Getting to Know the Neighbors: James Leavy

By |Published On: February 20, 2024|

“Getting to Know the Neighbors” is a series where awesome locals share their local favorites. 

Best known around town as one of the friendly faces behind the counter at Comic Swap, James Leavy has been a State College neighbor since 2018!

If you’re a regular at downtown’s Comic Swap on Fraser Street, you know that conversations with James are always something to look forward to. Being on the receiving end of his impressive knowledge, enthusiasm, and kindness makes visits to the store – tucked away in a cozy basement space under Dunkin Donuts – even more fun. We asked James to fill us in on some of his favorite things about living in State College and hope you’ll discover something new!

Day to Day

On a typical weekday, you’ll find me… doing some reading or writing at Elixr Coffee before I head into work at the Comic Swap.

And the weekends are for… running the store solo on Saturday before playing board games in the evening, unless I’m going to the movies!

If State College had its own TV show, my character would be the one who is always… getting compliments on their hair, and talking about the latest book they’re reading.

Awesome Local Alert!

I’m probably most well-known around town for… my work with the comic book store, but I can also be found organizing monthly book clubs for the community.

The thing I’m most proud to be contributing to our community is…making the comic book store a space where people feel seen and understood. This semester one of the professors at Penn State implemented two books that I’ve recommended to her into her curriculum, because of how much she enjoyed them. (The books were Pulp by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips and It’s Lonely at the Centre of the Earth by Zoe Thorogood, if you’re curious!)

Favorite Things

To me, a perfect day in State College looks like… warm weather, starting my day off by grabbing a coffee and reading outside somewhere, whether it be by the Duck Pond or at the Arboretum on Penn State campus, or on one of my favorite trails.

The season I love most in State College is… summer, because the town slows down and develops a sense of calm. In the summer you see State College without the Penn State population, and you get a better portrait of the people that call it home.

I consider Pat Gallagher State College royalty. Pat is one of our frequent customers at the Comic Swap, but the reason he’s royalty is his willingness to talk person to person, rather than salesman to customer. He treats people with a humane openness that is rare in this day and age.

One downtown restaurant that I just can’t get enough of is… Tadashi Ramen!

Favorite local park… I love Jo Hays Vista. I love how you can see all of Penn State from the overlook. It gives me a sense of peace and belonging to see so much of State College at once. The trail is also very nice, and has this cliffside of large rocks you can sit on, and look into the forest down below. It’s a great spot to escape and reflect.

My go-to “Spend an Evening Downtown” itinerary looks like… going to Yallah Taco or the Halal Cart for food, then going to Central Reservation for drinks. Sometimes if I need alone time after a busy week and I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’ll bring a book to Central Reservation and read at the bar.

The Local Experience

On game days, you’ll find me… typically working at the Comic Swap. It’s really interesting seeing the different stages of people’s relationship with State College, from students, parents, locals, and alumni.

The 3 things I’d miss most about State College if I had to move are…Saturday night board games at the Comic Swap, monthly book clubs, and playing Dungeons & Dragons in person with my friends.

The coolest under-the-radar thing in State College is… the rich personalities of the people who make up the town.

My personal list of State College hidden gems includes… Comic Swap, Nittany Quill, Allen Street Pizza

If I had to sum up life in State College in 3 words? Coming of age

Want to learn more or join a once-a-month book club? Stop by the Comic Swap to chat with James!

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

What’s it like to live here, beyond football and Penn State?

Sign up below for our newsletter and we’ll help you envision what it could look like to call State College home.

Go to Top