[From L to R: Kellie Spencer, Owner Tiffany Melius, and WOW’s Kelly Dirck]
Tiffany Melius is the brains, brawn, and beauty behind ‘The Perky Nerd’ – a female-owned feminist comic book store located in North Hollywood, California. I had the pleasure of interviewing her at her store during a Harry Potter stand-up comedy night. (I know, doesn’t that sound like an amazing event? It was.)
Check it out:
Jake: I love the name “The Perky Nerd.” How did you come up with it?
Tiffany: Well, I love FRIENDS and Central Perk. So I wanted something cute like that but a name that is fun and people would smile at when they heard it. But also something that gives the idea of what we do. So Perky…for the cold brew coffee and Nerd for all the awesome nerdery we carry in the shop.
Jake: What got you interested in opening a comic book store?
Tiffany: I actually was researching how to open my own cat café that sells coffee, snacks, and you can visit with our resident cats while enjoying the cat like surroundings and merch! But the capital and red tape was a bit much to handle and wrap my head around as a new mom. We took a trip to Chicago and visited a comic book shop in Lake Geneva that was owned by a woman and I thought, I can do that! We always got together with friends on the weekend to play Heroclix or X-Wing or some fun new game and we’d take a coffee break and get comics and see what’s new at our local shop. So why not put it all in one place. That’s how the Perky Nerd was born.
Jake: What kind of products do you sell at your store?
Tiffany: We have comics, collectibles, coffee beans, cold brew coffees from 6 different brands, snacks, games, mugs, lots of mugs, trade paperback books. We carry lots of art from local artists and all sorts of fun little things from keychains to tiny toys to decorate your desk, Funko POPs, X-wing, the list just keeps growing.
Jake: Your events always look so much fun! The show I went to was Harry Potter themed a couple weeks ago (The Show That Must Not Be Named – LOVE it!), and you had one in June for Ghostbusters. How has the community in North Hollywood taken to your store and the amazing events you throw?
Tiffany: It all started with our grand opening. The community responded in such a positive excited way that there was a new place on Magnolia that they could go get cold brew coffees and hang out with friends and play games, join our ladies comic book club. The design of the shop really draws people in and gives off a good vibe. Mollie Ranize of DMar Interiors designed the whole shop to be inviting and fun. Brandon Malone, is the amazing carpenter that brought the concept to life. I think the atmosphere gives a lot to each event.
Jake: Are you a Harry Potter fan yourself? If so what house are you in and who’s your favorite character and why?
Tiffany: I like Harry Potter but I am not a super fan like all of the amazing people that came out for the event. I just want to have different types of events for different fandoms. Improv, standup, and a Harry Potter band with Harry Potter treats, I’m a fan of all of that. It was so fun. I’d say I’m Gryffindor and I’m a fan of Professor McGonagall because she turns into a cat.
Jake: Have you seen Suicide Squad? Thoughts? I’m much more a Marvel fan, but I enjoyed it for Harley Quinn.
Tiffany: I saw “Super Sized Squad” as a young fan yelled as they entered the shop the other day upon seeing our DC display. So cute. So it’s Super Sized Squad to us at the Perky Nerd now. I thought it was fun. I’m also more of a Marvel fan. Ok, fanatic. I LOVE me some Hulk Smash, Black Widow, and Squirrel Girl. Harley Quinn was great but I also had issues with her attachment to Joker. I like her much more as an independent psycho that does what she wants.
Jake: I’m a big nerd myself and the majority of my friendships are female. It’s really exciting to see a female-owned business. Particularly, one that caters towards fandom/comics/etc. Unfortunately, the comic world is largely male/male-bodied, is it important to you to be a voice/vehicle for the female nerd?
Tiffany: It makes me so excited and proud to be a woman owned shop that provides a place for women fans to enjoy themselves and meet up with other female fans. I have a ladies comic book club called The Perky B*tches that meets on Wednesday nights. It started out with 9 ladies and now it’s up to an average of 20 women coming to discuss the trades we read every other week. We have 50 in the Facebook group. Plus, we started adding Mingle and Jingles to socialize on our off night Wednesdays or Craft nights. It’s a great group of very smart, diverse ladies with awesome opinions and perspectives on comics and being the leading lady of their own life. I love it. It’s only been 3 months of meeting and I get giddy just thinking about how it’s grown and how wonderful everyone is in the group.
Jake: What are your thoughts on Brie Larson being Captain Marvel (Personally, I’m obsessed!) and the new Wonder Woman movie. The industry has definitely opened up more towards female leads (something that shouldn’t happened LONG ago!) Do you think the comic industry is starting to wake up to the notion that females are just as nerdy, if not more than men?
Tiffany: It’s funny because Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers, is what got me into comics in 2006. I read the series and loved Carol Danvers so much my husband got me the 70’s Ms. Marvel comics so I could know her origin and how she evolved. Then, I cosplayed as her and being an actress as well, I wanted to play her in the Marvel movies myself. Well, flash forward to her becoming Captain Marvel and now it’s Brie Larson. If it can’t be me, I’m glad it’s her. She is truly an amazing human. It will be fun to see her play Carol. And Wonder Woman was my favorite part of Batman v. Superman. She kicked major ass and the costume got me excited to perhaps attempt a cosplay of it. I feel like women make big leaps in the industry and we just got to keep pushing forward. Its an uphill battle, but I hope that these 2 movies break records and make Hollywood hear WOMEN ROAR! And where’s my Black Widow movie already? Come on now.
Tiffany: We have a full calendar for the fall. We start off every month with a Tabletop Day on the 1st Saturday of the month. Every day can be a tabletop day but making it official seems to get people motivated and excited to explore new games and meet up for games and coffee. In September, we have Batman Day on the 17th, Women of DC Fan Art Show on the 23rd. DC Superhero Girls Saturday on the 24th. A Geek Sing Along on the 30th. October is going to be Halloween eccentric because I LOVE IT! From a Spooky Storytelling night, Witches Brunch, Halloween Art Show on October 21st, and Halloween Comic Fest on the 29th, the Perky Nerd is the place to be. Plus, I’m working on getting a pumpkin cold brew as we speak.
Jake: If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?
Tiffany: Hands down a teleporting power. I always say “I wish I had the blinking power!” ala I Dream of Jeanie. If I could just fold my arms and blink to another place, holy hell that would be BADASS!!!
Thanks so much for your time!Go visit The Perky Nerd in North Hollywood, hunties! I promise you’ll end up going home with some goodies!