Follow-Up File: Captain Nemo Comics & Games in San Luis Obispo

Name: Raymond Hanson

Job: Co-owner

Business: Captain Nemo Comics & Games

What he said then:

In April 2010, The Tribune featured Captain Nemo Comics & Games in San Luis Obispo.

The shop was celebrating industrywide Free Comic Book Day by passing out complimentary copies of “IronMan,” “G. I. Joe,” “Toy Story” and “The Simpsons.”

“The movies have drawn a lot more interest to comic books,” said manager and co-owner Raymond Hanson. He’d seen a surge in sales with the popularity of movies including “Iron Man,” “Superman Returns,” the “Spider-Man” trilogy and “The Dark Knight.”

Hanson and Richard Ferris co-own three retail shops, including Cheap Thrills Records and The Sub. They started with the record store in 1971, adding comics in 1980. Captain Nemo was founded in the mid-1990s.

What he says now:

Hanson seemed chipper this holiday season, with sales on the rise after a challenging few years.

“We’re tracking about 10 (percent) to 15 percent more sales day by day than we were at the same time last year,” Hanson said. “D.C. Comics relaunched their whole comic book line this year. It’s been really great at getting readers jazzed again.”

With a continued crossover benefit from comic-themed movies, he says television shows help too.

Kids have been shopping for Muppet merchandise after the recent release of “The Muppets,” while the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” franchise continues to draw women.

Co-located with Cheap Thrills, Captain Nemo benefits from customers who come in for DVDs and pick up comics while they are there.

The two companies employ about a dozen people, both full- and part-time. They share 7,000 square feet at 563 Higuera St.

They expanded a few years ago when the muffler shop next door was displaced by an earthquake retrofit project on the building.

“We saw that as an opportunity to take that space,” Hanson said. “You don’t often find 3,000 square feet right next to your business.”

While comic books make up more than half of Captain Nemo’s trade, sales in its games department have been strong as well.

“The trend for a couple of years is in entertainment you can do at home,” he said. “We’re in a market that caters to that, and we’re benefiting from it.”

Offering everything from simple family games to miniatures, role playing and intense strategy board games for the more dedicated gamers, Captain Nemo invested “sweat equity” last year to create a large gaming room with part of its new space.

Working with PolyCon, a local club that draws largely from students and alumni of Cal Poly, the store offers the room for its conventions.

On Monday and Friday evenings, Captain Nemo now hosts evenings for fans of the card game “Magic: The Gathering.” They attract up to 70 people and tournaments with attendees from as far away as San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles.

“The gaming venue has really helped us garner a larger gaming community,” Hanson said. “And it’s really helped the sales in the collectible card games.”