

“I always remember my brother preparing for Free Comic Book Day  — he would put on his top hat, tails and look like a comic character himself,” Jahner recalled. “It was the one day out of the year he so looked forward to.  He loved the kids and I’ve found out that he raised so many of them through his comic store.

“My brother was a kid at heart and that is why Free Comic Book Day was so important to him,” she added. “He hoped that more kids would walk in the door so he could get them to read comics and use the comic as a reading tool.” 

As for Free Comic Book Day, the national event has been going strong for 10 years, and all participating comic shops give away a free comic or two. It’s commonly accompanied by other events to celebrate the holiday, which always happens the first Saturday of May. 

“We also will have a HeroClix game tournament and we’re going to be giving away some free HeroClix that day,” Ryan said. “We’re doing a dress up as your favorite comic book character to celebrate the release of “The Avengers” movie from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will be a raffle for free movie tickets to NCG (Eastwood Cinema). There are also some other giveaways.”

Lansing area comic book and comic art collector Dan Frazier will display 10 of his original drawings at the store. Frazier — who has amassed a library of over 30,000 books — has collected comic art for 30 years and has many one-of-a-kind pieces from major comic book artists. 

As for the new location, Ryan said it’s been a great collaboration with Everybody Reads. 

“They’ve really went out of their way to work with us and give us the kind of space we need for the people who come in and play games or read comics,” he said. “There’s plenty of room to do what we need to do.”

The new location has also brought in some fresh faces.

“Our hardcore customers have always stuck around,” Ryan said. “But being here at the bookstore next to the Gone Wired Café, we’ve got a whole new group of customers as well.”


Free Comic Book Day

Saturday, May 5

Capital City Collectibles

2019 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing

(517) 487-0717

www.freecomicbookday.com

Clem’s Comics & Games 

216 S. Washington Square, Lansing

www.clemslansing.com

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