Tucked away in a corner of a Southside mall, Collector’s Authority has nearly 75,000 comics in stock.

Ranging from Marvel to DC to independent artists, owner Pete Contero said Collector’s Authority offers a variety of comics.

“We’re dealing with new comics and back issues,” Contero said. “Back issues are older issues coming off the shelf. These are older issues from the early 2000s, 90s, 80s, 70s, 60s and 50s.”

Contero and his brother-in-law, Mario Delgado, opened the store in 1996. Since then he has moved three times. Despite the change in location, Collector’s Authority remained in the Southside.

“I went to McCollum High School and so did my brother-in-law,” Contero said. “After having had three garages full of comics and merchandise, we were about to invest in a fourth. That’s when we said “no, let’s open up shop” and we did.

Items in garages they owned became Collector’s Authority’s starting inventory when it opened.

In addition to comics, Collector’s Authority offers graphic novels, trade paperbacks, and hardcovers.

Emmanuel Alvarez, 23, browses through hundreds of comics at Collector’s Authority on January 28, 2022. Alvarez says he enjoys visiting comic book stores because there’s always a chance to meet people who share the same interest as him . Photo by Amber Esparza

Contero said that over the past few years the store has had to downsize. He started cutting spending in early 2020, just before the pandemic hit.

“When we started, we used to carry everything,” Contero said. “Over time, we saw where the market was going wrong, so we moved away from that…I have to deal with what kept me in business, and that was comic books.”

Contero’s interest in comic books began when he started earning enough money to afford them. Contero said that when he first started buying comics, they cost around 60 to 75 cents each.

“(Comics) were a lot cheaper than they are today,” Contero said. “I love to read, so I always bought cheap comics to read.”

At the height of the pandemic, Contero said he had to close the store to almost a month and a halfF. Now that Collector’s Authority is open again, Contero is still asking customers to wear face masks.

“I’m just following the rules,” Contero said. “People have to wear masks…I’m not just trying to save myself, I’m also trying to save the next person.”

“I have a lot of repeat customers who actually become close friends,” Contero said. “They’re hanging out and we’re talking shop.”

Although Collector’s Authority does not carry anime or manga, Contero said it tries to help customers find what they are looking for.

“Unfortunately, I don’t get many calls for Manga or Anime comics,” Contero said. “I can try to place a new order for them…or I can refer them to a few stores in the Northside that I know deal with them.”

Directing customers to stores in town is something Contero does frequently.

“If I don’t have a problem (someone is looking), I always recommend visiting other stores before buying online,” Contero said. “Circulating wealth. Keep it here before you have to give it to another city.

Collector’s Authority is located at 1534 SE Military Dr #101, San Antonio, TX 78214. Visit their Facebook page for more information.