Brian and Diane Stuart have supplied San Marcos residents with nostalgic comic books, action figures and collectibles at Comic Relief for almost 31 years. The secret to succeeding in both a booming city and in an ever-evolving tech world, according to Brian, is a clean store and customer respect.

“I had a vision of how I wanted the store to be,” Brian said.

He said he always planned to open a comic book store. Comic Relief first opened in April 1989 with comic books, baseball cards and action figures that Brian started collecting in the '80s.

“Comic books have always been a draw to me; I’ve always enjoyed the storylines,” Brian said.

Prior to opening the comic shop, Brian worked in the grocery business for 20 years. After he retired, he decided to open the shop where he now offers vintage sports cards from the 1950s and '60s, comic books, collectibles, action figures and more.

The comic shop hosts two main events a year: Comic Book Day in May and Halloween Fest in October. For both events, Diane bakes brownies or cookies to go along with free comics. For the most recent Halloween Fest, the Stuarts invited artists to play at the comic shop.

As a way to keep up with trends, Brian has created an online presence for his business on eBay, where he sells antique toys, coins and other items. He said it is a diversified store where he can cater to a larger audience that likes things that people in the store do not; it is “a global giant that [he] can’t ignore,” as he puts it.

“Comic books are actually a reflection of society; you can see the political trends, fashion, electronics—everything that’s going on in America you can see in comic books,” Brian said, noting how different eras can be depicted through sports cars, comics and collectibles.

“It’s a market that you have to keep tabs on,” Brian said.

Comic Relief

1330 Aquarena Springs Drive, Ste. 101, San Marcos


Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.- 7 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m- 6 p.m, Sun. 12-5 p.m.