Origin stories of San Luis Obispo comic readers

Let’s talk origin stories. In comics, the classic origin stories are back-story. The mythos behind a hero — or villain. Who caused the wrong they need to right? How did they get their powers or their awesome crime-fighting technology? Where did they get their cape, and does it need to be dry-cleaned?

But what about the reader? How did they get started on their journey to read? Questions over what made a reader pick up their first book, and what attracts them to what they’re reading now inspired me to go out and ask.

I was lucky enough to have Reid Cain, owner Dr. Cain’s Comics and Games in San Luis Obispo let me sit in for a couple of hours and interview some of his customers. Click on any picture to start the slideshow. 

Comics: Caffeinated on Twitter

It's not my only fatal flaw. I'm 100 percent Achilles heel.

It’s not my only fatal flaw. I am, in fact, 100 percent Achilles heel. Photos via screenshot on Twitter by Michelle Zaludek. 

Are you looking for someone else to follow on Twitter? Maybe someone who tweets about comics sometimes — but not all the time — and also has great zingers about their exciting goings-on? Look no further! I’m here to save the day. Sort of. Kind of.

The feed updates and retweets general news on comics. It’s an easy way to help me connect you with what’s happening at big name, indie and webcomics throughout the day.

Official documentation of my roommate swooning for me.  Screenshot from Twitter by Michelle Zaludek.

Official documentation of my roommate swooning for me.

It’ll also notify you on bigger posts updated to Comics: Caffeinated, including the weekly pairing. If you don’t have a WordPress, and don’t want your email to fill up with notifications on updates, then Twitter is an easy way to help aggregate everything.


pic cropHello there! I’m a 22-year-old journalism major at Cal Poly.

I have experience writing for school papers and copy editing a local town paper, and would really love to pursue feature writing in the future.

I’ve been reading comics for years and I’m really excited to get to geek out about them with you. I also have about a year and a half of barista experience that heavily emphasized tastings of coffee and tea.

The original concept for the blog came from a class brainstorming session that where I was stuck between wanting to blog about comics or about coffee and tea. A few classmates suggested just doing both — it reminded them of drinking coffee over the newspaper comic strips in the morning — and here we are. While the bulk of the blog will be about starting and comics and reading them more easily, a weekly post will feature two or more comics and a coffee or tea that helps tie the two together. They should set a mood and make your reading just that much more enjoyable.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for comics, coffee or tea any time so make sure to send me a message!

You can also find me @michellenistic on WordPressTwitter and Instagram.

You can find my writing portfolio on Contently.

Thank you!

Buying comic books for you

A first look upon entering Dr. Cain's Comics and Games in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Owner Reid Cain says he prides himself on keeping a clean, welcoming environment.

A first look upon entering Dr. Cain’s Comics and Games in San Luis Obispo, Calif. while Reid Cain walks to the front of the shop. Photos by Michelle Zaludek.

Before we can get into the finer, fancier details of enjoying your comics and caffeine, we should go a little broad: buying traditional comic books.

Trust me, I get it. Walking into a comic book store can be a little daunting — read: very daunting. Some places are apt to make you feel a little like you’ve walked into a place where you’re just not welcome.

Not to fear! Some comic book stores have realized the err in their ways and are working at, as owner of Dr. Cain’s Comics and Games in San Luis Obispo Calif., Reid Cain, said “Getting it away from the boy’s club a little bit. [Some shops] act like a secret club, and I don’t want my shop to be like that.”

Since the Bronze Age, where the gritty superhero story reigned supreme, a large portion of the male audience created a culture of exclusivity that surrounded the medium.

“As [comics] grew and matured, they started to attract a wider audience,” said co-creator of Miscreant Studios and comic reader, Hank Garcia.

Even though men — and pretty much everyone — in tights are great, you don’t have to feel confined to them by any means on your quest for the one comic to rule them all anymore.

Cain emphasized that keeping a clean, well-lit shop that people felt comfortable exploring was a top priority for him.

Cain emphasized that keeping a clean, well-lit shop that people felt comfortable exploring was a top priority for him.

“There’s a kind of comic book for any genre you’re interested in,” Cain said, “I try to match the book to the person.”

“It more or less depends on the individual,” Garcia said on choosing a comic book, “… Comics that interest me are dark ones … I even loved the original space biker, Lobo, [with an] ego so inflated that it can be used as a flotation device in case of [an] emergency.”

“The mixing of words and art is really powerful,” said Cain who’s own first comic book was issue 1, volume 1 of Saga of Crystar, Crystal Warrior, which he found at a 7-11 in his home town in Colorado. “… The power of the book is your imagination, the power of the comic book is someone else’s interpretation [of a storyline].”

“Ultimately, let your yes’s be yes’s and your no’s be no’s,” said comic reader Gabriel Gomez.

Additionally, whether you want to read an indie series or a big-name title, don’t worry about starting at the very beginning. Anything you’re unsure about can be Googled. Besides, some issues are great as standalones anyway. Do you have to know the characters in volume 2 issue 11 of Justice League of America to get what’s happening and be invested? Definitely not.

Now that you’re prepped for your shopping trip, be ready for our first pairing coming up this weekend.

Welcome home!

Welcome to Comics: Caffeinated, a blog made to make your entry into the world of comics an easy one. It’s the beginning of your origin story made simple. A “Comics for Dummies” — not that you’re any dummy, you’re my perfect shining star — if you will. However, unlike my predecessors’ blogs, Comics: Caffeinated will also attempt to bring you into coffees and teas by pairing the two worlds thereby making your reading experience as cozy, comfortable and  caffeinated as humanly possible.

Killjoys #1 panelSimilar to How to Love Comics, the blog will work to help newcomers start turning pages for the first time while offering solid, helpful reading recommendations like those found in Comics Worth Reading. Recommendations should be accessible to those dipping their toes in the water, but not so simple as to be useless to more seasoned readers. In addition, Comics: Caffeinated will attempt to emulate the simple, yet effective, style of previous peers’ blogs like Bits of Creativity, which uses the Forever Theme. The simplistic layout makes the blog an easy and natural read, while the color palette overall seems cohesive. Personally, I’ll try to keep my own palette relatively warm wherever possible. I also intend to emulate the way The Daily Driver seamlessly integrated web content into her blog, even going so far as to add a video tweet. I also hope that like Coffee Grounds in SLO I’ll be able to fully explore my local sources of expertise. By using local sources I hope that I can establish a local following as well as one that’s more broad.

So open up your long box and grab your favorite mug — it’s the one with the cats on it, right? — and we’ll get started on this adventure together.