DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
MARBLE FALLS — Raymond Brandenburg is giving away comics May 2 at GameDay Comics and Cards. Yeah, he really is — or, at least, the comic book distributor is.
It’s all part of the annual Free Comic Book Day, when participating comic shops around the world give away comic books, while supplies last.
“Free Comic Book Day is a way to, maybe, get people who might not read comics a chance to try them, or maybe try them again if they did read them and haven’t in awhile,” Brandenburg said. “Comics are really an American art form, and, you know, I’m doing what I can to keep it going.”
While some people might turn up their noses at comic books — considering them irrelevant or juvenile — the interests in this form of storytelling has experienced a steady growth in the past decade or more.
“Comics have been growing 10 percent a year for the past 12 years now,” Brandenburg said.
And girls and women are one of the fastest-growing segments as comic book companies have begun creating stories and characters such as Spider-Gwen and Silk geared specifically toward female readers.
But at the heart of it, Brandenburg said, is great storytelling and, of course, the art work.
“Comics are stories just like a novel but just told more graphically (art),” he said.
Brandenburg, a 2004 Burnet High School graduate, grew up a comic book fan. As a child, he and his family lived in Austin, where his father would take him to the Dragon’s Lair Comic, a hallmark of the business. He became enthralled with the stories and artwork. When the family moved to Burnet when Brandenburg was in middle school, it wasn’t long before Sam Pearce opened GameDay in Marble Falls.
“We started coming here when Sam opened it,” Brandenburg. “We’ve known Sam since he started this.”
Brandenburg, like many youth, headed for the big city after high school graduation. He spent a year at the University of Texas-San Antonio before taking an IT job. For the past 10 years, he worked in the IT business, often consulting with small-business clients.
In December, five days after getting married, Brandenburg learned Pearce was selling GameDay, located at 1814 U.S. 281. With his wife’s support, Brandenburg approached Pearce about buying the comic book and card shop. In January, they signed the papers, and on March 1, Brandenburg took over. He made several physical changes to the building but remained true to Pearce’s vision of providing a place folks can buy comics, cards and games as well as gather to play games such as Magic or just talk about them.
The jump from IT to small-business owner came quickly, and Brandenburg admitted he didn’t really have a detailed plan, but comics, cards and games are a passion of his. And setting up a small business after years consulting with them as an IT person wasn’t too difficult.
“It’s just setting up systems and inventory,” he said.
But when the first day GameDay opened as his store, Brandenburg admitted there was a bit of apprehension. Would people come in? Would they approve of the changes?
“Fortunately, Sam already had a loyal group of customers, and they have really embraced what we’re doing,” Brandenburg said.
He’s revamped the interior, but it’s still about comics, card games and games — board, role playing and video. In fact, he’s expanded the board games and added a wall of “old school” video games such as early Nintendo cartridges. He has more than 7,500 back issues of comics and more than 120 new titles along the wall. And every Wednesday when the latest comics come out, there’s a steady stream of folks waiting to get their favorites. His looking to add even more comic titles. His selection of Magic cards continues to grow.
Every Friday at 7 p.m., GameDay hosts Magic competitions, but Brandenburg also breaks out other board, role-playing and video games as well.
“It’s not uncommon to have the Marble Falls gaming community here every Friday,” he said.
And while it’s work, Brandenburg loves every moment of it.
“Every transaction in here is a positive one,” he said. “This is a place of joy, leisure and happiness.”
For those who want to taste a bit of the joy and happiness, Free Comic Book Day definitely is a chance to try it.