Gary Arlington opened The San Francisco Comic Book Co. in 1968. It was only 200 square feet but was packed with comics. The San Francisco Chronicle recently discovered Clem Alber's photos of the store from 1971.
His customers included "Maus" author Art Spiegelman, underground comix titan Crumb, Last Gasp Comics publisher Ron Turner and future Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett, among hundreds more future comic artists, retailers and superfans.
Spiegelman offered this tribute in 2012: "San Francisco was the capital of comix culture in the '60s and early '70s; and Gary Arlington's hole-in-the-wall shop was, for me, the capital of San Francisco."
As Crumb explained: "Gary has made a cultural contribution in San Francisco in the late '60s through the '70s, '80s and '90s that was more significant than he realizes."
1968 was a good year for comics! Books were twelve cents. Kirby was in top form with Fantastic Four, Crumb's Zap #1 kicked off the underground comix explosion, Steranko's Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. debuted, as did Buscema's short-lived Silver Surfer.