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Thursday, June 14, 2007

 
My Favourite Comic Shops -- With all this talk of what comics should be -- and I'm excited to see folks discussing what I wrote on a few message boards and blog comment threads -- I thought I'd spend a few minutes writing about the comic shops I visit regularly and would recommend to anyone who wants to shop for comics and graphic novels in my part of the country.

Fantastic Planet in Plattsburgh, New York is a store that was pretty good the first time I visited it a few years ago, and has only gotten better since it moved locations a year or two back. The artcomix selection is not where I ideally would like to see it, but they have a good manga section and a huge collection of TPBs and graphic novels, as well as being extremely clean and well-organized. The folks that run it are nice, too. We live about two hours south of there, but I try to go up at least once a year and see what's what. I usually end up spending a hundred bucks or more on GNs I've missed elsewhere.

Million Year Picnic in Cambridge, Massachusetts is an awesome comic shop in somewhat cramped quarters. Extremely good for imports, mini-comics, and pretty much every graphic novel in print, and a few that aren't.

Modern Myths in Northampton, Massachusetts is probably the finest comic book store I have shopped at in the United States (keep in mind I have never been west of Ohio, so, no offense James!). The store is family-friendly, with sections for all ages, interests and genders, everything is clean, well-organized and logically laid out, and I really just can't recommend this store enough. It's a nearly-three hour drive for me, and it's worth the time and gas to get there, even now. Gamers will also enjoy the extensive selection of games, and I believe there are regular in-store tournaments. If you go, please tell manager Jim Crocker I said hi. He's a great guy and a pleasure to talk comics with.

Earthworld Comics in Albany, New York was my shop of choice for most of the past five years. A change of job means I don't get to Albany much anymore, and I recently and with great reluctance had to end my subscription there. Owner JC Glindmyer is a great businessman and an even bigger fan of comics of all sorts, and his shop's great diversity reflects that. You can pretty much bet on any given Wednesday that if shipped from Diamond, you can find a copy at Earthworld. If not, they can usually have it for you within a week. JC, Tom, Alicia and the rest are all friendly and know a lot about comics, and if you're anywhere near Albany, this is a great shop to spend hours browsing in.

Comic Depot in Greenfield Center, New York is a relative newcomer to the region, having opened about two years ago. They're along Route 9-N north of Saratoga Springs, and for the past few months I've had my subscription here. The store definitely focuses on superheroes, but there's a great variety of titles from diverse publishers like Dark Horse and Dynamite Entertainment as well, and most importantly for a small shop, Darren is extremely responsive to special orders. The customer service is among the best I have ever received, and if you're anywhere near Albany or Saratoga Springs, you should stop in and take a look around. Like Modern Myths, Comic Depot also appeals to gamers, and although they don't stock as much as Modern Myths, they do have in-store tournaments that seem well-attended and everybody seem to be having fun. (Can you tell I myself am not into gaming?)

Electric City Comics is in Schenectady, New York and is a longtime fixture in the Capital Region comics scene, such as it is. It's a small shop, but they have a large selection of graphic novels and a surprising stock of undergrounds and alternative comics. I had my subscription there many years ago and still try to stop in a few times a year, because you never know what you might find. The customer service at Electric City is also excellent.

The Beguiling in Toronto, Ontario is a special case for me. It's an eight-hour drive away, so I will probably only make it there every few years (the first and only time to date was in 2005, but I went back three times in four days because it was so awe-inspiring; and thanks for taking me, Jay!). I'm being as honest as I can be when I tell you it is the best comic shop I have ever been in, and very likely the best in the world -- certainly in North America. See, I have had dreams all my life of being in an unfamiliar comic shop and finding untold treasures on the racks, little-known or unknown works by my favourite cartoonists, and promising works by people I somehow have never heard of. I kid you not that my first time walking into The Beguiling, I was actually in the store I had dreamed of all my life. I can't imagine anything in comics that you can't find there, and the folks that run it (hi Peter, hi, Chris!) know their shit like you wouldn't believe. Take it from me that the things you're hearing about in comics right at this moment, they've probably had for sale for the past six months at The Beguiling. Worth a trip from anywhere in the world, I swear to God.

I can recommend any of these shops without reservation, and I hope if you're anywhere in the Northeast you'll try to give some of them a look. Tell them you read about them on the ADD Blog. Sure, they'll go "on the what now?" But it'll make me feel better.

If you want to share your thoughts on your favourite comic shops, feel free to drop me an e-mail and I'll post your thoughts here.

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