TEANECK, N.J. -- Ridgefield Park resident Tony De Marco began selling comic books from his mom's porch in 1976, but his operation's a bit more official these days. He's got a comic-book shop, A&S Comics, in both Teaneck and North Bergen.
For De Marco, like many, he began reading comics as a kid, though not the stereotypical superhero comics, he told Daily Voice. For him, it was Classics Illustrated, a series of comics which retold the stories of classics like "Romeo and Juliet" and "The Three Musketeers."
The series was published from 1941 to 1971.
The luncheonette near the factory where De Marco's father worked had a spinning rack of the comics, and his father started bringing the comics home. "That's what got me into reading comics," he recounted.
From there, De Marco moved on to "The Three Stooges" comics and "Abbott and Costello" ... and finally on to the superhero ones. "Batman" in particular.
De Marco partnered with Stephen De Titta in opening the two comic-book shops, the North Bergen one in 1985 and the Teaneck one in 1989. And two shops is actually a paring down: at one point the pair had five stores, but for the last 15 years, it's been just the two.
"It was just too much for two people to do, on top of our day jobs," De Marco said. "We had to rely on other people, and when it's not their business, they don't take it as seriously."
But he does take it seriously, as do many of his customers. The online reviews show both a dedication in the customers, as well as an appreciation for the customer service they receive.
The shops not only sell the latest issues of the most popular DC and Marvel comics, but "we have a tremendous amount of back issues," De Marco explained, for people trying to build collections of certain titles.
Customers also praise A&S staff helpfulness, in finding obscure items and keeping reserve lists for people maintaining collections.
A&S also sells superhero toys, as well as limited-edition statues, like the Stormtrooper Commander shown above, made by a company called Sideshow. "They make a certain amount, then literally break the mold," De Marco said.
And his son Alex is now involved in the biz: "Someday this might be all his, if he's lucky," said Da Marco -- kind of joking but kind of not.For more information about the shops, which are open seven days a week, visit the A&S Comics website or Facebook page. The Teaneck store is located at 563 Cedar Lane, and the North Bergen one is at 7512 Bergenline Ave.