Lovers of board and card games gather regularly to foil adversaries and crush their enemies, while comic readers of all ages can stock their shelves and gather for forum discussions, at JP Comics & Games.
JP Comics & Games, located at 603 Centre St., devotes about half the shelf space in its cozy single room to comics—major label and independent publishers—and the other half to board and card games. It also invites its customers back during off-hours to play games and discuss comics together.
Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), the well-known fantasy role-playing game, is played every Wednesday evening. While most of the D&D players are teenage guys, co-owner Paul Bryant said the group is very welcoming to others.
“We had a mom come in with her kids some weeks back,” Bryant said. She wanted to learn how to run a game at home for her children, so she and the kids came in to learn together, he explained.
Magic: The Gathering, a card game where players cast spells against each other, is played three times weekly, on Sundays, Mondays and Fridays. Friday Magic nights are a specialized competition called “draft,” where players’ decks are created on the spot instead of assembled slowly, as is customary.
Thursday nights are open board and card game nights. Games are brought in by players and can be arranged on the fly. During a recent Gazette visit, two games were under way: Revolution, a board game where the goal is to run the most successful political revolution in a small town, and Blood Bowl, a card game that mimics professional football as it might be played by supernatural creatures like vampires and mummies.
The Gazette saw each game played by mostly men in their 20s and 30s, though there were young women at both tables. Pop-up tables had been brought out to accommodate both games, and new players, including a middle-aged father and his teenage daughter, kept entering the store, until Bryant—who was playing Blood Bowl—suggested a third game get started.
“[Game nights] are pretty inviting to new players. [The regulars] are affable, goofy and outgoing. They’re surprisingly social,” Bryant said.
“They’re very high-functioning,” Phil Lewis, a regular at the store, added jokingly.
“We’re lucky. I think it’s a function of the neighborhood,” Bryant said. “We have a pretty diverse, diverging group of regulars” that includes a broad range of ages, sexual orientations and interests outside of comics or games, he explained.
As far as comics, classic titles like “Spider-man” and “Watchmen” are stocked, but Bryant doesn’t hesitate to recommend lesser-known titles.
A semi-regular comic discussion is held at the store. They are moderated by Ian Nichols, a Boston-based independent comics publisher.
“The guy who runs it [Nichols] is a busy guy. [But] most of the attendees have varied interests,” Bryant said. Because attendees have varied interests outside of comics and even have diverging preferences over which titles to read, the discussion benefits, he said.
“The lack of shared experience makes for better discussion,” Bryant explained.
The comic forum also usually features a low-key art contest. Winners get free comics, but the prestige comes from having the art displayed on the store’s filing cabinet, next to the register.
The best way to keep abreast of events at the store, Bryant said, is to check its facebook page.
Sunday Magic games start at 1 p.m. Monday and Friday Magic games, as well as Wednesday D&D games, start at 7 p.m. Thursday game nights start at 6:30 p.m. The store’s Facebook page is bit.ly/JPcomics.