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Business Intel: Comic book shop opens in Roanoke

Business Intel: Comic book shop opens in Roanoke


A new comic book shop opened this month in Roanoke.

J.D. Sutphin, whose company Big Lick Entertainment produces Big Lick Comic Con, opened Big Lick Comics along with his brother.

“My brother and I are huge comic book fans,” Sutphin said. “We've loved them as long as I can remember — the characters, the stories, the art, the creativity."

Sutphin said since he first brought comic con to Roanoke in 2017, he’s been blown away by the response from the public and the community of people brought together by their love of comics.

The COVID-19 pandemic meant there were fewer opportunities for that community to gather in the last year, though Big Lick Comic Con did occur in the fall, with restrictions in place.

“I just kept thinking to myself, what if we could build something where the feeling of our comic con was open five days a week?" Sutphin said.

Big Lick Comics is not just a store, he said, but offers an immersive experience. Easter eggs, like a trail of ants that leads to a statue of Ant-Man, can be found throughout the store. The 6,000-square-foot space is divided into different sections, with names that refer to the comic book universe, like the Halls of All Knowing.

Sutphin said the store changes its stock regularly, with 140 new titles per month and new comics arriving every Wednesday.

When the store opened April 3, Sutphin said there was an immediate response from comic book fans, who lined up on the sidewalk an hour before doors opened.

“It was just like opening a comic con,” he said.

Big Lick Comics has a family-friendly atmosphere, Sutphin said, with a kids’ zone with activities, books and toys for the youngest audience. There’s also a seating area where coffee and other beverages are served.

For those who enjoy the comic con experience, Sutphin said, the store will have visits from special guests and celebrities every few weeks.

Big Lick Comics is at 3424 Orange Ave. N.E. in the Market Square East shopping center. The store is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Contact Casey Fabris at or 540-981-3234.

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Casey Fabris covers business for The Roanoke Times, where she has been a reporter since 2015. Previously, Casey covered Franklin County. She can be reached at (540) 981-3234 or

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