Scene: Central City Comics is no small town shop

BY MARIA HARR, Staff Reporter

Until eight years ago, Ellensburg was without a comic book shop. Gus Foster saw the store-shaped void in town and filled it with comic books, tabletop games, trading cards and tournament events.

Walking in, the store looks like other comic shops. Rows of file boxes filled with comic books line one side of the store, posters plastered above them bringing color to the walls. Shelves and cases at the entrance display games and Magic the Gathering cards.

Two large pieces of plywood in the back of the store serve as card tables, folded up onto the wall to conserve space during normal business hours. An arcade game with an X-Men themed shell sits at the front of the store. The main menu animation of the game plays over and over on mute, so customers can hear the music Foster plays in store.

Central City Comics sets itself apart from other comic shops due to Foster’s seven year old pug, MODOK. The pug is friendly and allows customers to pet him and rub his belly.

Foster opened Central City Comics eight years ago and has been serving the Ellensburg nerd community, making a hub of trading card game activity outside of Central’s own board and card gaming clubs. Foster graduated from Central in 2007 with a major in English literature.

Regular customers are greeted by name, and, with a few words, Foster knows how to serve them. He is behind the counter to pull out Magic the Gathering cards to show some guests. Foster used to play Magic and uses his knowledge of cards to help his customers build their decks.

“You don’t want that one,” Foster said, laughing to one regular customer who was going through some cards. After a discussion of how the deck being built, Foster made his recommendations and checked the price of the card in question. “It should be twelve. I’ll sell it to you for eight.”

One regular customer purchased two cards he hated specifically to rip them in half. When Foster heard he was going to destroy the cards, Foster gave the customer a special deal, and they ripped the cards together.

Foster said many funny and interesting things happen at the store. He recalled a time when he used to charge customers a dollar for “dropping F-bombs,” which is not encouraged because a lot of kids visit the store.

“I appreciate that even a small town like Ellensburg has a fully equipped comic shop,” experimental physics graduate student Tyler Sharp said. “If you’re looking for something he doesn’t have, Gus will get it for you.”

Sharp has attended several of the Magic the Gathering tournaments held at Central City Comics. Sharp enjoys going to tournaments to socialize not compete

“The spirit of the events is the main draw,” Sharp said.

The store hosts Warhammer on Wednesdays, Dungeons and Dragons on Thursdays and Magic the Gathering on Fridays. The store also hosts pre-release events for new Magic the Gathering decks, like one on Feb. 2, ending in time for the Super Bowl coin toss.

The stubby legged MODOK wanders out of the back, straight from a nap, and heads to the gang of customers talking to Foster near the front.

MODOK is named after a villainous Marvel character, which stands for Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing. The name barely fits the cute pug, except the character’s squashed face reminds Foster of his dog.

That very same face graces several Central City Comic T-shirts above the store’s number, the last four digits of which spell out the word HERO. The pug has even garnered fan art, one of which shows him in an X-Wing spaceship from Star Wars.

Foster anticipates the pug’s death with dread, saying it will be the worst day of his life; however, he won’t be the only one to mourn the shop’s popular furry mascot.

“MODOK is the best mental organism designed only for killing I have ever met,” Nick Whitney, a history freshman and long-time customer, said. “Everyone should own a pug.”

Foster is looking forward to the upcoming Free Comic Book Day on May 4, which his store will participate in.

“[I plan to] continue to offer an outlet for gamers and nerds of all flavors in Ellensburg,” Foster said.