By Joseph Pratt
Just as Ms. Marvel and the Invisible Woman teamed up through the Avengers, or Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl through the Justice League of America, two local comic and game entities have teamed together to form a super-union for the local fanboy and fangirl.
Castle Comics, of Gallia and Gay Streets, has teamed with Awesome Town in order to provide a full gaming and comic experience. Together, the two businesses come armed with a utility belt of strengths and around 30 years of experience in the business.
The two assembled after Awesome Town lost its space in Boneyfiddle. The business had witnessed a rocky few years, trying to find an affordable and safe building in the area. As a last resort option, owner Heather Whisman said she approached her childhood idol, the owner of Castle Comics.
Castle Comics welcomed the young business woman through its doors with the promise of a face lift, an easier workload schedule, and a wider variety of video game platforms.
Awesome Town’s forte lies in collectible cards, gently used and retro video games, and animation. Castle Comics’ forte has lied in a large variety of comic books, retro action figures, and role playing games for many years.
The two have been working together for a month now and the owners say things have started to fall into place. The store has been remodeled for the first time in years, and Whisman has been pushing for more updates, possibly even arcade systems in the second room of the building. The business will also be bringing back regularly scheduled card tournaments, including Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Magic the Gathering.
“I like having Heather in here,” Robin Higgins, owner of Castle Comics, said. “She has been a lot of help in getting things moved and organized. She also brings in a ton of energy and charisma, keeping things lively when I’m in here.”
Higgins also said Whisman has been working hard to give the shop a bit of a face lift.
“Heather is very focused on cleaning and repainting the windows so they look attractive and inviting. She even brought the Pikachu back on the window,” Higgins said. “She has also helped move shelves around and organize the inside so that customers can walk full circle around the shop and take everything in so that it isn’t overwhelming.”
Whisman said she believes the Pikachu window painting had always been a trademark of the business and she felt like she needed to restore it. She is also working on various other paintings, including a video game window and a hero/villain window.
Castle Comics has been around since 1989 and has been a staple in the comic and science fiction/ fantasy niche of Portsmouth. For most of its time open, it has sustained the area’s need for its type of products alone and without any other competition.
Whisman said working alongside Higgins in Castle Comics is a dream come true, since the shop was her favorite place to visit as a kid.
“My inner seven-year-old is high-fiving myself so hard right now. I’ve always looked up to Robin and Castle Comics. As a kid, if my allowance wasn’t going to CD’s, it was going to Castle Comics,” Whisman said. “I’ve always respected them, and in a way, I wouldn’t have ever entered the business without my fond memories of ripping open booster packs of cards at their counter the very second I bought them, or impatiently waiting for the latest issue of Moon Knight.”
Whisman said that working with Higgins has been the most rewarding partnership she has had and looks forward to watching where their businesses go.
“Robin and I both have our strengths and we work very well together,” Whisman said. “I feel like this partnership only makes us stronger as businesses and closer as friends. I love that I have a job with such amazing people that I am actually excited to wake up and go into work in the morning.”
Castle Comics and Awesome Town are both open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. They are located at 901 Gallia Street and can be reached by phone at 740-353-4777.
Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.
Heather Whisman (left) and Robin Higgins (right) behind the counter of their renovated space
From left to right: Mario, Heather Whisman, Robin Higgins, and Art Swanner.