System of a Down Drummer John Dolmayan Has a Cool Job on the Side: Comic Books!

Being a rock star as a best-before date, so wise musicians take any money they make and invest it in something that will sustain them after the music career sputters out. John Dolmayan, drummer for System of a Down, is a financial investor, an entrepreneur and–get this–the owner of a high-end comic book store in Las Vegas. You want rare and hard-to-find editions? Talk to John. He was recently profiled in Inc.

When I was a young lad growing up in California I had a $5-a-week allowance. Every Saturday my friends and I would go to the movies.

But one Saturday there was nothing we hadn’t seen, and one guy said, “Let’s go to a comic book store.” I didn’t know there were stores dedicated to comics.

I walked into that store on Victory Boulevard called Passport Comics, and it was like walking into another world: Posters, comics on the walls, superheroes I had never seen –and I instantly fell in love with the hobby. I spent all my money on the comics that day. I bought some 25-centers, 50-centers, I bought an issue of Savage Sword of Conan… From that point forward, I spent that $5 on comics.

Within a year or so I had a long box of comics. Two years later I convinced my mom to take me to the San Diego Comic-Con. I had a budget of about $100 that I had saved, and I blew through that $100 in about thirty minutes.

I started out just buying whatever I could afford, so I could read as many titles as possible. Through the process of elimination I figured out the titles I enjoyed, and then I started to buy the new issues of those titles. I had a pull list of 50 titles a month: Detective Comics, Batman, Superman… and then everything else was essentially Marvel titles: Amazing Spiderman, Avengers, West Coast Avengers, X-Men….

So I was getting every new issue, but I had a thirst for more, so I said, “Let’s take a look at back issues.” Very soon I embraced the collector mindset, which for many is to be a completist. I started writing wish lists, tried to find first appearances. There were all these books I had to have… it became a pretty bad habit. I was spending $500 a month. I’ve had jobs since I was 15 years old, and whatever money I had, I essentially put into comics.

Cool, no? More here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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