October 3 is the 18th Anniversary of the opening of FLYING COLORS COMICS & Other Cool Stuff, so it's time for some thankful reflection and a look back at the early days here.
Some of you may look at this shot and think "That guy's been running Flying Colors so long he was around before there was color film!" Almost, but not quite.
This photo was taken on October 3 1988, when my hair was long and still brown, back issues filled just about every wall space in the store, except for those taken by sportscards, posters and t-shirts. If any of you have considered going into retail business for yourself, let me tell you, it's not easy being your own boss, but it's a lot better than having someone else cracking the whip on you.
That first day, I had no idea what to expect. Our very first customer, a fellow named Milton, bought a Topps baseball "rack-pack" and we were off and running. Ha! We did all of $63 on our first day.
Here's a shot of my first FLYING COLORS' staff. That's Anne on the left and Mark on the right. I couldn't have asked for two better people to help me in those early days. After a couple of months they were joined by Teri, Scott, Sam and a great parade of other FlyCo staffers that, in total over these 18 years, is just over 50 really good people (surprisingly low turn-over for a retail business!). I've seen Anne a number of times over the years around town and Mark surprised me earlier this year by coming up from Hollywood (OK, it was really L.A.) for my 50th birthday party.
After being open for a few weeks, I threw a Grand opening party with a hot new young artist as my guest--- that's superstar JIM LEE in the photo here regaling the local kids with tales of drawing PUNISHER, ALPHA FLIGHT and (less likely) SAMURAI SANTA. Jim's studio was in Berkeley at the time, a year or two before he went south to open the Homage Studios, which became Wildstorm Studios sometime later. Jim has officially been our guest here for numerous signings over the years, but in those early days it wasn't unusual for him to come hang out with us and talk with other artists just breaking into the biz, like Dan Brereton, Jeff Johnson and Ken Hooper (more of my favorite guys in the biz!).
I do credit some of the success of FLYING COLORS to Jim Lee since his signings for UNCANNY X-MEN #268, PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL #1, X-MEN #1, FANTASTIC FOUR:HEROES REBORN #1 and BATMAN: HUSH Vol One (and maybe another one or two I'm forgetting) really put FLYING COLORS on the map. Thanks, Jim! And we'd love to have you back soon!
One more shot here, taken on that Grand Opening day in late October '88. I just wanted to show you what some of the shop looked like in those early days. Our store name was painted across the middle of the store with the rainbow and star logos painted on the high walls on both ends of the store. In this photo, if you look near the top right hand corner, you'll see some of the animation art we used to sell here. To the right of that you can see a bit of the classic Arthur Adams' Wolverine cardboard cut-out. Everywhere else, you'll see lots of comic books! Same as it ever was...
Big thanks, heartfelt thanks go out to all of you who shop here, who allow me this opportunity to serve you and sell you the best in comics' entertainment. I do appreciate each and every person who chooses to spend their money here. I listen carefully to what you say and I hope to keep making FLYING COLORS one of your favorite entertainment outlets. This place wouldn't be here if it wasn't for your support.
So what are your earliest memories of FLYING COLORS? What could we do to make FLYING COLORS even better? Hit the comment button and let us all know, OK?
(These photos come from the FLYING COLORS archive scrapbooks, put together with love by Libby. If you'd like to see more of the early days of FLYING COLORS, just ask to see the scrapbooks. If you've been one of the FLYING COLORS' Faithful for years, you might even be in a photo or two.)