“Welcome to the Nerd Sanctuary!”

Those are the words that have cheerfully greeted me every time I’ve walked through the door of Morgan’s Comics, the first female owned and operated comic store in Western North Carolina, and a non-optional stop on my Carolina road trips. “Welcome to the Nerd Sanctuary!” And that is exactly what this amazing place is. Don’t let the size fool you; they pack a LOT into this awesome little store. Come on in and check it out!

This image will make sense later.

Normally, we don’t advertise for businesses here at The Sci-Fi Guys. In fact, with the possible exception of putting the word in the streets about our good friends over at Stufficorn, we don’t regularly support any for-profit operations of any kind. But Morgan’s is different. For me, Morgan’s is less of a business and more of an experience. It’s like someone bought a small shop with nice woodwork, then sifted through my mind, brought some memories and desires into the real world, and filled the store with pieces of my past. And then sold them and kept all the money. Okay, the metaphor sort of breaks down at the end, but you understand what I mean. Morgan doesn’t just peddle comics. She’s a merchant of nostalgia.

Yeah, graphic I found online, I’d like to meet Morgan. I keep trying to meet Morgan. She seems like the kind of nerd that would like to hear about The Sci-Fi Guys. And every time I’ve reached for that doorknob, a little voice inside my head said, “Today is the day. Morgan is in there right now, and you’re finally going to meet her.” But, no. That little voice is a liar. There is no Morgan. My life remains a Morganless void, tearfully bereft of Morganity.

I’d love to meet the founder of this wonderful little slice of geekdom and thank her for putting together one of the best comic shops I’ve ever seen. But she has never been there during any of my visits. I was speaking with Jak during this latest trip, when a small blonde with pink in her hair literally appeared in the room. It was like magic. She was just suddenly there, standing directly where I had been looking, seemingly without ever having moved. I can only presume she came from a back room, or trap door, or dimensional portal from an another universe. Or maybe she’s a Guild Navigator and dropped out of foldspace to fuck with my head. Her coloration and ninja-like entrance made me think I had finally met the elusive Morgan, but I was yet again denied. It was a Morgan decoy. She’s slippery, that Morgan. Not so easily traced. I’m starting to suspect she may not actually exist. They can do a lot of tricks with CGI these days.

On this particular visit, I was pleased to see a number of Transformers Beast Wars toys on the shelves, every one of them in outstanding condition. When the staff at Morgan’s have loose toys to sell, they don’t lump them all together or chuck them in a bin. They get scattered throughout the store, on the shelves, intermingled with the comics, games, and sundry bits and bobs of pop culture ephemera. Like everything else at Morgan’s, the unpackaged toys have an odd vitality, like they’re all part of some tangible living document. They aren’t sealed away from curious fingers; quite the opposite. They encourage play. And among these little plastic masterpieces, I found the first of the day’s treasures. No, not the tiny buckets of Halloween candy the staff have stashed throughout the store for attentive customers to discover. I’m talking about the robot. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Draculus.

Despite his placement among his fellow animalistic Cybertronians, Draculus is most definitely NOT one of the Beast Wars toys. Draculus was released in 2021 as part of the Transformers Collaborative, a series which takes pop culture icons such as the DeLorean from Back To The Future, Maverick’s jet from Top Gun, and the Tyrannosaurus rex and Jeep from Jurassic Park, and makes Transformers of them. In this case, to celebrate the 90ᵗʰ anniversary of Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, the mold for Decepticon Headmaster Mindwipe was retooled to match Lugosi’s wardrobe.

The care taken to recreate the layers of the coat, vest, and shirt Lugosi wore are above and beyond. That’s not just paint, the clothing layers are molded into the plastic, yet still manage to look like mechanical components. And the hands aren’t the usual closed robotic fists. They’re resculpts of other Transformers’ hands, opened and claw-like to give Draculus a more menacing appearance. Someone at Hasbro is doing next level work. That’s been my experience with the entire Collaborative line thus far. These aren’t just plasticized pop culture references. These are truly outstanding, high quality toys.

I’m showing you the box for reference, but my Draculus was loose on the shelf, right next to the Jurassic Park T-rex. Loose, but complete and pristine, cloth cape and all. Draculus and the T-rex certainly fit right in with the Beast Wars bots, particularly the Transmetals figures, which were well represented. But Draculus’s price tag let me know the staff of Morgan’s knew what was up. It wasn’t exactly cheap. But it was cheaper than I’ve ever found it elsewhere. Cheap enough for me to take it home.

True story: Bela Lugosi was buried wearing his full Dracula costume, as well as Dracula’s ring and a replica of the costume’s original cape. And, presumably to prevent him from rising from the grave, they buried him in a place called the Holy Cross Cemetery. It doesn’t get much more hard core Halloween than that.

Yeah, for a few dollars more I could have ordered an unopened figure. But where’s the experience in that? There’s no thrill of discovery, no immediacy. Ordering online may be reliable, but it’s sterile. Lifeless. Besides, I’d much rather have my money go to a small shop where it actually makes a difference. Hasbro, Universal, and Amazon could give two shits about my $30. But at Morgan’s that money helps keep the lights on and the doors open. I’ll take that deal all day.

Seeing as it’s the Halloween season, and Morgan’s had given me pumpkin candy, and I had just found the most Halloweeny Transformer ever made, I figured I would pick up some Halloween colored dice as well. I don’t have a picture of them at the moment, so you’re just going to have to trust me.

Did I need five more sets of dice? Well, according to our very own Dan Mizer, you can never have too many polyhedrals. He has roughly seven thousand pounds of dice at his house, and shows no signs of changing his dice purchasing ways. So, yes. Yes, I did need five more sets of dice, you judgmental bastards. Besides, Morgan throws in a cute little tulle drawstring bag when you buy a set of dice, and I got those in Halloween colors as well. So bite me.

Morgan’s is in Asheville, NC, a mere 365 miles/six hour drive from my doorstep. So, needless to say, I don’t get there too often. But that distance is exactly why I make it a must-stop on my trips to North Carolina. It’s something I don’t skip. Why? Because it’s my shop.

If you’re a comic book fan, hopefully you know what it’s like to have a shop. Not a shop that you own, but a shop that feels like home as soon as you step inside. That rare Goldilocks store that’s not too hot, and not too cold. Everything in exactly the right place, in exactly the right proportion.

If you’re a veteran comic book collector, or toy collector, or gamer, or record collector, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You probably have a shop of your own. You might not own it, but it’s your shop. It’s the place you support, and the place you belong. Like that mythical bowl of porridge, for you, it’s just right. And I feel like that’s what Morgan’s Comics is for me. It is just right. Yeah, it sucks that it’s so far away, but I’m not really bothered by it. Because I know it exists. I know where to go now. I found the place for me, the place I belong. I found my shop. And it’s one hell of a place.

It’s just too bad I’ve never found Morgan.

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