Beloved Dark Star Books & Comics founder dies, daughter to carry on legacy

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

A trailblazer in the comic book world has died, but her impact will be felt in the Dayton region for generations to come.

Mary Alice Wilson, 89, founder and longtime owner of Dark Star Books and Comics at 237 Xenia Ave. in Yellow Springs, died Monday, Jan. 31. Her death came suddenly after she fell ill on Jan. 1, then soon after was diagnosed with brain cancer.

According to her daughter, Kate Mooneyham, Wilson prided herself in keeping a very sharp mind up until her last days.

“It is with a heavy heart that we bid adieu to our founder and #1 fan, Mary Alice Wilson,” posted Dark Star to its Facebook page Monday evening. “She started Dark Star in the early ‘80s, was one of the first female comic store owners, and at one time had 3 stores in the Dayton area. Her passion for comics and books never wavered. We thought she was immortal, but cancer managed to find her. Please open up a book tonight and do some reading in her honor.”

Wilson opened the comics and books shop in 1982. Mooneyham now owns Dark Star, but before her mother’s death, the two were able to share nearly a decade of caring for the shop together.

Mooneyham was pleasantly surprised when she learned an article about her mother was published Wednesday morning on ICv2 ― a nationally-read online publication that covers gaming and comics pop culture.

“Wilson was a visible figure in the industry, one of only a handful of women who owned comic stores in the early ‘80s and a regular attendee of conventions and industry events,” reported ICv2. “Mention ‘Mary Alice,’ and everyone in the business knew who you were talking about.”

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

“I had no idea they were going to write about her,” Mooneyham said. “It was very gratifying for my kids who didn’t know much about her business years because they were out of the area. They were all like, ‘Wow! I had no idea she was so (well-known).’”

It wasn’t until her late 40s that Wilson became interested in comics after her then high school-aged son began bringing comics home. At the time, Wilson was teaching reading skills at Central State University and started bringing the comic books to class for the students to practice reading.

According to Mooneyham, the administration was puzzled as to why she was encouraging the students to read comic books as a form of education.

“So, she just got frustrated and she ended up doing some comic sales part time and then going to conventions, buying and selling and…eventually just decided to open her own store,” Mooneyham said.

“Mary Alice Wilson broke a lot of ground in her time in the comics business and was a fine human being. We’re sad to see her go, and hope she’s surrounded by books wherever she is,” concluded the ICv2 article.

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