208 Frank Scott Prkwy E, STE 6 • Swansea, IL 62226 • 618.416.2797 | info@twilightcomics.com

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SINCE 1993
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The History
http://www.twilightcomics.com/alphaflight11_small.jpgI have loved comics since I was in 8th grade and read Alpha Flight #11 for the first time. I had been buying my comics from Silver Spoon (RIP - downtown Belleville) and, whenever I made it to Collinsville, the original Fantasy Books.

While in high school, I made connections with various people including a guy named Mel who was renting loft space to Jim Lee for his studio. Needless to say, I had a unique source for signed comics. I got loads of autographed stuff from Mel, you might recognize some of the names: Rob Liefeld, Jim Lee (of course), Wilce Portacio, Todd McFarlane, Jim Silvestri, and others. Tim Rank and I started Twilight Cards and Comics as a Belleville Flea Market business to help fund our growing need for new comics. In 1990, Brent Murphy opened Fantasy IV in Belleville (now Fantasy Books Inc.), where he was Co-Owner. I provided highly-prized signed books in exchange for new comics. Shortly thereafter, I began working part time at Fantasy Books IV, when my Little Caesars schedule would allow.

Poor, old Fantasy Books I (opened in 1980 as the retail arm of Glenwood Comic Distributors) in Collinsville, was in serious trouble. The chain owner, Nick, had decided to close this historic store before the summer of 1991 came around. Brent convinced Nick that a friend of his (me) could turn the store around by the end of the summer, and if I couldn't he could just as easily shut it down a couple of months later than scheduled.

I turned Fantasy Books around 200% in the positive direction within those few months! After a year-and-a-half of managing the original Fantasy Books, and just after the Death of Superman -- the highest point the direct market has ever seen, Nick sold me the store and that's when, in January of 1993, Twilight Comics was officially born as a Brick-and-Mortar store. Little did anyone know, but the direct market (that's comic book stores) would soon suffer the biggest crash since the "black & white glut" of the 1980s.

Six months into Twilight's existence, the building's roof leaked and we were forced to move to 300 East Main in Collinsville. A much smaller and decidedly worse location. But, remember, this was the middle of 1993. For those not in the know, this was the beginning of the downward spiral of the entire comics industry AND the year of the Great Flood (here in the Midwest). People were losing houses and jobs and the speculators that LOVED the Death of Superman, now soured at comics that couldn't make them instant millionaires. 1/3 of all comic book stores ceased to exist in 1993-1994. Twilight Comics survived (as did Fantasy Books IV).

More passion than business sense, I began working on Twilight Comics Belleville, a second location for the comics lovers from the area I grew up in -- west Belleville. This store was going to be a departure from the usually poorly lit, poorly kept hole-in-the-wall stores of the '70s & '80s. It was going to be a REAL store, but one that focused on comics. Remember, this was still in the beginning of that spiral. Rent was hard to keep up with, but an understanding landlord had banners printed and did whatever he could to help. Unfortunately, he sold the property to a much less understanding soul who demanded an EXTRA security deposit and an elevated two months rent immediately. So we move to the temporary spot (the motorcycle shop) across from west-end Schnuck's Supermarket.

On April 1st, 1995, I married the love of my life, Shannon Oakley. Without her support and love, I, nor Twilight Comics, would still exist. (And she reads comics, too!)

In 1995-1996, Marvel distributed their own comics and forced DC and everybody else to chose sides as far as other distributors, killing another 1/3 of comic book stores and all but Diamond Comic Distributors (formerly located in Sparta, IL).
1996 would mark Twilight's final move in Belleville to Bellevue Park Plaza where I lost focus on comics for awhile because Warhammer seemed so cool! No doubt, many comics customers must have wondered where all the comics had gone in the Belleville store!

Collinsville Twilight Comics continued to have problems and after long, agonizing thought, I had to be the one to "pull the plug", in June of 1997, on the store that had served THOUSANDS of comics lovers for 16+ years.

After Warhammer died for us --due to Games Workshop's need to change main rules every two years -- the decline in the comics industry REALLY began to effect the now solo Twilight Comics. Sales began to decline across the board, but Warhammer was a huge loss for Twilight and, since I started to regain the comics focus, the few people interested in it decided to try out the new Fantasy Shop (acquired by Fantasy Books Inc. formerly Fantasy Books IV) that opened in Fairview Heights.

In December of 2000, my first pet (after moving away from the parents'), Mercedes, died in my arms. (I still miss him very much.) I became lethargic and, truthfully, let my former passion become an awful mess of a store. Trying to shake out of my funk and get the store "back on track", in 2002, I wrote a business plan and started the long road back to real-store-dom.

We rescued Tia from the pound. Like Mercedes when we rescued him, she was four years old, declawed, and needed a home. Despite the attempted promise of being a one kitty home, a stray we called "Little Black Kitty" whose voice sounded more like a crow than a cat, ended up giving birth to a litter of five.

Little Black Kitty started life on the street, a skinny beggar. She now lives with the Cuetos in Belleville and, last I heard, she was a fat-cat ruling the house. Two of her offspring, Laurel (Fatty - 'cause (s)he had a giant head) and Hardy (Freckle-Nose) went to live with Shannon's aunt. Blacky (who looks just like his mom), Chicken-Head (a Denis Leary reference), and Bonk stayed with us.

I cleaned up the store, completely restocked the back issue comics, repainted, built a decent selection of graphic novels, and added a game room. People could tell throughout 2002 that I meant business and in just fourteen months, I finally had a store that was worth presenting, so I began advertising on cable in March of 2003. Response was immediate and I could finally start clearing up my credit that suffered horribly from the near decade of weathering storms (figuratively and literally).

In August of 2005, cat number five threw himself into our lives. Peeper caused a restructuring of the hierarchy of our home, but everything is still running just fine (but don't ask Tia).

Bellevue Park Plaza was in steeper(?) decline than I thought Twilight could handle, so, in November of 2006, I began negotiations to BUILD the Metro-East's first PREMIER comic book store. I found the booming Green Mount Crossing in Shiloh to be the perfect place to go. Not terribly far from the Belleville location, but the potential for much, much more walk-in traffic. Holding steady on my comics focus, and, continuing the trend toward a great graphic novel selection, I didn't feel that the proximity of Medieval Starship (combined with the former Fantasy Shop in Fairview Heights and now known as Fantasy Books and Games) would be a problem for either of us, since they were the area's only full-on game store.

Well, who knew that moving a store, decking it out, getting the stock up to snuff, and all the other bits-n-pieces would cost 10 to 15 times what it cost back in 1994 to start the whole thing from scratch?!? Still, I was happy to see my dream store (within budgetary constraint) finally exist. Just in time, too, because, in hind-sight, I don't think Twilight would have survived at the Belleville location through 2007-2008.

In 2009, I was diagnosed with an under-performing pituitary gland. Which precipitated a bunch of health problems. This forced me to become much less active in the store on a day to day basis.

BonkieBonk, who was my baby, fell ill early in October of 2011. After tons of money, blood transfusions, other treatments, and a way-too-brief remission, we had to put him to sleep on December 8th, 2011. It was the worst day of the last decade for me. Please read more about Bonkie at my blog.

2012 and early 2013 were some of the best months of Twilight's history! With the help of Micheal Dougherty, our Magic the Gathering sales and events hit an all time high. FNMs averaged 40 players and even topped out around 60 a few times! In the middle of 2013, we noticed that events were beginning to lose more money than we were comfortable with due to our (at the time) unique to the St. Louis area payout structure. Some players gamed the system to use their winning to take all of the popular cards and we ended up low on stock for customers who wanted to spend money on them. As one of Micheal's parting ideas, we decided to discontinue bankable store credit as an option. We didn't reduce the amount of the prizes, just one option of the prize amount's use.  The announcement was made in advance after an FNM and we asked players to express their feelings and offer alternate ideas. All but 3 players looked at the ground and said nothing. Over the next several weeks, the players trickled away. We tried half price FNMs, with reduced prizes. We tried half price FNMs with FULL prizes. We finally even relented and returned to the silently demanded, (original) unrestricted payout.

In May of 2015, we downsized and moved to our new/current location at 208 Frank Scott Parkway East, Suite 6 in Swansea, IL. We had a great Free Comic Book Day and were allowed to use the empty space next door for our Magic events. While, PreReleases did fairly well, FNM and other events rarely fired. When the landlord needed to remodel for new tenants, our events ended.

In 2016 and into 2017, we began to reconstruct a larger comic book back issue selection. While no longer as big as the huge Belleville era backfile, the new Swansea backfile is pretty nice with comics ranging from the 1950s to present. We continue to add hundreds of comics every week!


Well, if you've read this far, you must really (not only) love comics, but think well of Twilight Comics. We're seeing some rough times & some of the best business we've ever had, all at the same time and are being effected by the real-world economic troubles, just like most businesses. Now, more than ever, we count on every single dime you can spend and appreciate every visit you make. If I can do ANYTHING to make your visit to Twilight Comics better, please, let me know. With luck and your help, I will be able to add ten or more years to this story!


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