By Michelle Frost
If there is truly a Cloud 9 (“the highest a cloud can be; a state of happiness, elation or bliss”), then it has settled into the Clinton District near the blinking red light at SE 26th St and Clinton; a busy hub of bicycle commuters, restaurants and shops, theater and coffee dates.
Cloud 9 Comics is the dream enterprise for co-owners Ken Dyber and Jeff Itkin, and home to 9,000 comic books the duo sells.
Dyber, former contractor, and Itkin, former property manager, met at a convention in Seattle and became friends with a common interest in vintage comics.
“In 2014 there was a lot of dialogue to see what was possible,” Dyber says. Eventually, a lawyer finalized their business contract, and the doors to their first brick-and-mortar retail location opened in spring of this year.
Up until now, they have dealt solely in vintage comic books and original artwork but have decided recently to add new comic books to their inventory.
“We are also going to start offering ‘box customers’ which is like subscribing,” Dyber says. A ‘box customer’ is a regular customer who leaves a wish-list. Comics from their wish-list are placed in a box, reserved for them to buy upon their next in-store visit.
“I’ve been buying and selling comics since I was 13 years old,” Dyber states. A Chicago native, Dyber moved to Portland “about 13 years ago.”
He launched his website in 2009, when he stopped working as a contractor and switched full-time to comics. By 2012, he became a dealer and “attended the three largest comic conventions in the U.S.: San Diego, New York and Wizard World in Chicago.”
Itkin joined him as a business partner last January, and in March, they opened their shop.
“There are several advantages to being in a building (vs. online) including a centralized inventory (Itkin resides in Seattle), shipping from only one location, as well as giving a face to the company,” Dyber explains.
Cloud 9 Comics has a staff of four, the owners and two store assistants, Scott and Moises, who help with researching, pricing and processing incoming comics.
“Collectibles are constantly coming to market,” Dyber says. “Buying collectibles can be fierce because of the competition. You can get 6 to 7 dealers involved in a bidding war.”
There is no shortage of competition in a literary city like Portland, home to 73 comic book stores, according to Yelp. Being knowledgeable, professional, customer-service oriented, and actively involved with conventions is undoubtedly why Cloud 9 Comics is thriving.
Both owners are advisors to The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, which is published annually and the bible of grading and pricing in the comic book industry.
Currently in its 45th edition, the Price Guide is used by collectors, dealers and comic book enthusiasts for finding and determining values.
Comics published in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s are considered Golden Age and had a cover price of 10 cents originally. The 1960s cover price jumped to 12 cents and are called Silver Age books. The 70s is the Bronze Age of comics and prices jumped again to 15, 20, 25 and then 40 cents.
Economic inflation in the 1980’s drove cover prices up to between 50 cents and 1 dollar. Since the 2000’s, prices are at $3 to 4 dollars per issue.
Dyber proudly displays two of his favorite and most valuable collectibles: Amazing Fantasy, published in 1962, featuring the very first appearance of Spiderman, ranked the #1 Silver Age comic; and Batman No. 1, featuring the first appearances of Joker and Catwoman, ranked the #1 Golden Age comic.
Both partners make regular appearances at comic conventions nationwide.
“We probably do 8 or 9 shows a year.” They attended Rose City Comic-Con in September, as well as a show in Baltimore recently, and have plans to attend New York in early October.
“We are doing Jet City in Tacoma on Halloween weekend,” Dyber says, “That’s a big one locally that lots of people from Portland usually drive to.”
Cloud 9 Comics has become a reliable and knowledgeable contender in the world of comics and is another feather in Portland’s entrepreneurial cap.
Cloud 9 Comics is at 2621 SE Clinton St. 503.236.8113. Open 11 am – 7 pm everyday.cloudninecomics.com.