ELMHURST – Gloria Berman, who opened Elmhurst's Gem Comics in 1982, has left the fate of her shop in the hands of two new leaders: Anthony Trandicosta and Chris Joslyn.
Trandicosta and Joslyn officially closed on the sale of the shop Oct. 8, several weeks since they began discussing the change with Berman in August and working with Berman in the shop, which is at 125 W. First St.
Their mission with the transition was to ensure customers knew it was an "amicable" change rather than a "hostile takeover" to avoid deterring customers, Trandicosta said.
"We've been slowly transitioning. While Gloria still owned the place, we've been sort of running it, meeting the customers, learning how Gloria did things and getting comfortable with everybody and having everybody get comfortable with us before we fully took over," Joslyn said.
He said customers have told them they appreciate how they are retaining the "institution," as two people have called the shop.
"I've heard a lot of people say they've been shopping here since they were kids, and they're very glad that we're keeping it open," Joslyn said.
The two said they were eager to cater to Gem Comics' loyal customer base.
"It's pretty much what we were looking for, and we didn't have to build it from scratch, so that's a good thing," Joslyn said.
He and Trandicosta met through working at One Stop Comics, an Oak Park shop Joslyn previously managed. They also have an online comic book retail business, Noir Underground, and the collection they have built through that enterprise will supplement the shop's current offerings.
Joslyn said he enjoys the "collaborative aspect" of comics, as individual writers will pick up and continue other writers' stories, creating something new. He added it is impressive when a writer and artist creating a comic book are able to be "in sync."
Trandicosta said comic books were "all over the place" in culture while he was growing up in the 1990s, and he became enamored with them while watching related TV shows that caught his attention.
"I guess it never lost my attention," Trandicosta said.
He said he also enjoys writing fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi young adult fiction, so the continuation of characters that have been around for generations also fascinates him.
Joslyn's favorite comic book series is DC Comics' 1990s to early 2000s series "Starman," which involves a man trying to relate to his father. Trandicosta, on the other hand, said "Runaways," a Marvel Comics publication, has "really stuck" with him.
Joslyn said they plan to expand the store's product offerings, with a focus on collected editions.
"We want to make sure that no matter what you're into, we have that on our shelf," Trandicosta said.
"Within reason," Joslyn added.
Trandicosta said the comic book industry has expanded "far beyond" well-known superheroes like Batman and Superman and includes horror, sci-fi and romance titles. He tends to ask customers new to comics what their favorite TV show or genre is.
"If you're open to this style of being entertained, I can find a story that will probably entertain you," Joslyn said.
He and Trandicosta, being "much younger" than the average comic shop owner, are more aware of younger readers and trends, he said.
They plan to expand the children's section of the store and create more space for customers to hang out, meet others who share the hobby and play card and board games.
Joslyn said one of the best parts of running a comic book shop is getting to know the customers, and the shop is one of the places customers get to talk about their hobby.
"You're really more bartender than clerk," Joslyn said about running the shop.
He and Trandicosta said a comic book shop's customer base often reflects a shop's staff.
"The fact that Gloria's regulars were so friendly, so amicable, so open says a lot about ...," Trandicosta said.
"Gloria," Joslyn finished.
If you go
WHAT: Gem Comics
WHERE: 125 W. First St., Elmhurst
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday; Tuesday hours may be extended
INFO: 630-833-8787, facebook.com/NoirUnderground