Meet comic book authors Shooter, Vaughn at NHP’s Best Comics

Meet comic book authors Shooter, Vaughn at NHP’s Best Comics
The Best Comics exclusive cover for "Bedtime Stories for Impressionable Children," the new horror anthology by Jim Shooter and J.C. Vaughn. (Image courtesy of J.C. Vaughn)

After 26 years in business, New Hyde Park’s Best Comics is a “destination store” for comic book devotees and neophytes alike, said Tommy Maletta, the shop’s owner.

But the shop will be an even bigger destination on Feb. 22 when comic book authors Jim Shooter and J.C. Vaughn, a longtime Best Comics customer, sign copies of their new book, “Bedtime Stories for Impressionable Children.”

Best Comics will have an exclusive edition of the book with a unique cover designed for the shop.

Events such as these help draw new customers to Best Comics at a time when more people are reading comics but there are relatively few places dedicated to selling them, Maletta said.

“We’re like dinosaurs in the tar pit, but I’m still around,” he said.

Shooter started writing for DC Comics when he was 14 years old and is best known for his nine-year run as editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, which led to the brand’s resurgence in the 1970s and ‘80s.

Shooter authored “Bedtime Stories,” an anthology of three horror tales, with Vaughn, the author of comic books based on the TV shows “Stargate: Atlantis” and “24,” and graphic artist J.D. Nelms.

Vaughn, a longtime Best Comics customer, had been developing the idea for the book for several years before collaborating with Shooter and Nelms, he said.

It’s an homage to the “eerie” and “creepy” books by EC Comics, which became known for publishing “Tales From the Crypt” and Mad magazine in the 1950s, Vaughn said.

“It’s a little bit of horror in a different type of style than we normally get,” said Nick Testa, Best Comics’ manager. “It’s less focused on the gore or the more disgusting elements.”

Vaughn, a Baldwin resident, first came to Best Comics eight years ago and found that its staff stood out from the crowd, he said.

The owners of most comic shops are friendly and highly knowledgeable about comics, but that applies to all employees at Best Comics, Vaughn said.

“These people treat established long-term collectors very well, and they also do it to somebody who just walks through the door for the first time,” he said.

Maletta opened Best Comics in Little Neck, Queens, 26 years ago and moved to the current location at 1300 Jericho Turnpike 12 years ago, he said.

It distinguishes itself from other shops by selling comics-inspired figurines and “silver age” comics from the 1950s and ‘60s, Maletta said.

Movies and TV shows bringing superheroes to the screen have led more people to pick up comics in recent years, Maletta said.

The number of girls and women buying them has increased 20 to 30 percent in the last few years as more stories contain “not only … superpowered women but empowered women,” he said.

Aside from the trends, people continue coming to Best Comics because of its established reputation, Maletta said.

“It’s almost like an antique store,” he said. “… There’s a few of us still left around and there’s a still a decent portion of the population that has interest that will find my store.”

Best Comics will host Shooter and Vaughn for the book signing from 1 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22.

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