Durham’s Ultimate Comics expands into Raleigh; hosts Valiant creators | Arts Feature | Indy Week

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Durham’s Ultimate Comics expands into Raleigh; hosts Valiant creators

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Call Alan Gill and you'll be treated to John Williams' booming symphonic score from the original Superman movies.

It's a dramatic, admittedly corny ringback for Gill, who progressed from selling comics from the trunk of his car to operating one of the Triangle's most reliably excellent comic stores, Durham's Ultimate Comics, as well as the annual NC Comicon. But then, like Superman, there's something a bit corny and a bit heroic about Ultimate Comics' self-described "overlord."

"I'm a glutton for punishment," Gill says from his new 5,000-square-foot space at 1301 Buck Jones Road, which used to contain hobby shop Stuff N' Such, in southwest Raleigh. He is in the midst of marathon preparations for the Aug. 1 launch, which coincides with the 12th anniversary of the store.

Gill is optimistic about the expansion into Raleigh. Sales have grown substantially in the last four years, he says, and 20 percent of his customers already live in Raleigh.

"At some point, I had to do it," he says. "I don't necessarily want to, but I feel obligated to. And I'm a comic guy. I have always put my money back into comics."

Comic books are one of the few print mediums that show consistent growth, and it's not just due to online sales or the booming movie industry, propelled each summer by a new crop of superhero sequels. According to Gill, readers love the books.

"When kids are coming into the store, they want the hard copy," he says. "That's great. It's bucking what all the naysayers are saying."

In most ways, Ultimate Comics' Raleigh store will mirror the Farrington Road spot, but the Raleigh location has twice the square-footage, Gill says, affording him the opportunity to sell mountains of back issues he currently keeps in storage.

Ultimate Comics celebrates the Raleigh store's launch from 10 a.m. to noon on Aug. 1, with a signing by writer Robert Venditti and artist Robert Gill, creators of Valiant Comics' new "Book of Death" storyline. Venditti and Gill will move to the Durham location from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Ultimate Comics will be selling an exclusive variant cover of the story's first issue.

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