New ownership at Ravenswood keeps focus on comics
NEW HARTFORD — Peter Parker is still Spider-Man. Clark Kent is still Superman. But the Ravenswood comic book shop in New Hartford looks a little different these days.
Former manager Al Dorantes bought the business from longtime owner Janine Valeriano when she retired last year, changing the face of local comics ownership in Oneida County after decades.
“I’ve been a life-long comic guy,” Dorantes said about his desire to buy Ravenswood and get into the business. “I’m happy with the way that things are going.”
Ravenswood has been serving nerdy needs in Oneida County since 1984, one of the only comic book shops in Central New York outside of Syracuse. It’s located at 8451 Seneca Turnpike in New Hartford, tucked into a row of stores just off Commercial Drive. Dorantes joined the shop in 2018, and bought the business in July 2020.
The shop sells both new and old comic books, including some all-time classics from decades past. They also sell graphic novels, trading cards, memorabilia and more.
“Our best-seller is still comics,” said Dorantes, who runs the shop with longtime clerk Nabil Khan.
“If you look at movies and television, it’s easy to see. About 75% of the shows streaming nowadays are somehow linked back to a comic book series.”
Along with superhero favorites from the likes of Marvel and DC, Dorantes said Ravenswood offers comics from a wide range of publishers telling a wide variety of stories.
“It’s perfect for people to get into comics now because there are so many new ones to get into, and so many old ones to get into,” he stated. Ravenswood sells new issues released weekly, and has boxes of back issues for customers to peruse.
“If you like to watch boxing, there’s a boxing comic,” Dorantes noted. “There’s superheroes, obviously, but if you like horror, we can find you a horror comic.”
Along with comics, Ravenswood specializes in collectible card games, including Magic the Gathering and Pokemon, and role-playing games, like Dungeons & Dragons. The shop hosts a Magic the Gathering night every Friday, with additional free play on Saturdays.
Ravenswood is open Monday through Saturday.
After finishing 2022 strong, Dorantes said he is looking forward to his first full year as owner of Ravenswood. The biggest event of the year is always Free Comic Book Day, which is scheduled for Saturday, May 6.
Each year, the major comic book publishers produce special promotional comics to give away for free. There will be 20 to 30 free comics available to all-comers at Ravenswood, along with door prizes, giveaways, an in-store sale and a food truck, Dorantes said.
“It’s a good time,” Dorantes said of the child-friendly Free Comic Book Day.
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