Community & Cards at Fordham Comics

By Victor Marinez

Comic book stores are a great way of experiencing nerd culture. The rise of digital storefronts and subscription services made brick-and-mortar obsolete for many. However, what’s irreplaceable is the sense of community cultivated by these stores. A local comic shop in The Bronx, Fordham Comics, stays strong because of the community it has sustained for the last 20 years.

There aren’t many comic shops in The Bronx, it is a book desert as a whole. The only Barnes & Noble in the Bronx which also housed comics and many other notable works closed down in 2016. Local stores are few and far between and regularly close down, which makes Fordham Comics’ sustainability so unusual.

The storefront is barely visible to the public, with only one sign nowhere near its entrance. Once you find it, you must climb three flights of stairs to an entryway. The walls are plastered with posters of comic book heroes and crowded with arcade cabinets. Statutes and figures are placed high on shelves, looming over customers as they walk by. Boxes also litter every inch of the store filled with all different kinds of comics. Brand-new releases and old classics peek out of the boxes begging to be chosen. It’s quite a unique layout compared to other stores that rely on book racks along the walls which have become the standard.

However, what makes Fordham Comics special are the card games. Ironically enough comic book stores can sometimes be more famous for housing things other than comics. This is the case with Fordham Comics which is home to countless different card games. It is the hub for card game enthusiasts whether they collect or play. The largest trading card game (TCG) is Magic: The Gathering, which according to Forbes.com made over $1.3 billion in revenue in 2022. TCGs like Magic: The Gathering are insanely popular and people all over the world are looking for places to play and share their hobbies with others.

Fordham Comics has a weekly event called Friday Night Magic, in which customers stay up all night playing the game. It’s very much community focused and allows people to feel accepted and socialize with others with the same interest. Phil, the owner of the store, said he’s held this event for as long as the store has been around. “People come here every Friday, they just want to have fun and have a good time,” said Phil. “It’s usually the same people, I know everyone that games around here.”

Phil has created a personal bond with his customers, it’s quite charming and allows for a free-flowing atmosphere around the store. Instead of the store owner and customer, the relationship feels more like a friend with the best hangout spot. “Phil gives us a home, we like being here and we feel welcomed,” said one client.

This sentiment seemed to be shared with everyone at the store. Hours pass by as visitors were absorbed by the games. The glee on everyone’s faces by just simply playing a card game was palpable. It was difficult not to crack a smile and be immersed in the child-like wonder spread throughout the room. Fordham Comics has been around for two decades and, given its popularity, maybe 20 more. Said one customer, “Hopefully Phil is around here selling comics forever.”

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