For comic book lovers, the Oakdale Mall just became a little more alluring. As of last weekend, the shopping center is now home to Charging Star Comics.
Ryan Atkinson Fuerstenberg, the store’s owner and operator, said that he was inspired to move from the store’s location in Johnson City after seeing his results from eight months of research. The data showed that all successful small-time comic shops in the Southern Tier were found in shopping malls. So when a spot opened up for lease in the Oakdale Mall, Fuerstenberg seized the opportunity, hoping to open the store’s exposure and consumer base to wider demographics.
“Comic shops have a reputation as shady dens where creepy people hang out,” Fuerstenberg said. “The move have brought us to a more open and colorful location.”
The move also means that Charging Star Comics is now on a Binghamton University bus route. Fuerstenberg hopes that this change will establish the shop among the local student body on campus. According to Fuerstenberg, Charging Star Comics is open to working around BU’s academic schedule for stocking new issues and managing student pull lists and subscriptions.
“We don’t want to alienate the BU students. We want their business!” Fuerstenberg said. “We’ll be upping our wall book quantity now that we’re in the mall.”
A local to the Broome County area, Fuerstenberg was born and raised in Endicott, and graduated from Union-Endicott High School in 2002. Charging Star Comics has been around since 2006. At that time, Fuerstenberg was studying to be a history teacher, but he had always planned on opening a shop after he retired. When Crohn’s disease prevented him from focusing on schoolwork, he decided to cut teaching out of his career path and pursue his dream of owning a comic book store by bringing Charging Star Comics to life.
Over the last 100 years, the American comic book industry has gone though several major transformations, divided by historians into different “ages.” The most notable, perhaps, is the Golden Age, which lasted from around 1930 to 1950. While the American youth of today weren’t around for these formative years, they reap the benefits and take them for granted. It was during this age that America saw the creation of the archetypal superhero, and the birth of contemporary superstars such as Batman and Superman.
While the industry and many of its biggest titles are age-old, there couldn’t be a better time to jump into the comic book game. With the recent rise in popularity of superhero movies, the big comic book publishers like DC and Marvel have rebooted their universes and story lines with “The New 52” and “Marvel NOW!,” respectively.
The industry is also transforming. There are more comics coming from graphic novelists who are bypassing traditional big publishing companies.
“We’ve really seen a shift toward creator-owned properties, like ‘Walking Dead.’ It’s nice to know where your money is going,” Fuerstenberg said. “There’s also been a big boost in independent publishing, like Image Comics.”
Despite being seen as a childish pastime, adult males aged 18-45 are the biggest buyers of comic books. This consumer base, according to Fuerstenberg, is starting to change.
“We’re selling to pretty much everybody. Even women, because there is stuff for them now,” Fuerstenberg said.
Offering current and old issues, graphic novels and an array of toys (they’re action figures, not dolls), Charging Star Comics is the place to visit next time you’re at the Oakdale Mall. The time is ripe to start donning your nerd-chic and amassing your collection. Warning: For some, this can be highly addictive.