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Not your average comic book shop

Brave New World targets ‘geeks,’ kids and women

Posted: August 27, 2008 8:25 p.m.
Updated: October 29, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Atom! and Portlyn Freeman have owned Brave New World Comics in on Lyons Avenue in Newhall since 2000. The couple sees comic books as one more tool to get youngsters interested in reading.

Atom! and Portlyn Freeman strongly believe that they are not like the “Comic Book Guy” character on the TV show “The Simpsons.”

The Freemans don’t have the character’s rude attitude, nor do they belittle their customers for not knowing every single detail of every single comic book ever written.

Rather, the owners of Brave New World Comics in Newhall have taken a different approach when it comes to promoting the power of comic books.

They see comic books as opportunities for youngsters to read.

Through their frequent social events, the married couple has created ways for men, women and kids to come together and mingle over a common interest.

Thanks to their efforts in creating a unique business, the Newhall couple received the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award during last month’s Comic-Con International in San Diego.

The award was the result of nearly a decade of effort by the married couple in supporting the comics art medium in the Santa Clarita Valley while also extending their expertise to the industry as a whole.

A “pop culture feel”
Atom! bought Brave New World in May 2000, 15 years after he started working at the shop.
“I had always known I had the entrepreneurial spirit,” he said.

While Portlyn was raised in a military family, Atom! said his father had been involved in the restaurant industry.

With a store of their own and a home in the local area, the couple set out to give Brave New World a personality that matched their own.

“There had never been a female presence,” Portlyn said. “It was all boys all the time.”

Portlyn said she gave the business a “pop culture feel.”

Atom! noted that as the only comic book store in the Santa Clarita Valley, the two began carrying products and comics books that would appeal to women and kids.

“It was kind of a gamble,” Portlyn said.

But the business decision would pay off in a matter of years as shows like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” gained popularity with young women, drawing them to Brave New World Comics.

With every male customer that walked in the door to browse comic books, the Freemans began offering products and “comics your girl will like.”

The result was a store that drew in all types of people.

Brave New World is home to a range of books, quirky toys and pop culture items.

“It’s a pop culture store,” Atom! said before Portlyn added, “A pop culture super store!”

As Brave New World built a strong customer base in the Santa Clarita Valley, Atom! said the comic book industry grew itself, making his shop a natural destination for new fans.

In getting to know their  customers, the Freemans, who have been married for 12 years and have one son, decided to make a lifestyle out of the goods they sell.

Calling Brave New World Comics a “third place,” Portlyn said they set out to make the store a place for customers to social network in person.

The store offers Geek Singles Night along with other social events that feature live entertainment.

Annually, the store hosts a free comic book day, along with an event that allows anyone to challenge their creativity skills by creating a comic page every hour for 24 hours straight.

Upstairs, there’s a gallery that rotates comic-inspired artwork and the store sponsors art classes for youngsters.

“The overall goal is to get people to walk in the door,” Atom! said.

With every event and their own business style, the couple strives to open up the world of comic books to anyone.

“There is something in comic books for everyone,” Portlyn said.


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