The Comic Crypt comes to Cookman Avenue, Asbury Park

From the Comic Crypt's Shrewsbury location.

From the Comic Crypt’s Shrewsbury location.

UPDATE: The Comic Crypt Cafe opens in Asbury Park on Friday, January 17, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. Follow them on Facebook here for all the latest news. Below is the story we wrote announcing the news of their plans in Asbury Park back in Oct, 2013.

ASBURY PARK, NJ – Frederic Wertham believed they seduced the innocent, academia longed looked askance at their story-telling possibilities and the industry suffered a near-total collapse in the early 1990s, but as an art form the comic-book has shown superhuman staying power in our culture.

This is largely due to a fervent fan base which has successfully beat back all attempts to marginalize the comic-book by doing crazy things – like organizing premier events such as the Asbury Park Comicon and the New York Comic Con.

But on a day-to-day basis, nothing has kept the flame alive like the local comic-book shop, places like The Comic Crypt of Shrewsbury.

And now, The Comic Crypt Cafe of Asbury Park.

Comic Crypt owner Brian Stretton will be opening his second location right here in Asbury Park, what he tells Asbury Pulp will be a comic-lounge at 619 Cookman Avenue between Holdfast Records and Paranormal Books (which has got to make this stretch of street the funkiest in all of Monmouth County).

“It will have a coffee bar and seating area so people can grab a drink and relax while they read their comics,” Brian says, while the Shrewsbury location (at 55 White Road) will remain largely the same. “The Shrewsbury location is staying open, it has a large customer base and will continue to be a different kind of atmosphere than the new location.”

Brian, one of the co-creators of Monster Comics – which Asbury Pulp posted throughout the last year, is opening the new Comic Crypt at a time when the cultural climate is dominated internationally and nationally by all things superhero – much like Monmouth County is dominated by all things Asbury Park. The collision is, in a word, awesome.

Superheroes populate the landscape from TV (Arrow, The Walking Dead, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) to the big screen (Spiderman, Batman, Superman, Iron Man, Wolverine…we could be here for days).

That’s reflected here in Asbury Park by the palpable pulpy feel of the city, at places like Flying Saucers, Groovy Graveyard, Paranormal Books, and events like the world-famous Zombie Walk, which just took place last week. In between is a smorgasbord of shops which harbor nooks and crannies that hold secret glimpses into a pop culture that trades in comics’ kissing cousin, nostalgia.

Comic-books have so permeated our society that even PBS payed homage to the art form recently with a “Superheroes Night,” featuring a three-hour block dedicated to the groundbreaking program SUPERHEROES: A NEVER-ENDING BATTLE.

A release for the documentary states, “The newest film from Emmy Award-winning producer/director Michael Kantor (BROADWAY: THE AMERICAN MUSICAL; MAKE ‘EM LAUGH: THE FUNNY BUSINESS OF AMERICA) will premiere at 8:00 p.m. ET and include insightful interviews from Stan Lee; actors Adam West (TV’s “Batman”) and Lynda Carter (“Wonder Woman”); Geoff Johns (chief creative officer, DC Comics), Jeph Loeb (head of television for Marvel Entertainment); and cartoonist/author Jules Feiffer (the long-running strip “Feiffer”), as well as appearances by the late comic book icons Joe Simon (co-creator of Captain America) and Jerry Robinson (who helped create the Joker).

“Narrated and hosted by Liev Schreiber (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Showtime’s Ray Donovan), SUPERHEROES: A NEVER-ENDING BATTLE is the first documentary to examine the dawn of the comic book genre and its powerful legacy, as well as the evolution of the characters who leapt from the pages over the last 75 years and their ongoing worldwide cultural impact. It chronicles how these “disposable diversions” were subject to intense government scrutiny for their influence on American children and how they were created, in large part, by the children of immigrants whose fierce loyalty to a new homeland laid the foundation for a multi-billion-dollar industry that is now an influential part of our national identity.”

Included in the program, and of particular note to Asbury Park, is author Michael Chabon. In a sign of just how influential comic-books truly became, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for a book The New York Times called “A towering achievement.”

That book was The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. It chronicled in dramatic form the history of the comic-book before and through World War II. And, a significant plot point occurs in none other than…Asbury Park.

You’ll find no spoilers here; you’ll have to read the book – one of our all-time favorites.

Suffice to say that we dig the fact that Chabon placed Asbury Park squarely into the larger comic-book legend.

Now, The Comic Crypt Cafe at 619 Cookman Avenue will soon join that history and we can only say, “Welcome, friendly neighborhood Spiderman!”

In the meantime, below is a clip from “Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle” featuring Lynda Carter of Wonder Woman fame.  It will get you into a superhero – and Asbury Park – mood.

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– Craig Dowd

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