DUNGEONS AND DODGERS
Fun for all ages is the specialty at the Dungeons and Dodgers comics and game shop. There’s even something for the youngest visitors, although this can lead to some honest confusion by the parents, according to Ethan Becker, store owner.
“Kids always go right to these toys, and parents are always, ‘No, don’t touch,'” Becker said, showing the Stormtrooper, Spider-Man and other figures in the entryway. “I need to put up a sign that says, ‘These toys are for playing with only.’ These ones are for the kids.”
The fun and family emphasis has drawn a steady stream of customers and gamers ever since Becker and his wife Jeana Becker opened the shop at 1214 Central Ave. It had its soft opening July 8.
Twice a week the shop hosts Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game sessions, 4 p.m. Wednesday and at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturdays.
The card game, Magic: The Gathering, is also popular at the shop, and Friday nights are Friday Night Magic at the Dungeon.
New comic books come in every Wednesday, Ethan Becker said.
“We’ve got a good community here,” he said. “When we have new players come in that don’t understand a certain game or they’re interested in certain comics, my customers, if I’m a little busy, my customers have stepped in and shown somebody who’s interested in Magic some of the ins and outs of the game.”
“Comic book guys like being comic book guys, they like talking about different comics, and getting other people interested in, not just the story, but the art in different comics.”
Becker holds pre-release events for Magic: the Gathering every few months, for players who want to get in on new decks before they are released.
“Being a Wizards Play network store, I can run a game the week before the product releases,” he said. “They allow me to have x amount of boxes for sale, and x amount of prerelease kids, depending on my level, and I’ve leveled up fairly quickly through the Wizards Play network due to the support of the local Magic: the Gathering community.”
That’s far from all he offers — the store also has a variety of board games for sale, as well as board games for playing in the back. Every Sunday is a family day, when children and parents together can come pick out a game or do a puzzle, Becker said.
No purchase necessary.
“There’s always room for open gaming,” he said. “Bring in your own game, or get one off the back wall.”
He also sells older video games — from the classic NES, Super Nintendo, original Playstation and more.
“It’s a good way of meeting people that you’ve never met before,” Becker said. “From the toys that are for playing with only to the board games in the back, I just like people being involved, from the littlest of the little to the oldest of the old. We don’t have any real target market, outside of people who just enjoy having fun, and comics and games.”
Becker started the store because of his lifelong love of gaming and comics, and to fill a need he saw in the community.
It hasn’t been easy. Becker is a first-time business owner, and is currently taking business classes at Iowa Central Community College to better equip himself for success.
“I’m really big into community involvement,” Becker said.
He’s already got the Korriban squadron of the 501st Legion, an all-volunteer costumed group of Lucasfilm-approved Stormtroopers, lined up to inundate next year’s Frontier Days parade with the Imperial Army. They’ll be collecting money for the Domestic/Sexual Assault Outreach Center.
The store is also arranging a murder mystery event–a 1930s Mafia-style affair–at ShinyTop Brewing. More details should be available by Nov. 1, Becker said.
While the store’s soft opening was on July 8, and a ribbon-cutting was held Sept. 12, the official grand opening will be on a Friday in December.
“We’re having a marathon,” Becker said. “We open noon on Dec. 14, and we don’t close until Sunday Dec. 16 at 8 p.m. Fifty-six hours of gaming.”
Along with D&D, and a Super Smash Brothers tournament on Nintendo Switch, there will be cosplay, with Darth Vader, Spider-Man and the Predator all making an appearance.
A BB-8 piggybank, shaped like the droid from the new Star Wars movies, is currently collecting donations for Bikes for Tykes. The Korriban Squadron will be there to deliver it over the grand opening weekend.
“We will hand off our BB-8 piggy-bank, and they will ensure safe transport to Fort Dodge Ford for safe extraction of the secrets contained within,” Becker said.
Local artists will attend the event including “Kev Dog,” Becker said.
“He’s going to be there grand opening weekend demoing a couple of his personal games he’s made, including a Podracer game, and an Orcish Bar Brawl,” he said.