Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Comic Shop Project

Lately I've been thinking about the "death of the comic shop". There's a lot of talk floating out there predicting it, though I don't know if I could subscribe to any of it. Certainly there's a lot to be anxious about. Online subscription services, big box booksellers, competition from free online content... either singularly, or taken together, have been seen as the harbingers of doom to many.

For me, the shop represents too much for me to do away with. Sure I pick up the occassional trade while browsing in Barnes & Noble, and sure I like a good deal on my comics, but these facts don't trump the fact that I value my LCS, and try to spend more time and money there than anywhere else.

Maybe (probably) it's a generational thing: before I had my own mode of transportation and my own source of income, I got all of my comics from the local 7-11. My buying habits were limited to what that vendor received in any given week (and more often than not it was completely random). I remember discovering my first comic shop, and it was a wonderful thing that I had no idea existed; a store devoted entirely to comics. It was a huge (in my memory) shop in Davis, California, near the college. We were on our way back home from a summer boating trip, and I bought two graphic novels (I had no idea they existed either): God Loves, Man Kills and The New Mutants. We lived no where near Davis, but as soon as we got home, my mom was game enough to find a closer shop and bring me there frequently.

"Better this than drugs" she reasoned.

Oh, if she only knew.

So the shop has a strong emotional ressonance for me. It shaped the way I chose the titles I bought. Able to browse a much larger pool of publications, my own reading experience expanded and deepened. Also, I got a giddy sense of anxiety on the drive to the shop. What would I find on the shelves that day? That probably doesn't sound all that special, but take into account that this was pre-internet, and going to the shop was an adventure unspoiled by... er... spoilers. To a certain extent, I still like to be surprised at what I will find. At the very least, when I have a little extra money, or feel a little bored/adventurous, I like to browse through what's there. I've resisted pull-lists, even, adding a little bit of unpredictability to the experience. In a way, there's nothing better for me than to learn I've missed something, and now have to hunt it down.

Lately I've been trying to visit as many stores as I can. At first, it was an effort to locate shops with dollar bins, but it's grown into something else. I don't know what it is, but my girlfriend convinced me I should write it all down. Seeing as this blog has been a bit directionless for the better part of a year, it might be a good way to generate content when I don't want to talk about the books themselves. My goal is to visit as many shops as I can in the greater Los Angeles/San Bernardino/Ventura areas, and review them. Through a combination of Google Maps and the Diamond Store Locator, I've started with this:

I've visted/frequented some of the shops already. Some I haven't. I'll try to rate them all on a common criteria:

  • Selection: What kind of comics are carried? Mainstream superhero, alternative, manga? New comics, back issues, trades?
  • Cleanliness/Organization: A big one, though I'm not too prissy. Sometimes I like a grungy shop... it usually means they've been in business for a while and have a lot of hidden treasures. Some of the newer shops I've run accross are too antiseptic and cold. I draw the line at filth, though. And bugs.
  • Staff: Probably the biggest pet peeve that I have. I'm not that needy; I don't need to be handheld. I do like to be acknowledged. Snarky hipsters put me off. Also, some sense of professional conduct is appreciated.
  • Bonus/Incentives: What's going to bring me back to the store? Discounts on pull-lists, dollar bins, trade programs, etc? Anything above and beyond just stocking and selling comics.

I'm probably leaving something out, so I reserve the right to revise my criteria in the future. Also, if there's anything you feel I've overlooked, please leave a comment. I'd appreciate any advice or insight. As I usually try to get to a new shop on the weekends, I'll be running this new feature on Mondays.

The list so far (in alphabetical order):

3 Geeks
4 Color Fantasies
A Hidden Fortress
Amazing Comics & Cards
Astounding Fantasy Art Books & Comics
Beach Ball Comics
Brave New World
Bunky Brothers Comic Books
Candy Comic Books
Chamber of Comics
Collectors Asylum
Collector's Paradise
Comic Book Guys
Comic Bookie
Comic Bug
Comic Castle USA
Comic Cellar
Comic Connection
Comic Ink
Comic King Store
Comic Madness
Comic Odyssey
Comic Quest
Comic Vendor
Comics & Fun
Comics Factory
Comics Plus
Continental Comics
Corner Store Comics
D J's Universal Comics
Dong Boo Comic Book Store
Dream World Comics [Simi Valley]
Dream World Comics [Venice]

Earth 2 Comics
Epic Comics
Flying Dog Comics
Funny Business [Moved]
Geoffrey's Comics Comic Cult
Golden Apple Comics
Golden Apple II
Heroes & Villains
Hi De Ho Comics
House of Secrets
Jeff's Comics
JNJ Comic Books
JPM Comics
Kemp's Komics & Kards
Kings Comics and Cards
Korean Comic Book Store
Legacy 1
Legends for Fun
Mega Comics [now Dream World?]
Meltdown Comics & Collectibles
Metropolis Comics
Michaels Comic Book Shop
Mini Melt
Mini Melt Too
Orange Comics
Orbit Comics & Cards
Otherworld Comics
Players Comics & Cards
Pulp Fiction
Ralph's Comic Corner
Secret Headquarters LLC
Shooting Star Comics
Solomon Comics
The Flip Side
The Realm, Games & Comics
The Third Planet
Treasure Island Sports Cards & Comics
West Coast Fantasy

P.S. This list is by no means complete. Leave me a comment if there's a shop that I've overlooked. I'd hate to think I missed something wonderful (or awful).


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At 11:38 AM, Blogger AtomAtBNW said...

We look forward to being 'shopped'.

Brave New World

At 7:59 PM, Blogger MD said...

Your shop looks very cool from your website. The BNW Institute sounds great... I like shops that try to reach out to kids in the community.

At 7:22 PM, Blogger chris said...

Please come on by our shop someday. I tried to re-create the feel that my LCS had when I was growing up, friendly people, good selection, clean.

Hope to hear from you soon!!

Chris Brady
4 Color Fantasies


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