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Towson Comic Shop Turns New Page

Legends opens in new location on East Joppa Road.

If Randy Williams' career were a comic book series, this would be the reboot.

The Pikesville man owns Legends Games and Comics, which moved to East Joppa Road this week after 15 years in downtown Towson. The new shop opened Wednesday.

The longtime Towson mainstay sells comics, graphic novels, action figures and tabletop game paraphernalia from cards to 20-sided die. The shop also hosts tournaments for card games like "Magic: The Gathering" and "Yu-Gi-Oh!"

Williams' industry has seen some big changes in recent years. According to statistics from Timonium-based Diamond Comic Distributors published on the Comics Chronicles website, year-to-date sales in February were down 13 percent from 2010. Independent shops like Legends face competition from large bookstores and websites. But Williams isn't worried.

"The thing about us is it's a very welcoming atmosphere," he said. "We're interested in talking. I actually read the comics every week."

When asked to list some of his favorites, he turned mostly to independent comics like those published under DC Comics' Vertigo label and series like The Walking Dead and DMZ.

"I find that when you have stuff like Superman and Batman and all that they can't die," Williams said. When actions have "actual consequences... they can tell some really good stories."

Charlie Long, 25, of Towson said he appreciates the knowledge he finds at Legends.

"The people here are a lot more friendly," said Long, one of the first customers in the new shop on Wednesday. He made regular trips to the old York Road location and said he was excited for the new shop.

Legends first opened in Towson Town Center in January 1996, then moved to York Road in 2001. Several years later, the shop moved to its now-former location in the Wagner Building at the same intersection. That building to a Reisterstown man for $750,000.

Williams was more than ready to move—he had had issues with sparse parking in Towson and the older building gave him few options for expansion or renovation.

"Having an old space, an as-is space, you take what you can get," he said.

The move to Towson's outskirts was, if anything, much slower than a speeding bullet. Moving sale signs first went up at Legends last June and stayed up through much of the rest of the year. The downside was the new space at Radio Park needed some work.

"(June was) certainly when I thought it would be," Williams said. "We had even started talking about it a year ago."

Williams says the new location offers a more flexible layout, better lighting and, even better, the chance to team up with his wife.

Lawan Fuangphon, who runs Little Spice, a Thai fusion restaurant in Hanover, MD, will open a similar restaurant called Spice and Dice inside the new Legends. That restaurant will open later this spring, and Williams considers that his secret weapon.

"I'm pretty sure that there's no Thai-Asian-fusion-slash-game shop in existence," he said.

Though having the restaurant will make it harder to hold pickup tournaments the way he used to, Williams plans to rent office space elsewhere in Radio Park to hold tournaments, costume contests and other special weekly and monthly events. But for many things, he depends on faithful customers like Long for ideas and support.

"I've found that the best events we've had," Williams said, "they're (run by) people who are really passionate about stuff."

Nick May 20, 2011 at 03:58 AM
I had the beef pad thai recently (may 15, 11) and it was good. The fact that it was during a magic the gathering tournament was amazing. Sunday is still $6 standard, begins at 11:30.
Tyler Waldman May 21, 2011 at 01:55 PM
The restaurant side is open now? Nice!

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