It was 1988 and Justin Sinnott was about 6 years old when his grandmother handed him a copy of Wolverine No. 2, marking the beginning of a lifelong love of comics.
“My fondest memories were going to the local comic shop,” he said. “For a couple of bucks, I could check out someone else's thought process.”
The intense battle between Wolverine and Silver Samurai plastered on the bright red cover bewitched Sinnott's young imagination.
“I was so captivated by the art on the cover, I wanted to know more,” he said. From there, he would spend time spinning through spindles at local shops, and eagerly awaiting the next surprise shipment of comics his mother would order from a Sears catalogue.
By the time Sinnott was a teenager – he was already about 6 feet, 4 inches tall – the gentle giant earned the nickname Ogre. It stuck ever since, except for a short time in his 20s when he went by Justin.
“People would still call my house and ask for Ogre,” he said. “But my love for comics has never changed.”
Now the Milton resident is ready to nurture the next generation of comic-book lovers at Ogre's Grove, a new comic shop set to open on Union Street during Milton's Zombie Fest Saturday, Oct. 21.
Ogre's Grove is about more than just comics, he said.
“The concept is the wine and cheese art expo for comic books,” he said. “One part art gallery, one part comic book shop, with a little nostalgia and a little bit of the future.”
Characters like Batman, Wonder Woman and Dr. Strange offer an escape from reality, while revealing universal stories of life and heroism that can educate any age of reader, he said.
“Some of the hardest issues in culture have been handled in comics,” Sinnott said. “It is one of the most wonderful forms of expression. It is definitive American art.”
The storefront is also part of Sinnott's home, which he shares with his wife, Kristin, an artist and graphic designer at the Cape Gazette.
Also a child of the '80s, Kristin Sinnott grew up with Jem and the Holograms, Rainbow Brite and other colorful cartoons that remained a passion as she studied graphic design and developed her own colored-pencil creations.
After living in Shipbuilder’s Village since 2004, the couple recently purchased an early 20th century home next to Milton Public Library, with dreams of moving their online store to a brick-and-mortar space.
PREVIEW OPENING Saturday, Oct. 21
HOURS 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday;
11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday through Friday,
noon to 6 p.m., Saturday
ADDRESS 129 Union St., Milton
SOCIAL MEDIA Facebook.com/OgresGrove, twitter.com/ogresgrove and instagram.com/ogresgrove
Sinnott said the historic home at 129 Union St. was the first hattery in Milton, later becoming split-level apartments and housing the town's first switchboard operator.
“This property presented itself as an opportunity,” he said. “#KeepMiltonWeird. I love that the theater works with us. I love that every business I've approached or talked to has been willing to deal with us. That's something refreshing. That is Americana at its best.”
At Ogre's Grove, comic enthusiasts can find everything from the latest-edition subscriptions to older collectibles, such as Avengers No. 1 from 1964, which Sinnott calls his pièce de résistance.
While most comics will cost about $3, discounts are available for loyal customers and subscribers, as well as a 10 percent discount for college students, veterans, and military members and first responders. Pieces like Sinnott's prized Avengers comic from the early 1960s would be for sale for the right price, Sinnott said.
“I need my customer base to tell me what they want,” he said, adding that subscriptions will be a big part of what Ogre's Grove has to offer. “And you can always barter with the Ogre.”
The shop will also feature Kristin's work, as well as handmade jewelry by Kristin's mother, Annette Cornell. Bartering with Kristin won't work as well, she said with a laugh. Best to wait for days the Ogre is running the shop.
“I'm the Ogre, but this is the grove,” Sinnott said. “This is what I'm growing. I want people to have memories, and to be like me and be able to say, 'I remember when I bought that comic here.' I want that to go out to the world.”