By Kate Elliott—
Editor’s note: Shafer Leadership Academy and the Muncie Downtown Development Partnership are partnering on this six part series to highlight innovative leaders who are redefining typical during these extraordinary times.
Muncie, IN — Hundreds of comic junkies join Christina Blanch on Facebook Live a few times each week as the store owner walks through Muncie’s Aw Yeah Comics — juggling her phone as she calls out titles and various toys for sale. She pauses to write down names when followers “claim” the items during the show, and they settle up online or in person at the shop located at 119 E. Charles Street in the heart of downtown Muncie. The shop is open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 5 pm. Christina and her son, Robb, work tirelessly at the shop and will help customers to meet their comic needs even when the shop is closed.
“During the shutdown, we did 10 live shows a week and now even though we are open, we are doing four live sales shows,” said Blanch, who has owned Muncie’s Aw Yeah Comics since 2015. “We have the best customers in the world. People have bought lots of graphic novels and comics just to support us and make sure we would make it through the shutdown.”
The store, which moved downtown five years ago, has shifted to curbside deliveries and lots of shipping, but the storefront remains open, with shelves of baby Yoda figures, comics, statues, and more. Bewitching knick-knacks frame rows of comics for all ages that span superheroes, crime, horror, sci-fi, adventure, instructional varieties and more. The online live sales, called “We Do in the Comic Shop” allow Blanch to bring fans the opportunity to browse the store with her and make purchases from the comfort of their home or office.
“We plan on keeping our sales shows going, as we have quite the following,” said Blanch, also known as “Dr. Christy,” since she holds a doctorate in Higher Education from Ball State University. Those supporters in addition to promotional elements like a “What we Do” video and song made by “local celebrity Mikey Mason,” a logo made by artist Franco Aureliani (Aw Yeah Comics co-founder), and shirts printed by local printer Phoenix Designs, are helping to sustain the family-owned business during these challenging times, she added.
Blanch has used comics to connect with fans through the classroom as well. She has used comics to teach interdisciplinary social science through correctional education, face-to-face, and online classes. She has led several Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) about gender and social issues in comics, with more than 7,000 participants. Blanch also plans and moderates a number of panels at comic conventions around the country.
She’s authored several comics, including, “Tales from the Crypt,” “Aw Yeah Comics!” and “Monster Dojo.” She wrote “The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood” with co-writer Chris Carr and artist Chee, and her work is featured in the horror anthology, “Cafe Macabre.” Blanch is working on several projects both writing and editing for Source Point Press, writing for the upcoming “Don’t Flinch” podcast, and starting a new podcast about comics with Creative Zombie Studios.
Keep up with the comic shop on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as at its new website awyeahcomicsmuncie.com.
About Muncie Downtown Development Partnership
Muncie Downtown Development Partnership’s roots go as far back as 1983. Since then, its mission has been to create a downtown environment that results in sustainable economic and cultural growth. It does this, in part, by uniting the community through the common love of living, working, and playing DWNTWN.
About Shafer Leadership Academy
Shafer Leadership Academy is a Muncie nonprofit that provides inclusive leadership development so that people, organizations, and communities reach their full potential. Go to shaferleadership.com for an overview of its programs, scholarships and impact on the community. Connect with SLA online, social media or call the office at 765-748-0403.
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