Saturday, March 6, 2010

Page After Page: a tribute

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.

16 comments:

kreeson1 said...

Page after Page was the first comic store I went too in,when I got here in 1985. I would go the A%W on the corner go to the store pick up my comics, talk with the people who worked there, then walk across the street to the Huntridge to see a movie. This was a weekly ritual for me with few variations,great times.Ralph do you remember the name of the young woman who worked there? She was very nice. She would have been there about the same time Mackie was there. How is Lynn's dad? He used to tell a lot of great stories about old Las Vegas.

lyn pederson said...

Ralph,
Hey, thanks for the nice tribute.
Page was only special because of the great people that dropped by to share their stories and interests.
I miss it but realize we caught a wave and a time and it's best to let those fond memories stand by themselves....Besides Vegas has Alt Realities, your creation and it benefits from your great sense of integrity and love of the medium.
...A couple of things...I really didn't work for Friendly Neighborhood...but I spent so much time hanging out on the couch, I might as well have.
Tom and I spoke of being partners in Friendly before it opened but I was pretty much a free spirit in those days ( re: lazy ) and didn't want to get tied down.
I did try and be as supportive as possible which involved answering comic based questions ( when I knew them... ), playing poker in the back-room and pre-ordering books through Tom...truth is, I was afraid the store was going to fold and I didn't want it to be because I didn't participate in every way I could.
I really started Page for my parents to run while I continued cartooning and writing for the entertainment newspapers and doing Rock Concert Posters and video games in the art studio in the back room. To my surprise the store took off to such a degree that I had to drop everything and help Pete and Ginger with the counter.
My dad is now 97, and is doing good. We're collaborating on a graphic novel based on his stories of old Vegas and my memories of growing up here in the 50s. We're thinking an October debut on the net with iPad in mind.
I've sifted through the hundreds of photos and video from Page and should have some Flickr sets up soon.I'll let you know.
I've got some great memories of those years, I can't thank everyone enough for being a part of it.
Lyn

Ralph Mathieu said...

Lyn, wow - I'm even more elated to have finally written this entry now that you've revealed that you and your father are working on a graphic novel! I'll be first in line - or should that be first online (grin)!?

Red She Said said...

Wow, what an awesome tribute. I also can't wait to read that Graphic Novel and you know I don't even know what's going on in comic book world for the most part...
I too have some great memories of Page After Page, of being a little girl and going there with my dad. I was always excited when we ran into you. I remember being disappointed when you moved to that farm and elated to run into you again at Page when you moved back. You were carrying a big stack of comics to catch up on your reading. :)
One of my earliest memories of being at Page After Page was around my dad's birthday. I must have been around 6 at the time. There was a Spiderman Electric toothbrush and I saw that thing and just felt that my dad HAD to have that item. I remember peering over the counter, asking what the cost was and emptying my pockets of change - LITERALLY. We're talking nickels and dimes and pennies. I was still learning about money and looking back, probably had around $2.00 on me even though that electric toothbrush must have been priced in the double digits. And guess what, they sold it to me anyway! I was over the moon excited.

Now I'm 30. Didn't grow up to be the huge comic book fan that my dad would have liked me to be, but I've got some mighty nice memories that involve the comic book world, so at least that's something. Made possible in part by Page After Page. ;)

Ralph Mathieu said...

Thanks for sharing here Sierra. I wish I had your capacity to access memories - I know sometimes that can be a terrible burden, but there's good ones like the one you just described that negate a whole lot of bad ones.

Ty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ty said...

I just tried to edit my typos and accidentaly deleted post about a Page after Page Memory. Any chance you can save/retrieve it Ralph?

Ralph Mathieu said...

Ty, sadly I don't know that there is a way to retrieve a deleted comment. I know that blogspot automatically saves blog entries while they're being written, but anytime you delete any part of it, that part of what you've written is gone.

Ty said...

http://www.bloggertipsandtricks.com/2009/07/how-to-recover-deleted-comments.html

Again, if you can't or don't want to, cool, just figured it applied to what a couple of people were adding to your blog.

Patrick said...

Lyn and Page were a TREMENDOUS influence to Dungeon Comics, moreso when Blake took over as I was able to delve into the independent stuff Lyn had championed for years. I like to think that that period, '92-'95, were simply a conduit to get Ralph into the store to make it what it was always supposed ot be. My sensibilities when it comes to comics come in large part thanks to Ralph (and Joel) and the years we spent at Page, Dungeon and SDCC.

Oh. And several very decent poker games were conducted on the main floors of the current AR.

PJ

Ralph Mathieu said...

PJ, thanks for the kind words and your, of course, HUGE part in me and the store being were it is today.

And as another example of my faulty memory, you just reminded me of those poker games we had those first couple of years.

jesjet1969 said...

I worked at the Friendly Neighborhood Comic store from 1982 to 1984. I loved shopping at Page after Page and still have a ton of stuff from that store. I really enjoyed the atomosphere at the store. I lived on decatur and alta so would ride my huffy super sport bike all the way down to the store. It was a long trip but well worth it.
I was fortunate working with Tom and Mary and was able to meet Jack Kirby and they took me to my first SDCC con in 1983.
Between FNC Store and Page after Page. I now own my own Comic Book store and a director of a comic con.
They have really made Comic books a part of my life and i'm sure there is a huge group of people these icon stores have left a lasting impression on.

Real Results Fitness said...

Hey Ralph, just browsing through some of your older posts and came across this one. Great Post!

My brother and I have been into comics since we were very young and had the fortune of hitting up all the comic stores that were around thoses days. Page after Page was definitely the best.

My initial favorite was Freindly Neighborhood as that was the only store in town at the time. They always had old Captain America and Ghost Rider back issues that I needed for my aspiring collection. We used to ride our bikes to Friendly Neighborhood from where we lived (Harmon and Eastern) to the store. It took us a few hours at least. The ride up charleston was a bear becuase it was all uphill. I used to complain to my brother because my legs would be on fire peddling up that steep hill. The thought of arriving at the store and landing on a back issure I desperatley wanted was what motiviated through the traffic, dry heat, and lactic acid in my thighs.

One particular trip I found a 100.00 bill in the street on the way home near Palace Station...I had wished that I found it on the way to the store as I would have blown it all on comics...

Thx for helping bring up good memories Ralph...

MD JONES said...

Found your post and wow this brought back some memories! I used to hang out at Friendly Neighborhood back in 76, Tom was my science teacher and I was the local pest hanging out at his store. I was either invited or invited myself to attend the 76 comic con with some of the store employees and Tom. Watched someone pitch starwars and we all went to see Young Frankenstein. I was much more impressed with mel brooks than some soon to be released sci fi movie. Still have a box of comics I collected back then and have the howard the ducks and Conan books I had signed at that comic con. No comparison to Page after page but I loved rumaging around Toms cardboard boxes of books.

Anonymous said...

Me and my brothers grew up in Las Vegas in the early 1970's and we were always at TFNCBS Run by Tom Heiner even before he me the love of his life May and her daughter V. and son M. Tom and Mary were soulmates and the kindest and most wonderful people I have ever known. What people did not understand is that Tom was not in the business to make money - He just wanted to help young people become great adults. He and Mary steered kids away from drugs and invited everyone to his store - home - shows - Life. Tom and mary were a positive influence in everyones life and everyone loved them. He was strong through Marys Cancer and loved every one and life itself. I have not talked to Tom or Mary or the kids in at least 25 Years. This is my Tribute To a great man and his wife who helped me become a great American Through the guise of a comic book store operator. I am sure he has affected hundreds of people like he did me and my Brothers. I am passing on that love to my Grandson and have just started collecting with him. Comics are a great way of bonding with good people. Tom and Mary I will always love you guys! Delmar Nadeau

Darren Miguez said...

Upon arriving in LV in 1983 from England, where comics were few and far between, Page After Page was paradise. It also carried roleplaying games, another love of mine. It was an eyeopener, and as a high school student, I would spend WAAAAY too much money there, even while biking from Sunrise Mountain. I briefly worked there for store credit around the era Watchmen was coming out - I remember walking from the back to load the shelves with the latest issue, but never arriving since people were taking them from the stack I was carrying. It was insane. I love Alternate Reality Comics and it's taken things to an amazing next level - I love to visit the store when I am in town and treasure the shirt Ralph gave me. That said, Lyn and Page After Page were my first comic book store in America, and it'll always have a special place in my memory. - Darren Miguez

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