Deadnaut Comics Opens in Downtown Ashland
Emily C. Roush
One of Ashland’s newest small businesses aims to help make the city a destination for comic book and pop culture enthusiasts. Jason and Tonya Miller opened Deadnaut Comics, located at 120 17th Street in Ashland, on March 3, 2023. For Jason, the store gives him the chance to be surrounded by what he loves. “We’ve got tens of thousands of comics; this is a small portion of the collection. I’ve actually got more,” he laughed while gesturing toward the comic book display. He continued, “we are currently trying to get everything organized and alphabetized.” Comics may be in the name, but Deadnaut has a variety of merchandise that reaches multiple interests and fandoms. “We are a store that offers not only comic books, but we sell t-shirts and [create] custom t-shirts. We sell DVDs and vinyl records. We specialize in a lot of the classic horror movies and things like that.” Deadnaut is filled with a plethora of merchandise from toys and collectibles to a movie room that has seats from a 1950s theater.
As a lifelong collector, the dream of opening a store to sell the kinds of merchandise he loves was always at the back of Jason’s mind. “This is stuff that I have been into my whole entire life. I have long been a fan of superheroes and anything movie related.” He and Tonya parlayed the love of movies into a video store they ran for eight years that included movie themed collectibles. With Deadnaut, Jason can sell and share even more nostalgic items popular during his youth. “Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of toys, but I had comics. I absolutely love surrounding myself with items from my childhood in the 80s.” His deep love of comics, toys, and movies even inspired the business’ name. “The Deadnaut name is to explore and never come back. It's kind of like the first time I purchased a comic. I became wrapped up and lost in the art and story, and I never came back. Comics are meant to be adventures. I'll always be a big kid at heart.”
When it came to opening a store, Jason set his sights downtown. He recalled, “from the time I saw the building for lease, I said ‘I’m going to do it’ to go ahead and take a chance and just try it.’” He and Tonya traveled throughout the region researching potential places and noticed an important trend. “We went out of town to bigger cities like Lexington and Cincinnati, and we realized that there was anywhere from two to five [similar stores] right there in a very close range.” The 17th street location is within walking distance of two other comic book and collectibles stores, making the area a hub for hobbyists. “We’ve got three locations right here. Someone coming from out of town that is a collector has the access to hit all three. This neighborhood can be a destination for collectors.” He also wants the store to be a destination that features local artists. “I am also very interested in the art of comic books. That was one of the main things that I am trying to do is get local artists to draw on the side of our building to promote their art.” Deadnaut’s building also appealed to Jason’s fixer-upper sensibilities he has developed as a Real Estate Agent with Ashland based Paramount Properties. When the property on 17th Street became available, he knew it was “the one.” Jason explained, “the location was an old building, and I like being able to take something a little dingey and turn it into a nice place for family and friends and kids to come and check out.
Deadnaut Comics has only been open for a few weeks, but Jason feels that the public has embraced the store. “We have been growing more and more every day. We are starting to get more traffic. It’s been great.” He already has plans to expand services offered at Deadnaut creating a system where customers can purchase merchandise online and pick up at the store. He also hopes to transform a large storage room into an event space. “We’ve got a back room we’d love to convert for a space of table games like Dungeons & Dragons to Magic the Gathering to board game nights and offer board games tournaments.”
Though Deadnaut Comics is a business, it does not feel like work to Jason.
Even the most mundane tasks, like inventory, bring him happiness. “This is really a passion project and something I enjoy. It doesn’t feel like work when I come here.
It’s nice to come in here, unwind, and sort through comic books and try to offer some sort of product to the community. I just love coming to work. That is the best way I can describe it. I enjoy surrounding myself will all the artwork and stuff that’s on the walls, from the comic books. I love it.” Deadnaut Comics is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. If passersby see the open sign lit up outside normal hours, they are welcome to come in. “Anytime that open sign is on, we’re open. Sometimes I’m doing work with inventory and pricing items. Anytime an open sign is on, we’re open.” Updates and more information about Deadnaut Comics can be found online at their Facebook Page, by calling 606-393-1179, or emailing