Talk of the Town - Comic proportions January 15 2003

Not all comic book fans are fat slobs who live in their parents' basements. Some of them have girlfriends, families and kids. Some even play sports and have tans.

Tony Cade continues to work to change those stereotypes with The Dragon's Horde, his comic book and gaming store in Stone Mountain.

"I'm trying to show kids that you can be cool and like this stuff," he says.

Cain describes himself as one of those "unusual" comic book fans. He has a wife, three daughters and loves sports. The 37-year-old remembers when comic books were the only form of cheap entertainment for youngsters. Now, with electronic games saturating the market, a kid's free time is often spent with a controller in hand, eyes glued to the screen.

But a growing number of kiddos are caught up in a new craze. Yu-Gi-Oh is the latest trend from Japan — a collectible card game for the G-rated crowd that pits two players against one another in a battle with monsters and magic. Players show their skills each weekend at heated competitions.

Others who want to learn about the cards' illustrations and other Japanese comics (known as Manga) are instructed by recent art school grad Toulou Yong, who teaches artists of all levels how to create their own work in the style.

Despite his efforts, Cade says, his children aren't interested in comics. But he is popular on Career Day at school.

"They just tell their friends, 'My dad's the one with the Yu-Gi-Oh cards,'" says Cade. "That gets their attention."

Yu-Gi-Oh Tournaments: free; Sundays 2 p.m.; registration 1:30 p.m. Manga and comic book art classes: $7; Sundays 5-7 p.m. The Dragon's Horde, 5615 Memorial Drive, Suite E, Stone Mountain. 404-298-1118. www.thedragonshorde.com.