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How Comic Book Stores are Surviving the COVID-19 Pandemic

PALMDALE, CA - Horizon Comics and Collectibles in northern Los Angeles County is finally seeing customers return as COVID-19 restrictions are being eased this month on local businesses.

Photo, Bryce Wayne

One of Horizon’s customers, Matthew Almon, said he was excited to get back to buying comics.

“Since the start, it had to slow down a little bit. But I’ve kind of picked it back up and had to collect everything I missed while everything was closed,” said Almon.

Owners Richard and Raquel Garay planned on opening their new store at the beginning of May when businesses began to shut down.

“We were all gung-ho. We wanted to make it one of the best comic shops around, and we had all kinds of plans. And as soon as everything got set up, everything got shut down. It totally killed a lot of the plans we had,” said Richard Garay.

Opening day was just the first issue. Since the Garays just purchased the store earlier this year, they did not qualify for small business loans as part of the COVID-19 stimulus bills.

“Where other shops kind of got saved or helped out, we didn’t get any of that. So, we had to rely on our own stuff,” said Richard Garay.

Government regulations were not the only hit to the Garays’ business. For the first time in 30 years, the largest comic book distributor in the nation, Diamond Comic Distributors Inc., shut down for two months. The Garays had relied on their backlog of books.

“We had complete runs. We made it easier for customers when we had the complete set 1 through 12, or whatever it is, so they could just come in and pick up the set and have something complete to read,” said Raquel Garay.

Horizon Comics received a lot of help from local artist Brian Lopez, known as B2rianls. His art is on most of the walls. The Garays said he helped with many of the day-to-day tasks like organizing and bagging books. Lopez said he helped in order to repay them.

“When I first moved up to the Antelope Valley, I didn’t really know people and have a place to hang out. And coming to Horizon Comics became my community,” said Lopez. “The people that I’ve met here, the people I’ve come in contact with and all the opportunities they provided me has made me feel almost indebted to this community that they’ve established. And so, I just wanted to give back in any way I could.”

Horizon Comics adapted to the pandemic. Social distancing markers are on the floor of the store, masks are required and hand sanitizer is available on the front counter. If you do not want to come inside you can order beforehand, on the ComicHub app, and pick up your books through a mail slot.

Video, A Wise Way

Video, Bryce Wayne

By Bryce Wayne

Photo, Bryce Wayne

Video, A Wise Way

Video, Bryce Wayne


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