web stats

CSBG Archive

My comic book shoppe – Kings Comics

FotB Kris Bather has written about his local comic book store in Perth, and now he’s going to tell us about two different stores in Sydney, which, I believe, is about an hour’s drive away from Perth (if there’s one thing Americans know, it’s geography!). First up is Kings Comics, which is right here, at 310 Pitt Street.

**********
I always thought the fact that Perth had 3 comic shops on the same street (it was 4 until Borders closed down) was pretty impressive. So did the wife of Jarvis Cocker who visited Quality Comics with her husband recently. He bought a classic Silver Surfer TPB by the way. Nice.

On a recent holiday to the other side of the country I noticed that Sydney also has comic shops in close proximity. They also have Starbucks and Krispy Kreme, which we are sorely lacking in Perth, but we have better weather, so I guess it evens out. Kings Comics and Comic Kingdom could not be more different, and more than a few minutes of walking separates them. First up is Australia’s most well-known comic shop, Kings Comics. Its manager Jim Papagrigoriou (who’s been with Kings for a decade), was kind enough to give me the lowdown on the store.

Starting as a mail order service, Kings’ first retail outlet was opened in 1986 in a place which Jim says, “was fondly dubbed ‘The Dungeon’ due to the lack of natural sunlight anywhere near the place,” before opening its second store at Fox Studios. That location meant celebrity visitors as diverse as Björk, The Veronicas, Coheed & Cambria, Seth Green, George Lucas and many others. The one at 310 Pitt Street in the middle of Sydney is the sole remaining store. Roughly 250m², it’s without a doubt the cleanest, most well-lit, attractive comic shop I’ve ever been in. It also holds the largest amount of action figures, busts and statues I’ve ever seen in one place, short of Comic-Con.

Jim also pointed out that Kings “was the first international comic book store to win the coveted Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, one of only three international comic book stores to do so,” and that Kings “also created OzCon, Australia’s first international comic book convention, which ran from 1992-1998 and is still considered to be the very best comic book convention Australian fans have attended.”

Kings is a very well organized store, with a great use of space. Everything is in its place, and large reproductions of interior comics art stretches around the walls, above the shelves. It’s not hard to find anything due to large signs indicating where certain genres and publishers are. There’s a total of 12 staff, from full-time to casual, though not all work at once. Thankfully they also wear blue uniforms, so it’s easy to distinguish them from customers, which sometimes, let’s face it, can be a problem in comic shops. Most of the staff members specialize in certain publishers too, so newbies can be confident that the right person can point them in the right direction.

The layout of the store is centered around the rectangular service area, which is able to serve customers on either side. The counter is used for freebies and miscellaneous items, as well as the sign-up sheet for their newsletter. “New This Week” eye catchers abound, and the staff make sure to keep the last two issues of every title behind the most recent one, for those customers that don’t drop in regularly and need to catch up.

Coming from my LCS which often plays heavy metal, it was also a nice touch when I heard Flight of the Conchords (New Zealand’s fourth most popular folk duo) and Frank Bennett (Australian singer who tackles modern songs in the style of Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett) emanating from the speakers. Jim and I talked about Australian comics podcasts, and I plugged my own (Extra Sequential!) and he mentioned that they have plans for one too.

According to Jim (and no, that’s not a sitcom reference) their current best selling titles “would probably have to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Deadpool, Batman and Robin, the assorted Blackest Night books, and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” though he admits that anything Joss Whedon writes is successful, and in fact he could put his name on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and see it become a hit.

Comics aren’t the only hits at Kings, as Jim mentions: “Collectibles are a huge part of our store. Bowen Designs statues are probably our most in-demand product, along with the Batman: Black and White statue range from DC Direct. Actually DC Direct action figures and statues pretty much outsell almost all other lines combined, mainly because of their very high quality and range. Logo t-shirts are also a very big seller for us, with the Superman logo topping the list, and the Batman logo coming a close second.”

And for those who believe the collector’s market had its heyday in the glorious madness of the ’90s, “comic book bags, boards, and storage boxes have always been a huge seller for us.” Jim acknowledges that “collectors always want to keep their comics in the best condition possible so bags and acid-free boards are very popular with us, as are the comic storage boxes. Gotta keep your collection safe!”

Kings is a very welcome store. There’s no jostling for space with other customers. Everything from the aforementioned shirts and bags, to the jewellery to the dedicated all-ages section (consisting of the successful Archie, Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man) is easy on the eyes and easy to find. To bring people in to partake in all this pop culture goodness, Kings appear to be pretty proactive. “Other than being a longtime participant in the annual Free Comic Book Day event,” Jim states, “we regularly hold competitions and giveaways in-store and through our weekly newsletter, and we have our Kings Comics Gold discount card that gives our customers 10% off everything they purchase from us. We also turn up to pretty much every single comic book/pop culture expo in the country, which is a really nice way to stay in touch with our interstate customers. It’s always really nice to touch base with someone you mainly speak to online or on the phone.”

Their weekly newsletter not only gives a complete rundown of that week’s items and local events, but is filled with great pictures, recommendations and items that may very well pass most of us by, such as DC’s Peruvian Intarsias (I didn’t know what they were either) and Jack Skellington resin heads. The newsletter gets sent to thousands of customers, and has been doing its thing for over a decade, and Kings are all too aware that knowledge is power. “We like to keep our customers as informed as possible,” he says, “mainly because we are also collectors at heart and would hate to miss out on something cool, and it also makes things easier for us logistically when it comes to pre-ordering titles and collectibles months in advance. If we see a large reaction to something well enough in advance, that gives us a better feel for the product we order.”

A Google search will quickly tell you that Kings has its finger on the pulse of social media too, with an active online presence and regular updates for impatient fans on Facebook and Twitter.

As for the customers who visit Kings, Jim guesses that “about 65-70% are male, aged somewhere between 20-40. Most of the regular customers would be your average working Joe, with a smattering of students and teenagers thrown into the mix. 15-20% would be female. We encourage female readers (we’ve actively been doing so for years now) and try to cater towards that readership as much as possible. The rest would be younger readers, aged 15 and under, both boys and girls. This is another area we feel very strongly about and try to have as many younger reader titles on hand as possible.”

Location is also a factor in King success. As it’s only a brief walk away from a large cinema, Kings has benefitted from curious viewers of comic book films wandering inside. “We’ve noticed waves of people coming through all the time,” says Jim. “We always know when the latest screening of Captain America: The First Avenger is out as we get quite a few people coming through looking for the latest comics and trade paperbacks of their favorite comic book characters.”

Like fans and retailers Jim has witnessed the change in perception of comics over the years and admits that “there have been times where it seemed that comic books would disappear, but the last ten or so years have seen the industry evolve,” to a huge increase in titles which offer something for every reader giving the industry “more diversity than it ever has. From the utterly brilliant Strangers in Paradise to Cerebus to Blankets to Black Jack to Archie to Bone to Tintin to a thousand other characters.”

Any talk with a LCS owner has to turn to DC’s ambitious plans, but the staff (and apparently customers) at Kings are quite upbeat and optimistic about its success. Jim mentioned that he is slightly concerned with making room for the onslaught of 52 new debut issues on his tidy shelves, but the response to the DCNewniverse (as they dubbed it) has been largely positive. “We’ve had a lot of interest in it and have had many new customers come through our store wanting to start reading the rebooted series,” states Jim. “As a retailer, and personally, I think something like this is long overdue. DC have a very strong stable of characters that have desperately need some kind of update for a long time now. Characters like Batman or Green Lantern will always have a very dedicated fanbase, but most readers out there, whether longtime comic book readers or casual readers, want something exciting and new and modern, and I think at the end of the day this is the very best thing the folks at DC Comics could have done. Marvel had better take a good long look at what DC are about to do, because I think the market share is about to tip in DC’s favor.”

I hope Dan Didio is reading this! Jim also told me something that I’ve never thought about before, as a fellow long-time DC diehard – how often will you get to own an Action Comics #1? Hmmm. Good point.

Thanks to Jim and the staff for letting me ask questions and take snoopy photos!

**********

And thanks to Kris for writing this. He’s working on another one for Comic Kingdom, and maybe I’ll post it sooner than I posted this (he sent it to me a few weeks ago, and I didn’t post it because I suck). As always, if anyone else wants to write about their local comic book store, feel free to e-mail me at chlothar1@earthlink.net. I would be happy to post it!

38 Comments

Kings Comics is a great store – I’ve been going there nearly every week for the last 10 or so years – the staff are fantastic and friendly.

Best comic book store in Australia. Friendly, bright, clean and awesome.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

September 11, 2011 at 4:49 pm

That’s my LCS!
It’s a pretty good shop.

I find the line about no jostling with other customers amusing though – wouldn’t have written that if you’d seen the place the afternoon new books have shipped, or on FCBD!
It packs a crowd!

And thanks to Kris for writing this. He’s working on another one for Comic Kingdom, and maybe I’ll post it sooner than I posted this (he sent it to me a few weeks ago, and I didn’t post it because I suck).

I bet it’s got a different tone.

Woo hoo! Thanks heaps Greg and no, you don’t suck.
FGJ, yes I’m sure that’s true. I visited on an early Monday afternoon I believe, so it wasn’t packed. You’re also right about Comic Kingdom. It couldn’t be more different!

This is a very neat (as in clean) store. THIS is the kind of store people, fan and regular person alike, should be visiting.

Trust me on this…Sydney is waaaaay more than an hour’s drive from Perth.

Kings are great. I’ve been a regular since the the early dungeon days. I’d say they’re one of the best comic & pop-culture shops in the world.

Beautiful store. Thanks for sharing and best of luck for continued success.

Wow, that place is beautiful.

Jim’s looking well. Alas, I haven’t been there in just over three years, since I moved to Tassie, but I have talked to Stephen Ford on the phone.

Being someone who was a frequent attendee to Kings Comics, and has how moved to Los Angeles, I can honestly say how much I truely miss that store. A fine, fine comic shop.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

September 11, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Which street in Perth has three comic shops on it?
I found one last time I was over there, and am going over in a week or two for a wedding – I’ll probably not have time (or $) for comic shopping, but I am curious to see a street with 3 comic shops on it!

I’ve got to agree with everyone’s comments from above: Kings is a fantastic place, and the staff are always helpful. I’d be there every week, if I could.

I always visit Kings Comics when I go to Sydney, as well as when they come and visit me up in Brisbane during Supanova. It’s a great looking store but they lack in back issues and their stock is somewhat overpriced at times (maybe I’m just comparing them to Brisbane prices.) However, they’ve always had great Supanova discounts!!

I’ve traveled all across Australia over the last several years and hands down the best LCS is Comics Etc in Brisbane. They’re very affordable (a $2.99 comic goes for $3.50 Aus), stock a wide range of comics, tradepaperbacks, and toys AS WELL as a lot of backissues (especially 50c bins). I always rate an LCS by the amount of backissues they have, as well as presentation. I remember going to an LCS in Melbourne that had a lot of backissues, but the place reeked of mould and that old newspaper smell. Make mine Comics Etc, Brisbane.

All hail the King.

I suspect the Comics Kingdom write-up will be brutal; it ought to be.

Ha ha ha! I can’t wait…

And the thing is, they’ve always been…unique…all the way back to the Bondi Book Exchange days in the 70s.

Love Kings and their lovely staff, always on the agenda when lunchtime calls.
Can’t wait to see how they deal with Comic Kingdom. That place gives me the heebie jeebies. Yeesh.

Kings Comics is a brilliant store and my favourite in many stores around the world. Also close by is Kinokuniya, which holds an impressive collection of graphic novels. I don’t go to Comic Kingdom very often, but they sometimes have good stuff on sale. Thanks for the awesome write up!

I’ve been a customer since 1993. Kings deserve a lot of credit for putting up with me on new comic night. Thanks guys. Please do the brutal blog on comic kingdom and please mentioned phantom zone for hanging in there

Great to see all the comments. Thanks everyone!
FGJ – Hay Street in the middle of Perth has 3 comic shops, all within walking distance. Quality Comics (downstairs) is at 872 Hay, Empire Toys (upstairs, with a manga and statue focus) is at 856 Hay and Comic Zone (the newest of the 3) is at 572 Hay. For the most isolated city in the world, Perth does pretty well with pop culture awareness.

I guess I should point out that I know Perth is quite far away from Sydney. It was what we Yanks call a joke. I guess people descended from criminals don’t have much of a sense of humor.*

* Yes, it’s another joke!!!!!

Great to read about another successful comic book store here in Australia. Should I ever make the journey west, it is good to know where I can get my books.

And I agree with Jamie, Comics Etc in Brisbane is a fantastic store. Even though I live on the Gold Coast I have a permanent mail order with Comics Etc.

I would also like to give a shout out to Impact Comics in Canberra, located in the Civic Mall area. Another professional store that makes you want to give them your business.

Yes agree strongly. Kings comics is by far the best comic store I have ever been too. The sheer size of the store just blows you away.

It’s a great looking store but they lack in back issues…
From what I remember, when I helped out on a few Ozcons, they had an entire warehouse of back issues….They just don’t have them at the shop.
If there was something I was interested in tracking down I would usually have to ask and they would do a search for me.

Yeah, hah hah.

I don’t get it. :-|

FunkyGreenJerusalem

September 12, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Hay Street in the middle of Perth has 3 comic shops, all within walking distance. Quality Comics (downstairs) is at 872 Hay, Empire Toys (upstairs, with a manga and statue focus) is at 856 Hay and Comic Zone (the newest of the 3) is at 572 Hay. For the most isolated city in the world, Perth does pretty well with pop culture awareness.

Cheers!
I think I wandered into Comic Zone last time I was in Perth.

Jamie:

I remember going to an LCS in Melbourne that had a lot of backissues, but the place reeked of mould and that old newspaper smell.

If you’re in Melbourne again, head to Minotaur on Elizabeth St.
It’s much bigger/better than that.

From what I remember, when I helped out on a few Ozcons, they had an entire warehouse of back issues….They just don’t have them at the shop.

They do have back issue bins in the shop, though they are mostly just useful for comics in the past year.
Not a collectors dream, but if you missed an issue, or have just started getting a series and want to go back, it’s quite useful.
If you’re looking for older books, ebay’s a better bet than any store, these days.

Anyone in Melbourne should be going to All Star Comics on Lonsdale St.

Only opened this year by a couple of long time staff from another Melbourne store.

Great prices, great layout, great guys.

And no, I am not one of them, but I am happy to advertise for free for them.

Kings Comics is a superb store. It’s a classic example of a comic shop done right. The staff are friendly, the store is bright, clean and inviting. I’m pretty lucky a store this great is my local shop. It’s great to see it profiled here.

Used Kings Comics for the 2 1/2 years I lived in Sydney for new releases (tended to go to Kinokinuya for the trades) and it served me well.

agree with a bunch of the above comments. i consider myself fortunate to be close to such a great comic book store. i’ve visited 5 stores in Sydney and the outer burbs, and while Kings is over an hour from home, i’ll gladly choose them over any other store. was there earlier this week, and i’ll be back there tomorrow! i enjoy having a chat with a few of the staff when i’m there – genuinely nice people. would love to work there. as with most of the above comments, i can’t wait for the write-up on Comic Kingdom. they’re gunna get torn a new one. i’ve managed to get a bunch of back issues there, and that’s the only positive thing i will say :D

That was fun. Also, don’t Verical’s ‘Blackjack’ reprints have lovely spines.

[…] My comic book shoppe – Kings Comics It also holds the largest amount of action figures, busts and statues I've ever seen in one place, short of Comic-Con. Jim also pointed out that Kings “was the first international comic book store to win the coveted Will Eisner Spirit of Comics … Read more on Comic Book Resources […]

There is a store in Liverpool called : The Comic Shop. They are at 10a/170 George St, Liverpool. The store opened in 1994.Their selection of Comics, Statues, Action Figures and Merchandise are amazing. The owner : Chris Watts is such a friendly and approachable person. Much more than the owner’s of Kings and Comic Kingdom. They do not value good patronage. Chris Watts and his staff at The Comic Shop do. After 17 years Iam still greeted with a smile and great customer service. The owner of Comic Kingdom is rude and treats his clients like criminals and the staff at Kings treat their clients like #’s not people.

if people want true value for money and great service, give The Comic Shop a try.

yeh Paul, i like The Comic Shop too. if i can’t get what i want at Kings, chances are i’ll trek out to Liverpool. i try to get in there on their annual sale. i did at this year’s and scored some amazing bargains. the staff are nice people too!

Hey heathen, When kings opened back in 1986, thet were so awesome, but the bigger they got, the less attention customers got. They had a warehouse with back issues, yet whenever you asked for anything, it took like 18mnths just to get someone to look. Certain staff ruined my time their. Some were awesome. In the 80’s, there was this guy named Chris. I beleive he was the owners cousin. Sweetest guy. Once he left, this hot girl, Maria, worked their. Super nice. After she left, the place went down hill. Hired kids with zero personality. That killed it for me. Yet when you approached management , George, Jim or Stephen, it fell on deaf ears. Sorry to say but they have no right to call themselves a Comic Shop.

[…] ad for Youi insurance was filmed at Sydney’s Kings Comics, which I wrote about here, and uses some goodies from Black House Comics as props. Not that you can see much of either, but […]

KIngs is an awesome store and they have a great website as well.

I had been a loyal customer for 20 years plus up until recently. A staff member 20 years my junior spoke to me like I was an imbecile. No matter what I said this fella just talked over me. Kings needs to hire normal people not some rude SOB from the USA with a chip on his shoulder. Worst part is I put on a call to complain 5 days ago still haven’t heard back from management. Oh well , they just lost my business.

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives