TOWER GROVE – Anyone looking to add to their comics supply in south St. Louis need look no further than Apotheosis Comics and Lounge on South Grand Boulevard.
With walls lined with single-issue comics and graphic novels, the space is small but cozy. Various Pride flags hang from the ceiling, and in the back, there’s a small cafe area complete with a makeshift stage. Beer and other beverages are available for purchase alongside the comics. It’s a space designed to invite people to take off their coats and stay a while, which was owner Martin Casas’ intention.
“Comics have always been about communities coming together,” he said. “Just the basics of creating a comic is team effort – from the writer, to the artist, to the inker to the letterer. It takes a village to make a comic, and that’s very different from other art forms.”
Casas opened Apotheosis in October 2017. Before that, he was in politics.
“I suppose my waning belief in politicians as role models, heroes and people who ‘have great power and responsibility’ to change the world around them led me to create a place that celebrated characters who did,” he said.
On top of his personal love for comics, he opened the cafe with the intention that the shop would also function as a gathering space welcoming everyone.
For Casas, this traces back to the history of comics as having always been rooted in social justice, from the earliest origins of Superman using his powers to protect the people. These stories “have always been about the little guy fighting against oppression, and finding the strength to overcome overwhelmingodds,” he said.
That’s why it’s important for Apotheosis to feel like a safe place for everyone, he explained.
Casas said they were continually working towards that goal, and to that end, there’s plenty at Apotheosis beyond comics. Casas hosts events both comic-related and not in the space there. His favorite events have included the premiere of the movie “Static Shock” by area filmmaker David Kirkman, as well as Learn D&D, where children come to the shop to learn how to play “Dungeons and Dragons.”
On the calendar in July: Wednesday open mics, Saturday afternoon comedy showcases and a Kids Comic Workshop Series.
Casas said that one thing that made comics universal was that they had something for everyone – even those who had never investigated the comics world.
“If someone has never read a comic book before, I’m going to tell them that it’s not what they think – it’s not all action and superpowers,” he said. “It’s amazing prose mixed in with stunning visuals that will make you pause and enjoy the nuance of the page, and it will give more meaning to the words.”
Apotheosis is open six days a week: Tuesday through Thursday from noon to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, noon to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. For more information about the cafe and lounge, check out https://apotheosiscomicsstl.com/.