“Coffee is one of those things…” David DeMarco, part-owner of Legend Comics and Coffee, pauses as he tries to explain the welcoming qualities of the beverage. “You want to sit and read something? What better thing than to read a comic book with a cup of coffee?”
DeMarco joined forces in 2011 with Jason Dasenbrock and Wendy Pivonka to move Legend Comics into a larger space on 52nd and Leavenworth. A space fit for a new kind of comic book store.
Dasenbrock and Pivonka had been tossing around the thought of combining a coffee shop with their extant comics store. They put the idea to current landlord, Tom Simmons. “Tom wanted to do something that would bring in traffic to the location, and a coffee shop fit the bill,” Dasenbrock says.
DeMarco hazards a guess that there may be fewer than 10 comic book/coffee shops in the nation. DeMarco, Pivonka, and Dasenbrock took their inspiration from Des Moines store Cup o’ Kryptonite, but by the time Legend reopened with its new vision in 2011, that retailer no longer ran a full coffee shop. “We are standing on the shoulders of giants,” DeMarco says.
Comic book stores can be intimidating for lots of people (the uneducated newbie or the wary female, for example), and coffee seems to be a natural way to bring in new fans. “This is not the boys’ club,” Dasenbrock says. “Everyone is welcome here, whether you’ve never read a comic or if you’ve read all of them.”
“You want to sit and read something? What better thing than to read a comic book with a cup of coffee?” – David DeMarco, co-owner
“We are not intimidating,” DeMarco adds, “and I will tell you why. I…think we are very nice.” Definitely a modest way of expressing his pride in a retail space that was created specifically for comic books. “I wanted to design a comic store,” he says. Thanks to local firm Architectural Offices, the shop’s custom shelves, lighting, and chairs say Industrial Art Gallery rather than Some Dude’s Basement.
In the same vein of making comics accessible to everyone, Legend hosts events like trivia nights every other Monday, raffles, and dunk tanks on Free Comic Book Day (May 4, mark your calendar). “We’re trying to be an advocate for the community,” DeMarco says. “Why wouldn’t we do fun stuff? And we have a room downstairs for games and for people to use.” It’s free for anything, from Magic tournaments to poetry workshops.
DeMarco believes that some of the best reading material these days is in comic books. “It’s an untapped reservoir, and we will walk you through it.” One of his favorite ways of suggesting comics to the uninitiated is by quizzing them about their favorite TV shows. “If you like West Wing, try Ex Machina. It’s political intrigue with a splash of superhero-dom.” For LOST lovers, DeMarco recommends Morning Glories, a comic centered around kids isolated in a mysterious prep school. “Is it a government experiment? Are they dead? You don’t know!”
Legend runs a subscription service for those who want to have their favorite comics reserved and ready for them to pick up whenever they walk in. Then, maybe, they’ll order the Legend custom blend (or perhaps a Green River phosphate) from the coffee bar and settle in to lose themselves with Spiderman.
Legends Comics & Coffee
5207 Leavenworth St.