This interview marks the start of a series of conversations about comic book shops in Europe.


GOOD FELLOWS Ky (Jari Laitinen)


Goodfellows 1

Thirty years ago Good Fellows opened its doors. Why did you decided to open a comic-book shop instead of a flower shop, a restaurant or a laundry? I decided to open a comic-book shop on my way to Florida. I was driving on the highway and talking with my uncle about it. Well, it seemed good idea – at that time I was working in another comic shop. When returned to Finland it took four months to open my shop.

How was the market going thirty years ago? How were the customers then? Do you miss something from that time? That time it was more like buying and selling used Finnish comic books. Then it changed and suddenly we were visiting customs, getting custom cleared for our new comics from USA. Customers were more like friends at that time – always had time to talk and get to know what’s going on.I am missing the simplicity of those days.

How would you describe the market nowadays? At this moment you have web shops that are taking lots of business out of basic shops. It’s because of expenses. Having an internet store is way cheaper than having a normal one. Also nowadays people are different. Every form of entertaining is fighting against each other; time is limited as well as money.

Goodfellows 2

Do you believe comic books will disappear in favor of their electronic counterparts, except for highly expensive collector’s editions? I believe that comics will stay as they are now – I could not imagine reading my comics in any other form. Time will show how wrong I am. I believe that more comic shops are disappearing due to web shops.

Good Fellows offers whoever goes inside the possibility to see items from the 1980s, 1990s and from the 21st century. Do you consider this to be one of Good Fellows’ main appeals?  I think that is possible. Another thing is that old and grumpy owner from 1960s hanging around the shop.

Are comic books one of the first gateways in the process of learning how to read, and reading for pleasure? I have learned to read through comics. I believe they are.

Should parents go with their children to comic book shops to help the latter become avid readers? Yes, I am always very pleased to see parents with their kids looking at comics.

If someone visits Helsinki, what does your book shop offers that, unfortunately, it is no longer possible to find in other places? That one is hard for me to answer but I believe that feeling inside shop – you are not in a hurry is one thing – time is kind of period of stagnation. Another maybe that “grumpy” owner but he likes to talk many other things that comics also.

Goodfellows 3

How would you like people to remember Good Fellows, if this were its last year open?  The Good Fellows Ky is part of Finnish popular culture history in its own sector. How I like people to remember it? Well, everybody remembers what they like.  Some people will say it is good it is gone.  Some will miss it. I personally say It was a big part of my life and I was happy that I decided to open it 1985. I got lots from it but it never came easy. Long hours but kind of freedom. If I could decide again I would do same thing. Yes, I do not regret anything.

© Eduardo Serradilla Sanchis, 2016



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