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Five For Friday #19—Places We Buy
posted March 4, 2005
Name Five Places You've Purchased Comics
1. B&B Loan Company, a pawnshop, Muncie, Indiana
2. Comics Carnival on Carrollton in Indianapolis
3. Larry's Comic Shop on Devon in Chicago
4. Halley's Comix in Chicago
5. The Fantagraphics Warehouse, Seattle, Washington
1) Comic Carnival on Carrolton Ave. in Indianapolis, IN
2) 25th Century Five and Dime on Kirkwood Ave. in Bloomington, IN
3) Jim Hanley's on 34th St. in Manhattan, NY
4) Chicago Comics on Clark St. in Chicago, IL
5) Big Planet Comics on Fairmont Ave. in Bethesda, MD
#1 Hole in the Wall Books, Falls Church, VA (used books of all stripes and the place I became a comics fan. My folks might as well have given my allowance straight to them. One of the few businesses in Falls Church that's lasted over 25 years.)
#2 White's Drug and Dept. Store, Montauk, NY (a fascinating case; the last time I was there, in 1985, I picked up comics from a spinner that seemed to have been updated sporadically over the previous six years. I picked up an issue of "Battlestar Galactica" from 1979 and an issue of "Batman and the Outsiders" from 1984. Surreal.)
#3 Big Planet Comics, Vienna, VA (outstanding store and a model for how to make money from alternative books; "the comic reader's comic shop")
#4 Zeus Comics and Collectables, Dallas, TX (one of the best looking stores I've ever been in; stock was good as well)
#5 Austin Books, Austin, TX (v. good store; increasingly active in local comics culture)
These are all in person, I wasn't sure if that was required. I went for the International shops to make me look well travelled. I could have compiled a list of five defunct shops where I've bought comics, but then I figured, hey, who couldn't.
1 ABC Book & Comic Emporium - Downtown Granville Street, Vancouver, Canada
2 Comic Relief - Berkley, San Fransisco, USA
3 Gosh Comics, London, England
4 Forbidden Planet, Dublin, Eire
5 Raskin News, 59 Manor Road, Mitcham, Surrey, England
Sean T. Collins
1. Discount Comic Book Service
2. Midtown Comics, 40th Street, Manhattan
3. Jim Hanley's Universe, 33rd Street, Manhattan
5. my first comic shop: the late, great Gotham Manor, Stewart Manor, NY
I also used to buy a metric shitload of comics at the San Diego Comic-Con (mainly at the Comic Relief and Bud Plant booths), but that was when it wasn't my own money I was spending. Those were the days.
Peter Marinaro's Basement, Norwalk Avenue, Buffalo NY. Pete sold me an almost complete run of Kamandi at a meeting of our neighborhood comics club.
The Bearded Duck Comic Shop, Buffalo NY. Still the greatest name of any comic shop anytime, anywhere. My dad gave me a ride to the Duck, and I wish I'd taken a picture of the horrified look on his face when he saw the sign.
Starship Enterprise, Buffalo, NY. My first head shop. I didnâ€™t know what the bongs were for, but I knew that the copies I bought of Home Grown Funnies
and Star Reach
#1 were dirty.
Fantasy Realm (now Other Realm), Champaign, IL. I asked the manager here to order me a copy of Understanding Comics
, and he refused, saying that he didnâ€™t "deal in stuff like that."
The Beguiling, Toronto, Canada. My first time there, I went with Bart Beaty and Ana Merino, and Bart filled my arms with at least 30 foreign albums and comics that I "had to read" (including what may be my favorite comic ever, FranÃ§ois Ayroles; jean qui rit et jean qui pleure
). At one point, I quickly turned around and saw the original art for a Winsor McCay Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend
strip on the wall.
1. Zanadu Comics (II) in the U District, Seattle, WA
2. Half-Price Books, WA (Tacoma, U District and Capitol Hill in Seattle)
3. Powell's Books, Portland, OR (both in person and online)
4. Atomic Comics, Tacoma, WA
5. Danger Room Comics, Olympia, WA
... and anywhere else I can find them.
Alan David Doane
1. Earthworld Comics, Central Avenue, Albany, NY
2. Electric City Comics, Van Vranken Ave., Schenectady, NY
3. The Comic Depot, Route 9N, Greenfield Center, NY
4. The Beguiling, Toronto, Ontario
5. Modern Myths, Northampton, Mass.
1. Al's Comics; San Francisco, CA
2. Kayo Books; San Francisco, CA
3. Bargain Comics; Colorado Springs, CO
4. Jamie's Flea Market; Amherst, OH
5. Kimmel's Pharmacy (closed since 1990); Wellington, OH
OK... Trying not to duplicate any others...
1. Drug Fair (Martinsburg, WV) - Possibly my first encounter of a spinner rack. Also had the big treasuries and a cafeteria off to the side.
2. Nelson's Pawn Shop (Martinsburg, WV) - 5 for $1. I still recall one collection coming in that was freakin' fantastic! Also sold Playboy
3. Four Color Fantasies (Winchester, VA) - Though not my first direct market shop, this was the first I had a subscription. Turned me onto Watchmen
4. Million Year Picnic (Cambridge, MA) - Worth the trip to see the Tom Devlin caricature.
5. Richmond Comix, Velocity & Stories (3-way tie) (Richmond, VA) - My current haunts which is totally crazy in the selection they offer. Big city shop in a small city town.
Ralph's Comic Corner
in Ventura, CA. The place has more back issues than any other store I've been to.
in Los Angeles, CA. A giant of a store that is heaven when it comes to art-comix.
Amazon.com. I like their discounts.
Golden Apple's exhibits at the Los Angeles Book Fair. They bring along cool talent and Bill Liebowitz was a fun guy to see in action.
Hi De Ho's former store in Thousand Oaks, CA. The first store I shopped at and one I miss a lot. I didn't know lucky I was to have a large, clean and well stocked store right across from my grade school.
4 non-comics shop comic purchases:
Te-Amo Smoke Shop on Nostrand Ave and Kings's Highway, Brooklyn, NY -- dunno if it's still there, but this was the final stop for my Sunday visits in the 70's with my father, where out of guilt he let my sister and I pick out any and all comics we wanted. Harveys and Archies for her, Marvels for me. I would always read my sister's comics when I was done with mine.
The Salvation Army on Clove Road, Staten Island, NY -- picked up a pile of Gladstone Donald Duck
comics there last year. Found some BC
paperbacks there last month.
52nd St in Brooklyn, NY, between Ave I and J -- When I was about eleven or so Ronald Flickstein -- I think it was him -- hauled out a box of battered old comics and sold them to a bunch of us kids in front of his house pretty dirt cheap. I remember grabbing a crinkled 60's Lee/Kirby FF
and being amazed at my miraculous luck.
Creation Comic Con, NYC, Statler Hilton (Pennsylvanian) Hotel -- I won an auction for a lot of comics (held at the end of a John Buscema panel, iirc). I only wanted one comic in the lot, the Spider-Man
#90-something with the death of Captain Stacy. The rest were mainly DC books. I didn't read DC books, was one of those guys who hated DC comics, and to piss off the DC fans in the room, I tore the DC books up when I went up to claim the lot. People actually rushed to try to stop me. I know I ripped up a Kirby Kamandi
or two (Idiot!). I was thirteen and thought that kind of crap was funny. Cripes.
And one defunct comic shop:
The Green Ghost, Brooklyn NY -- it took two buses to get there, and felt like a trip to the Andes for a small, chubby pre-teen looking for 75 cent Avengers
back-issues in yellowing bags. Sometimes I'd splurge for a dollar back issue if I really, really wanted it, usually because Hawkeye or the furry, blue Beast was in the book or something dopey like that. The place got new comics in that they balanced on a wooden shelf on one side of the room, I assume via an early Direct Market set-up. It would take me over an hour to decide on what two or three back issues I could afford to take home. The place was tiny and beyond cramped, boxes were lined up on folding tables and there was one path between the tables all customers had to use, so if someone walked in and went one way, and you went the other in the habitrail, neither of you could pass and someone had to back up and go around the other way.
Since Evan mentioned a defunct comics store, I figured I'd list only places that I bought comics at regularly that no longer exist:
1. The Colonial Pharmacy, Lexington MA - the place I bought the first comic I still own.
2. Dream Days, Syracuse, NY - the place I went regularly when I was in college.
3. Dark They Were & Golden-Eyed, London, England - at the time (1981), the London alternative to Forbidden Planet, and it was cooler and friendlier. Along with Cambridge's The Million Year Picnic, the store that asked the musical question - why is it that Ray Bradbury stories make good names for comics shops?
4. An Unnamed Comics Store on E. 82nd St., Manhattan - or at least, I don't remember a name. We spent a lot of time trying to come up with a name, but I can't recall if it was because the store didn't have one yet, or if it just had a crummy one. First comics store I ever worked in.
5. The Dream Factory, South Norwalk, CT - the store my wife clerked in at the time I proposed. I would have proposed in the store, but the owner, Mike Raub, screwed it up, so I wound up proposing in her parents' driveway. Still, as long as it worked.
Of these five, I thought the Colonial Pharmacy was the only one that still existed (though it dropped comics years ago) But I just checked, and it's gone too.
I've shopped for comics at these stores (and a number of others) in the past year:
Chicago Comics (Chicago, Ill.)
Daydreams (Iowa City, Iowa)
Comic Showcase (London, U.K.)
Comix Gallery (Wilmette, Ill.)
Jim Hanley's Universe (New York, N.Y.)
Via the Internet
1. A little hole in the wall in Vienna that used to trade comics. They had piles and piles and piles of them, all in German, both pamphlet and digests and for a small charge you could trade ones you'd read for new ones. Heaven. I used to go there constantly. They had also had romance novels and porn, but the old lady who ran the shop wouldn't let kids in the room where she kept the porn. Last time I was in Vienna it was gone.
2. Alternate Worlds in Camberwell/Windsor, where I have bought most of my comics over the last ten years. Best day - I got seven or eight brand new volumes of the NBM Wash Tubbs
there on sale for 3-5 bucks each.
3. The Evergreen Opportunity Shop in East Kew, where they once had piles of Unknown Soldier
and other odd DC War comics. Over the months I bought most of them.
4. The Burke Road newsagent, who supplied me with 2000AD
every week for four years, as well as other english comics and B&W reprints of DC comics.
5. Comic Kingdom in Sydney, the surliest and least pleasant store of any description I think I have ever been in. However, they seem to have ordered at least one copy of everything even vaguely comics related that has come out since the late seventies, and much of it is still there, so the place is a treasure trove. Worth being stared at as if you are about to steal something for the browsing alone.
These are all out of business.
News & Company, Windsor VT: A newsstand and gift shop, it was the first place I got my comics, circa 1975, and my primary source for them (as well as Matchbox cars and coloring books) until I was about 10 years old.
P&C Grocery Store, Windsor, VT: When I was a kid, this was the only place in town to find Marvel and DC tabloids, racked with the magazines. By the time I worked there as a stock clerk in high school, the supermarkets had stopped selling comics altogether.
Moondance Comics, Brattleboro, VT: Starting when I was about 12, my father occasionally drove me an hour down I-91 down to Brattleboro to shop at Alan Goldstein's wonderful store. I bought my first Silver Age comics here, a run of House of Mystery
featuring J'onn J'onnz. I also got my first autographed comic; a copy of Saga of the Swamp Thing
#16, signed by local artist Steve Bissette. Today I live in Brattleboro and frequent Al's just-as-excellent First Run Video, where Bissette works as a buyer. (you should see the Horror section.) I still remember my dad marvelling "That guy says he put himself through college on old comic books!"
Comics & Collectibles, Middlebury, VT: My comic shop in college, run by the kindly Mr. And Mrs. Wakefield. After I graduated, they mailed me my books every month for over 2 years, even eating the cost of a box that got lost in the mail.
Discount Hobby/The Game Shop, Kalamazoo, MI: They weren't kidding, with a 30% discount on all new books (20% on trades and hardcovers.) The living manifestation of the Simpsons
' Comic Book Guy worked there. I fondly recall a lecture he gave to no one in particular on the irony of Kuper replacing Prohias on Spy V. Spy
1. All-American Comics in Evergreen Park, IL. The owner turned me into a comic-strip fanatic (Thanks Carl!)
2. Graham Crackers Comics in Downers Grove IL
3. www.specproductions.com (What a place for newspaper strips!)
4. Jim Hanleyâ€™s Universe in NY, NY (Whoa!)
5. Heroes Arenâ€™t Hard to Find in Charlotte NC. Great store, friendly and knowledgeable and a once a week oasis from the stress-filled adult world.