By Nolan P. Smith
Photos by Nolan P. Smith and Phillip Gutierrez
(Victor Valley)—It has been years since the High Desert has had a comic book store, but within the last few months, that has changed. Now, for the first time in a very long time, the High Desert is home to two new comic book shops, with owners that are no strangers when it comes to the world of comics. Each shop is now open, and each has something unique to bring to the community.
In Victorville, nestled in the Carriage Square off of Hesperia Road is QBC Toys and More. Owned and operated by the Robert and Crystal Lamphere, QBC just opened in September, but Robert is no stranger to comic shops in the High Desert, having managed another comic book store Victorville years ago. But why open a shop now? “There was no comic book store out here: there hadn’t been a comic book store out here in several years,” said Lamphere. “QBC came about because toys were overrunning our house, and we thought to add in comics as it allows us to provide a service that wasn’t available out here. We were really excited about that, having my background in comics, having managed a comic book store for 10 years. ”
For Henry Henrich, who owns Comic Cult HD in Hesperia on I Avenue with his wife Cathy, he saw the need as well, bringing an already established comic book shop to the city of Hesperia. “There was nothing like that here,” said Henrich when asked why he and his wife decided to open a shop in the High Desert. “The timing was right. This store was down in Norwalk and had been in existence since 1989. It has another store in Torrance- so there was this rich lineage and heritage of the Comic Cult way.”
The comic book medium has garnered a lot of buzz in the last few years, as comic books have taken over Hollywood, and look to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. What was at one time a niche hobby market has now returned to the spotlight, gaining new fans every day thanks to films like The Avengers and Man of Steel, and television shows like The Flash and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. With the comic book medium comes collectibles, toys, games and more, as each shop has a variety of products besides comics.
Comic Cult HD has had an influx in customers interested in the gaming aspect of the store. From the ultra popular HeroClix game, to Magic the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, and more, the desert now has place to come out and play. With customers coming out all the way from Barstow for a new HeroClix release, it shows that the need for a shop that carries more than comic books. But for Henrich, the focus is, and will continue to be, comics.
“We’re a comic store but we also do gaming,” said Henrich. “But we are not a gaming store. We are a comic store first and foremost, that happens to dabble in games.”
For QBC, who has an abundance of collectibles, action figures and the insanely popular Funko POP figurines, the plan is to help spotlight local talent, as the High Desert and the Inland Empire has an abundance of local artists and writers. “One of the things we are really looking at doing here is promoting local artists as well,” said Lamphere, who already has some local books from Apple Valley residents Chris and Amy Hernandez in his shop. “Our logo is actually by Justin White, who does comics for Forbidden Panel. We really want to promote the independent artists, the small press person, and not so much as small press as those that are reaching nationally.“
QBC Toys and More is located at 12441 Hesperia Road, Ste. 2 in Victorville. Comic Cult HD is located at 9594 I Ave, Ste. A in Hesperia. For more information, you can find each shop on Facebook.