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Matt Fraction on “The Great Comic Book Store”

Matt Fraction currently writes Casanova for Image Comics and Punisher War Journal for Marvel Comics. His latest ongoing title, The Immortal Iron Fist (co-written by Ed Brubaker) comes out this week. His website can be found here.

I’m doing a signing at Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find in one of my old hometowns, Charlotte, NC, on Saturday, December 2nd. I’ll be there from noon on, give or take, right in the middle of Heroes’ annual Big Holiday Sale. On top of that, last week, two books I wrote came out: CASANOVA #6, with Gabriel Bá and PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL with Ariel Olivetti, and this week, a book I co-write with Ed Brubaker called THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST comes out. David Aja draws that. And, the day before, I turn 31. So it’s a good time to sign stuff, to show up and promote my work and, hopefully, bring some folks into the store. Which, really, is what I want to write about– the comic book store.

Or rather– the great comic book store. I mean Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find and all stores of its caliber. Heroes is, for my money, one of the best stores in the country and a model for others to follow. It’s gorgeously laid out, wonderfully lit and well-stocked; it manages to be full-service and family-friendly in the same breath and, best of all, it’s run by a guy that lives for his job, Shelton Drum.

It is that most rare thing in the direct market, a comic book specialty store that doesn’t demand or deserve apologies.

And about ten years back, I worked there. And I honestly think a big part of what I know about making comics I learned from selling comics, from Shelton, and from the Heroes regulars.

You learn a lot about comics on that side of the counter, and I don’t mean like in what issue Hulk hit that one guy with an entire train (although you do pick up on that stuff here and there). You learn about the readers, you learn about the distribution, and most of all, you learn about how much hard work it is to actually run a good store. Like, the mystery of why so many comic shops look and smell like dungeons owned by scat fetishists reveals itself to you after your first Wednesday at, like, two in the afternoon.

Comics retailing ain’t easy; it’s a calling. The ones who do it well are a rarity for a reason and I respect the hell out of them. It demands a drive and dedication and talent that come in short supply. But when the stars align there’s nothing that makes me happier than a great comic book store. Wherever they are and whomever they’re run by, a great store is the difference between a browser and a reader, between a tourist and a lifer.

A store is a store, and its customers are transitory; a great store fosters readers for life. Last summer, I was a guest at HeroesCon, the annual convention Shelton puts on. It was my first time at that show since I left town a decade ago, and my first time there as a working professional. And I saw a dozen folks I remembered from back in the day, still reading books week in and week out, still regulars hooked on a weekly habit. There was something– I don’t want to say profound, because words like that should be saved for actual profundity– but meaningful to me, seeing that phenomenon in person. A great store by virtue of being great protects and fosters its customers.

Comics are a business built on the seven-day sales cycle. Some stores flush product off their shelves like expired milk every seven days; others, the great ones, use that as a core to build on. It’s not easy, and it’s not cheap, and every time I go in a shop that’s clearly in it to win it, I’m compelled to spend money. Any time I go into a place that clearly is fighting the uphill battle against the ANDROID’S DUNGEON punchlines and the places that are dark, dank, and probably have some blood-spatter on a back wall somewhere, I want to support them.

Because we need more. Especially now, as so much great work is out there, aching to be found, both in the superhero mainstream the DM was built around, and the world of comics lit that’s exploded these last few years. Comics have arguably never been better. And as such, great comics retailers have never been more needed. This isn’t a profound thought, nor is it a call to action. It is, in fact, stating the completely and totally obvious. So I’ll wrap this up by saying something that doesn’t get said all that often, and certainly not in a big public forum.

To all the great retailers out there: thanks.

(And to anyone reading this, in the comments, hype the great store YOU shop at. Let people know!)

80 Comments

If you’re in London (that’s London England to all you colonials), then you must shop at Gosh! Comics. It’s just opposite the British Museum and has been providing a sterling service for the last twenty years. It’s not very big, but it’s well run and well stocked, and actually run along the lines of a ‘normal’ bookstore – face-outs, recommendations etc. Also (and this is a biggie) it’s staffed by human beings. You know, real people who can string together a sentence, understand the importance of customer service, don’t talk down to ‘civilians’, and aren’t fazed by the presence of women in their shop. In fact, it’s the only comic shop that my wife (former floor manager at the largest bookshop in Europe, and lifelong female) feels comfortable in. Well done chaps, keep it up!

New England Comics in Quincy: Thanks for be a great store!

I don’t think I have to remention Rocketship, but I will just in case.

Mind’s Eye Comics, in Eagan (on the corner of Cliff and Thomas Lake Road, if I really want to narrow it down) is an excellent store. Clean, nicely-lit, well-stocked, family-friendly (they have a rack of kid’s comics right near the door, at about eye-height for the 5-7 year olds), and indie-supportive, with a nice manga section to boot. I love ‘em to death.

The Comic Book Shoppe in Ottawa, Ontario is without a doubt the best comic book store I’ve ever been to. I’ve been to bigger stores, I’ve been to places with amazing back issue selections, but this place just impressed me precisely because it gave me a great impression walking in: it’s absolutely welcoming and friendly, a good sized space with great layout, it has a great selection of everything, great looking branding and friendly staff. Every time I’ve been there there have been two rare things I almost never see in any other comic book shop: people under 13 and women. And that makes total sense to me: create a space that is friendly and inviting (and with women and younger people on staff) with a diverse collection of goods (they have a great anime and DVD section) and you get the sort of shop that will get traversed by more than 35 year-old mangeeks. It’s as though someone read Neil Gaiman’s essay on comic book stores and said ‘let’s do it the right way’.

In New York City, Jim Hanley’s Universe and Midtown Comics are comic shops my wife doesn’t mind browsing in.

My local shops are Steve’s Comics Relief in Lawrenceville, NJ and … um….the one in the basement of Chestnut Tree Books in Princeton, NJ that’s a branch of a place in Philly. Both are the Midtown Comics of Mercer County, except without quite as many alternative/small press books.

In case anyone’s wondering, Thor #385, by Jim Shooter, Stan Lee, and Erik Larsen is the one where Hulk hits ‘em with a train.

The Great Escape in Louisville, Ky. is about the best comic book store I’ve been in. I’ve been to most of the good L.A. and NY comic book stores and it’s just as good as any of those.

The Silver Snail in Toronto deserves mention, as does Atomic Comics in Charleston, SC. Yeah, I get around…

“In case anyone’s wondering, Thor #385, by Jim Shooter, Stan Lee, and Erik Larsen is the one where Hulk hits ‘em with a train.”

You just appear whenever there might be a continuity question, don’t you? Even if I’m sure you made that up. Also, Myth Adventures and Hobbies and Heroes in McAllen, Texas are great. I’m hoping the new store in my town, Comics Unlimited, joins them, if for no other reason than that I don’t want to go to drive an hour every time I want to go to a great comic shop.

Heroes is indeed a pretty good store, but Bizarro Wuxtry in Athens, GA is where I’m glad to spend my money. Kevin Anderson’s absolutely right about the Louisville Great Escape. The two in Nashville are pretty good, but the Louisville one is just awesome. The Beguiling in Toronto is the best of the best, though. Makes me want to head up there more than just once a year!

wow! there’s a store called BIZARRO WUXTRY?

I’d have to shop there on principle alone.

Jelly’s in Aiea, Hawaii (that’s near Pearl Harbor) was the very first comic store I ever walked into. They sell lots more than comics, so even my husband will go there for the used books. But for me, the focus was on comics. I learned lots about comics and graphic novels from that store, and they worked with me (I was a librarian) to get graphic novels into the library. I’m a middle-aged woman – I felt immediately welcome there, and no one ever condescended to me. I found all kinds of stuff there, because they had so much out on display; I quickly went from reading super hero comics to all kinds of manga and independent comics because I could browse.

My current local store, in Panama City, Florida (on the Panhandle), is Comic Emporium. Their selection is much smaller, but in the three years I’ve been their customer, they have continued to expand their comics holdings. Their main customer base is the gaming community, and they have a large back area where they play tournaments. I pre-order everything, and I’ve noticed that sometimes the owners will buy extra copies of some of the books I pre-order. It’s still not a great store, but they’re really trying. They’re fairly new, I think they’ve been around for about 5 years and are still not quite in the black, so I support them and pre-order through them rather than via the Internet, because I want them to succeed and grow.

I wish Sheldon would open a branch in Denver, CO. The stores out here are kinda sad (and yes the includes Mile High).

Triad Comics in Knoxville TN. Mike runs a great clean FRIENDLY shop. Its nice to have a comic shop that does is family friendly and great selection.

Phantom of the Attic comics
Craig St, Pittsburgh, PA

the greatest comic shop i’ve ever been in (and i’ve been in a bunch – from working in NYC’s Times Square Midtown Comics to having owner James Sime flag down a city bus for me when visiting the Isotope Comic Lounge in San Fran). cheers to Wayne, Jeff, Jim, and the whole Phantom crew: you guys are the best.

Austin Books and Comics in Austin, TX: it’s freakin’ huge, has more comics than anyone could ever read, and a complete staff that knows the books and wants you to try stuff you haven’t.

Graham Crackers. All of ‘em. In Illinois.

Isotope near the Civic Center in San Francisco is a hip shop that has a wide range of material. The store is set up with chairs and couches, is not cluttered, pleasing to the eyes, and has a staff that is willing to go out of their way to help you find something of interest if you ask. The store is so comfortable that you can take your non comic book friends there and they will be comfortable hanging out while you get your fix. About a $5.00 taxi cab ride from Union Sq. The cheaper and still easy way is by bus from Market St.

Across the Bay in Berkeley is one of the greatest comic shops in the world — Comic Relief. This shop is great because they stock their shelves with that a serious comic book reader could possibly want. Current mainstream, alternative, vintage undergrounds, comic history, comic strips, pop culture, back issues. If I lived nearby this would be the shop that I lived at. Heck, I would probably apply for a part time job there. They could do a little better on the customer service end, but with their in store stock, a knowledgeable fan will have hours of fun rumaging on their first visit. I did.

Coliseum of Comics in Orlando Florida!

Speeding Bullet Books and Comics in Norman, OK is my store of choice and is, for my money, the best store in the state of Oklahoma.

Matt runs a tight ship, and the staff there is friendly and knowledgable, which is what you want in a comic store staff. Their MASSIVE trade paperback wall HAS to hold 10,000 books, and I’ve never, EVER seen it not fully stocked.

On top of that, they’ve got the coolest floor design over in their cafe right now. Oh, yes, they have a superhero cafe attached to their store.

Plus, Geoff Johns signed there the week Action 844 came out, which made it a super week for all of us.

All in all, a great store with a lot of versatility and a touch of the necessary panache. If only it was in the same city that I live and I didn’t have to travel so far to shop there…

Comic Universe in snellville, GA which I went to everyweek when I lived there. Sadly I moved to LA, but I found a great place to go “DJ’s Comics” It’s a small shop but the owner has is heart in that place.

Hero Connection in lufkin texas is pretty dang cool. the best in east texas….if youre ever in east texas.

I have to second what Rich Martin said. Isotope in San Francisco (326 Fell St. @ Gough) is the best comic book store in the city. They’ve won the Best of the Bay: Best Comic Book Store award given out by the San Francisco Bay Guardian for the past several years now. Owner James Sime and staff are knowledgeable and friendly, and they’re always willing to help out in any way they can to get you what you want. Isotope carries a wide selection of new releases, as well as a huge libary of graphic novels. But what makes Isotope absolutely unique are the special events James holds from time to time. Arm-wrestling with Ed Brubaker, Scotch Tasting with Warren Ellis, Brain K. Vaughan Voter Registration Day… … the list goes on and on. If you’re in San Francisco, do yourself a favor and visit Isotope!

http://www.isotopecomics.com/

I live in iowa and the only two stores that I have ever gone to and liked were Daydreams in Iowa City and mayham comics in Ames. I haven’t been to Mayham in about ten years, but Daydreams is a good place I have been going there for the last six years and in that time they have moved a couple times but it is always to a nicer place. They do an excelent job of getting my comics and suggesting new comics both to me and my wife.

Phoenix Comics in Fairfax, Va near George Mason University. Nice, well lit and clean. Wonderful selection of comics, books, toys and statues. My family loves going to this store and I don’t feel ashamed to be seen in there myself!

I’d second Silver Snail toronto (http://www.silversnail.com)

In the Kitchener-Waterloo area, I’ve always liked Carry-On comics (no website), its a small store but makes excellent use of the space it has, not feeling clutters like other stores of its size usually do.

Astro Kitty Comics in Lawrence, KS is the place to be.
Super nice staff and a welcoming atmosphere.
It’s not a huge joint, but it makes any comic fan feel at home.

I love The House of Secrets in Burbank- how can you help loving a store with a bench painted to look like Plastic Man?

Web site: http://www.artoffiction.com/HOS_index.html

I’d like to put in a good word for Velocity Comics in Richmond, VA. They’re a far cry from the archetypical hyper-geeky comic shop, even to the point of having seats where you can sit down and read stuff before you buy it, instead of the usual “Hey kid, this isn’t a library!” approach.

http://www.velocitycomics.com/

when i lived in new york, i was a devotee of midtown comics. i always go back when i’m in town. the selection, knowledgable staff, clean atmosphere, and great discounts still can’t be beat.

now that i live in chicago, i split time between two stores that are similar to one another, but totally different than midtown. chicago comics (clark just south of school) and comix revolution on davis st. in evanston. both are edgy, hip, and carry a big line of books outside of the comics medium, including, but not limited to mcsweeney’s quarterly concern.

when i’m in milwaukee, i go to collector’s edge east on farwell, north of brady.

thanks to all.

Kale, Jesse Kale

November 30, 2006 at 9:15 pm

Sweet Im there. You should drop by Hickory (not to far from Charlotte about an hour) some time and go to timetunnel comics and toys real nice store. Its done so well it has its own spin off in Boone NC. Which is Plan 9 comics check um out. glad Heros is also holding a sale get some comics sighed and buy me those needed Y the last man and invincible trades i’ve been looking for.

If you are in San Fransisco, the Isotope Lounge is definitely the place to be! James and his entire staff are awesome. The events they have really make you feel like part of a community.

The shop I go to is Comic Universe in Fountain Valley, CA. http://www.myspace.com/comicuniverse. Even though they haven’t been around very long but you can’t tell. They have an awesome selection of comics, toys, statues, trades, cards, heroclix, etc. The staff is insanely friendly and well versed in the medium. They work hard to defy the comic shop stereotype, and it’s working. They invite people to come in and just hang out, grab a seat and read, or chat. You can really tell they do it because they love comics and comic fans, and aren’t just in it to make a buck. They really treat their customers as friends, and I wouldn’t go anywhere else.

If you’re ever in Brisbane, Australia, stop by The Daily Planet, http://www.dailyplanetonline.com.au

I frequent none other than Brian Hibbs’ store (the outspoken retailer who writes a monthly column for Newsarama), The Comix Experience, in San Francisco (I live all of three blocks away). Great store, great staff, great conversation.

Destination Venus in Harrogate (UK) is my favourite shop so far, its small but well laid out and looks modern. It has good service and an excellent website to back it up. I’ve worked and shopped in quite a few comic shops in my time and this is one of the best.

I just opened my store three weeks ago, SpazDog Comics, in Phoenix, Arizona. I opened it because I didn’t see a store that I would want to shop at. Since starting to plan the store three years ago, I have found a few stores that meet that standard, but it didn’t stop me from pursuing my dream. I hope to deserve the kind of praise that Matt bestows upon Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find one day.

Visit us in Phoenix or at http://www.spazdogcomics.com

Shawn Demumbrum
manager/co-owner
SpazDog Comics

Yeah, Phoenix… Arizona in general, had fuck-all for comic shops. I really hope yers is decent. :) I’m back through there every few years.

I’ve been to shops in New York, LA, San Diego, Chicago, Houston, Dallas and points in-between. For my money, Austin Books (http://www.austinbooks.com/) (in Austin, TX) is the best comic book shop in the country. Immense collection of not only new and used comics, but the best selection of graphic novels I’ve ever seen. If the GN is in print (and often if it is not), they’ve got it. Plus all the the GNs are 10% off all the time!

On top of all that, the staff is very knowledgeable, helpful, and even friendly to women (it’s the only shop my wife will willingly go to). Every November they have a 50% weekend where they sell all back issues and selected graphic novels/other merchandise for 50% off.

A truly amazing store. It’s one the one place that I bring all visiting fellow comic book fans to.

If you are in or near South Bend, IN you need to stop at Buy Me Toys, they are the best shop in the area and the home of the creator of The OZ/Wonderland Chronicles. It’s a great store, you won’t be disappointed.

When in Milford, Pa. try Left Field Hobbies (http://www.leftfieldhobbies.com). I used to go to Midtown Comics in Manhattan while I lived in Brooklyn, but this place is better as I find myself meeting other comic fans and having great conversations with the staff, who are comics fans themselves.

When I lived in NYC, I started out with Jim Hanley’s Universe, but switched to Midtown Comics when it opened. It is still one of the best shops I have ever shopped at and 6 years after I moved up to New England, on the occasional visits I make to the city or call-in orders that I make to Midtown, the staff still remembers me and treats me as well as any weekly customer. The whole crew there from Tommy to Pat to Gahl are just outstanding. The other shop I love in NYC, but doesn’t really rank as new reader friendly is St. Mark’s Comics – it’s cluttered, the staff isn’t too friendly (mostly just disinterested) but they have an unbelieveable indy selection and it happens to be on the single coolest street in the city.

I met Fraction at Heroes Con this summer, and man, was he cool. For those of you who haven’t, pick up Five Fists of Science, it is an awesome and the win.

Two of the greatest comic book shops I’ve ever been to are The Comic Book Store and its sister store Collector’s Edition, both in Little Rock, Arkansas. The owner, Michael Tierney, is every bit as in love with comics as any of us, and it shows.

Strange Adventures in Halifax, NS, Canada is one of the best comic shops on the planet. While they deal in superhero books, toys, and statues, the real draw is the atmosphere and the huge amount of attention paid to indie books, art comics, manga, and a concerted effort to push local stuff. One of the staffers there has been voted best salesperson in the city two years running.

CHICAGO – CHICAGO COMICS

New York – Jim Hanley’s Universe
Fair Lawn, NJ – Joker’s Child

All three stores are great!!!

Comic World in Dubuque, Iowa isn’t bad either. Well lit with a good decent selection of new books (and the best Subway in town is next door). It can’t compete with megastores like Midtown, but the three-man staff is friendly as all get-up, they are willing to hunt down hard to find books for you, and one of them is a walking comics encyclopedia.

I saw some Virginia shops mentioned above, and I have been to Phoenix Comics in Fairfax. I think the best shop is the one I go to regularly, MacGuffin Comics in Newport News, VA. The owner is a good guy, who models his store more like a Barnes and Noble and less like the dungeon places mentioned.

The shop specializes in Trades and OGN’s, which is the future, I think.

http://www.macguffincomics.com

Over the years with my various day jobs I’ve been lucky enough to visit most of Europe, Canada and over 30 of the 50 states. The first thing I do when arriving in a new city is check out the local comic book stores.

As a result I’ve visited hundreds of stores including most of the stores mentioned above; as well as way too many that fall at the other end of the scale.

The one store that tops my list, and already mentioned by a few people above, is AUSTIN BOOKS & COMICS – the largest and most diverse inventory of any store I’ve been in, and the friendliest most knowledgeable staff.

Better stores of my experience include:

DC area: Big Planet Comics
NYC: Hanley’s, hands down
Cambridge, MA: Million Year Picnic
LA: Golden Apple (tho I’ve not seen the new store)

I just discovered one a few weeks ago in State College, PA, called Comics Swap. Very nice diversity, kids section, GN section, manga wing, reading room, minimum of tsotchkes.

Ironically (or perhaps not), in Baltimore, the hometown of Diamond, I didn’t find a single decent comic shop; all the Geppi’s stores closed and every one left just happened to be moving or kept ridiculous hours.

Krypton Comics is THE best shop in Omaha. Stop in and see Dean.

Sioux City has a well-lit, nicely laid out shop, Acme Comics. A few years ago they won Best Retail Shop at SDCC. They will not sell anything close to mature to anyone not 18 or over. Too conservative IMO but at least they won’t catch any flak from a rampaging mother.

As previously mentioned, Mayhem Comics in both Des Moines & Ames is the best in the area.

Oak Leaf Comics in Mason City, IA is the best shop in northern Iowa with a good back issue selection and the biggest shop in Iowa.

Oklahoma City has some good shops, but the best one is New World Comics. Buck is a great guy who really knows his stuff and has one of the best back issue inventories I’ve seen.

Meltdown Comics and Golden Apple, both in L.A., are two of the best non-comics-reader friendly, well-lit, clean and well-organized shops I have ever seen. Great merchandising and appeal.

The best store that I have ever frequented is The DeeP in Huntsville, Alabama. The service is the best of any store (non-comics included) that I have ever used, and anything you are looking for they have or will get. Another store that I have visited while traveling that impressed me is Comics on the Green in Scranton, PA.

Newark, Delaware. Captain Bluehen! ‘Nuff said!

bridge city comics, portland, OR!!

I love this post. Matt’s account reminds me of my favorite comic shop here in Seattle. The owner just does so much for his customers it’s amazing. He puts on weekly Heroclix (and whatever else the kids are playing these days) tournaments, gives out tons of new movie passes, and generally just tries to promote the comics community as a whole.

It’s Dreamstrands Comics in the north end of Seattle.

I’ll add to the accolades for Austin Books. I used to shop there when I lived in Austin, and when I stopped in on a visit to the city a couple years ago, they had expanded, turning their already-impressive space into a veritable superstore! It’s really a great store.

I’ll also give props to my current local shop, Graham Crackers’ Comics in Naperville, Illinois. Graham Crackers has a chain of 8 or so stores in the Chicago suburbs, but the Naperville store is definitely the best one I’ve been to, with a friendly staff and a welcoming atmosphere. My wife likes coming in with me sometimes, and I often see kids there. It’s a great store.

And I have to mention the sentimental pick: Heroes Haven, in Roseburg, Oregon, where I grew up. For a small town, it’s a very well-stocked shop, and the owners are incredibly friendly, striking up conversations with anybody who walks in the door. I used to hang out there for hours when I was a teenager. I’ve run into Mike Allred there, since he is also from Roseburg, and the owner told me Gail Simone (who lives in northwest Oregon, I believe) occasionally stops in to shop. If you’re driving along I-5, consider stopping in and checking it out!

Ssalefish Comics and Toys and Silver Bullet Comics, both in Winston-Salem, NC (about an hour/hour and a half north of Charlotte) are great comic shops. It’s a little over an hour drive for me to go to both from where I live in Virginia, but it’s definately worth it.

near baltimore maryland, in pasadena there is a store called Fudd’s Rabbit Hole. its run by a dirty minded old man named Fudd (get the name now?) and its the only thing that keeps me from moving away from here. its on the small side, but Fudd can get you just about anything you want and his back stock is huge! if you’re ever in the area, look him up and come vist. Fudd is the only proprietor that will have the obligatory comic book arguments but not get down on you for what you do or dont like or why or why not something was good or bad. plus he has awsome prices on his collectibles.

There’s Comic Book Factory in Pasadena, great place. I drive 35 miles out of my way to go there when I can. Definitely House of Secrets in Burbank, CA, which is like 45 miles from where I live, but it’s a pretty cool place. And then there’s Another World in Eagle Rock, which is like a museum of my childhood in my former hometown.

My favortie shops are the guys at Ultimate Comics in Chapel Hill and Durham NC….they have jam packed stores and very spirited know of what they speak!!! mosttley matt

Love to see all of these responses. Great thread. I’m another San Franciscan and while I can’t deny that the Isotope is the coolest store in the city (heck, maybe the country) I want to give a shout out to Jeffrey’s Toys, which is downtown on Market between Montgomery and Kearney. They are a small operation (and mostly a toy store) but for the serious comic book fan they do one thing that can’t be beat: They offer a 20% discount so long as your pull list is more than 15 or so books a month. That’s 20% off of everything, even if you didn’t pre-order it. And they have a steadily growing selection of trades and a decent selection of very recent back issues. On top of that, you get free bags and boards and free Previews (you buy the first one and you can exchange them for free after that). Hard to not love that.

Comic Relief in Berkeley is awesome for sure and is the Midtown Comics of the Bay Area. But really nothing compares to the two Midtown locations which have an awe-inspiring collection of trades. I mean, they have just about EVERYTHING (though they didn’t have all of the Judge Dredd case files I was looking for, they did have some of them). If you are in New York you HAVE TO see these places to believe them. You could be in there for hours.

I grew up in an area (Winter Haven, FL circa 1980s) where the only “Comic Shop” was a guy who only dealt in back issues. Most new releases came from the local gas stations that carried comics. I got out of comics durring the advent of the foil and limited edition covers (not for that reason, just moved on to baseball cards and then college).

Recently Ive gotten back into comics after a 15 year hiatus, and two comic shops in my area, The Vault of Midnight (Ann Arbor, MI) and Fun 4 All (Ypsiliant, MI) have been great. Fun 4 All is my wednesday destination to pick up the latest and greatest. The staff always has interesting recommendations, and watching one of the staff members work with this 9-10 year old kid to try and find him some “subject appropriate” issues of Daredevil (which the kid was dead set on getting, despite redirection to the “all age” rack, the kid kept moving back to the long boxes of back issues, gotta love the determination). It just showed that they take a real civil responsibility in selling comics.

In my travels I love every trip I make to Erlanger, Kentucky because my work there is just down the road from Comic Book World in Erlanger (just across the river from Cincy). Tons of comics both new and old, Graphic novels are a big part of the shop(which they painstakingly shrink wrap including old out of print ones, just wish I could crack one open before I buy it)> But what makes it stand out (and Ive only been there 3 times and this has been the constant) is that a) this is a family shop so there are a few kids (one is the son of the owner who has posted little mini-comics about himself around the shop) around talking comics just like the 30 somethings talking comics. Nothing makes me love a shop more than as sense of community, and this place has it.

Austin Books.

Yadah, yadah… been to shops all over the country…

Austin Books has it all.

Carolina Comics in Lawton, Oklahoma. It’s small but well-formed. Also they’re way better than the grody place on Gore that stacks their comics haphazardly one atop the other. and the Mom & Pop groove is sincere. They’re lovely people.

My old shop was Legendary in Stillwater. I remember struggling not to skip class to be there at open on Wednesdays. Darren’s a great guy.

TBS Comics in Fort Walton Beach, Florida – Definitely a great place and great people!

I live 6 hours away, and have my books shipped (and visit when I can) because I couldn’t find a decent store near my new location.

Montgomery, Alabama

Comics and Cards… It’s a wonderful store! The service can only be described as awewsome. They work really hard and it shows that customer service is their #1 priority. I know I’m a patron there, but walking into the store I feel more like I am their friend.

Forbidden Planet NYC.

Great graphic novel selection; well lit, atmospheric and friendly; a few staff members have been there forever and with their encyclopedic knowledge are a joy to talk to week in and week out; been going there since I was a kid and you never know what celebrity you might bump into on any given day; always changing, always evolving.

It probably looks tacky for me to post here, but I haven’t seen anyone mention my store Green Brain Comics yet. So here it is.

What makes my store a “great comic book store”?

Great selection? Well we just got voted “Best Comic Book Selection” by the Metro Times (local arts/culture paper).

Service? Well, thats not something I can say much about. But we do aim to please. Hopefully our customers recognize that.

Maybe it’s hard work, my wife Katie and I work at it 7 days a week. We think about it 24/7. We stake our livelihood on it. Our staff puts many hours of hard work into making this a pleasant, well organized and friendly place to browse.

I think one of our more unique assets is our upstairs neighbors STORMY RECORDS. We love the combination of comics and music. And we love our pals Windy & Carl that run the joint.

Maybe it’s modesty…nah! I’ll tell it to you straight. We love what we do, and I’m too proud to keep it to myself.

Now Michigan just needs to stop hemorraging jobs so we have customers that can afford to support us.

Arizona has some great stores these days! Of course I’m biased, I own two of them– Samurai Comics.

I worked for a store for years where the owner had grown to hate comics. Too often that is the problem with stores. Sure you have to be in it to make some money, but, where’s the love, you know?

The coolest part about finally owning my own stores is being able to push a diverse selection. We carry a ton of mini comics (both local and national– if you self publish let us know we’d be happy to look at your books). And we’ve had some kick ass creators in over the years– Jim Mahfood, Michael Turner, Craig Thompson, James Kolchaka, Kurt Busiek, & Greg Rucka to name just a few.

Mike
Samurai Comics

Mike – Samurai is too far away for me to visit (like I’m driving all the way into Phoenix from Mesa every week!), but I’ve been to the store on Central a couple of times, and you do a great job. It’s a nice place.

Yes, Arizona is on the upswing. I too am one of the proud local Comic Book Store Owners in the valley of the sun. I always belived comic stores should be a place you should be excited to go too each week, a place where we can all share our common intrests and most of all feel welcome. That is the environment we provide to all of our customers that shop with us. It is not about Drawn To Comics it is about all of the the fans who keep us all going week in and week out. Without them there are no comic book stores just big box stores treating us as numbers and not as the fans we truely all are! Thank you to all that have and continue to support us in Downtown Glendale.

Ken
Drawn To Comics
http://www.DrawnToComics.com

Gotta agree with the person who listed Carolina Comics in Lawton, OK. Great store! I’m saddened that it took me this long to finally start visiting, but now I’ll make the drive once a month to get my comics from a good store. Great vibe and cool people who know their stuff.

near Baltimore, MD in Ellicott City is Cosmic Comix. Great Place!!

I gotta plug my shop, Metropolis Comics Bellflower, in Bellflower, CA. We’re a mid-size shop, but we can get any and everything the bigger boys have; we also have the best staff around. We’re friendly, welcome kids, have a great back issue selection and sub service – like some other retailers, I’m and old-time fan of comics and couldn’t find a shop that offered me what I wanted, so I opened Metropolis almost 9 years ago, and we’re still going strong. We’re open every day, close to freeways and just about 10 miles out of downtown Los Angeles, so it’s not in the thick of the traffic crush but it’s close enough to be… well… metropolitan! Come in and see us, chat with us – we all love to talk comics!

‘Absract Sprocket’ on St. Benedict’s street, Norwich, England. It’s pretty small so can’t stock huge amounts of back-issues but it’s got a really nice atmosphere and super-friendly staff! And it kind of wins here because it’s the only comic shop in town…

Oh, and ‘House on the Borderland’ in Peterborough, England, which also sells tie-dye clothing, stacks of old vinyl and, if you get chummy with the owner, the best Hydroponic loco-weed in the Midlands.

I have to second what TBird says: Destination Venus in Harrogate, UK is one of the best comic shops I’ve been to. Friendly, helpful and un-intimidating staff with a great, well-laid-out selection at good prices.

As far as in Maryland, Fudd’s Rabbit Hole of Comics is the store to visit. It has a huge inventory of back issues and statues, and if they don’t have what you’re looking for, they’ll do what they can to get it.
As a bonus, you get Fudd(the owner), a very colorful and knowledgable character.

The Comic Vault in Chicago has a “Ladies Night” and they have stand up Comedy every other month. They may not be the biggest store but they have a big heart. They are the Rudy of comic book stores in Chicago. Check out their commercials on their website and you will see the personality.

By far, best shop ever is Old Town Comics in Fredericksburg, VA.

“http://www.oldtowncomics.com/index.html”

If you are in the area, its the only real comicbook shop in existence in Fredericksburg and Stafford. The owner is probably the coolest comic book shop owner there is, period.

Bizarro Wuxtry in Athens, GA is also a very cool place. It is worth the trip if you are in the area. Devlin is a cool dude.

I’ll second the recommendation of Hero’s Haven in Roseburg, Oregon. The owner’s are great, and I stop by every time I head home, or pass through on I-5. It’s exactly what a Comic Book shop should be – inviting, friendly, and geeky fun. It never sold out to the gaming crowd, and remains fixed on comics. You can tell when the owner is passionate about something, and Brett is. Mike Allred is a local fan, and occasionally stops in, and painted the first sign for the store, back when he was just getting started.

I live in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and we have two stores in town. The oldest of the two is The Core, and the newest is Limited Edition. I used to live in Mason City, and Oak Leaf is not a bad comic store but it did not have the personal touch I like to see in a comic retailer. In CF, The Core represents what I don’t like to see in a shop. They look up from their mag at the counter to ask if you need anything, and then let you go about your business. I understand that some people like that method, but I prefer Limited Edition by far. The owner’s name is Rob, and he is an exemplar of personal service. When I go there, he knows my (and everyone else’s) name, and what books I follow. He provides bags and boards at the register, frequent sales, signings, endless conversation, and he goes out of his way to make sure you feel welcome. He goes to cons as a guest, wears comic clothes because he likes them, and hangs a seven foot wide millennium falcon inside the front door. It’s not a big shop – his hair saloon shares space – and it doesn’t carry box after box of back issues, but it is the best comic shop at which I have ever shopped.

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