Free Comic Book Day, a day for celebrating comic books and the quirky shops that sell them, is officially one month away (Saturday May 4th). Here at Sound On Sight we decided to jump the gun and celebrate our love for local comic book shops by sharing what’s great about our own geeky haunts.
In a world where digital is overtaking print, there’s something to be said about the tangible experience of visiting your local comic shop. Browsing opens up a world of new experiences and titles that you aren’t really afforded with the online experience. Don’t get me wrong, sites like Comixology are fantastic, and those guys do an incredible job recommending and exposing titles, but the digital buying experience still lacks the explorative, almost ritualistic tendencies of a comic fans visit to their shop. Where else can you have your own mailbox filled each week with titles lovingly held for you by people just like yourself? The comic book shop employee is a beacon of knowledge and opinion unmatched by any other retail experience.
The community aspect itself is an experience native to the comic shop. This is where geeks come to graze. Surrounded by like-minded people in an atmosphere of gaming (card, RPG, table-top and video), comics, Manga, and toys, we can’t help but feel at home. The intellectually inconsequential and obsessive debates you’ll have are alone worth the trip.
Here are some of our favorite local shops, from Coast to Coast, Canada to the US. We encourage our readers to share their own comic book shop memories in the comments below.
As comic book distribution moves more aggressively digital, I’ve noticed a disheartening trend of local comic shops shifting their focus away from comic books themselves and focusing primarily on gaming. Gaming is great, but I want my comic shop to offer what their name implies. Enter Sarge’s Comics, over 5,500 square feet of geek glory in the center of downtown New London, a Connecticut city about two hours north of New York.
A trip to Sarge’s means an opportunity to browse what I would happily call a full buffet of all comic book flavors. This is no sampling of new releases. Sarge’s doesn’t focus on only the big-two (Marvel and DC), but any and every comic publishers new releases, from indies to epics and literally everything that falls between. In a carefully organized, easily navigable shop where everything is in its right place, its easy to find what you’re looking for while stumbling across a new or unfamiliar series en route. Among these thousands of titles, any obscure title, old or new can be tracked down in mere seconds by Sarge’s amazing staff of fellow geeks.
Perhaps the best part of Sarge’s, beyond even their awesome selection of geek paraphernalia, is the community that pours in and out of the store on any given day. Gamers congregate to share Magic strategy while Batman fans discuss the new Scott Snyder series, kids look over My Little Pony comics and horror-philes enjoy the new Walking Dead. Horror is where I myself spent a lot of time when I first started shopping at Sarge’s. Now, my weekly stack includes a bit of everything. Sarge’s Comics is a the kind of shop I like best; one where the owners and employees actually know and enjoy comics.
Tony’s Top Pull List Titles: Batman, Guardians of the Galaxy & Saga
– Tony Nunes
Golden, British Columbia is a small town. It has in total about 8000 residents. It’s nestled in the beautiful Columbia Valley and has an amazing ski resort. Other than that, there isn’t much else. Oh, but we do have a comic book shop, or more correctly, a ‘haven for fandom’. While the population may be small, Trevor, the owner of Bizarre Entertainment in Golden, knows that small towns, equal big hobbies. Bizarre’s products ranges from comic books, to video rentals, even a pinball machine.
If you want to browse the latest releases, he’s got ya covered. Or perhaps you and a friend would like to blast a horde of zombies via Left for Dead 2,. Well, plop yourselves behind one of the top of the line gaming towers and have fun. If you’re a geek in town and you need a fix, Bizarre Entertainment is there when you need it most.
Bizarre is the epitome of the local comic shop. While the selection may be limited, this is a small town after all, each employee will personally bend over backwards to make sure you will get whatever issue you are craving. If you are ever in the area, do swing by and say hi, it’s worth the slight detour.
Sean’s Top Pull List Titles: Batman, Thor & Green Arrow
– Sean Tonelli
There isn’t enough I can say about GamersCircle Comics out here in northern California. I’ve had my share of experiences with different “comic book shops” — selling a few products like manga and trading card games. Those were the kinds of shops I had back when I was in Southern California. They catered to the demographic in my neighborhood — that population of kids that dreamed of becoming professional cosplayers living in Tokyo — but what makes GamersCircle so special is something I can’t completely put into words.
Owner Andy Wood, is welcoming to everyone that comes in and is ready to lend a hand. Their selection of comic books is thorough and always has gems waiting to be pulled. Not to say that GamersCircle doesn’t handle TCGs or other hobbies, because they do, and Andy is, as always, ready to help. He’s knowledgable and friendly, two extremely important qualities I look for in an owner. Like today, he reminded me that May 4th is Free Comic Book Day (something everyone should go out to, be it at GCC or your locally participating comic book shop). Unlike some SoCal stores with employees who know little about what comics are coming out, or employees who feel they are above everyone with questions, Andy knows exactly what he’s talking about. The shop sits in a small shopping center, and while its size might make you think, “They don’t have what I’m looking for,” walk in any way and ask. You’ll never know until you hear Andy ask, “Can I help you find something?”
So thanks GamersCircle Comics. In my 20 years of comic book reading, I’ve been searching for a shop to call “mine”, you’ve exceeded every expectation and provide me with my monthly fixes. Most importantly, thank you Andy Wood because without you and the store, I wouldn’t have anything to brag about to my friends in San Diego who still deal with the uppity jerks that run our shops. I hope one day my hometown will be fortunate enough to have someone like you to open up another, more cohesive and inclusive Circle.
Peter’s Top Pull List Titles: Superior Spiderman, Thanos Rising, & Hawkeye
– Peter Abigania
I’ve been steadily reading comics since about my mid teens (which are long enough ago that I go into the foetal position and cry whenever I think about it) and the whole while my weekly visits have always been to Komico. The place has changed locations a few times, first near Villa Maria and then moving down of a few blocks to several locations on or near Queen Mary. Besides the usual customer loyalty, Komico’s excellent prices have kept me coming back to the store, to say nothing of the friendly atmosphere. Some other stores I’ve been too seem a tad less welcoming, with a bit more of that “antisocial, condescending nerds within” vibe, and yes I’m fully aware of the irony of ME saying that, thank you very much. Komico, on the other hand, has a much more friendly and welcoming vibe.
These days the scourge of minimum wage has forced me to reduce my pull list a tad, but whenever a new issue of “Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye” or the current iteration of “Daredevil” hits the shelves, I usually head down for a slice of chicken pizza at joint down the street and a good read.
Thomas’s Top Pull List Titles: Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye & Daredevil