Sunday, June 04, 2006

An explosion of ink

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An explosion of ink

By Brian Lockhart
Staff Writer

June 3, 2006

STAMFORD -- Paul Salerno's business was blown to smithereens Thursday, a dream come true for the comic book store owner.

"Everybody's just thrilled," Salerno said.

In the real world, his store A Timeless Journey remains open for business at its Summer Street location.

But in the 532nd issue of "The Amazing Spider-Man," which shipped this week, Salerno's shop becomes a casualty of an explosive battle between superheroes and villains in the fictional Stamford of Marvel Comics.

All that remains is Salerno's soot-covered sign, which sharp-eyed local fans can find lying amid rubble on page 6 of the book while Spider-Man and Iron Man discuss the neighborhood's destruction and its ramifications.

The Spider-Man comic book is part of an ongoing Marvel summer event called "Civil War." As The Advocate reported in April, the politically charged story finds the publisher's iconic characters split on a governmental initiative to force them to register their names, alter egos and powers in response to the Stamford tragedy.

The suggestion to use Stamford came from Marvel writer Jeph Loeb, who grew up near Riverbank Road and attended the former Riverbank Elementary School, taken over by the Mead School in the mid-1990s. The school is at the epicenter of a devastating explosion that claims many civilian lives and turns up the scrutiny on costumed vigilantes.

It was Salerno's desire in that article to discover a "twisted Timeless Journey sign" in the series' illustrations that resulted in his store's small cameo.

"The day after you ran that article, I got a call from (Marvel). They asked if I was serious about what I had said and asked for digital pictures of the sign and storefront," Salerno said.

He said Marvel made no promises but he has eagerly flipped through every comic in the Civil War storyline to catch a glimpse of his shop.

The issue of Spider-Man was illustrated by Ron Garney, whom Salerno has hosted at his store in recent years for autograph signings.

Marvel spokesman Jim McCann said it was too late to include A Timeless Journey in the first issue of the Civil War limited series, "but we were working on Spider-Man that dealt with a lot of aftermath."

McCann said he forwarded the photos Salerno provided to the book's writer and artist.

"We left it up to them but said it would give a nice bit of authenticity and a nod to our retailers," McCann said. "It came back and looked great -- as great as a blown-up building can look. I'm glad it panned out."

"I've sold a ton (of the comic book), obviously," Salerno said. "I'm out of them now because I didn't know. I ordered 150 for next week."

Copyright (c) 2006, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.


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