A Force and a Direction

David Mosca

Before Manifest Comics came to fruition, Vector Comics was at the forefront of the comic book market for the Bayonne community. It was conceived in 1983 by Joe Viapiana. I had often joked that before the store ever became Vectors, the building itself had stood in the same spot since the beginning of time.

“My mother and my uncle ran a candy store and luncheonette, so I worked there for a bit through grade school and high school,” said Joe Viapiana, the owner of Vectors. “While I was working the counter and taking care of customers, I would read comic books in between that. And I read a lot of comics through the years.”

Joe’s love for reading eventually spawned the idea to open his own book store.

“When I decided to open up a book store, because my other business went south, I decided with my uncle, who had the store available for me, that I would have the space be a book store and also sell comics,” said Joe. “My uncle already had a lot of books and he had a lot of comics because he had been buying older stuff. So basically it was also for my love of comics.”

When Joe decided to put up a big display of comics in the store, they of course started selling more than the trade paperbacks and the other books available. People began asking for different things and soon it was decided that the store would be called Vector Comics. But before Vectors came to be, the store used to be a camera shop known as Spectrum Photo.

“The name for the store came about because we didn’t have a lot of money at first and we didn’t know if it was going to be successful,” said Joe in regards to naming the store. “To save money, there were letters up on the building already and we switched them around and it turned out that we could make the word Vector out of what was already there. And at the time, Vector was actually a popular word that everyone was using. There was a Vector Tires. There was even a Vectors that sold those speed guns that track car speeds. So we figured we could make it work.”

Technically speaking, a vector is an electromagnetic field, also known as a vector field. In physics, when I rocket is taking off, it needs thrust and direction, and that’s also called a vector. Joe said that Vector Comics was a “force and a direction.”

Eventually, after 29 years of serving the Bayonne community, Joe figured it was time to shift his business into a different direction.

“I was past retirement age,” said Joe when deciding to change direction with the store. “I decided that I wanted to start slowing down. We would be open six days a week for 29 years and it was kind of a grind. But it was fun. We had great customers and it was a great business to run and everybody got along well.”