on 11 July 2016
at 12:10 AM
When I first moved to Sacramento, Eben Burgoon and I were about a year deep into making our first comic, Eben07. At the start of the comic, we lived across the country from each other and couldn’t do small things like collaboration meetings or conventions, etc. Coincidentally, both Eben and I (and our respective significant others) moved to Sacramento at the same time, which allowed us to be much more collaborative in our creative endeavors.
The first public event we did was as part of a “Second Saturday” event in midtown Sacramento. “Second Saturday” happens––surprise––on the second Saturday of every month where the local businesses open up in the evening for a kind of open house and celebrates local entrepreneurs and artists, especially.
We were lucky enough to have a table set up outside of Big Brother Comics, where the owner, Kenny Russell, was incredibly gracious and encouraging to the point that I––in my natural circumspect manner––was almost put off by his enthusiasm. Over time, of course, I learned that Kenny just is that excited about local creators, and his shop in midtown became a veritable nerd haven in its eleven years of business. For Eben and myself, it was a place to learn the craft of building our brand and personalities. We were mainstays during Second Saturdays and a few Free Comic Book Days. We were even asked to be the on-air personalities at Big Brother Comics promoting Free Comic Book Day for the local Fox affiliate (Kenny is notoriously camera shy). Kenny and Big Brother Comics are an intrinsic part of that comic’s success and as my development as a creator and becoming a part of the local creative community. I can never downplay how important that little shop has been to me.
On July 3rd, Kenny’s shop caught fire. In its destruction, he has lost more than $10,000 in inventory and even more for each day his shop is unable to perform at normal capacity. It’s an incredibly unfair disaster to happen to such a good person and business.
I’m writing this as a plea more than anything else. Most of you don’t know him or his store, but you may know of a local business––wherever you are––that acts as a focal point for the community, even if it’s a small, niche portion. You may know of the local business that has gone out of its way to help other businesses and maybe even artists. If you know that business, know that Kenny’s Big Brother Comics is that business. If you don’t know that business, become a part of one by helping Kenny out. If you can find it in your ability to throw a few bucks his way through his GoFundMe page, the entire Sacramento comic book reader/maker community would appreciate it.
What’s frightening to think about is that this is the second local comic shop to catch fire. A few years ago, Ben Schwartz’s Empire’s Comics Vault caught fire at its previous location, forcing him to move and rebuild. And he did––and did it well––and I know that Kenny can, too, especially if we help soften the blow.