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When Downtown's First Comic Book Shop Arrives, It Won't Be A Boys Club

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Two life-long comic book lovers, Aryn Stewart and Tyler Bartlett, plan to open downtown's first comic shop—with a focus on being inclusive to all sorts of fans.

"There are so many stories of shops not being anything but a clique of guys who think they know more than everyone else," Stewart said. "That is everything we don't want to be."

The shop will be called Central City Comics. Stewart told LAist they have their building—located in the heart of Gallery Row—all picked out, but they have some paperwork to sign and some remodeling to do before they can reveal the exact address. They're hoping to be open by late November.

Stewart and Bartlett both live downtown and are both are artists—Stewart mostly does "acrylic on canvas" and Bartlett is a comic book artist. The pair are running an indiegogo campaign to secure the last bit of funding for their dream business.

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Stewart says she's been a comic book fan since she was a child.

"Being a child of the 1980s, by the time I was being introduced to comics, it was artists like Todd McFarlane, Joe Madeuria, and Jim Lee who evolved what could be done on the page. To me, their work opened comics up to more stylized frames, impactful perspectives and dynamic lines," she said. "Their styles, in turn, allowed great writers to expand their imaginations and continue to produce groundbreaking works, even through to today."

It's important to the pair that their shop be as welcoming as possible to anyone who wants to stop by. Stewart, who is transgender, says that growing up, a love of comic books was the only thing she had in common with the men in her life before she transitioned at 17. While she says her friends never even blinked after her transition, others were not so kind.

"After I started presenting my gender, I was met with apprehension, sometimes ridicule, and just in general not welcome," she said.

And with comic books stores in particular, the atmosphere has not always been especially inclusive. The open arms philosophy doesn't just apply to female and trans comic fans, but also to beginning comic book lovers with all tastes.

Central City Comic will sell classic and new comics, plus work from independent artists, and Stewart says they've already spoken with several artists about stocking their work.

"It's not an easy industry to break into and we want to see new and talented artists make what we love even better!" Stewart said.

They're also hoping to stock action figures, games and clothing, some designed by Stewart and other local artists. They also intend to play host to community and social events, such as drawing sessions and gaming tournaments.

So far, Stewart says they've received a lot of encouragement from their neighbors, for which she and Bartlett are appreciative. The indiegogo campaign runs through October 22. Their end goal of $30,000, if met, will go to renovating the space, building a back catalog and stocking merchandise.