It was a time of the "big box" mindset, when comic books were dominated by national names like Marvel and DC.

It was a time of the "big box" mindset, when comic books were dominated by national names like Marvel and DC.

It was a time of financial crisis, when anything seemed possible because everything was crumbling.

Having closed his music store, Evil Empire Records, Ken Eppstein was a man working a desk job for an affordable housing company.

Then, in the sweltering days of July, Eppstein was bitten by the urge to make a dream happen.

He had spent his childhood engrossed in "X-Men" and 1950s horror strips, Slurpee in one hand and his dog's leash in the other.

He had always liked comics "with an outsider feeling to them, which I always identified with," and he "lived by the moral code of WWSMD - what would Superman do?"

Eppstein started working on a self-published quarterly comic called Nix (the name derived from nixing his bad attitude and doubts about a comic like this ever coming to fruition).

He began writing storylines and finding local vendors, and his powers of imagination became stronger as he listened to musicians like The Ramones and ? and the Mysterians.

Wielding weapons of illustration and graphic design, five local artists - Darren Merinuk, Ryan Brinkerhoff, Rich Trask, Dave Pickard and Michael Neno - joined Eppstein for the first issue. Each worthy sidekick had a unique aesthetic and illustrated six different stories that ranged from serious to sarcastic.

One-pagers told the tale of Bus Stop Ned, derived from actual conversations heard at COTA bus stops. One storyline drew parallels between signing with a record label and selling your soul to the devil. Another sought vengeance against homophobia.

Eppstein released the first Nix Quarterly this month at local stores.

Will Eppstein fulfill his desire to take "the many people in Columbus who do this sort of thing and turn it from a scene into a movement"?

Will the vampire-slaying priest ever run into a monster he cannot defeat?

Will Bus Stop Ned ever stop being so funny?

Stay tuned.