Living in the shadow of a comic capital, I became interested in the history of I Like Comics and the community work of the shop’s owner, Chris Simons. I Like Comics opened in Vancouver in 2010. Originally taking up residence across the street from Clark College, the comic store now resides on Broadway next to Sugar and Salt.
Chris’s relationship with comics started when he was sick as a child. His father brought home two long boxes of 1960s comics and he devoured them. As he got older his relationship with the medium faded. When he had children, the quality of the Evergreen School District lured Chris up to Vancouver from the Portland metro area. Then, at the height of the recession, DHL laid off thousands of workers, including Chris. He fell back into comics, buying and selling comic books from Craigslist and then starting an eBay shop. When he had the chance to open up a retail space, he took it.
Chris has made a point to use the shop to give back to the community, including organizing food and toy drives. Chris also helped local artist Rebecca Woods, wife of comic book artist Pete Woods, drastically upgrade her wheelchair. An online campaign assisted Rebecca with half of the costs and an in-store event at I Like Comics finished off the remaining costs. But Chris mentioned that if the fundraising campaign had not met the goals, the store would have covered any remaining expense.
Chris’s community support comes from his personal experience of the physical and mental grind to make ends meet. He knows many families are going through the same stress now. Chris says he has the privilege of his dream job, and the community is what has made it possible. He credits the community with his success and wants to give back as much as he can.
Throughout the year, aside from special events, Chris donates to the Hero Initiative, a charity that helps people in the comics industry who have fallen on hard times, something that especially happens to comics creators who did the bulk of their work before the 1990s. A few decades ago, it was harder to earn a living as a comic creator and there were not the same intellectual property protections as there are now. Chris feels that those older creators paved the way for the medium he loves so much. Chris says the local community’s response to fundraising events has been very humbling.
Chris’s next planned event is a big one: Clark County’s own comics convention. Chris floated the idea for the past four years. When a friend who organizes Eugene Comic Con told him it was time, the idea still stayed in the back of his mind. He kept thinking the store was enough to keep him busy.
It took the support of another friend, Dan Wyatt, owner of the Kiggins Theatre, to finally push Chris to get the event rolling. Chris rented the Clark County Event Center in Ridgefield for February 10 and 11, 2018. The I Like Comic Con will include classes, panels, signings, artist booths and other special events and is expected to draw thousands of people. The event is showcasing some of the biggest names in the comics industry, several of whom are local to Clark County including Pete Woods, Clayton Crain, and Randy Bowen.
I Like Comics
1715 Broadway St
Vancouver, WA 98663
Monday-Sunday 10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.