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Mike Aragona - Freelance Writer / Editor

The Last Word


Comic Shop Blues — (Aug 2001) - It's finally happened. El Paso Komix has joined the thousands of other comic shops who've closed their doors. This might not mean anything to anyone else, but, to me, it's a real shame. Over 13 years in the business, shopping at El Paso Komix was always a great experience. Even before the owner (Al Serat) and I became friends, it was a fun place to be. After we became friends, going to the store was always a home-coming kind of excursion.

I was always impressed with how Al ran his store. He's an idea-man and was constantly coming up with worthwhile brainstorms for publicity and reaching an audience. Most of his ideas were common sense, others were simply a fun shot. For example, back in 1989, at the movie premiere of Batman, he and a friend dressed up in a Batman costume, were handing out coupon vouchers to everyone in line. I don't know of anyone else putting that logical link together. Also, at many movie premieres, he would casually walk to the front of the theatre before the movies actually started and simply talk to the crowd, presenting the movie feature and throwing in his store name whenever he could. Always with a big smile on his face, this was a shrewd businessman who knew how to have fun and take advantage of any opportunity presented to him.

He was the person who first sparked my Customer Reserve Database Program and became the primary store/ user until it was perfected enough to sell around town. He was the first person to sponsor my joke list and attempt a web presence to sell items. He branched out whenever he had to (renting video games, selling cards and action figures) including being an official distributor of Olivia merchandise!

And, during all this time, he always kept looking to broaden his personal horizons. For quite a number of months, he was involved in a local software start-up, selling an amazing 3-D home renovation project as well as offering training support. When that company had to fold, he moved on and looked at other opportunities. Currently, he's involved in acting. He's been taking classes for the last year and has developed a stand-up routine. Now that he's taking a break from the comic business, he'll be devoting his energy to his acting studies and is planning on moving to New York for more classes and testing his skills. In the meantime, he'll continue to sell his stock over on E-Bay.

Although I'm losing out on a comic shop, my first in all my collecting life (the others I left), the worst part is that I feel like I'm losing my friend. It's not really true as Al will always continue to be my friend and we will keep in touch (although sporadically). Still, because I can no longer drop in on him and see what's new in the business, it's a big hit. I never thought the store would disappear. It was something I depended on. Yes, even with all the changes in my life, with all the upheaval in the industry, I somehow believed that he and his store would always be there to welcome me. It's a selfish naivety but I offer no apologies for it.

Good luck to you, my friend. Though it saddens me to see you move on, I'm happy by the fact that you are following your heart and doing what you want to do. I'll always have my memories (like our Joe Montana Football computer game challenges; our weekly Table Hockey games; going to play Pool and the Chinese Firetrucks at 3am; Ultraman and Lost In Space videos; leaving work early to meet you downtown and catch a flick together; and, especially, all the times we've been to conventions together in and out of town) and look forward to seeing you up on the big screen some day.

13 years is a long run for a small business. You should be proud of your accomplishment. May the best still be yet to come!


(The Last Word (c) Mike Aragona. All rights reserved. No reproduction or retransmission of this article is granted without written permission of Mike Aragona)

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