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There’s a new shop in town—that is, if your town happens to be Cubao—and it looks like no other shop you’ve ever seen before, except perhaps in some strange dream that you had after staying up all night rereading Grant Morrison’s run on Doom Patrol. Outside, it looks like it’s melting; inside, it looks like geek heaven, with its bright white interiors and its shelves stocked with wonderful comics and toys. It’s called Sputnik, and it just opened at the Cubao Expo. In the words of one of the owners, Ramon de Veyra, “We sell comics, graphic novels, action figures, designer toys, and other cool stuff: some posters, some shirts, some novels, some statues.” (The other owner is Lyle Sacris, acclaimed and anti-ordinary filmmaker.) We talked to Ramon about his new enterprise.
LUIS: What makes Sputnik different from other comics shops?
RAMON: We do our best to keep a very diverse selection of material. As readers, between myself and Lyle, we cover a pretty broad spectrum of comics material: superheroes, Vertigo titles, indy/alternative, European, manga and art/experimental stuff. The shop hopefully reflects those interests. Before, we had to go to different places to get different types of comics we like; now we try to be a one-stop shop for ourselves and others with varied tastes. But if you just like superheroes, or just like manga, or just like indie stuff, we’ve got that too! As much as we can, we like to be in the store, and can talk about various titles with customers and fellow fans, recommend stuff and be turned on to work we’re unfamiliar with as well. Also, we have a giant dripping/ melting/ oozing facade by the amazing Leeroy New.
Who are the people behind Sputnik? How did the idea for the shop come about? And why that name?
Lyle and I are pretty much it. The idea came about almost by accident; we were both at our regular haunt, [a comics shop called] Druid’s Keep in Magallanes, and Lyle was bemoaning the fact that there were no excellent comic shops in the Northern part of Metro Manila. Felix, the owner, said he wished he had a store in the North. Immediately, Lyle burst “We’ll do it!” At first I just thought he was kidding, but over time we started considering it seriously.
As for the name: believe me, we went through a long list before arriving at Sputnik. In comics, there isn’t really a dominating franchise around the world; it’s mostly independently-owned small operations like ours. So every store has to come up with its own unique name. And by this time, it seems, every single comics-related name, puns included, is taken.
So we decided to try for something unique, catchy and memorable; we chose what we thought was a pretty obscure comics-related nonsense word but even THAT was taken! Then we tried non-comics-related words, and from that list Sputnik slowly, inexorably rose to the top of the heap. It was unique, catchy, and memorable; didn’t refer to anything right now since the Russian space program ended a few decades ago, and personally I’ve always liked how it sounded. I also liked that it meant “traveling companion” or “fellow traveler” and felt it was appropriate considering Lyle and I are both really big comics fanboys at heart. But if you caught us in another mood the store might’ve been called anything from Aleph to Fermata.
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