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A Little Bit About ​Comic 1 Books

Comic 1 Books deals in entertainment and escape through comic books and comic related merchandise. Its new owners, Bob, Casey and Paolo are dedicated to providing great, knowledgeable service, a friendly environment and of course fair prices. We will show care and passion to get you the merchandise you want at a competitive price, hassle free. Our mission also encourages reading and the arts, helping the community and upholding good traditional values.


We have reopened Comic 1 Books since the late owner, Tom Laing, most regretfully passed away May 27th in 2013. The history of the store begins in 1977, and led to Tom running the original Comic 1 Books in the Elm King Plaza in downtown Stoney Creek for over 25 years. Inspired by our great friend, we wish to continue his rich legacy.


The store is now beside the new parquet, with updated stock and store features to meet the needs of today’s customers. Our goal is to continue and expand Tom’s success by staying in downtown Stoney Creek. This was a huge process to make 67 B King Street East an ideal Comic store for the city, hopefully making Tom and the customers proud. For example, we now accommodate Debit and Credit purchasing, free bags and boards to all subscribers, and even offer local Parkermanns coffee!  


Comic 1 offers more than just the latest comics, we also carry specialty toys, posters, graphic novels and trade paperbacks, art books, statues, supplies, apparel and various comic related merchandise from all the biggest brands.


So far we have held several contests and sales. One recent contest involved sponsoring and donating to the local Red Hill Library in a Superman contest day. There was a very successful Halloween Party with lots of prizes held at the Powerhouse Restaurant back in October. We have many upcoming contests and sales, which we hope to have on an ongoing basis.


The three owners, Bob Desmond, Paolo Rispoli and Casey Parsons, each bring a unique contribution to the store with decades of serious collecting and retail experience.


Comic 1 runs an honest, competitive business, as Tom Laing always did, simple as that. We have had amazing support and thank Tom’s wife Barbara and daughter Elana, and all the returning customers and dear friends.




The Legacy of Tom Laing 


On May 27th of this year, with deep and profound loss to many, the great Tom Laing passed away suddenly, a month before his 65th birthday. Six months later, the sorrow is still felt by all those who knew him. These few words will do little justice to the man, but it is important that Tom be remembered for who he was, what he accomplished and what he stood for.

            Those who knew him best over the last thirty years would identify him with his Stoney Creek retail shop, Comic 1 Books. He lasted nearly thirty years in the same location at Elm King plaza, 44 King Street East in downtown Stoney Creek. Comic 1 Books hoarded around 400 boxes of comics by the end, plus toys, posters and other paraphernalia. People would come to the store from all over Ontario and beyond, usually through word of mouth. Some customers stayed loyal to Tom right from his beginnings in 1977, at the several locations around Stoney Creek, (Eastgate Square, Queenston Mall, etc.). They came to Tom because he was friendly, genuinely cared about people and their interests, used low pressure salesmanship (but with natural flair could sell you nearly anything), and had a steel trap mind that could rival most professors in pretty much any topic.

There are many stories about Tom, and what became apparent at his funeral was just how diverse he was. He had an extensive love of literature, from writing occasional articles for the Spectator to citing a wide range of poetry. He also had a big love for the arts, playing guitar in a band during high school, collecting Canadian art, and supporting local talent.

Tom was also part of the Hamilton Historical Society for years, having, for example, an instrumental role in saving the Jackson house that is now located on the Battlefield grounds. He spent a summer in the Navy in his youth and excelled at Morse code. He was part of several clubs, such as a local metal detector group. This is just a brief list, which could go on much further.  

Tom held his family members very dear, being a loving son, brother, husband to his wife Barbara, and father to his only child. His greatest passion and most of his support was with his very talented daughter Elana (a name not so coincidentally Superman’s first love interest, Lana Lang). He fostered and pushed Elana’s natural and brilliant musical talent into the spotlight from an early age, where she has won many accolades, including singing the national anthem for the Blue Jays. Tom proudly saw her open her own successful Hamilton Academy of Music where she now teaches with others. She continues to give solo public performances and sings with various bands.   

I had the pleasure of knowing Tom since around 1980, climbing under his flea market table for Rampaging Hulk magazines when I was barely out of a stroller. Eventually, I had the great fortune to be hired by him when I had just finished grade nine at Saltfleet high school, incidentally Tom’s old stomping grounds (despite being nearly 30 years difference in age we even had one of the same English teachers!). Tom quickly became less of a boss and more a mentor, teacher and lifelong friend. He helped shape who I am with a philosophical patience. I looked up to the way he articulated very thoughtful speech and behaved like Superman. He informed and encouraged my artistic side and listened to all my troubles while never complaining about his own, ever the civilized gentleman.

One of his best features was that he was able to lend an ear for the everyman, with an especial soft heart for do-good underdogs. He gave to anyone the relatable Tom they needed, with good advice and genuine, heartfelt pathos. The comic book world is a strange and wonderful place, a much needed escape for many, and a place where there are still great heroes to emulate in a society that seems to be sadly losing many traditional values. Tom championed belief in such values as honesty, nobility, respect, accountability and manners. This, to me, was his greatest contribution to the city, embodying these values, which would be imitated and admired by those around him. The world needs many more people like Tom, and especially more of what he stood for.

Today, the light-box sign still hangs in its place at 44 King Street but the windows, covered by brown Kraft paper, now hide an empty shop. The legacy of Comic 1 and Tom lives on at the new Comic 1, now at 67 King street East on the second floor, run by his longtime friends Bob Desmond, Paolo Rispoli and myself, with the blessings of his family and friends.

We would love to hear any stories about Tom anyone would wish to share, at the store or on our Comic 1 Facebook page, or email us at

Tom remains greatly admired and missed. He lies peacefully at Tapleytown cemetery.


Nov. 29th, 2013

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