Couple celebrate 25 years of comic book success in Shrewsbury

Zombies, star signings and give-aways in store for birthday bonanza

The zombie apocalypse will come to Shrewsbury next month, when a couple who set up their own comic book business celebrate a quarter of a century in business.

To mark the 25th birthday of Infinity & Beyond, shoppers will be given the chance to have photos taken with the undead in a special ‘bio-hazard’ zone at Shrewsbury’s Darwin Shopping Centre, while renowned artist Charlie Adlard – famed for his work on the best-selling Walking Dead books – will also be in store to meet with fans and sign books as part of the celebrations.

“We’ve held a birthday bash each year since we first opened, but this is by far the biggest and best we’ve ever organised,” said Infinity & Beyond’s Paul Martin, who together with his partner Tracey Preston set up the business as a mail order service on 10 June, 1991. “We’ll have an incredible bio-hazard zone populated by zombies next door to the shop, and have arranged some first-class signings to say a huge thanks to our loyal customers.”

In March 1992, Paul and Tracey opened their first shop – in Fish Street – as the mail order business boomed. “We moved into the Darwin centre just a year ago and haven’t looked back since,” said Paul, who together with Tracey lives in Bayston Hill. “We’ve had a great first 12 months here and as this is the 25th anniversary of our business we wanted to do something really special.”

Charlie Adlard, a long-time friend of the couple and artist on the world-famous Walking Dead series, is lending his support by making a special appearance at the event, while Judge Dredd and 2000AD illustrator Dylan Teague and Dr Who, DC and Marvel artist Mike Collins will also be giving fans the chance to have comics and memorabilia signed.

“We’ll also be holding a special raffle for our customers,” said Paul. “From now – starting 25 days before the big day - we’re giving customers a ticket for every £10 they spend, with the chance to win one of 25 prizes. As well as holding the raffle draw on the day itself, the first 25 customers to spend more than £25 will be given a special goodie bag containing an exclusive front cover sketch by Charlie,” he said. “We’re going all out to make sure this is a day to remember.”

Paul added that it was not just zombies that are expected at the party, with other ‘surprise guests’ dropping by to entertain shoppers. “Our customers enjoy everything from Walking Dead and Dr Who to Star Wars and the Marvel universe,” he said. “There’ll be people in all kinds of comic-inspired costumes, as we want to make sure there’s something going on for everyone.”

Although firmly established in Shrewsbury, Infinity & Beyond’s popularity reaches worldwide. “We sell a whole range of items all across Europe, and do a lot of trade to the US - especially anything related to The Walking Dead.”

Paul said that although he had been a fan of comic books for many years, the idea for the business only came following a trip abroad. “My passion for comic books was really reinvigorated whilst we were travelling in Australia in 1990,” he said. “When we came to Shrewsbury we were considering starting a business and it was a choice between a sandwich shop and a comic book shop. I think we made a good decision.”

Kevin Lockwood, Shrewsbury Shopping Centre Manager, said the birthday bash was set to be a day to remember.

“We’ve arranged for the zombies to have their very own bio-hazard zone, but shoppers might need to be prepared for some strange sights in the centre that day,” said Kevin. “With some other ‘guests’ dropping by, it sounds like there’s going to be something for comic book fans of all ages.

“Paul and Tracey are terrific to work with and I’m thrilled that Infinity & Beyond has enjoyed so much success,” said Kevin. “Reaching the 25 years milestone is a great achievement, but to do it when your business continues to go from strength to strength is really something.”

* The Infinity & Beyond 25th birthday celebrations will be held in the Darwin Shopping Centre on Saturday, 11 June. The shop will be open from 9.30am until 6pm, with artist appearances scheduled to begin at 11am.