Mark Waid isn't content with co-owning just one comic book store. Following the announcement earlier this week that he is now a co-owner of Alter Ego Comics in Muncie, Indiana, the "Daredevil" and "Indestructible Hulk" writer announced Thursday that his new store has struck a business partnership with Art Baltazar and Franco, fellow comic creators and owners of Aw Yeah Comics in Skokie, Illinois.
"We'll still maintain our individual identities -- one store isn’t being absorbed by the other -- but we can pool our resources in unique ways," Waid wrote on his Thrillbent blog. "We can design an Aw Yeah Comics!-branded, kid-friendly 'boutique' into Alter Ego that mirrors the Skokie setup. Conversely, we can build more Thrillbent promotion and outreach into the Aw Yeah Comics! storefront. We can meld print and digital in double the locations and strengthen both the stores and Thrillbent."
The deal also includes Alter Ego co-owners, Christy Blanch and Jason Pierce, plus Franco and Baltazar's business partner Marc Hammond. According to Waid, things started when Hammond and Franco visited Alter Ego and asked to invest in the store. The Alter Ego team countered with an offer for the two stores to invest in each other.
Waid described the partnership as "The Image Comics of brick-and-mortar."
"Some people are dissuaded by the phrase 'no one has done this before,' of course, but to the six of us, that’s just fuel on the fire," Waid wrote. "A sizable share of our store in exchange for an equal share of their store. A six-way partnership between some of the most prominent and vocal figures in the industry."
Acknowledging the unlikeliness of a digital publisher owning a store selling print comic books, Waid told CBR News, "Digital is not the enemy, and I'll prove it to you. I am putting my money where my mouth is. I am boots on the ground, I've got my checkbook out, I've got the sweat equity in it. I'll work both sides, and let's see what I learn."
Baltazar and Franco, best known for their Eisner-winning "Tiny Titans" at DC Comics, have partnered with Waid before -- their all-ages "Aw Yeah Comics" is available through Waid's digital imprint, Thrillbent.