MY LOCAL COMIC SHOP: Earthworld Comics – Albany, NY

“I didn’t get into this business to lose,” says JC Glindmyer, whose store, Earthworld Comics, has been “Rotting Minds and Seducing the Innocent since 1983”- surviving the comic industry crash in the 90’s, Rob Liefeld artwork, and even the Age of Ultron! Albany used to have numerous comic shops during the early 90’s market boom- now they are all gone but EARTHWORLD LIVES!

The shop is located in a prime location at 537 Central Avenue. The first thing you will see when you walk into the store is the boxes and boxes of marvelous 25 cent books. Earthworld also has a great selection of discounted hard cover and trade paperbacks- $5 for trades, $10 for hardcovers and $25-$40 for omnibuses. Their graphic novel section trumps any local bookstore. Their huge selection of new comics will satisfy your thirst for Marvel, DC, Image or any of the delicious independent choices. Ooooooh, and they have toys, lots and lots of toys to play with!

Reading about superheroes is not enough for JC, he teams with many charities in the Capital District. Last year, the store partnered with the organization Books for Troops to send thousands of comics overseas to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. This year they collected crayons, markers, pens, and paper for the organization Things of My Very Own who provide “impoverished children who are victims of abuse and/or neglect with crisis intervention services”. Earthworld also partners with local schools throughout the Capital District for Free Comic Book Day events including Albany High, The Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School District, St. Catherine’s Center For Children, and many more. JC also generously donates comics and graphic novels to support literacy in local schools.

 Without further ado, here is the greatest interview of all time:

So how did Earthworld come about?

I didn’t open the store.  No, I didn’t open the store.  There were two guys, Mike and Jim.  One was from Long Island, the other one was local- he owned Uptown News, on Washington (avenue).  One of the guys wanted to move back home, the other was busy with Uptown News.  At the time I couldn’t afford it, but my friend Reuben bought the place.  Even before that, I kinda helped out from time to time.  But when Reuben took it over, I was his number two guy.  I kinda watched him; he had the place for maybe a year, year and a half, and it wasn’t really in his blood to run a business… So he moved to Florida, I took the business… I think I’ve had it for about 25 years.

The name Earthworld comes from Mike and Jim, the original owners.  They just put names in a hat and pulled out those.  I thought it was a little redundant, I was gonna call it something else, but at the point you have an established business you would be foolish to change.  So for good or bad, that was the name of the place.

What did you do before you opened Earthworld Comics?

At the time, I worked for a retail store. I was a director of security. I left there to stay home with the kids. I was with my daughter for the first three years of her life, home. After that, the opportunity came again to buy the store, so I talked to my wife and this time I actually bought it.

Have you always been a comic fan?

Yeah. I used to set up at conventions before I even own the store. I got an idea of how to work with customers and people. Before that I had came from a retail background. Even though I used to make fun of the other managers and people working retail, surprisingly, I ended up learning a lot just by observing.

How did you first start collecting comics? Did you always wanted to be in the comic biz?

My mom always started us out with comics. She always wanted us reading. It’s important to read. I guess it didn’t matter to her how you’re reading as long as you are reading. Comics, I used to buy a whole stack of them. She didn’t like the superhero ones, but she did like the Gold Key, the Carl Barks, Uncle Scrooge. She liked those. She liked the stories. She’s right, they were good stories. She’s right. Reading them years later, the Carl Barks stories are really good. Didn’t really care if they’re superhero books. She thought they were too busy, but she did like this field, Superman, Batman. We did read those. I gravitate more to the things she didn’t let me read, like the Marvel, they look so busy. She’s always saying, they’re always continued, I go, “Oh, it’s kind of the point.”

Did you always know you’re going to be in the comic industry?

No. I’m lucky that I ended up with the comic industry because I don’t think anybody or place would have me.

How does digital sales affected your sales?

It’s hard to say right now if they’ve affected it in a significant way because digital comics are the same price is regular comics, or maybe a dollar more because of free download. I’ve noticed most people prefer to read the books. Marvel doesn’t make it easy with their new cover stock that’s kind of chincy. I think most people prefer to read it in a book form. There’s something aesthetically pleasing and feeling about an actual book in your hands opposed to an iPad or a Tablet. Don’t get me wrong. I read them both. As far as gratification. Even though it’s great you could read comics in the dark with an iPad, but nothing reproduces what you see with the naked eye on the page, the color, the crispness, you can’t reproduce that on an iPad. It would get pixelated to the point where the lines are all jagged.

No, I don’t think you can replace it. You can enhance it, you can open up other areas for people that can’t be exposed to the books, but I don’t think it’s going to be a situation where there’s going to be a lot of people saying I’m only going to read visual comics, everybody. There might be a few people. They do that for convenience sake… you don’t really own a digital comic. You’ll probably own the way to get the comic. If for some reason comiXology crashes or decide not to do comics anymore, comics are gone. As far as being affected, I’m sure it reflected a little where people are saying, “Oh, I prefer it this way.” We’re just as affected as people going to comic graphic novels too. People are still reading comics. It’s just how they’re reading them now. They have different choices.

How had the success of comic movies affected the industry?

I don’t really see how it really affected it that much aside from awareness of a lot of the properties themselves. Iron Man wasn’t really lighting the world on fire in the comics. He was a great hero. He’s one of my favorites, but it wasn’t until you exposed it to the big screen where you saw all the visuals and all the potential… That got a lot of people interested in it… As far as translating awareness, definitely. It may not translate that much into sales, it does translate into other things for Marvels/Disney, such as merchandising. Right now, that’s mostly where it has affected the industry. Another thing is a lot of times where a lot of people don’t realize is movies do affect the comics themselves.

You’ve already noticed that to affect in The Avengers. You have a character called Agent Coulson now. You’ve got a character, Nick Fury, who looks like Samuel L. Jackson. Again, not that there’s anything wrong with it because if you go way back, Kryptonite wasn’t introduced in the comics. Neither was Perry White. I don’t even think Jimmy Olsen was either. All these characters are mentioned by name in the radio show. Kryptonite was called K-Metal originally. It wasn’t given a name until the radio show. I don’t think they want to stray too much from what the character is, but they want to make it so it’s recognizable because there are people who get confused, like why is Dr. Octopus Spider-Man now and people were scratching their head and it would be a long conversation. Like I said, as far as the movies, they do have an influence, but not on the sales and most cases, mostly on the content.

Earthworld’s Free Comic Book Day event includes cosplayers, contests, and local comic legend John Hebert!

Best promotion by a comic company from the past ten years, what was it?

Free Comic Book Day, of course. There’s no better promotion. It was a shot in the arm. Not that it was needed, but as I mentioned before, the success of the movies, those might carry over the comics, but Free Comic Book Days evolved into a day where people assume or know it’s the first weekend of May. They know there’s usually a superhero movie out, one way or around that time. They are aware of it now. It’s been 12 years, I think. 12 years, 12 Free Comic Book Days we’ve done. Every year, it gets bigger and bigger and bigger and more and more people are aware. I did absolutely no advertising this year for Free Comic Book Day aside from Facebook. Again, we had record numbers. Free Comic Book Day, there’s many different comics that expose many different people to many things they wouldn’t have tried before. The price is free. There’s a comic out there for everybody. It’s the equivalent of holiday for the comic fans. Best promotion ever.

Earthworld even has their own superheroine, Earthgirl! I wonder if anyone knows her secret identity?

What’s the stupidest?

Oh, Jesus. Stupidest promotion. Oh, man. There’s been a lot of stupid things. I think one of the stupidest ones was from Marvel. It was called the Marvel Mart. What Marvel Mart was- it was a catalog that was inserted into all of their comics without them telling us. For years, we’re trying to get copies of certain trade paperback to sell our customers and certain comics that we were told were sold out. Unbenounced to us, one week comics come out and had this Marvel Mart catalog. The glossy catalog inserted in the middle of it. It sells everything that we sell. Retailers were furious. I thought it was ridiculous, I thought it was horrible. It was one of the things where a lot of retailers were pissed so much because of the insert, for many reasons, but the insert weighed a little more, so we got charged for it.

Just to add insult to injury and to add more insult to injury, it was a catalog, it was drawn like a comic and the point was Spider-Man and Mary Jane are going to this Marvel store and they show them different paperbacks. In the background you see these guys shoplifting and at the end Spider-Man catches them. Spider-Man goes, “Boy, I think I would just stick to the Marvel Mart. Stores are just too much.” That really pissed a lot of people off. It was a very unfriendly retailer thing to do.

…It remains to be seen whether this DC 52 is going to be a stupid promotion. It was lighting in a bottle for the first two or three months. Now, it doesn’t look that great and a lot of people are wishing they’d go back.

Did it affect your back issue sales and paperback sales?

What it did was it alienated an entire section of DC aficionados. Even though there’s some people who did pick it up, there was a good amount of people who would have stuck with the books, that found it the perfect point of jump off.

Most popular franchise. What’s your most popular franchise?

Probably Walking Dead.

How is the Walking Dead success affected the industry?

You’re never going to find a book like Walking Dead for years. That affects comics as much as this one comic does. I don’t see how you could do a spin off at it. The book is unique in itself. It’s a book that actually has people trained to come in every six months to get the collection. It’s got people come in every month to pick up the book. With the introduction of the TV show, the popularity exploded tenfold. It also created a new audience for the book, people who don’t read comics, as the Walking Dead does not speak just to one audience, it speaks to many different audiences…

The audience for Walking Dead is all over the place. There is no specific type of person who reads Walking Dead. Everybody seems to read it, males, females, old, young… Before it was X-Men. The bloom is off the rose. You only have people who just follow X-Men. They are a die-hard breed. The Walking Dead breaks a lot of boundaries, crosses a lot of different people. It’s definitely a crowd pleaser, so it’s the most popular one right now.

We are one of the top websites for indie reviews. How has the independent scene influenced the industry?

The independent scene has influenced the industry because a lot of writers, I’d say about 95% of the writers you see right now working for Marvel or DC cut their teeth in the independence. Matt Kindt, Brian Wood, all writing majors, Jeff Lemire, all major writers for DC and Marvel right now. However, a lot of these guys are sticking with their independent projects, which is good because it takes some of the audience from the mainstream and puts it back into the independent… Obviously, there’s a lot of excitement there. You should never under estimate the independent books because a lot of them do influence a lot of writers, directors. One of the earliest independent movies from a comic was Ghost World from Eightball. Something I was actually surprised they actually did because Eightball is such an out there book. It was never really adapted to what the Eightball was, but it was different enough for people to accept it and possibly want to read more about it. Right now, the independent books, they do have a voice themselves. They’re not constricted to any corporate thing.

How long is the average customer collected for?

Average customer usually collects maybe about  five years. It’s a five-year window. One thing that we did notice that there is a time frame where most people kind of try comics out for a while and they’ll stick with it or they’ll fade away. It’s usually within five years. Usually the price increase usually squeezes them out or one thing or another. A lot of times people who do collect comics, they do stay with the hobby for a long time. They just change their collecting techniques, whether it’s graphic novels or whether it’s regular comics. As you get older you change and you have to think about room, you have to think about lifting boxes, so you have to see how your collection serves you.

What’s the craziest story that’s ever happened in the store?

At the old store, I think it was an anniversary of Superman. We made a paper mache Planet Krypton. We were going to light it. We filled it with gasoline and we hung it from the tree outside. Best of all- this has all the hallmarks of a very safe promotion. When we lit it, it burnt the string. The globe fell down. The globe hit the ground. There was this huge explosion of gas and flower. How scary it was was the bikers called the cops next door…

There was this guy that came in on a bike.  It was a Wednesday as I recalled. He missed an issue of Amazing Spider-Man, I guess it was maybe about four months old. He says “I got to finish this story, I just got to finish this story”. I go, “We have it in the back issues.” He takes it and he goes, “At last.” He rings it up, we ring it up, he takes it right out the bag. “Well, you can have this.”  Takes the bag and board, folds the book, puts it in his pocket and he goes scootin’ right out.  To the horror of every fanboy in here. You know what? The guy was my hero. All he wanted was to read the story and that’s a hero. That’s what comics are all about.

Be honest, Marvel or DC?

Marvel or DC? Well, the general consensus with everyone- DC has the better characters, but Marvel has the better stories.

Cyclops was right, right?

Magneto was right!


Jay Deitcher, LMSW(@mrdeitcher) is an educator on comic history and runs successful Free Comic Book Day events yearly.  You can see a listing of his incredible articles at