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Exploring new comic book stores

HippieVan at 12:00AM, July 17, 2015
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Recently I had the pleasure of spending a few day's in my country's capital city, Ottawa. Among museum trips, walks along the canal, and an awesome sound and light show at our parliament building, I managed to coerce my best friend into visiting a couple of comic book shops.

Walking into the first one, I realized that it had been some time since I ventured into a new comic store. Having explored those available in my own city and chosen my favourites some years ago, I felt like I had lost the art of finding new comics in an unfamiliar environment. In book stores, I have a general plan going in if nothing jumps out at me from the displays: head for classics/literature, and grab something that sounds French or Russian.

Comic stores usually don't separate their genres quite so clearly, and my taste in comics as opposed to literature isn't so particular anyways. I'm very much a judge-a-book-by-its-cover kinda girl, so I'm prone to grabbing whatever is on display and catches my eye. I have a much harder time when I only have the spines of graphic novels staring out at me. What can you deduce from a name? Often not much - if I had been going on name alone, I'm sure I would never have picked up half of my favourite graphic novels. In my neighbourhood comic store I'm friendly with the owner, so he's always given me great recommendations.

Ultimately I grabbed something familiar, but I felt like I had probably left behind a lot of gems hidden away on those shelves.

How do you feel out new comic book stores? Do you head for your favourite section? Ask the employees for a recommendation?



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PaulEberhardt at 10:02AM, July 18, 2015

Coming from a country that is something of a comic desert in comparison I can't help but envy you guys over there. It's been getting better in recent years, but whenever I get to, say, London I almost have to don blinkers in order not to spend all my time and money on comics. Leading a pupil's group on a walking tour there the other day helped a bit, as they appeared to be most interested in their smartphone thingies and stuff, making me too busy even for a glance at any of the stores. Kind of funny that the one who was most interested in comics was me as the old fart among them... ;)

SophieD at 1:41AM, July 18, 2015

We have two sizable comic book stores in our city and both of them are clean, professional and welcoming. There is usually quite a bit of activity going on and it certainly isn't quiet. As for the clientele? All sorts really, but not really the outcast with hygiene issues of yore. I think they hang at the RPG store now that comics have become in vogue again.

ozoneocean at 12:38AM, July 18, 2015

Hahaha! All of the comic shops I've ever been to have an awful "outsiders are unwelcome" feel. You go in there are the people stare at you like you're an alien... Gaming places as well. Whereas YOU guys seem to have the GOOD comic shops!

kawaiidaigakusei at 6:36PM, July 17, 2015

@Hippie- I sure did go to the Moscow Tea Room! It had really nice decor and throw pillows. I sat by the front window and ordered tea along with the cheese and fruit platter. Planet Coffee was located in that little alley near a children's book store and an outdoor restaurant seating area. All those places were right across my street since I lived on Sussex. I do have to add that I enjoy a warm comic store environment. Many comic places have that dusty smell to them, especially when they are mainly shops coverd in comic books. I like places with a general seating area to read comics and talk to interesting people.

Banes at 8:59AM, July 17, 2015

I only get out to the comic stores a couple times a year, actually. I've bought a few books there, and I feel the desire to support these local businesses. But most of my shopping is done online these days. Just a time and effort-saving thing, I guess, in these busy lives we have!

Banes at 8:56AM, July 17, 2015

There are a couple local stores where I live. One of them is quite cool; the owner is interested in classic metal bands and his store reflects that. In particular, there is a lot of memorabilia related to the band KISS. I like the idiosyncratic nature of the place. It would be nice if there were more stores like that, with more individuality.

fallopiancrusader at 7:57AM, July 17, 2015

I will occasionally drop by St. Marks comics in NYC. They have a huge selection of underground comics, including zines and DIY stuff printed on xerox machines and hand-stapled together. When I go into a comic book store, I head straight for the alternative comics section. It's usually easy to identify by the dust on the books, and the lack of patrons browsing the shelves.

HippieVan at 7:31AM, July 17, 2015

@kawaii: I really enjoyed the Byward Market! Did you ever go to Planet Coffee or the Moscow Tea Room? Also, they've made a whole new sound and light show! I think they replace it every 5 years or so. The new one is a bit cheesy, but I really enjoyed it nonetheless.

HippieVan at 7:27AM, July 17, 2015

@ozone: Friendly, non-strange owners/employees is primarily how I've chosen my favourite local shops! The guy who runs the shop at the end of my block is super cool - he even let me paint one of his ceiling tiles. :)

bravo1102 at 5:29AM, July 17, 2015

I used to do commission models for a comic shop. I also remember Forbidden Planet in NYC with all the great Japanese Crappreciate in the basement. Now brick and mortar shops are disappearing. Funnyou when I went to gaming stores I would meet hot girls who were amazed there was a guy there who didn't stink.

KimLuster at 4:46AM, July 17, 2015

We used to visit this gaming store that also sold comics, and it was stocked to gills with everything! I mostly went for gaming stuff but I got the occasional graphic novel there too. But... and I hate to be stereotypical, but this particular store really was frequented by lots of strange-looking guys, many who smelled a little too. And yeah... some of them stared! No one ever treated me badly, so it was more amusing that uncomfortable. Been a while since I've been... I tend to order stuff I want over Amazon these days, which, if it's 'comicy', is nearly always a non-tights graphic novel! But I do love book stores and browsing the actual books. I feel a little in inspired to re-visit - maybe I'll follow thru with it!

kawaiidaigakusei at 1:48AM, July 17, 2015

I have a general idea where the comic book shop you visited is located, but it is a shame I never knew that it existed when I lived there. My apartment was right next to the Chateau Laurier, two blocks away from Parliament, and I lived right across from the Byward Market. I really enjoyed the light show that told the story of Canada's history, so I went to see it two times. Wow, this post brings back a lot of memories.

ozoneocean at 12:53AM, July 17, 2015

Now if I ran a comic shop it'd have dim, filtered lighting like a secondhand bookshop, there'd be music, and a small selection of normal books as well on various subjects, just for variety - hough they'd be in the minority.

ozoneocean at 12:42AM, July 17, 2015

I've always found comic shops a bit intimidating and unwelcoming... strange, earnest and/or arrogant people behind the counter, weirdly intent lone people staring at the shelves or going though a selection, overly bright lighting... the whole place strangle quiet apart from some goofy young teen talking enthusiastically to the bored guy behind the counter about everything that ever happened to his fave character in all the issues of the comic it appeared in. Those are just the impressions I've picked up other time.


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