Plan 9 lands on 421
The late director, Ed Wood, is known for films so bad they're almost good.
The most popular - or notorious - is 1959's "Plan 9 from Outer Space," now canonized as a cult classic.
While Plan 9 Comics in Boone doesn't quite have a cult following, it does boast an ardent fanbase, and the material is decidedly better.
Housed at Shops at Shadowline since October 2006, Plan 9 launched into a new space at the Gateway Center strip (home to Mo's Boots and Boone Meat Center) off U.S. 421 this March.
"We needed more space," manager Erin Guffey said, "mainly for people to play games and the ability to separate retail from gaming."
Gaming - not in the video sense - accounts for much of that fan devotion, with the original store having offered a venue for players of games like Magic: The Gathering and Warhammer to meet, converse and play.
Plan 9 would host tournaments in the old store, and space became scarce.
"We'd have as many as 42 people for one of these tournaments, and our old store required them to be in the middle of everything," Guffey said. "Our new store allows us full-time retail space, plus full-time gaming and play space."
The front space of Plan 9 is devoted solely to comic books, graphic novels, gaming books, card games, role-playing games, anthologies of back issues and assorted sundries. The store carries hundreds of comic titles, from notable names like Marvel and DC, along with a generous assortment of independents.
Its sizable backroom is devoted solely to gaming, serving as a general meeting area where customers and players can come and go as they please, be it stopping by for a chat or taking time to paint their game pieces.
It also offers Plan 9 a golden opportunity.
"We have the perfect set up for conventions," Guffey said, adding that the High Country can expect a comic convention as early as this summer. "Our whole room could be full of comic dealers."
That is, when it's not full of gamers. Throughout the week, Plan 9 designates each evening toward a certain game.
Monday, for instance is board game night, while Tuesday is devoted to role-playing games. Wednesday features organized Warhammer and Warhammer 40K , while Thursday offers patrons a chance to hang out, play what they'd like and socialize. They all typically start at 5:30 p.m., and they're all free.
Friday Night Magic is the only regular paid event, costing $5 admission, which buys a pack of cards for the prize pool.
Saturday night is dedicated to Yu-Gi-Oh! Tournaments, and Sunday is open table gaming - anything that people want to play.
While newcomers might seem intimidated by devoted players, Guffey promises a distinct lack of pretense.
"It's very wide open," he said. "One of the requirements of people playing is that it's all inclusive. We get a lot of casual players, partly because of the store and partly because we have a lot of cool people in Boone. We're also an all-ages store. We want everyone to be comfortable playing their games."
And customer reaction reflects this.
"People are very happy with the new store," Guffey said. "We figured out what Boone wanted, and we can finally deliver. We're all very much into what we do here. We kind of have to be. We're doing this because we want people to enjoy what they do."
Comic fans and High Country residents alike can see for themselves on Saturday, April 30, when Plan 9 hosts its grand reopening celebration. A storewide sale lasts from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and guests can enjoy a complimentary cookout with burgers and hot dogs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Plan 9 Comics is located at 1586 U.S. 421 South, Suite D, in the Gateway Center in Boone. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1 to 6 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, call (828) 265-2002.