Instructor helps mom and pop comic shop

by Emily Balli

Most all of the instructors at GCC have hobbies and passions aside from teaching, however, most of these instructors aren’t fortunate enough to have a part time job in them.

English professor Phil Mateer is different.

Mateer has worked at GCC as an English professor and at Phoenix comic book shop, All About Books and Comics, for over 26 years.

Mateer moved to Phoenix from Ohio with his wife in 1980, after receiving a master’s degree in English from Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania.

When he first moved here, he decided to see if GCC had any part-time teaching positions available and was hired as a part time instructor. As a hobby and something fun to do on the side, he also worked at a local comic book shop.

Eventually, in 1989, he was hired as a full-time English instructor at GCC and began working at All About Books and Comics the same year.

Mateer currently teaches a variety of English and Communication classes. He also runs the electronic writing center.

Mateer has always had a passion for reading and collecting comic books since he was a child and has always made room for both teaching and comic books in his life.

At the shop Mateer works at, All About Books and Comics, he works in the warehouse organizing all of the back issues. Because he has over 40 years of experience and knowledge in comic books, he’s a huge asset to the shop.

“He is an encyclopedia of comic knowledge…his knowledge of comics is so vast, there’s very little he doesn’t know about comics. He’s been collecting since he was a kid and he’s never stopped,” Eddie Armendariz, the manager of All About Books and Comics said.

The shop where Mateer works boasts an inventory of over 1 million comic books. The shop started as a bookstore called A Little Bookstore but eventually, after accumulating such a large amount of comic books, the store moved and became All About Books and Comics. The store has been owned by Alan and Marsha Giroux for 33 years, and has been in the same location for 15 years.

Sometime in October, the Girouxs were saddened to find out that they had lost their lease and had until the end of June to move.

With such a large amount of comic books and so many years at the same location, those that work at All About Books and Comics knew that it would not only be extremely difficult to move but also extremely costly.

“[The Girouxs’] were forced to move somewhere else, and because it’s expensive to move a million comics and because the current store that they’re going to move into is really just a shell right now, they need shelving, and flooring, and display stuff… it’s $11,000 just to move it,” Mateer said.

The Girouxs’ son, Ben Giroux, had the bright idea to start a Kickstarter campaign for the store, to help raise the funds they need to move.

Many comic book lovers in the valley and elsewhere have found such a deep sense of community in All About Books and Comics, and would be very sad if it was no longer around.

“If the store closed a big part of the comic community in Phoenix would be gone. They’re a huge store, they’ve been around longer than any other store… they have people who have been coming there for 30 years or more who went there when they were kids and now bring their kids there. When it’s a small store like that there is a sense of family,” Mateer said.

The Kickstarter campaign, “Mom and Pop Move Their Comic Shop,” started in early February and runs until March 11. The Girouxs’ are hoping to raise $33,000 to cover the cost of moving and starting up a new shop.

As of today, 275 people have pledged $19,838 for the Kickstarter campaign.

Although Mateer enjoys teaching, his passion for comic books has been there forever and if All About Books and Comics had to close he would be upset.

“[If all about books had to close] it would leave a hole in my life. It’s been a part of my life most of my adult life… it means everything,” Mateer said, in the Kickstarter campaign video.

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