901 Comics turns one year old this week, and Shannon Merritt, a co-owner of the Cooper-Young shop at 2162 Young, is unequivocal about the milestone. "This has been the best year of my adult life," the lifelong comic book fan says.
In past lives, Merritt, who sports a forearm tattoo of Daredevil (original yellow costume, of course), has been a couple of different kinds of hero. He's served his country in the Marine Corps, and he's served his community as an officer with the Memphis Police Department. But secretly — and sometimes not so secretly — all he ever really wanted to be was a comic book store guy. The missing piece of the puzzle was partner Jamie Wright, a P&H Cafe barback and comic book collector who took a job helping Marvel's Iron Man creator Stan Lee work marathon autograph sessions.
With Wonder Woman on top at the box office and comic book properties dominating screens large and small, there's never been a better time to be a fan, and Merritt says business has been good. "This is the coolest neighborhood in Memphis," he adds, stressing the need for a comic shop to be more than just a place to pick up graphic novels and superhero titles. Nestled between a record store and a coffee shop, it's a location that attracts readers, writers, artists, and musicians looking as much for community as commerce.
- Shannon Merritt (left) and Jamie Wright
"Now I get to try out all the things I thought would be great to do if I ever had a comic book store," Merritt says. He's particularly proud of his book club for comic readers and recent changes that make 901 Comics a more welcoming space for gaming culture.
This week, 901 Comics celebrates a year in business with in-store signings by Marvel and DC veterans Joe Staton and Pat Broderick on Friday and Saturday, June 9th and 10th. Saturday's 5-8 p.m. music lineup at the Cooper-Young Gazebo features the Turn It Offs, the Gloryholes, Shamefinger, and comedian Brandon Sams.