Page After Page was the name of a comic book store that Lyn Pederson owned from 1982 until about 1995 here in fabulous Las Vegas. I strongly believe that my store (Alternate Reality Comics, of course) wouldn't be a tenth as good as it is (and I'm not fishing for compliments for my store here) if it weren't for the existence of Page After Page, a truly pioneering comic book store. I've been meaning to write this tribute blog entry about Page After Page for some time now, but my memory isn't what I'd like it to be and I've been trying to organize my thoughts before just randomly typing words. Well, this morning I just thought "damn the torpedoes!" and decided that I was going to share my memories (as faulty as they are) of Page After Page and hopefully give people an impression of what a landmark store it was (if they weren't lucky enough to have gotten a chance to visit said store).
I moved to Las Vegas in 1981 and remembered going to Page After Page not long thereafter. Lyn Pederson is a new facebook friend of mine (and he comes into my store every once in a great while) so before writing this I confirmed with him that Page After Page did officially open in 1982. I only found out recently that before Lyn opened Page After Page he worked at Friendly Neighborhood Comics, which (I believe) was the first comic store here in Las Vegas, owned by Tom and Mary Heiner (spelling?), which opened sometime in the mid 1970's. I remember going to Friendly Neighborhood Comics when I first lived in Las Vegas in the mid 1970's before moving to Germany, but as happy as I was to find a store that just sold comic books, Friendly Neighborhood didn't leave me with an impression of being a GREAT comic book store (and I mean no disrespect to owners Tom and Mary, but it just seemed like a store that sold superhero comics and didn't have any particular character). Anyway, at some point, Lyn left the employment of Friendly Neighborhood Comics and opened up his own store.
The two biggest things anyone who ever went to Page After Page saw upon entering, was the beautiful design schematic of the store and the diversity and depth of comic books available. Lyn and his father, Pete, built the shelves and the interior of Page After Page from the ground up in such a way that visually it wasn't just a shell of racks upon which comics just sat upon with seemingly no rhyme or reason. Lyn was / is an artist so he channeled this part of him into Page After Page's layout, both in shelving arrangements and creating window displays and other visually attractive displays within the store.
I really can't stress enough how important visual presentation of any store is, because while I'm not an authority on store design, I know that even if it's just on a subconscious level, the way a store (any kind of store, not just a comic book store) is laid out does effect a person's decision to shop at that store and return to that store. I've always worked towards having the layout of my store, through the placement of my comic book display shelves and racks, be easy to navigate for the casual comic book reader and the comic book devotee and organized in such a way that people can easily see the diversity of genres that this medium has (akin to "regular" bookstores). The visual dynamic of Alternate Reality Comics wouldn't be what it is if Page After Page wasn't the inspiration and template that it was.
Page After Page, being that it opened in 1982, was there at the beginning of the creation of the direct market era of the comic book industry, meaning the time in history when Marvel and DC, as well as other publishers, created comic books for the specialty marketplace exclusively, not for drugstores or supermarket outlets. Comic specialty stores and some comic titles from a few small publishers existed in the 1970's, but it wasn't until 1980 that the real growth in this area occurred. I mentioned that Page After Page had a wide selection of different kinds of comics. When Page After Page was in its infancy, the comic book medium really had just a handful of publishers that produced graphic novels / trade paperbacks and or material that wasn't superhero or fantasy based. It wasn't until the mid 1980's and really not until the mid 1990's that the comic book industry, creators, publishers, and retailers, came to seriously appreciate that graphic novels / trade paperbacks and true diversity of content would be profitable supplements to superhero / fantasy comic book periodicals. So Page After Page, in the early 1980's really had to be creative in finding / stocking those creators and publishers who made the alternative comic books / graphic novels that did exist on the fringes. As much as I do enjoy superhero comic books, ever since I first started reading comic books, I looked for comic books that told different kinds of stories and if I didn't have a store like Page After Page that had those other kinds of comics I was looking for, there's a good chance that I would have just quit reading comics. Lyn and Page After Page were definitely at the forefront of the alternative comics movement.
Even though my memory is so wonky, I'll always fondly remember going to Page After Page weekly to get my fix, eagerly awaiting Lyn's arrival with that week's shipment (hopefully not annoying him and his crew too much as they were trying to process the new titles - I know how hairy that can be!), being sad when my favorite titles didn't arrive (this was before we could find out online which titles came out on any given week), the numerous signings he had by legendary and new comic creators, watching the awful Supergirl movie in his store (actually I was looking through Charlton Ditko Blue Beetle comics while the movie was playing), and meeting my now long time friend, Joel (we planned going to our first San Diego Comic-Con back in 1985 at Page After Page and went on to go to about twenty more together!), and just generally being a great place to have gotten my comic book geek on. Whenever I got a chance to talk directly to Lyn, that was a treat as he knew (and still does) so much about the comic book industry and the creators. I still run into people all the time at conventions who know Lyn from all aspects of the comic industry (actually the excellent Dark Horse photography book The Artist Within of comic creators in their studios wouldn't have been possible without Lyn's connections).
Why did Page After Page close? Well that's something I've always been curious about, but it's really none of my business. I'm certain though that it didn't close because it wasn't doing well or because Lyn no longer cared about the comic book industry. As much as I'm thankful to Blake (the owner of Dungeon Comics who sold me his store back in 1995 that I have since transformed into what it is today) and to my friends Joel and PJ for telling me that Blake was looking to sell in the first place, I think in some sense Lyn also handed me his comic shop baton to keep alive the strong comic book store presence here in Vegas that he established with Page After Page. And isn't the name Page After Page one of the greatest names ever for a comic book store!?
Postscript: Some time ago I was talking to Lyn and he mentioned something about putting the archives together pertaining to Page After Page and I for one hope he's still working on that and will share the HUGE part he played in shaping a great foundation for people who love the comic book medium here in Las Vegas.
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