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May 22, 2014

Go, Read: Lengthy Obituary Of Columbus, Ohio Counter-Culture And Comics Shop Fixture Stan Brobof

The publisher and comics-maker Ken Eppstein drove my attention to this obituary of Monkey's Retreat co-owner Stan Brobof in Columbus' Short North Gazette. While we've certainly seen the graying of first-generation direct market comic shop owners over the last decade, it looks Brobof was a different and equally important type of figure, the co-owner of that city's more counter-culture and independent/obscure comics location, and all the overlap that entailed with off-the-beaten-track prose publishing.

Eppstein describes his own interaction with the store thusly. "It was a newsstand style shop with lots of indie comics and zines. There was also a big selection of beat up counter culture books. I think I got all of my RESearch "Incredibly strange" books there and a bunch of Punk magazine back issues. Apparently they warehoused some of the Punk backstock for [John] Holmstrom towards the end when Punk didn't really have a distro. They had a huge selection of old indie comics, only loosely organized... So kind of a digger's paradise. When I first moved to Columbus in '89 they carried mainstream superhero books too, but gave up on it within a couple of years. As the story in the SNG suggests, Monkey's Retreat grew out of a desire to access elements of counter-culture back in the 1960s and 1970s, and was a Columbus destination for Broboff after returning to the city from a long period of life spent in New York City.

Eppstein noted to CR that gentrification drove the shop from its original location and also represented the marshalling of forces within Columbus that disrupted the shop's longtime natural customer base. The store closed in 2010.

Brobof was 72 years old.
posted 2:05 am PST | Permalink

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