I first met Kenning Jean-Paul García at the St. Rocco reading series xe helps organize and immediately appreciated xyr wit, creativity, and sense of humor, not to mention an exceptional insight into linguistics, literature, and unpretentious beer. I assure you, getting to share a tallboy of PBR after a poetry reading with JP is always a great time. Xe took a few moments to talk about xyr favorite bookshop (a comic shop, which cannot be overlooked when it comes to storytelling and creativity!) and in turn I’m more than happy to share zyr latest book, OF: What Place Meant, which is now available! Be sure to check it out!
Favorite Bookshop: Earthworld Comics in Albany, NY
1. How did you discover the shop?
Sadly, I had to discover Earthworld Comics due to the closing of Fantaco Comics. I knew that Earthworld existed but I was a hardcore Fantaco fan. That's where the goths, punks, and hardcore geeks went. It was our place but eventually they went out of business. Then after a few years of not being able to really afford comics I was a bit ahead financially and I had some newer and younger friends who never went to Fantaco. They were like this is the place and it certainly is.
2. What part of the shop is your favorite? What's it like to walk through?
I love the back wall where the indie trade paperbacks are. I love seeing what I might have missed from Dynamite, Boom, Oni and others. This and the bargain bins always get me. I like a good deal and if a comic is good it can be read years after its initial publication. So, I get a few throwback volumes when I can from the bargain bins. As for a walk-through, first you get the DC/Marvel shelves and the new releases. It's cool. I mean, great art on the covers and all the popular heroes. Then you go further back for the new release indie comics. As well as some alphabetized characters and titles in with the mainstream releases, like my boys, Jughead and the Shadow, or my homegirls, Vampirella, Red Sonja and crossing my fingers for the return of Jennifer Blood. But, really every good trip to the shop starts and ends with a rundown of what's new and what I missed from the staff. Always knowledgeable and they know what I like. It's a nerdy neighborhood vibe. We all kind of know each other by face and by tastes if not by names.
3. What books have you bought there in the past?
I bought the entire run of New 52's Swamp Thing as well as all of my Vampirella titles And this is where I really fell in love with my favorite superqueero - Midnighter. Steve Orlando (who also resides in the Capital Region) wrote the New 52 run and it was magical.
4. What is it about the shop that makes you love it? What really sets it apart?
The staff and selection make it special. I can find a lot of these books at Barnes and Noble but they don't have the pins. I'm a sucker for a new pin. My bags are all adorned in comic book pins. I'm always on the look out for a new pin. This adds a little something special to the place in addition to the comics and graphic novels. The other thing is, they do a good job of ordering based upon customer requests. I never leave there empty-handed and I often return specifically to pick up something that they ordered for me. It's monthly event for me and something that I set aside money and time for in my budget. In my opinion it's one of the great shops around this country. It's up there with some of the big city shops.
BIO: Kenning Jean-Paul García is a diarist, humorist, antipoet, and editor living in Albany, NY after growing up in Brooklyn and Queens. Xe spent most of xyr life in the restaurant industry and holds a bachelor's degree in Linguistics. In addition to being the editor at Rigorous, the Operating System, and Five 2 One, xyr work has also been featured in BlazeVOX, eccolinguistics, Brooklyn Rail, Horse Less Review and Dream Pop. Slow Living is also available from West Vine Press along with They Say and Never Read.
(I definitely swiped the photo of the shop from the Fresh Comics website, so check them out too.)