South Austin store seeks to create community
Tribe Comics and Games co-owner Eric Burke carefully opened an issue of the comic book "Mouse Guard," gesturing at details and the ink drawings that bloom across the page.
In the comics, a group of mice protect trade routes between mouse cities, Burke explained. A mouse—however brave it might be—may not be what springs to mind when some think of comic books, but Burke said a variety of genres are wedged onto the shelves of Tribe, with mice alongside billionaires, zombies, spacemen and gods.
"I have many, many favorite comics," Burke said. "And I have many comics that used to be my favorites that are being badly written right now that make me cry."
Still, Burke said the love of witnessing the evolution of characters, as well as storytelling and imagination, is one thing that draws him and business partner Roy Carter, co-owner of Tribe, to comics.
"Anything is possible in a comic book," Carter said.
On Nov. 1, 2008, South Austin residents Burke and Carter opened Tribe to offer residents south of Lady Bird Lake a convenient place to find their favorite new comics and games.
In terms of games, Burke explains the store carries role-playing varieties, including miniatures games such as "Star Wars X-Wing," and board games such as "Settlers of Catan."
"For a long time these board games weren't like 'Monopoly' or 'Life;' you couldn't go into Target and find them," he said, noting they have become more popular in recent years.
The store was originally located on Manchaca Road but moved in August to its current space on South Lamar Boulevard, which is about twice the size of the former store so that customers can gather at tables and play board games and card games, Burke said.
The shop keeps files for returning customers and compiles issues of comics they like so that they can pick them up when they shop, Burke said. The store does not sell used or vintage products, Carter said.
"We're more of a reading shop, not a speculator [or] collector shop," Carter said. "We're all about the story."
Carter noted some comics release variant covers—for example, for every 100 Batman comics a shop orders there might be one cover featuring drawings by noted comic book artist Alex Ross—and some shops will increase orders and sell those special issues for higher prices. Tribe instead selects its comics randomly and sells those covers at regular price, he said.
While superhero comics reign, books without masked or caped protagonists have attracted readers as well, said Eric Burke, Tribe Comics and Games co-owner.
"Batman is still the No. 1-selling comic in the nation, and it was the number-one selling comic here until about two months ago," Burke said. "There is now a book called 'Saga' which is the No. 1-selling book here, and it has now climbed up pretty high on the charts. And it's not put out by Marvel or DC [Comics]."
"The Walking Dead" and "Avengers" comics are also popular options, he said.
Weekly gaming schedule
- Monday: Miniatures night—Games such as "Star Wars X-Wing" involve miniature figures.
- Tuesday: Board game night—Players can play games such as "The Downfall of Pompeii," "Dominion" and "Settlers of Catan."
- Wednesday: Open play—Players can play a variety of games.
- Thursday: Role-playing game night—Visitors can play RPGs such as "Dungeons and Dragons," and the store runs a featured game.
- Friday: Collectible card game night—Games such as "Magic The Gathering" are popular.
Tribe Comics and Games, 3005 S. Lamar Blvd., Ste. D-113, 512-693-4300, www.tribecag.com, Hours: Mon.–Fri. 10 a.m.–11 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.–9 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.–8 p.m.