Robot 6

Arizona’s Atomic Comics chain shuts down [Updated]

Atomic Comics' Chandler, Arizona, location

Atomic Comics, the nationally known Arizona retail chain, abruptly closed all four locations on Sunday, shocking staff, customers and industry figures alike. Although the closing of the stores in Mesa, Phoenix, Chandler and Paradise Valley was initially announced last night by multiple employees and creators, owner Michael Malve confirmed the news this morning in an installment of his weekly newsletter titled “My Final Report.”

“As some of you may have already heard, after 25 years of running a successful business, sadly and much to my dismay, I have shut the doors of Atomic Comics,” Malve wrote. “The villain in this tragedy is the economy. I had hoped to be the superhero and triumph over the recession, but sadly the economic downturn of the past 5 years has proven to be unsustainable.”

In the newsletter, which can be read below, Malve revealed he’s filed for bankruptcy, and that he and his family are losing their home, ” as we had secured it against our leases which we obviously have to break.”

“I know there are many people out there facing very similar situations in these difficult times and now I can definitely empathize with them,” he continued. “I have always been and will forever be an extremely optimistic person and will look at this situation as an adventure. I have very high hopes for the next chapter of my life.”

Well regarded nationally for its in-store signings, innovative marketing and sheer size — it was believed to be among Diamond Comic Distributors’ largest accounts — Atomic gained international exposure last year when its name and logo were featured prominently in Kick-Ass, the film adaptation of the comic by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. The chain began in 1988, when Malve opened Bubba’s Comic Store in Phoenix. A year later he moved to Mesa, renaming the business Atomic Comics.

Malve, a major supporter of The Hero Initiative, sent a weekly newsletter to colleagues, creators and publishers, breaking down sales at his four stores. Although Malve was forthright in the emails, grumbling about the state of the market, there apparently were few indications that he was on the brink of closing until he commented in his Aug. 17 report that, “I don’t know how I am going to afford September at this point.”

The news triggered immediate reactions from the likes of Jim Lee, Joe Quesada — “The best retailer I’ve ever met closed his doors” — Brian Michael Bendis, Warren Ellis, Kevin Smith and Dan Slott.

However, it also led some to try to pinpoint a cause, and to sound the alarm. Controversial retailer Larry Doherty chimed in, “If Mike Malve has fallen we could ALL be doomed. His genius in retail is the high water mark,” later adding, “Print runs are REALLY low. Publishers that market digital to the SAME customer base just put Atomic Comics out of business.” Retailer and promoter Jimmy Jay replied, “if Atomic has fallen, it didn’t happen overnight. […] Digital didn’t kill Atomic, that is simplification.”

But then Rob Liefeld weighed in, writing, “Atomic Comics is a cautionary tale of hype over commerce. […] Hate that this will turn into a blight on the comics industry when it is isolated to a specific chain, not all encompassing. […] Once again, terrible news about Atomic Comics. Confident the AZ. Comic scene will recover and Malve will rise again.”

Note: The article has been edited to reflect the content of Malve’s newsletter.

Read the full text of Malve’s “Final Report” below:

My Final Report

As some of you may have already heard, after 25 years of running a successful business, sadly and much to my dismay, I have shut the doors of Atomic Comics. The villain in this tragedy is the economy. I had hoped to be the superhero and triumph over the recession, but sadly the economic downturn of the past 5 years has proven to be unsustainable.

For over 20 years I ran a successful and debt free business, provided jobs for up to 60 employees at a time, with some working for me for 16 plus years!  I saw profits of up to 5 million during our best years. My wife recently bought me a copy of the book, “ONWARD” by Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks. I could really identify with some of the problems Starbucks had faced. Some similarities were that during the best of times, Atomic Comics, like Starbucks, expanded into high profile locations, but when the economy went sour, low sales could not support the higher rent at these high visibility locations. The leases at these particular stores which had originally provided the consumers with greater visibility and more foot traffic to our wonderful world of comic books, the higher overhead proved to be too much for Atomic as we faced declining sales.

As Atomic was seeing such success, we opened our headquarters which housed our shipping and receiving department, home base for our web store and worldwide mail order operation. We closed the headquarters down in May of 2010. I think the catalyst for Atomics’ downfall, as some of you may remember, occurred in October of 2006, just as the recession was beginning,  when a 16 year old uninsured driver, drover her car through the window of our Mesa Superstore, our largest and greatest revenue producer. This in turn caused a flood as the water main had been hit. This caused such severe damage and loss that we had to shut down for over 5 months. The damages were so severe we lost close to a million dollars in product. The loss of revenue due to being closed all those months as we headed into retail’s busiest season was astronomical. What really stood out to me was how many of Atomics’ customers were lost as we rebuilt the store. It seemed as if half our customers never returned. The great mystery to me is what exactly happened to all those missing customers. I can only speculate that once you take away the habit of weekly buying-it is hard to jump back into it. Since there was not another comic shop in the immediate area, I can only assume customers found other means to obtain their comics, maybe they started driving great distances to hit up other stores, some possibly went the way of the internet and are now ordering their books online or perhaps even downloading their books illegally, or maybe even some stopped collecting comics altogether.

I have some great memories of my regular customers, seeing these people week in and week out. Some for as many as 25 years of not missing a beat as they picked up their books. Bringing the new readers into comics by doing various promotions and events was something I enjoyed a great deal and will truly miss. Hopefully the customers and fans I cultivated will find new a new place to call home and get their geek on. To all my fellow comic book retailers out there, I truly hope you do not succumb to the same fate, can see this recession thru, and continue to be successful and flourish. I will be here rooting for you!  With DC’s September release of the #1’s, Marvel’s makeover of key books and continual growth, and other publishers working hard with some amazing new and exciting content, there is hope on the horizon for the direct market! I have enjoyed sharing thoughts and ideas with all these other retailers. Much love and appreciation to you all.

I have been blessed since day one to be surrounded by so many incredible people. There is no way that Atomic would have lasted all these years without everyone’s effort and support. To all of my employees past and present, friends in the industry, and business contacts I have made over the years, I plan on staying in touch. If I made a list of all the many people who have helped and supported me over the years the list would be lengthy beyond belief! So I’ll keep it short. At Atomic I would like to thank Bill Mitchell, Dale Worthington, Julian Moraga, and Mike Ueber. I have had hundreds of great employees over the years that went above and beyond as they dedicated themselves to making Atomic Comics a very special place. Someone who has given me an incredible amount of support is Ryan Liebowitz from Golden Apple Comics. He and his family have bent over backwards providing me with ideas and words of encouragement to keep me going. Ironically, Ryan’s father, Bill Liebowitz was my good friend and mentor when I opened my first store 25 years ago. I would like to thank and give credit to Joe Quesada, Mark Waid, and Jim McLaughlin for inspiring me to write this weekly report over a decade ago. It was conceived at Megacon as we hung out talking about the industry. I had already been writing a very informal monthly report just checking in on sales with the guys at Wizard magazine, but I don’t believe anyone was receiving true and accurate sales numbers until this weekly report began. I had wanted to portray a candid-no holds barred account of what was and what wasn’t selling. Lastly, I want to give a shout out and thank everyone in the comic and entertainment industry for their continued support over the years.

Making the decision to file bankruptcy was very difficult and painful. I have had a very wide range of emotions.  My family and I are headed into uncharted waters which is very scary for my wife and I as well as our children. We are losing our home as we had secured it against our leases which we obviously have to break. I know there are many people out there facing very similar situations in these difficult times and now I can definitely empathize with them. I have always been and will forever be an extremely optimistic person and will look at this situation as an adventure. I have very high hopes for the next chapter of my life. I have the support of my wonderful wife, Andrea, my kids, Alexandra & Jack, many loving family members, and lots of great friends. My passion in life, second of course to my family, is the comic book industry, of which I hope to remain a part of in the years to come. I don’t plan on giving any public interviews and would like mine and my family’s privacy respected so we can work on rebuilding our lives.

Sincerely

Mike Malve

Atomic Comics name and logo in "Kick-Ass"

Atomic Comics name and logo in "Kick-Ass"

Update: Jhonen Vasquez shares his thoughts in our comments section: “Atomic was the first big signing I ever did, and the first I had done outside of California when I was first starting out. From the very moment I met the guy, Mike treated me not like the malformed horror most people see me as, but like a friend and a huge supporter of my work. Loved signing at Atomic then and for years on and I wish Mike and everyone from Atomic well.”

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Comments

97 Comments

Wow. That’s just… wow. Totally unexpected.

I was in AZ for the month of January 2009, and I went to one of the Atomic stores while I was down there. I asked the guy behind the counter if they had any discount TPBs. He stared at me for a moment and said, “What?” I asked if they had any discount trade paperbacks. He stared at me for a moment and said, “What?” Then I finally asked if they had any discount graphic novels and he was like, “No, we don’t have anything like that.” Hahaha.

Same shit in Europe. Great places but no service. shame shame shame…

I find it funny that people immediately jump on the “digital comics are killing the brick and mortar stores” bandwagon here. Did you miss this quote: “All I’ve heard is that everything in every store is now the IRS’ malve filed for bankruptcy.””

If everything is the IRS’, he wasn’t paying his taxes… not just once, but regularly. Pillar of the comic book community or not, you can’t NOT pay taxes to the point where the IRS comes after you. This isn’t the first time that’s happened to a good comic book retailer, or a good retailer period. Good people make bad mistakes. That doesn’t mean it’s time to scream “doom” and point fingers elsewhere.

Yeah, the news about the IRS and the sudden close has me thinking that it had less to do about business and more to do with something shady going on.

. I am sorry to see anyone have to shut down. I like Mike and hope he does well in the future. If anybody needs a subscription service. I have a 20 % off one, at Greg’s Comics NW corner of Guadalupe and Alma School Rd . Mesa AZ 480 752 1881 The Comic Community has lost a great place to shop. Howard Harris

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

August 22, 2011 at 8:22 am

Dalghryn,

I read it that way also. The IRS doesn’t take your stuff unless you owe them money, and if they took everything Malve had, he owed them a LOT of money.

Using this as a “digital comics are killing brick and mortar stores” talk seems to reek a little of Chicken Little-ism.

Tyler Baumgartner

August 22, 2011 at 8:31 am

“Thank You” to all the good people of Atomic Comics. You were more than a comic book store. It was a safe community. No matter what your background was you felt comfortable at Atomic.

To those speculating on whys and hows Atomic is closed. Know I live in Arizona(since 1980) and many good businesses closed. Housing market whipped out a lot of peoples expendable cash. There are empty store fronts all over the valley. Your hockey team is still looking for a buyer. The balance sheet does not define Mike or Atomic Comics.

But like the Phoenix there is resurrections after death. I don’t how it will look maybe Mike will start over after bankruptcy is cleared or a Atomic employee will take up on herself/himself. I have no doubt the community that Atomic cultivated will not die out.

Thanks again looking for the future.

-Tyler Baumgartner

The article’s been updated with an official statement from Malve.

The comment by Nick is scary…they had an employee that didn’t know the difference between a TPB and a graphic novel?!

I have been a customer at two of their stores for a combined five years and never had anything but superlative service at both. Thomas and his staff at the PV store kicked ass on a regular basis. I am sorry on a very personal level for what they all must be going through. Anyone know of any other stores in Phoenix near paradise Valley Mall?

I recall many of the early years of the business. Malve was always in the shop and did a good job of remembering customers. Then he started getting a bigger business, and the employees took over. Employees that didn’t care about the customers the way that Malve used to. The prices started to rise with his higher overheads, the service started to suffer, and then the push to expand and corporatize tended to kill any charm the shop had. I also recall going in there many times and seeing signs that they were repricing and that the prices on the books didn’t necessarily reflect the current prices of the items. When the register spit out tickets that were 35% higher than the price tags, it’s hard to swallow that and pay it. The employees didn’t care, MM was nowhere to be seen and the prices kept rising. I feel bad for the guy and all of his employees, but it seems the biggest problem is that Atomic got too big and believed its own hype. You just can’t run a comic shop now like you could in the early 2000’s. That shocking flood really looked like it hurt the store, but for me at least, Atomic had lost me long ago. I always wanted to tell Malve that if his register rang items up for the prices on the price stickers, or his employees cared enough to work with me on those prices instead of just saying, well, there’s signs and we’re too busy to reprice everything, they may not have lost quite a bit of business from me and people like me.

@Dalghryn Where does it say anything about the IRS?

Matt: That was in comments from an employee that appeared in an earlier version of the post, before Mike Malve issued an official statement.

I have gone to Atomic Comics for literally over half my life, at this point. From their original location (which was next to a movie theatre at the time), over to their current one, through college, and I remember the day in 2006 when I went for new books, only to see the aftermath of the car crash and the flood, the store being closed up to try and prevent black mold… I remember not long ago, where they had a reunion of every founding member of Image comics in store… just… so many memories.

All of that. Other than one or two snarky folks who worked there, by and large, the place was the equivalent of Cheers for a comic book fan. Customers would come in on new book day, and be greeted by name, and you could chat up the staff about what books were out (without spoiling out loud, mind you). Hell, the staff always did a wonderful job of selective selling books you might want to check out, because they already knew what you liked.

It’s a sad day, really. I only wish there was one last public hurrah, but the store, she is closed. And will be missed.

Josue aka HO aka Sway

August 22, 2011 at 9:48 am

I worked at Atomic and consider it my second home. I too have fond memories of working there and still consider it my favorite job. Julian, Kat, Bill, Jason aka the boy, Miguel, Jim and the rest of the crew were like family and MIke you welcomed me into your home countless times when I needed support and help. I am shocked and sad that I wont have Chandler or Mesa Atomic to purchase my BI weekly comic book habit. I know Mike and he will bounce back and when he does, I will be one of his 1st customers eager to get his GEEK ON.

Not that they’re as big as the Atomic Comics chain, by I’m in Tucson and my long time shop of choice (Charlie’s Comics) is going under next month. The kicker is, even though he’ll overall be losing money on it, he’s still going to keep his mail order business going for his military customers. Stand up guy.

This is unfortunate, not just for the people involved, but for comics in general. Here’s to hoping someone in AZ can at least partially fill the void.

that 16 yr old uninsured driver is an asshole.

If I was getting into comics, I’d rather download one than visit a comic shop! The majority (not your favorite shop, which is clearly doing something right) are awkward, intimidating, rude, smelly and full of people playing Magic the Gathering. Clean yourselves up, THEN maybe you can blame digital marketing. Ugh.

those logos in the screenshots are NOT atomics… the font is totally different, the middle logo looks lore liek a mask than the WAY MORE RECOGNIZABLE ‘radiation’ logo. It looks like none of the stores I’ve been into (their only one that small were SMALLER,most were larger). If Maive actually allowed for the store name usage, why wouldn’t they have the same logos?

You wanna know where his business went after 2006? Samurai Comics. It’s not far, it’s got a smaller location but good prices, and it’s been open with two locations in downtown for years. I specifically remember people making the switch BEFORE the crash, actually, because it was generally agreed upon that samurai had nicer staff and catered to the manga/anime crowd more with a lot of events. Atomic isn’t the only chain in AZ, most people STOPPED driving out of their way to go there and started supporting more LOCAL shops to their area… in Peoria and Glendale especially, whose closest Atomic location was metrocenter, an utter shit hole since it’s space downgrade (and even a bit before that). Atomic was strong in MEsa and… chandler? maybe? but the downtown area has Samurai and the west side has any number of smaller chains I’d rather support

“…awkward… rude, smelly and full of people playing Magic the Gathering…”

Yeah, this would be Pop Culture Paradise in Tempe and Samurai Camelback in Phoenix. Thank God for Ash Avenue Comics and All About Books & Comics on Central.

I never had any problems at Atomic Chandler (which I went to weekly when I lived down there) and Atomic PV (which I went to intermittently).

Greg’s Comics on Alma School in Mesa has that old-school comics store vibe (lots of combative nerds shouting at each other), but the staff was always good to me.

Atomic was the first big signing I ever did, and the first I had done outside of California when I was first starting out. From the very moment I met the guy, Mike treated me not like the malformed horror most people see me as, but like a friend and a huge supporter of my work. Loved signing at Atomic then and for years on and I wish Mike and everyone from Atomic well.

The market does not warrant four locations of the same comic shop. It doesn’t make sense considering the inherent dangers facing the industry.

Atomics wasn’t my favorite comic shop, but it still hurts when your options for a comic fix in AZ dwindle so drastically. Most areas are lucky to have even one comic shop, Mike went out of his way to provide four. But best intentions, I’d wager, are ultimately what led to this. Best of luck to his future endeavors.

In the meantime, fellow Phoenix comic crowd, we still have a few stores.

Drawn To Comics
JJ Comics
Hero Comics
Samurai Comics
All About Books and Comics

ABC always has what I’m looking for in stock and they’ve always been reliable in that sense. However my favorite is JJ Comics, a comic dealer in Northwest Phoenix who makes it a point to look me in the eye, shake my hand and thank me for my business on every visit. His location is not as “presentable” as most of the other stores mentioned but he knows that customers are the reason his store is there.

I’ve been an Atomic customer and box holder for over 15 years. It has been part of my Wednesday routine. The staff in PV and the other locations have been consistently informative and excited about comics. Their enthusiasm regularly influenced my pull list.

The sudden loss is tragic for the employees. As a regular visitor, it’s like my personal Cheers bar has closed with out notice. It was a bright light in my week.

Thank you Mike, Heather, Jeff, Thomas, Jenn, Alex and sooooo many others for all the great service through out the years. I wish you all the best in your adventures to come.

Radley Masinelli

I been going to Atomic since they had that store on Alma School and Southern. My summer days spent playing Magic and going back to get my books.
Then things changed. Mike was awesome I looked forward talking to him about all the stuff in the store and the down-low on the comic book world. Mike was less and less to be seen at the store. The other co-workers at the time were ok. But when they closed that store and moved to Country Club and Southern things changed. The employees didnt seem to know how to treat a customer. I bought a pack of card sleeves for some Magic the Gathering cards and bought the wrong size, fortunately I was at the counter and realized it when a friend pointed it out. I asked if I could swap them out with the same brand and same manufacturer just different size. The employee at the counter screamed at me that “We will never refund anything in the store!” Screaming at me like I just touched him inappropriately or something, I dont know. I thew the card sleeves at his face and told me to get out. While leaving I gave him a middle finger and walked out. I emailed Mike about this and he was apologetic and offered me a discount to continue my subscription.
I went back, and was ok for a while. Then thats when that idiot uninsured motorist ran into the store. Thats when everything was ruined. After months of getting the store back up. Thats when it became Bizzaro land. The employees were rude and was never a help. They kept on messing up my order on my subscriptions. They were no help into information of tournaments or anything. They kept telling me to go look at a board. And that was it. What bored? I dont know. I even make fun of them at the con’s now.
I then finally gave up. I figured this was now some corporate chain and screwing the customer. I had to go back to smaller mom and pop comic book stores for the service and the professionalism. Like I said Mike was a good person and putting a mark on the comic book store chain. He was a leader for alot of that stuff, so I commend you Mike for your hard work. I just think it got out of hand and lost alot of the old fashion service like there was. You were the first person in a comic book store to remember my name. It sucks and the comic book retailers in this state are always hurting. Digital Marketing has nothing to do with a car going through the store and why the store closed for nearly a half a year or anything, but to think of new innovative ways to beat that. Then to only open it back up and sell Anime/Manga junk all over. I felt like I was back in Japan or something. I would like to see Mike get his stuff back together and open a smaller more customer-friendly based store. Not a store where your buddy hires his buddy and think your ego is so huge that you can control anyone. I hate this economy and everything that came with it. The Phoenix will rise from its ashes and commend to a better future for everyone. :D

Slarty Bartfast

August 22, 2011 at 10:56 am

Way back in the day I used to do business with Frank over at Stalking Moon in Glendale. Started going to Atomic’s PV location when we moved into Phoenix in the early 90’s. Met some very cool people there, and I loved the atmosphere; as someone else said previously, no matter what your particular geek was, you felt welcome there. When my son was born, I decided it was time to put aside some of the enjoyments of my youth and put the money towards his future, and I discontinued my box and *sniff* stopped buying comics. A sad decision, but ultimately the right one.

Of course there were a few employees who were jerks. It’s a very rare business that doesn’t hire a few over the years. But they were by far the exception. I think the Arizona comics scene greatly benefited from the industry relationships Mike cultivated over the years. I’m sorry to see Atomic go away, and I’m incredibly sad that it cost Mike’s family not just his job but also their home. These must be scary days indeed for them as a family. My heart goes out to them.

I lived in Chandler for a year some time ago and was very happy to find out that Atomic Comics had a store in the Chandler Fashion Sq. Mall. It became part of my weekly Saturday routine. I no longer remember the names of the folks that worked there, but I do remember that they were helpful and friendly and even remembered a temporary transplant like me. Regardless of your experiences with staff, in my opinion, Atomic was one of stores that was doing it right and should have been a retail model. They were promoting the industry, not to those already buying, but to those that were curious and interested due to some tenuous connection, like a movie, or cartoon, or TV show. Most of us are so accustomed to the fact that our LCS is not exactly like going into a ‘real’ retail store, that we lose sight of the fact that most people outside the hobby are intimidated by the ‘usual’ store atmosphere. To be honest, it is not something that is unique to comic shops though, most hobby orientated retail stores are the same way. That being said, I am very sorry to hear about Atomic and Mike’s family losing their home and I hope he rebounds.

Like Jhonen, Atomic was my first big signing event. And through Mike and the Atomic crew I had been able to create great relationships, meet some very inspiring creators and even do signings with them, and establish a strong readership and support for my books. Arizona, in general, has a very strong comic book community that continues to see growth with 2 conventions in Phoenix and one in Tucson…but Atomic was a staple. Very sad. I wish Malve, his family, and his comic family the best. I wish I could be around with you guys during all of this.

Ok ,anybody the thinks digital comics will not kill brick and mortar stores has their head in the sand. Look at music or hell look at book stores and the industry has been trying to kill off comic stores for a long time so they can distribute their own product and make more money for stock holders ,of course the fact all hell was not raised by us retailers over the monopoly that is Diamond should tell the story.

It’s sad that Atomic closed down but I don’t think the AZ comic scene needs to “recover”. There’s many other great comic shops in Phoenix. Samurai Comics on Camelback is a pretty large store. They’re no stranger to big name signings and event either. I’m sure they’ll pick up the slack.

There are many reasons why any business fails while others survive. Unfortunately, one does not usually find out what the total story is for any failed business. Mike ran a visionary comic enterprise successfully for many years. He will be missed both locally and nationally.

While I do not have a brick and mortar store, I do exhibit at the local Phoenix Comic Con and have over 200,000 comics from 2007 back to the early 1940s. Hopefully, I have or will cross paths with many of you in pursuit of your collecting passion.

Ed Robertson

I was always treated well by Jim and the crew at Atomic Comics Chandler, and my opportunities to interact with Mike were always pleasant and informative. I’m sorry to hear about the stores closing and the loss of his home as well. I’ve no doubt Mike Malve will rebound and find brighter days ahead, but that doesn’t lessen his struggle right now.

I’ll find a new shop, but I’ll absolutely miss Atomic Comics – the best comic shop I’ve ever visited.

Thanks Mike & wish you well!

Mark Weber

Wilt Manglicmot

August 22, 2011 at 11:57 am

This is terrible news to hear. When I moved to Phoenix for school back in 2002, Atomic Comics was a place that made me feel at home and less homesick. Everyone there was fun, friendly and helped me get back into comics. In one instance helped me use a whole paycheck during a store sale haha. Good times. Once I left Phoenix 2 years later i continued to mail order with them and visit the store every time I was out there. Mike if you’re reading this thanks for having such a great store and leaving me and many others with great memories. I wish we could’ve hung out more when I was out there and I wish the best for you and your family.

I feel sorry for the customers who have lost a ‘home store’ and to the employees who now no longer have an income in these trying times.

I must say however, those feeling aside, I find it hard to generate any degree of pity for Mike Malvie. I own a retail store in Arizona which, though not carrying comics, let me find myself interacting with Mr Malvie from time to time as certain of our product lines overlapped and we would run into each others at trade shows. I have never met a more condescending, petty man in my life. I can honestly say that in the several times I’ve met him, he went out of his way to look down his nose at everyone else he might have viewed as any type of ‘competition’.

As has been said here – The AZ comics scene will be just fine without Atomic. Samurai Comics is a fantastic location, Jessie James Comics is another major player as well.

There isn’t an Atomic near me so I have never been a regular customer, but I’m sad to see them go.

I think, from what I’ve read here and elsewhere, combined w/ the similar stories about other small-chain stores and national outlets like Borders, it’s not too hard to make the leap and speculate what caused this to happen.

–the market is shrinking, and taking a couple surprise hits, in conjunction with declining service will seriously hurt your business. People will forgive a lot based on past experience and loyalty, but if your store can’t maintain the right atmosphere it will hurt your business.

Since getting back into the scene a few years ago, I’ve sampled lots of diff’ stores in the PHX area, and know what I like and where to get it. I also run a business; CUSTOMER SERVICE people.

Finally, the more I think about it, I don’t see how this industry can support chain stores, even on a small scale. It requires such a different level of market/income that the stakes just seem staggering. Reading is a niche now, if you want to run a big company, books of any kind aren’t the back to build it on.

I have been very happy customer of All About Books & Comics for several years, and hope to see their store maintain and grow.

What’s telling about the Car Crash is that like many small business’ he didn’t have sufficient Insurance himself to withstand the damage. Sure, you can’t predict a motorist running into your store but water mains DO break! Had it happent to a store here! Seems that he maybe should have cut deeper an closed 2 or 3 of the stores a while ago to reduce overhead. Sad that they made the ill-advised decison to use thier house as collateral for the leases. Ins’t that what incorporating is for? Sad

I also visit Ash Ave Comics in Tempe when I am on that side of town, smaller and a diff’ focus then AAB&C, I like their selection of small press books and cheap back issue bins a lot.

Umm, what happened to the first psot I submitted?

I fished it out of the spam filter, JRC.

Wow, this is quite the shock, and very sad. Although Atomic hadn’t been my primary shop for several years, it was my main place when I moved to the Phoenix area in 1994, and I still visited them for sales or just to see what was new. It’s going to be interesting the next couple months to see how well the other shops can absorb the displaced customers.

full disclosure: I consider Malve a friend and did work at a rival comic shop whose original owner is one of my closest friends.
@Ray you are not certain of what the insurance was willing to pay. I was around a lot during the crash era and I know that the adjusters werent kind to Atomic.
@aceventura Mike can across that way at times but he is and was a business man first and foremost. While working for hubert and kris @Hero he wasnt always super open with us but was more than cordial. Later when I became a customer he showed himself to be one of the most geniune people I ever came across. It is evident based on the support flowing in across the industry Mike was very well liked.
While I have not talked to Mike since the announcement I feel confident in saying Mike will end up being a key cog in the comic industry and I am sure his staff will continue on his visions with new takes.

I am the person who took the photos that were used to design the Atomic Comics set for the movie Kick Ass. I shot two of the locations for this, the Chandler store and the Metro store. Those signs that Jay mentioned above DID EXIST and were at the Metro location. Everything they did for the movie came directly from Atomic. Just FYI.

I can back Tate up on that, the old Atomic Comics Metrocenter store (not the one in the stripmall now) looked a lot like those shots on the wall, down to those interior logos, bins and wood panelling walls.

I always looked forward to Wednesday new release day and picking up my comics from the “black shirt boys”. Every town needs places where insubordinate skateboarder/rockband/geek types can feel at home and I sure always felt Atomic captured the non-reverence by not taking things too seriously while at the same time enjoying great comics themselves. Plenty of stores are run by fans, by Atomic was always staffed by cool folks. I’ll miss them to be sure.

I hope this is just the beginning. The direct comicbook market needs to DIE and go AWAY.

Atomic has been my home for 20 years now. When Malve opened the store in Phoenix I left the small comic shop I had been going to with its horrible customer service and was amazed by the selection of Atomic. The store was open, bright, and friendly. Every Wednesday for the past 20 years I have gone to Atomic to pick up new books. This Wednesday i won’t and I feel like a part of my youth has died a little. Maybe that’s over dramatic, but I can’t think of anything in my life that has been such an integral part of my routine.

For anyone who said that Atomic had bad customer service, you’re wrong. I have seen a lot of people come and go at the Metro shop, a lot, but each one always knew me and always took care of me. They often would pull a book I didn’t subscribe to KNOWING that I would want it. Just this past week they introduced me to a new book. They always pointed out things in previews, and even supported my friends at the first signing of their comic. I would even volunteer on free comic book day to pass out books and mingle.

I feel bad for the employees and the customers, who had such little notice. We didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye. I hope Malve can recover, and I hope that whatever comic book store gets my business realizes that it has humongous shoes to fill.

Shut your pie hole, Ted.

May a ravenous dog chew your ears off.

thats all well a good but the fact is he could have told us some of us still have comics in boxes anyway there is a place on alma school and Guadeloupe called gregs who will take care of you if your on the east side long live comics

It’s really too bad they had to close down. I’ve only been a customer for less than a year and received nothing, but great service. For those of us who had boxes set up at their Mesa store and have already been charged for the comic books, does anybody know how we can get them? Is it a lost cause? Thanks!

Mike is well-liked by just about everyone, myself included. It’s a real shame to see Atomic close. I remember many times over the last few years, since moving to the area, I’d stop by and if Mike was there, he’d say hello and we’d chat it up for a few minutes about the state of the biz and whatever else. It’s a shame too to see him lose not only all the inventory but also his home! It just goes to show that a cruddy economy combined with one precipitating event (the car crash in ’06) can lead one down the road to ruin.

I have talked at greater length about Atomic and my experiences there on my site (click my name!). You’ll see there were many, many good times. We lost a great shop. By some accounts, the biggest chain in the southwest and one of the pillars of Diamond distribution.

All the best to Mike and his many former employees in this trying time.

As for fans in the Phoenix area: all hope is not lost. As others have mentioned, support another local retailer who needs your cash. All About Comics is run by great people, Alan and Marsha Giroux, while Mike & Moryha Banks run a tight ship at two Samurai Comics locations (with perhaps a third on the way to fill the void left by Atomic).

~G.

BTW, I also went to Greg’s Comic Books in Mesa (Alma School & Guadalupe). Greg said he knew Mike and said Mike was a really good guy. Ran into another guy in the store and referred to himself as an Atomic refugee. I just kind’a laughed and said I was one as well. Greg gave us “refugees” a 20% discount, which I was really cool.

I would like to throw my 2 cents in….the internet is Killing the print business. It is clear and obvious. If you cannot see this then you are blind. You cannot make money as a comic book store anymore. The writing is on the wall. Comic book stores have to change and adapt to market demands and carry different product lines (ie. gaming, toys, CCG, etc.). It is a tough market right now. Customers really don’t care about supporting local retailers….as they want the best deal they can get. If it is cheap and free online…then that is where they will go.

Best of luck, Mike….you seem like a good guy….I am sure you will get back on your feet again. God Bless.

Terry, good luck getting either your comics or cash back!
I’m just glad that I happened to stop in yesterday, and pick up 2 weeks worth from my box.

I’ll probably have to check out Greg’s. (I live basically just around the corner from Atomic Mesa.)

VikThor,
I stopped by Atomic yesterday. Soon as I grabbed the door it was locked. I checked my watch and missed it by 1 minute. Can you believe that? The kid that was in the store just gave me a look and then looked away. Then when I went again this morning, that’s when I saw the sign on the door. Needless to say, I was really bummed out and a bit pissed. Guess I’ll have to call my bank and see what they can do to get my money back. Also, let Greg know you’re also a “refugee”. (-: The other guy and I both set up boxes with him.

Rosco Goldwater

August 22, 2011 at 8:39 pm

It’s truly sad to see so many people coming in like carrion crows to pick at Atomic’s freshly fallen corpse. Many of the people on here have spoken about how Atomic didn’t have great customer service and I believe these people must live under bridges because of all the trolling going on. I have no idea how a store that was in business for 25 years and at it’s peak spawned 4 locations had terrible customer service. Atomic was trying to bring the comic shop out of the dusty and smelly mold that other retailers seem to be stuck in and bring it out to where it belongs with normal people. Maybe the closeted people need to understand that comics have always been a niche but Atomic put itself beyond that for the good of the industry as a whole.

So go ahead everyone, chime in now with the awful things to say or be the next to promote another local store while explaining behind the safety of the internet that it has always been better than the chain that literally made millions for the industry.

All this nerd on nerd hate needs to stop.

I’m really going to miss Atomic. I’d been visiting since I was six at their old location by a pizza restaurant in 2001, I’d go there every Friday with my mom and pick up some random Spider-Man comics and we’d go for pizza next door. Then that location closed and we were told they were moving to the brand new Chandler mall, been going there for 10 years regularly and I’m still a huge Spider-Man fan. I have many great childhood memories from visiting; so thanks, Mike.

I have been getting my comics from Atomic for literally half of my life. Since I was old enough to leave the house by myself, without adult or older sibling supervision. I had such great experiences from back in the days at the Mesa shop, to it becoming the Chandler shop. True, there were a few quirky or annoying employees every now and again, but in the comic business, you are bound to find a few.

My condolences go out to Mike and his family (whatever situation may have led to this, it’s a tough road ahead), the employees, and the other Atomic refugees out there.

I have settled into Greg’s Comics on Guadalupe and Alma School over the last few years, and it’s nice, I get a great discount, and they are always willing to buy some of my older collectables that seems to take up too much space in my home now. But my fist comic home was Atomic Comics.

Atomic has been my comic mainstay through High School, 6 years in the Military, and 7 years of marriage. I bought my son his first comic at Atomic. To say it will be missed is a gross understatement.

Oh, and for TED…. I hope you get hooked in the mouth like a fish, and then hung out to dry…. That is all.

I totally agree with Gerrad here. I’ve been shopping at the Metro store since ’03 and the majority of those folks have done nothing but rock this hizbah all the way to a town of hizbah rockers. No matter who was working; I always felt welcome and those guys knew what I would like and would recommend amazing books. I read more comics today because of those guys (and gals) and they would take an hour to help me find something I would like. That is amazing customer service, so don’t listen to all the jerk-face jerks out there whining about how terrible the customer service was. That is an incorrect assessment of, at the very least, the Metro store. Those guys seriously deserve a purple heart for all the strangeness they had to put up with (why is there not a “people of Metro” web site, by the by?)

I wish the crew from Metro the best of luck and hope that they bounce back soon. I am going to miss my Wednesday’s there.

I have to say that Atomic was one of my least favorite places to shop. I’ll echo the comments from people above — high prices and piss-poor customer service drove me away years ago.

When a comic book goes from $2.99 on the shelf and instantly becomes a $6.00 comic book when it goes into the back issue box there is something signficantly wrong with the business plan of that store.

I was at a rare visit to one of their stores a few months ago and a couple came into the store asking to sell some comic books from the 60’s and the store employees turned them away with the comics sight unseen. What kind of a comic book store doesn’t buy comic books or even look at the comics that are for sale? Their business plan was to turn away that mint condition Action Comics #1 because they didn’t even look inside the box?

That is a business destined to fail and they did fail. This isn’t a loss for the Phoenix comic book community, this is a loss of one small business that wasn’t very well run.

It happens. Move on.

Head over to Drawn to Comics in downtown Glendale, Phoenix’s best comic book store. They treat their customers like customers should be treated and their prices are beyond fair.

What I find sad is that the direct market is still going, period. Atomic’s shutdown wasn’t inevitable, it was overdue. DM shops ARE the worst run establishments — with product that’s (more or less) a few steps shy of pornography. Have you ever compared the clientele, revenue and atmosphere of comicshops to other businesses? You can’t.

The handful of exceptions aside (which Atomic obviously is/was) the rest of this incestuous industry needs a quick death and soon. I’m never happy to see someone lose their livelihood. But prolonging the DM is sickening.

First off, teds’ trolling is superb, glad to see someone can be so wrong and try sound so right.

Anywho, was a solid customer since, hell, the late 90’s, and I’m going to miss it. Ran tournements at the PV store for a good long while, and the staff was always a joy. Yes, in all frankness, I had a few rare times where customer service wasntg at its usual level, butg rarely did I see the employees in question stick around long. Jeffbecca rob anthony. An others I drawinga blank on were alwaysa joy. I’ve done some shopping at other comic sops locally and never quite the same fit as I did there. This loss is even more unfortunate as now that I live farther out of phoenix, finding another solid place will be a trial. Further on that point tghe loss of all the locations will affectg many a fan. Best wishes to all those now w/o an income or home away from home.

The tragedy in this story lies with the employees. I feel bad for those that were with Atomic for an extended period of time only to have the rug pulled out from under them. I wish them well and hope they are able to bounce back in other ventures. This was my comic book store for a 8 year period while I went to ASU and lived in the East Valley. When I moved farther north in the Phoenix metro area I still frequented Atomic. However, in the early 2000’s when they were rapidly expanding, I noticed a substantial drop in customer service. I unfortunately switched to mail order service due to the damaged books (untrained kids ringing up comics like they were discarded magazines at a used book store drives me crazy). Pricing was a small part of my decision as well. However, I do recognize the value of a local comic book store and have no problem paying a premium for that IF the experience is a positive one.
Now that I have kids, I love taking my son to a comic book store to browse and to purchase some kid friendly titles. As far as feeling welcome, I find myself driving 30 miles to All About Books and Comics. The owners and employees make my son feel welcome AND they have some great kid friendly books. The place is well lit and not intimidating for casual fans. Make no mistake though, if I am looking for a specific issue, the employees jump at the chance to find it and have great knowledge of the medium.
I am hoping other shops bump up their marketing expense this month to get some of these Atomic customers back into their stores. That is a huge customer base that should not be left stranded. The timing of this could not be worse with day and date digital from DC around the corner.

Evil Avatar:

Whoever was working at that particular store when that family came in with the back issues is the important question there.

But one thing I’ve learned from all the comic stores out here in AZ right now, the comic store owners don’t have any interest in back issues right now that go back as far as the 70’s and maybe even the 60’s. There seems to be a glut of those books in back issue bins at the stores I’ve checked out so all they’re interested in is stuff older than that.

Of course, we’ve all only got stuff in the 80’s and 90’s that we always find an interest in getting rid of.

I would like to start off by saying I am sorry for the trying times that Mr. Malve and his family (which includes his employees) are going through.

As someone who has never been in any of his stores I hope my perspective will be appreciated. I have never been in his store. I have never met any of his employees. Has anyone worked anywhere where all the employees were stellar? Where everyone knew their jobs inside and out? Where no one had a bad day or mis handled things? I would love to know where such a paradise exists, because even a world renowned company with huge profits like Apple can’t claim that.

What Atomic comics did well was promote an industry. That is a huge achievement in and of it’s self. It opened 4 stores, how many other of the stores do you know that can boast that type of success? He tried and succeeded in many areas and fell short in some others. Don’t we all? I applaud his good work for all the years he was doing it. I have been in this industry for over 25 years now, but since I am a consumer I have the luxury of watching instead of the stress of trying to make it happen. I know how hard it is to find the right people to work for me. I know the industry will continue on. It won’t die now just like it didn’t in the 90’s. Times are tough and we will get through it. Regardless of who you are and what you do, take a minute to feel bad for the mans loss. He is suffering now. He needs help like we all do from time to time. With his love of the industry (which even most of his critics here acknowledge) I know he will be back. I hope it is in such a way that he may continue to do what he loves and feel safety for him and his family.

R.I.P. Atomic Comics. Though we never met you will be missed.

My first job was at the atomic metro store before it moved into the strip mall. I helped move the store to the new location. Hearing that it closed down gives me mixed feelings. In the beginning I loved working with Mike and the rest of the crew, metro and the rest. I poured my heart and soul into that job, I organized tourneys at the height of the wizkids boom, and countless card games. Things changed, management cared less about the customer and more about the dollar. I eventually left atomic, after being accused of doing something I didn’t do. Not a single person backed me up, I gave everything to that job and all I got in return was Mike and Jay telling me that if the investigation didn’t turn up anything I might be able to go back to work. It didn’t and I said no thanks. Mike had his crew that did whatever he said the rest of us were expendable.

It’s sad the doors had to close a lot of good people went there week in and out. I’m sure a lot of good people lost thief jobs as well, some of them I worked with.

Best wishes to Mike, Jay, Ueber, Juilian and the rest. No hard feeling I’ll always remember atomic as the original metro store I went to as a kid play games and get comics.

The AZ Pop Culture Experience in Desert Ridge is working to fill the comics void in Northeast Phoenix. We are also working with DC Comics and Diamond Comic Distributors to make sure that all Atomic Comics customers who paid for sets of the new 52 issues relaunching from DC beginning on August 31st will get their comics without spending another dime!

Ricardo Vasquez

August 23, 2011 at 5:02 pm

I am very sorry on the loss of a big pop culture of what this valley had. I was a long time customer of Atomic Comics since 1988. I really honored the store to be a big part of my child hood and a influence to being a fan of the genre. I say my farewells and thank the influence that influenced many customers like myself to be part of this genre. I wish Mike best of my luck.

It deeply saddens my heart to hear of Mike Malve’s difficulties & Atomic Comics closing. My prayers & blessings are with him & his beautiful family. Listen, I spent over half my life associated in one way or the other with Mike & Atomic. From the early days playing Mike pop a shot for a free comic, up to & after my working for him for a couplea years. I have little respect for the snarky sob’s on here kicking Mike while he is down. Mike was first & foremost my friend & screw you people that didn’t like Atomic. It took balls for Mike to try what he did with his stores & I for one applaud him for it. I always hated stores like Books Comics & Records that were filthy & full of surly assholes! I loved that Atomic Comics was a nice attractive place that I wasn’t embarrassed to bring a girl. I believe in my heart that Mike will be back he has always been my idea of a “hero” that beat the odds & I refuse to stop believing in my heroes jut ‘cuz they’re supposedly beaten! Instead I will shake my fist in the face of fate and scream “NO SIR YOU CANNOT KILL BUBBA T. LOVEGOD THAT EASY! HE’LL BE BACK ANYONE WHO KNOWS HIM KNOWS THAT!!”
BUY ATOMIC OR DIE!

I have something else to say I can’t describe the sadness I feel at Mike having these problems. Part of my childhood has died Mike was a father figure for me when I worked for him. I can say I loved Mike & Atomic! I don’t care if you shopped at all about or samurai or any of the others you must admit he caught lightening in a bottle there for a long while. The cat that said it was the Cheers of comic stores was absolutely correct! He always shared with his employees & would break his back for a fan. Shoot before I started working for Mike he used to entertain my comic book discussions for along time & actually taught me about comics in ways I can never repay! I am truly dumbfounded & wait with bated breath Mike & Atomic’s glorious return!

Its a sad week in Az for sure, I use to go to the mesa store back in the day, but stopped reading for a very long time. Then last year after a trip to SDCC, i got the urge to read comics again, and i went to the chandler, store, they were great and very helpful , the place was a joy to come to every week. I met mike a few times there and he was a very cool person we talked about comics and he would thank me for my business. I will miss that interaction with the employees there i have nothing but great memories there , and i wish the staff and mike nothing but the best, and mike if you ever open another business i will be there to spend my money.

Very shocked and saddened to hear this news. I visited the Chandler Mall shop a few times during trips to PHX to visit friends. I’ve been to comics shops all over the country, and I have to say that the store at the Chandler Mall was easily one of the best-looking stores that I had ever shopped in. Best wishes to Mr. Malve in his future endeavors.

QFT: I hope this is just the beginning. The direct comicbook market needs to DIE and go AWAY.

I never did like Atomic Comics. The employees from the atomic comics on country club & southern were so rude and just didn’t care about the customers.
The last time I went to Atomic Comics, a homeless man came inside to escape from the deadly summer heat and he is greeted with one of the “black shirt boys” carry a police baton and threatening him “to get the f*ck out” or he’ll bash his head in.
Since then I have found a new comic book store to call home: Gotham City Comics & Coffee :)
Unlike Atomic Comics, GCC&C is awesome and have great customer service. ^_^

The economy is the biggest thing hurting comics stores right now. I’d be buying comics if I had the money. I don’t. many of us don’t. So, thanks George Bush for your big spending and Thanks Barrack Obama for continuing the same failed policies . Good job boys, you probably killed comics ;-)

I was at the Chandler location this past Sunday, Aug 21, and I noticed the soda machine was damn near empty when it’s Always full. Also, I said ‘see you Wednesday’ and they told me to call before I come (???). And then I hear about this…

I took a 21-year layoff from comic collecting and I started back via Atomic. The Metrocenter store sucked, so I transferred my box to the Chandler location. By far, one damn good comic shop. Comparing them to the Samurai Comics location in West Valley, Samurai doesn’t have what I need (no backissues). I hope I can find another shop that has a box service and offers the great sales Atomic had. I cleaned up on the $1 backissue sales.

hey Trista just so you know, 2 of the owners of Gotham were Atomic Employees for YEARS and one of them worked there during the era you are trash talking. (and BTW neither left with bad blood)

I worked at Atomic for 9 years and have been going there for 21. I loved my customers and I provided IMPECCABLE customer service. I spoke to everyone and did my best to help all guests to the best of my ability. Most of the employees were like myself. We knew our customers and when we didn’t we tried to GET to know them. Of course there were a few bad apples but they didn’t last long. That place is like family to me and I grieve at the loss of something that was so amazing. I am sickened by the trolling on this thread and the people using this as their pulpit to hate on Mike. He was always a true blue friend and I will continue to stand by him no matter what. Much love Mike and my fellow co-workers and Atomic customers!

As a former Atomic Comics customer, I’m not entirely surprised they went under. I always preferred the Chandler Mall store to the Mesa store, but the Mesa one is where my husband and I bought our wedding gift to ourselves the day after we got married last year – the Batman vs. Croc statue that was just released. Service ranged from really good (mainly at the Chandler store) to so-so, which was Mesa. Atomic Comics did a lot to promote independent comics and area conventions, and that was pretty awesome.

But, they also had the negative reputation for selling a lot of bootlegs when it came to anime material, and that’s the part about them I didn’t care about.

Anyone know of any good comic shops in the Paradise Valley area? the PV Atomic Comics location was my main store…the closest shop to me now is Samurai Comics a half hour away : (

Ginsu/Void/Bill

August 25, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Well, tonight we give Greg’s a try.

I’ve been with Atomic since ’89 in their first, really narrow, mesa store facing across that side street that leads into Fiesta Mall. It was Ron, who was doing shipping, and Bill that gave me my first regular discount then once they had moved into the wider location. I kept there for my comic and RPG needs and it was great when they moved into the main part of the mall into the really large location. I remember Christina and her husband, and had great times with Chuck. (I still have your Chuck Amok business card, Chuck!)

Due to where work was, I moved to the original Chandler location and got my box there. It took Jim 3 years to remember which was my box number, we still laugh about that. My sister Brandy (Sistine) used to work there and at the Metro store. I’d head up to the Metro store to do the Young Jedi Knight card games during the Episode 1 days, and tease Froese routinely. He was even our fire escape plan, Froese through the window and the “Sorry Froese” catch phrase. I didn’t get up there much after they moved to the other Metro location after that. I got to know Mike alot more during this time and he always treated me like a valued customer, never taking me for granted over the years.

The Phoenix Fan Force had their formation and gatherings at the Mesa store and I met my wife in that group in Feb 02 for the first time. Mike, Bill, Julian, Jay, everyone was very supportive of our activities and helped us host fan film days and advertise for other events, such as the Star Wars premiers. We had a great time for many years there. We did notice an unfortunate shift in service and activity levels in the new employees at the Mesa store after the accident. It seemed like a bunch of new ones were brought in at once and so they didn’t get a chance to learn the previous culture.

That wasn’t an issue for me at the Chandler location, their culture of service and friendship was always strong at both locations. Jim, Aaron, Jeff, Justin, Cody, and the others over the years were always outstanding even in the busiest of times. Finally my son was born and he joined me every week on the comic runs. He’d say Hi and Bye to the team working there as we came in and out, and I was really looking forward to starting to add his comics to my box in a few years.

I’m about to turn 36 and Atomic has been a good friend to me over the past 22 of those years. I feel very bad for the workers that got surprised by this, I consider many of them to be friends. I wish everyone there the best.

I have you beat by a few years. His first shop was on Guadalupe and he used to be an all purpose books and comic store. Shopped there for years and was good friends with Mike, Julian, and the other Mike. Business got bigger and Malve became absent moving between four stores and a family. So, I moved on to Greg’s Comics for that personal attention I was missing.

Selfish on my part? Of course. Then again, it is my hard earned money.

When I did stop in we always shot the *Bleep* about or kids and family. Never begrudged me for moving on. Always nice to me and my family. Also helped me out when I sold a figure collection. I hope he can recover and wish him and his family the best.

Charles and Ronee

August 26, 2011 at 3:38 am

We were shoppers and box holders at atomic Pv and Metro for six years. We would go to both stores pretty much every week. We even checked out the mesa store a couple times. We would spend a long time in the store browsing the new and used walls and the graphic novels. We would talk along time with laura and mike and dylan the guys that worked there. Mike the owner was always such a nice guy. He was very nice and personable. Our hearts and prayers go out to him and his family and all the rest of atomics employees.they all will be sorely missed. Far to many local businessess are closing due to this economy. Its so sad.

That bums me out, and gives me less reason to go to Chandler (other than the fantastic Chino Bandido), but I’m hopeful that it isn’t indicative of where the industry as a whole is heading. Up here in Flagstaff, 3 hours to the north, we have a local shop that opened less than a year ago and I pray they don’t suffer a similar fate.

It’s sad to see so much trash talking. It is a sad day that atomic has closed. I worked there for nearly four years aand had some of the best times of my life. I hope everyone moves on to bigger and better things.

I really enjoyed Atomic over the years. My big complaint now is they always called if there was a banking issue on my part, but why not a quick heads up to come clear out my box? For anyone feeling sorry for the owner and staff, piss off. What about the customers that will never get their comics that they PAID for, or their money back. What a cowardly way to go out.

Chris,
Thank you! That’s exactly how I feel. It’s like somebody took my hard earned cash and ran away with it.

I don’t buy that many comics but I’ve been going to the PV location for a few years.

The only problem I ever had with it was the bootleg anime DVDs. Other then that, great store.

@chris really your biggest complaint is they would call your bank if their was problems and would not call you if your box was full? I dont know any retail store that would even call your bank. They would just hand you your card and say sorry… and they ask you to clean out your box once a month. You even signed and agreement to do so. Do you not pay your phone bill if it gets lost in the mail? Why should they call you? Cant stop by once a month? Screw the emps? They didnt take your money, mike did. This was their way they lived. You are compairing the fact you didnt get a few comics you prepaid for to the way people pay their bills and support their families? Every part of your post shows your are an idiot or an A hole. I will bet it is both. As for you not getting your money back, it is the cold justice of karma. Because you seems to be a waste of space.

Anyone know when or how we can get either our money or comics back if they were pre-paid?

@ a guy…I think you misunderstood what Chris is saying. What he’s saying is that they’d call him, not the bank, if there was a banking issue (i.e. funding, card reject, etc.).

Bummer. Before moving out of state I was a weekly customer at the Mesa store(s) for over 10rs. I went to get my weekly comics the day that punk smashed his car in to the store. It was pretty bleak, but with insurance and tax write-offs I figured the they would eventually overcome. I started going to the Chandler store for the next several months and moved before the Mesa store got back up and running. I went back last year and was surprised at the changes, and not for the better. It was obvious things were not going well.

Given the turn in the economy, it’s understandable this would have been a main contributing factor to their demise, but part of business savvy during tough times is knowing when to cut off your arm to save the body, but without knowing the details, it’s hard to understand why Mike didn’t at least close the Chandler store even if that meant eating it on the lease, which I’m sure was one of the largest drains on finances.

Not my place to judge, but regardless, my experience with Atomic Comics was always nothing but the best and in many ways they were a model not just for comic shops, but businesses in general. Mike and the rest of the employees should be proud of what they accomplished and all comic fans owe them a debt of gratitude for the efforts they made to promote our hobby beyond the hobby itself.

Some here have said part of their problem was that the believed their own hype, but whether it was the best from their business or not, we all benefited from it in that it was this very “hype” that often attracted new readers that would have never been exposed to comics or interested otherwise. If anything we need more “hype”. While I do not think their failure is indicative of the hobby itself, losing them as part of a greater whole, at least in the short term, does not bode well for the industry.

Good luck to Mike and the rest of the employees and thanks again for a good 10yrs.

I have worked for Mike Malve, at three of his stores and he was one of the greatest Bosses I have ever had but more then that he was a friend. So to that I thank you, and to all the staff of Mesa, Chandler, Tempe. I’ll miss so much about that place. Finding out today at the Tucson comic con. Hit me like a ton of bricks. Malve keep your gray fuzzy head up bud, your the best bud much love to you and urs…
I’m going to always remember Atomic Comics as the Kick Ass comic store it was.
Best to all!

Galactus Engine

July 3, 2012 at 2:29 am

Less than two months from now will mark one year since Atomic Comics closed and I still miss scuffing the thresholds of the Mesa and PV stores each week. R.I.P. Derp!

Galactus Engine

July 3, 2012 at 2:45 am

And, for the record, I started working for a tiny comic shop in 1986 called ‘ENDLESS UNIVERSE BOOKS AND COMICS’. I was only 11 yrs old at the time and with my mother’s consent they paid me in comic books. My friends Aaron, Dustin and I loved that place. It moved from Alma School & Guadalupe to Dobson & Guadalupe just before Mike came in to take the place over. Why oh why did I ever quit?! I cudda been a big shot back then! Lol After years of hanging out my comic collecting hobbies I have taken it up again thanks to Mike.

heard rumor that atomic will be back in 2014 any one else hear this with 2 locations mesa and phoenix thats all i heard ,is it true

I would have to say I had Not been in there stores since the Metrocentre move, and being that I live west Valley they were kind of a distance from me. I mostly would buy their Chinese imported anime bootlegs. After the metro move they really cut back on their inventory and I never went back in. Did know about the shut down until last week what I see so happen to be driving by and wanted to pick up a comic unfortunately there was no shop insight and someone at the mall told me they had shut down

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