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Job Interview: On Main Street, enter world of superheroes

Chris Proulx, one of the co-owners of Double Midnight Comics, stocks shelves with comic books at a new location on South Main Street in Concord on Friday, October 25, 2013.

(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

Chris Proulx, one of the co-owners of Double Midnight Comics, stocks shelves with comic books at a new location on South Main Street in Concord on Friday, October 25, 2013. (JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

Who would win in a fight – the Hulk or Superman?

Brett Parker, one of the co-owners of Double Midnight Comics, says – adamantly – the answer is Superman. But stop by the company’s location opening in Concord next month if you’re looking for a lively argument over the question.

Parker and his two best friends, brothers Chris and Scott Proulx, opened their Manchester comic store in 2002. Eleven years later, they gave Concord residents a peek inside their second store Friday during Intown Concord’s Halloween Howl, and they’ll officially open the second Double Midnight Comics at 67 S. Main St. on Nov. 16.

Parker is a self-proclaimed “comic geek” – specifically an X-Men fan. Chris is “a big Green Lantern guy,” Parker said, and Scott goes for anything Superman. But Parker said the friends have built a store that is welcoming to the faithful comic nerds and curious new readers alike.

Double Midnight Comics has been nominated twice for the “Will Eisner Spirit of Retailing Award,” which recognizes excellence in comic book retailing around the world, and it received several local “Best Comic Store” awards in 2013. What makes a great comic store, and why does Double Midnight Comics fit that bill?

There’s a nice long checklist that sets us apart, or things that comic stores should be doing. The one that’s right on top of that is customer service. We are extremely dedicated to customer service and being open and accommodating to new fans, old fans, returning fans that have been on hiatus.

Organization and cleanliness is big.
. . . A lot of comic stores have . . . negative stereotypes. They’re dark, they’re damp, they’re smelly. It’s not a very friendly place. A lot of people feel as though (the comic book world) is this secret club that only certain people can join.

We’re very open, we’re very inviting. We’re very friendly. We have everything in its place. You don’t have to move a million boxes to get to the area of the store that you want to deal in. If there’s something we don’t have in stock, we’ll pretty much bend over backwards to make sure the customer gets it.

What kind of clientele are you hoping to draw to your Concord location?

Anyone and everyone. One thing we’ve learned is there’s no specific to a comic or even gaming collector. We got everybody.

Will this store be similar to your Manchester location?

It’s going to be, for the most part, the same. We’re going to adhere to these same customer service rules, the same cleanliness rules. . . . There’s a lot of stuff that we’re looking forward to doing that we can’t do, per se, in a plaza (where the Manchester store is located.)

Pretty much when we started getting the ball rolling with opening, making the

final decisions and signing the lease, we made a ton of field trips to Concord and walked around and talked to other business owners, visited them and asked what it’s like. We like to do things that are off the beaten path. . . . We do events that most stores can’t or don’t do. So being part of a Main Street community, there’s a lot of cross-promotion. Like, for example, the (Capitol Center for the Arts) or the Red River (Theatres) or Gibson’s Bookstore, those are all people that have welcomed us with open arms.

What would you recommend to someone coming into this new Concord store for the first time, looking for comics?

Roam around the store, check out all the nooks and crannies. See if anything jumps out at you, if you’re sort of taking it all in. Ask for recommendations. Never be afraid of that.

What are your most popular comics?

Right now, one of the tops of the list is The Walking Dead. What a lot of people didn’t know is that it was actually a comic long before it was an insanely popular TV show. Batman, always huge. . . . X-Men and X-Men-related titles always do fantastic for us. An off-the-beaten-path, original title called Saga is doing really well for us right now. It’s kind of like a sci-fi action-adventure topic.

What is the average price for a comic?

The standard cover price of a new comic is anywhere between $2.99 and $3.99. That’s a new single issue.

What a lot of people do is they’ll get what’s called a trade paperback, anywhere from five to 10 collected issues of a comic. Those can be $14.99 to $24.99. It’s not bad. You can definitely get started at relatively low initial cost.

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

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