Comic Junction sits as one of the oldest comic book stores in the area. For about 40 years, Owner Kipp Marvig has served his loyal customers from their childhood to adulthood years and has managed to make some friends along the way. Tucked in the South Plaza Shopping Center upstairs hallway, this hidden gem all started with a love for comic books.
In 1981, Kip and his business partner were working together to deliver magazines. Eventually, they realized they shared an interest in comic books, so they began to take trips to the closest store in Minneapolis. Eventually, they were making lists of all the comics that their friends wanted and picking those up too. So Kip wondered, can we do this?
“We started out in his dad’s garage for about two months,” Kip said. “When we first started, it was a couple of years before graphic novels came out. Then, when we started with graphic novels, we had about a four-foot rack that had four shelves. We couldn’t fit the new releases each week on that.”
For a few years, Comic Junction moved locations between Fargo and Moorhead, the basement of West Acres, a place on 13th Ave, and so on; until they found their spot on University Drive in 1995.
When Comic Junction began, direct marketing in the comic book industry was on the rise. This meant that comic book stores could order series in bulk from publishers; whereas when Kip was making his trips to the cities, he would return with comics from smaller, more obscure press companies. In other words, while Comic Junction was building itself, so were the iconic storylines we know from major publishers Marvel and DC.
Although there was no doubt big names like Amazing Spiderman or Superman would fly off the stands when Kip brought them to the store, there was more to just selling the hottest comics when it came to making sure his business would be sustainable.
“We were keeping track of things and had notes [to know what] is popular. We’d hit and miss, but after a couple of months, you’d end up knowing,” Kip explained. “You’re ordering two or three months in advance, so you’ve got the third issue ordered before you ever know how the first one sells. You try to stick to a budget and have part of the budget be for a ‘risk area.’”
While they might have it down to a science, there are some comic demands that even the pros can’t predict.
“I would’ve liked to have had a little bit more on the risk when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came out with the first one. We got several, but it was so popular that, yeah, we didn’t have anything left,” Kip remembered.
Another side of the business is personal orders. Customers visit the store and can place their orders for comics, then they return to pick them up when they’ve arrived. Kip said he has used information from these orders to decide what to order more of or to try out for the store too.
Comic Junction offers a seemingly endless amount of comics and graphic novels, but did you know that you can also find used paperback books like work by Stephen King and newspaper strips like the classic Peanuts comics inside too?
Those orders are also a great way for Kip to stay connected with his regular customers, which he has plenty of.
“I have three customers that have been here since ‘81,” he said. “There’s a couple of generational people here. There’s one girl that comes in that I remember when her dad came in with his dad. And, her dad isn’t picking up the same stuff that she’s picking up.”
The store is diverse and offers different genres for all age ranges. Not only are there a variety of differently rated comics, but there are works for just about any niche topic. Some of those include works about musicians and bands like Janis Joplin or Grateful Dead, a graphic novel about the Mueller Report, and even on a more serious note, a graphic novel, The Courage Party: Helping Our Resilient Children Understand and Survive Sexual Assault, written to help children deal with sexual abuse. Kip hopes to one day talk with local schools about providing the graphic novel to counselors.
“That one is a personal crusade for me,” Kip said. “It wasn’t in school, but my kid sister was a victim of date rape. And I want people to understand, kids, it’s not your fault.”
Comic Junction’s corner of Fargo is packed floor to ceiling full of pages of stories, miscellaneous toys and collectibles, and decades worth of memories. Recently it was announced that South Plaza will be torn down and rebuilt. Kip said although he’s not sure where exactly Comic Junction will be located next, they are making the move to somewhere that fits. After the many moves they had before they landed on this spot, this is just another adventure for the beloved comic book store.
1621 S University Dr.,