Collectors of comic books and lovers of cool toys lost a friend and conspirator Saturday. Dave Luebke, owner for the last 34 years of Dave’s Comics and font of pop culture knowledge, died April 16 of heart disease.
To those customers who spent time with him in his Village Shopping Center emporium and became his friends, as well as his wife, Sheryl, and longtime co-workers, his heart was the thing they loved most. He was caring, inclusive and interested in their lives, offering his time and friendship and always an opinion or two.
I first met Dave in the 1990s, when I’d stop by the shop to get his advice on which trending toy to feature in Style’s holiday gift guide. Often my children, who were around 5 or 6, would come along, and Dave would excitedly show us every new gizmo in the store. The nose flute! The gyro rings! The instant snow! Visits to see Dave became a regular treat, and we always left with a purchase. Dave was a highly effective salesman.
At one point, he found himself pet-sitting for a friend’s Savannah cat, a hybrid of domestic cat and African serval, in his office behind the retail space. He invited my children to hang out and play with the unusual animal, and 20 years later they still talk about how great that was. Dave completely understood what would delight kids of all ages, whether it was the oddity of an exotic cat or the value of a rare comic book.
The Saturday before Dave died, his close friend Brett Carreras, president of Virginia Comicon, organized a sale at the shop to help cover some of Dave’s medical expenses. By early afternoon, there were still long lines of devoted clientele at the door and the cash register. Dave was in the hospital, but he would have loved the moment — hundreds of customers perusing the goods and sharing Dave stories while they waited to make purchases.
When word of his passing was shared on Facebook over the weekend, fond memories were posted from across the country. Dave, it seems, was the patron saint of generations of kids who found his inventory-laden shop to be a refuge for those who came running when a new serial comic was released and others who just wanted to debate Archie’s choice of Veronica over Betty (Dave preferred Betty).
Dave got it and shared their passion. “He inspired me to follow my dreams and enjoy every moment of this crazy gig,” Carerras wrote in a post. “There are not enough words to express how important David was to me, and how much I will truly miss him.”