It’s national comic book day in the States in September and Cartoonists Day in May. Any excuse to celebrate the art form that never grows old. Time to visit your friendly neighborhood shrine to the colored cells and graphic genius of the world’s greatest comic book creators.
Tates Comics, Lauderdale, Florida
There’s a lot of love out there in comic land for this Florida home to all things comic and pop culture, just half an hour north of Miami. Within its 6,000 sq foot store you’ll find thousands of back issues and merchandise that’ll have you beaming like a big kid (vintage Star Wars gear especially) bargain bundle comics, newly released and recent titles, T-shirts, toys and coffee table books. From Transformers to Star Trek via cool Manga books and Japanese Animation videos and DVDS, Tate’s is just about our text-book idea of what a comic shop should be.
Atomic, Baltimore, Maryland
If it’s good enough for John Waters it’s good enough for us. The celebrated film director lists this as his favorite shop in his hometown, and it’s not hard to see why. This freewheeling indie has shelves groaning with collectibles, staff that are super friendly and even a bar at the back (come on, what’s not to like?). In short, Atomic is the bomb when it comes to weird books and magazines, graphic novels, and pop culture kitsch. It’s a bit like your favorite John Waters’ film made flesh. Which is just fine by us. Oh, but turn your cell phone off. They don’t want any distractions from the beauty within!
Floating World Comics, Portland, Oregon
This is why the internet should never rule the world. Yes, you can buy any shade of comic online, but can you get that warm and fuzzy feeling you get visiting Floating World Comics? We very much doubt it. This is part store, part hang-out, part gallery and just totally wonderful. A real Portland cornerstone and community hub, Floating World is a store that celebrates the art of really great, beautiful and game-changing comic books. Graphic art is venerated here, but this is no ‘look, don’t touch’ boutique. The store encourages you to dive into its gem-stuffed racks and find your new favorite amongst its superbly curated selection. Maybe it’ll be one of their self-published titles (they’re really great).
Meltdown Comics, LA, California
It’s hard to find a location less auspicious as Meltdown’s. The shrine to all things superhero is located on Sunset Boulevard, within walking distance of that famous Hollywood sign (and close to the studios who’ve mined these comics for inspiration throughout the decades). A huge, 10,000-square-foot store (the largest on the West Coast), it’s the first port of call for all comic fans coming to Tinseltown. Its collection is broad and deep – Meltdown bills itself, not without justification, as a ‘pop culture emporium’. It’s ever-shifting stock holds new discoveries for even the most discerning collector. In short – joy awaits.
Comic Book College, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Comic Book College. Now, wouldn’t that be a good place to get a proper education? We’re enrolling already. This venerable store has been preaching the good word since 1974 – the oldest comic book store in Minnesota (although it moved location earlier this year, to south Minneapolis). The store’s a head-rush of back issues (sold for cover price), old favorites, new heroes, graphic novels, collectibles, action figures, posters and trading cards. It’s crammed – but nicely categorized, so you don’t have to lose yourself amid the frenzy. Although that works, too.
Mile High Comics, Denver Colorado
There’s no doubt about it. Denver loves comics. The Mile High City has one of the US’s best-attended comic cons, and in Mile High Comics, one of the biggest – if not the biggest comic stores in the country. From Star Trek and Star Wars and Age of Apocalypse to Zombie Nation, this mini chain of three Colorado shops (and huge online store) rarely lets you down. If they haven’t got it, they’ll get it. Their huge barn of a store neatly lays out row upon row of just-published, back issues, super-rare collectables, graphic novels, toys, games and novels. If you like DC and Marvel you’re particularly in luck.