It’s hard to find an outlet for comics and games in the great space between Cincinnati and Dayton. So when I found out Nostalgia Ink was in Mason, I was relieved that I didn’t have to drive 40 minutes for
a Friday Night Magic anymore.
I recently interviewed Kevin Kluck, the owner of Nostalgia, about the industry, the area, and the current trends in comics and games.
Nostalgia Ink Interview
TheNerdyBomb: Why did you open Nostalgia Ink?
Kevin Kluck: My company has been laying off a lot of people lately. I work in the print industry and it’s going through a lot of changes. I saw half of my department get laid off and I was one of the lucky ones that stayed. I started thinking ‘When is it my turn?’ I needed a Plan B.
TNB: This seems like a pretty awesome Plan B.
KK: I’m enjoying it so far.
TNB: Has opening a comic book store/gaming store always been a dream?
KK: It’s something I thought about on a number of occasions. I never really had the motivation or the capital to do something like this. But it finally all came together and here it is.
TNB: Is there a story behind the name Nostalgia Ink?
KK: I actually worked at a Nostalgia Ink in Bangor, Maine back in my college days. They’ve closed down since. They got sick of the 90’s comic book scene and said ‘We’ve had enough of this.’
So I took the name. I always thought it was a cool name.
TNB: Did it take a lot of work to open the store?
KK: It’s amazing what goes into opening a small business. You have to get lined up with Games Workshop and Diamond Comic Distributors and Alliance Game Distributors. They are the main players in the area and the industry. Then you have to have the capital for inventory. Then you have to make sure you have enough capital for a year because you’re not going to be an overnight success.
Getting a lot of that in line took a lot of effort.
TNB: How did you get into comics and gaming?
KK: I got into gaming in high school. It started with an old Avalon Hill game called Civilization. It’s about the dawn of civilization. You start as a hunter gather types and compete for resources and there’s volcanoes and floods and other stuff like that throughout the game. It’s long out of print but it was a great game.
From there it just spiraled into things like Star Fleet Battles, which is still around I think. They have a dumbed down version of it. The rule book was three inches think.
Those were the big ones. Avalon Hill and Steve Jackson games were the big thing back then.
Comics just kind of came naturally from that. I had a friend who was into the Avengers and I would read some of his stuff. Then I started picking out stuff like Spider Man and I got hooked. It’s pretty easy to get hooked.
TNB: What’s your favorite thing about owning a comics and gaming store?
KK: The comics and gaming industry is going through a renaissance.
I have never seen this many titles coming out that were really worth reading. Back in the 90’s there were probably more titles, but a lot of it was just publishers pushing out garbage. They would slap some silver or some sort of foil on the cover and it would sell.
TNB: Yeah I have plenty of those.
KK: So do I. But now a days your comic has to be good or it will die quick. Writers and publishers have responded to that and they are trying to push out the absolute best product.
Games are doing the same. Production value for games has gone up and there are far more good games out there worth buying and playing. It has been amazing, and Kickstarter has made it even more exciting. There are a lot of great ideas that previously wouldn’t come to market. But now they are going to Kickstarter, getting funding, and getting them in the stores.
TNB: Why did you choose this location?
KK: The north part of Cincinnati is really under served with this type of market. Then you have whole areas toward Landen and Maineville that have nothing. A lot of people were driving forty minutes to get books and games. We’re a lot closer to them which has helped us out a lot.
TNB: What game is selling the best?
KK: Munchkin is probably the king right now. That and Magic the Gathering. Magic is still huge, but Munchkin is just one of those games that’s easily accessible and not very expensive to get into. It’s one of those games you can teach to kids, or it can be a beer and pretzels night type of thing.
TNB: What comic is selling the best?
KK: Batman always sells, because he’s Batman. Lately actually, Harley Quinn has been selling a lot better. Even out selling Batman. Sex Criminals, if you can believe that, is doing really well. It was named Time Magazine’s best new comic of 2013. A much deserved title. It is excellent. It’s a very unusual premise and it’s just a very funny and very heartwarming story.
TNB: What’s your favorite game right now?
KK: Arkham Horror. The game is not for everybody, and it’s not an easy game to win. It’s a co-op game based on the Lovecraft mythos and it’s really fun to lose at. You watch how players go insane, and portals open up and monsters come through.
I always liked the Lovecraft mythos. I read Lovecraft back in high school and I always enjoyed him. It’s just one of those weird things and now people are making games based on it. Which is fantastic.
TNB: What’s your favorite comic right now?
KK: Right now that would be Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. It’s a love story set in a galaxy far, far away. Basically, a planet and a moon have been at war with each other for so long they don’t remember why, and a guy from the moon and a girl from the planet fall in love. They have a child that is supposed to be biologically impossible, and everyone wants it dead.
They are on the run from everybody and they are trying to protect their family and it’s fantastic. It’s hugely weird, and bizarre, and random, and weird but there’s a really awesome story about the core characters.
TNB: Is there anything you want people to know about Nostalgia Ink?
KK: We’re not a tattoo parlor. We get that a lot. Also, we do things like Friday Night Magic and the first Saturday in May is free comic book day so we’ll be doing fun things that day.
They say most businesses fail in the first year, but right now we have had a great response from the community. I think we are going to be here for a long time and we want people to come down and check out our selection.