“I’ve never been so happy coming into work,” says attorney-turned-comic shop owner Todd Dziobak (jo-beck), who in September opened Secret Crisis Comics in Chelsea’s Village Plaza strip mall. Dziobak, who grew up in Hartland, recently moved from Boston back to Michigan with his wife, Julie. With her encouragement, he’s turned his lifelong passion for comics and games into a new career.
Customers will find a generous supply of comics–new comics arrive weekly and classic comics line the shelves–including many from his extensive personal collection. The priciest is a rare Fantastic Four comic from the mid-1960s for $650. “It’s the first appearance of the character Galactus,” Dziobak says.
His obsession started young: In grade school, when he and a buddy built an elaborate Hot Wheels city, “I was the comic shop owner who delivered comics throughout the city,” he recalls. His friend owned the pretend doctor’s office in the city. Today, that friend is a doctor–and Dziobak, forty-six, is finally living his childhood dream.
In addition to comics, Dziobak carries graphic novels, comic and pop culture figurines, and a huge variety of board and card games, including “Magic: The Gathering” cards and supplies. In the front of the store, customers can sift through boxes filled with dollar comics and kids can peruse buckets with colorful dice, patches, and pins, as well as pocket and travel games. In the back of the store, he’s set up two long tables where customers can try demo games, or join in the shop’s Friday game nights. He recently hosted an expert in “Dungeons and Dragons” and hopes to add more special events.
“I just love my location here,” Dziobak says. The “Secret Crisis” sign (the name pays homage to storylines from both Marvel and D.C. comics) is visible from S. Main.
He says he and Julie–who met their first weekend at Notre Dame law school–are “setting down real roots” in Chelsea. She’s a corporate attorney and works up to eighty hours a week while he gets his business off the ground. “There are razor-thin margins in this industry,” Dziobak admits, but it should help that Secret Crisis is the only comic shop between Jackson and Ann Arbor’s massive Vault of Midnight.
“Gaming is in its golden age now,” he says. “It’s not Monopoly and Pay Day anymore.” Among the genres he features are mystery, historical, medical, and role-playing games. He gets so excited about new game deliveries that “it’s hard for me not to rip into the inventory,” he laughs. Because he’s “old school” and doesn’t carry any electronics, he says, he’s already had parents in the shop “trying to get kids off ‘Fortnite’ … I don’t think there’s anything better than sitting around a table with your friends.”
Secret Crisis Comics, 1161 S. Main (Village Plaza), Chelsea, (734) 593-7110. Sun. noon-6 p.m., Mon. 1-6 p.m., Wed. noon-6 p.m., Thurs. noon-7 p.m., Fri. noon-9 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Closed Tues. secretcrisiscomics.com