Soon into the New Year, downtown Savannah will say goodbye to a beloved shop near the corner of Bull and Liberty streets when longstanding comic book and video store, Savannah Comics, makes its departure.
By mid- to late January, the store's window display of eye-catching illustrations will come down and the LED signs will flicker a final time as Savannah Comics prepares to merge with its sister store, Comics & More, on the southside.
Though thankfully it's not a permanent farewell (more like a "see you later"), the relocation means some merchants will have to travel a little farther to get their hands on the latest adventures of their favorite superheroes.
In the meantime, Savannah Comics is hoping for a pretty big sendoff, with current sales ranging from 25 percent to 50 percent off on everything in the store.
But for owner Chuck Durden, the decision means saying goodbye to nearly 30 years of fond memories of a venture that first sparked from his love for film and later grew to serve geeks around the Coastal Empire.
Formerly known as Home Run Video, the store first opened in 1986 and operated in the space now occupied by Rob's Hair Salon and the Drayton Towers leasing office before relocating to 4 E. Liberty St. in 1989.
"It was a video store to start with," Durden said. But the store also received magazine shipments, which included a small selection of comics.
During the late '80s, one major occurrence in the comic world altered the store's destiny as swiftly as a turn of a page. A classic Batman story arc titled "A Death in the Family" chronicled the final adventures of Batman and Robin before the Joker eventually killed off Robin.
"Everybody wanted that issue and I couldn't get it," Durden said. "So I had to search out the direct market and start buying directly from the comic book people."
With the growth of the recently founded Savannah College of Art and Design, Durden continued building his comic book inventory.
"I started selling comic books because SCAD students wanted comic books," he said. "It wasn't because I was a comic book person."
Even after 28 years managing the store, Durden said he still prefers movies over comics.
"I worked in the theaters in high school," he said. He added that he mostly tore tickets.
Lucky for Durden, Savannah's cinematic appeal has lured plenty of movie stars into the store over the years.
"We've had Ben Affleck, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sandra Bullock," Durden said. "Robin Williams not too long ago."
Back when they were an item, Affleck and Paltrow frequented the store for magazines, he said. Affleck was filming "Forces of Nature" at the time "and they all had Sundays off and they would come to the store and buy magazines."
Durden doesn't recall any of them ever leaving with a comic, though.
Ironically, just a few years later, Affleck would go on to star in the Marvel Comics-based film "Daredevil."
Today, Savannah Comics maintains a decent profit from in-store sales of comics and online purchasing. But its movie rental service has been suffering for quite some time.
Considering the boom of digital movie distributors like Netflix and Redbox, Savannah Comics has managed to stay afloat longer than national video rental shops such as Blockbuster, which announced last month it was closing the remainder of its stores.
But sadly, Durden said he can no longer support the lagging business of movie rentals - a realization he discovered some time ago.
"As movie rentals died," he said, "We decided to try to make this an all-comic books store, and that's when we changed the name to Savannah Comics."
But the store still has at least 10,000 movies that need to go, with prices ranging from $3.99 to $5.99, including new releases.
Boxes and boxes are crammed along the shelves and floors of Savannah Comics and loaded with out-of-print, indie and obscure films for sale.
And on hand will be Durden and his small but knowledgeable staff ready to provide recommendations (unmatched by Netflix) and more than willing to share a few stories about the store's notable history in Savannah.
Find Savannah Comics on Facebook or www.savannahcomics.com for more information on store sales and offerings.
And when you're on the other side of town, pop into their southside location at 137 E. Montgomery Crossroad.
Janay Kingsberry is a web producer for www.savannahnow.com. She studies journalism at Savannah State University and practices photography during her free time. Find her on Twitter at @_LoisLane or email firstname.lastname@example.org.