DYNAMIC DUO Farley and Amorin. [Photo by Victor Paul Alvarez]
“There are so many incredible settings and realities that exist in the comic book world that there exists a story for everyone to identify with,” Brandon Amorin says. “We collect these stories in one place and our customers can choose the reality they want to experience.”
Amorin is explaining the concept behind Multiverse Comics, the store that he and his fiancée, Ryan Farley, opened this month between a pizza joint and a bicycle shop on Broadway in Providence’s West End. It’s a store designed to bring man and woman, heroes and enemies, into the warm comfort of an art form as American as blues music and standup comedy: comic books.
But the Multiverse project doesn’t just belong to Amorin and Farley. They’re a team that relies on engaging the neighborhood and the larger artistic community in Providence. The store is adorned with a giant painting of The Thing (of Fantastic Four fame) by local tattoo artist Kendra Plumley. RISD grads handle the store’s aesthetics and graphic design. The work of local artists — comics by Mickey Zacchilli, Ian Densford, and the comedian Dan Martin, for example — have a home in their small shop. In a medium dominated by two major publishers, Marvel and DC, the duo at 265 Broadway are creating a universe for all.
The Phoenix caught up with Amorin to chat about Multiverse. The Q&A has been edited and condensed.
CAN YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST COMIC BOOK? My grandmother used to take me to a little general store in Westport [MA] where I’d buy comic books off a wire rack. I’m sure most comic book lovers remember those racks, all wonky and real hard on the books. But condition wasn’t much of a concern to me then. I remember that my first book ever was GI Joe and The Transformers #1.
I think at that moment I fell in love with comic books . . . the idea that two different things that my six-year-old self cherished more than just about anything, aside from coffee milk, could exist in the same story at the same time was mind-boggling and exciting to me. I think it was the birth of the Multiverse philosophy.
DO MOST PEOPLE STILL ASSOCIATE ONLY SUPERHEROES WITH COMIC BOOKS? OR HAS THE PUBLIC BEEN EDUCATED ABOUT THE VARIETY OF STORIES THAT ARE BEING TOLD IN THIS MEDIUM? I think that when people think comic books, nine out of ten of them envision Superman or Batman or Spidey. But now more and more people are realizing that other stories are told in comic books all the time. The Walking Dead [which was a comic book before it was TV series] has been huge in getting people to realize it’s not all tights and mask stuff. Comic books can tell any kind of story. Ed Brubaker’s Fatal is a classic horror noir in the Lovecraft vein, but he also writes great crime stories like Criminal! Sci-fi is huge in comic books with titles like The Manhattan Projects, by Jonathan Hickman, and stories by Orson Scott Card and Harlan Ellison being adapted to both graphic novel and monthly formats.