This comic business is no joke, enter the Vault and you’ll see why

HAVING operated online for four years, Cathal Travers of Comic Vault opened a physical store on Lower Oliver Plunkett Street, with bright blue doors straight out of Doctor Who.
This comic business is no joke, enter the Vault and you’ll see why
Cathal at the Comic Vault on Lower Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

How did the business start?

I opened the business in 2013 as an online store, I worked hard to promote myself online and at conventions in the lead up to opening the shop here in Cork. I had kept my day job and worked on the website in evenings and weekends. I was 23 at the time and had no real experience in running a business but soon learned and progressed and will continue to improve the business in the future.

How did you get into this type of business?

At the time I started the website there was no other Irish website selling current weekly comics. I had always wanted to work in a comic shop but never thought I would have my own shop.Going online was more viable at the time than a physical store but having a shop was always the end goal.

What types of things do you sell?

We have a broad range of products from action figures, collectables, board games, t-shirts and all other kinds of merchandise and of course comic books. It’s not all superheroes though, a lot of our stock is based on characters from TV shows, movies, games and pop culture in general. We continue to grow our ranges and every Wednesday we get new and different items onto the shelves.

Cathal at the Comic Vault on Lower Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
Cathal at the Comic Vault on Lower Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

How is the comics industry going at the moment?

It’s brilliant with more and more people reading comics. They are a lot more accessible now than ever before and there is such a wide variety to choose like superhero, horror, sci-fi and fantasy, to name a few. There really is something for everyone. Ireland itself is producing some real talent both in small press and for the big publishers like Marvel and DC. Here in Cork the Cork Comic Creators are a group who produce their own works with some interesting titles, some have gone on to work on big projects like Will Sliney and Chris O’Halloran with Marvel and more are coming up through the ranks all the time. The group meet up once a month in the shop which always creates a great atmosphere. We get a lot of parents in looking for alternative gifts and interests for children other than computer games and other technologies, comics are perfect as they can be bright, colourful and really keeps children entertained while opening their imaginations through reading.

What are the big sellers on the store?

Batman always does good along with X-Men The Walking Dead and Star Wars. Other titles that stay consistent are Saga, The Wicked + The Divine, Black Hammer, and Red Lands. Local colour artist Chris O’Halloran did a book signing here for his title Generation Gone which really boosted sales and continued readership for that title. Other Irish creators like Stephen Mooney, Jordie Bellaire and Declan Shalvey’s titles always sell in high volumes too.

We get new titles in every Wednesday so there is always a lot to choose from.

What kind of people shop with you?

All kinds of people shop here both male and female of all ages. Just like a music shop, there are different tastes and styles which draws in a broad profile of people. Whether you’re new to comic books or a seasoned reader I’m confident that there is something to interest you.

Has the success of all the big superhero movies changed the comics industry much?

They have been a huge boost to getting new readers interested. It’s not just superhero’s though with huge sci-fi movies such as Star Wars and Star Trek. There are a lot of TV shows also boosting the industry with titles such as Daredevil, The Flash and Doctor Who, to name a few. Many people seem to be surprised that The Walking Dead was a comic before it was a TV show.

What would you say to people that think comics are just for kids?

I’d have to disagree as most of my customers are adults and a lot of books we stock are for mature readers. We recently started a book club and most interest is from adult readers too. There really is something for everyone of all ages and genders though. We like to keep a wide range for all readers to enjoy.

How is trade in the city centre?

Trade in the city centre is excellent. Cork is a busy city and having University College Cork and Cork Institute of Technology is also a huge boost with all the students in town. We get a lot of tourists in which is also great to see. Cork is a beautiful city with a lot to offer in retail and culture and is the perfect place to open a business.

What's in the future for your business?

With the continued support from the local community, the future is looking very bright. Cork already has such a strong base of comic book fans and we will be constantly trying to expand readership and help people get started into the world of comic books. Although we started as a website people love to come into the store to browse new titles and have a chat about comics with myself and other customers, that kind of atmosphere you just can’t buy online so we plan on keeping the store open well into the future.

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