Comic book shop on the road to recovery after downtown Shermanfire

As crews prepare to repair Halloween fire damage in downtown Sherman, a local business hopes to move forward into 2022 with a fresh start and potentially a new location.

The owners of Wolverine Comics are hoping to raise enough capital to reopen their doors following the fire that displaced and damaged several businesses and destroyed others.

For the first time in over two months, the comic opened on Thursday. As the storefront had changed and the smell of smoke and burnt wood wafted through the air, the owners of the business hoped this would be the first step towards a return to normalcy for the brick comic book store and mortar.

“We’re trying to sell whatever survived the disaster,” co-owner Beth Ward said Thursday. “Everything that God’s water damaged, we got rid of. Everything here just smoked.”

Wolverine Comics was one of Kelly Square’s new tenants when it and the other businesses located in the space moved in late October. The comic book store had only been in its space since March 2021.

Since the fire, Ward said she and her husband have been able to return to their storefront and assess the damage, which was relatively light compared to the fire’s epicenter.

Ward said he learned about the fire from one of his customers, who in turn heard it from one of his customers at a local restaurant. At first, Ward said she didn’t know what to think as she headed into downtown Sherman.

“We stood there on the courthouse lawn like half Sherman,” she said. “I mean, nothing gets people out like a good fire.”

Wolverine comics temporarily reopened for a Thursday fire sale in Kelly Square

Despite the fire, Ward kept spirits up about the ordeal and tried to make the best of the situation. Rather than being discouraged by the situation, she tried to find beauty in it all and in her surroundings which she described as straight “out of a horror movie” with ceiling fans melting and other signs of destruction.

Late last year, Sherman Fire-Rescue officials determined an electrical problem started the fire in a side hallway near the back of the building. The fire traveled along the fire floor to the Bean Me Up cafe and moved upwards from there. Wolverine Comics, which is next to the cafe, was not affected by the flames.

Instead, much of the damage done to Wolverine Comics was due to water and smoke damage. While around 20% of their inventory – including nearly 1,000 comics – was lost due to water damage, the rest was salvageable.

Instantly we felt better (when we walked in), because we thought everything was gone,” Ward said. “As you can see there was smoke damage all over it, but it wasn’t destroyed.

Earlier this week, the comic book store announced that it would be selling off much of its remaining stock in what turned out to be a literal sellout. For the three-day event, which will continue through Saturday, Ward and her husband moved their inventory to what used to be Sandi’s Boutique storefront at the front of the building.

The storefront was lit by sunlight through front windows when Wolverine temporarily reopened on Thursday. Although Sandi did not appear to have suffered any direct fire damage, the telltale sign of the fire was clear. Lines of chemicals on the walls appeared to be from firefighting efforts, while a lighter stain on the wooden floor marked where a display rack said, shielding the floor from smoke. The smell of long-burnt wood still filled the space.

A comic book exhibit is being held during a fire sale at Wolverine Comics in Sherman on Thursday.  The comic book shop is raising money to relocate following a fire in Kelly Square in October.

Ward said she, her husband and their wares were lucky in part because of the care they took with their product. Like any serious comic fan, the couple stored most of their comics in plastic sleeves with a cardboard backing. This ultimately stopped the comics from taking the brunt of the smoke.

Through the sale, Ward said she hopes to raise enough capital to begin looking for a new location while Kelly Square is repaired. She said she considered applying for financial assistance from the city, but said it was the first step. In early December, Specs in the City received approximately $8,000 from Sherman to help relocate after the fire.

“We don’t have the capital to start over,” Ward said. “We invested all of our capital in the opening the first time around. We hope to be able to sell it all, even at half price, for a big boost.”

Daniel K. Denny