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#207237 - 01/31/00 11:31 PM Original Moondog's Closes
Gary Colabuono Offline
Member

Registered: 07/23/99
Posts: 32
Loc: Elk Grove Village, IL USA
I went to get a haircut last week. The barber shop I frequent is a couple of doors down from the first Moondog's store I opened in 1978. The first comic book store in suburban Chicago. I always stop in to chat with Joe Sarno, my friend and current owner whenever I'm in the neighborhood.

Only this time there was a "For Rent" sign in the window, and it was dark when I looked inside through the window.

On a Saturday afternoon.

No lines of kids looking for this week's X-Men. No mom's waiting patiently. No chatter of collectors discussing the latest storylines. Just a dark, empty store. I suppose Joe couldn't justify keeping the doors open any longer.

I sold all the Moondog's stores back in 1994, but in the back of my mind I always thought I'd end up back in that little store. I'm very happy with my new career as marketing director for a leading coin-op video game company, but I can't help but wonder what my life and all our lives would be like if Ronald Perlman hadn't run the Exxon Valdez up on the shores of a fragile eco-system called the Direct Market.

Oh, well. I just thought you might like to know.

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#207238 - 02/01/00 07:38 AM Re: Original Moondog's Closes
Alias Offline
Member

Registered: 01/14/99
Posts: 1115
Loc: Las Vegas Nevada USA
Bummer.

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#207239 - 02/02/00 08:29 PM Re: Original Moondog's Closes
Stephen R Bissette Offline
Member

Registered: 11/27/98
Posts: 939
Loc: wilmington, VT USA
Another slice of the direct market, gone. This is the kind of news I'm truly sorry to read or hear... but it's a sign of the times. Kudos to all retailers still in business; fond remembrances to those gone.

Moondog's was one of the best. I was fortunate enough to spend a fair piece of time with Gary, Larry Marder, and company in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In fact, Gary subsidized the ashcan launch of "1963" (hence the Moondog's ads in the series), and played a vital role in the Image launch of 1992, among other things.

We spent many late night hours talking in Chicago, and I got to cement relations with many lifelong friends -- including Steve Harold and Tim Gagne -- thanks to the Moondog-related visits. Neil Gaiman and I had a great time at a Moondog signing event (ostensibly set up to allow Neil and I a career-length interview session for TCJ; the interview came to nothing due to TCJ fuckup). As ever, Gary was a gracious and generous host nonetheless, and I was able to spend a fantastic extended stay with Neil, Mary, and the family as a result -- thanks for that, too, Gary!

R.I.P., Moondog's.

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#207240 - 02/03/00 12:05 AM Re: Original Moondog's Closes
Gary Colabuono Offline
Member

Registered: 07/23/99
Posts: 32
Loc: Elk Grove Village, IL USA
Steve:

Everything you said just proves that comics retailers can make a difference. It's an honorable profession, one I definitely miss.

Man, what a wild time that was!

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#207241 - 02/03/00 11:51 AM Re: Original Moondog's Closes
Empires Offline
Member

Registered: 12/14/99
Posts: 357
Gary, that's a true shame, another store closes while distributors expand into mulitmedia stores and understandingly so, despite it's at the direct market retailers expense and the consumers in the end. Some smaller stores across the US are getting bought out in an effort to maintain market shares. Frankly, I think it's a waste of money and talent. Bring back collectors into the market and let them fund the hobby. It's apparent that the reader audience can't support it -no matter what we'd all like to think.....(oh oh -here we go again!)

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#207242 - 02/04/00 12:48 AM Re: Original Moondog's Closes
Jim Hanley Offline
Member

Registered: 06/19/99
Posts: 1313
Loc: NYC
Gary:

As I've told you before, the comics business is the poorer for your loss. I can't speak to how your old clientele was served in your absence, but I believe that the old dog could have made it work. It's just that going back to the 70's and being chief cook & bottle washer wasn't what you really wanted to do.

Considering the number of store keys I've turned over during the last 15 years, I do know how it feels to see the "For Rent" sign in the old homestead.
_________________________
"I love him like a brother. David Greenglass." -- Woody Allen - Crimes & Misdemeanors

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#207243 - 02/05/00 10:59 AM Re: Original Moondog's Closes
Stephen R Bissette Offline
Member

Registered: 11/27/98
Posts: 939
Loc: wilmington, VT USA
Among Moondog's and Gary's many achievements was the TV coverage they earned (and turned; see below) for the industry. I was visiting Chicago almost twice a year for a stretch there, and it always seemed that Moondog's had garnered airtime on the local news!

Larry Marder must have had a thing or two to do with that, eh? I'll never forget BEING there when Larry ingeniously turned the TV news report targetting Eclipse's MASS MURDERER trading cards into a "positive spin" on the matter.

Larry was phenomenal: he carefully set up the glass case (Gary, which Moondog's was it? I recall a Tower Records nearby, in the same building...) so the glass shelves BELOW the murderer cards displayed Robert Crumb's BLUES cards and other eye-catching, non-controversial, non-violent trading cards. When the news team arrived, Larry immediately worked to make the female reporter feel comfortable in the shop (a tall order indeed in most comics shops) while the camera and sound crew set up, in part by showing her his work on the stands (BEANWORLD), which led to their conversing about Hopi Indian art and culture. I stress that Larry wasn't being smarmy or manipulative; his conversation, and her interest, was genuine. Crafty like a fox, though, that Marder...

By the time Larry was on the receiving end of her microphone, he had established a rapport with her that undoubtably softened the edge the story previously held in her mind. He would flub the answers to the most leading, biased questions (being sure to break in mid-sentence and mutter "shit" or "fuck, sorry," an explative they could NOT use on the air to patch together a sound byte), and subtly steer the Q&A toward a fuller assessment of the card market as a whole, and steer WITH HIS ANSWERS to the many alternative card sets Moondog's carried and Eclipse published.

It was a phenomenal performance, all in all. The news team left with their story, alright, but (a) understanding the cards were a minor part of the market and Moondog's stock, (b) with almost no usable footage allowing a slant that would attack the shop or the card market, and (c) feeling lots of warm, fuzzy feelings about Larry and the store.

The story aired that night, and we watched it together -- it was remarkable! A rational, unbiased coverage of the murderer cards that were earning such bad press, and on a Chicago news program.

We need more experienced pros like Larry and more great shops like Moondog's -- but alas, the times have changed, haven't they?

Those were amazing times, Gary.

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#207244 - 02/06/00 12:00 AM Re: Original Moondog's Closes
Buckminster F. Offline
Member

Registered: 01/20/00
Posts: 506
Loc: somewhere in here
I suspect the Moondog's visited by Mr. Bissette was the same one on North Clark Street that my wife and I would frequent at least a couple of times each summer, when we'd attend Cubs games. After an afternoon at Wrigley Field, we'd walk down Clark, hitting at least a dozen used bookstores and eclectic shops (including the great Chicago Comics), and have a tasty repast at Johnny Rocket's, before ending up at Tower Records and Books, right next to a Moondog's (which was right next to a fantastic deli). We'd also make it a point to hit Sung Koo's comics store (long gone as well, regrettably...whatever happened to him?), with a side trip to Quimby's (still there, thank goddess).

"Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end..."

[This message has been edited by Buckminster F. (edited 02-06-2000).]
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#207245 - 02/07/00 12:32 AM Re: Original Moondog's Closes
Gary Colabuono Offline
Member

Registered: 07/23/99
Posts: 32
Loc: Elk Grove Village, IL USA
Steve:

I'll never forget how Dean Mullaney set me up with those fucking Serial Murderer cards! He was being interviewed on WLS radio and mentioned that you could buy the cards in Chicago at Moondog's. We didn't even order them! He drop-shipped a couple of boxes to each of our stores for nothing, and before I could even take them off the shelves, our Lincoln Park manager had gotten calls and said we indeed were carrying the product and they were red-hot sellers!

I've made many decisions over the years. More good than bad thankfully. And this was one of the best. I just know that I would have become flustered and screwed things up if I went on the air. I had seen Larry mediate squabbles in the office and tiffs at conventions, and recognized his talent of being a great listener. And he just has a knack for saying the right thing at the right time. I remember us all cheering in the office when the news was over.

Along with Chris Ecker, Vince Smith, Lee Kramer, and a corp of great store managers, Larry was instrumental in the positioning of
Moondog's as different than our competitors. He helped define what Moondog's was. In hind sight its clear that he helped establish the first real brand in comics retailing.

And a big bonus for a comics fan like me was getting to hang with his friends like you, Rick, Sim, Neil, Scott, the Image guys, and many others. It was very cool.

Oh, and our Lincoln Park store, right next to Tower Records, and Max's Deli, is now a Sun Glass Hut...

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#207246 - 02/07/00 01:36 AM Re: Original Moondog's Closes
Rory D. Root Offline
Member

Registered: 09/12/99
Posts: 628
Loc: Berkeley,Ca.,USA
Gary, sorry to hear of the old #1 dime (so to speak)closing. But admit it weren't you tempted to call the old landlord up and see what might be done?
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