Small business Monday – spotlight on Sanctum Tattoos and Comics

portrait DSC 0177 Small business Monday - spotlight on Sanctum Tattoos and Comics

Need a comfy space to get your new body art while brushing up on the latest edition of Shirtless Bear Fighter?  Then Sanctum Tattoos and Comics is the place for you!  Wess Gregg and Aaron Hamilton tell us all about their unique operation in this week’s small business spotlight.

We are Wess Gregg and Aaron Hamilton (co-owners) and currently have one other tattoo artist working with us, Justin Kontzen. We have lived in Birmingham or surrounding cities all of our lives.

The name of our business is Sanctum Tattoos & Comics and we’ve been open at 4410 B 4th Ave S for about six months.  We are a custom tattoo shop with a full comic shop attached.  With tattoos, we can do anything you want, your design or ours, custom or classic.

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photo via Kristina O’Quinn for Bham Now

Saying which product or service we’re most proud of is tough to say. We both love comics. Introducing someone to a new comic, or storyline they might may not have discovered otherwise is rewarding. Giving someone a great piece of art on their body is a special experience. This is a shop where it’s fun to get to know and interact with most of the people that come through the door.

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In the comic shop we carry current titles from mainstream (Marvel, DC) and independent (Image, Dark Horse, Fantagraphics, Black Mask, Oni, Humanoids, Albatross, Drawn & Quarterly, etc) publishers. We also have a wide array of back issues (singles and collections), graphic novels, and zines. Additionally, we offer a pull/subscription service for monthly titles, and special orders.

In short, we carry a little bit of everything – all the standard superhero titles, and a lot of independent and creator owned books.

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photo via Kristina O’Quinn for Bham Now

Our favorites change week to week.  There are so many great titles out right now.  Image is putting out some pretty amazing stuff currently.  We love Saga, and Deadly Class for example.  The new All-Time imprint on Fantagraphics has been a blast to read. Becky Cloonan’s run on Marvel’s Punisher has been thrilling as well.

Generally, comics deal with fantastic subject matter. Just about anything you pull off the shelves (except for our biographical, or historical comics) is going to be pretty wild. A recent comic that comes to mind that’s far-out is Shirtless Bear Fighter. The title says it all, really.

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Justin Kontzen speaks with a patron. photo via Kristina O’Quinn for Bham Now

We have a handful of superhero comics from the late 60’s. The classic art is really amazing. Additionally, we have runs of comics from the 70s, 80s, 90’s, and up to the present.

Our file cabinets house our back issues. We’ve already lost count, but I’d imagine we have a couple thousand single issues to rifle through, and we’re always accumulating more. As we acquire older books, we try to focus on curating collections and full stories so that new readers can enjoy classic storylines in their entirety.

If you want a particular monthly title, we can set it aside for you as it’s published. You get to pick it up at your convenience and not have to worry about it selling out.  Plus, you get a discount on your purchases as a subscriber!

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Aaron Hamilton. photo via Kristina O’Quinn for Bham Now

Our main tattoo artists are Aaron Hamilton and Justin Kontzen.  Justin has been tattooing for about 25 years and Aaron for about 12.  Between them they can do pretty much any style of tattoo you could want.  Jason and Amber are our apprentices.  Both are very good artists that are working to expand their knowledge of the tattoo world.

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Jason Agan. photo via Kristina O’Quinn for Bham Now


What we want people to know about Sanctum is that people may have certain ideas with comic or tattoo shops being elitist, or ‘members only’ type establishments . We don’t really fit that mold. We are approachable and open to everyone.  For tattoos we have people from all over.  Collectors searching for back issues come from across the tri-county area.  Readers following current titles are bit more local, though.

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Justin Kontzen. photo via Kristina O’Quinn for Bham Now

The most rewarding thing about being small business owners is that we go to work every day in a comic and tattoo shop. That’s pretty fun.  We are enjoying seeing the Avondale/Crestwood area grow more and more, and the new kinds of people it brings into the area.  As small business owners, it seems that our voices are heard a little more than as individuals.  The hardest thing about being a small business owner is that we have too many ideas, and not enough time to execute them.

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Mark Branson is happy about his tattoo! photo via Kristina O’Quinn for Bham Now

Birmingham as a whole is always changing; good and bad. The communities and government can be in great shape or really struggling, week to week.  It’s hard to say what our hopes for the city in the future may be. Hopefully, as new people continue to embrace the metro area, they’ll embrace the diverse populace here as well. We just do what we can to make our community better and positively affect the people around us.

Check out store hours and more info at:

Check out this business post, too –

Small Business Monday – Spotlight On Club Duquette

One last helpful tip from Justin – 

If you want to keep your tattoos vibrant and skin healthy you should always protect them from the sun.  A good sunblock is essential to tattoo health.

Kristina O'Quinn
Kristina O'Quinn
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