KEEGAN F. CONRAD
aka: HEAD HONCHO
aka: WIFE OF HEAD HONCHO
aka: SHE WHO LOVES COSPLAY
SPECIALTY: COMICS & MTG
aka: DUNGEON MASTER
aka: THE PROFESSIONAL
SPECIALTY: COMICS & YU-GI-OH
aka: THE STUDENT
aka: MAGIC MASTER
SPECIALTY: MTG T.O.
aka: THE ARTIST
SPECIALTY: COMICS, YU-GI-OH
The Story Goes…
|My mom buys me the first comic book I remember a Gold Key Star Trek which I still have to this day, not in very good shape but I have it.
|I purchase my first comic that I remember buying with my own money. Star Spangled War Stories featuring the Unknown Soldier
|Start buying multiple copies of comics and buying all the neighborhood kid’s comics.
|Decide that a 16 year old should not be spending money on comics so decide I don’t need my old comics anymore. Sell about 1000 comics (only keeping a handful) to a kid from highschool, Greg Grant. Collection included 5 NM copies of X-Men #94 and 3 copies of Giant Size X-Men #1 which I insisted in getting $8.00 per copy. What a deal I made 🙁
|Get back into collecting comics and try to go back and buy everything I sold.
|Go to first comic book convention and soon start setting up as a comic dealer with my friend Rann Johnston.
|Rann Johnston leaves to become Manager at Hero’s World in the Columbia Mall.
|Being a comics book dealer has become a full time second job. Set up at two comic shows per weekend for almost the full year doing shows from Maryland down to the Carolinas up to New Jersey and out to Ohio all the while being a full time UPS driver.
|Decide that my second full-time job had become just that and set up two comic companies, Comics to Astonish and Silver Star Comics with Rann Johnston. Attend multiple shows every weekend at the height of the comic craze of the early 90’s.
|May 29th – Walk into Hero’s World in Columbia Mall. Hero’s World is the only comic store in Columbia and the store manager tells me they have lost their lease and will be out of business by the end of June. Walk out of the store and decide that I will open a store front.
|August 11th – Less than 9 weeks after hearing that the only comic store in Columbia would be closing we open our doors and have Dave Cockrum as a guest. My friend Tom Brodkin, who had just come back from the Army, decides to help me get it started along with my brother Michael who is still with me. This is a great help since I am a full-time UPS driver and work shows on the weekend. We had only 2 weeks to get the store ready and each and every day little Mikey Wong who’s parents owned Sing-Fy resturant would stand outside our store with his face pressed up to the window waiting for us to open. He was our 1st customer in the door and Edwin Jeffries was the 1st to spend money in the store and his $20.00 bill he used is still there.
|Only open for 1 week Dave Slater introduces Tom and I to Magic the Gathering. He came in the store every day for a week and said “You must carry this product.” Finally to appease him we buy a box and sell all the packs in the first hour. We quickly purchase more. This single product carried the store through the slow times of the mid 90’s. Of course if we new how long Magic would last I would have saved those Arabian Nights, Legends. Beta & Unlimited boxes!!!
|Decide to close down Silver Star Comics and fold the company into Comics to Astonish.
|Decide it is time to incorporate, thus Comics to Astonish, Inc. is born in January.
|After helping the store get started Tom Brodkin goes out on his own and tries a gaming store in Ellicott City which folds after a short time and moves to Virginia where he still lives.
|Can you say “Pokemon”!!!!! The single hottest product we have ever had.
|Can you say “Beanie Babies”!!!!! The second hottest product we have ever had.
|Marry my high school friend Melissa who takes to the business and helps with the internet.
|Hire Kurt Barr to help run the store while I focus on internet sales.
|August 11th – Celebrate our 10th anniversary with our biggest sale ever.
|Hire Chris Vance who is also our artist for our ad in Overstreet.
|Decide that I would place my first ad in Overstreet and launch a web site.
|Kurt is promoted to store manager.
|Come up with the concept for Fatguy-Blackguy-Baldguy thinking it would be fun to have a web-comic and talk to Chris and Kurt about helping with the comic. Kurt to help with tech and writing and Chris to draw.
|Celebrate our 15th anniversary in August with yet again our biggest sale ever.
|Get the first three comics strips up for www.fatguyblackguybaldguy.com
|Chris gets promoted at his full-time job and leaves Comics to Astonish while remaining as artist for www.fatguyblackguybaldguy.com and Kurt leaves the web-comic to start Bunnies on Fire with Chris as they try and get their comic ideas published leaving me as the full creative force behind www.fatguyblackguybaldguy.com.
|Hire Wabe Berry to pick up Chris’ hours at the store.
|Hire Martin OLtmanns as part-time help.
|Martin designs new more interactive web-site and tapped to help getting strips up for www.fatguyblackguybaldguy.com on a regular basis.
|Kurt leaves us for greener pastures and to focus on Bunnies On Fire. Wabe takes over Kurt duties.
|John Glorioso is hired to design a fully functioning e-commerce web-site and the new web-site is launced on October 1st.
|Melissa embarks on the very long task of starting the Magic The Gathering portion of our web-site. The Goal is to eventually every single MTG card up for research and sale. With over 20,000 MTG cards this will take at least a year to complete. Hire Valeri Johnson to assist Melissa with getting all the cards up.Ted Antonakos starts helping at the store 3 days a week to give Wabe a hand in running day to day duties at the store. Wabe is promoted to Store Manager.In August teaming with Marvel Comics we produce our very own Comics To Astonish Inc Variant cover for The Amazing Spider-Man issue #666 with art by designed by Keegan Conrad, drawn by Chris Vance and edited together by Martin Oltmann’s.
Willliam “Billy” Kumpf is hired in September to become our MTG Magic The Gathering guy to help us with running tournaments and organizing all our MTG cards.
|Hire my fomer manager and child hood friend Tom Brodkin’s daughter Kelsey to help put up all the MTG card information on the web-site.
|Todd Domer is hired to work Friday nights so we can expand our FNM events until 1 am each week.After doing 3-5 major comic cons a years for the last 10 years I decide to truly become a National Show Dealer and do as many shows as I can. I did shows in Portland Oregon, Seattle Washington, Chicago Illinois, St. Louis Missouri, Orlando Florida, Miami Florida, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, New Orleans Louisiana, Charlotte North Carolina, Baltimore, Maryland, Washington DC to name a few.August, my brother Michael who has worked at the store since it opened decides to take a break since we have full coverage and stops working for Comics To Astonish after 20 years. He is still available for emergency fill in.
December, Billy Kumpf leaves for greener pastures working for a medical corporation.
|Ray Nee comes on to replace Billy and run our Magic The Gathering events at the store. Ray takes us to a new level as our attendance at these events more than doubles.In March Kurt Barr returns to us. He just really loves comics!In April my long time friend Rann Johnston who worked with me way back in the 1980’s and early 1990’s decides he is tired of working in the food industry and approaches and asks me to start a 2nd store. After doing research we decide on Mt. Airy, Maryland which is 30 minutes from our Columbia Maryland store and 20 minutes from the city of Frederick, Maryland.
June, after months of looking we finally find a store front across from the Jimmie Cone and right next to the Food Lion. We take over the space on July 1st and target August 11th as an opening date. We also bring Ted Antonakos on full time to help with the massive amount of MTG cards that need sorting and to help out at the new store.
August 27th after many delays due to issues at Diamond Comics and their system upgrade which delayed us getting product, we finally open the doors in Mount Airy. Shortly after opening we hire Cameron Hensel to run the FNM events and in September Kevin Schoettkerke is hired.
|January Wabe Berry is promoted to General Manage both locations. Kurt Barr is promoted to Manage the Columbia location. We also get a 2nd Ebay store up and running to sell the tons of magazines and comic runs we have collected over the years.February Ray Nee steps back from running out FNM and Shawn Cruz & Shane Colliatie who have assisted Ray in the past take over the FNM events. Kelsey Brodkin leaves to pursue her career.June after a year getting Mt. Airy off the ground Rann Johnston decides his true calling is the food industry and leaves to become a Manager at Boston Market. We decided not to fill the manager position at Mt. Airy as Wabe & Kurt will help build the customer base there by each spending a few days a week there.
August we celebrate our first year with the doors open in Mt. Airy. Tons of work but worth it!
September Todd Domer who just had a 2nd child and leaves us but his friend and long time customer Justin Fontaine takes over his job. We try something new with Magic the Gathering and run our first off site MTG tournament with Boy Scout Venture Crew 007 with help from troupe organizer Becky Alder.
|At the end of the year Wabe Berry & Kurt Barr move on to find out what they will do with the rest of their lives. Also leaving is Kevin Schoettker who got a nice paying Goverment job. He will still fill in when needed for Magic The Gathering events.
| January I hire Brian Rupp and we lose Ted Antonakos after 6 years of service.February I hire Jessee Leese who is an expert on Magic The Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons and also knows comics.March I hire Andrew Sandor to help with the Mount Airy location.
July sees the hiring of Ashley Violanti, Allison Malone, Eric and our 1st 2 interns in Josh (see below) & Kurt .
September continues the year of high turnover as Brian Rupp & Ashley Violanti leave us but we do brin on Josh as a paid employee. I have know Josh since the day he was born and around the age of 5 years old he started asking “Mr. Keegan can I work for you?” I told him “Josh when you are 15 years old you can have a job”. So here it is 15
November Allison Malone leaves us and we bring on Evelyn Lewis to work both Columbia & Mt. Airy.
December we hire Carter Polley to work the Mount Airy location. Also Martin Oltmanns after 10 years of service moves into a emergency fill in role as he has climbed the ladder of success with the Howard County Pool system and now runs all the pools!!! Justin Fontaine also has his last day as our Friday Night guy.