So we took a trip down to Virginia back on August 14th to explore the small one day convention event, The Oddities & Curiosities Expo. These take place all over the country and we've always wanted to go and finally we had our chance. I'm not used to such small conventions; normally comic book conventions (which are the kind I normally attend) are huge events, or at the very least crowded. This expo was pretty small but it was filled with such energy and personality I found myself bouncing off the wall with excitement.
Also, going anywhere these days is such a varied adventure. Covid and Delta are still pretty rampant around the world and doing anything that involves crowds feels pretty weird, but everyone at the expo seemed to be taking precaution and being mindful of one another. It was pretty stress-free.
At the expo I ran into the wonderful Artetak, who I follow on Twitter. I had no idea she was going to be there so this was such a delight. I purchased a print, a pin, and a key-chain from her table. In hindsight I should have probably purchased more stuff from her because she had so much cool stuff and just getting to meet her was something special. Probably should have asked her to sign my print too.
I also saw this amazing crafts table filled with all manner of sculpted creatures, props, and other creepy things. I had their business card but I can't seem to find it. It may have been lost on my way home. Either way, everything they had for sale was breathtakingly beautiful and gross and I wish I had left with one of their "specimen jars" but I forgot to go back for it before leaving. I'm sure I'll see them again someday at a future expo. At least I hope so.
After the convention I decided to go exploring. I found some cool stuff around the area where we were staying. Like the Secret Sandwich Society and Wong Gonzalez. I had drinks and dessert from the Secret Sandwich Society and dinner at Wong Gonzalez and both were wonderful treats. The aesthetic at Secret Sandwich Society is of course totally my jam; it's all meant to invoke secret societies of course and they sell shirts that have tarot card images on them.
I was trying to find a comic shop to go to while I was walking around and I was headed towards one when a storm hit and as the rain began to come down I spotted this bookstore by total chance. I somehow knew I had to go in. I was drawn to it by some unseen magnetic force. Obvious higher powers were telling me this place was something special.
The Richmond Book Shop was the oasis I was looking for, not just during this trip but for months; maybe years! Stores like this used to be everywhere when I was growing up but they've all gone the way of the dodo and it has left a hole in my heart. This beautiful place carries old comics, pulp books, humor magazines, newspapers, fetish pictures and adult magazines, comic prints, toys, and just about everything I need to live happily for the rest of my life.
I spent about $60 at the book store. I could not believe the stuff they sold at such reasonable prices. I got copies of CRACKED, CRAZY, UFO Magazine, PSYCHOTRONIC, a preserved R. Crumb cover from an old comic, various other comic prints, fetish photos, and a few other miscellaneous things. It was like I was making up for lost time.
I spoke with one of the owners and she told me the store has a history dating back to at least the 1920's or 1930's, and that the store itself switched owners and locations a few times in the previous decades before finding it's current spot where it's been since the 1960's. She also mentioned that she herself worked across the street from the shop at a diner and would swing by during her lunch break to pick up a newspaper or something. To think she would end up working and owning the place is so wild.
They weren't even fully open when I was there, they had closed off more than 70% of the shop to ensure that not too many people would be in the store at any given time because of Covid. So while operating at 30% they managed to send me into the maximum levels of happiness! I wish I could be there again when they fully open.
I genuinely cannot put into words the exact feeling I got while looking through the collection of STUFF that surrounded me. The best I can say is I felt ULTRA JOY. I felt young again. This place is my fountain of youth and it pains me that I live so very far away from it. I hope to go back someday. The 8 - 12 hour drive is absolutely worth it for this place, at least to a guy like me with the interests I have.
So yeah, it was a wonderful trip. I'm not sure how I've managed to travel so much over the years. I'm usually pretty broke. I think I'm just a lucky guy with some great friends. I hope you guys get to travel a bit too, even with things as they are.
And get a move on, who knows how much time we've got left!