Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Remembering Nick Yutko

I've mentioned a couple times that I used to work in a comic store. The store was called Dreamscape Comics and the owner, my old boss, passed away on Sunday, so I'd like to take a little time to remember him.

I was more familiar with Bill and when I handed in my application to the ponytailed fellow at the register, he asked me a couple questions. Did I read comics, play Magic: The Gathering and play RPGs? I said I did all three. He asked me my opinion on comics. I said most of the stuff put out by Marvel and DC was crap,  but the smaller publishers still put out good stuff which, I'm convinced is what got me the job.

That ponytailed fellow was Nick, and he was an occasionally maddening but always wonderful boss. I was thrilled to get the position. I had shopped there as a kid and I was over the moon to work there as an adult.

I remember how he told he he started collecting Marvel comics because he liked the way they put the faces of the characters in the box in the corner. Then he laughed, and if you knew Nick, you're hearing that laugh now.

Nick was smart. Nick was fun. Our annual Dreamscape outings, to Celtic Classic and Musikfest, were some of the best times I've ever had.

Nick was a confirmed skeptic and an eloquent defender of free speech and human reason.

Nick passionately supported local artists.

Nick loved the sounds of the Big Band era, and he'd blast it through the sound system of the store, which he wired himself.

Nick was funny. I remember doing year end inventory with him and when we couldn't find "The Complete Thief's Handbook",  he quipped "Maybe somebody stole it."

Nick was infuriating. It took us more than three years to sell the Kiss eight-tracks that were taking up valuable real estate in the display case, and the very next day after we finally did find a buyer, Nick went out and bought four more to stick in the case.

Nick saw where the industry was headed long before anybody else.

Nick let me keep my employee discount after I left and would ever so gently remind me that it had been a year since I'd been in and it would be nice if I could come by and pick up the stuff he was holding for me.

Nick was occasionally grumpy. I remember one time when we invited him to a Halloween party and he was sitting there with a slice of cake and hangdog face and he said, "I've gained ten pounds since college."

And Jeannie, wonderful, grounded Jeannie said, "Nick, it's a party!" and that was the end of that.

Nick kept a specialty store afloat in an industry that was shrinking every year.

Even fifteen years after I had moved on, gone to New Hampshire and returned to the area, I still made it a point to go back to visit Dreamscape. Even since Lily was born. Especially since Lily was born. She loved visiting "Mister Nick's Store" and he was always so kind to her and had the best suggestions. I forget if it was he or Jeannie who suggested "Silly Lily", but I know I got the book at Dreamscape and she loved it when she was smaller. He gave her free comics when she was in the hospital recovering from her burns.

He helped pick out the comics my friend Eric gave out as party favors at his son's birthday party. That was such a good idea and I intended to repeat it with Lily's party, but time got away from me and I didn't get around to it, and now I regret that even more because doing so would have meant that I got to see Nick one last time.

Just yesterday, a friend asked if I thought Lily would continue to read comics as she got older. I told her I didn't know, that it was really up to Lily, but I never doubted that there would be many more years of trips to Mister Nick's store, which was the daddy-daughter activity Lily enjoyed the most.

I'm sorry that Nick is gone. He was a good guy and there were too few people like him out there.

Eric over at Gaming with the Gnomies also has a remembrance of Nick.


  1. Very nice remembrance. My condolences to you and the whole Dreamscape extended family. I've always loved going there since I was a kid, and hopefully it will continue on in his absence so more folks can have the joy of discovering comics.

  2. Thank you for this.